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L2 Paddle 10/26/13


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As the four of us got ready for a relatively easy Level-2 paddle, I discovered an unfortunate fact: Peirce Island Boat Ramp fees have increased. Even though the website still says $5 for kayaks, canoes, and other non-power boats, it has been raised to $10. A local fisherman informed me that this happened in the spring, which surprises me that the website has not been updated. We paid what cash we had and offered an apologetic note about the confusion.

It was great to meet our paddling companions for the first time. Andy was taking is eight-day old boat out for it's "maiden paddling trip" (aside from training and skills practice), and Lisa returning from a hiatus from NSPN.


With introductions completed, we set off for a very leisurely trip around New Castle Island via Inner and Little Harbors. Tide was still heading out and the wind was not very strong nearly to our backs, we made good time passing Fort Stark on the southwestern tip of New Castle. While Wood Island would have made a nice diversion, the day was not the right day for it since the wind was picking up as forecasted.

The plan for the day worked well as we stayed in the lee of New Castle while paddling against the current in the Piscataqua. Wait a minute, low tide was predicted to be at 11:04am at Fort Point. It was close to noon and there was still current flowing out of the ..... oh yeah, it is a river, isn't it! Note to self, Low Tide does NOT equal Slack Tide. I had actually seen this on the Currents app on my phone, but just thought that there was a data dispute. But no, slack current runs about 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 hours later than slack tide at this location. Oops - well, at least we were not in max ebb!

It was not really that bad, other than the fact that, once we passed Fort Point, we were headed into the 10 knot winds. At our first opportunity, we headed back into Inner Harbor and hit a spot to have a break. The wind was picking up into the 15 knot gust range and the sun had disappeared for quite a while, which made for a chilly lunch stop.


As we sat discussing the upcoming Cold Water Workshop (did I mention that it had gotten chilly?), we noticed another paddler heading through the harbor in a white boat and lighter colored paddling gear, Cathy and I peered out to see if we recognized the intrepid soul padding alone in the wind. They seemed to be passing by until a rather unruly wind gust "encouraged" them to come join us.

Upon his landing we met Jeff, a whitewater paddler from western Massachusetts who was in the area visiting friends after purchasing is brand new Valley Etain HV on Friday in Rhode Island. While Cathy was absolutely fascinated with the removable 4th hatch, Jeff actually offered her the opportunity to take his one-day old boat out for a spin!

As the wind picked up even more, and the clouds darkened even more, we all decided we had had enough standing around and packed up to head back to the launch. On the way, Andy practiced a T-rescue with Cathy, and did an excellent job for his first ever rescue.

Back at the launch, as we were packing up, the most excitement of the day occurred. A cabin-cruiser style powerboat had docked in preparation for trailering. I don't know the circumstances of how this situation came to be, but I noticed the boat starting to be pulled around the end of the dock by the current while the captain was standing on the dock trying to hold the boat in place. As he was about to either lose the boat or fall into the water, he managed to crawl onto the bow, jump into the cockpit and fire up the engine while the boat quickly drifted towards the Peirce Island Bridge supports. For some reason the boat seemed to get stuck in reverse and spinning in circles, barely in any kind of control, narrowly missing several docks as well as a substantial granite wall. A local fisherman, with the grace and boat control that only a long-time professional mariner could, actually managed to maneuver around the spinning boat to get control of it and bring it to the dock safe and sound. That is one type of rescue I never want to practice!


Although we were only on the water for a couple of hours, it was good to just be on the water. I thank Andy and Lisa for joining Cathy and I, and for putting up with my interminably slow paddling pace as I continue to work out the stiff muscles in my neck.

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