Ooof. Awfully dark at 4:30 am. Up before the sun meant we would catch the best currents, though! Launch time for Day 1: 6 a.m. It's Friday, Sept. 21 and 9 intrepid paddlers from the Sebago Canoe Club are meeting for the 1st 3-day leg of a 5-year circumnavigation of Long Island - one 3 day leg per year. I've been looking forward to this all season, but my gosh this is early. My mantra to ease the pain: Sunrise is pretty. Sunrise is pretty. Sunrise is pretty, and this is going to be fun.
Our destination for Day 1: Long Beach (and eventually Rockville Center for the overnight stay). That's 25 miles, it's 5:30 in the morning here on the dock at Sebago. Coffee has been mainlined and now we're all doing our pre-trip stretching.
Here's the gang, ready for launch on the Paerdegat (although desperately in need of a little digital enhancement!)
Carnasie, Brooklyn, 6-oh-something a.m. The Paerdegat Basin looking lovely in the sunrise.
And we're off. Long Beach or bust!
Out of the Paerdegat & on into Jamaica Bay. Canarsie Pol in the distance. On the way back to Canarsie on the 3rd day, one of the organizers said "Carnarsie Pol - and that's where it all started". Many of the people on this trip began paddling at the Sebago Canoe Club - and at the beginning, a circumnavigation of Canarsie Pol was a fine day. But then they got better...and here we are, off on a 3-day, 70 mile journey.
Hey. Look. Sunrise is pretty.
Sunrise is pretty. Sunrise IS pretty. Wow. No, sunrise is in fact SPLENDID. And this is going to be marvelous! A morning like this makes me want to pull out all the stops, & the superlatives, too.
ripples & reflections
Here comes the sun...
On past Floyd Bennett Field. Worth a visit if you don't have to paddle a kayak to Long Beach - that hangar is full of beautiful old aircraft being lovingly restored.
Paddling on out towards the Rockaway Inlet.
Kayaker and Bridge I
Kayaker & Bridge II. This is the Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, Rockaway Inlet beyond. Windspeed: 0kts, gusting to 0.
Out of Jamaica Bay, we're paddling down Breezy Point now.
paddle strong - miles to go!
Passing the Breezy Point "Lighthouse" - really built in 1943 as a "fire control tower", part of a system for aiming WWII coastal gunnery. Check out http://www.geocities.com/fort_tilden/tower.html for a good explanation. You can't get in, which is probably good as the whole thing's leaning towards the bay - but when there was a threat of demolition, Breezy Pointers rallied to save it. They like their lighthouse.
Blimp ho! This has evidently been operating out of Floyd Bennett Field - my boyfriend & I had happened to go visit that bit of Gateway Recreation Area the day before (hence my little rave about the Historic Aircraft Restoration Project - it's really cool) & got to see it land. http://frogma.blogspot.com/2007/09/you-know-its-good-day.html
Headin' down Breezy, smooth and easy!
First break, and here's the commodore waiting for us. He really made this work when he volunteered to haul the Sebago trailer for land support - I can't quite imagine how we could've done it without him. You'll see why later.
Kayaks on the beach.
I.L. at the cabanas...
I've heard of these but never seen them before - a friend from work was going to be fishing here one day when I knew I was paddling, and I thought about going to say hi but didn't know where it was (plus it was windy & I got a late start so I did a shorter trip, only circumnavigated Jamaica Bay that day). Next time I may go. This is a huge beach club and each of the little sections is a cabana that you can sit in in the summer if you join.
I don't quite get it...
What a swell paddle it was!
It was still very quiet, not much wind, but we're out on the Atlantic now and there got to be a nice little swell, quite enough to send paddlers rising & falling in and out of sight.
There's our vice-commodore looking past Fort Tilden - that's our familiar Gil Hodges Bridge beyond the land. Check the location - so near, and yet so far!
We broke for lunch at G.S.'s - he was one of the original instigators of this trip, and lives near this beach. Lucky guy. The surf wasn't too big, maybe a foot or two -
but enough to make getting in fun for all us sheltered Jamaica Bay paddlers (not counting G., he's a surfer). There were a couple of practice runs out to the rougher waters Breezy Point before this trip, and everyone made it in fine.
I was wimpy & timed it to sneak in between sets, as I think most of us did - G. showed us all how it should be done though. In on this one, then turning his bow back out JUST enough to ride over the next one...
then la la la, easy paddling on in in the quiet behind.
Off again after lunch. I.L. & the vice commodore found a balloon.
Festive! Actually what was really festive around here was the fish - there were zillions of bunker, and little jellyfish, and the big fish were everywhere - mostly false albacore, I was told by a kayak fisherman we passed on the way. You'd see a swirl of diving terns and gulls, and then the water would just boil with big, heavy bodies of albacore or blues or bass - all chasing the bunker, tails slapping, occasionally leaping clear of the water. Our own kayakfisher must have been going mad - no rod!
Here we've made it into the East Rockaway Inlet. I've paddled here once before. Two very neat things about the place - powerful currents, lots of fun, you get a wonderful ride if you're there at the right time (which we were, thanks to Mr. McA's suggestion of that 6 am launch - twofold benefits of that were a nice ride out of Jamaica Bay, and a nice ride in here), and this incredibly clear water. Jamaica Bay gets very clear in the winter, but clouds in the summer - but here, it's almost like a little piece of the Caribbean...
Dr. A demonstrates the water clarity some more -
Rest break 3 (final one of the day) is here in Silver Point Park. Let's all take pictures! You take his picture, I'll take yours, it'll be fun.
Dr. A doesn't want to get out of his boat. OK, about that current - see the nun buoy (the red one, our side of the channel)? See that streak behind it? That water is MOVING. This would be such a neat place to live for a serious swimmer - I think you could literally walk out, start swimming, swim hard for an hour & walk back in - right at the same spot.
Closer view. G.'s just chatting. The water's fine!
Another beach club & more cabanas. This one was closed up already - too bad for the members, this would have been a PERFECT weekend for it!
Confab on the rocks!
Dr. A finally decides to get out of his boat and...oops, time to go!
Underwater shot. OK, maybe it's not QUITE Caribbean (or Hanauma Bay) clear - but for around here, it's amazing.
So amazing by our standards, in fact, that at one time there was a dive shop in that building with the blue roof. That's actually the beach where a bunch of us launched for a nice trip in the Hempstead Bay area - I actually didn't take many pictures from here until the takeout because I've got a gallery taken on a similarly lovely day over on my old Buzznet site - http://bkfrogma-farrock.buzznet.com/user/photos/?id=11380601
Close to the final bridge at Long Beach. Under this bridge & we'll be looking for a place called Paddy McGee's. We think there is a chance we might find some beer there. We know we will find our commodore!
See those building way off in the distance? Not to be mistaken for the trees in the middle distance, although being a bunch of urbanites we DID mistake trees for building later in the trip - but not here where we had actual buildings to keep us from getting confused. Anyways, those buildings were at the East Rockaway inlet, with the currents & the clear water, our 3rd & last break of the day. We've put some miles in.
At the drawbridge at Long Beach. Almost there.
On the other side of the big bridge, we find a little bridge - this one you had to limbo under!
And here we are at Paddy McGee's! No, this was not quite what I expected. Turns out it's Paddy McGee's Fish House and Parrot Bar. Bet this place is hopping in the summer.
Yellow boat squad! Hey, if you're gonna hang out at Paddy's Parrot Bar, might as well have come in in a banana boat, right?
Nice little workboat & crane, probably heading to do some waterside work for one of the nice big waterfront homes a little down the way.
Checking the charts - reviewing today's, discussing tomorrow's.
And this is an old car that has absolutely nothing to do with this trip except that it was in the parking lot where we landed.
And I thought it was cool.
nice curved windshield -
sure needs some tlc, though!
Almost as good as the Caribbean. Except that they didn't know what a Dark & Stormy was. Oh well. They had beer & calamari, and hot tea when I started getting chilly because I was in my soggy paddling clothes in air conditioning, so that was all OK. That hot shower felt SO good when we got to the motel. We finished the night with a huge & wonderful Italian meal at Dino's Restaurant in Rockville Center - then I think we all turned in by 10 & slept like logs. Beautiful day!