Jan. 23, 2016
by Natalie Wiest
Saturday morning, January 23, 2016 dawned crisp and cool as the intrepid Houston Canoe Club members and guests converged on Double Bayou Park at 10 a.m. We found the bayou down somewhat from usual levels, with plenty of slick and soft bank exposed at the putin. Thankfully no one went for an unintended swim putting boats on the water, and it was gratifying that a Chambers County commissioner met us there to see our plight and offer to make the access point easier.
We were soon on our way, heading first upstream to check out the bridge crossing. Notice how much of the banks are exposed. This was the case most of the length of the stream. Although the banks look like they are sandy and solid, we didn’t test it out and I’m pretty sure the looks were deceptive and we’d have all sunk in to our waists if we’d tried to step out.
My daughter Ellen wasn’t able to attend, so I was pleased to paddle tandem with Paul Woodcock. It feels funny to me to be paddling bow and in contrast to bow paddling with another un-named friend, this was quite pleasant as Paul expertly guided the boat downstream. New-to-Houston paddlers Hagen and Diane Miller also paddled tandem in their beautiful wood and canvas boat. Ann Andrisek (HASK), Dave Kitson, Alice and Vino Nissen, and Bob Trout rounded out our group of 9 in 7 boats.
At two places there were trees the whole way across the stream. The first one presented very little challenge.
The second one, however, was a lot more difficult. About the time I was taking this picture, the bayou monster grabbed the stern of Dave’s boat, his PFD snagged on the tree, his paddle floated off by itself and a vine caught the front. Close call for Dave there on what seemed otherwise innocuous and it’s a good thing there was only negligible current. It’s a nasty spot to look out for.
The rest of the bayou presented little challenge and the wind laid down so even paddling into the marshy areas downstream and approaching Oak Island was easy. Great egrets “guided” us downstream as they flew away in front of us repeatedly. Why they so rarely circle to land behind a paddling group I don’t know but it would save them a lot of trouble.
As we got closer to Oak Island there was more evidence of the damage from Hurricane Ike in 2008, including drowned live oak trees, still standing but with bare branches.
It was a lovely day out there on the water and some of us capped it off with a pleasant meal on the deck of Channel Marker 17 eatery. It was a great January day to be on the water in Texas.
|The author,Natalie Wiest