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Short Stop

The cowgirl headed north today, but alas a late start cut short the destination. I was hoping to catch a couple hours of flood tide up to the Harlem River, and take some photos there, getting as far as Peter Sharp Boathouse. However, a gabby woman at the beauty parlor, along with a need for lunch before I launched, meant I started to fight the current right around the time I got to the GWB.

Hand in hand with that were predictions of winds up to 15 miles per hour. There were some gusts, and coming back there was a steady wind coming at me. I didn’t relish the prospect of fighting current north and paddling back through thunderstorms after dark . . .so I called it short and landed at a muddy patch just north of the GWB, south of Ross Dock.

Muddy ain’t the word for it. By the time I was ready to launch, the water looked fine, but as soon as I stepped past the waterline, my sandals were stuck in mud. I couldn’t climb in my boat without bringing along some extra muck. I almost got stuck, straddling my boat like I was going to sit in it, my feet anchored to the riverbed. I was able to free myself, backed out, and launched like I would from a beach – facing the water and bunny hopping with each incoming ripple until the boat was on the water. While that worked, I noticed that it was a good twelve or fifteen yards before my paddle wasn’t touching mud with each stroke.

There was some kind of race going on. My first clue was when I saw a Coast Guard ATN boat (Aids To Navigation) with a blue light on. I later texted my brother, who has served for over a decade, and he said it meant either search and rescue or law enforcement. Then I saw a caravan of motor boats and kayaks, each clustered together and moving slowly, which usually means one thing: swimmers. I asked around later on, and it turned out there was a relay swim event around Manhattan.

Watching this event perplexed the cowgirl on a couple of points. One set got REAL close to a barge, much closer than I’d ever let anyone get. Then, as we got closer to midtown, and 56th street, and the cruise ships next to it – well everyone had to stop because one of those graceful beauties was backing out. Given that the current was flowing south, and the wind blowing north, I’m not sure what might have happened to the swimmers, but everyone had to stop and peel off while the Norwegian Princess got underway (I may have the name wrong – that’s my generic name for these queens of the sea).

I pulled in, good and tuckered. The wind had picked up quite a bit, and I warned some members of the public to keep paddling lest they be pushed into some pilings.

I ought to mention another sight, one I observed not too long ago on another trip: vintage planes. There is a biplane that flies, straight out of the roaring twenties. I have also seen what looks like a World War 2 era bomber, not sure of the model but definitely of that era. I’m not sure if they’re filming a movie, or just having a lark.

I took a closer look at the Binghamton. I think it is repairable; the damage is all to the superstructure. No pictures though -the wind was a-blowing, and I didn’t want to trade in my paddle for a camera.

In fact, no pictures at all this time – nothing new, this was a trip on familiar territory.

Published in 2012 Backpaddle


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