How did we get here? The idea had started a long time ago. Use the boat to go to areas that might not be easily accessible for non-boating people. I had my Captains license, and was looking for ways to make a boat pay for itself, maybe a little more. I had a full time job working as
a boat operator for a U.S. Government agency so this was would be a side job. When I was in the U.S.C.G. I was small boat engineer, but also qualified as a coxswain, a specialist in small boat operations and I was used in that position my last year in the service. I ran a few types of boats while enlisted, but my favorite boat then, and to this day, was the 41 foot utility boat, the workhorse of the fleet. That boat was as reliable as a hammer, built from 1975 until 1978, the Coast Guard certainly got their use out of them. I always thought that boat would be the perfect boat for adventure cruising. I thought how it would be with the transom modified to fold down, allowing kayaks to be launched and retrieved easily during those far off expeditions.
Later, when working as a boat operator I was able to get no less than four of those 41’s as surplus property from the Coast Guard to be used as crew and workboats. We used two of them to respond to the 9/11 attacks in New York City. One of them I was able to get re-powered with modern engines that weighed one thousand pounds less, turning the 41 into a rocket. My dream of an adventure boat was still forming.
Alas, it was not to be, yet. Many things got in the way, call it life. Two boys, a house and all that goes with it put that idea on the back burner. Time went by and we did manage to get a boat. A 1989 Rampage 31 with twin diesels and a full tuna tower. We had a ball on that boat, fishing and cruising around the east end. We then moved up to a 1989 Egg Harbor with twin big block gas engines. I wanted to put diesels in that, but when we started talking about college I realized it would not happen and sold it after one season. We took one last ride on her and as we cruised we were watching a couple of jet skis zip around. My wife said “we need a smaller boat and a jet ski”. So that is what we did. I found a 28 foot Pursuit in Maryland with twin small block v8 engines. It sounded like a Corvette Stingray when it was started up, and we would use it in conjunction with the used jet ski I found in Patchogue.
My family did have a lot of fun with that set-up, we would tow the jet ski to our marina and launch it. I would take the boat out and my oldest boy would follow on the jet ski. We would anchor up and take turns blasting around the bay. In time the marina put in new bulkhead and eliminated the launching ramp. Using the jet ski became a hassle and we decided to sell it.
About this time we decided to move up again, just a few more feet. The marina had a 30-foot Pursuit, with twin small block gas engines. We looked her over and took a test ride on a sloppy day. I was impressed with how she rode, but did not want gas engines. I started looking for a diesel powered version, and found one in Huntington.
The boat in Huntington had almost 100 hours on it, and after a survey and sea trial I was bringing her east on Long Island Sound heading for Mattituck and the Peconic Bay. That was in August of 2003,, and we finished out the year tubing and swimming off of Robins Island. The following season we started out doing more of the same, and we also decided we needed to add something to the experience, a kayak. Adventure cruising had arrived!
It was not long before there was a kayak sticking out of the back window of my truck, soon to be on the deck of the boat. This has opened up an entirely new aspect to our boating. First off, we had to learn how to kayak. When you are by yourself it is fairly easy. There is nobody else paddling, and you can go at whatever pace you decide. But when there are two, you have to be a little more coordinated. It is very easy to smack paddles together if you are not in sync. Someone has to be in command, to steer and guide the paddling efforts.
There is also safety gear and personal protection that must be used. Life jackets are a given, hats, sun screen, even gloves. One thing I added to our kayak inventory is a portable VHF radio. If needed, the people in the kayak can get in touch with whoever is on the boat, or call for assistance on channel 16. I would like to add a safety flag, like the type you see on a kids bicycle just to help improve visibility. We have ventured into areas where a boat could be coming around a bend and a low sitting kayak might be obscured.
Where has my “Adventure Cruising” taken us? So far, we have been in the areas around Robins Island, and a few spots in Great Peconic Bay, Little Peconic Bay, and Noyack Bay. Our favorite spot so far has been the Elizabeth A Morton National Wildlife Refuge. To get there we anchor in the southwest corner of Noyack Bay. We launch the kayak ( we have always left someone onboard to keep an eye on things) and head into Noyack Creek. Once inside, we turn north into the shallow waters of Jessup Neck. We have never beached there and gone ashore, and I believe there has been a sign there prohibiting doing that because it is a nesting area. But the view from the kayak is amazing. At times there have been thousands of small crabs along the shoreline. They retreat as we paddle by, and come back out as we pass. Almost like a crab version of doing the wave! At the far north end there is a rock that is exposed during lower tides. It seems to be a perfect spot for turtles to warm up in the sunshine. Multiple Osprey nests dot the shoreline on both sides, and we have witnessed them diving for fish and snatching a meal from the bay.
About that VHF radio. That came about after one event that I thought was funny, but not the two in the kayak! We headed out one beautiful late summer day and anchored in the northwest side of Little Peconic Bay, just off of Little Creek. My wife and son took the kayak and explored Little Creek, then came back into Little Peconic Bay and went east to Hog Neck Bay and into the creek there. It was roughly one mile away.
I had watched them come out of Little Creek, and since the wind had come up from the west figured they would come straight to the boat. I guess they did not think about that, and with the wind on their back they moved along nicely to Hog Neck Bay. I kept an eye on them with the binoculars from time to time, but I have to admit I had become very aware of the school of bunker swirling around the boat with an occasional attack by a bass or bluefish.
On the kayak talk had turned to how tired they had become, going against the wind. “Don’t worry”, Kathy said. “Daddy will come get us”. Honestly I would have if I had seen a paddle waived, or heard a radio call. And those bunker, they held my attention for some time as the school moved further away only to come back again.
Well, in time my intrepid travelers made it back to the boat. There was a little discussion about the merits of paying attention to the weather conditions (my suggestion) versus having a boat come pick up tired kayakers (them). My question of “hey, did you see all those bunker”? was met with a firm “hey, did you see us waving the paddle”? Good times and another great adventure!