Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sea Buoy

I spent the day on the water today and I'm stoked on it. Based on today's forecast of warm weather, light wind, and small seas my paddling buddy Mike (the Geezer) proposed a trip out Masonboro Inlet. I jumped on it because I want to get out into the ocean more. The wind was a little more than predicted, but all in all it was a great day to get out there. At 11 we met at Trail's End (great launch). The group consisted of myself, Mike, and local veteran paddler Ryan Taro (I'm so lucky to be able to paddle with people whose experience and skill level far exceeds my own). We floated the tide out the ICW to Masonboro Channel into and out the inlet to the sea buoy. It still blows my fricking mind being in the ocean. Even with the Frying Pan Shoals buoy registering only 1', there was still fairly large swell at the mouth of the inlet and out toward the buoy. There was just enough wind to give it some texture and keep things interesting (WSW becoming SW consistent 10-ish, gusting toward 20). We needed to kill some time so that we could ride the tide back in, so we paddled toward Crystal Pier and then down the beach to the jetty. Once we had the jetty between us and the wind the sea surface calmed down a lot and almost turned glassy. It was so cool to slip down the south end just beyond where the tiny waves were breaking. I've spent hours and hours down there on a surfboard, but today was the first time I've been out in a yak. There were tons of folks on the beach enjoying the nice day (one girl went into the 48 degree F water in just a bikini, and a little one at that). I paddled to the jetty and then followed it out, did a loop around the sea buoy again and then headed back into the inlet. We took a lunch break on the spoil island across from Masonboro, where I found a smallish lightning whelk and a live sand dollar that was providing safe haven for a couple of tiny crabs (blues?). We attempted to take a more interesting return trip through the marsh, exploring two possible passages, neither successful, where I found a banded tulip and saw a few tricolored heron. After finding too little water up either creek, we exercised our final remaining option and took the same route home that we had paddled out earlier. The wind shifted pretty solid S, so we fought it the whole way back (though we had the tide with us). At the end of about 5 hours on the water and over 13 miles (estimated on Google Earth, an invaluable post-trip tool), I'm spent, but happy. I pushed myself today, tended my confidence garden, built my strength, enjoyed some great weather, and saw some nature. Now all I have to do for the rest of the evening is sip rum and coke and eat what I'm sure will be a delicious dinner prepared by my beautiful gal Aimee (beef & mushrooms over pasta). I can't wait to get out there again, especially when the water warms up. I think this summer I'm going to be on the ocean a lot. Here's a photo or two:

Crystal Pier, looking N

Ryan, heading back toward the jetty

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