Friday, September 10th, "oh-dark-thirty". Kayaks loaded, well fed on the Commodore's famous fabulous oatmeal & danish, coffees in hand, we were ready to hit the road for Day 4 of the Sebago Canoe Club's 5 Years Around Long Island expedition! This year's goal - to begin to make up for the time we'd lost to foul weather & other issues in the last 2 years. 20 to 30 miles a day - that was the plan!
Our starting point was the same as last year's endpoint - Cedar Point State Park. Oddly enough, this was not the actual plan this year - because getting from the South Fork to the North Fork was going to be a big pain for our fantastic ground crew, Linda, Cody & John (They Without Whom This Trip Could Not Be Happening), it had been decided that the starting point this year would be Orient Point & that we'd all be responsible for picking up the Cedar Point - Orient Point leg on our own.
However, the weather changed all that. The forecast was calling for north winds of 15-20 kts - not impossible for paddling in, but our original plan had us paddling east to west, putting that gusty wind right on our beams, meaning lots of extra work keeping our boats on course. Tom, Stevie & John H. had gone out the night before, giving them time to go look at conditions in the morning (while we were driving out).
They didn't like the looks of what they saw on the north shore, and met us with the suggestion that instead of toughing it out there, we could do the Cedar Point to Orient leg instead.
So that's what we did.
Minh launching. New boat!
Cedar Island Lighthouse. Cedar Point was an island until the Hurricane of 1938 moved enough sand to cause the gap between Cedar Island & Long Island to fill in, but the lighthouse is still called the Cedar Island Light. It's apparently looking for an angel, btw - I couldn't quite read the banner on the other side but apparently the park service would be willing to sell it for a dollar to someone with the wherewithal to restore it. Quite the fixer-upper, huh?
Me at the Cedar Island Light. Thanks to George for taking this so I could actually be in this album!
George & Ilene at the Cedar Point daymark. We gathered here to discuss group management. Everything worked out OK in the end but I seriously think that next time I hear a plan that assumes that everybody's VHF's are going to work I'm gonna veto it. 'Nuff said.
Gorgeous morning between the forks.
Ilene, Minh, Lighthouse, George.
Pete, Lighthouse, Ilene (almost hidden), George, Steve, John H. & Stevie
Daymark 3CI (Cedar Island, I guess). I sometimes like to take pictures of aids to navigation so that I can find them on charts later. Also, I like the way they look.
Orient Point ho!
Minh & George with Shelter Island in the distance. It was a little choppy here but not too bad.
Pete powers on.
Approaching the North Fork. Great day for sailing!
Lunch break at Orient Beach
Three cheers for Steve the Paddling Chef! You're never in danger of going hungry when he's on your trip. There you are, nibbling gorp and cheese & trying to convince yourself it's wonderful (ok, actually both the gorp & the cheese were Gourmet Garage products & were quite delicious) and then he goes & pulls a delicious ripe watermelon (or sometimes a whole pineapple) out of his boat. Faaaantastic.
Back on the water -
Past the ferry terminals
and on to Orient Point -
Steve, John & the ferry to New London.
We made it to Orient Point -
And that's where we stopped. People took a look at the current & the wearies just suddenly set in.
So, we took some pictures - me and Minh -
John, Minh, Ilene & Steve - Steve was probably on the phone with the ground crew, saying "Come get us please!"
It turned out that they were quite a distance away. Remember how we'd wanted to skip this leg because it was going to be a hassle for the ground crew? Well, that was the case. It did at least give some of us time to go play in the rip at the point.
That was fun.
The gang - L to R - Steve, me, George, Tom, Ilene, John, Minh, Pete & Stevie.
We think this was the Air National Guard search & rescue unit practicing their search patterns.
Thumbs up from Pete...
and so to bed.
zzzz...you'd be surprised how comfy little round rocks can be after 11+ miles into a headwind & a good rough-water play session.
In addition to being a fantastic chef, Steve is a zen master of stone skipping, and this beach was covered with perfect skipping-stones. This was the best skipping picture I got but I tell you, one of his stones skipped 8 or 9 times. Amazing.
George & Steve had a skipping contest.
Light got very nice.
Ground crew showed up (yay ground crew!) & we loaded up fast.
Back at the motel, we had a fine feast - appetizers included cheese, stuffed grape leaves, hummus and my own Sebago-grown cucumbers; the main course was once again courtesy of Steve, who grilled up some amazing, enormous Kobe beef steaks & squash.
Steaks ready for cutting - the picture doesn't do 'em justice!
I couldn't turn in fast enough after all that good food!
Morning, Day 2. "Dawn Patrol". Up at 5:30, on the road by 6 -
Aiming for a 7 am launch at Orient Point.
Launching from the ferry terminal - the road to the point was too rough for Linda's van. This was much easier.
About ready to launch
The view from the morning back-deck stretch! :D
On to Orient Point (again)!
Around the point!
And westbound - Brooklyn's that-a-way! Gorgeous day, too - at this hour, there was literally not a cloud in the sky.
We'd thought that the hairiest conditions were now behind us - but the North Shore surprised us. The current tended to push up some very heavy, confused chop around the points.
You'd frequently find yourself looking UP at the top of a wave. whee.
It was fun - but it was also a good bit of work. Our rescue skills actually got a good real-world workout - multiple capsizes, multiple rescues, some towing, a little hypothermia assessment - the works. Very good thing the water was still warm.
Our first break was a long one.
We all needed food, and a little basking in the sun, and one kayak needed a repair - that's going on in the background here, I should've taken pictures of that because it was pretty interesting - George had picked up this "Sun-Cure" fiberglass repair kit at a surf shop somewhere; Tom's boat had ended up with a big hole in the stern compartment & George did a great instant repair with his goop.
In the meantime, the rest of us plotted what we thought we could do for the rest of the day. Mattituck Inlet looked promising. Hey, look, there are now some tiny clouds in the sky.
And then suddenly, the conditions turned into exactly what the forecast had called for in the morning - winds 5-10 kts, seas 1 foot or less. Total Jekyll & Hyde of a day. Or would that be Hyde & Jekyll?
Steve H. That's a relatively new boat for him, it's a Tahe Marine & I attended the christening earlier this year. Very sharp-looking craft & it seemed to do great on this long trip.
Look, we could paddle to Connecticut!
Ilene, Pete & John
Steve playing slalom in the rocks along the shore.
John H. playing in the rocks too.
And the water just kept getting calmer...
Tom, John H., Ilene & Pete
Goldsmith's Inlet. This is where we had our lunch break, and I think this may have been one of our favorite spots on the trip so far!
The water was rushing into the inlet in a way that gave a fun ride
This ice-cream truck drove up with the most perfect timing - just as we were finishing lunch.
Nice dog hanging out
Ilene going for a ride up the inlet
On to Mattituck. Water now officially FLAT. I've been on water even calmer than this, but not very often.
Arriving at the Mattituck Inlet. There was a little confusion about where to land. This side of the breakwater! No, the far side!
We all went to the beach at the far side first.
But the scouting by the guys who came out on Thursday came in handy when we realized that the parking lot was a football field's length away.
Not an impossible carry - but why do it when just up the inlet...
there's a town dock & launch ramp?
Tom & Ilene
Back at the Wading River Motel - Paddling Chef/Grillmaster Steve, at it again! Mmmm, farm-stand fresh corn on the cob (not surprisingly the sweetest I've had all summer, didn't need a THING).
Main course - pork tenderloin & potatoes. And there was kielbasa, too, just in case anybody was still peckish after the pork & potatoes. Nobody was, but the kielbasa went FAST after Day 3's paddle!
Post-dinner trip planning for Day 3. We'd done about 24 miles on Day 2; for day 3, we figured Port Jefferson for an ambitious day, but had a couple of potential takeouts in case we were feeling slightly less spunky. Main agreement - off the water by 4, no matter where we were. The drive home just gets better now, but we were still out there far enough that we didn't want to be getting on the road too late.
9/12, day 3. Down to 8 now. John H. had had shoulder surgery earlier in the summer - he'd done well the first two days but was starting to feel it, so bowed out rather than hold back the group & possibly hurt himself again. Can't have been an easy call to make but it did end up being a long day.
Steve, George & Tom - Captain Bob V in the background.
Getting on the water (although 2 of the kayaks out there aren't us).
back in the saddle
down the inlet
and on out
to the Sound - which on day 3 provided us with a steady tailwind, pushing up wonderfully surfable swells. Maybe not as sparkly as the other days, but I'd say that the paddling conditions were the best we've seen on the trip so far. We were scooting along at 5-6 knots at times! Fantastic.
Tanker loading (or maybe unloading?) at the Northville oil terminal.
Funny, I'd thought this was an old pier - it was actually an old boat. I noticed the shape as we went by, and the prop(which you can see it if you zoom) confirmed that this was, indeed, a former boat.
Shoreham, with the ill-fated old LILCO (Long Island Lighting Co.) nuclear power plant - completed, but never put into operation. Look up Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant in Wikipedia for the story.
We decided to stop just past Shoreham for lunch. We liked the looks of the big rock (you'll see why in a minute). The shorebreak was just dumpy enough that there was a little boat emptying to be done, but nothing too bad.
Tom at Shoreham
Lunch break in the lee of a nice big rock. Perfect.
Emphasis on the And Back now! Although there is still that one 10-mile stretch from Georgica Pond to Napeague that must be done, sigh.
A few nice little bungalows. I think if I could afford a nice little bungalow like this, I'd pick one that was slightly less dramatically located.
because those cliffs DO erode. Today your staircase...
Mt. Sinai Harbor Inlet
Tom & Stevie, end of a 28-mile-plus day. PHEW.
Loading up for the last time this year.
Breaking out the cheese (the leftover kielbasa had been on the empty plate, btw - went fast, tasted GREAT!)
The whole crew minus John H. R to Left - Stevie, Linda, John W., George (up high), Ilene, Cody, me, Minh, Pete, Steve & Tom. We'd hoped for 20 to 30 mile days, we did average 20 miles a day & if we throw in a few day trips along with one more 3-day weekend next year, we do think that we'll wrap this up in 5 years, as planned!
Home again home again
and the kayaks are back.
And that's it for this year's leg of 5 Years Around Long Island!
And just because I was sort of curious - here is how much of the shoreline of Long Island I have now personally paddled. This trip started in the Paerdegat, where the line hooks in at Jamaica Bay, but I've already paddled the entire stretch from a little way past Hell Gate to J-bay at other times. That doesn't mean I'll skip that part next year, though - the plan is to do another 3 day weekend & then wrap it all up with a couple of day trips - the day trips should be fun!