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Boston Harbor S&G 2/16

Dee Hall

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Adam, Rick C., Gerry S., Gary B., and myself left from City Point at 10:30AM. It was sunny, calm, and less than 20 degrees F. Apparently, the yacht club next door decided the winters are too mild to pull up the moorings which wore neat, fringed caps of ice. Otherwise the harbor appeared to be in liquid form.

Our hands warmed quickly as we approached the Fort, but after we rounded the point, we could feel the breeze on our gloved hands. I put one pogie on because my southerly hand was in the sun for the full stroke. The harbor was empty save the ferries and the "Linda", a fishing trawler that passed by us three or four times before we crossed to the airport side of the harbor. Once on the other side, we poked in an out of various marinas and under a few piers. At one point the pod played barge-limbo between the bow and one and stern of another. I could pass under while lying flat on my back deck and even had a little room to paddle. The taller paddlers used their hands to push them along the last few feet.

While we paddled, ice formed on us and our boats. The darker colored boats were ice free on the side facing the sun. The white boats had ice nearly everwhere. I wondered, looking at my sprayskirt, if it would be difficult to remove in the event of a capsize. I guess it would be further motivation to roll up.

After a few more piers, this paddler was out of fuel, so we paddled across the harbor to our ultimate destination, the Boston Harbor hotel. My lack of blood sugar caused a drop of warmth along with the drop of energy, but I plowed on slowly until we reached the docks which were encased in thin ice which had to be hacked with our paddles in order to travel the last 50 feet.

The second challenge was the height of the dock which came to my chest while I stood on the seat of my kayak. Most of us chose to use our short tows to connect to a cleat and left our boats in the water. When I turned to help Rick, I noticed that my boat was listing significantly to port. There was a whole bunch of ice frozen to the side of the cockpit, left from my last paddle.

We entered the Hotel and started to remove the layers of protection. Rick commented that we might be mistaken for snowmobilers in our suits.

Lunch was very good, and none of the employees batted an eyelash at our appearance. By the time we were finished eating, our insulating layers had mostly dried, so we suited up before we all fell asleep. Our first challenge upon returning to the dock was in pulling frozen sprayskirts on over our bulky suits. I struggled for a minute or so before Rick lifted me up by the tunnel. Then gravity did the work for me. Getting back into the boats proved to be even more challenging, and one had to be pumped dry again. Then I got to pay Rick back for the help with my skirt, as his iced skirt was no match for the low volume coaming on his Explorer. More hacking at the ice and we were on our way.

The air had warmed significantly (mid 20s?), and I almost had too much on for the trip back. Our return path brought us by Legal Seafood's "Quality Control Center" which has a very cool kinetic fish sculpture on top. When we got back to the Fort, it was 3PM. The group split at this point, and three of us continued on around Thompson Island. We got a good look at Spectacle Island which appears to be ready for it's spring opening with a nice sturdy-looking dock and an attractive visitors' center.

About halfway around, I was wondering if I had made a mistake. The pogies were starting to feel very heavy. I got a break during the portage over the gap between Thompson Island and Squantum. Hmm. The chart shows it to be navigable at low tide which was two hours before we got there. I guess that it got filled in by this winter's storms.

The paddle back to City Point was long and uneventful. The tide had fallen low enough that we couldn't see our cars from the water. We hit shore at 4:30PM almost exactly. As we unpacked our boats, a boater/jogger stopped to ask about what appeared to be a very hardcore pursuit. As I hurredly moved stuff to the car to keep from getting cold, I noticed that he was wearing a sweatshirt with no windbreaker. I figured he would get cold standing there, but he hung around for at least 5 minutes. I never stopped moving.

My new convertible glove/mittens really paid off while I unpacked my boat and fastened it onto the car. Dexterity when I need it and the warmth of unisolated fingers when I don't. However, I am going to cut those stupid rubber coverings off of the Yakima strap buckles. Anybody who has seen my boat since Labor Day would see the absurdity in protecting it from scratches, and I almost had a meltdown while trying to pull the rubber back from the one of the buckles. It's difficult enough with warm hands.

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