“Whataya think?” says Gandalf.

“Yeah,” I say, “I think you’re right. The two are  communicating. I can’t think of a better explanation.”

Gandalf and I are sitting next to the cookfire trying to figure it out. Don’t Follow Don’s on the beach closer to the waterline juggling, putting to the test the new firmware he’s downloaded into his clubs.

Just no telling what the bay’s going to throw your way on a Thurseve.

It’s summer warm when we meet up at Bruno’s, the evening’s launch site. Don’t Follow Don walks the short distance to Andy’s, the nearby fancy grocery store, and buys a pint of chocolate ice cream.

We three finish off the ice cream fast as we can before it melts in the cardboard container, then shove off into the bay.

Another Staten Island Chuck groundhog day on the bay, glassy water, temps in the mid 70s, skim milk blue skies with wispy white stretch marks. Only thing missing’s a tailwind, but that’s ok because there’s no headwind, either. No wind at all.

No wind assist, but we do have an ebb assist, the ebbing current carrying us to Rod Reck. Rod Reck’s the only accessible takeout tonight, the pull of the evening’s nearly full Snow Moon leaving nothing but rocks and mud at our other takeouts.

Gandalf and I paddle counter clockwise around the island before taking out on Toilet Bowl Beach. Don’t Follow Don does a second circuit, says he’s paddling off the excitement of having downloaded new firmware into his hi-tech juggling clubs. 

Juggling’s an addiction for Don’t Follow Don.

While Gandalf and I tend to the cookfire, Don’t Follow Don tests his updated clubs, juggles three of them in the evening’s waning light. Right-handed, left-handed, behind his back. And so on.

The clubs light up from their insides, colored lights, changing patterns, psychedelic Rorschach paths traced overhead, trails of color embedded in our retinas. The clubs talk to one another, sync their colorful delirium while in the air.

The firmware update? The clubs do more of the above and faster since the update. There’s a carnival atmosphere on Toilet Bowl Beach tonight. You had to be there.

Gandalf and I aren’t the only ones watching Don’t Follow Don’s show. A Coast Guard helicopter flies over once. Comes back around for a second viewing. At the same time, a bright white spotlight at water level a quarter mile west of us ignites a bright beam, throws it at us.

“I bet the Coast Guard helicopter and that spotlight are communicating,” says Gandalf. “Whataya think?”

“Yeah,” I say, “I think you’re right. The two are  communicating. I can’t think of a better explanation.”

The helicopter flies off, disappears into the night sky. The spotlight doesn’t disappear, keeps coming toward us, stops 75 yards offshore when it’s directly across from Don’t Follow Don and his animated juggling clubs.

The spotlight watches the colorful show for several minutes, then navigates to the far end of the beach. What happens next is unexpected.

We know the juggling clubs talk to one another, and we’re pretty sure the helicopter and the spotlight talked with one another. But we weren’t expecting the juggling clubs to talk to the spotlight.

Don’t Follow Don’s clubs trace a colorful message in the dark sky, like semaphores, invite the spotlight to join the carnival. 

And she does, joins the carnival. Big time.

Her response is a high, wide shower of millions of white droplets raining down on the far end of Toilet Bowl Beach. An arc of pulsating white, a downpour, a grand finale for the evening’s performance.

At show’s end, the spotlight follows the helicopter’s path, disappears into the night.

If you want something closer to the truth about the helicopter and the spotlight, here it is. The Coast Guard has regular Thursday night practices in the north bay. A Coast Guard helicopter does fly over Rod Reck tonight, part of its routine.

A Coast Guard fire boat also is on a practice run close to Rod Reck. The light show at the end of Toilet Bowl Beach is the boat training its hoses on a “pretend” fire, the boat’s spotlight shining through the spray.

I’ll conclude this Paddle Report with Gandalf saying, “I’m glad they didn’t turn their hoses on us and our cookfire.”

Boy howdy!


Date: Thurseve, 17 February 2022.

Distance: Six nautical miles.

Speed: One point eight knots.

Time: Five point one hours.

Spray factor: None

Dessert: Canelé.

comiX —>  https://photos.app.goo.gl/oMASKUEx581dCFFE7