Sunday, July 16, 2017

City of Water Day - A Photographic Progression

When we're throwing a shindig at Sebago Canoe Club, there's always that early-on "what if we have this party and nobody comes?" moment. Especially when the day starts out kind of gray and drippy.

Once again, folks showed up! Ended up being a really good day.  

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(frogma kayak smiley, patent pending)

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Morning at Sebago

Quiet Paerdegat, a little before 8 am

click for detail.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

7/9/2017, Family Day at Sebago - plus, here comes City of Water Day

Sunday was Family Day at Sebago! Children of all ages were welcome; smaller kids and their parents went in the restored war canoe, with smaller canoes and kayaks for older kids and their folks. We did a short paddle, just out into the bay, with a stop on the beach just outside the basin for running around on the beach, water gun fights (note for next year: MORE WATER GUNS) and a couple of sweeps with the seine net to see what's living in the bay. Mostly little fish this time; we checked them out then let them go. 

After that, we headed back to the club for a barbecue/potluck lunch. 

 There was also a double-hander workshop going on for the dinghy sailors, and there was a longer member paddle in the morning, and one of the sailors tried a rowing shell of the non-entry-level variety, so there was swimming, too! :D Something for everyone! 

 I hadn't planned on this but came to help out with the war canoe, thinking a little practice immediately after Saturday's lesson would be good. I ended up helping out with the kayakers instead, but I was still glad I went, it was lots of fun. That was part 3 of my Sebago trifecta weekend, and I really had a good time.

More pictures on Flickr.

Hey NYC-area folks - don't forget City of Water Day, this Saturday, July 15th! 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

War Canoe Steering Workshop At Sebago, 7/8/2017

Going a little out of order, here's Part 1 of my big trifecta Sebago weekend. Part 2 was, of course, that spectacular full moon paddle, but before that, I participated in a War Canoe Steering Workshop, run by canoe committee chair Dan Olson. 

Sebago has two of these classic Old Town 25' wood and canvas war canoes. We don't use them very often these days, but they do get brought out on days when we're likely to have families with children who are too young for kayaks coming out for a paddle, events like Sunday's Family Day (more on that later) and this coming Saturday's City of Water Day (come out and play, things are going on all over the waterfront!). For this purpose, they're perfect - with a knowledgeable paddler in the bow and stern, you can take out at least 8 novice paddlers - more if there are some extra-little ones. It's a big, stable boat, they can go over but it's unusual for that to happen as long as everybody in the boat is more or less behaving themself. They were also traditionally used for racing at the club; as they got older, that lost popularity, but one's now been beautifully refurbished and if we end up doing the other one, too, that could be a fun tradition to reinstate.

I'd been the bow person in one of these boats once, back in 2015. I had no idea how to do it properly, but we had a family show up to City of Water Day late; we were already putting boats away, but the war canoe was still in the water, and commodore emeritus John W., who is a very experienced canoeist, was willing to take the stern if anybody was up for taking the bow. I volunteered, I didn't know the proper way to do it but I know the basic strokes, and the person in the stern calls the shots, so with John giving me good directions, we were able to take the latecomers out for a nice spin on the basin.

When Dan announced the workshop, I thought it would be fun to learn how to do it right - and besides, this was the first official outing of the war canoe that the club had had restored this year! That was pretty exciting - we've had these canoes for a long time, and they've been cared for, but not with much skill. They were terribly heavy, somebody had told me that at some point somebody had fiberglassed them, which turned out not to be true, but apparently there were many coats of polyurethane to be stripped. Click here for an excellent writeup of the history and restoration of Sebago War Canoe #1, by boatbuilding chair Jim Luton.

The workshop was good fun! I always enjoy learning a new boating skill, and Dan was a good instructor. It was a little bit breezy, which actually wasn't a bad thing, it was nice to actually have something to work against while practicing, and this was a good time to do it (better than learning on a calm day and then having things kick up on City of Water Day with less experienced paddlers). We all got to take turns at both bow and stern if we wanted to; I did both, it was nice to get some pointers on how to do the bow steering with proper technique, as opposed to just muddling through as I did that one time with John. It was also really interesting being in the stern and suddenly having so many paddles to co-ordinate - that was very definitely something new and different! I put my clubmates through their paces trying all kinds of different stuff, and then Dan also had me just let them paddle forward and see how much control I had over the boat by myself from back there. It was a fun day out in a handsome old boat, and I do hope I get to practice some during City of Water Day!

Here are a few pictures from the day. Click on any photo for a slideshow view, or click here to see more in Flickr.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Full Moon Paddle at Sebago Canoe Club

I thought that today's post would be about a great learning experience at the club yesterday involving a newly shiny old boat (if you're FB friends with me you've seen it), but I ended up going to the club to help out with Family Day. That was tons of fun and then when I got home I had some stuff to do (including taking a nap!) so I'm going to go a little out of sequence and share pix from the wonderful Full Moon Paddle on Saturday night. I'll come back to learning to steer the war canoe (plus the rest of Colorado, I still haven't posted some of the best stuff from that trip) later.

It was so nice that the full moon fell on a weekend this month!  We launched just as the moon was rising and paddled about six miles, pausing to watch a helicopter land at the Floyd Bennett Field police air station, and enjoying a couple of late 4th of July fireworks displays on our way to the club for the customary Sebago snacks and libations.

A beautiful night, thanks to official club mermaid Vicky M. for leading us and arranging such great entertainment! And t
hat's all the writeup I'm going to do, here a some photos, click on any of the pictures for a slideshow view. Enjoy! 

Saturday, July 08, 2017

How Does My Garden Grow? Early July Edition - plus, coming attraction!

Well, it's not shaping up to be my best garden ever. I planted in May, just before I went on vacation. When I left there were lots of chard and beet sprouts coming up in the big empty space, and I had a couple of friends lined up to water in case it was dry. Unfortunately late May and early June rollercoaster weather with big temperature swings and heavy, heavy rains. The pole beans didn't seem to care, the tomato plants just didn't grow much, ditto for the basil, which also got to looking seriously sad and wan, but survived, but it was apparently all a little too much for the beets and chard that usually take up that middle swath there. There are a few coming up but nothing like usual. I might start another round of seeds at home, now that the big office move is over I'm hoping I might be able to start getting out to the club on weekdays a little more.

I did get out to the club a little early on Tuesday so I could do a little gardening before the evening paddle. The weather's settled out into some more normal east coast summer weather, the basil has definitely cheered up, and I got to eat my first Sungold cherry tomatoes of the season!

We did have some huge downpours today, shows one one-hour span today that had 1.34 inches 
 (yikes, the general rule of thumb I've heard for water quality is that if it's rained more than an inch in 24 hours, a paddler would be wise to avoid immersion for the next couple of days, ugly things happen when the city's drain gets hit with too much water at once - I'm paddling tomorrow but my plan will be to stay right-side up, no refreshing rolling or bracing), and then tonight I was in the kitchen cooking haupia to share at the club tomorrow, rattling pots and pans and playing music, when I heard this strange hissing noise. First I thought it was something boiling over on the stove but it turned out to be the sound of the rain that I was hearing all the way from out the living room, where I keep a window open. Wasn't coming in or anything, just falling so heavily!

The other garden pictures are of clubmate Tracy's plot, she grows flowers and strawberries and the flowers were just looking so lovely in the late afternoon sun. The bees really appreciate her flowers!

And the last picture? Well, that's something I'm very excited about, tomorrow is going to be a great day at the club. Also a late one so I'll probably post about the day on Sunday. It's going to be great, though! 

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

July 4th 2017 At Sebago - The Best "I'm Not Promising Any Fireworks" Fireworks Paddle Ever!

Victoria and Steve and a "Fireworks? Who needs fireworks?" sunset. Or at least that's what I said. Little did we know...!

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(frogma kayak smiley, panting pending)

Click here for a Flickr album of this amazing evening on Jamaica Bay.


Steve the Paddling Chef, a great Sebago member who I've written about fairly frequently in this blog (search the blog under "Paddling Chef", you'll see, he's great!) runs a popular Tuesday evening paddle and potluck series at Sebago during the summer months. 

I've never been able to attend as much as I'd like to as it's kind of time consuming for me to get to the club from work and I just can't generally be there for the usual 7 pm launch. Unfortunately, Steve recently broke his wrist, so while he's healing, the Tuesday night paddles are on hold unless other trip leaders can take them on.

I'm handling the kayaking portion of the Sebago calendar this year, and last week, I was about to take down the series, to be replaced on a one-by-one basis as folks stepped up to cover, when I realized that the next one was the 4th of July. I had the day off, I'm a trip leader, I was totally up for a Tuesday evening on the water - woo hoo! So instead of taking the series off of the calendar, I sent a notice that the one on the 4th was ON!

 I decided to stick to Steve's usual scheduling, gathering at the club at 6:15ish, launching at 7, back to the club 9/9:30 ish. I'd gone out on the bay on a 4th of July paddle once a few years back, and my recollection was that there were fireworks displays in various directions, but all off in the distance, and that was what I said on my invitation - "There won't be any fireworks particularly close by but there's a chance of multiple displays off in the distance". Folks immediately started signing up (woohoo again) . At some point somebody said they wanted to come on the "fireworks paddle" and I reiterated that I couldn't promise any fireworks.

 Despite all the CMA notes about fireworks, probable lack thereof, I got a nice turnout. The weather was looking great, we've been having a hot and sticky spell here, standard east coat summer weather, but it had mitigated slightly on Tuesday and as the sun sank lower in the west, it got pleasanter and pleasanter. We launched a little after 7.

I'd suggested going around Ruffle Bar, one of the islands in the bay, which is a nice distance for an an energetic evening paddle. Folks were up for that and so we set off. I was trying to keep the group reasonably tight, because on a holiday like the 4th, you do get some extra motorboat traffic. At some point I looked back to see how the folks at the back of the group were doing and - OOOOH. The sunset was beginning to show some major promise. I called to the folks in front to look back, and they all went OOOOH too and we just sat there and gawked for a bit. That just sort of kept repeating itself as we went along and the sunset got better and better.

Finally, as we were having another ooohing and aaahing break just south of Ruffle Bar, one member of the group suggested that we skip the "going around" bit in favor of turning back, which would let us paddle towards the sunset and enjoy it instead of missing some of it while continuing south. "Esthetic considerations" were mentioned, I had already been having second thoughts about telling everybody "OK, now let's turn away from this beautiful show and keep going, because I SAID SO!", everybody else liked the idea too, so that's what we did. And it was grand. 

And then, as the sun went down, the fireworks started going on all around, many of them much closer than I'd expected - like right in Canarsie and Mill Basin and Marine Park! We suspect that a number of them might not have been, uh, city sanctioned, but it was hard to tell the professional public displays from the backyard ones - either way, it made for an utterly and unexpectedly spectacular end of the paddle. I never quite got a final count, but I think there were between fifteen and twenty going on that we could see out in the bay, plus a couple more very close to the Paerdegat.

 Back at the club, we had what turned out to be a completely vegetarian smorgasbord of goodies. This was totally unplanned, I am NOT a vegetarian, and if you suggested a 4th of July feast that didn't involve cheeseburgers or barbecue, I might not jump on that, but the range of dishes people had brought made it absolutely great, and I ended up loving it. There were so many different good flavors -- quinoa salad, greek salad, chickpea salad, fruit salad, potato salad, my own pasta salad made with pesto made from my own Sebago-grown basil (the last of last fall's batch from the freezer, still good), berries with whipped cream, a delicious watermelon, and then we polished off the desserts that were left in the fridge from the safety boat christening over the weekend. It was all so good, and of course I brought a box of wine in honor of our amazing late commodore, Tony. Such a great evening, I'm so glad I decided to do it - it went so much better than I'd expected it would.