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Saint Paddy’s Paddle 2013

I went out for a short paddle the Saturday of Saint Patrick’s Day weekend. It was about as impromptu as these things get for me, especially in the off-season. With so much more gear required, and conditions being a little more challenging, I usually plan in advance whether I will paddle.

I was at the Inwood Canoe Club finishing up a repair on a boat I’ve been working on – something I will blog about later – and it started to snow. There was very little wind, and a fog was rolling over the Hudson River Valley. I dithered a about – I was going to have to be home by 1800, and it was already past 1300, and I would have to go home, grab my gear, and eat, meaning only a couple hours of paddle time.

Time on the water is time on the water, so I did it. I raced home on the subway, had a quick tunafish sandwich and chips, and then stuffed most of my gear into one sack – mostly protective gear, leaving my PFD and paddle at home. I took only one sack because I broke out my bicycle. Rather than risk the MTA’s timing, I’d take a ten minute bike ride back to the boathouse.

By the time I got there, dressed, and kitted out a boat, it was just a little short of 1500. High was at 1300, so there ought to have been some current still flowing north, so I headed north. Seas were glass smooth, and the fog obscured everything from the GWB to the Palisades, and even the marina at Edgewater was not visible until I was further out in the channel and up by Spuyten Duyvil. It was eerie, and quiet, like the short paddle I took with MH a couple of months ago.

A Foggy Saint Patrick's Day.
A Foggy Saint Patrick’s Day.

I expected the fog would provide some sublime photo opportunities for spots north of Spuyten Duyvil. I had one in particular: the “Bridge to Nowhere”, that used to connect a rail station to a ferry landing.

Bridge to Nowhere.
Bridge to Nowhere.

Then I turned and went back in to the Harlem. The current seemed to have turned prematurely, flowing out of the Harlem into the Hudson. Knowing I had to be back home in just a couple of hours, I decided to noodle around a bit more in the area of Inwood Hill Park, not going past the Broadway Bridge.

I paddled into the estuary near Columbia University’s crew boat houses. Here, the water grew very shallow. I stuck my paddle in to take a sounding. By my estimation, I had about five or six inches of draft, and I wasn’t feeling it against the hull.

Low Tide.
Low Tide.

I turned and began to paddle back. I stopped in another estuary, one known to become a mud flat at low tide. I could already see birds standing, rather than floating, in the middle of the estuary.

With that, I turned around, and headed back, under the railroad bridge.

Spuyten Duyvil Bridge.
Spuyten Duyvil Bridge.

In short order I was back at the boathouse. By the time I cleaned and stored the boat, the snow was starting to stick. I left the door open a little bit longer, sipping my tea, and enjoying the view.

Looking North. Inwood Canoe Club.
Looking North. Inwood Canoe Club.

Published in 2013 Backpaddle Inwood Inwood Canoe Club Kayaking New York Sea

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