Sea Kayak Trip: Rye Playland to David's Island
by Jim More
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Trip Coordinator: Jim More
Seven sea kayakers, Bill B., Rick L., Bob C., Barbara C. and new members from Long Island, Cheri R. and Joan, all met me at the launch site on the grounds of Rye Playland on a crisp, clear "last weekend of the summer". Many looked over at Rye Playland and commented: "I haven't been here since I was a kid" or "I didn't realize this place still even existed."
We launched into Long Island Sound and headed southwest along the Westchester coastline in mild paddling conditions. Past the harbors, mooring fields, mansions and private beach and yacht clubs that dot the coast. It was great day to be on the water. With an unlimited visibility the Throgs Neck bridge and the distant NYC Empire State Building (about 24 miles away) all looked close enough to paddle to.
Took a brief break on a sandy beach and then continued to our lunch stop on the uninhabited David's Island. Like most of the out islands in the NYC metro area David's has a diverse and colorful history that often involves either hospitals or the military.
There was once a hospital here that housed wounded Civil War prisoners and a coastal artillery defense base named Fort Slocum. The famous "Sound off, one, two" military cadence was invented here and it was briefly used as "Slocum Air Force Base". Until the mid 60's it even housed the control center for Nike-Ajax missiles that were stored in underground silos on nearby Hart Island (more hospitals, military and graveyards). More recently, development plans for the island have included CON-ED wanting to build a nuclear power plant here and Donald Trump had plans to build condos. Almost every remaining structure on the island is now demolished and the island is returning to it's natural state.
The crescent shaped beach we had lunch on seemed to be a natural collection point for every piece of flotsam and jetsam on western Long Island Sound. After a bit of curious island exploration and urban beachcombing, we began our paddle back to Rye.
As expected on a sunny afternoon on LIS, the wind picked up and the sea conditions became a bit more lively. It was busy day on the water with many sailing regattas underway and lots of powerboats also out enjoying the "last weekend of the summer".
We were on the water about seven hours and covered a little over eighteen miles. Yet another interesting paddle with great company on an beautiful day!