Long Island Sound Crossing

from Old Lyme, CT

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Paddle Trip(A Level 4 Trip)
Long Island Sound Crossing: Old Lyme, CT to Orient, NY
Trip Date: September 5, 2007

Preparation: A round-trip kayaking trip between Connecticut and Long Island should not be taken lightly. We knew that proper preparation would mean for both a safe and enjoyable paddle across the sound. First of all, we needed a place to launch from and a place to land on Long Island's north shore. We considered a launch from Old Saybrook, but that would mean paddling over Long Sand Shoal. Depending on the tide, the shoal can produce strong currents and large wave heights making for a hazardous paddle.

A friend and colleague of ours, Ernie, who we refer to as "Mission Control", worked out the logistics for our trip. He suggested launching from the Sound View section of Old Lyme. He also found a nice beach to land at in the Mulford Point section of Orient by using the satellite view in Google Earth. As it turned out, Orient is due south of Old Lyme; our trip bearing would be 180° true. The marine forecast determined the day of our paddle. The NOAA web site, www.noaa.gov proved to be a valuable resource for us. Their site provided tides and currents, air and water temps, wind speed and wave heights. All were factors in determining the day of our paddle.

Equipment: Todd provided the kayaks. We each used a 15'7" Hydra Adventurer open deck kayak. For safety, we brought life jackets, whistles and flashlights, and of course, plenty of Gatorade and Power Bars. To navigate to our Orient destination, Glenn brought his Garmin GPS.

The Paddle: The round-trip paddle would be 15.5 nautical miles over open water. Our adrenaline was flowing and confidence high as we put our kayaks in the sound. The morning brought sunshine, light winds and glass-like water. These ideal conditions did not last long though. About a mile away from shore, and all the way across, we encountered increasing wave heights due to a persistent, stiff wind out of the northeast. We estimated wave heights reaching 3 to 4 feet during our paddle. The waves pushed us around and caused for a considerable amount of extra paddling to stay on course. We had to work hard just to stay in the kayaks!

As we approached Orient, it was a welcome sight being able to make out houses that dotted the hills that overlooked the shore line. The Orient Point Lighthouse was to our east and just beyond the lighthouse was Plum Island. We landed on a rocky beach in Orient after 3 hours and 10 minutes into our journey.

We rested and did a little exploring before starting out on the return trip to Old Lyme. The 3 hour return paddle turned out to be very enjoyable. The wind had subsided and the wave heights were less than a foot. We did get a little anxious when we notice a huge ship, still miles from us, heading in our general direction. The ship turned out to be the Ocean Crystal, an imposing 740' bulker that passed a few hundred yards in back of us. I'm sure they never saw us.

Kayakers: Glenn Forest from Branford, CT Todd Strickland from Madison, CT

-- Trip contributed by Glenn Forest

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