Paddling in a Pandemic Gets Personal – Chapter 3

This is the view from my living room window. My favorite arm chair (aka, my office) is strategically located to be able to see the both weather and tide conditions. On this day in early May the tide is about half-in and the trees have yet to show their deciduous powers. My dock is just down the walkway on the water below. In front of my dock is my little cove which I call Turtle Cove because around this time of year turtles show up and stick their heads out of the water.

By Cecil Hoge

I was not to know until the middle of the month how the Pandemic would become personal. It seems that microbes do not discriminate.

May 1, 2020

The first day of May in old Setauket began cold and cloudy. A gray morning on a gray bay. The wind was 15 mph. The temperature was in the 50s. It did not look inviting. Around 11am I looked out and saw the weather was grimmer. Now it was raining. I paid it no mind and went back to my work. For the last 5 weeks I have been working remotely. It is a little hard to get used to my new routine. I get up, have breakfast, move from the kitchen table about 40 feet to my living room chair which overlooks my bay. Almost immediately I flip open my Chromebook and check orders and e-mails. To augment my digital stance, I have my iPad Pro and a Samsung phone at the ready.

I cruise through the e-mails to see if there is something that needs answering. Mostly there are e-mails from suppliers or employees. I have a ton of unsolicited e-mails each day. It seems no matter how often I hit the unsubscribe button, I get more unsolicited e-mails. It is true that sometimes the unsubscribe button works and e-mails stop coming from a particular company, but, like Hydra, that Greek monster with many heads, the more unsubscribes I hit, the more unsolicited e-mails appear. And so it goes.

Answering e-mails can take anywhere for 10 minutes to several hours, depending on who I am responding to. When responding to suppliers, often an e-mail can take an hour or more. That is because I want to make my e-mails clear and simple, but I do not want to leave any details out. And so it goes.

After e-mails, I move on to cell phone calls, conference calls and Skype calls, often at the same time. Discussions can go on for minutes or hours, but usually they are lightened by some discussion of local weather conditions, promotional opportunities, the past weekend activities, sales of our products, sales of products in general and the unusually weird situation that the Coronavirus presents everyone I talk to.

A lot of my time is spent in reviewing sales trends and figuring out what we are running out of and what we need to order. These days that has been harder because sales are crazy good and we are running out of many models. The situation is more difficult in our boat business, but we are facing the same essential problem in our lure business. I know in this trying time of the Coronavirus, when many businesses are facing a collapse in sales, it is particularly weird to discuss problems created by too many orders coming too fast. But that is our strange situation.

After reviewing e-mails, then there are conversations with customers: that can cover a multitude of subjects, such as new products to take on, inventory levels of certain lures, boats, SUPs or kayaks, problems with an individual product or customer problems with other customers. It all takes some sorting out.

Anyway, after plowing through some of the above for about two hours, I looked out my window and noticed that the clouds above no longer contained rain. Hmmmh, I thought, there may be an opportunity here. I scrutinized the level of the tide and was happy to see that it was still coming in, meaning there was plenty of water for a paddle or a row.

I suit up in my standard gear for a row on chilly day…windproof fleece-lined jacket, a warm plaid shirt, warm gloves, fleece-lined pants, slip on moccasin shoes for slipping into the foot straps for the sliding rigger arm and, if they occasion calls for it, wool socks. Fortunately, it is chilly, but not cold enough to require wool socks. And so, within a few minutes I am down on my dock sliding my rowing craft into the water.

Out on the bay there is a brisk, chilly 10-15 mph wind coming from the prevailing wind direction at this time of year…the Northwest. I do not like the Northwest wind because my bay is angled North to South and it does not afford much protection from the wind. This is not a stability issue, it is a comfort issue. I do not like rowing or paddling where a cold wind can hit you directly.

No matter, I come out of my little cove, turn left and row with the wind toward Setauket Bay. That is easy. Returning will not be so easy since I will have to row directly into the wind. That will be harder, but 10-15 mph is quite do-able. It becomes more of a struggle if the wind gets above 20 or 25 mph. On this day I know that is not likely. The wind normally picks up in the morning, around 8 or 9 and becomes stiffer thereafter. In early afternoon the wind tends to die down or at least not get stronger. Since it is now past 12, the wind is more likely to lay down than buffer up. I row with the wind easily and quickly to Setauket Bay and then take another left around the remnants of stone embankment that once were part of a bridge. Now I am in the lee of land protected from the wind by the Strong’s Neck peninsula. This makes the rowing pleasurable and sheltered as I head around Strong’s Neck and out toward Port Jefferson. It’s generally a 30 minute paddle or row from my house to the mouth Port Jefferson Bay.

Approaching the mouth of Port Jefferson Bay, it is a gray day on a gray bay. “Social Distancing” is, as usual, is no problem. No boats, no people.

As I approach Port Jefferson Bay, the day is still gray, chilly and raw. For this day’s journey I have brought along my trusty blue cooler bag with two bottles of Poland Spring sparkling water. That is my afternoon beverage. In the morning it would be a Yeti cup of hot coffee, but in the afternoon I want water with bubbles. When I get to the mouth of Port Jefferson Bay, I am thirsty, even though the temp is still chilly 54 degrees Fahrenheit and the day still cloudy. Despite that I feel warmed from row and ready for water with bubbles.

As I sip my seltzer, it occurs to me that this is a truly beautiful day. I feel exercised by my row, refreshed with clean chilly air, warmed throughout my body and just good.

The second two days of May were like the first day should have been. They were beautiful, sunny in the way you would expect a beautiful sunny day in May to be, with the sky blue and the sun bringing the new warmth of spring. Those two days were warmer with the high 60s and low 70s. The view from my house looked like the picture at the beginning of this blog story, although now, if looked closely, there were green shoots and young leaves and flowers beginning to show themselves. Being the first really decently warm day of spring, I took my son Joshua on my TriTiki. That is the solar boat that has 2 solar panels and 2 electric motors – I believe in back-up. A family friend came over for the occasion. My son is autistic so his view of the world may be different than yours or mine. That said, he truly enjoys cruising around in what I call the Mighty TriTiki. Below is a picture of this craft from last summer.

Here is the Mighty TriTiki – it is a prototype that I have been testing since last summer.

This spring I have changed some things on the Mighty TriTiki. I changed out the fabric canopy (shown above) for drop stitch inflatable canopy. Drop stitch refers to the type of construction used for the canopy cover – it is the same as we use for drop stitch inflatable paddleboards. That type of construction allows for making a flat rectangular canopy that is very rigid and inflated at a high pressure. The drop stitch canopy was another weird concept of mine that I have been testing for about 2 years. Originally, I used this drop stitch canopy on a prototype transom boat I was testing.

A drop stitch canopy is a very expensive solution to our traditional canopy for an inflatable boat. It is far more expensive than a fabric canopy, but it does have some distinct advantages. It is rock rigid and it covers a larger area and gives 100% UV protection – no ray of sunlight is going to get through that baby. As an older man with many, many years of outdoor & UV exposure, I need all the protection I can get. And it has another interesting characteristic. Because it is flat and very rigid, wind does not affect it nearly as much as our traditional fabric canopy. So, while cruising, the drop stitch canopy barely moves even when there is a very brisk wind of 15 or 20 mph.

Another benefit of this type on canopy is that the rigid and flat Canopy provides an ideal space to attach my solar panels. To make the solar panels secure and neatly attached I used some small Scotty mounting pads to bolt the solar panels directly to the drop stitch top. Below is a picture of this new setup. As far as I am concerned, it is the cat’s meow!

This is the Mighty TriTiki with a drop stitch inflatable canopy with 2 solar panels

Off the three of us went in the newly rigged Mighty TriTiki – Josh, Chuck and me – off into the wild blue yonder, quietly cruising out onto Little Bay – enjoying one of the first truly nice days of this new spring. Now the Mighty TriTiki has a max speed of 5 mph, so kneeboarding is not on the agenda. That said, it is wonderfully quiet craft as it plows it’s way through water. The fact there is no charging of the batteries necessary, makes cruising around a dream come true. We motor out to the mouth of Port Jefferson Bay, drop a line in water. No luck, the season is still early for fishing. Nevertheless, the sun and early spring warmth made it another day in paradise.

May 8, 2020

The stock markets have had a good week, in spite of Coronavirus cases and deaths increasing, in spite of another 3,000,000 people filing unemployment claims this week, in spite of numerous bankruptcies being announced or predicted. The markets seem to be under the impression that the V-shaped recover is around corner, that America is re-opening and soon America will be humming again. 

If you ask me, I think that is a very large pile of Buffalo chips.

In Coronavirus land, the news was simple. The microbes kept coming. It seemed that they had not heard from our President that any day now, the Coronavirus would give up the ghost and silently disappear. Instead, cases in the U.S. passed a million, cruised up to 1.2 million, deaths passed 60,000 and kept increasing one or two thousand a day. New corrected projections for the Coronavirus were now predicting up to 147,000 deaths by August. 

May 12, 2020

This day began with beautiful, clear and very windy weather. In spite of the wind I went rowing Tuesday. The wind was a brisk 20 mph, but no match for my trusty GoSkiff rowing craft. I went out and took in the puffy white cumulus clouds and the swans and the great white herons and the Canada geese. As usual, I saw no one on the water other than indigenous birds and the surrounding land and sea scapes

The next day was also beautiful, chilly and windy. This day the sky was without clouds. I went for a paddle. Out on the water where Setauket Bay leads into Port Jefferson Harbor my cell started ringing and bleeping with cell phone and skype calls. I was not bothered by this as I looked at the wide expanse of water in front of me. I answered the calls as quickly as I could. In between, I took sips of my coffee. Out there, answering the day to day needs of my business seemed easy.

The water on this morning was a flat glass surface with barely a whisper of wind.

May 14th/Day 1 – 2020

This was to be the day the Pandemic would come closer and become more personal. I did not know that when I went out for a paddle. It was another beautiful day, but unlike the first couple of days, it was not chilly and there was almost no wind. The weather was almost balmy with the temperature creeping up towards 70. As I was paddling from my bay to Setauket Bay and came into Port Jefferson, I could notice some changes.

The water was not as clear as it had been in the last few weeks. In my bay, the water had a layer of brown scum of what looked like brown soap sud bubbles. That was common in summer months. On days where there was little wind, the water would look murky, sudsy and polluted. Passing through the bay I noticed that algae was making its appearance in the bay again, but unlike the previous summer, instead flat pods of algae, 4 to 6 feet in circumference, algae was growing up in thick strings upwards from the bottom sometimes 6 to 12 inches in diameter. This was different from the algae of the past several years. It looked like it had mutated into another form, now attached to the bottom and streaming upwards like Jack and Beanstalk from the bottom of the bay to the surface, although in this case, they were algae stalks.

Now you would think paddling on flat water with no wind is easier than paddling on wind-swept water, but that is not always true. Sometimes, the water in my bays seem to have a kind of suction to them and paddling seems harder. Other times, on flat water, the resistance is less and paddling seems easier. I am not sure why this is the case. I think it might have to do with the incoming or outgoing tide. On windy or breezy days, paddling can seem a lot easier when I am rowing or paddling. I think the reason for that is that the waves actually raise up my kayak or rowing craft and they scoot over the water faster and with less effort.

No matter, on this day, the suction of the water seemed greater on the flat water. It was still a quick and easy paddle from my house to the mouth of Port Jefferson Harbor/Bay. I noticed other differences on this day. There was more sound of cars running around my Little Bay as I paddled. Coming into Setauket Bay I was accosted buy the smell of fried eggs and sausage and bacon. That was because the smells were drifting over from SE Port Deli which is situated off of a small cove leading into the little village of Setauket. The Deli is located on 25A, a major thoroughfare, and the road I take to get to my office. And because the Deli serves take-out food they are still fully operational. The Deli and 25A is only about a half mile from where I was paddling and I could hear even more cars surging up and down that main road. It seemed the warmer weather had woken up the village and its people and now they were getting out. And of course with that came what looked like dirtier water and greater algae.

I can tell you that the water of our bays is like a Chameleon – it changes appearance on a regular and ongoing basis. So, if there is no wind, the water does tend to look dirtier and more or less polluted. However, if the wind picks up, miraculously whatever is floating on the surface is blown away and instantly it looks like a new and pristine waterway, with bluer water and little waves rippling across its surface and reflecting light from the sun as you look over it. The same body of water can change appearance in a matter of 3 minutes if a burst of wind sweeps over the bay and change the look of all that is before you.

Back to the situation confronting our country, the Pandemic and the microbes causing it have continued to prevail in spite of our President’s words to the contrary…with overall cases in the country passing 1,300,000 and deaths passing 80,000. It would seem that no one sent a memo to the microbes that they should stop their quest to invade the human race, so on they went ahead undeterred. 

On this day, a Thursday, when I get back the new job statistics are announced. Almost three million more Americans have filed for unemployment. That means over 36,000,000 people have filed for unemployment in the last 6 weeks. These are numbers that echo The Great Depression. The Stock Markets take the news in stride and in a perverse sense of mirth, choose to go up that day. It seems Happy Days are here again.

Back at the house, my wife gets a surprise call from a Nurse Practitioner. It seems my wife has tested positive for Covid 19. Yes, this Pandemic has instantly become more personal. It seems it has arrived at my very home. You might ask why my wife was tested for the Coronavirus. It was not because she was experiencing symptoms. No, she had gone to get a general checkup and as part of that the doctor recommended a test for the Coronavirus. So, that was how it came about the she tested positive.

Fortunately, none of us, not my wife, not my son, not myself, yet exhibited symptoms of the Coronavirus. Nor is there, apparently, anyway to learn if a positive test indicated a recent or latent or a long-existing infection. So now we all must submit ourselves to a 14 day quarantine and see what happens.

Learning that there is a positive Coronavirus test in your household causes all sorts of thoughts to go through your mind. I am sure that burden was greater on my wife than on me. In the case of my son, given the fact that he is autistic and non-verbal, it is not easy to know what thoughts he may have had. Certainly, he understood something was going on. Why else would my wife and myself be wearing those strange and ridiculous masks?

One of the things that happens when someone find out that they have tested positive for the Coronavirus is that they become suspicious that every possible feeling they have might be a possible symptom of the disease. I suppose if you had real symptoms this might not be the case, but in our case, none of us had any symptoms. The lack of symptoms should be a relief, but according to reports, the nature of this disease is the symptoms take 5 to 8 days to actually appear and in some cases, the symptoms are mild or non-existent.

Our worries about this were not helped when an official New York State health worker called up to see how my wife and everyone in the house were doing. My wife told the healthcare worker that none of us had any symptoms. Not to worry, said the healthcare worker, no doubt everyone in the house was infected and soon symptoms would appear. Our best hope was that we were asymptomatic or the symptoms would be mild. That was an unpleasant jolt.

This was not very helpful from our point of view. All of us were in a category where there was danger of the disease being serious. My son was taking various seizure medications and being autistic was therefore at risk. My wife, far younger than me, had some other ailments that made her at risk. And I, at 77, was also at risk of having serious complications from the disease.

This no doubt made both my wife and I concerned and soon we were analyzing every ache, every sneeze, every sniffle as the onset of the disease. My wife, a long term believer in doctors, was quite convinced that she truly had it and she was particularly concerned that we also had it. I, always a believer in Murphy’s Law, that is whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, felt it was quite possible that my wife’s test was a false positive or that she was asymptomatic. I also thought that the fact that none of us seemed to have any symptoms was a good sign. My son, being autistic, was not so concerned. And in truth, his attitude would have been the better attitude for my wife and I to maintain.

In any case, because the healthcare worker had said that we probably all had Covid, my son and I got tested a few days later for the disease and for Coronavirus antibodies. In the meantime, my wife went through a lot of heartache and fear and conviction of possibly having the disease and possibly passing on the disease to us.

In the first test Josh and I took, they stick a swab on thin plastic stick well up your nose. The sensation is not pleasant, but thankfully, it takes just seconds. The antibody test requires blood. I have to say we were able to get into this medical facility, CityMD was its name, and get out in a little over 30 minutes. The folks that that did the testing said results would come back in 3 to 5 days. So, for about 6 days my wife was convinced from various symptoms that the disease was about to start. And I have to confess, I also thought various minor aches or sneezes might mean the end was nigh.

During this period we washed our hands like crazy, wore masks and tried to observe social distancing in a house that was not designed for social distancing. It was not easy and it seemed strange. It was also not easy to maintain social distancing when helping your son brush his teeth, take a shower or get dressed.

May 18th, Day 5, 2020 

The day begins with a shroud of clouds. We still have no symptoms that indicate the Coronavirus is beginning its progression into a serious disease. That, of course, does not stop us from thinking it might be starting. In the morning, as some of the dreary clouds seem to whiten, I go for a row and immediately feel better. I have sense we are getting through this strange and unsettling period. No real symptoms in five days…maybe, this whole thing is about to fly byby.

May 21, Day 7, 2020

The day begins like so many this month…cloudy, chilly and generally gray…even the new leaves on the trees seem to have a gray hue to them. But, as often happens to weather that starts grimly in the morning, it improved and I quickly decide to take advantage.

The tide is hardly in, so I have to wait for the water to arrive in my cove – I need at least 6” of water to clear the skeg on my rowing craft or kayak. And so I bide my time by doing some work on a new prototype boat I am testing – The FastCat – see the picture below. I shim the motor a little more, raising the transom to 8 & 3/4” from the floor. That is only a 1/4” higher from the 8 & 1/2” I just had the motor, but I know that small adjustments can have big effects. Since the tide is too low for motoring out on my cove, I will have to wait to test this theoretical change.

This is a prototype of a new boat I am working on – tentatively called the FastCat 12. And fast it is, here I going 18 mph with a 9.9 hp Honda. The quarter inch shim to the motor proved best for motoring.

The day turns beautiful and the tide rises to the needed 6” level. So I finish my transom adjustment on the FastCat and launch my RazorLite kayak which conveniently rests 4 feet away on the dock.

Soon, I am paddling my kayak out of my cove. As I paddle quietly out, I see the heads of small turtles sticking out of the water. As I come close (5′ to 10’ away) each turtle withdraws their head from above the surface and makes underwater waves as they paddle away from me. It is a sight I am used to. I paddle on as the sun shines down. The wind and temperature are still chilly, a brisk 15 mph from the West. I cross my little bay and hug the South shore to be in the lee of the land.

I stay on the South side as I paddle into Setauket Bay and to the end of that bay which puts me within 200 feet of Setauket Village, 25A and my very aromatic deli. Should I wish, I could pull to shore and run into the SEPort Deli and get myself a 2 egg, sausage and cheese sandwich – my favorite – with my mask on, of course.

But today, I will resist the smell of eggs and bacon and sausage emanating from the Deli, a siren call though it is, and turn around and head home, keeping to the South side of shore to avoid the brisk West wind. A strange thing happens at this time of year. As the weather approaches summer, I get suddenly desirous of warmer weather. In the winter, I can be happy paddling in 30 to 40 degree weather, but as summer approaches, I hanker for more warmth. One thing is sure, on this day I am not going to get it. The temp is a nippy 54. Fortunately, I have my trusty kayak blanket, so my legs are toasty and dry. Soon, as I hug the shore, I wend my way out of Setauket Bay into Little Bay and around to my Turtle Cove.

May 24, 2020 – Day 10 

Josh and myself have tested negative for both the virus and the antibodies to the virus. So the all clear has been called for us. All that remains is for my wife to also test negative for the Coronavirus. We have to wait a few more days for that. Then we can fully put the fear of that disease behind us – at least for the present. My wife is scheduled to get another test this coming week so hopefully, that will be soon. Fearing you may have a disease can be  almost as bad as having a disease.

Memorial Day Weekend on Long Island begins with clouds and chill. It seems the Coronavirus has temporarily reversed the course of Global Warming. According to a recent report on Bloomberg News, the world has seen 17% less greenhouses gases in the last two months. Hmmmh, that probably explain the chilliness of the last two months. It would be nice to have warm and beautiful skies, clean air, a good economy and world peace, but, I suppose, you cannot have it all, in spite of the promises of certain magazines.

I sense the people of Long Island want to get out and go, hit the beach, hit the bars and the restaurants, hit the shopping malls, but those hopes are ahead of our possibilities and neither the weather or the Governor of New York are fully co-operating. The weather pays us no heed and does what she does and so today is still partly cloudy, still chilly, still somewhat raw, with a cold wind coming out of the Northeast. It is more like early April than late May. The good governor of the state is playing his cards slowly and cautiously, not wanting to send us all out to celebrate when celebrations may fade to funerals. And no doubt he is right in that prudent approach. I feel in the long run, we will be better for it.

Despite the weather I get in a row and somewhat later a cruise with Josh in the TriTiki. My son is not so sensitive to the warmth or lack thereof. He enjoys the open horizons of water as well he should. Chuck, our family friend, comes along. The Gov has given some leeway with our leashes. Now we can gather in groups up to 10, as long as appropriate masks are worn. America is tired of this regime, as is understandable, but cautious we are. I leave the young to go out and bravely achieve herd immunity while later deleting a few participants.

The day gets better as the evening approaches with somewhat warmer temps, less wind and chill, but still more cool than warm.  That evening, after going to bed rather early, I wake up around midnight and decide to go for an evening paddle. This is something I do quite often in warmer times of the year. I like the dark silence and stillness of the night. It is still easy to find my way. I have solar dock lights that supply the minimum light needed to recognize my paddle craft. At night I always choose my RazorLite kayak. Why? Because I can see what in front of me when I paddle. With my rowing craft it is not so easy to recognize things in a mirror on a dark night as you skim over the water backward.

This Saturday evening is a dark night without the light of a moon and without wind. The clouds from earlier in the day have returned and look somewhat ominous on the horizon. I sense a thunderstorm is possible, but not immediately. On the bay it is easy at night to make your way. Almost all of the surrounding houses have outside lights creating a light-lit perimeter which makes it easy to know where the land is. And since these bays are familiar and so long paddled by me, I can almost paddle with my eyes closed. I do not because I always want to keep a sharp outlook for killer sharks.

This evening I see none. There is some occasional movement on the surface of the almost glassy water, indicating something swimming below…more likely a small turtle or a young “schoolie” striped bass…early arrivals telling us the bay is waking up for the season.

Sharks are actually rare in our waters, as you may have guessed. I have seen schools of baby sharks one or two feet long, swimming in Setauket Bay, so it is true that sharks do occasionally come. The baby sharks make a strange and unsettling sight, with their little fins sticking just above the surface of the water as they swim around circles. In truth, I only saw baby sharks in our bays once. Nevertheless, it was an unsettling and somewhat startling sight.

I did strike up a conversation once with a local clam digger, who claimed to have seen a 14′ shark just under his boat in Setauket Bay. I took him at his word although I might have wondered if he had been drinking. For my part, I have never seen large sharks in our bays or in the nearby Sound.

On this almost warm and humid night, I hear voices on the left and right as I come out my little cove. They are young voices and they seem cheerful, perhaps encouraged by some liquid libations. I first paddle to right to hear what they may be saying, but decide to turn around after I establish it is indeed young male and female voices apparently gathering around an outside fire that seems to be burning in great clay fire pot. From the giggles and laughter and the tinkling of glasses, I gather it is a festive party, with people happy to sit around a fire in the outside air and sip beverages. 

Summer has begun.

I paddle to the left through the darkness – the clouds hang low in the sky on this dark evening. Strangely, on nights when there is no moon, often there is more light in the bay. That is because the lights seem to ricochet back from the clouds above. And so it is this evening as I paddle towards the next group of young party enthusiasts. That seems to be a simple group of 4 sitting across from each with a picnic table between. I do not have tape measure with me and I am guessing the four young folks would not like me checking, but it looks to me that they are observing “social distancing “ in the best possible way.  I can say from hearing the young cheerful voices coming from young folks sitting out on a deck overlooking the bay on this warm, moonless evening, that some semblance of normalcy has returned. It seems the summer is getting underway.

May 25, 2020

On this day the death of a black man, George Floyd, is reported in the news and a video surfaces showing a police officer holding his knee on the man’s neck. The timeline of the video clearly shows that the officer pressed his knee on the black man’s neck for almost 9 minutes. The video shows the black man crying out “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe” while the white police officer continued to press his knee down. And so, George Floyd died of lack of air. 

This report of course was picked up by all the “mainstream” media, the left wing media and the right wing media and shortly thereafter the protests began and continued in the next days. And as people gathered for these protests, many were close together and many were not wearing masks. Health officials warned this could bring  a new outbreak of Coronavirus cases. That did not seem to stop the protesters.

Some of the protests turned violent and looting soon erupted. And that was met, in some cases, with rubber bullets, tear gas, fire crackers and wide scale damage to small and large businesses. These protests quickly spread from city to city across the U.S. because the anger and bitterness was deep about the killing of George Floyd.

Within days, protesters were arrested and police officers had rocks and fire crackers thrown at them. The right said it was the doings of Antifa – an anti-fascist group. The left said it was right wing hate groups that were instigating the violence. The President tweeted things like “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” and other things about dominating the protesters and “Thugs” and snarling dogs and fences and how law and order would be maintained. None of that had much effect on the protests. In fact, it seemed to increase the protests. Whoever was doing the doing, the doing was spreading and growing.

At one point, when protesters starting gathering in front of the White House, the President said he was calling out the military. There was a much discussed incident where the President had some streets cleared by military folks and he went over a Catholic Church and posed with a bible in his hand. The picture did not make it very clear why the President was holding the Bible in his hand. If you ask me, it looked like someone photo-shopped the Bible in and could not get the angle of the Bible quite right. The Bible seemed a little uncomfortable in that hand.

I have to say a few days later a number of military men came out and said that they did not think using military troops to quell what were largely peaceful protests appropriate. A few days later the President backed away from mentioning that he would use troops to eradicate the violence that might occur.

With 40,000,000 people now unemployed there were a lot of people who might want to protest things even if they were not specifically about the death of George Floyd. One could say the atmosphere in Age of Coronavirus was toxic and there was bad blood on many sides. Health experts became alarmed at the gathering large crowds, especially those with people not wearing masks. This could become a new source of Coronavirus, the health experts warned. So, gathering to protest might now also cause a spike in Coronavirus cases.

But the people came out anyway…angry, disgusted, feeling the killing of black man by the police would never stop. A few weeks before George Floyd’s death there were other reported cases of black people being killed, but they did not spark widespread protests. But the video of George Floyd did. It was not the first time that a black died crying the words, “I can’t breathe”. But the video made clear that pressing a knee on a man’s neck for almost 9 minutes could indeed result in the death of that person.

This nation began its history with the importation of black slaves to farm white plantations. Since then, the nation had been trying to deal with the consequences of bringing millions of black slaves to America. We have suffered this problem through the Civil War, two World Wars and recurring racial unrest. The consequences have been with us, in one way or another, since the first slave set foot on the soil of America.

One difference now was the fact that we were both in a racial crisis and health crisis.

May 28, 2020

My wife goes for her new Coronavirus test. Of course, now she must wait await results which she is told can take 3 to 5 days.

May 31, 2020 – Day 17 

This has been a gloriously beautiful day. Mother Nature is apparently unaware of the death of George Floyd or the Pandemic that continues to make its way around the world. I started the day with a ride in the mighty TriTiki with Josh and myself. The wind was brisk 15 mph from the Northwest. There were little whitecaps on the water when we pulled out on the bay. The air is chilly, but incredibly fresh. Yes, there are some good aspects to this Pandemic. The air is temporarily cleaner. There is no feeling of a heavy haze heating the air and loading up the humidity. Not this day.

This air is sparkling clean and fresh reminding me of a famous ad headline. “Down from Canada, comes news of a new sparkling beverage”. But on this day it is not GingerAle arriving from Canada for first time in the stores of America. No, this time, it is the air itself that is clean and fresh and down from Canada.

June 2, 2020

My wife gets her tests results. This time they are negative for Covid. So, for the time being, we can think that Coronavirus is not present in our house. This, of course, is a big relief. 

The stock markets in early June were good for most everyone holding securities. In the first week of June the markets almost almost get back to pre-Pandemic highs. The Nasdaq, in fact, achieves new all time highs, settling in above 10,000.

The markets ignore the protests stemming from the George Floyd murder, they ignore the fact that the Coronavirus continues unabated, leveling off in some states but increasing in others. They ignore the fact that the Coronavirus is raging in other parts of the world and that worldwide the Pandemic is still growing. They ignore the fact that the protests for George Floyd have now spread to England and Europe. Apparently, England and Europe have their own racial problems and the George Floyd murder has struck a cord for millions of people there.

There is much talk about this event, the murder of George Floyd, bringing real change. Many newspapers and networks talk about how this time it is different…this time change will come. I am not so optimistic, but one can hope.

June 14, 2020

We have enjoyed one of the most beautiful weekends Long Island has ever seen. The temperature has been in the low 70s. I would call it a Perfect Port Jefferson Day. I, of course, take this opportunity to both paddle and go boating. The wind is out of the Northwest. The sky is a beautiful deep blue with few clouds. Those clouds that do pass by are beautiful and puffy and Cumulus – they hang in the air like elongated white clumps of cotton. The wind scours the surface of the water and keeps clumps of algae and pollution out of sight and out of mind. The air is fresh and soft and clean and brisk and invigorating…a true treasure to breathe in.

The stock markets have not had the same luck as the weather. They take a 5% breather. Apparently, the reports of continued and rising Coronavirus cases in some states that opened up early and the continued protests all around the country over the George Floyd murder have had a depressing effect on the markets.

Here is a view from my TriTiki of a pretty large gathering of algae. I would guess the pod in the distance measures 75’ x 25’. That is really large when compared the the pods we had last summer which were never more than 15’ x 5’. Yes, algae is ever-changing and on the move. As Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, said many centuries ago, “change is the only constant”.

I can say that I do see some signs of problems in our bays cropping up. Algae, which has been gaining a increasing foothold in bays for the last 10 years, is back with a vengeance. Once again, it seems to have evolved and mutated. Now the strings of algae that I saw a few weeks ago have evolved and bloomed out into pods and they are gathering in my Little Bay in ever larger clumps. Above you see what that looks like.

I wonder whether the Coronavirus will mutate like the algae in my bay?

But when I go boating this beautiful weekend, everything seems almost normal. There are kayakers and Stand Up Paddlers all over, motorboats and sailboats of many sizes. I would say Setauket Harbor, which is where most local boats moor during the summer, is almost full. I sense there are some missing smaller boats, perhaps owned by bartenders, flight attendants and waiters not yet back to work. That said, there is almost a full accounting of larger sailboats, a Mastercrafts and speedboats with 3 or 4 outboards motors. Out in Port Jefferson Harbor, a large contingent of Connecticut boats have arrived to drop anchor and sip libations. Many large boats are grouped and tied together. I am guessing that “social distancing” may be somewhat forgotten.

As I am coming out into Port Jefferson Bay, I notice Long Island’s richest man motoring by me heading into Setauket Harbor. He is standing at the helm of what looks to be a very modest 19’ Boston Whaler. He looks quite healthy for man in his 80s. With him are some young and old folks and I gather he is pointing out to his guests the scenic areas of our bays as he heads into Setauket Harbor. Now this gentleman has a much larger craft called the Archimedes. I can understand why he is not using that on this day. The boat is 222 feet long and it would have a hard time navigating between the Lilliputian sail and motor boats dotting the bay.

This gentleman, like me, lives on a nearby cove and it would be hard to moor his bigger boat there since his boat is actually larger than the cove his house is by. So, motoring a smaller craft is definitely the better choice if you want to show some guests the wonders of the waterways you live by.

And so I end this chapter of this blog story on a wondrous and weird Port Jefferson Day.

Spring has Sprung, Summer has begun. If you compare this picture with the picture at the start of this blog, you will notice that deciduous trees really do change season to season.


About Cecil Hoge

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