Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A House of Surf and Fog

Over Memorial Day Weekend - nearly a month ago - I managed to do some camping out at Floyd Bennet Field. You may recall I camped out here with some friends last fall, and was back with most of them again. The difference was, we base-camped instead of kayak camping. We drove our cars and boats out, but only kept the one camp, rather than packing it all in for Staten Island.

Partly this was practical. I was organizing an event at the nearby Sebago Canoe Club that Saturday, so packing up to go and come back was going to eat up time I'd spend enjoying the area. The area, of course was Jamaica Bay. I'll write about the event itself later; here's what we did on our big paddle day.

We all wanted to try some surf, and there's brilliant surf at Rockaway and Breezy Points, where the open ocean first touches New York City. To get there we'd have to paddle about three or four miles, and as it happened we were a bit lazy in the morning, and so paddled against some tide on the way out.
Preparing to depart.

Passing along the old airfield.

Striking a pose.

After paddling out past the bay bridge that connects the Rockaways to Brooklyn, we made a brief stop for lunch on a beach before heading out to Rockaway Point. Breezy was a bit further, and we were already seeing nice wind waves pushed by an easterly breeze.

Testing the waters.

Trying to get a speedy start.

It took us a while to sort the waves. Primarily wind-blown, tide on current, they struck the beach at a very shallow angle. The result was, we had to paddle out pretty far just to catch them, and rather than surf evenly in to the beach, we'd just find ourselves on an elongated taper, coming off with a low brace and repositioning to head back out.


Keeping position.

Bad form!

Most of the waves were like this

After a while, we were tired, and the waves were getting less pronounced as the tide rose.  We took a few more runs and decided to head in.

Here is where the trip got interesting. We could make out a thick hazing drifting in from the west, and closer and faster, we could make out a low fog drifting northwards from the sea over the Rockaways. it looked more like smoke from two forest fires, but was fog, possibly an inversion layer.

In a matter of minutes we could tell that the entire outlet was about to be enshrouded in fog - and we had about a mile to cross at the bay and a mile to the bridge, before heading in to Jamaica Bay proper. We'd seen a large barge and some party vessels about. We decided to cross the bay earlier than planned, at about its widest point.

This turned out to be a wise course of action. As we crossed, we had to wait and radio our intentions to two party boats out of Sheepshead Bay, and by the time we were all the way across, the fog had dropped visibility to under a mile. We couldn't see the bridge, nor the far shore, but both were maybe a twenty minute paddle away.

We crossed one last marina mouth at its narrowest point, having seen a number of pleasure boats scurry in (and out, oddly). We were soon under the bridge, and handrailing close to the shore, until we could make out the old hangar and radomes.

It was an odd paddle, an eerie one in a way. The fog happened so fast, and was so thick. I've been in fog before but it's usually much more gradual, and a phenomenon of cool weather. We'd been in the low 80s F, wearing jackets only because of the breeze. It was muggy as we paddled back, and what photos I've got here of the fog are from when it was lightening. It was thick as soup before!

A good one for the Cowgirl's final send-off, should it occur.

The fog was a harbinger of bad weather to come; we ultimately called out weekend short and went out for dinner at a lobster shack on the way home. Jamaica Bay is lovely, and I hope to paddle there again, under more fair weather conditions.

1 comment:

  1. Very good account of a mixed bag of conditions. We need more of those surf conditions.