Sunday, April 20, 2014

Starting the Sunday Morning Paddles

Eagle to the left, Lincoln Memorial to the right. Eagle to the left, Lincoln Memorial to the right. Ahh, seeing a bald eagle soaring majestically over Arlington National Cemetery was just one of the joys of this morning's outing.

For one thing, the air and water temperatures have warmed enough that I was finally able to ditch the dry suit. Instead, my farmer john wet suit, a thin neoprene top, and my new NRS boots (really bought for our upcoming Alaska trip) served as the uniform of the day.

Second, spring is really all around. The marina was busy even though it was Easter morning. Fishermen were out, which means the fish must be running too. The bird life is back - in addition to the eagle there were ducks galore, cormorants in unusual numbers for this section of the river, and a bird I didn't recognize (might have been a merganser). I also chased a great blue heron down the river. Herons, bless them, are more graceful than intelligent. I've found that if you disturb one it will fly about 75 feet and then land right in your path where you're sure to disturb it again. It'll repeat this cycle three or four times before finally flying away.

These are not cherry blossoms
Human life is also back on the river. Key Bridge Boathouse is open, the staff wearing matching orange "dock staff" hoodies (a step up in formality, if not charm, from the slackers and hobos who used to staff the place when it was Jack's Boathouse).

There were SUP'rs, rowers, and kayakers on the river. The guy with the beautiful Adirondack guide boat was out. The Pirate Boat was cruising. Michael Saylor of MicroStrategy was out in his Azimut yacht, anchored as usual off of Roosevelt Island, rafted up as usual with the grey yacht. I watched them pull off an interesting maneuver - the two big yachts managed to maneuver and dock in Georgetown while still tied up together, with their tenders hanging on as well.

I paddled up as far as Three Sister Islands then pulled ashore for a break. Alas, it's till Passover so in place of my usual granola bar I made do with two kosher-for-Passover chocolate chip cookies. If you haven't had the chance to savor the goodness of unleavened chocolate chip cookies, my advice to you is - don't. They're pretty bad. Fortunately I had a thermos of coffee with which to wash them down.

The day had been unexpectedly windy up until this point and there were waves pounding at my boat as I took my break. Expecting a long slog home into the wind, I soon got underway. As I paddled under Key Bridge the wind was strong enough that I decided to take the sheltered route inside Roosevelt Island rather than going around on the river side. As I emerged at the bottom of the island I was pleasantly surprised to find pretty calm conditions and so I crossed the river to get a look at the few remaining cherry blossoms - the late bloomers, as it were. There were still a few cherry trees with blossoms, and a number of other trees were prettily in flower as well.

I crossed back over and headed back into the marina, loaded the boat and headed out. Good start to the season - soon it'll be Pirates of Georgetown time. I didn't have my GPS, but I estimate I paddled about 7 miles.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Pre-Blossoms

Ahh, the smell of sunscreen, tung oil and dry suit sweat. Surely this is the aroma of spring. Tall Tom and I set out from Gravelly Point on what was originally to have been a cherry blossom paddle. Unfortunately the blossoms were uncooperative, being barely at the stage of peduncle elongation  - in other words, not much color. So instead we headed up the Anacostia River, up to and a little past the railway bridge.

It's getting to be that time of year when the air is warm but the water is cold. Time to schvitz in our dry suits and tut tut at those out on the river without proper cold water gear (which today included several groups of novice rowers and dragon boaters out of the Anacostia Boathouse, as well as any number of scullers).

Looking for Blossoms at Haines Point

I had noticed in the past that the Anacostia Waterfront Park has a small boat ramp but I'd never stopped there. I'm happy to report it was a pleasant place to take a break, stretch our legs (and my back, which was a little achy), and make use of some greatly appreciated if not exactly spotless restrooms.

All and all, a pleasant little trip and my second outing with my newly carved paddle - which I'm quite happy with. I got to impress Tom not only with the paddle but also with the awesome penguin fleece paddle bag V made for me.