Yesterday, in other words, was an interesting day to paddle on Lake Michigan.
Alec looks back before paddling past the "dolphins."
Yes, that's what those pilings are called!
The water off North Avenue Beach was calm because of a jetty and the shape of the land, and the stretch south to Navy Pier was similarly protected (meaning the wave height didn't correlate with the wind speed). The water was bumpy, and we could see gusts on the water before they hit us. It was one of those days when you put into practice what you've read about paddling into the wind. If your casual sightseeing speed is about 3 knots but the wind is reducing that to 1.5 knots, then cranking up your effort to a 4.5-knot pace will effectively cut in half the time it takes to get to your destination. Talk about a good trade-off.
After we passed Navy Pier, such thoughts blew off with Alec's hat and all we could think about was, "Is this such a good idea?" That's when the wind reached its peak speeds. The water was cold (38 to 40 degrees), there was lots of clapotis, and a quick check over our shoulders confirmed that we weren't making much progress. Fortunately, we had options, and the one we chose was turning around and returning to the lee of Navy Pier.
We checked out the Chicago Fire Department boat, which was built in the 1940s and still boasts on its side in bright yellow letters, "We're there when you need us." Barry, who was on duty that day, was out enjoying the weather and appreciating a job that apparently consists of long periods of calm punctuated by moments of absolute urgency.
Barry, with beverage and books, gently informed us that we were paddling in a restricted area.
Then we flew back to North Avenue with the wind at our backs.