It’s time to get out to Newtown Creek again to photograph the new Kosciusko Bridge that opened in April.  Here’s a New York Times video showing the old one being blasted down.

Friday night my nieces and nephew came home from their 3-week vacation.  After a good night’s sleep, they were up and about Saturday morning, and asked if they could try out my kayak.  Since none of them have ever been in a kayak, and since their parents are — I’ll just say it with italics — safety conscious, I figured the best introduction to kayaking would be to put the kayak in their swimming pool.

Well, the kids astonished me.  They took to it like they were born in a kayak. The 9-year-old did a dock entry and exit as easily as she climbs into bed.  And the 6-year-old — who was terrified of water last year when they moved into the house with the pool — jumped right into the boat without a second thought.  She paddled — with my full-size adult paddle that I swear she could hardly lift — to the end of the pool, did a 180 degree turn using backstrokes and paddled back to me.  I think part of the reason she was able to handle it so easily was that the Oru is so light.

Later that afternoon at a birthday party, one of the neighbors told their mother that she has three kayaks — including one double — that they can borrow any time.  I’ve already mapped out where I want to take the family for their first “real” kayaking trip.  Now the only challenge will be to find a day that isn’t fully scheduled with birthday parties!

For the past few evenings I’ve taken the Oru out on Setauket Harbor at sunset.  These have been my first solo voyages in it, and I am becoming increasingly comfortable in it (though I still occasionally think “I’m paddling around in a mail bin!). I’m getting faster at assembling it.

I’ve been putting in at a little beach on Setauket Harbor along Shore Road.

wpid-imag0023.jpgThe first night I circled around Little Bay.  High tide, perfectly still water gave me some beautiful mirror-like views of the water and shore.  A flock of swans seemed to think I was just one of them in my little white boat.

wpid-imag0048.jpgThe second night I headed in the other direction, and met up with a couple of kids coming back from a long day of paddling. Alex and Bree said they were heading to the launch at Poquot, inside Port Jefferson Harbor, so I accompanied them there to see where it is.  Then I paddled back around the point back to the beach to pick up my car (actually, my sister’s).  They had given me directions to drive to the launch, so I tried them out and found it.  The kids were still there (it was almost an hour later-I was surprised), so I gave them a ride home.  Another great evening of smooth seas, light currents and no wind.  Loving this!

Trip three (last night) was a bit more challenging, with wind out of the SW at about 15 mph while the tide was coming in from the NE – wind against current.  (Too windy to try to take pictures.)  Except for my maiden voyage on the Hudson River a couple of weeks ago, this was the choppiest water I’ve had the boat in, and definitely the stiffest wind.  I was curious to see just how much I would get pushed around by it, given the lightness of the boat and the somewhat flat hull.  But I’ve been getting accustomed to paddling it, using foot pressure with the strokes to keep me traveling straight and it did fine.  I paddled around Setauket Harbor, crossing the narrows where it connects to Port Jefferson.  Along the way I met up with another kayaker in an inflatable boat.  He lives on Little Bay.  As we paddled he offered some info about other put-in points as well as prevailing wind patterns and tides.  As I turned to come back I was paddling straight into the wind.  I feathered the paddle (first time I’ve done that) and headed straight into the wind, then eventually turned at a 45 degree angle to it as I headed toward the southern shore to stay in the lee of the trees. Just before reaching the dock at the point of the cove where my beach is, I saw a pair of swans with a cygnet still in full grey “ugly duckling” feathers.  I’ve never seen one before.

So, I realize that for you experienced kayakers (assuming anyone at all is actually reading this), this must all seem like playing with a toy boat in a bathtub.  But for me, still a pretty new kayaker, this is stretching my wings.  Going solo, in my own (new) boat, every trip is a step into the unknown, a learning experience.  Every outing is an adventure.

What I find most interesting about these little trips is that once I’m back on land it hardly seems like I was on the water at all.  It’s as though paddling is a door into an alternate reality, a dream that I only half remember for just a short time when I wake up.  I wonder if that will change as I do this more often.