Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What's cookin'?

Spam musubi -- my first try ever! Why did it take me so long?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Coney Island to Sandy Hook Test Swim with CIBBOWS, 10/18/2014

Preparing for the day at 5:30 am. I'm sharing a small selection of the day's photos here - visit my Flickr for more from the day (with a lot less words) 

I had an interesting adventure yesterday with some of the lovely folks at the Coney Island - Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers (more commonly known as CIBBOWS). I've served as kayak support for a number of their races along the Coney Island shoreline and I always enjoy volunteering for them, so when I got a message saying that they were looking for kayakers for a special test swim from Coney Island to Sandy Hook, New Jersey, and it turned out that I didn't have anything else planned for the day, I said "Sure!"

When I started doing kayak support for swims (1999 or 2000, not sure exactly), most of the swims were along shorelines, with the biggest one being the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, a 28.5 mile circumnavigation of Manhattan Island.  Over the last few years, the local swim organizers have been developing a number of new swims. A couple of them were based on historical swims; Rose Pitonof's 1911 swim from East 26th street to the Steeplechase Pier in Coney Island was commemorated in 2011 with the Rose Pitonof Swim, organized by Urban Swim and now an annual event, while the Manhattan Island Foundation's Ederle Swim honors Gertrude Ederle's 1925 achievement in becoming the first woman ever to swim the length of New York's Upper and Lower Harbors, breaking the standing record in the process (the following year she became the first woman to swim the English Channel).

Meanwhile, CIBBOWs continues to run their annual classics, Grimaldo's Mile, (named in honor of the understanding lifeguard who went to bat for the early CIBBOWS crew as they began regularly turning up for open-water swim training at Coney Island, arguing in favor of allowing them to swim outside of the jetties which the lifeguards had previously regarded as the de facto boundaries of the swimming area), and the Aquarium Triple Dip (one mile, five mile, and 10K races with a simultaneous start at the New York Aquarium), while actively developing new swims.

Interestingly, their public entrant in the "Big Swim" category, the Eight Bridges Swim, is not on their "home turf" at all but is rather a spectacular 120-mile seven-day swim down the Hudson, named after the eight bridges that mark each day's segment, beginning with the Rip Van Winkle Bridge in the Catskills and finishing at the Verrazano Narrows Bridge that marks the southern end of the upper NY Harbor. Still, they must stand by Grimaldo's Chair and look out across the lower harbor and say, "Wouldn't it be neat to swim...there?" The most obvious of those would be Breezy Point, which you're looking straight at when you stand on Brighton Beach and look south; it's temptingly close for an experienced open-water swimmer (5K), the currents are fairly straightforward, the point shelters the waters there, and although you are crossing a channel, it's primarily recreational traffic. The organizers deal with the safety issues by simply not making it a race, but a group swim for members; the number of swimmers is limited and swimmers must choose to join one of three "pods", slow, medium, or fast, with the pace of each pod set by the slowest swimmer and runaways returned to their pods by the jetskiers who form part of the safety escort.

Sandy Hook is the other of the two arms that embrace lower NY Harbor, and so naturally that's another tempting destination from Coney Island. It's a MUCH more complicated venture, though, and they still consider it a test swim, working out the kinks. This one, the swimmers are striking out for a destination that's over 10 kilometers away; on the Coney Island to Sandy Hook version that we did on Saturday, they travel across currents that can be flowing any direction from northeast to due south as the water runs out of the Upper Harbor, Raritan Bay, and Sandy Hook bay, all eventually funneling out of the five and a half mile wide mouth of NY Harbor. As the various flows run into each other and over various shoals and sandbars around Sandy Hook, chaotic wave conditions form (we managed to avoid the worst of them this year but if I heard the story right, last year as they crossed the Romer Shoal they got into some stuff that was so rough that the escort boats had to detour while the kayaks took the swimmers though), and before you even get to that of course you have to cross the Ambrose Channel, which feels a little bit like crossing the runway at JFK - big big craft coming in and out and they can't stop and they aren't going to go around you if you get in their way. All in all, when I first heard about this swim, I had reservations - that wasn't why I didn't go with last year's, I think I had a prior commitment, but it just sounded kind of scary.

The kayakers who have gone came back with stories of a challenging but well-run day, though, so this year I didn't hesitate when I got that email - for all the reasons I just gave, kayaking across the Lower Harbor is a pretty rare occurrence for all but the most ambitious, but it's also spectacular, and to have the chance to take swimmers across? The Manhattan Island Marathon Swim was always one of my favorites to volunteer for back when my boat was in Manhattan just because it's such a feat, and this had the same wow factor to it.

It was a hideously early start - five a.m., and as you can see from the first photo, it really was "oh-dark thirty" - but with the forecast for the day showing a small craft advisory with winds gusting to 25 kts, that actually worked out really well - we'd gone over and been brought back and were back on shore in Brooklyn long before things kicked up. The waves were pretty good-sized when we launched (I don't think I've ever done what I would quite consider a surf launch at Coney Island before but this time I did not turn down a helpful shove out) but either they settled down as the sun came up - or they just stopped seeming so big once I could see 'em. Also may have been a factor of getting used to the boat - clubmate Larry is another big fan of CIBBOWS and volunteers for them a lot (in fact when I was the kayak organizer for the Grimaldo's Mile this year he was a huge help), and sometimes lets me borrow one of his boats when Eri (another frequent CIBBOWS volunteer) isn't; Eri was in fact in on this one and was the one who told me they needed kayakers, but she was volunteering on one of the support boats this time as she's a less experienced paddler and this one needs some really solid skills, so Larry's spare boat was open for me, making the whole thing work. He has 2 Tchaikas, which are really nice little boats that put the lie to the common belief that a sea kayak under sixteen feet long can't keep up, great boat for a small to medium paddler. I'm pushing the limits of that boat at my size but it's worked well enough for me and I expected that that was what I would be paddling, but then Larry told me that one of the footpegs in his spare Tchaika was broken and how would I like to use his newly-acquired Epic 16 instead?

Sounded great except that one fairly good rule of thumb for kayakers is "Don't try a new boat for the first time for a long trip" - sometimes you'll run into a boat that just doesn't agree with your body type (I've only run into this once but that once, it was profound - the boat was the Anas Acuta - lovely lovely boat, beloved of many paddlers, but I got into one once and within five minutes my hip joints were screaming for mercy) - but given the choice between taking that gamble and dealing with a missing footpeg, I decided to take the gamble, figuring if worse came to absolute worst, I was sort of a spare kayaker for the relay team (they had me and Larry) and bailing out would be an option. Worked out fine, I would say it felt a bit less stable than my Romany, and it took me a little while to get accustomed to the steering (it's got a rudder that is meant to be used, I'm accustomed to ruddering on my surfski but it took a little while to get it through my head that I should steer with the rudder in a decked boat) - anyways, to get back to the point of things, getting settled in the new boat may also have been part of why the waves seemed bigger at first.

The swimmers started from the beach on Coney Island at 6:30 am - the sun was not up yet and the swimmers were wearing lightsticks, but you could barely tell them apart. I got in as close to shore as I could without getting involuntarily surfed back in - still really hard to see but I did manage to guess the right swimmer.

Larry and I were accompanying a three-person relay team - Phyllis was their starting swimmer. It was too early and a little too rough for my camera to focus but it looked pretty neat with Phyllis swimming along with her glowsticks past the Parachute Jump with dawn's early light finally coming up so...

Absolutely gorgeous sunrise, shortly after 7.

Phyllis stroking along smoothly, chasing Larry down the harbor

After an hour and twenty minutes during which Phyllis barely missed a stroke except to sip some water and liquid nutrients, Capri (Polar Bear Princess, the day's race organizer, and the relay team's boat volunteer) called on the radio to let me know that it was time for the switch. Phyllis swam over and boarded the Karen II, and then Spence, our second swimmer, jumped in and set to work. He's a big rangy guy and we moved on towards the Ambrose Channel (see the freighter in the distance?) at a good clip.

Not too long after that, I got a surprise call on the radio that a second swimmer was going to be joining us. It was Shara, who was slated to swim the third leg; it turned out that she had gotten terribly seasick on board the Karen II, the waves weren't crazy but they were enough to set a slow-moving boat to rocking heavily and it was too much for her. I guess she'd consulted with Capri and they decided that she might do better joining Spence in the water. 

Worked like a charm. Within a few minutes she felt well enough to take a few sips from the food bottle I still had from Phyllis. At this point I was VERY glad that the Epic 16 and I were getting along well - Shara is another strong swimmer but she just didn't have big rangy Spence's speed, so Larry took him and I stayed with her. It was actually particularly fun watching her because I think she's one of the happiest-looking swimmers I've ever seen. Don't know if she just has a naturally cheerful swimming face or if she was particularly happy to be off the boat -- could've been the latter because when Capri hailed me on the radio again ten minutes later to ask if she was ready to re-board, she grimaced and said "I don't EVER want to get back on that boat!" -- I relayed the message back and we were given permission to carry on. 

Capri did call her back on board about half an hour before her official start time, and I caught back up with Larry and Spence. Spence was doing an admirable job of closing the distance between himself and the solo swimmers out ahead of us, it wasn't a race but we were still having fun yelling "Go get those guys!" and Spence was having fun trying to catch 'em. We were closing in on the Ambrose Channel when he began to get too cold - I think he had maybe just a couple more minutes in his swim but his teeth were chattering and he decided it was time to get back on the boat. 

Shara was of course very happy to get back in as she'd gotten quite seasick again, and she was closing the distance to the Ambrose Channel quite nicely when, unfortunately for her, we saw three container ships heading north up the channel towards us. After a bit of discussion, the decision was made to pull all three of us onto the Karen II (she was an excellent swim support boat, being a dive boat with a big, sturdy, easy to negotiate swim ladder and a big open back deck with plenty of space for both kayaks) and motor across the channel. 

The loading needed to happen pretty fast; it was quite choppy here and being worried about having one of the steel-pipe rungs come down on Larry's lovely shiny red boat, I decided that instead of manuevering the boat to the ladder, I would just jump out nearby and swim to the ladder (our skipper cracked us up at this point, I told them what I was going to do, I said it was because I was worried about damaging the boat and without a pause he said "Oh, don't worry about my boat!" - the Karen II is a big sturdy vessel and a carbon fiber kayak was about as likely to do damage as an eggshell so we all started laughing and I said "It's Larry's boat I'm worried about!"). Larry followed with a little more elegance and then our captain put the boat in gear and we zipped on across the channel well in advance of the three big container ships. At this point Capri and the captain decided that as long as we were all on board, we would continue on to just past the Romer Shoal light, as the ebb was quite strong and we had already been carried pretty far down towards the mouth of the harbor - with this swim, the concern is being swept out into Atlantic, and we could see large breakers to the south that we definitely didn't want to get mixed up with. Our skipper was great, btw, been running dive boats for a long time (including a 6-year stint with the NYPD scuba division) and knows the Sandy Hook area very well. When we got into those areas I mentioned earlier where the currents get very confusing for one unfamiliar with the area, he gave Capri good clear directions and points of reference to relay to us. Really, really helpful!

Once we passed the lighthouse, we were ready to go again. I decided to jump into the water again to take care of, er, some personal business (there was a head on the boat but I was wearing a Farmer Jane and I was going to have to take off all of my gear and then put it all back on again and it was SO much easier to just jump back in the water) and just have them throw my boat in after me. Unfortunately in the process of scrambling back in, I managed to pull the wrist strap and float off of my camera, so I didn't take too many more pictures after that, but eventually I just couldn't resist the "god rays with swimmer and kayaker" shot. 

As we made the final approach to Sandy Hook, Shara started feeling bad about her teammates sitting on the boat waiting for her while she finished the swim, so she asked me to invite them to join her if they wanted to. Phyllis jumped in right away, Spence waited until we were a little closer, and then the three swam together most of the rest of the way.  

Phyllis had an arm that started to bother her and decided that close was good enough, but Shara and Spence swam on in to the beach together - a successful swim! 

I couldn't resist running off then and catching one of those lovely waves that were sweeping along diagonally to the shore - Epic 16 surfs very nicely - and then I made my way back to the boat for the ride back to Coney Island. Several of us adjourned to Tom's on the Coney Island boardwalk for lunch, and then Eri gave me a ride home - thank goodness for that, after a cheeseburger, fries, and a beer I could barely keep my eyes open there at Tom's and I just couldn't get home fast enough.
And again - repeating in case you missed it at the start - of COURSE I took more pictures than this, too many for a blog post. visit my Flickr album for the full set. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Are You Ready For Winter Boating? Find out at New York Kayak Company, Saturday, 10/18/2014

Proxigean Paddle - January 2010, possibly still my coldest paddle ever! 

Well goodness gracious, it's felt like summer again for the last couple of days here in NYC, but the flaming maple tree I see outside of my window every morning says, "Nope, it's still Fall", and (groan) that means winter is right around the corner.

Does that mean the NYC paddling season is coming to an end, though? Nope, no way, no how. A lot of people do hang up their sprayskirts (or move indoors to the various pool sessions) for the winter, but it is absolutely possible to keep going through the entire winter if you have the right gear, skills, and knowledge. Interested, but not sure? This is a great time to find out as outfitters will frequently hold cold-water workshops this time of year.

The first of those that I've heard about this season, as announced on the NYCKayaker moderated email list,  is coming up this Saturday at New York Kayak Company, located on the south side of Pier 40, which is right at the Hudson River end of Houston Street. This one's got an unusual spin as Randy's Kokatat rep is also the area's GoPro rep, so it's going to be a combination winter paddling and GoPro for SUP and kayak workshop. The fun starts at 11 am. Bring your own booties if you want to go swimming. The workshop is free but Randy would appreciate RSVP's at 212-924-1327.

Here's Randy's full announcement: 

When: Saturday, October 18th at 11 AM

Where: New York Kayak Co. at Pier 40

What: Tom Harsh represents Kokatat and Go Pro. This Saturday he will be coming to New York Kayak Co. to discuss how to dress for off season paddling. As days grow shorter and temps fall, Kokatat makes it easy to manage challenges to safety, comfort and performance. Tom Will also be presenting an Introduction to Go Pro for SUP and Kayak.

Join us to see and feel the apparel, and hear what Tom has to say about dressing for maximum enjoyment of your off season paddling opportunities. Topics will include strategies for avoiding hypothermia, proper layering, and material selection. We will examine the differences between various wet and dry items and how to select the garments that best suit both your off season paddling goals and budget.

Have you ever worn a dry suit? This is your chance to not only try one on, but people who BRING THEIR OWN IMMERSION FOOTWEAR and sign a waiver can see what its like to go for a short swim in a dry suit - it’s really fun! Additionally, attendees will receive10% off all Kokatat items - even our over-stock dry suits, jackets and PFDs here at the shop that are already on sale! We are overstocked in size small for both men and women - so if that’s your size, now is the time to get a dry suit! In addition to dry suits made for kayaking, we have lighter paddling suits specially made for SUP and surf ski paddling, and a few made specially for kayak fishing.

This is also a great opportunity to learn how to use a Go Pro. We can combine the demos so you can take a camera into the water.

Apparel discussion will begin promptly at 11, and Go Pro will start at 12. Please spread the word and call the number below to reserve your spot today. Hope you can join us!

Randall Henriksen 
New York Kayak Co. 
Pier 40, Hudson River Park

Winter Paddling is Fun. Penguin Hats Optional.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Last Caprese

Thought it was all over but the green tomato cookery and Pestopalooza (the annual day when I make all of the basil that's left from the garden into pesto for the winter), but the garden had a nice surprise for me when we went surfing weekend before last -- two tomatoes had actually managed to turn red! I brought them home and let them ripen a little more and they were a nice treat for dinner tonight. Didn't make it out to the club this weekend due to a cleaning fit (I don't get those often and the place was such a sty after an insanely busy September and early October that I felt like I'd better run with it) plus maybe a touch of a cold, so no fresh basil, but I had a little dried from the garden & sprinkled that on.

Maybe not as flavorsome as midsummer but not bad for October.

Have to get out to the club this weekend to get the basil, and the green tomatoes and the hot peppers (at least they're supposed to be hot, haven't actually tried one yet) that finally came in just at the end of the season.

I didn't do much garden blogging this year, it was actually a sort of frustrating summer. The cucumber vine shrivelled up and died after about three cukes; the tomatoes went for quality instead of quantity, what did ripen was delicious but there just weren't many. Next year I have to go back to including a cherry tomato, those used to self-seed and I'd let one or two of the volunteers grow. Sandy stopped the natural recurrence and I didn't think of restarting them, but it's so nice to have those to nibble on while you're waiting for the big ones to be ready.

The chard did OK, and I did get the herb bucket restarted. I used to have a huge rosemary bush with thyme and sage that would overwinter, again Sandy killed those, I replanted in 2013 but managed to kill them but this year the little replacements I planted in the spring have made it to fall.

The one success story this year (aside from the onions, which are basically indestructible) was the beets. This was sort of funny -- I love beets and I try to grow them every year. Up until this year, I'd always carefully thinned them, and with maybe 3 square feet of my 4x6 plot that just means not many beets, but last year I was looking at sailing committee co-chair Holly's garden and noticed that she had a beautiful crop of beets and they were all growing right on top of each other! She's a good gardener and I asked her about it and she said she'd just planted and then let them fight it out among themselves, so that's what I did this year, and it worked pretty well. 

I guess they don't read the instructions they come with. Shhhh, don't tell!
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Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Internet Is Cool #2 - OOH SHINY, With Another ID

OK, not sure this is quite as cool to most of my boatblogging friends as the unsolicited tugboat ID (that was really neat, especially the article the ID led to), but I got a kick out of it! 

One cool thing about being at Oak Beach on a Sunday morning, as TQ and I were a couple of weeks ago for our tides and currents and surf zone classes, is that it happens to be THE meeting place for all the classic car buffs in the area. There used to be a club here, the Oak Beach Inn, and according to what I was told at one time the car buffs used to come here to go there, and when the inn burned down they just kept coming.

I'd forgotten that it was Sundays and that it was so big - we'd had a cavalcade of bikers through on Saturday (fundraising ride for medical research of some sort, I think it was - oh those awful bikers, NOT) and I'd thought that was it but when TQ and I got there on Sunday we were almost embarrassed to drive in in Mighty Taurus (who has been a darned good yakwagon for years, but still...). Fortunately we did have a couple of slick machines strapped to the roof to distract from the vehicle.

We actually ended up having a pretty nice lineup of boats up on the lawn later when the rest of the gang arrived, some of the car and bike folks came up to say hi and check them out. That was fun. The vehicles were different but I think the spirits were kind of similar - obsessively in love with our respective traveller's hobbies.

TQ and I were early enough and still organized enough from the day before that I had some time to walk around and admire.

I wouldn't call myself a car buff, but I do find nice cars, and especially old cars, to be very pleasing to the eye.

I like the colors,

I like the lines,

I like the way the owners

like to make 'em shine!

And I liked this one because it looked just like a big red robot face! :D
And that's where the internet ID came in! I don't think of TQ as particularly a car buff but he's totally a guy kinda guy and it turned out he was really glad I'd taken all of these pictures - he was the head instructor this day so he had a little more prep to do than I did and didn't end up having a chance to go check out the cars and was happy that I had pictures for him. I think half the fun for him was ID'ing the cars -- I was taking pictures because "oooh shiny", didn't even cross my mind to ask what kind they were! Anyways, he was doing really well until we got to the shiny red robot face car. You can see the badge on the photo but it was hard to make out the details, even in the full-sized version. TQ was working his way through the list of zoomy cars (Ferrari? Nope. Bugatti? Nope? etcetera etcetera) without any luck. Thinking back I don't know if he was REALLY stumped (he said he was but I bet he would've gone back to look more sometime), but he took a break for a minute and at that point I decided I would try one of my groups on Facebook. It's a group of friends from Hawaii, but there are a few notable car buffs on there and I suspected one of them would be able to sort this out for me.

I think I specifically addressed it to the lady who works with her husband in professional racing but the guy from Poi Dog's Plate Lunch (coming soon to an Austin, Texas near you, at least if you happen to be near Austin, Texas - I might need to go visit my sister when that guy finally opens, his food looks onolicious!) nailed it in about a second. Literally. I uploaded the picture and the question and hit "post" and my fingers were barely leaving the keyboard when I heard the "beep" indicating his response. Dodge Viper, he even specified the year, and a second later he posted a confirming picture and this was all before TQ came back into the living room, a minute or two after he'd walked out! He was impressed. The Viper picture kicked off a fun FB discussion among the car fans, I joined in later with more pictures from the morning and the gang enjoyed them. 

More from the day: Anybody need some muscle?

Shiny bikes with the shiny cars

Taking a wild guess, here, I think it's a Chevy? Maybe?

Trans-Am twins - the owners were taking the same pictures as I did here, they got such a kick out of seeing these two side by side. 

And my favorite car of the morning, just for the sheer outrageous hot-roddery of all -- here's this guy again!

Willy's FC Coupe according to my car-savvy friends

Particularly cool - apparently when you win at the Adirondack Nationals, they make a Hot Wheels version of your car. Don't know if this was actually the winner (it was 2002, plenty of time to add flames and stuff to the paint job), but the way they have it displayed here I sort of bet it was. 
And the next time I find myself at a car thing, maybe I won't be so shy about asking questions. 

Monday, October 06, 2014

Let's go surfin' now!

Everybody's learnin' how
Come on a safari with me 

And she and he and he!

Three cheers for Steve the Paddling Chef, who came to our surf day last weekend and then (sensible sensible man) said "Let's practice while the weather's still good!"

Great idea, and this morning Steve, Stephen and I met up at Sebago to load up our boats and go meet Margaret for some good soggy fun at Beach 59th on the Rockaway Peninsula.

It was a very very Fall sort of day, cool and quite windy, but sunny, and there were a number of activities going on at the club today (our surfing session, plus dinghy racing plus a midrange paddle out into Jamaica Bay, destination to be chosen). Steve had left lots of extra time for boat loading before the announced departure time of 10:00 am, but Stephen already had his little surf kayak on his car by the time we got there. Steve and I were loaded up and ready by 9:30, so we spent the spare half-hour sitting in the clubhouse chatting with the folks who were coming in for the other events and drinking hot beverages. Always nice to have a little time for that, although it did make me VERY sad to see John W. (commodore emeritus and a guy who does an amazing amount of the work to keep us running) installing the stovepipe on the barrel stove in the clubhouse. Noooo!

At 10 sharp, we headed out. Margaret was waiting for us at Beach 59th, which a clubmate in Parks had recommended as the best spot to launch. Turned out to be ideal, there was a little park there with clean restrooms (an unexpected but delightful surprise) and there were showers and spigots for washing the sand from your feet and gear on the boardwalk.

Bit of a hike to the water and we had a couple of interesting obstacles - there was this big pipe, which I thought might have been connected with the pipeline they're running through Floyd Bennett Field, but which turned out to be part of the equipment for the post-Sandy beach replenishments - these big pipes were run out to an offshore barge that was mixing up a pumpable slurry of sand and water to be delivered to the beach. Found this out when clubmate Jake turned up late in the surf session to say hello, and of course it made much more sense since we pretty far from the line that the gas pipeline follows. We also had to stay out of the way of archery practice and a movie shoot. Ah, paddling NYC. 

The surf forecast was the same as it had been for our surf workshop last weekend - one to two feet - but I found it much more challenging than what we'd had for that. I'm not a good enough surfer to really analyze what was going on (TQ taught the surf day for a reason - I find tides and currents fascinating and I really enjoy teaching that class, while he's done a lot more surfing and is very good at the concepts) but I would call what we had today dumping waves - instead of a nice gradual steepening of the wave face up until the wave breaks, you'd be paddling along with swells passing underneath you and then you'd get to the break zone and all of the sudden the swell behind you would turn into a vertical wall and then come crashing down, KABOOM! Really hard to gather the speed to ride that in in proper style (pointing in your direction of travel, with directional control) - more often it would just whack you sideways, surf you along broached for a split second, and then thhhhhbbbt, done.
thhhbbbt, done.

The quick loss of power after the explosive break caught me by surprise on the first one - I'd braced into the wave and all was fine for about 1 second - then there was no support and into the drink I went. I missed my first try at a roll and being in fairly shallow water I decided to bail - well, then I had a boatful of water and the slog of getting it the rest of the way in, dumping it, and then going through the whole rather tiring seal launch process again. At that point I was looking at Stephen's little sit-atop Kaos surf boat with envy - TQ and I had used the same kind of boat for a surf workshop we got to take with Hui Wa'a Kaukahi when we'd gone to O'ahu to visit my parents, and they are tons of fun - get knocked over and "no huhu", as they say out there, you just jump back on and you're off again. 
Stephen goes zoom.

Anyways, after that I got a little more determined about staying in my boat - three more knockdowns (or more like falldowns, really - I think every capsize involved misjudging a brace, especially the last one, which was right at the end of the session when I was pretty much wiped out) over the course of the day, three rolls. Nice to find out that I do still have a combat roll, it had been a while.

The wind also added some challenge, there was a small craft advisory until noon, and I also think that a few of those waves may have been closer to 3 feet - but once I got warmed up and got a little better sense of what was going on, I started getting some better rides. I had been smart enough to figure out that these were not quite the "pony waves" we'd enjoyed at Fire Island, where I could cheerfully paddle around taking pictures, and I'd stashed my camera in a zipped pocket on my lifejacket about a minute before my first knockdown - or was it a falldown? - I was glad I'd done that 'cause if I'd left it loose in the open pocket where I usually keep it, I'm sure I wouldn't be sharing pictures tonight. 
 Eventually I decided to take a break to take some pictures - the wind and the waves were carrying us to the east (that was the other thing about the waves, they weren't rolling straight in, but were very much on a diagonal to the beach) and so after a good run you'd have to paddle west into the wind for a ways to get back to where we launched, after a few circuits I was ready for a rest. That's when I took the on-water pictures here; I missed Steve because he'd decided to land for a minute as well and just as he was getting ready to re-launch, Stephen paddled up and asked me if I wanted to go for a spin in the Kaos. YES YES YES!

That was a blast - with a flat bottom and a fin at the back like a surfboard, the Kaos was much easier to keep pointed in the direction you wanted to point. In fact my best ride while I was playing with it was actually totally unplanned, I'd been fiddling around with the thigh straps for a minute when I glanced forward and then found myself looking up (yes, up, that's why I think some of 'em were 3 feet) at one of those suddenly-forming walls of water. Oops, should have gone a little further outside of the break zone - I was outside for most of the waves but not the biggest ones. I grabbed the paddle and started paddling, fully expecting to be swimming a minute later (but again, on a sitatop, a swim isn't as much of a hassle, I wasn't too worried). Well, when the wave crashed down a split-second later, I didn't have enough forward momentum to punch through - but instead of getting knocked over, the wave took the boat, spun it around, and then squirted me out like a watermelon seed when you squeeze it between your fingers. I absolutely howled with delight for the rest of the ride, which was probably my longest one of the day. Fun fun fun!
Not me, that's still Stephen - right before he came in to let me have a go.
Unfortunately the one major drawback to Stephen's boat was that it was a very wet ride. I was already getting a little tired and at this point I had to admit to myself that I was also getting very cold and it was probably time for me to call it a day.

Checked in with the others and it turned out that everyone else was OK with calling it a day fairly soon too. I'd left my boat pretty far down the beach to the east so the time it took me to walk down, relaunch, and work my way back up to where we'd started was enough for everyone else. I was so tired I had one last capsize from a very small little wave, right in front of my friends - I was pooped but I managed to pull myself together for one last roll and paddled on in. 

Fun fun day. The only thing I wish is that I'd worn my drysuit or at least my paddling jacket - it had crossed my mind but I just couldn't bring myself to do is time to start thinking about that, though, I definitely would've been more comfortable with one of those today. Sigh!

Made the post-paddle meal taste all the better, though.  Stephen had an appointment in the city in the evening so decided to say goodbye at Beach 59th but Margaret and Steve and I adjourned to Thai Rock's sunny back deck (almost want to call it a lanai 'cause they've done a lovely job of giving it a sort of tropical-resort feeling with filmy white draperies wafting in the breeze and what have you) for a late lunch. Sebago had done a paddle here sometime over the summer, a ton of people went and had a great time, so I was happy to finally have a chance to check it out. Quite the place, it was pretty quiet today (in fact nobody was sitting outside until  - in addition to a very good Thai restaurant, they've also got a dock where people can rent kayaks, jetskis, and stand-up paddleboards, or try that weird "flyboarding" thing. Have you seen that? I think I will pass but people seem to enjoy it. I'm posting "Flyboard Fail" as my sample because I suspect this is how it goes for 95% of the people who try it for the first time - there are a lot more videos of people who are really good at it flipping like Flipper but if I were to try this I'm pretty sure I would end up with a similar series of jet-propelled bellyflops. Owie. 

It is nice to know about a place where you can just go rent a kayak, though - occasionally people ask me; you basically can't around Manhattan because the waterways there are just too big and too busy, but Jamaica Bay is a little quieter. I used to refer people to a place in Broad Channel but they never reopened after Sandy. Has to be quite the scene here in the warmer months, I'll have to try to get in on that paddle if there's a repeat next summer. 

Also fun finding Dragonfly's Banquet here - I did a post about this art raft, which actually belongs to a clubmate's sister and brother-in-law, back in July 2010, click here to read my post from back then with much nicer pictures. 

Older dragon head from Dragonfly's Banquet

Thai Rock Dock is in a Halloween mood

Enough poking around on the dock, my scallop pad thai is here! 

Next day note - ha, I have been looking in on the Peconic Puffin figuring it was a good windsurfer weekend - looks like it was! 

Saturday, October 04, 2014

The Internet Is Cool #1 - A Tug Identified

So, remember the ___e Ann Conners from the 3rd day of my paddle down the Hudson? This was a handsome old (VERY old) tug that was being restored at the pier where a couple of friends with tugboats keep theirs. I'd gone up into Rondout Creek to take pictures of the Cornell and Gowanus Bay and found this classic there too. From my low perspective, I couldn't make out the first few letters on her nameboard; I guessed maybe Sue Ann, and I did think about asking Tim or Jessica (the respective owners of the Cornell and Gowanus Bay) what her story was, but then work kind of went crazy and tugboat history questions sadly had to go on the back burner for a while.

But the internet is cool. A reader by the name of Phil happened across that post (which was bizarrely popular, I had a great time doing that entire Hudson River trip series and they all got a good number of views but that one in particular is already the 7th most viewed post in the history of this blog - no idea why!) last week and left a comment answering the very question I been wanting to ask but just hadn't had time to yet
 -- this nice old tug is the Elise Ann Conners, and her story was featured in a New York Times article about that rare and admirable breed - people who restore historic boats. Phil - if you're reading, thank you so much!

At some point before she sank, she was also looked at as a possible subject for restoring a historic tug to run as an educational exhibit in New York Harbor. The tug that was chosen? The Pegasus, of course! Click here to read about more tugs that were under consideration. That must have been a hard choice to make! I love the Pegasus of course, can't ever take too many pictures of her - here were just a few that I took when she was at the Historic Ships Festival at Pier 25 in the Hudson River Park last June - click on the photos for nicer views: 

And of course when I went to an art-auction fundraiser for the Pegasus and came home with 2 gorgeous tug paintings and a lot of inspiration, it was the Pegasus I chose for a subject. I don't think I ever posted the final version where I'd added in the happy trees, here...well, it was December so they weren't that happy but they were the last touch and they did soften up the background a little bit. My artist friends would've done this twice as well in a tenth of the time, of course, but I had fun working it out and was pretty happy with the end results. 

Have to get back to the painting and drawing this winter - it's been such a good and busy summer that except for the 2 sketches during my Hudson River trip, I just didn't have time!