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Portsmouth 5/2/15


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My day started on an interesting note about the importance of bow and stern lines when transporting a kayak. As I drove down the street from my driveway, I heard one of the rack strap ends flapping in the breeze. I normally tie those off so I don't have to listen to it, but this one must have come undone. I questioned whether or not to put up with it, but it is an hour to Portsmouth, and I don't want to listen to it all the way. I also thought it weird that it had come untied, so I pulled over to have a quick check. Well, it's been a while since I put the boat on my van (not an easy task with help, let alone by myself), and in the process i had to loosen and tighten again the front strap several times to adjust how the boat sits in the cradles. It turns out that I forgot to tighten the front strap once I got the boat settled! Once tightened and on my way, the conversations about bow and stern lines when car-topping made me realize just how important they can be. Like the rest of the safety equipment that many of us trudge onto the water every trip, hopefully we never have to really USE them, but it is good to have them there.

So, with a near-disaster averted, the day was ready to get underway. I met Gene Cosloy, Mike Habich, and Dave Mercer at the Odiorne Point State Park boat ramp for a 10am launch. We were all ready to go at about about ten of, which gave us enough time to do a quick beach briefing. We discussed the route, which was to circumnavigate New Castle island in a counterclockwise direction. We also talked about the currents with regard to flood, slack, and ebb, which can be challenging in the Piscataqua. For two of us, it was the first day on the water this season, while the other two lamented about how little we had been out ourselves.

The weather turned out to be a little less ominous than the forecast earlier in the week (barely 1' swells are a little more manageable than 6'-7' seas) and it turned out to be a beautiful day. We set off from the boat ramp with a simple group-coordination exercise that I have been toying with. Once at the break wall, we headed out around Jaffrey Point and up the east side of New Castle. The paddling was easy-going as we followed the waning flood up river past a Coast Guard vessel and submarine at the Navy ship yard just on the other side. Gene commented that, if there is anyplace to get into trouble on the water, THIS was the safest place.

We made good time padding with the current and reached Four Tree Island around 11:30am. Thinking it just slightly early for lunch, we considered going up river a little more, or crossing and exploring the back channel around Seavey Island. The back channel would probably take too long, so we opted to go up river a little bit and then back track, just to soak up some time and enjoy what a wonderful day it was. We located a large eddy and decided to ride in and out of it, just getting the feel of the different water on each side of the line. As the group paused for a moment to regroup and discuss paddle designs and lengths, and watch the Route 1 bridge stop traffic and raise the middle section just to let a small power boat to pass under. Dave suddenly alerted us to a 40' wide flat steel face of a moored barge that we were quickly drifting towards with the potential to be dragged under by the still strong current. A quick scramble got us out of trouble and we were able to regroup afterwards, at which point we decided to head back for lunch.

Lunch on Four Tree Island (aka Three Tree Island, Five Tree Island, Gray's Island, Outer Island Long's Island) is a nice lunch spot with an easy landing cove out of the current (except for the rocks to climb over), covered picnic tables and public restrooms. Cycling seemed to be the topic at lunch with my cohorts all either active or past cyclists. It wasn't hard to spend almost an hour chatting and enjoying the view, but it was time to get back under way. Paddling back through the inner islands was not going to be particularly difficult, but the south wind had picked up slightly as predicted. Gene asked for someone to please turn off the air conditioner.

As we approached the bridge near the Wentworth hotel, we checked out the different water textures and discussed what they meant. Once under the bridge, we did a quick about-face and spent some time playing in the eddies created by the bridge abutments. After enough playtime and the increased wind chilled us a little, we made our way back to the ramp., and lest Mr. Habich attempt some nefarious plot to dispel the notion that any such trip actually took place, I offer this one piece of evidence:


Thanks to Gene, Mike, and Dave for joining me on what turned out to be a most excellent day on the water. It was a great trip with a perfect mix of relaxation, effort, and excitement. Not a bad way to to kick off the paddling season for some, and yet another great day on the water for others.

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Glad you guys had a good day. I thought of you all as I was down on the Cape without a boat, gazing longingly at almost flat calm water even on the ocean side. Great day to be out and about!

And Rob, interesting to read about your tie-down adventure. As I recall, I might have been the first person to suggest you get at least a bow tie-down for carrying boats on your Prius!


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It was a marvelous day to be out on the water-crystal clear views and conditions that respected our rusty bones. One caveat Bob: ou mentioned Leon in your report-to be confused with Leon is an honor-but I'm not Leon!

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Pru, you are correct in that it was your "gentle" prodding that got Cathy and I into the habit of using tie downs every time load the boats.

Gene, my apologies! I have had the error corrected. Anyway, I am glad you enjoyed the day.

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