The Kayak Chronicles

by Darren Caffery

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FULL MOON HOWLING - SHARK RIVER, NJ

Wednesday September 13, 2000

The dark ominous clouds left the area before we launched into the Shark River off Riverside Drive in Neptune, NJ. Rita, Dennis, myself and two new paddlers to the group - Joe and Tammy launched close to 6:30pm into a calm river of glass under some clouds, very comfortable air temperature and a dropping water temperature from last week. The paddle out towards the inlet started slow and easy as we enjoyed a beautiful fall sunset which tinted the few scattered clouds with hues of orange and light purple. Good thing we were in slow motion because 20 minutes into the paddle we heard some yelling from a silhouette on the shore of Riverside Drive. "ARE YOU ALL WITH RITA?" echoed across the river. "WHO ARE YOU?" echoed back. "IT'S CHRIS". We hung out in the middle of the river and waited until Chris finally launched and caught up with us, then we paddled towards the inlet. As we paddled under the Rt 71 bridge, the darkness required our lights and as we approached the lagoon of Belmar...there was some quietness as to whether the group would separate. With the inlet being as calm as it was and very little boat traffic, I decided I would venture through the inlet into the Great Atlantic with Joe and Chris deciding to do the same. Dennis reported he would have loved to come thru the inlet with us but that the moon and planets weren't in proper alignment for such a venture, PLUS he was in the market for a new home on the lagoon,  so he decided he would pass on the inlet and explore the lagoon with Rita and Tammy. He wished us well, warned us of the impending dangers of the inlet and the group parted.

The only sign of the moon was a few backlit clouds which hid it and this made for an eerily dark passage thru the Shark River Inlet tonight. As we paddled toward the mouth of the inlet and into the Atlantic ocean the moon peered out from the clouds directly in front of us. The peering moon ahead and approaching the wide open sea instilled a momentary sense of intense freedom in us. After following the moonbeam into the ocean, we howled and surfed some of the huge forwardly moving  voluminous swells under the September full moon. After a while we headed back thru the inlet, sharing the passage with a few charter fishing boats coming out and some other vessels coming in. One boat, failing to slow as he approached us ...decided to increase throttle ..sending us all a "more than playful" wake...which swamped my open deck with some slightly cold water (and woke up parts of me which were previously resting comfortably) and had Chris bracing his kayak to stay balanced. I guess the boater didn't believe in River Karma...poor soul.

We finally caught up with the rest of the group waiting for us at the mouth of the canal. At a steady pace, we all paddled back in the darkness as the moon was again hiding behind some clouds. Before the take out, Rita suggested an after paddle social. Everyone agreed, so the real full moon howling took place at Pete & Elda's Bar...after a few of their famous thin crust pizzas, pitchers of beer and over stories of Joe catching fire from a campfire and paddling tales involving bears, alligators and nasty attack swans. A great night overall: Full Moon Paddling, Food, Folks & Fun.

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