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The Moon

Moon Paddles are popular in the paddling community. A summer night, when the wind is low and the water is relatively warm, the air is still, and a ginormous reflecting rock about 224,000 miles away from the Earth is at its closest – these make for pretty and pleasant paddles.

Canoeboy and I put the trip together at pretty short notice. Earlier in the week there were predicted chances of rain and even thunderstorms – things which proved to come in just after the weekend. Thus we had low turnout, but it was a fun crowd.

Mood Paddle 01
Paddling North on the Hudson.

We paddled north with a strong flood current, and then into the Harlem, heading for a salt marsh at the northern tip of Manhattan. We passed pretty easily under the railroad bridge at Spuyten Duyvil, and then onwards towards the Henry Hudson Bridge. The sun had pretty much set and we were left only with some afterglow, and the lights coming up on the various bridges.

Moon Paddle 02
Approaching the Henry Hudson Bridge.

We need a better photogapher. My little PowerShot doesn’t understand “faraway light”, and the case I keep it in doesn’t help. We watched the moon rise over the Bronx – the glowing orange-ish orb in the photo below.

Moon Paddle 2014
Moonrise on the Harlem.

We paddled around in the salt marsh. At low tide, it’s a mud flat, and you can see birds walking on it. Here at high tide, we were able to paddle all the way in, and see the park from an angle we usually skip. The water was still too shallow for anything clever.

Some kids on the sidewalk of the park called out to us, and asked us questions about our boats. “Take me for a ride!” “Is that fun?” “Are you wet”? I did some sculling for support, and some low brace turns. “Are you a hero?” That one made my day.

“Yes,” I answered, in the Winson Zeddimore school of etiquette*.

After some time had passed, we went back, and one of our number got out at the boathouse. The rest of us continued on, south against the current towards the George Washington Bridge. We managed around the point at the Little Red Lighthouse, which was no mean feat. With the tide rushing in, there’s a fair amount of current to paddle against, with some large rocks making eddy paddling slightly perilous. 

We made it around, and paddled into the crescent-shaped (one might say moon-shaped, but not on this night) bay next to Washington Park. We took in the urban skyline, and the planes and helicopters flying above it, a glittering canvas against the night sky.

When we were ready to go we ferried out to still see Manhattan, a bit more of it including midtown and downtown and the tremendous spires of light. Then we turned around, and practically flew home on the current, learning just how hard – and easy – it can be to spot people at night. Hard at a distance, and to make out whether moving lights are other paddlers – it’s a bit deductive, accounting for last known position and course. On the other hand, easy – it would have been impossible without lights.

Our evening came to and end, we landed and cleaned up boats.

Published in 2014 Backpaddle Inwood Inwood Canoe Club Kayaking New York New York City NYC


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