Update on The Hudson Project
THE HUDSON PROJECT - DAY ONE: Started out with a humid and dry 33 degrees, pounding sunshine, zero cloud cover and paddling against an incoming tide. I was working hard for every single stroke but it was beautiful and I was soaking it all in.
After about two hours I settled into a comfortable rhythm and then, suddenly, conditions changed. Dark clouds descended followed quickly by heavy rain and the first crackle of thunder. Then lightening struck and I went into panic mode. I knew storms were forecast but not for at least another two hours. I needed to get off the water immediately but the shoreline was thick with brambles and vegetation - there was nowhere to land.
My only option was to paddle hard to a huge road bridge about 10 minutes ahead and take refuge under there. The thunderstorm was in full swing by this point and I could see lightening striking in the horizon all around the water. It was getting worse, I was soaked through and getting cold and I needed to get off the water.
I made a decision to push on past the bridge and paddled harder than I knew I could to reach the camera crew who had located a landing pontoon another half mile ahead where they were waiting for me.
I kept my head down - literally and metaphorically - as I cursed my way through it, my arms burning as I raced to reach them. The relief of hitting the pontoon and throwing the carbon paddle out my hand was palpable.
The Hudson is known for its quickly changing weather and I experienced that first hand yesterday. It was over before it had really got started and means making up some serious distance today. Im set for the rain but there’s no sign of a thunderstorm - yet!
Day TwO: I paddled 37km (23 miles) yesterday so have managed to claw back some of the distance I lost on day one.
The water was much calmer, I had a gentle tail wind for most of the day and lots of cloud cover so I pushed on until the sun set - at which point I made it to beautiful Catskills.
I got my first proper taste of cargo ships on the Hudson too. They are as big, if not bigger, than what I encountered on the English Channel and they leave huge wake in their trail.
Unlike the Channel, were I weaved in and out of them to cross the 10 mile shipping zone, on the Hudson I’m paddling alongside them (until they they overtake me). That means always having to keep an eye out in case they creep up behind me and make sure I’m out not in line with anything oncoming.
All commercial vessels have right of way because they are so big there’s no way they can swerve to avoid or stop if you’re in the way - and I’m very aware of that!
I generally try and stay out of the shipping lanes but it’s not hugely busy with boat traffic on the river yet, and it’s where the water flows fastest so means I can Cover more ground. It’s a tricky one to balance but i find I’m being more cautious as I’m quite unfamiliar with these waters.
Starting the feel the fatigue now, especially after such a long paddle yesterday - but covering that ground has also really motivated me!
The last couple of days have been tough but the strong winds, although challenging, have been on my tail so I’ve covered good ground.
Today the weather is taking another turn for the worse. It’s heavy rainfall all day and crosswinds of up to 31mph followed by thunderstorms for the next couple of days.
Hurricane Florence is due to hit the East Coast next week which has caused fierce rip currents and surging waves across New York’s shorelines and the backlash will worsen as I continue making my way towards the city.
It does feel a bit like everything is against me at the moment but I’m trying to stay positive and motivated.
Good news is that I’ve captured lots of great data on my SmartFin, I’ve caught up on the distance I lost on day one and my first @plastic_patrol beach clean yesterday supported by REN Clean Skincare went brilliantly - we logged and collected around 11 bags of rubbish - so there’s lots to smile about too.
In the true sprit of adventure I’m taking this challenge each day as it comes - and I will adapt to whatever the weather decides to throw at me next.