7/4/2017 The Best "I'm Not Promising Any Fireworks" Fireworks Paddle Ever (At Sebago Canoe Club)
Steve the Paddling Chef runs this wonderful Tuesday evening paddle and potluck series at Sebago during the summer months. I've never been able to attend as much as I'd like to as it's kind of time consuming for me to get to the club from work and I just can't generally be there for the usual 7 pm launch.

Unfortunately, Steve recently broke his wrist, so while he's healing, the Tuesday night paddles are on hold unless other trip leaders can take them on. I'm handling the kayaking portion of the Sebago calendar, and last week I was about to take down the series, to be replaced on a one-by-one basis as folks stepped up to cover, when I realized that the next one was the 4th of July. I had the day off, I'm a trip leader, I was totally up for a Tuesday evening on the water - woo hoo! So instead of taking the series off of the calendar, I sent a notice that the one on the 4th was ON!

I decided to stick to Steve's usual scheduling, launching at 7, back to the club 9/9:30 ish. I'd gone out on the bay on a 4th of July paddle once a few years back, and my recollection was that there were fireworks displays in various directions, but all off in the distance, and that was what I said on my invitation - "There won't be any fireworks particularly close by but there's a chance of multiple displays off in the distance". Folks immediately started signing up (woohoo again) . At some point somebody said they wanted to come on the "fireworks paddle" and I reiterated that I couldn't promise any fireworks.

Despite all the CMA notes about the fireworks or probable lack thereof, I got a nice turnout. The weather was fabulous, we've been having a hot & sticky spell here, standard east coat summer weather, but it had mitigated slightly on Tuesday and as the sun sank lower in the west, it got pleasanter and pleasanter.

We launched a little after 7. I'd suggested going around Ruffle Bar, one of the islands in the bay, which is a nice distance for an an energetic evening paddle. Folks were up for that and so we set off. I was trying to keep the group reasonably tight, because on a holiday like the 4th, you do get some extra motorboat traffic. At some point I looked back to see how the folks at the back of the group were doing and - OOOOH. The sunset was beginning to show some major promise. I called to the folks in front to look back, and they all went OOOOH too and we sat there and gawked for a bit. That just sort of kept repeating itself as we went along and the sunset got better and better. Finally as we were sitting just off of Ruffle Bar, one member of the group suggested that we skip the going around bit in favor of turning back, which would let us paddle towards the sunset and enjoy it instead of missing some of it while continuing south. I thought that sounded like a very smart modification of my original plan, and everybody else liked it too, so that's what we did. And then as the sun went down, the fireworks started going on all around, and many of them much closer than I'd expected - like right there in Canarsie and Mill Basin and Marine Park!

We suspect that a number of them might not have been, uh, city sanctioned, but it was hard to tell the professional public displays from the backyard ones - made for an utterly and unexpectedly spectacular end of the paddle.

Back at the club, we had what turned out to be a completely vegetarian smorgasbord of goodies. Now, I am NOT a vegetarian, and if you suggested a 4th of July feast that didn't involve cheeseburgers or barbecue, I might not jump on that, but the range of dishes had brought made it absolutely great, and I ended up loving it. Quinoa salad, greek salad, chickpea salad, fruit salad, my own pasta salad made with Sebago-grown basil pesto, berries with whipped cream, a delicious watermelon, and then we polished off the desserts that were left in the fridge from the safety boat christening over the weekend. Oh, it was all so good, and of course I brought a box of wine in honor of our amazing late commodore, Tony.

Such a great evening, I'm so glad I decided to do it - it went so much better than I ever thought it would.
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