Monday, May 26, 2014

May Snapshots, Volume I

In the three weeks since the last paddling excursion I wrote about here, I've managed to get-in plenty of paddling, mostly in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. I've been too busy paddling (and driving) to spend much time writing much more than copious notes and plans for the next trip. And yet I really love those days I get to spend writing about it as well.  I've also been helping Nate teach Pinniped's Leadership & Guide Training class at Old Quarry, and today I'm feeling a bit worn-out, beat-up and waterlogged.

Several excursions could have easily warranted a blog post, but for now I'll have to settle for a few snapshots of highlights.

Hingham Harbor. On our way down to Osprey Sea Kayak in Westport, MA, where Rebecca would be taking an Instructor Development Workshop, we stopped just south of Boston for a paddle in Hingham Harbor. We paddled to the public islands, checked-out the sights and campsites, and returned to the beach to witness a bunch of high school girls doing "polar plunges"- dips in the ocean usually lasting about half a second. The plunges were well-documented on phones, and afterward the girls warmed-up in cars, each attentive to the little screens on their hand-held devices.

Newport. For four days while Rebecca took her class, I went off on my own to explore. In Newport I launched at Fort Adams, following the shore south past Ocean Drive to Land's End and back. Then I went out to check out the Rose Island Lighthouse (above- I always seem to get those "flag fully extended" winds) and back around Goat Island in Newport Harbor. At the Goat Island Bridge, fishermen lined the railings almost shoulder to shoulder, casting lines and continuously hauling-in squid. The fishermen were strangely quiet, with only the sound of reels and squid expelling water as they were hoisted up. 

Jamestown Island, Rhode Island. When I see a big island on the chart, my mind inevitably veers into planning circumnavigations. I went all the way around Jamestown (AKA Conanicut Island) to discover that the southern end is a good deal more exciting and lively than the northern end. Fun paddle, but tiring. Here's a few moments of that trip on video.

Sakonnet Point, Rhode Island. Swells rolling into the mouth of the Sakonnet River squeeze through a sieve of rocky domes and ledges, creating fun play spots. Paddling solo, I maneuvered cautiously among the islands which were thick with nesting seabirds. The islands and Sakonnet Point Lighthouse are easily recognizable from far-off, with three stone columns on West Island marking the site of the The West Island Club. The club was a haven for wealthy sportfishermen in the late 1800s and was finally washed away in the hurricane of 1938.

Fort Wetherill, Jamestown. I joined a group of paddlers on a Rhode Island Canoe & Kayak Association (RICKA) trip that met on Saturday morning. This trip ventured into lively and sometimes large conditions for a bit of rock play among the cliffy stretches of Jamestown.  I often found myself paddling near the appointed leader, hanging-back from much of the group, which seemed almost indifferent to the probability of larger swells turning the impact zone into chaos. A few mishaps ensued, but were followed by efficient rescues. After paddling alone so much, I was grateful to be included, and had a great time paddling with this group. They assured me that their trips didn't usually result in so much carnage. Check-out the video here.

Marion, Massachusetts. As we meandered home, we launched in Marion for a paddle in Buzzard's Bay. The shoreline is mostly residential and Bird Island- the only public access destination- is off-limits much of the time due to bird nesting, but we had a nice lunch on a ledge in Aucoot Cove.

Then as we drove home, feeling a bit worn-out and sleepy, it seemed that a bit of surfing at Popham Beach might be a good eye-opener. It was near the end of the day, so we hurried down to the beach and got in a bunch of good rides in less than an hour. Plenty of adrenaline to get us the rest of the way home.

But it was good to get home. A few days later we taught a pool session in Bar Harbor and took a spin out around the Porcupines- about the calmest day we've had there for awhile, which made for some enjoyable near-shore paddling (or like the photo above - "in" shore paddling).

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