September 8th, 2003


Messing About In Boats

What a perfect day! We slept late after getting home from Kingston around 11:30 PM or so, and dithered until almost 3. It took forever to get linuxspice moving; she was in a low energy state, and rather depressed and fragile.

"Eugene" the dory was still on top of the Aztek from the trip to Kingston (about which I'll post later), so we took her down to a little park at the mouth of Irondequoit Creek, and rowed around the Irondequoit Creek Wilderness, then out into Irondequoit Bay (almost halfway to the 104 bridge) and back along the shore. Wow. It was incredible -- cattails, and lilly pads, and pretty flowers, and swans, and herons, and ducks, and seagulls whirling around overhead. It was really sublime, and once we got out of sight of the Bay Creek Paddling Center, the only clue that we had of being so close to civilization (less than 2 miles from home!) was the noise of traffic on Empire Boulevard, which receded as we rowed upstream, and failed completely when we got out into the bay. At our farthest point north, the loudest sound other than the occasional cry of a bird was the chirping of crickets.

I'm not sure how many miles we rowed, but the boat performed beautifully, though she rode much lower in the water than expected. She's also extremely tender, and would make a truly wretched tender for the Gadfly, so we'll need to build a different boat for that duty. But she's truly a dream to row, especially in quiet water -- we must have been making at least four knots with relatively little effort on my part, and three good hard strokes brought her up to speed from a standing start.

Irondequoit Creek is amazing, and we really must go back with Mouseboats before the year fails. Back in the maze of little channels and passages carved out between the cattail-covered mud flats, it feels like an entirely different world. We passed a swan preening itself on shore in the company of some other black bird with a long bill that we didn't recognized, and spotted at least three blue herons at close range. There's a small dam? gate? that narrows the channel, beyond which signs warn of shallow water. The narrowness of the gate thwarted us, as the dory's oars need at least fifteen feet or so of clearance (they're 7' oars); we vowed to return with a pair of Mouseboats, and a camera.

We did manage to negotiate some extremely shallow water, though -- shallow enough that I couldn't let my oar blades all the way into the water without striking bottom. We never ran aground until we were almost back to the Aztek, and ran into an ankle-deep mud bank about 200 yards offshore.

The day was perfect, too -- not a cloud in the sky, with temperatures in the low 70s. We rowed from 3:30 to after 7, and hauled the boat out right as the sun was sinking behind the hills. I took a shower to get the mud off me when we returned home, and then we snuggled for a while, both glowing with happiness.