Thursday, January 10, 2013

Steves, Gooseberry

Over forty degrees, not much wind, some sun... A good day, finally to get out for a paddle. It had been awhile. In Newfoundland for the holidays, we had watched the weather, the high winds and blowing snow that stung the face, and usually agreed that it was just as well we hadn’t brought the boats. Even the 650-foot ferries sat-out some of the gales, delaying our return.

Near Bonne Bay, Newfoundland
Back home, it took some effort to get back into our routine, but oddly, it seemed to fall more into place when we took the better part of a day off and went paddling. “Where to?” we asked at the ramp in Stonington, and it seemed obvious enough. Point toward Steves, take it from there.

Fishermen took advantage of the weather window as well, the harbor humming with lobster boats as we headed across the Thorofare. “Feels like a long time since I’ve paddled,” Rebecca said, and I agreed. Not counting Sunday’s pool session (which I mostly spent standing in the water beside boats) it had been nearly a month since my last excursion. It felt good to follow the shoreline of Green Island, getting the feel for it again, edging and turning around the rocks as small waves pushed us back and forth. We pointed toward the familiar sloping profile of Steves and soon realized we were being set to the west by the ebbing tide. We let it take us: along the shore of Potato, past the sandbar poking-out from George Head until Steves Island lay just before us. At nearly low tide, the easiest sandy beach was on the east side. We pulled-up for a break.

Most of the snow had melted or blown away. We walked around the island, took a few pictures, picked-up some garbage. The sky turned darker as a band of clouds moved-in from the southwest. We kept moving, paddling out past Wreck and then Round Islands.

The wind began to pick-up, just a bit, and we rounded McGlathery, its southeast shoreline stretched ahead of us, granite ledges sloping down into the waves. Giant boulders poised on the incline, apparently ready to roll into the ocean, as they have been since the glacier left them there.

We stopped on Gooseberry Island and ate lunch. Like Steves, Gooseberry is small enough that you can walk around it in a few minutes. You don’t forget that you’re on an island. We sat on a driftwood log, staring out at the open ocean beyond Fog Island, watching lobster boats belching black exhaust as they sped the last miles toward home.

There’s a lot to like about Gooseberry Island, but the boulders really stand-out. The eastern end is strewn with glacial erratics, a random sprinkling of granite boulders, some a good bit larger than us. We wandered among them and marveled. If it had been warmer, we might have spent the afternoon marveling.

But even at forty degrees, it’s prudent to keep moving, keep the blood pumping. Once on the water again, we felt plenty warm, and headed back to Stonington. 


John F said...

Welcome back.
Great photos.

Caroline said...

I've been feeling a need for another of your great paddling tales accompanied by pictures that put me right back in my favorite paddling territory. Thanks.
Oh, and I always get nostalgic for Newfoundland when you or Rebecca mention it. A wonderful province for sure.

Michael Daugherty said...

Thanks John, thanks Caroline. Newfoundland is pretty amazing. I've only been there in colder months- would love to get there in the summer some day.