We’ve gone on a New Year’s Day paddle every year since 2015. Some think that what you do on New Year’s Day will be what you do all year. In case there’s any truth to that, we make it a point to get out on the water.
Some years have entailed too little sleep the night before and frost on the kayaks in the morning. We’ve paddled to watch brave souls participate in a Polar Bear Plunge. There’s nothing so toasty warm as a kayak in the sun when you’re watching folks jump into chilly water on a freezing day. Some years, we’ve launched closer to the crack of noon and done a quick midday float around Point Defiance, following the flood tide toward the Narrows and then the ebb tide back to Owen Beach. No matter the conditions or the plan, it is our tradition to spend at least part of New Year’s Day paddling.
We are fortunate that where we live, the water stays liquid year-round. Although nearby mountain lakes may freeze over, the Puget Sound maintains a balmy 45°-55° Fahrenheit all year. The air temperature is less predictable: we’ve seen low 20s one year and into the 60s another. We have been fortunate that most years the wind hasn’t been too bad; some years it has even been dead calm.
We haven’t decided where we are going to launch from for 2021’s first paddle. There aren’t any in-person New Year’s Parties to attend so we should be well-rested. Owen Beach is the place we have most often paddled on New Year’s. Other launch points have included Steilacoom boat launch, Thea’s Park, and Dash Point. This New Year’s Day looks to be a typical Pacific Northwest winter day: overcast, light wind, light rain, and a high temperature of 50. Perfect.
Wherever we go, however far we paddle, this isn’t the important thing for our New Year’s Day Paddle. While we often have a goal in mind when we paddle (an island to circumnavigate, or a distance or speed goal to achieve), New Year’s Day is different. It is simply an act of being on the water, our commitment to return throughout the year to come.