An Hour Worth Giving Up

The coffee poured a rich, dark brown from the French Press. I watched helplessly as a few grounds slipped past the fine mesh and into the Thermos. Four cups brewed, four to go. The clock was ticking: I had to get out of the house and down to the water by 6:30 AM, which would give us just enough time to get our gear unloaded and start our paddle before sunrise. Somewhere in the course of the night, the clocks had jumped forward an hour, and I stumbled against the lack of sleep to gather my gear before the second round of coffee was done steeping. The timer on my phone hit four minutes. I pressed the coffee, topped off the Thermos, and bear hugged my mess of gear,  leaving the apartment just in time to help my neighbor load his kayak into the back of the truck. This was my second annual Daylight Savings Sunrise Paddle, and I was excited to be sharing it with five other paddlers this year. Even before we turned the last corner, we could tell it was going to be an amazing sunrise. A light pink already tickled the sky between the mackerel clouds. 

We unloaded the truck in the semi-light of predawn as the other four in our crew arrived. Three kayaks, three paddleboards, and slew of life jackets, paddles, and mugs lay scattered on the lawn like a yard sale. The clouds stretched above us to the East, but ended mercifully before they reached the horizon. The strip of sky between horizon and clouds was brightening, and we wrestled anxiously with our gear. 

The first to hit the water paddled with purpose, and the rest of us raced to catch up. We fumbled with spray skirts and made multiple trips to the truck to retrieve forgotten items. Eventually we were all on the water. An offshore wind, outgoing tide, and hurried paddling got us away from shore in short time. The horizon was already starting to set fire. The sun would rise at any moment, so we stopped paddling and let ourselves drift into a loose raft. I sat down on my board, dropping my legs over the rails of my Bote inflatable. The pressure from the water against my drysuit forced any insulating air from around my calves. The water hovered somewhere near 40 degrees, but I had dressed in many layers beneath the drysuit, so I stayed comfortable. Digging through the dry bag, I found my mug and Thermos and unscrewed the top just enough to let a spiral of steam escape while keeping most of the heat in. We passed the coffee around our flotilla, filling my mug last.  The first sip was bitter, and a bit silty, but my surroundings were too good for that to matter. Ceramic does little to stop heat loss to the winter air, and within minutes the coffee was cold. Still, I sipped it slowly as the sun passed quickly, too quickly, between horizon and clouds. 

The sun was fully above the horizon by my last sip. I checked the group; nobody seemed in too much of a hurry to get on with the paddle, so I poured another cup, hoping that the moment could last as long as the coffee. It's not hard to find peace on the water, but it's hard to find a peace better than being on the water at sunrise. The rising sun holds the promise of a new start, a fresh beginning, a chance to live today better than yesterday. Being on the water releases us, if momentarily, from the pressures and deadlines that anchor us on land. We sat on our boards and kayaks, each with our own thoughts, but all grateful for the chance to come together and celebrate the new day. 

Day Light Savings Facts

Why it happens

George Vernon Hudson was a New Zealand scientist who, in 1895, first proposed setting the clocks ahead during the summer so that he might have more time for collecting bugs (seriously). Even though it took awhile to catch on, now almost all of the United States and many other parts of the world “Spring Forward” and “Fall Back,” and we have George to thank.



It's Actually Just the Second Latest Sunrise of the Year

Because of the tilt of the Earth and its revolution about the Sun, not all solar days are equal in length. In December, the actual day is longer than the average 24 hours that our clocks observe. The cumulative effect of all of these longer days is that December 22nd is the longest day of the year, clocking in 30 extra seconds. This has the effect of causing the sunrise to push later than it otherwise would, which means we don’t actually get the latest sunrise until around January 4th. Check out this video from Minute Physics for a more thorough explanation. [TOP]



Aaron Mearns