Monday, October 3, 2016

Return to Execution Rocks

I recently had some friends together for a trip out to Execution Rocks. You may recall a similar trip with some of the same people last spring; this was a chance to bring some new people out, starting and ending at a different location as well.

Along with my friends the Two Geeks (Jean and Alex) and the current Mr. Cowgirl (Dave), I invited a client (R) and a member of the Inwood Canoe Club (G). Jean and Alex also brought along B, a woman I met at the Hudson River symposium last July, who also keeps her boat where the Two Geeks keep theirs.

I gotta say, it was might fine to have such a sizable group for some proper sea kayaking on Long Island Sound !

The day was overcast with a chance of rain; it was a bit drizzly in the morning but afterwards, just cloudy. There was a wee bit of offshore wind on the outbound leg of our trip, giving us some decent-sized waves to slide over.

Leaving Orchard Beach Parking Lot.

Passing the "Floating Man-Caves".

Alex and Dave: Geek Buds.

Allons-y !

Columbia Island.

I meant to spend more time around the various little islands on the way out, but with a group our size and the enthusiasm they brought, we breezed by High Island, Columbia Island, Pea Island, Huckleberry Island, Davids Island. Of them all, Columbia has the most obvious visual interest: a former CBS broadcasting station turned in to a private home by filmmaker/etc Al Sutton.

We were more taken with Execution Rocks - a storied lighthouse marking reefs in the middle of Long Island Sound, supposedly named for a time when the British would chain American rebels to the rocks at low tide and let nature take its course.

True? I really don't know. But, it makes for a good story.

Approaching Execution Rocks.

A Rival Tour Group.

Taking a Break.

"Thataway !"
As it happened, the weblog Atlas Obscura had arranged a tour of the island, which arrived about the same time we did. We watched as a charter ferry maneuvered to the island, dropped off passengers, and then found a mooring, after which it dropped some sit-on-top kayaks into the water for smaller vessels to take back to the island.

Waiting for Traffic.

Execution Rocks.

Far Side.

B had to return home, so with the blessing of the trip leaders, she paddled on her own back to New Rochelle, and texted later that she arrived home safely.

Rounding the eastern end.

Pose !


More. More !

Our curiosity sated, we paddled onwards to Sands Point, Long Island, passing along the "Gold Coast" of posh estates once established by titans of the Gilded Age (your Goulds, Guggenheims, Rockefellers, etc).
The Gold Coast.


Cormorants !

Long Island Sound.

Our destination was a small slice of beach where we could safely stash our kayaks and climb up to a park that was a former Jay Gould estate. There was some sort of community festival taking place, and as we traipsed the grounds in our colorful paddling clothes, we got lots of curious looks a smiles from kids, mums, and dads.

We took lunch in a vending area located in the old carriage house.

On the way up, I glimpsed swans paddling along the shore of the bay.

Swans at Sea !

Gould Estate.

Tourists !

The House.

The View.

The Grounds.

The Apiary.

On the way back, we had current pushing us east - an inconvenient direction. We also spotted a barge in the distance chugging against current, and after some dithering opted to power forward and pass the barge. We made it with room to spare, but at maximum effort, we took a breather at the rocks again. The tour group had departed.

Color, Black, and White.

From there, we decided to extend the tour by paddling over to Huckleberry Island. By that point, some in the group were growing tired, so we headed back in through more sheltered waters, through a marina north of where we'd put in.

Behind Glen Island.




WE seem to have crashed a wedding or wedding reception.


Finally passing the place we'd exited in the first place.


And on back to Orchard Beach.

The Return.
This was a great trip despite the overcast weather; in fact, after a long, hot summer many of us welcomed the protection from the sun. The water is still relatively warm, so despite the looks, it's not quite winter paddling.

Paddling the Pelham Islands, and to Execution Rocks, is a great sea kayaking trip, one I hope to do again. And, it was great to see the Two Geeks! Be sure to check out their blog.

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