Thursday, June 5, 2008

OC-2, the tippy canoe

New York Outrigger bought a new OC-2 (Open Canoe, 2 person) this season, and yesterday I paddled it for the first time. At first I wasn't too hip on going out on the filthy sixty-degree Hudson River in a ten inch-wide boat while it was rainy, chilly, windy, and, almost eight o'clock at night, already dark. But my friend Dorian who is ranked (get this) the 12th best paddler in the world was in town on business, jonesing to get out on the river, and could only paddle last night before leaving the city. What a waste to blow off paddling with someone that good, I figured, so I bucked up and headed to the boathouse.

As Dorian taped some waterproof lights onto the akus, I shivered in the cold wind, surveying the ominous black clouds to the south and the water spraying giant arcs into the air when wakes hit the dock. The thought bubble above my head said, "I hope we don't get mowed down in the dark by a big ferry and sink to our dirty, watery graves." Caution be damned, I climbed into the front seat and we took off.

My wimpy worries disappeared immediately because I was having too much fun. This boat is so zippy fast compared to a six-man, we probably could outrun the damn ferries. We paddled what I consider hard from from Pier 66 down to the North Cove Yacht Harbor and back, about six miles, catching all the waves that came our way. When we took a break at the harbor, fireworks started going off a mile south by the Statue of Liberty. What a cool, unexpected treat. This pic I found shows our view exactly. I wanted to stay and watch the whole thing, more for the rest opportunity than for the aesthetic gunpowder display, but Paddle Boy cracked the whip. While I was halfway spent, he was just getting warmed up. No rest (and no fireworks) for the weary.

On the way back upriver, we were traveling with the current and holy shit, we were cruising! As we passed by a sailboat charter, the passengers (snug and dry in their matching boat-issued raingear) yelled to us, "You guys are movin'!" And yeah, we really were speeding along faster than them. Adrenaline rush. Woo woo!

The one caveat of our little voyage was the precarious balancing act we had to do. Every time we started to huli (tip over), I would SCREAM like a little girl and stop paddling to try to balance it. This totally gay behavior was the result of being so freaked out by the Hudson's filthiness. Contaminants include PCBs, pesticides (DDT too), dioxin, furan, heavy metals, and after heavy rainfalls, a little too much flotsam and jetsam for my liking, not excluding the occasional dead cat floating by. Oh and let's not forget sewage spills in addition to the surface runoff after rainstorms. Paddling crystalline Maui waters this ain't. Anyhow, I think we had the ama rigged weird or too high or something and I am embarrassed to say we did huli five times. Plop. Splash. Pass the tetanus shots. Not kidding.

The first couple of swims were pretty damn funny, but by the last dip around 9 p.m. I was physically tired from paddling fast and hard and all set with being wet, cold, and hauling my tired wet cold ass up into the boat one too many times. Oh happy moment when we finally got back to the dock. I'm sure Paddle Boy easily could have kept on going around the entire island of Manhattan barely breathing heavily while I crumpled into a narcoleptic heap on the dock. But hey, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and having successfully avoided death, dismemberment and disease in the dark out on the Hudson, I was stronger.

What a blast it is paddling with somebody who knows their stuff out on the water like this guy does. I'm so glad I went out, even if I'm completely spoiled now. Thanks for the invite, Dorian!

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