Crappy Weather Seal Watching at Swinburne Island

Saturday, December 29, 2012

distance: 9 miles

weather: snow and rain, low 30ies

kayakers: Bruce Taterka, Jürgen Englerth

put-in: 1:20pm

finish: 4:15pm

Crappy December weather? Time for Bruce and Jürgen to pay the seals at Swinburne Island another visit!

While it would be much easier to start and end the trip at South Beach, Staten Island, paddling through the Narrows underneath the Verrazano Bridge is priceless.

To our dismay, the beach at Alice Austen House, Staten Island, was completely fenced off.

After trespassing by climbing the fence, we were ready to launch.

Snow was turning into rain, "as cold as rain can get", to quote Bruce.

To the right is Hoffman Island, on the horizon in the middle lies Swinburne Island.

Hurricane Sandy had done lots of destruction to the old buildings.


We encountered about 15 of the seals that gather at Swinburne Island during the winter.

On the way back, the weather started deteriorating. It went from cold to awful. We had to fight against the current and rising headwinds. It showed us once more, how quickly sea kayaking can turn from fun into a life-threatening situation. While during the first leg of our trip we had felt quite toasty in our kayaks, we were now quickly getting hypothermic.

We took a little detour to check out this tarp, which looked like a floating corpse from the distance. After we made fairly sure that it didn't contain a body, we resumed our struggle back through the Narrows.

The top of the Verrazano Bridge was disappearing in the low clouds.

Hurricane Sandy had dislocated huge blocks of stone from the foundations of Fort Wadsworth.

You can see how strong the currents were.

Finished! This picture says it all.

We were in a state of serious hypothermia at that point.

The reward for our ordeal, besides the adventure, was an awesome meal of tortilla soup and homemade cheese and pumpkin seed muffins with Tanya, Maddie and Denali.

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