With nearly a harvest moon about to rise and rock and roll wafting in from a riverside bar, 31 kayaks and a canoe made their way into the Fox River near downtown Oshkosh Friday evening Sept. 29 for the Northeast Wisconsin Paddlers’ “Oshkosh at Night” moonlight paddle.
This was the third Oshkosh at Night Paddle organized by NEWP. The planned 6 p.m. departure was timed to get the boats launched before dusk descended but keep them on the water until the night went fully dark. The only illumination was white lights required on the fronts of the non-motorized craft and a few boats draped with Christmas lights.
Sept. 29 was one day past both a full moon and a super moon, which appears larger and closer because of variation in the moon’s orbit. Clouds and tall buildings obscured our view of the moonrise from our low seat on the water.
The Oshkosh nightlife made itself known as we passed the outdoor deck at the upscale Becket’s restaurant, where the food on the table about equals the value of a good composite paddle. A few UW-Oshkosh students wandered the paths between the dorms, no doubt looking for Friday night study partners.
A major concern for night paddles is interaction with power boaters, who may not be complying with the “no alcohol” rule we require of the paddlers. Very few motorized craft were out that night and all who were attempted to lower their wake as a courtesy to our flotilla.
A double-sided kayak launch near the Michigan Street Fishing Dock allowed for quick and safe launching and assisted in pulling the boats from the river in the dark after the out-and-back trip. As always, participants became volunteers, helping their fellow paddlers extract their sea legs and carry their boats to the grass for loading.
These accessible launches are appearing at public landings throughout the Fox Valley, suggesting municipal governments are considering the interests of paddlers.
It was supposed to be a five-mile route, but an unexpectedly strong wind led us to cut off a bit of the distance at each end, for a total 3.25 miles for just over an hour and a half of paddling.