All evening the night before, we'd watched Hurricane Ike news, while the rain poured down outside. By morning, the rain had let up. Conditions were looking good for the day's planned mileage - out the Shinnecock Inlet, and as far to the east as daylight & energy allowed. Day 3 was going to involve a long drive home, and a lot of traffic, so the less paddling we had, the better. Well...by that logic, we did better than we could possible have hoped. There was no paddling on Day 3 at all. Good sightseeing and the best lobster roll I've ever eaten, but no paddling. That was all a rather difficult day away, though - one ill paddler & some rough launchings & landings later. This quiet beach? Not the Atlantic, but the sheltered water between the forks. That's Cody down enjoying the peace & quiet.
Packed up & ready to head out.
The water in Shinnecock Bay was mirrorlike. The currents drew our boats along towards the inlet quickly.
Under the bridge.
Past the fishing fleet.
and on out the inlet. The current was strong, and at the mouth of the inlet, we could see lines of breakers, and dozens of fishing boats. I stashed the camera - mine being off getting repaired, I'd borrowed my boyfriend's with the understanding that he wasn't sure it was waterproof. I made out without having to test whether the roll's still bombproof or not, but I did get totally drenched! I was so glad I'd broken out the wetsuit for the trip.
Out on the Atlantic. The original forecast for the weekend had called for waves one foot or less - the swell was big enough for our crew to rise & fall from each other's view. That's what the next few pictures are about...
Still, we were moving along OK at first. But then gradually, we started getting strung out & the front having to hold up for the back faster and faster. Finally, after a particularly quick spreading-out, Pete paddled up to me with an explanation. Stevie wasn't feeling well. At first, we thought it was seasickness. Our first break of the day was earlier than expected.
We all made it in through dumping surf. Stevie laid down for a while. The rest of us pulled out some snacks. This was worrisome - Stevie's usually out in front. If it was seasickness, that didn't bode well for the day - usually once a person gets seasick, they tend to stay that way for a while. Still, we all hoped that a shore break would set him up OK.
John took the opportunity to...well, either Twitter, or check in on the GPS. Maybe both.
We'd been seeing old planes flying around all morning.
More old planes. Do old-plane buffs have weekends like old-car buffs, where they just go out to the country, get together with a bunch of like-minded individuals & drive their old planes around?
Why you should always paddle with a chef. You just never know what Steve the Paddling Chef is going to pull out of his drybag next. Whatever it is, it's going to be delicious. I think this was the best pineapple I've ever had outside of home in Hawaii!
After a while, Stevie was ready to give it another shot. We launched, but we were moving slowly. We landed again for a lunch break, but by Georgica Pond, our poor guy was just done. Cell phones came out; our good good ground support crew was called, takeout options reviewed & the final consensus was that we'd all take out at Georgica Beach, where there was a bath-house with showers & a parking lot where the drivers could meet us right on the beach. A discouraging end to the day - but a sensible one.
Loading the boats at Georgica Beach. Again, the dumping surf caused some rough landings. I did OK but almost blew it by popping off my sprayskirt too quickly - but realized in the nick of time that the retreat of the wave I'd ridden in was about to kick up the much bigger one right behind it. Popped the skirt back on & threw in a high brace just as it crashed on me & it sent me scooting nicely on up out of reach of any more waves. Nice to not finish the trip with a wipeout. Even sick, Stevie pulled of a nice landing. I think we were all glad to be done for the day.
And while we were out making less progress than hoped for on the Atlantic, our poor ground support had been putting in way MORE mileage than expected. The plan had been house on Night 1, camp on Night 2 - with rain in the forecast, though, there'd been some talk of motels. Well, even a rainy yucky weekend in early September finds motels in Montauk full of people getting married (well, or watching people get married). The only option was the Memory Motel, of Rolling Stones song fame - and that was going to involve a really loud rock band playing 'til 3 am, which is probably why there were vacancies. Hither Hills, our original hoped-for destination, was booked, so we ended up at the very pleasant Cedar Point. And it did rain, but not 'til long after we'd turned in. The pitter-patter of rain on a non-leaky tent is actually quite nice. Here we are the next morning, huddled under a tarp while the drizzle went on. Things are being cooked on stoves in there - the wonder of it is that no one caught on fire! Teamwork.
Leftover potatoes from the lobster feast fried up nicely with a little pepper jack.
Stevie had slept for about 12 hours & was feeling alive enough to pull out his alcohol stove & help with the cooking. That was a good sign - this little stove (the size of a can of Fancy Feast cat food, and the screen folds flat, so the whole setup takes up the tiniest space, but heats things up just fine) is one of Stevie's favorite pieces of gear. If things were being cooked & he didn't pull this out, that would mean that he was in an absolutely terrible way. As it was, though, he clearly wasn't his usual self. At this point, it clearly wasn't seasickness. He was thinking maybe flu. Turned out later, after he finally went to the doctor the next week, that he has got Lyme disease! Him and about 5 other club members - apparently there are a lot of Lymey ticks up at Lake Sebago.
And coffee. There was much talk of cowboy coffee, with eggshells, but in the end we did it the old-fashioned way - with a filter.
In the meantime, we were listening to the marine forecast on our VHF's & not liking what we were hearing at all. Things had been changing every time we checked. Originally we'd gone for this weekend despite chances of rain because winds were light & waves 1 foot or less. Now we were hearing about waves 2 to 3 feet, and a small craft advisory in the afternoon. Beam winds, too, so boats getting pushed around. And going around Montauk Point is something you'd rather not be doing when you're all tired, one of you is sick, and you know things are just going to get worse and worse. So...we bailed. It's going to require some re-planning, as we're now a day behind schedule. But we're doing this for fun, and we were looking at pretty much a long hard slog of a paddle, and then hours in traffic. Steve is saying here we'll make it up on the Sound side - there, we'll have the currents & if we plan it properly, "we'll just WHOOSH along."
More planning, but without much debate at all, Day 3 got turned into a day of scouting what will now be NEXT year's Day 1 from shore. That was actually a lot of fun - our "scouting" looked a lot like sightseeing!
Last group photo of the weekend. Since we decided not to paddle, our commodore decided he was interested in heading back to Brooklyn immediately. A couple others went with him; the rest of us piled into Pete & Linda's van & set off for Montauk Point.
Our first stop was at Hither Hills. This will definitely be the center of our activities for the first couple of days next year - we will drive out the night before, camp here the first & 2nd nights. We're glad we scouted though - turns out that at this beach, kayaks are allowed to land, but not launch - so our thoughts about how we'll stop here where we're camping for lunch will need a little more thinking about! Also, I was happy to see that the waves actually look a lot nicer here & the rest of the way out to the point - up 'til now, our Atlantic shore launches & landings have been through some less-than-fun dumping surf. Out here, it gets a lot more long & spilling...in fact standing here, some of us were sort of wishing our boats weren't already heading back to Brooklyn - these waves look like fun.
I don't think any of us regretted not doing another distance-covering leg, though. This surf would have been fun to play in - but look at those flags. That's just the direction of wind that would be hitting a bunch of kayaks travelling parallel to the shore right at right angles. Most kayaks naturally want to head into the wind. It's called "weathercocking". You can correct by using sweep strokes, or by using your hips & legs to hold your kayak on edge, or by a combination thereof. It works, but paddling 20 miles while keeping your boat set up on edge so the right gunwale's down in the water gets a mite tedious. If it's an out and back trip, at least you switch sides halfway through. One direction, you get to feeling like you've got self-induced scoliosis!
I think this is looking down towards Ditch Plains. This was a place we were worried about landing, as it's a famous surf spot - partly famous for surly, kayak-hating surfers. There was only one surfer there this day, and she was actually very nice, John struck up a conversation with her & found out that she was packing it in for the day because that steady onshore wind was just mushing down the waves & making them not much fun for boardsurfing. Again, we were wishing for our boats - waves that are too mushy for boards are still PLENTY of fun for kayaks!
Here we are scouting Montauk Point. Indeed, it looks turbulent, with lots of clapotis & whitecaps spitting straight up!
And now, #1 of my two reasons I wasn't truly bummed out to not be paddling today (aside from sheer slogginess conditions would've meant). If we'd paddle, we wouldn't have been able to climb the Montauk Point Lighthouse!
Montauk Point Lighthouse
Again, the lighthouse.
Fishermens' Memorial - dedicated to the memory of those lost fishing.
Old Fresnel lamp inside the keeper's house (now a museum).
Climbing the tower.
Same view as before, taken from an opening halfway up the tower. It's a little fuzzy because it's hard to focus when the wind is literally trying to rip the camera from your hand! Fortunately the volunteer warns you before you go out, and she takes your lighthouse newspaper so you don't have to worry about that, and you loop your camera strap around your wrist & hang on tight as you pop your head & shoulders out into the blast! Whee!
The Montauk light today.
And lots & lots of fishing boats.
This looks like the ultimate Montaukmobile!
What all those fisherfolk are after.
Lake Montauk. Our intended goal for this year. Oh well, darn, we'll just have to come back next year.
The inlet to Lake Montauk.
Oh yes. About that lobster roll. Best I ever had, I said. Well...I only ever remember having one before, and it wasn't a terribly exciting thing. But, we drove past this "Lunch" place in Amagansett on the way to Montauk, and John H (who used to live out here), mentioned that this was THE place to have one, and that nice summer days saw lines out the door. There was a mention of maybe having lunch here, and so I promptly got my heart set on lobster roll. But, we have some non-seafood-eaters in the group, who'd gotten sort of left out when we went to a seafood-heavy place for dinner the night before, so the lunch call was left to them. We ended up in a diner, the first place we found in Montauk where you could buy non-fishy-food. Somehow, though, nothing on the menu looked good. Asked for an egg salad sandwich. No egg salad. Well, after we left the lighthouse, I'd started to nosh on the food I'd packed for lunch, so I wasn't really hungry, so I wasn't going to get anything, and people were worried about that...
I explained that I'd been nibbling, and I really wasn't very hungry, and that I'd really wanted a lobster roll but other than that I didn't want anything because I had plenty of food. Only the bit about wanting a lobster roll came out REALLY whiny. I got quite a bit of ribbing, well-deserved. I also got a lobster roll!
"Lunch - Lobster Roll" is, after all, right off the highway, and they have takeout, and Linda suggested that we just stop there & I could run in & get one & eat it in the car. I really did want to try one, and best of all, the line was not only not out the door on this gray & windy day, it was nonexistent & I had my mitts on a lobster roll & was back in the car in 5 minutes. Woohoo!
And it was indeed fabulous. Holy cow, there's, like, a whole lobster worth of meat in there, and FRESH, and all shelled & ready to scarf...yum yum yum.
Back on the road.
One last farm-stand stop. Corn, beach plum jelly...
And pumpkins. Uh oh. Pumpkins? Autumn must be on the way...