Long Island Kayak Circumnavigation Complete!

With a 10 mile ocean paddle yesterday, Bonnie and I both completed a multi-year circumnavigation of Long Island! 

Steve H dreamed up the idea of kayaking all the way around Long Island from Brooklyn back to Brooklyn, and ran first leg of the trip in 2007 with eight Sebago Canoe Club paddlers and two ground support leaders. I wasn't able to do the trip that year, but when I saw Bonnie's photos of that leg I talked Steve H into letting me go along for the next year. In 2008, our group of 9 paddlers made it from Mastic Beach out through the Shinnecock inlet to Georgica Beach, East Hampton (my writeup and photos here).  Unfortunately, we then lost our last day of that year due to a tropical storm. On the trip in 2009, we again lost our first day due to a tropical storm, and so we skipped ahead while the weather calmed down on the ocean and paddled up in the bay from Montauk towards Shelter Island, landing near Cedar Point. The second day, the weather was better and so we went clockwise around Montauk point in the ocean (we paddled with dolphins!), and were shooting for Georgica.  But the trip ran a bit long (blame the dolphins!) and we didn't want to land in the surf in the dark, so we took out on the edge of the wild, inaccessible Napeague State Park, near Amagansett. In 2010, we picked up from where we had left off at Cedar Point, and the group made it around Orient point to Port Jefferson.  I had shoulder surgery that year, and I was pretty sore and skipped the last day.  But I made up the group's last day in two segments with John W; we did the first part last fall, and the second part this summer (and to simplify the logistics, we did both of those as one-way kayak trips with a bicycle shuttle).  That got me caught up with the group for 2010, but I still had the first year's distance to make up. I had been planning to do some of that distance last year, but the shoulder surgery made that impossible.  So the distance was a bit daunting, especially with the insane logistics of trying to put in and take out kayaks along the shores of  Long Island, with its patchwork of private property, town regulations, and state parks. So, this summer, I decided to just do one long (20 mile or so) paddle once a week from August on, and see how far I could get. I did the length of Fire Island by myself (none of my friends were available) in two out and back segments (detailed here and here), and then paddled the length of Jones Beach and then the length of Long Beach with John W. I did the final leg, across the Rockaways and back into Sebago, with Roger H in early September, and that finally caught me with the group!  The group then did the final three day leg back from Port Jefferson, down the East river, and into Red Hook, Brooklyn (many of us, including me, have already done the Red Hook to Sebago section).

And all that paddling left only 10 miles out of the 300 mile trip undone--from Georgica Beach in East Hampton to the eastern end of Napeauge State park. The byzantine logistics of parking in the Hamptons, beach permits, etc. are much easier to deal with from October on, and my free time is limited now because of my work on the Gravesend Inn.  This weekend was my last chance to wrap this trip up this year, and the rest of the group were not available, so Bonnie and I went for it yesterday, driving 220 miles to paddle (and bike) 10:


We had absolutely perfect weather--warm and dry, neither too hot or too cold.  The winds were at our backs, and we started in the surf at Georgica and flew down the beach, covering the 9 or so miles in a little over 2 hours:

I think the forecast of 1' or less waves in the ocean was a bit off:

Here's video that Bonnie (thanks!) shot of me finishing up the trip:

I did actually fall out of the boat on purpose...  It's easier than fighting the surf and getting flipped. 

But we made it!

I then rode my bike (which we had left at the take out in the morning) back to Georgica, picked up the car, and headed back to Napeague to load up:

It was kind of interesting for me to wrap up this long trip on the East End, since I lived in the area for several years in the late 1980's. Napeague in particular, has always fascinated me, since it's a stretch of mostly undeveloped beach between the last of the ritzy Hamptons (Amagansett) and the more down-to-earth Montauk.  And now I've paddled this beautiful area (and the rest of Long Island!):


After packing up, we headed up to Hither Hills to catch the sunset:

Here, you can see how narrow this island is at this point, with the ocean on the left and the bay on the right (this part in the picture actually over-washed in the historic 1938 hurricane).  Someone watching from this point for the last several years would have seen us on both horizons on several occasions, and would see us encounter everything from raging ocean surf to placid bays. 

More photos of yesterday here, and below is an interactive map of the route, about 150 miles of which I paddled just this year:

(You can download the Google Earth KMZ file here.)

We celebrated, exhaustedly, with a dinner at the famous Lobster Roll (where Elizabeth H, who has a house nearby, came to help us celebrate).  I really want to thank Steve H for organizing and leading a bunch of very "individual" paddlers and making this all possible.  And after running all over Long Island this summer, it's obvious that the group trip would have been impractical without our tireless ground support crew of John W and Linda P.

I'll need some time to catch up--I have a broken paddle, broken skeg cable, a leak in my boat's front compartment, a broken Leatherman, and my apartment and car are covered in sand. But I've got the winter to deal with all that, and, of course, plan for the next adventure!