I paddled away from the island, pointed out into Southeast Harbor, against the wind. It was the first time I had paddled alone in awhile and it felt good to really let go and move quickly through the water, concerned only for myself. A breeze mildly corrugated the surface, but the whole Inner Harbor-Southeast Harbor area was relatively calm... amazingly so, considering the bumpy conditions at the mouth of Webb Cove that had driven us in this direction. My clients had hoped to spend the first night of their multi-day trip out in the archipelago, but this was just their second day of sea kayaking, and the lure of quieter water beckoned. Fortunately, it was as placid as I had predicted.
My clients were a couple who wanted some instruction and guidance to get started sea kayaking. For our first day we'd scheduled a full-day Fundamentals class, followed by a Journeying focus on the second day. I would help them get to their first destination. After that they would continue their trip on their own.
It's good to have such a specific goal: try to get them paddling safely and efficiently enough to continue on their own. A full-day Fundamentals class is a good start. We cover strokes and maneuvers as well as safety and navigation, all in the context of a journey. We may cover some of the same material in a shorter class, but in a full day, students have the chance to really try out these skills and get coached on them.We finished the first day with rescues in the pond.
After their first day of paddling, the couple had the chance to go back to the campground and recuperate- get a meal in town and a good night's sleep before the next morning, when they packed their boats and we headed out- me just for the day, while they were packed for four nights. The focus of our second day was more on the big picture: navigation, seamanship, making choices along the way.
Our environment was a good teacher. Conditions picked-up quickly. Shortly after launching I was asked about the wave height. "Under a foot," I said, but by the time we made it to Indian Point I conceded that the waves had grown to a foot and a half, and were a solid two feet soon after that. This was more than my day-two paddlers wanted to be in, and since the forecast called for more of this the next day, we planned a route to more sheltered waters. In the meantime, they were able to experience enough bumpy water to start gaining their own perspective- to understand what they might or might not want to paddle in.
We ate lunch on a ledge and found our way in through the river-like passage of Hatch Cove. The wind faded to a distant hiss and we passed beneath the bridge, floating on the ebbing tide into the calm pocket of Inner Harbor. Ahead, our island lay waiting. We landed and had a look around. The couple sat on the edge of the tent platform, looking content. It would be their home for the next couple of nights.
A couple of mornings later I received a text from them. They'd loved staying on the island and exploring the more sheltered areas around it (the following day had turned even windier). But then the weather improved and they felt confident enough to head out into the archipelago for a couple more days. When they finally returned, they had a calm, satisfied air about them, and they were certain they would be doing more of this.