By Vladimir Brezina
Last Saturday: Air temperature in the twenties (Fahrenheit) in the morning, struggling up into the thirties during the afternoon. Colder on the water, of course. Water temperature around forty-five degrees Fahrenheit. Definitely drysuit weather, with gloves or pogies a requirement (and hot tea!). Partly sunny, with increasing clouds. Moderate northerly wind, becoming southeasterly in the afternoon. Current indicating a trip to points south. A perfect day to visit, once again, the seals of Swinburne Island, with maybe the Yellow Submarine of Brooklyn thrown in!
In the event, we saw only two, perhaps three, seals (which kept their distance, so no good photos) at Swinburne Island—a similar low number as on our last trip a month ago, and as reported by other kayakers so far this winter. In previous years, we’ve always seen ten or more seals at Swinburne by this time in the season. A little worrying…
And, bizarrely, the Yellow Submarine seems to have gotten a fresh coat of yellow paint (and some fresh graffiti) recently! Compare
Yellow Submarine, November 2010
Yellow Submarine, November 2013
Here are all the photos (click on any photo to start slideshow).
We leave the Pier 40 embayment
… and paddle down to Hudson
Across the river, Jersey City
Past North Cove
… and Battery Park City
Looking back at Manhattan
We paddle south through the harbor
Through the Bay Ridge anchorage
Manhattan is now small behind
Toward the Verrazano Narrows
A stray wake
Hazy sun sparkling on the water
Heavy container ship traffic today!
Under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
We wait for the container ship to pass before crossing over
Here comes the wake!
An unusual view from the crest of the wake
Across the channel, Coney Island—our destination after we’ve seen the seals
Swinburne Island dead ahead
We creep up on the Island
Off Swinburne Island
… we sit and scan for seals
Sitting off Swinburne, we are getting cold—time to cross to Coney Island!
… just barely ahead of another container ship passing up Ambrose Channel
… in fact, two container ships that pass each other at the exact spot where we were just minutes ago
We see the yellow of the Yellow Submarine from far off
A fresh (well, sort of fresh) coat of yellow paint!
… with some fresh graffiti
Submarine silhouette against the declining sun
The submarine is only two kayak lengths long
Johna poses with the submarine
Later, hot tea in the lee of a seawall
This is pretty much all the sunset we get today
We paddle back to the Narrows
At the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge again
The gulls wheel about the sky
We pass under the bridge into the Upper Bay
… and see home ahead in the twilight…