Friday, July 01, 2016

Dolphin Watching with Gotham Whale - 6/29/16


My normal work routine this week was disrupted in the best way possible - I took Wednesday off to go out whalewatching with Gotham Whale, along with my friend Louise from Ithaca. Great way to spend a Wednesday!

Louise is an Antarctic kayak guide with Oceanwide Expeditions for part of the year - she loves taking people out to see the whales during the Antarctic summer (our winter) and she was absolutely amazed one day when I shared some particularly spectacular photos that Artie Raslich, Gotham Whale's official photographer, 
had taken on a recent whalewatching cruise on the American Princess and posted on Facebook. "I need to come see this!", she said, and then a few minutes later she followed up with something along the lines of "No, really, I'm serious!". Turned out she'd had some errands she'd been thinking of running in my neck of the woods and that a whalewatching/errand combo was going to work out perfectly, so we picked a day and made it happen.

Turned out to be the first day in a long time when the humpbacks hadn't appeared, but it was a lovely day out on the water, it was such fun being able to introduce Louise to the Gotham Whale folks. It was also a particular pleasure to finally meet Gotham Whale's founder, Paul Sieswerda, who I've known online for years but never actually run into in person, and towards the end of the trip, our captain found a HUGE pod of dolphins for us, which were pretty amazing to watch.

Click here for a full photo trip report on Flickr. What a terrific day!

Want to hear/read a little more about Louise's summer(winter) job? There's a nice interview with her (and a link to her own blog) on Ithaca's Walk in the Park blog.  




Sunday, June 26, 2016

A Great Day At Sebago Despite My Best Efforts At Sabotage.


(swiping my own Facebook post for the evening!)
What a satisfying day. I started out completely failing to get myself out for either the rowing workshop (Floating the Apple has given Sebago a Whitehall rowing gig so now we need to learn how to use it) or the paddle Tony P. had called for. Toyed with the idea of just giving myself the day off from "doing" (haven't had just a nice do-nothing day in a long time) but it was looking so nice that I decided to go tend to the garden and take the surfski for a spin. 

Got to the club to find the gig still on land with the cover on and a clubmate and a lady I didn't know standing next to it chatting. I figured this must be Adina from Floating the Apple and introduced myself, asking what had happened to the rowing workshop (I was really afraid there just hadn't been interest, which would've been a bummer). Turned out that it was just that there was a huge overlap between club members who are interested in rowing a Whitehall and club members who are sailing instructors and today happened to be the first day of the big annual 2-day sailing class that the Sailing Committee runs, so the instructors were all out instructing. However, with 2 of us expressing interest, she decided to go ahead and give Marty and me a dry-land intro to the gig, the gear, and rowers' responsibilties, plus some great history about Floating the Apple. 


I was acquainted with Mike Davis, but I'd never heard the whole story about how he came to start up Floating the Apple. It also turned out that Adina and Mike had been involved with working for water access, especially along the stretch of waterfront that we now know as the Hudson River Park, since before the Hudson River Park existed, even on paper - Adina is an architect and worked on a project to update Grand Central Station for the 20th century. This must have been right after the Westway highway project was defeated, so suddenly there was a need for a new plan for the crumbling stretch of waterfront from the Battery up to midtown.

Through the Grand Central project, Adina was invited to go for a boat ride where the city planners were going to unveil the next great idea for the area. Next great idea turned out to be "Hey, let's build a whole bunch of buildings on the waterfront!". Adina was horrified, she called Mike Davis and they started working towards something better. I hadn't started paddling yet but I do recall walking by the McGraw Hill Building (still green & I presume still grooking, that description in one of Allen Ginsburg's poems has stuck in my head to the point that I can't see the building without thinking of that line) and being intrigued at seeing boats being built in a vacant space on the ground floor. That was Floating the Apple.

I got involved with the Hudson River Park after starting paddling in Chelsea a few years later - at that point the Trust didn't exist, there was instead the Hudson River Park Conservancy, there was a lot of planning going on and I and a number of my paddling friends started attending some of the planning meetings, along with Roger Meyer, founder of New York Outrigger, other early members of NYO (many of whom are now paddling in Hoboken as Ke Aloha Outrigger - must go join them for a paddle one of these days!), and of course John Krevey, John Doswell, and other Pier 63 denizens who became fast friends as we followed their leads in speaking up for a park where the river was more than just a sparkling scenic element, but something you could get to, go out on, use and enjoy.

I mostly stepped down from what I called "waterfront politics", which to me was always mostly about access, when I moved my boats out to Sebago, but there was a big chunk of my life when I was attending any meetings that various waterfront community leaders suggested recreational boaters might want to attend, writing letters, sending emails, whatever I could do as one person. Fascinating getting to hear some of chapters from before my time from someone who'd been involved from so much earlier on!

And yes, I learned a lot about Whitehall gigs too! :D

After we finally wrapped up at around 2:00 (the session went long because I kept asking for more stories!), I decided that I would eat the sandwich I'd brought for lunch and then go out for the surfski spin I'd originally planned for the day. About this time, Tony's paddle had got back; I apologized for being too late for the paddle and promptly got invited to join them for wine and pie. I went light on the wine 'cause I still wanted to paddle, and I haven't been surfskiing much lately, but I did have a little, and one of the gang had found some peaches that were very good for this early in the season, and then there was pie, and then I did get out for a 4-mile spin on my surfski, including "one more mile for Glicker", thinking of Joe Glickman, a friend and Sebago clubmate who we lost a little more than a year ago, and who was one of my inspirations for keeping positive and active through my own round with cancer - mine was so much less awful and if he was able to keep up such good spirits all the way through to the end, as he did, I didn't see how I could get mopey about mine.

Extra mile was good, I'd started out feeling very shaky and with each mile I got a little steadier - coming back up the basin on the last leg I finally let a motorboat wake hit me from the side and didn't put my feet down in the water for stability (yes, I was that shaky at the start, it had been a long time!). And after aaaaaalll that I still got back in time to water and weed the garden and pick some chard - first pickings of the season, which I'm looking forward to sharing with a lovely friend from Ithaca soon! :D

Great day on and by the water. So glad I rousted myself out of the house in the morning - of course spending the day curled up on the Evil Futon of Nap with a book would've been lovely too, but what a fine day at the club it turned out to be.

Yes yes yes.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Full Moon Solstice Paddle with Sebago Canoe Club, 6/20/2016

I do have a couple more posts about Hokule'a's visit to NYC (she's on her way to Mystic Seaport now, where she'll be a guest at their annual WoodenBoat Show, should be fantastic), but I thought I would just do a quick shar e of a set of photos from tonight's spectacular Full Moon Solstice Paddle at the club. So glad I was able to make it! This was my 2nd paddle after my reconstruction surgery and I felt good enough to go with the fast group - and I didn't hold them back. Feeling good!

Everything else is pictures - click on any for a bigger view. 

 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Hokule'a update, Friday June 17 - Tours today, sailing tomorrow


Sorry about NO NOTICE, but with our choppy waters and not-so-great docking in the recreational sections of the NYC waterfront, this is ending up being the only chance to actually board the Hokule'a before she heads on her way tomorrow.

Tomorrow's sail plan, as shared by Captain Maggie, from the Waterfront Alliance, this morning:
Aloha,

Latest update, which can be posted, is that Hokulea might be seen underway on Saturday - between 11am and 1pm travelling the waters from off Jersey City, crossing the Battery, and off Governors Island Pier 101. Immediately following, Hokulea might be seen underway eastbound in the East River moving north between Governors Island and Roosevelt Island. 


 Please remember there's a 25 yard security zone around tunnel ventilators and commercial and ferry docks.

 The kayak landing at Governors Island is not yet replaced.

 Thank you all! Maggie

 Capt. Margaret Flanagan
Maritime Operations, Waterfront Alliance

After tomorrow, Hokule'a heads north to Mystic, CT, where she'll be attending Mystic Seaport's WoodenBoat Show, and then she'll be in Martha's Vineyard from June 28th - July 1st (thanks to Sam Low for that particular update, see picture he'd shared below!), and then points north. Follow the voyage at Hokulea.com

Monday, June 13, 2016

Hokule'a in NYC Post 5: At the Hawaiian Airlines Liberty Challenge Outrigger Race

Hokule'a was the guest of honor at this year's Hawaiian Airlines Liberty Challenge Outrigger Race! The wa'a and crew were there; unfortunately tours were cancelled after someone slipped and got hurt while either boarding or debarking, but Hokule'a was right alongside a barge and you could walk onto that and get a good close look at her. Crew members were there throughout the day to answer questions, and two Hokule'a crews competed in the third and final race of the day. Amazingly, one of their boats came in fourth - well, maybe not so amazingly, the crew of the Hokule'a are all consummate waterfolk, but all the other teams have been training, while I doubt that the Hokule'a crew has had much time for OC-6 practice anytime recently, being a little busy sailing around the world and all. 


Here are some selected photos of Hokule'a and her crew (and hey, that's me and Captain Blankenfeld!) at the Liberty Challenge - if you are a real glutton for punishment, the day's full set is on Flickr! Lots of paddling, some dancing and food.

Oh, can't resist sneaking in one food shot. Being a grown-up may not be everything you think it's gonna be when you're a kid, but -- ice cream for lunch if you want? Check! :D




Photos below - Approaching Pier 26; Sam Low pretends to sign my copy of his book for me (he had just finished and closed it when I remembered that I had a camera around my neck, he was a good sport when I asked him to act like he was still signing it - BTW, great book, Hawaiki Rising!); the female ki'i on the stern; crew member puts a lei on one of Hokule'a's manu (prows); me and Captain Blankenfeld (I got him to sign my book too!); activities at the Hokule'a tent (including a curious box turtle who wanted to learn about wayfinding); Hokule'a teams in the mixed crew race; and finally saying goodby at the end of the day. Click on the first photo for a slideshow view. 
















Thursday, June 09, 2016

Hokule'a in NYC Post 4: Preliminary Arrival at North Cove



Hokule'a approaches North Cove Marina. More on Flickr, of course. No captions yet, but this post pretty much tells you what happened. 

So the 'Iolani gathering was lovely, the food and drink was delicious and the company delightful, and at a certain point one of the Polynesian Voyaging Society folks made the surprise announcement that in a little while we were going to have a chance to see the Hokule'a herself!

I'd paddled out on Friday evening because a clubmate who'd sailed out to see her earlier in the week had gotten the impression that they were leaving on Saturday morning (and I had the reception Saturday afternoon and one of my paddling rules of thumb is that I generally won't plan a paddle if I need to get somewhere else later in the day, I don't much like watching the clock when I'm on the water except to know when the current shifts or suchlike), but they hadn't said exactly where they were going.

Turned out they were going on up to the upper harbor for a photo shoot (including the shot I've been looking forward to since I found out she was coming here - and here it is! :D) and they were going to do a sail along the battery. The first trip out to the Battery Park City promenade turned out to be a little bit premature - we squinted and stared and finally somebody with especially sharp eyes spotted her awaaaaay off south of the Statue of Liberty. We all cheered and then we posed for some group shots and, assured that the wa'a was eventually going to head up our way and we could go back out to see her later, we went back to the restaurant for a bit. 


As we were enjoying the food and chatting, there were some phone calls going on between the PVS crew at the restaurant and the crew on the boat, and eventually the word came through that the wa'a was now actually approaching the area and that furthermore, it was likely that they were going to have a test run at entering North Cove Marina, and that further furthermore, that if that operation did not prove to be absolutely easy-peasy, there was a pretty good chance that Nainoa was going to make the call to just stay there. The wa'a has no motors; they do have a set of long-handled paddles on board that the crew can use to maneuver a little bit, but in the fast-moving current of the Hudson, they were being towed in by a motorboat. The entrance to North Cove Marina is not terribly wide and faces straight out into the current, so the issue was that there was going to be this hairy moment when the motorboat was in the still water inside the marina while the Hokule'a was still in the grasp of the moving current outside. They therefore need to go in as fast as they could while not going so fast that they couldn't stop before crashing into the Colgate Sailing School boats opposite the entrance. A fine line to tread! This was in calm conditions, and Sunday's forecast involved gusty winds, so Nainoa was very concerned about the safety of the wa'a, the escort boats, and all the people on board and wanted to try it at least once before the real arrival ceremony.

So that's how I got to see the Hokule'a's unannounced early arrival.

When I first went back out, Hokule'a was under tow on the Jersey side. I don't know what exactly they were doing (towboat captain may have just been getting a feel for moving Hokule'a around, this was not her usual escort boat, the Gershon, but a motorboat named Julie's Cat), but at first they were heading North, then they turned and cruised South for a bit, then they turned north again and seemed to be travelling that way rather purposefully. I was following them, trotting along the Promenade - at a certain point I was thinking they'd decided to scratch the North Cove idea and head for Pier 40 after all, so I picked up speed a bit, thinking as I did so "OK, at this point I think I am now officially STALKING Hokule'a!" - but then they turned again and this time they started across the river, angling south again, so I got myself back down to the marina again and got there in time to join Hokule'a's family and friends in welcoming her to North Cove.

The entrance was indeed NOT easy-peasy, in fact it was a bit on the nailbitey side, so Nainoa did decide to stay there. He held a short press conference down on the dock, then came up and explained to those of us who were gathered there what the situation was - although the wa'a was there, she couldn't really be considered to be there until she'd been welcomed by the Native Americans in whose territory Manhattan lies, so for the time being, out of respect to them, she was kapu and couldn't welcome us as visitors. Nainoa looked so concerned - this change of plans was clearly not something he took lightly, but I don't think anyone there questioned the wisdom of that call at all.

Sorry I didn't catch the first minute!

Pua Case, a noted Hawaiian teacher and leader from the Big Island, did offer up a chant of welcome, which the Hokule'a crew answered with Aue Ua Hiki E (I found a little bit about the chant on the Kihei Canoe Club's site, click here to read about that and other paddling chants) , which I was told Kumu Pua had written for Hokule'a - so not the official welcome (that would be on Sunday, and it was indeed splendid, I will never forget that day), but still a very moving thing to witness. I felt so fortunate and honored to be there!

Here's a news clip that ties in:

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Hokule'a in NYC Post 3: Chocolate Haupia Pie!


Well, oops. This was supposed to be the how-I-got-to-go-to-Hokule'a's-unannounced-arrival post, but I forgot to add the pictures I uploaded before I hit save, so here's some onolicious CHOCOLATE HAUPIA PIE instead. Just like Ted's Bakery, only right here in NYC on Vesey Street! Arrival pix in the next post. Everybody OK with that? Hope so! 

This was served at a great little 'Iolani School alumni function that was put together a couple of weeks ago when the alumni office approached some of us NYC area alumni with the idea - there are a few folks from 'Iolani on the Hokule'a crew and of course the Polynesian Voyaging Society has strong ties with all of the Hawai'i schools (I went to an educator workshop last year and loved seeing all the ways voyaging can be worked into the curriculum), so they thought it would be great to have a little gathering! I was tickled to get that and then ESPECIALLY tickled, when I checked in quite a bit after the initial email went around, to find out that one of us NYC folks works at Blue Smoke Barbecue and had arranged for the event to be held there. That's a restaurant I've always wanted to try, I looooove barbecue and I've heard good things about the place.

It was a great get-together - always fun meeting NYC-based 'Iolani folks (we're not as organized as Punahou, there's one friend from my class, who also happens to be a blogger, who I'm in touch with regularly, other than that I mostly just see people when there's an alumni get-together) and we were all very excited about the Hokule'a's visit. The 'Iolani/Polynesian Voyaging Society folks brought these great little wooden coasters that current students had made as gifts for the voyage at the school's spectacular new Sullivan Center for Innovation and Leadership. I'd gotten a tour of that new facility when I went home last year for my 30th reunion and it's really amazing - check it out here if you like. I think I'm more inclined to put a loop on the back of my coaster and hang it on the wall than use it as a coaster, it's so cute, says "Home is where the heart is" with a laser-cut miniature map of the Hawaiian islands. They also had a raffle with commemorative stuff from the voyage, patches and books and such - I ended up winning a keychain made out of an actual piece of one of the sails that was used during the No Nā Mamo (For the Children) Voyage for Education - I can't imagine a better souvenir!

The food was great; the chefs are not from Hawai'i, but they consulted with Claire, their colleague from 'Iolani, and ended up making us delicious grillled shrimp (for the shrimp wagons of Kahuku), pork belly sliders with pickled onions (I missed the Hawai'i tie for that one, but does pork belly really need a reason?) and they cooked a suckling pig for us, which they served with smoked cabbage. All absolutely delicious, and then for dessert, Claire had told the pastry chef about chocolate haupia pie. And when it was brought out, we were all SO HAPPY! :D 





Now, chocolate haupia pie didn't make my list of personal favorites from childhood for the simple reason that Ted's Bakery, where baker Ted Nakamura invented the stuff, didn't open until four years after my family had left for the mainland (same with the shrimp trucks, the first one didn't get popular until the 90's), but it is delicious stuff - a rich chocolate pudding topped with haupia, the delicious Hawaiian-style coconut pudding, and whipped cream on top. The pastry chef wasn't from Hawai'i either, but armed with Claire's description and a couple of sample recipes, he came through beautifully - everybody there agreed it was just like at home! Absolutely delicious. Or as one might say back in da 'aina -

"Broke da' mout', bra!"

Wanna try? Here you go!

Fun cocktail list too - I tried their frozen Dark n' Stormy. Imagine an Icee that went to graduate school and moved to the big city and became all sophistimacated. It was a hot and sticky day outside and this was very tasty.

And then we got to take the leftovers home. Yay!

I still want to go back sometime and actually order off the menu, but glad to have finally been there.

Would've been a wonderful afternoon even without the big surprise...

TO BE CONTINUED!

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