Saturday, June 11, 2011

Springtime Means Kayak Time

Geez, I'm really embarrassed to say that I haven't posted about a kayaking trip since 2009. It's not that I haven't been kayaking, but the last time I had a kayak partner was over 3 years ago, and 14.5-foot-long Little Minnow can be unwieldy to handle on my own. So I haven't been out paddling much, and when I do, I tend to take the easy route and head to the Lake Zoar boat ramp here in town.

But serendipitously, I met a friend last week to do a brief walk on the Derby Greenway trail. I was on my way home from New Haven, and the location was convenient to us both. The walk was nice enough, but what I really got interested in was the boat ramp I saw off Caroline Street on the Housatonic. While I have paddled north of the Stevenson Dam on the Newtown/Monroe border, and just south of the Stevenson Dam in Derby, there's a second dam south of the Stevenson that halts your progress a mile or so downriver.

Putting in near downtown Derby would give me three options to explore: 1. Heading north on the Housatonic to cover a section I haven't yet done, although that Derby dam would keep me from going too far up, 2. Taking a quick jog south, then left (north) up the Naugatuck River, which would wind through the valley towns of Derby, Ansonia and possibly Seymour, or 3. Heading south on the Housatonic toward Shelton, and possibly reaching the Charles Wheeler Wildlife Area near Sikorsky.

As I was researching these options today, I came across the blog of a longtime Derby resident and kayaking enthusiast, so I wrote him and was able to get his feedback on possible routes. He warned me of possible shallow water on the Naugatuck, which was a little disappointing, as that was my first choice route. I'm not into portage. Well, never mind, I can explore north and simply turn around and go south if the water gets low.  All a kayaker really needs is a good 12 inches of water. Maybe Friday's rainstorm will have helped.

After checking the weather forecast for next week, I decided to head out early on Monday. I have a very bad habit of always putting "fun" stuff on the back burner and end up not doing what I'd really like to be doing. Since I'm still not working steadily, what the heck! It's free, and I've got the time. I don't like to kayak in the heat of the day, because on the water, there's not often much in the way of shade, and sweating in a hot life vest detracts from the experience.

Monday's high will be just 75 and it should be partly cloudy, which I consider perfect for kayaking. Here's my list of what to bring, because I always seem to forget something:
1. Sunscreen
2. Camera
3. Water bottle
4. Water shoes
5. Plastic bag for collecting trash (hate to see stuff floating around)
6. My lunch
7. PFD vest
8. Watch
9. Map
10. Binoculars

And of course, better not forget this:
11. The kayak with paddle and paddle leash

You'll see my pix Monday night!

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