Tag Archives: Seal

Weekly Photo Challenge: On Top, Take Two

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is On Top.

At the Dry Salvages, off the coast of Cape Ann, Massachusetts, it’s not just birds

On top of the Dry Salvages

but other creatures, too, that like to be on top…

Typical local scenery
Hello there!

Other birds on top were here.

The Last Seal of Winter

By Vladimir Brezina

We saw plenty of wildlife—dolphins, turtles, sharks, birds—last month in Florida. But no seals.

So yesterday we paddled down to Swinburne Island, where seals have never yet failed us, during the winter months. But spring is now, finally, upon us, with temperatures warming dramatically—time for the seals to return north, to their summer homes in Maine and Canada. We may have left it too late…

We paddled around Swinburne a couple of times, sat and scanned the water, waited expectantly… Nothing.

Then, just as we were about to leave, a lone seal head popped up.

The last seal of winter…

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A Magical Maiden Voyage

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina

“This will be your best circumnav ever,” said Randy, smiling.

I smiled back, a bit dubiously.

Randy’s a friend and the owner of the New York Kayak Company.  I’d just bought a new kayak from him—a red-and-black-and-white Tiderace Xplore-S Carbon Pro, a long, lean, lightweight boat designed for expedition sea kayaking.

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Solstice

I loved the new boat—which I promptly named Solstice—but I was feeling a bit squeamish about taking her for a maiden voyage on a Manhattan circumnavigation. It’s always a bit tricky paddling a new boat, particularly one that handles considerably differently than your previous one.

Solstice is a good 15 inches longer than Photon, my old Valley Avocet, and an inch or two narrower.  That design makes for a boat that’s faster and more powerful, but also potentially harder to control. And although circumnavigating Manhattan isn’t an inherently challenging proposition, there are some tricky bits, even in calm conditions.

The  swirling eddies at Hell Gate can almost always be counted on to provide some excitement, for instance, as can the ferries at the Battery (and their wakes).  Being unable to handle your boat  in such situations is not a good thing—even less so in winter, when a capsize can lead to hypothermia, even if the rescue or self-rescue is effective. So taking a brand-new boat out for a 6-hour trip seemed, under the circumstances, slightly risky.

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In the water for the first time!

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A longer, narrower boat…

But Randy’s confidence was contagious, and I tried my best to shelve the worries.  And as Vlad and I launched a bit later that day, we were both looking forward to the outing, our first longer paddle in the NYC area since before Hurricane Sandy.  I hoped Randy was right.

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First strokes

I had no idea how right he’d turn out to be. The trip was… well, “magical” is the best way I can describe it. Or maybe “enchanted”…

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Seals and Swells on Sunday

By Vladimir Brezina

On Sunday, Johna and I paddled once more to Swinburne Island to see seals.

Swinburne Island, a small island in New York Harbor just south of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, hosts a healthy population of seals every winter. We’ve already visited them once this winter. But now in April, especially with spring arriving so early this year, we were wondering if the seals would still be there.

We were not disappointed!

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Circumnavigating Monomoy

By Johna Till Johnson
(With additional text, charts, and photos by Vladimir Brezina)

This happened in July 2011.

The day dawned clear and bright, and we were excited: This was the day we were going to circumnavigate Monomoy Island. Located at the “elbow” of Cape Cod, Monomoy juts out some eight miles, dividing Nantucket Sound from the Atlantic Ocean. It offers a nice spectrum of paddling opportunities: The protected, shallow water of the Sound on one side, and the deep swells of the Atlantic on the other.

And then there is Monomoy Point, the very end of the island, where the two waters meet.

“Kayakers have died there,” Vlad informed me cheerfully over breakfast.

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“A Bizarre Boating Accident”

By Johna Till Johnson
(Photos by Vladimir Brezina)

Since we posted our Red Hook adventure a couple of weeks ago, readers have been asking for more. So here’s a real adventure, which until now, for reasons that will become obvious, we’ve been a bit reluctant to post in full…

We’ve drawn upon the initial couple of hours of this story for a previous post. But at the point where that post left off, the adventure was just beginning!

Two further comments: First, we regret that photos are a little thin in this post. During most of these events, photography would have been difficult, or inadvisable.

And second, this is an example of people going “above and beyond” to be human, even when it could potentially threaten them professionally. So to protect the well-intentioned—and much-appreciated—innocent, all names, dates, and other identifying details have been modified or obscured.

This happened sometime last spring…

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Seals Revisited

By Vladimir Brezina

Every winter, Swinburne Island in New York Harbor is home to a healthy population of seals. And every winter, we paddle out to see them.

But so far this year, our seal-watching trips have all gone awry in one way or another. Last time, we ended up having quite a different kind of adventure in Red Hook, Brooklyn

So, on Saturday, Johna and I made a determined effort to paddle out to Swinburne Island. Here are a few photos.

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