Yesterday was one of Tony's "paddles for people who are members but who are also beginners" which was an idea I strongly supported and so was glad to attend. Yes, even though I have done Star 1 and Star 2 (although I did receive dock detention during Star 2 and got left back, a story documented in earlier posts I believe) and even though I have paddled quite a bit at the lake, I still consider myself a true beginner. Apparently being membership chair does not actually improve your paddling skills, this was only a rumor.
Seven hearty paddlers set out (and seven returned, if you don't feel like reading this whole post) at around 3 pm from the Sebago dock. We pleasantly paddled along the shoreline, crossed Mill Basin Channel (insert cranky jet ski complaints, power boat complaints, gas guzzling taunts, etc. as you see fit; I actually enjoy a jet ski or a power boat once in a while) and pulled up on Floyd Bennett Field for a rest. Walter checked out the Busman's Road-eo, an event where NYC transit bus drivers show off their skills on obstacle courses and the like. A true busman's holiday as it were. Beth came through with a hatch full of excellent snacks. TIP FOR TODAY: Strawberries that are slightly under-ripe at the store will be perfect by snack time if you store them in a hatch. These can be accompanied by squares of dark chocolate that will be only slightly soft, creating chocolate-wrapped strawberries in the field. This is a top three hatch snack in my book, and made up for my disappointment in the accommodations at Ruffle Bar.
Because next was Ruffle Bar. Often I have heard of kayakers stopping at Ruffle Bar on the way out, on the way back, and so forth. Did you know you cannot get an adult beverage at this bar? This is a sand bar. It's a freaking island is what it is. If you were not in the know, you could think you were on Canarsie Pol. Jamaica Bay does have a history of bootlegging on these islands, so I suppose there might have been a time you could have had some moonshine straight from the still on Ruffle Bar, but alas, not today. (Insert disclaimer that adult beverages are never to be consumed during paddle time, only after docking. This was supposed to be humorous.)
Our stop at Ruffle Bar included a phone call to Fran back at the club: start the grill! Pull the corks! Here we come! Although I had been promised to have the wind at my back and the rising tide to assist me on the way back, my arms were now like two leaden hunks of sorrow hanging off my shoulders, which were busy filling out complaint forms in triplicate. The wind we will not discuss since it did not quite feel like my assistant. I tried to think about seeing my fists cross in front of me to get that core twist, and not deteriorate into the kayak version of the doggy paddle. I will say I was very happy to pass under the Belt Parkway into the shelter of Paerdegat Basin. Isn't there some sort of expression about the horse seeing the barn? OK, well insert that here.
Before you knew it, we had the boats washed and the gear sorted out, and Fran was slapping those burgers on those buns. We had a remarkable pot luck of extremely delicious things, not the least of which was salad from the garden. That was definitely the best salad ever. You missed it, that's all I'll say. There were two kinds of wine and two kinds of beer, none bootlegged.
So why is this more than a typical Sebago afternoon paddle? Because it was really a stretch for me, but I did it. In typical Sebago fashion, I had plenty of assistance, plenty of babysitting, plenty of advice, but hey, I can actually move my arms enough to type this today. Which I was not expecting to be able to do. When the "real" paddlers talk about heading over to the bird sanctuary, or to that place in Rockaway, or to Kings Plaza, well, gee, based on
View Larger Map(another first for me, anyone who has a tip sheet on this can pass it along) it seems like maybe I could almost do it. Tony says this trip was about 8 miles or even more, but I can't figure out how to make the blue lines tell me their lengths now that they are drawn...I suppose I could re-draw them to get a closer estimate of the distance. But no matter how far it was, it was truly my first time and so I thought you should all know. Seven went out, seven returned, Fran cooked, and I guess I passed some sort of test. Now, off to soak my arms in ice.