- Dear Abby
- Games & Puzzles
- Events & Exhibits
- Food & Drink
- Arts & Music
- Movies & TV
At last, a warm, sunny day last Saturday brought a slew of kayakers to one of the best launch sites in Connecticut, Noank’s Esker Point Beach, where five of us branched off from a pack of paddlers and steered toward my favorite destination, Fishers Island — only a few miles offshore as the crow flies but somewhat longer allowing for our intentionally meandering route.
The water was mill-pond flat, the wind light, the tide near slack, and the powerboat traffic virtually absent — in short, perfect conditions for mindless drifting rather than white-knuckle power-stroking.
Joining me were Phil Warner and Ian Frenkel, longtime racers and friendly rivals; Day colleague Jenna Cho, who does most of her adventuring on terra firma but also enjoys maritime outings; and my son, Tom, who is always game for anything that will take him to the mountains, the open road or the open water.
We decided to head to Fishers because Tom, who was in town only for a few weeks to visit family and to run the Boston Marathon, wanted to get out on salt water one last time before embarking on a circuitous journey that would take him by bus to New Mexico to pick up his car, then by auto to Utah to meet friends for a week or so of wilderness mountaineering on some of that state’s highest peaks, followed by a drive to Minnesota to begin work as a kayak guide.
Our sojourn on the Sound would be a fitting farewell not only to Tom but also to seals that swim here from the Gulf of Maine and the Maritime Provinces during winter. By now most already have migrated back north, but I hoped to spot a few stragglers.
Sure enough, we hadn’t paddled more than a mile or so, just south of Ram Island, when eagle-eyed Phil cried, “There’s one at 10 o’clock!”
A shiny head bobbed above the surface for a nanosecond before ducking back under. Thirty seconds later, the seal reappeared for an instant about 100 yards behind us. Another 10 seconds and it came up only about 10 yards away.
“They’re curious,” I said.
We continued paddling toward Hungry Point near the northeast tip of Fishers, where in mid-winter I’ve observed more than 100 harbor seals and an occasional hooded or gray seal hauled on the rocks at low tide. On this balmy day, though, the rocks were barren save for a stray cormorant.
Every so often, though, a harbor seal or two surfaced to check us out.
Tempting as it was to linger we continued paddling. It’s against federal law to get closer than 50 yards to seals – not that they would let you. Though curious they’re also shy.
Another good reason to avoid approaching seals is that they have razor-sharp teeth.
Anyway, we kept our distance before surfing ashore to savor snacks and to soak up some sun – a rare experience during this soggy, chilly spring.
All too soon it was time to steer back to Noank. Happily, a light breeze picked up from the southeast and the tide approached the end of the flood, so we enjoyed a proverbial fair wind and following sea all the way to Esker Point.
Not far from shore a seal popped up one more time – possibly the final one I’ll see in the wild until next winter, and certainly Tom’s last, unless the marine mammals somehow managed to make their way to Lake Superior or the Boundary Waters.
Bon voyage, seals; bon voyage, Tom. Enjoy your summers in northern waters.
I can never remember – do you apply facial cleanser before or after the exfoliating scrub, and then finish up with healing balm and moisturizer, or should you start with the scrub, work your way through the cleanser and then top...
The international outrage sparked by an American trophy hunter’s killing of Cecil, Zimbabwe’s beloved lion, justifiably vilifies the despicable practice of slaughtering wildlife for sport – but it also exposes the human...
"Head for that tree stump," I instructed authoritatively one afternoon earlier this week, as if I knew for sure where we should be heading. I have learned to exude confidence when giving directions on any expedition, even...
When internationally celebrated speedster Scott Jurek scrambled last Sunday to the 5,269-foot summit of Mount Katahdin, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, he broke the record for the fastest assisted hike of the 2,189-mile...
Among the many benefits of active recreation is hanging out with friends – which of course you can do at a bar, pizza parlor or coffee shop, but since most of my pals prefer to spend their leisure time on the trail or water, we...
During years of roaming hither and yon on land and sea, I’ve been chased by a grizzly bear, nearly trampled by stampeding yaks, charged by a bull, attacked by swarms of hornets and almost struck by a copperhead – but what...
Asked to name the best whitewater kayaking and canoeing stretches in Connecticut, most paddlers would single out a gnarly, 2.6-mile section of Class IV rapids on the Housatonic River from Bulls Bridge Dam to Gaylordville, or Diana's Pool...