Monday, July 13, 2009

Aquidneck Island Paddle

On July 11th I began a day long journey around Aquidneck Island. The second or third annual Lucy's Hearth/Aquidneck Land Trust fund raiser was the occasion. It's a relay format where 5 person teams take turns paddling prone paddle boards,SUP,or kayak. The distance is 38 miles and the route is Third Beach Middletown around the Island clockwise returning to Third Beach. I chose to solo the distance on a stand up paddleboard with land support and a plan for dear friends to meet me in their boat.
My day began at 5:10 am the weather was perfect! I started paddling in the moonlight with a pink sky to the east. The sea was flat as I rounded Sachuest Point. I headed West into the moonlight. It was like a sidewalk guiding my way to Brenton Point. Being a couple miles offshore of Second Beach Middletown gave me a different perspective of a very familiar area. West towards Tuckermans Reef with the Breakers "cottage" on the horizon. At this point,about one mile off of First Beach Newport an amazing event occurred. The nose of my board was lit by moonlight while the tail was in the light of sunrise. Had to be one of the most awesome 45 seconds of my life.
Still heading west towards my first stop, I had to negotiate MANY reefs and rock out croppings with little swell washing over them. One minute it would be flat sea,the next a 4 foot wall of white water. No worries! I made it to Brenton Point 10 minutes ahead of schedule. My Mother and Father(Hank and Marion)were right on time with water and more food. For the record, I consumed 190 grams of protein during my day on the water plus more at the end.I was on the beach for 10 minutes before I headed north up the East Passage towards the Newport(Pell) Bridge.
I stopped at Rose Island Lighthouse because I always wanted to go there. Really cool Island. I suggest if you happen to be near it,land and explore.
Heres were it became challenging. WIND,CURRENT,and overall massive amounts of MOTION were trying to bring me down. For about the next three hours I was very focused to the say the least. My next rendezvous was Bend Boat Basin Portsmouth. It should have been about a 2 hour paddle. It took me 3.5 hrs. Again my amazing support crew was there with water and food. I woofed down two peanut butter and bacon sandwiches filled the CamelPack with H2O and headed North East towards the Mount Hope Bay Bridge. My water support crew met me near the Mount Hope Bay lighthouse off of Hog Island at the South end of Bristol Harbor. Bill and Parker Richmond in WAHOO Were a sight for sore eyes. Parker wanted to paddle so he jumped on the board and paddled about two miles for me. Although he paddled more like four because of the wind and side shore swell. It was very difficult for him to keep a straight heading. Weaving and bobbing in wind and swell, Parker was a trooper!
Heading South again I entered the Sakonnet Basin at Common Fence Point Portsmouth.This was the beginning of the end. The 4 knot current and 25-30 Knot head wind were in play. For the next 2 hours it took me about eight paddle strokes to move forward past one mooring bouy. So thats what I did, I used mooring bouys as my goal. I'd pass a bouy and head to the next. I did that for two hours and traveled at best one mile.I had to eddy hop around current under the Sakonnet bridge like it was class two white water. There was no relief from the wind and current. No matter how close I got to shore I couldn't escape it. Still heading South I began to realize, this is imposable in these conditions. I had a wave of contentment over come me as I saw My parents in the distance and Bill and Parker right near me in their boat. I looked at Bill and said'" I'm good. Can I get in your boat now?" My father made his way down on to some dock at Stone Bridge,Island Park Portsmouth and I told him I was going to call it and get in the boat, take a boat ride back to Third Beach Middletown.
I wasn't dissapointed at all. I still had a ton of energy! I can compare it to climbing a 14,000 foot mountain. You've prepared,left at the correct time, brought the necessary gear and get turned back from the summit with 800 feet to go. My total milage was 30.9 miles 7 miles short of the loop. It wasn't short of my goal though. My goal was to start on July 11,2009 and have fun paddling around Aquidneck Island. Mission Accomplished! Mike


David said...

Well done Mike!!! I'm proud of you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,
I live right under the Sakonnet bridge and witnessed a portion of your paddling upwind--good stuff and strong effort--left me shaking my head and laughing at the time, I now understand..