For our first paddle of 2009 Aimee and I met my former boss and current friend Colin (Doppler) for a romp around our old digs down at WB. We launched from Jasmine Park on Harbor Island about 2 hrs after the low tide. Air temps in the low 50's, no wind to speak of, overcast, light fog. The launch isn't great; you've got to lower the boats off a 4' bulkhead onto a little sand spit (which wouldn't be there at a high enough tide). The bulkhead is framed so it's easy to scale up and down though, so that helps. We made our way towards Shinn's, over to the old swimming hole in Hidden Creek Masonboro (where some idiots have stashed a floating dock and sofas), back out and across the channel and up through Hidden Creek WB to the old fairway and back to Banks Channel. We were inspected by a couple of inquisitive porpoise in Shinn's, one of whom stuck his head up to check us out. We could clearly see his beady little black eye looking our way. The water was perfectly glassy and amazingly clear the entire trip, enabling us to see channel whelks and other critters along the bottom, as well as avoid running over the oyster beds. We got great looks at loons and cormorants, pelicans, Forster's terns, hooded mergansers, various gulls, great egrets, great blue herons, white ibis, yellowlegs, tri-colored herons, a belted kingfisher, and a probable American bittern (a first for me). The tide floated us right through almost the entire trip and the temp/conditions stayed about constant. I got the best look I've had at a hooded merganser, but I'm afraid the reason why is that he was probably injured and couldn't take off to fly away from us, despite multiple attempts (hunters perhaps?). I got to use my new paddling jacket for the first time (an IR Zephyr LS), and I'm very pleased with it. I was almost too warm today, with just a thin synthetic LS tee underneath, but I'm going to be glad for it on colder and windier days. A beautiful trip altogether. It was nice to paddle my old SMKC haunts. Next time I go down to WB on a similar tide I want to get up Bradley Creek to collect a bucket of periwinkles for a chowder. More later.
From Dredge Spoil, South End of WB and Masonboro Inlet