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11/3 Charles River Trip


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The weather was with us again. (Credit that trusty magic umbrella.)

13 paddlers gathered on the banks of the Charles Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately the confusing putin directions lead to some folks unloading a bit upstream. That was cured by having Assistant Leader Lisa Santullo and some tow-belt equipped volunteers tow 3 kayaks downstream to the MDC baseball field putin while the boat owners moved their cars. Displaying a copy of the MDC permit for this event on the dash of each car worked because all cars were still there when we got back.

NOTE: The Charles River putin NSPN uses in Cambridge is NOT at a boat house and is NOT at the MDC swimming pool building. It is next to the baseball field which is only accessible from Memorial Drive (East). You must take the right exit off Memorial drive just before the overpass as though you are going to the BU bridge. Enter the last driveway just before getting on the BU bridge.

Several new folks paddled with us this trip - nice to have all of you along - as well as some old hands who have not been seen for a while.

We paddled east under the railroad and Boston University Bridges, staying close to the north shore to enjoy the view of the 4:36 PM sunset reflected off the downtown buildings. The clouds lifted just enough to provide some color. We proceeded uneventfully the 3 miles through the Charles River Basin, waiving at crew teams and sailors at their respective boat houses, passed under the Mass Ave. bridge and took a short in-kayak stretch and water break behind the Museum of Science.

Going single file we went through the "old locks" and under the Big Dig. The new bridge looks a lot like the "mother ship" in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" from underneath. Our entry into the locks was delayed a bit and we were not sure why. We could not raise the operator on the VHF and the switchboard was closed so the cell phone could not get through. Apparently they had heard our trusty whistle and we were simply a bit impatient. The doors opened, the light turned green and we entered the locks, taking our places along either side. Since the tide was approaching low in the Inner Harbor the drop was significant.

Once in the harbor we decided to take a quick look at Old Ironsides, led by a paddler who has been chased off from such viewings in the past. Security seemed lax this night however, as we steathily snuck up on the old battleship, unobserved. (Perhaps all hands were watching the bridge for the reputed imminent attack.)

On the return we paddled close to the south shore, took a stretch and snack break on a dock, and told some tall tales of killer rips, huge waves, close encounters with powerful craft, following seas, etc. Everyone successfully re-entered their kayaks from the dock so, alas, we did not get to practice rescues in the dark. The nearly-full moon broke through the clouds and peered over the city, watching our backs. We returned through the amazingly tranquil Esplanade Ponds. Seeing where we will watch the fireworks from next July 4th, these paddlers can't wait!

Since all Level 2 NSPN trips have a skills component, after passing under the Mass. Ave. bridge we paused to observe the red lights marking the channel for boats, lined up side by side, picked a target on the Cambridge shore and practiced a channel crossing. Well done!

Beautiful night. Mellow trip until our return to the putin at 8:30 PM where we were met by a gaggle of geese who made their unhappiness at being disturbed loudly known. Their presence in mass quantities (and thoughts of what else was in the water besides all those floating white feathers) made us eager to adjourn to the Summer Shack for a good hand-washing before the traditional PPP-O.

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