Sunday, May 15, 2016

McGlathery Island in a Tandem

In early May, the weather has been hit-or-miss; plenty of cool, overcast days, rain and fog, as well as the occasional teasing glimpse of sun and actual warmth. Spring chores at Old Quarry have kept us busy, but a friend’s visit was well-timed to get-out for some sight-seeing Downeast, as well as a chance to try-out one of Old Quarry’s new tandems. Barb, who will also be doing some guiding at Old Quarry this summer, joined us as we got our gear together and grabbed the last Scorpio off the rack, since the others had been claimed by a NOLS group headed-out the next day for the next couple of weeks. 

Since it was my day off, I tried to not notice the water jugs lashed atop decks, or the shorts and cotton t-shirts worn by a group preparing to launch (not the NOLS group) but we were glad to be dressed for the water temperature, which still hovers in the forties, especially as the sun slipped behind the clouds, the wind picked-up, and the afternoon began to resemble our more usual weather. We followed a familiar route along the shore toward Buckmaster Point before pointing-out past Grog Island, where the osprey nest has blown down and the birds appear to be building a nest fairly low, atop a shore-side boulder.

Despite the mild winter, it has resulted in plenty of blow-downs, including several large spruce on Hells Half Acre that have fallen across one of the tent platforms. It will be interesting to see how the newly sunny patch of forest fills-in.

We meandered out along the shore of Coombs Islands and Ram Island and crossed over to Lindy’s Cove on McGlathery Island (so-named because, according to local lore, Charles and Anne Lindbergh anchored their yacht there during their honeymoon to escape the paparazzi). We found a spot out of the wind and ate our lunch.

When we set-out on an afternoon paddle with no particular goal, there are so many places to choose from in the Stonington archipelago that it can be tough to pick one. McGlathery Island, though too far for the liesurely half-day guided trips we lead, is just over 3 nautical miles from Old Quarry, and about the same from downtown Stonington (I used to do plenty of after-work, sunset jaunts around the island from town) but just far enough out that it feels you’ve gotten away from it all.

Wherever the wind is coming from, one of the landing spots on the mile-long island is likely to be sheltered, and on all but the calmest days, the southeast shoreline, exposed to Merchant Row and outer Jericho Bay, is likely to have a wave or two.

We often neglect exploring on foot in favor of more paddling, but it’s worth taking a little time to check-out the dry side of the shore. We took a short stroll around the east end boulders and attempted to push one back into the sea. But then, remembering our Leave No Trace principles, decided to leave it.

I took the stern cockpit of the tandem for the trip back and, while I’m accustomed to paddling a more maneuverable boat, enjoyed the challenge and variety of a different craft. Aside from that, it’s good to understand what it feels like for our clients in tandems. Tandems provide the opportunity for teamwork, which we all know can work either way. When you hit a comfortable pace with your partner though, or when she throws-in a well-timed draw stroke to get you around a rock, it feels good, and if you could get enough practice with a partner in a tandem, you might even attain a sort-of dual version of the graceful autonomy we experience in a solo boat.

I suppose this is one reason people acquire large collections of kayaks. For now, I’m still trying to keep my personal fleet small, but it helps to have sixty-odd kayaks and canoes at Old Quarry to sprinkle a little variety into the paddling experience.


John Foster said...

You guys will get in trouble for moving that rock:)

Michael Daugherty said...

But the feng-shui is greatly improved.