Monday, August 11, 2008

Paddling for a Gilded Clamshell in Buzzards Bay

Yesterday morning, under sunny skies, approximately 85 participants gathered at Zecco Marine in Wareham for the 6th annual Bird Island Challenge. There was a good mix of boats that included kayaks, surfskis, canoes, sliding seat/outrigger rowed boats, and several whaleboats. One participant mentioned that the 7-man whaleboat he helped row weighed 3500 lbs! It must be tough to get that much weight moving and even tougher to turn it at the marker boats. Almost makes me feel guilty having a boat that weighs in at 40 lbs.
The event starts at the Narrows where the Wareham River enters the northwest corner of Buzzards Bay and boats head south to their respective turnaround points. Long Beach, Great Hill, or Bird Island. Entrants select the distance they want to cover. The choices are 3-miles, 6-miles, or 12 miles with Bird Island being the furthest point. Yesterday, sea conditions were mild and there was a only a slight breeze to be had between Sippican Neck and Bird Island. Rounding Bird Island, I noticed a few terns on the rocks. The little island with its little lighthouse provides an ideal nesting spot for them. Looking to my portside, I can see Falmouth's shoreline 3 or 4 miles distance, across the bay.
After retracing my course back to the Narrows, I received my 'Gilded Clam' medal which all participants are awarded, and joined with others for some tasty Mexican food in a large shady boat shed.
This event gets bigger and better each year. In addition to providing participants a great time on Buzzards Bay, all proceeds are used to insure that families will have access to the programs at the Gleason Family YMCA, regardless of their financial situation.
BTW, I did not see any buzzards yesterday and have heard that a Pilgrim incorrectly named the bay 'Buzzards Bay' after seeing an osprey, which he mistook for a buzzard. Sounds perfectly logical in a weird way and left me wondering, what did the folks that lived near, paddled upon, and fished its waters for thousands of years call this great bay? Hmmmm.

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