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An Uneventful Paddle…

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Which is to say a pleasant paddle in the "Dot" (Dorchester) Bay circumnavigation. At 5:00 AM, the sky was clear and seemed to belie the forecasts of rain by Mssrs Leonard, Albert, Bell, et. al. However, by 8:30 AM, thickening clouds began to darken the skies. By 9:30, at the launch, if was pretty clear that we won't see any sun on this paddle. Nevertheless, the projection of light breezes, if at all, prevailed and Dorchester Bay looked like a sheet of gray ice, mirroring the gathering shroud above. The scene was very peaceful despite the occasional powerboats zipping through the marked channels.

When I pulled into the launch area, I found Sean N., John H. and Kevin O. had already arrived and their boats were near ready at the water's edge. (Mental note -- arrive earlier if you're the one to call a "sho & go.") I passed out the float plan and had folks signed and described their equipment and attire. This will be left on the car window, detailing the parties, the itinerary and the expected time of return. As I started to unload my gear, Adam B and Richard N made their arrivals. Nevertheless, in about 15-20 minutes, we were all set and on the water and was able to keep to our 10 AM launch time. We set out across the mouth of the Neponset River and followed along Squantum shoreline. It was clear to me that this was a good group in that we stayed pretty much together -- no one zooming ahead and no one falling behind. Several of us had our VHF's. As a reminder of safety, the "call for help" was heard over the radio. Someone was in distress somewhere out there. Shockingly, they couldn't give a location of where they were. Fortunately, the conditions were benign and shouldn't compound their situation or the search and rescue effort (so one hopes…).

Beyond Marina Bay, near the "Grease Pot" on Squantum Rock, we leisurely made our way across to the eastern end of Thompson Island. "Leisurely" because at 2/3 low tide, the sandbar that runs between Squantum Rock and Thompson become very exposed, cutting the channel off from any further incursion by the powerboaters. As we were making the crossing, drops of rain began to break the glassy surface of the water. With no wind, the rain was rather gentle and benign. I thought it added a wonderful texture to the sea and provided good accompanyment to the drips of our paddles and the small banter of our group. Thankfully, the raindrops were only passing and a forerunner of the heavier rains due for later in the day.

As we paddled along the eastern edge of Thompson, several large swirls in the water occurred, signaling the presence of large fish rooting along the shallow bottom. As a fisherman myself, the signs of fish are always exciting. It's even more so because Adam B. had brought along a fishing rod. Even though I didn't have my rod along, we fishermen really are a vicarious lot. We enjoy the sight of caught fish even if they are not ours. If we have any fault in this crazy pursuit, it is our tendency for occasional exaggeration. Some how, if no one is around, a landed fish that may extend from fingertips to elbow invariably becomes the "huge one" that's a long as one's leg… Anyway, we were still paddling and Adam didn't wet his line. I was amazed. He either has great self-control or has caught enough fish in his time to not be "hurried" by the signs of feeding fish… (Mental note -- I have to get out soon with my flyrod. Perhaps a sho & go fishing excursion is on order for the near future.)

When we neared the Thompson Island pier, the crossing to City Point looked pretty good. Just one sailboat coming from the left and a powerboat from the right. As the two boats closed in on each other, near the channel marker that provided a convenient "midway goal" for the crossing, we paddled briskly for it. The buoy proved to be a good stopping point. As we started to resume the crossing, Adam on the far right spotted an fast oncoming powerboat heading in from the Spectacle Island channel. We let it pass and quickly made our way to City Point for a snack/lunch break. Before landing, Sean wanted to do a couple of rolls. (Practicing skills on a trip is always good.) He did two sweep layback rolls and accomplished both with great form. I was happy for him. His rolling has improved tremendously since our last sho & go together at the Christmas Eve Day paddle of Hingham Harbor. There he was not able to pull off the roll and exited into the chilly winter water by the takeout. Perservance and pool sessions over the winter had clearly helped.

At the lunch spot, Adam gave in to his predatory instinct and went around the jetty to fish the outlet of Pleasure Bay while the rest of us broke bread and chatted. Turned out several of us were/are local and reminisced about how polluted Boston Harbor was and how clean it has become. What a wonderful resource Boston Harbor has become for us, for our kids and, hopefully, for their kids in the future. We talked about the local communities -- then and now -- and of course some of local politicians and political shenanigans. The latter was only in light fun -- nothing serious nor rancorous. This wasn't needed on a paddle and serious politics should almost always be left to the ballot box anyway.

At the appointed time, Adam reappeared from his solo fishing excursion. He said he caught some schoolies by the Pleasure Bay outlet and that someone from shore caught a 38 inch keeper. I don't know about the others, but I believed him. I am fisherman after all… :) (Mental note -- no more "surfing" at the Pleasure Bay outlets now that fishing season is in full gear.) From here we proceeded along Carson Beach passing through a flotilla of moored sailboats in front of the South Boston Yacht Club. We continue towards "Old Harbor" beyond the L Street Bathhouse. Alas… none of the famous nude sunbathers were present within the sea wall sectioned beaches of L Street… I guess if modesty didn't deter, the cloud covering most surely did on this day. Somewhere in Old Harbor, Sean let out a whoop -- something about seeing a seal right near his boat. I dunno… I have paddled this area a lot and have yet to see a seal this far in the harbor. I was left wondering what Sean had in his water bottle at lunch…

Finishing the circumnavigation of the Old Harbor, we rounded the Kennedy Library and Umass. The tide was still pretty low and we had to dodge a number of sand and mussel bars. Normally, I am not concern about the bars… However, scraping across broken shells with SOF is probably not a good thing. (Mental note -- Not very traditional but I wonder if I could stick a kevlar keel plate on my next SOF?) We arrived back at the launch site around 1:30 PM. When we stowed away our gear and began to say our good-byes, the rain began to fall in earnest. Our timing could not have been better. It was a good day.


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