The waves were biggest after we rounded George's Head, and headed across Merchants Row to Hardwood Island. We'd chosen the west side of the archipelago because the growing south wind and swell suggested we'd find something less than flat over there. As we paddled along the south shore of Merchants, beam to the 2 or 3-foot waves, Todd remarked that there was something almost more calming about paddling in the waves.
We were both worn-out from work, and our shorter excursions (this was Todd's fifth time out this week, my third) weren't enough to really get us away from our concerns on land. But Todd was right, after several miles of up and down motion through the waves, we were focused only on paddling.
We took a break on a beach sheltered from the wind. After catching our breath, we walked down the beach. A small bluff rose from the sand, and there we walked through a meadow of tall grass. The wind made a constant hissing sound through the blades.
We headed across Merchants Row as fog closed-in. At first, we followed the dark shapes of familiar islands, but they soon disappeared, and we followed the compass. The rest of the world disappeared. Somewhere, waves lapped on a rocky shore. Water trickled from our paddles. Eventually, a ledge appeared, and then an island whose shore we followed until we were ready to cross the Thorofare.
A motor buzzed somewhere behind us, though. We waited as the sound grew, and then dissipated, nearly disappearing until suddenly it sounded like it was bearing down on us. It could have been going in circles for all we knew, but we guessed that the fog was doing funny things to the sound. We crossed the Thorofare, emerging among several large sailboats at anchor. We followed the more familiar lobster boats on their usual moorings back to the ramp.