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Monomoy 10/7

Adam Bolonsky

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Launched from Morris Island with a strange flotilla that included an inflatable kayak whose seatback was as wide and tall as a spinnaker. And not the least strange but beautiful (and fast!) was Ralph Anderson's stitch-and-glue/strip-deck hybrid badairka. Turns out he's a professional horse trainer....

Down the southway against a rather mean-spirited southwesterly shoving its message insistently against South Beach's western shore, pushing the inflatable along with it. We then broke into distinct groups, sort of in touch by radio. On the western shore of South Beach lay bivouaced a very large group of discouraged New Yorkers who had launched that morning in the hopes of observing the grey seals of the southway. The seals left for deeper waters this spring, after last November's storm closed the South Beach gap tighter than a balloon filled with sand.

The former gap is plugged with a growing sandbridge tall as three men and as wide and long as a skyscraper, the old channel's edge now as steep and round as sides of a kettle pond. Ralph and Yvonne and I landed, reconnoitered, then Ralph and I busted hump to portage the bar to launch in light dumping surf to fish the outside.

The fishing was fine: lots of bluefish in tight against the shore; as the sun dropped the fog wrapped around us like a blanket and we watched the shoreline disappear. Took a backbearing as the shore slipped from view and kept on fishing.

The southerly held long enough to scoot our group (by then five, including Yvonne, Ralph, me, Karen and Leslie) down the Southway in the fog in about 45 minutes, bringing us the 3.5 miles to the Morris Island channel in a breeze that scudded us over the sunken fields of eel grass. By then the rest of our group, including the inflatable, were just landing.

Fog horns on a kayak don't make a single effective peep when hooted back upwind to a following group. Leslie's strobe spat its signal from her back in the fog, quite visible, but had the fog been thicker the only way to prevent a rundown by a powerboat would have been with a ch. 16 securite call, I'd say. But impressive nonetheless to see that Leslie and Karen paddle so fully equipped: sound horns, strobes, a radio.

At least temporarily the glory days of the Southway are done. No seals. To get to the seals you now have to portage South Beach and grind another four miles south to the other rookery shoreside of the abandoned lighthouse.


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