By Vladimir Brezina
Block Island lies in the middle of Block Island Sound, about ten miles south of the main Rhode Island coast. It’s a fairly large island, beautiful in the coastal New England manner, with long sandy beaches, grassy dunes and bluffs, beach roses and beach peas, warm turquoise waters. (This is in the summer, of course… although in winter, when the tourists and the summer residents leave, the windswept, largely treeless island no doubt has its own bleak beauty too.) There are some paddling possibilities on the island itself.
But, to my mind, the main point of Block Island is to paddle out to it and back again.
A distinct step up from the open-water paddles across New York Harbor’s Lower Bay or across Long Island Sound, which are still fairly sheltered, the Block Island paddle offers true open-ocean experience. The open water of Block Island Sound is exposed from all directions, but particularly from the south—any conditions out on the open Atlantic will be felt, with little attenuation, in the Sound. There is nowhere to hide from them. On the other hand, the paddle is not so long, and many days in the summer are predictably benign. So this paddle will test mainly your navigational skills and your critical judgement about weather and tidal currents—but, if that judgement should fail, also your rough-water paddling skills…