9 AM, 9/12/08 - The Sebago Five Years Around Long Island picks up right where we left off last year, at the Smith Point Marina. Off on Leg 2! This year's cast (L to R) - Steve the Paddling Chef, me, Ilene, Stevie, Pete (our vice-commodore, whose wife & son have been part of our great ground-support team - couldn't happen without 'em), George (one of our main instigators & our best surf kayaker), Minh (Sebago's fleet captain), and John (who Twittered the whole trip, I love that! We've lost Dr. Anderson this year, heel surgery kinda screws up paddling. John's joined us. We were supposed to have one more but a dislocated shoulder kept us at 8. On the right end is Pete's son Cody, helping us out with the ground support - his mom drives the van, he helps move boats. Our commodore, John, who took this, hauls the trailer with all the boats. Good group this year, although we'll miss the ones who couldn't make it. So...where is it we're going again?
Oh, that's right! Actually, our original plan was to round Montauk Point this year & start next year with the big Montauk to Orient crossing. Right up until the day before we set out, everything was looking good. The forecast was <i>perfect</i> - south wind 10-15 kts the first day, when we'd be mostly in the shelter of the bays, then days 2 & 3 were going to be winds under 10 kts, waves 1 foot or less, perfect for the open ocean leg. Unfortunately, there was a lot of instability in the various weather systems & by Sunday morning, those predictions of glassy calm had given way to a small craft advisory for the afternoon. Between that & one of our number becoming unwell Saturday afternoon, we chose not to paddle on Sunday. We still went to Montauk Point - it was just in a van, with an eye to scouting put-ins & take-out & conditions at the point itself for next year. Beautiful area, actually it will be nice to have a couple more days there.
Pete & Linda taking Pete's boat down to the water's edge.
Romany says, "I'm ready, come on, let's go!"
And we're off!
Mini-lighthouse at Sheeppen Creek. Hey, Stevie & Minh better slow down, it's a no-wake zone! Oh, wait, that's probably in the creek. Go on, guys!
Pete, Ilene & Stevie (who says he's posing!)
Minh under gray skies. It wasn't the perfect day; it was a little breezy, there was a bit of weathercocking, but we are "in the bays" for the first day, so it's all very sheltered.
There was a little sun here & there, though.
Coast Guard Station Moriches, and a little more sun!
We decide at this point to cross the bay. The south wind is pushing us around a little bit - not badly, just a little tiresome, and we're hoping to find a little wind shadow behind the dunes. Also, we're approaching Westhampton, and this is the LAST stretch of land we can see for quite a while that doesn't have a great big house on it. Time for leg stretching, a bite to eat & uh whatever else you gotta do...
The beach is covered with THOUSANDS of starfish.
Back underway - Ilene & Stevie & there's some of those houses. So close together, we're better off having taken a break - that way, we just don't have to worry about shore access.
The wind's good enough for some kitesurfers to be out. This one's a newbie...
Cruisin' along ok for the moment. There's a teacher on the boat.
The teacher is earning his keep...
there we go, not moving yet but the kite's back up at least!
This one's way further up the learning curve - he's having a very nice day.
Approaching the Quantuck Canal. It's funny, if you didn't know it was there, you'd swear that the bay dead-ended, the waterway narrows down that much!
Nice little beach shacks, yeah?
The entrance to the canal.
John & a young cormorant have a staring contest. The birds around here are pretty blase - you'd never get this close to a cormorant in Jamaica Bay, they are much more skittish there!
Daymark #2 at the western end of the Quantuck Canal.
A couple more nice places - one just being built. A little surprising how much construction was going on - the entire length of this area, there was always the sound of hammering & power tools.
Now I'm sorry, but with a house like that, a plastic Perception rec boat is the best they can do? Sigh...
Drawbridge, raised funny like that because there's work being done on it.
A giant reel sort of thing for drying fishing nets. I and my entire boat could fit inside with room to spare.
Pete & Ilene do a little paddle-sailing.
Steve tries it with his Greenland stick.
Pete LOVES the "boat garages"! Now that's the way you do it!
It might be a squeeze, but I think if we're careful, we'll make it!
Entering Shinnecock Bay.
Osprey nest. They must have begun to migrate, I don't recall seeing a single one, where just a few weeks back when we went around Shelter Island, they were EVERYWHERE, you'd hear their "kee-kee-kee"ing every few minutes.
Lunch break, first non-private looking land since we left Moriches Bay.
A tiny horseshoe crab exoskeleton. I don't understand how they shed these & yet leave them entirely in one piece, right down to the little claws & legs & swimmerets. Rather amazing.
Pete in a duck blind.
Pete being silly in a duck blind (my fault, I told him to).
Little horseshoe crab makes a good pointer to show where we are. And look, just across the barrier island lies the Antic Ocean!
The tide's coming in. Steve H's boat does a runaway. A little while later (and I'm sorry I didn't take a picture), we run across a motorboat that's run aground (seems bigger boats need to pay serious attention to aids to navigation around here, lots of little sandbars & stuff) - we just laughed at him because he kept gunning his GREAT BIG MOTORS. And the boat wasn't budging. We must have heard that motor for half an hour as we paddled away snickering with schadenfreude. All they needed to do was crack open a beer & just chill for a while, tide would float 'em off just fine.
A nice cup of tea & we'll be off.
Look - Minh's got a hitch-hiker from the first beach. A starfish with a yen to travel? Who'd'a thunk? That's the Ponquogue Bridge in the distance, btw - there'd been thoughts of going under the bridge & out the inlet, but as I mentioned, the flood had already begun at our lunch break, so that's just not gonna happen. We're already fighting the current & it's picking up every minute.
In fact it's strong enough that this channel marker buoy has an eddy behind it big enough to hold a sea kayak steady for long enough to take a picture. John & Pete & I all play here for a minute - we've called our ground support & told them to come get us by the bridge, so there's no hurry, plenty of time to horse around.
Whoosh. Nope, we're not fighting that!
Ilene at our destination. Sometimes it's just nicer & warmer to stay in your kayak. It's cool & drizzly & breezy & I am SO glad I broke out the wetsuit!
Pete & me & George in the Edward J. Warner, Sr. Old Ponquogue Bridge Marine Park.
Our ride arrives, we load the trailer, almost time to go. Boy is a hot shower going to feel good.
One quick look at the Shinnecock Inlet before we go. Tomorrow, it's all open water coastal kayaking.
Don't worry. Only my parents will think this is funny. Anyways, we're lucky tonight; Steve's cousins have a nice beach house & they've quite marvelously agreed to let all his riffraff kayaker friends shelter there for the night. It's pouring rain - sooo nice to just walk in the front door, take a hot shower & sit down all warm dry & clean with a nice cold beer.
Naptime for Minh. Dinner prep starting in the background. And it's going to be a feast!
Cody's sleepy too.
George gets serious about scrubbing potatoes.
Homegrown cuke is my contribution (too bad it had been in my fridge just a tiny bit too long - got some good cuke out of it but chucked quite a bit).
Ta-daa, the Paddling Chef and the main course!
A half hour of sheer decadent carnage later & we're all done, except Minh - he just can't miss that last little bit! Ilene, Steve & John look on in stuffed amazement.
The End. All that's left is cleanup & watching the weather. Our weather's going to be great. Meanwhile, Galveston's getting hammered by Ike & Houston's next. I was very happy to hear when I got home that my aunt & uncle & various other Texas cousins were OK!
To sleep to the sound of rain.