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Charles River Moon Apr 27 02


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For our easy level 2 trip, designed to enjoy the beauty of Boston/Cambridge from the Charles, experience going through the locks and paddle under the glow of the full moon, the weather cooperated once again. As 20 participants and 4 leaders gathered in the late afternoon, winds picked up enough for us to notice and wonder, then died down as forecast. The sun was shining with no hint of the clouds due to arrive later that night.

Dusting off the boats and finding the gear was only part of the problem for some folks. Once again this putin proved elusive for a few. Check it out this way: Go to Mapblast, maps. Enter the Cambridge zip code: 02139. Get that map. Note where Magazine Street runs into Rt. 3 (Memorial Drive) and the location of the Boston University Bridge. Click on the ?y? in Boston University to re-center the map. Zoom in all the way. Heading from Magazine Street toward the Boston University bridge on Memorial Drive, turn right into the driveway indicated by the thin gray line. There will be a baseball field on your right and a small brick MDC building on the left.

Traffic foiled the efforts of others to get there on time. There was a concert at the Hatch shell and construction on Memorial Drive so there were real bottlenecks in getting to the putin. Given this location, traffic is the norm to expect. Only the daily causes vary. My solution to the big dig: when I have to go into the city these days I plan on doing a few errands (a stop a Trader Joe?s for instance) before my appointment. If traffic is bad, I eliminate the errands and get to the appointment on time. Gloucester to Cambridge can take 50 minutes or 2 hours.

This being the first official trip of the season and all, we didn?t leave anyone on the beach as penance for tardiness. Late comers should not be surprised if that does happen in the future, however! Please understand that the posted time for the trip is when you should be geared up, ready to paddle, not when you should be driving into the parking lot. If it takes you an hour to unload your boat and organize your gear, or if you are geographically challenged, plan accordingly.

I am emphasizing timeliness because in sea kayaking it really matters: beyond being courteous to those who did arrive on time and the volunteer trip leaders who put hours into planning club trips. Tide changes can make some spots inaccessible and can create currents that are difficult to paddle against. Trips MUST launch when scheduled.

After the beach briefing we split into two ?pods.? Pod 1 left with Leaders Roger Voeller and Mary Mlodzinska. Pod 2, lead by Richard Beckham and Liz Neumeier left approximately 30 minutes later.

We paddled East under the railroad and Boston University Bridges, staying close to the north shore, watched those long rowing shells get stowed for the night in the boathouse (that takes teamwork) and to enjoy the view of downtown Boston. In the Charles River Basin most of the sailboats were already moored for the night, so we nearly had the river to ourselves. One tour boat was still showing off our city.

After a water break at the Museum of Science and a bit of gear adjusting, we passed single file through the ?old locks? and under the Big Dig. The lights had just come on and the ?new bridge? looked fabulous. Our tax dollars at work. ? For many participants it was their first time through the locks. I forgot to warn people about the danger of splinters as you grasp the beams on the side. Don?t ask why I am mentioning it now.

Once in the Inner Harbor it was a short paddle over to the Constitution, where a Canadian destroyer was in port. (Was the destroyer?s presence related to that nasty hit in the previous night?s hockey game?) NOTE: there is a buoy and line blocking off direct access to the Constitution so you can no longer paddle around it. The line is hard to see at night, but we did not cross it.

Pod 1 had taken a detour over to the Coast Guard station. Through radio contact we agreed to meet up and did, to return together through the locks.

The Pod 1 folks were telling a tale of being fired upon by a canon, or was it that the Constitution was firing a canon at the Canadian destroyer, or was it that??? I never really got the details straight, just something about glad to have dry clothes along because - never mind that part. Perhaps Pod 1 participants can post a response to clear this up. When Pod 2 was over there, the firefight had ended and a party was taking place under a tent - but they did not invite us. Actually, Pod 2 was ordered to get away from the Constitution area immediately, most likely because it was after dark. We did.

We took a snack break at the Hatch Shell, being careful getting out of our boats so we did not slip on the wet rocks. Landing sideways to the rocks, rather than bow first, worked best. The moon took its time getting above the buildings so we could see it, but arrived before any clouds to light our way home. We returned through the quiet Esplanade Ponds.

One scary moment: We traveled up the Boston side on the return and crossed over to the Cambridge side at the Hyatt hotel. A boat came flying by at a high speed and may not have ever seen us. With road traffic and the city lights reflecting on the water, we did not see it very far in advance. This emphasized the importance of staying together and keeping heads up on channel crossings, and of paddling along the shore line, not in the middle of a river. Boats are not expecting to see kayaks, especially at night. A group of kayaks in a tight group is much more visible to boaters than when they are spread out. We also make a smaller target. Power boat vs. kayak: kayak always loses.

The MDC parking permits worked, as all cars were still there (unticketed!) when we returned.

We were too late getting off the water (about 10:00 PM) and loading boats to make it to the planned PPP-O spot. Six of us went to the always-open IHOP in Brighton instead.

A special award and welcome to our new friend who drove from Connecticut to do this trip!

Liz N.

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