Sunday, February 24, 2013
Dan and his father Jack came over from New Hampshire and we met Saturday morning at Old Quarry. We’d planned this for a few weeks, knowing that the odds were good that the weather wouldn’t cooperate, but for the second Saturday in a row, it did.
At least the forecast looked good enough to make the trip a “go.” When it came time to launch, the east wind had picked up more than expected, driving small choppy waves across the mouth of Webb Cove. My clients didn’t seem very concerned. They had both been paddling off and on for years, but never in the winter with drysuits and the added risk of forty-degree water. They had driven 5 hours, spent the night at Boyce’s Motel and were gung-ho for a paddle.
If I weren’t guiding this trip, I probably would have stayed in and watched the harbor from home, vacillating over whether I’d made the right choice. But like most days when you're on the fence, you get out there and it's great. So I listened to my clients and watched them as we headed across the first stretch of Thorofare. They looked comfortable and loose in their boats and they smiled when the waves increased. We pulled into the lee of Grog Island and chatted -- they’d asked for pointers so we worked some on technique and then headed across to the lee of Bold Island.
We used the islands like stepping stones, and each time we pulled out of the wind, it was an opportunity to assess how we were doing and what we wanted to do next. Each time Jack and Dan seemed eager to continue the more challenging way. When I’m guiding I often feel like I’m pushing my clients’ comfort levels, getting them to paddle further and try things they might not otherwise do. In this case, my clients didn’t need to be encouraged. In the Millet-Saddleback channel we plowed into fat, high-volume waves, and I was the one pointing us into calmer water in the lee of Saddleback.
We ate lunch on Enchanted and had a rough ride back toward Spruce, but continued along the exposed shore. I looked at Dan and said “we should head for some calmer water,” and he agreed, but as we paddled toward McGlathery, they were drawn to Blasters Rock as if it were calling them personally (that boulder does have that effect).
We eventually did get to more sheltered water as we paddled back through the middle of the archipelago. One last break: Little Camp Island. It’s funny how I get into patterns. Like the previous Saturday, we’d taken a variation of the Inner Archipelago Arc, although they were very different trips. Like the previous trip, at the end I just wanted to share that view from the top of the small, grassy island: little more than a mile from home, yet it feels like a fresh discovery every time I take someone there.
I caught myself saying "this would be pretty nice in the summer," something I seem to think fairly often lately.