Monday, September 01, 2014

Hudson River Paddle Part 8: Day 3 On the River - Tivoli to Norrie Point

Southbound at 8 am. Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge in the distance.

Day 3 was a lovely short one, and after two very long days on the river (for my NYC-area friends, imagine doing a Manhattan circumnavigation and then waking up the next morning and doing it again) I was absolutely tickled when I consulted my chart book prior to setting out and discovered that my Tivoli-area campsite and Esopus Island, the destination of the day, were on adjacent charts on the same page.
Broke out the bandages. Expected them to be off after an hour of paddling but Nexcare waterproof bandages turned out to kick lemu - these stayed on all day! 

Here's the journal entry from the day - as usual, "hindsight" notes in italics, and click on any photo for a better view:

Wonderful day today. Much shorter distance, plus I got up and on the water a little earlier,  which meant a little more time for poking around and looking at stuff. I went into South Tivoli Bay, so strange seeing it all green and filled with that awful water chestnut when last time I saw it was my iceboating trip! I took a picture of the little island for Bowsprite, am going to share it with her with a note saying, "Isn't this where the wreck of the Galatea happened?"

I'm camped on Esopus Island tonight. There's a whole flock of little doves flying around finding roosts for the night - the calm is intermittently broken by their whistling flight. Most of them have settled into a little stand of pines but a few are still looking for the perfect spot.

Anyways -- I also popped up into Rondout Creek to see if Tim (an old friend from my Pier 63 days, and owner and skipper of the historic tug Cornell) was around...

A flock of geese just landed to the north of the island -- shoot, I suppose I'll scare them off if I go get my headlamp (the sun was setting and my headlamp was in my boat, which was up near where I'd just heard the geese arrive - I went and got it quietly and managed not to disturb them, although I did send a few startled doves whirring off to find yet another spot)...

Tim wasn't around, but Cornell was, plus Augie and Gowanus Bay, plus another very old tug that looks like she's getting some TLC from Tim and friends - going to need a lot, though, she's a handsome old thing but her hull looks like lace in spots.

Cornell and Augie

Gowanus Bay

(Sue?) Ann Conners. From my low angle I couldn't see the first bit of the nameboard.

Gowanus Bay and Ms. Conners' side

Cornell again, on my way back out

I'm also stopping at EVERY lighthouse along the way!

Rondout Light

Esopus Meadows Light - The "Maid of the Meadows", last of the wooden lighthouses on the Hudson

Dinner was in Hyde Park with local friends Ralph, Donna and Susan (see long note below). 

Now back on Esopus Island, where the geese and the doves have settled down and the tree frogs are raising the roof!

Loved the slanted stones and twisted trunks that formed the eastern shore of the Hudson as I approached Norrie Point

Esopus Island camp. Camping here was one of the best pieces of advice my friends at Yonkers gave me; the official Watertrail campsite is at Norrie Point but Jack and Pat said it's a pretty long walk from where you take out to the campground. Esopus Island is clearly a locally accepted campground - there's a big, flat, open space at the north end of the island with a nice stone fire ring flanked by two picnic tables. A young couple paddled by and said hi right around sunset - they said they wished they were camping too!

And then there was the moment I turned around and discovered that I was under the keen observation of the Ninja of Norrie! :D

Weather continues to cooperate - it was supposed to POUR but it only drizzled, mostly (meanwhile, the town of Islip on Long Island received something crazy like 12 inches in an hour!!!!). More fine paddling weather. I'm so glad August isn't acting like August!

Another shot of the Maid of the Meadows

That's the end of the journal entry. Additional recollections and notes: Ralph and Donna are old kayaking friends who moved to the area from NYC after retirement; they were among the first wave of the NYC kayakers, who mostly started out paddling folding kayaks, many purchased from the old Klepper store in Union Square. There wasn't much on-water boat storage back then and access was largely of the "commando" variety, with folks who owned these folding boats toting them to spots on the river where it was possible - if not necessarily legal - to put them together and launch. We've come a long way, baby! There were some wild stories from those days. Ralph ended up writing a book for folding kayakers, The Complete Folding Kayaker, which continues to be popular. Susan is a professor at Bard College who I met after I noticed a postcard with a photo of a sea kayaker on it on an editor's desk at the office; I was headed for my desk one morning and did an absolutely classic double take as the image sank in a moment after I'd walked past. It turned out to be for an intriguing-sounding book called My Reach: A Hudson River Memoir, which had just been published at the time. I asked on the NYCKayaker email list if anyone had heard about it and it turned out that Susan was on the list - she introduced herself and told us about some readings, one of which I ended up going to. Marvelous book! Such a treat seeing all three of them, and introducing Susan to Donna and Ralph was fun.

I didn't mention this in the journal but the way dinner worked out was that I set up camp on Esopus Island, then paddled my considerably lightened boat over to the Norrie Point Marina. The dockmaster there was very welcoming, had me leave my boat on a dock by his office so he could keep an eye on it, and then pointed me to the shower & restroom building so I could clean myself up and charge my doohickies (camera, phone, radio). Very convenient, and a hot shower felt really good at this point.

Only downer of the day was that this was the day that the paddle I made at one of the workshops Chris Raab has done at Sebago decided that it liked this voyaging business so much it was going to keep doing it FOREVER. I'd had it tucked under the decklines while I was unloading and it kept getting in the way, so I shoved it up into some bushes where I thought it would be well out of the way of the wakes. Apparently it wasn't, or I hadn't lodged it as securely as I'd thought I had, because it was gone baby gone when I went to retrieve it a little while later.

I literally slept with my euro paddle after that - brought it into the tent every night when I set up my campsite - once the spare was gone, my attitude towards my one remaining paddle was, oh, something like -- This is my paddle! There are many like it but this one is mine! My paddle without me is useless! Without my paddle, I am useless!

'Cause really, I would have been in a pretty embarrassing situation if anything had happened to that one. Sad to lose the first and only piece of paddling gear I'd actually made with my own hands, though. Next time I make a paddle, I'll have to take better care of it.

Google map, Day 3. Actual mileage from Tivoli to Esopus would've been about 15, I added on a few more miles with my sightseeing and it ended up close to 19. So pleasant to have the extra miles be optional. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Brooklyn Bridge Break

I'll get back to my Hudson River trip reporting tonight or tomorrow, but I went on a Highly Scenic Paddle last night and I thought I would share some pix this afternoon. The paddle was from the Long Island City Community Boathouse to the Brooklyn Bridge Park and back, with the LICCB hosting the Sebago Canoe Club. This is an annual event that Sebago folks look forward to every summer - we use the LICCB's sit-atops so all we have to bring (if we want to) are our paddles and lifejackets and money for treats at the Brooklyn Bridge Park. I took something like 20 pictures on the return leg, my camera doesn't do so well on the water in the dark but I just couldn't resist the lights - most were of course just blurs but I think the bright lights on the Manhattan Bridge here added just enough ambient light that the camera was able to get the scene. Click here for a short Flickr album of pictures from the trip.

I actually hadn't been to the Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse section of the park in a couple of years - lots of changes! The BBP Boathouse has a nice new dock there and I hadn't realized that a whole big sports facility had been put in on one of the old piers - skating rink, bocce ball, all sorts of stuff, and it looks like people are really enjoying it.

Here's another fun picture from last night - 

Obviously not one of mine! This was taken by Sandra Maki from American Express, who was working the Amex-sponsored public US Open viewing picnic at the Brooklyn Bridge Park. Gail and I were heading for the food trucks when she saw my paddle and asked if we were in the group that had just paddled by - we said yes and had a fun talk about kayaking in NYC, and she sent me this picture that she'd taken as we paddled by! BTW, if you are a tennis fan, live in the area, and didn't score yourself tickets, this looked like a fun way to watch - they have a big screen set up on the Harbor View Lawn, people were picnicking there watching the tennis matches live on-screen with the harbor, the river, the skyscrapers of the financial district, and the famous bridges as a fabulous backdrop. Click here for more details.  

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Don't Forget the Tugboat Race Tomorrow!

It's always tons of fun (many, many tons) when the heavy horses of the harbor come out to play! Sunday, August 31st. Click here for details. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Hudson River Paddle Part 7 - Day 2 On the River: Bronck Island to N. Tivoli Bay

Another long day, this time about 27 miles. Here's my 8/12 journal entry, with pictures thrown in. Italics indicate tonight's notes on the day: 
A mixed day today - woke up to a glorious sunrise (yay!) then fell back to sleep and got on the river late again. OK, 8 am is less late than 10 (my Waterford start time) but it was so calm at 6 and by 8 I found myself fighting a nasty headwind. 
Still had moments, though! The first couple of hours were like, effing wind, effing wind, effing wind --
oooh eagle!
effing wind, effing wind, effing wind, (e.w. for short from here on)

oooh flowers!
e.w., e.w., e.w.,

 oooh, Amara Zee circus barge! This one started out a bit farther away as "What the h-e-double-hockey-sticks kind of boat is THAT?" but I figured it out as I got closer.
e.w., e.w., e.w.,

oooh lighthouse! (Athens-Hudson Light)

 Amazing numbers of eagles up here! Also great blue herons flying off with their cranky "Grack, graaack" every twenty yards of something like that.

I was getting a little depressed with the wind and I was afraid it was going to be another sunset arrival at my Tivoli area campground (I had been planning on Turkey Point but a friend in the Tivoli area told me about a better spot that I could use if I asked permission and camped with care), but I cheered up when the wind died down and even more when I checked my location and realized that I'd moved over into the day's last chart earlier than I'd expected to (day 1 I'd been a bit obsessive about tracking my location on the chart, day 2 I was trying to loosen up on that).

The nicest moment of the day may have been when I was waiting for a tug to pass before crossing to check out the Saugerties lighthouse (2nd lighthouse of the day, woohoo!).  
They were a ways off, so I was just sitting by the nun across the way waiting, watching the clouds go by and listening to the birds. I'd been in this weird rush mode earlier in the day with the late start and that lousy headwind; when I stopped to wait, my destination was in sight, and I knew I'd be there in plenty of time. It felt good to just stop and enjoy drifting there for a moment.

 Saugerties Lighthouse. This one's actually a B&B, and I did briefly toy with the idea of splurging on a night here. That would have been really neat, but I checked their website and it turns out to be expensive (not surprising of course) and then they had a two-night minimum stay. I wasn't on anybody's schedule but my own, but that wasn't on my schedule. 

Excellent paddling weather, aside from the morning wind -- cool, with a few light showers. 
Arrived in plenty of time to pick a nice spot, set up camp, make a few phone calls to friends about meeting up on Wednesday evening (plus one to TQ just to say hi). Watched the barges go by for a little while, then fixed myself a delicious dinner of pasta with sauteed squash, sopressata, onions and 2 cheeses (parmesan and smoked gouda). Thoughts of saving some for the breakfast eggs went out the window with the first bite.

the bravest heron of the day, most flapped off the minute they saw me (which was always a minute before I saw them).

Bedtime now. Tomorrow's destination: Norrie Point. I'll be camping on Esopus Island, I hope to set up there and then head over to the Norrie Point Marina, charge things, get a shower and one way or another meet up with Ralph and Donna and Susan. Short paddle, and I'm ready for one of those!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hudson River Paddle Part 6: Day 1 On the River - Waterford to Bronck Island

Waterford, 8/11/2014 - Trusty Romany loaded, launched, and ready to go!

It was a great day for picture taking, I was trying to exercise restraint since I wasn't going to have a chance to charge for a couple of days, but there were still enough that I put them up  on Flickr instead of loading 'em all on here.  Click here for the album.Here was the day's journal:
Day 1, Waterford to Bronck I - beautiful day, but LONG! Going through a lock for the first time was fun. Got a late start due to having accidentally purloined Louise's sprayskirt, when I found out there was a post office nearby I ran over to send it, partly because I felt bad and wanted to get it home, partly 'cause I just didn't have room! Everything just barely fit, had to tie a couple of things on deck (note added while blogging - remember, I ran out of prep time and my first full packing of my kayak for this trip was there in Waterford!). Wish I'd thought to mail the roof rack (foam blocks) home, but oh well (2nd note added while blogging - although it would have been tidier-looking if I'd gotten rid of the roof rack, it occurred to me later that had anything gone wrong and I'd needed to be helped off the river by a person who didn't happen to have a kayak rack on their car, it actually could have come in very handy). 

Gorgeous day on the river, lots of blue herons and kingfishers, and a dragonfly hitched a ride with me for a good ten minutes.

Was aiming for Gay's Point, but with the late departure I decided to call it a day at Bronck. Jack said it was hard to find, but I knew to pull in close to shore to look after fixed navigation light 171. Jack was right, it would've been easy to miss, but I didn't, so here I am tonight.

Too tired to cook -- cheese and bread and one of my little squashes (raw) for dinner and dried pineapple for dessert. And I actually took a bit of a bath before I ate - nice camping by fresh water.

That's all for tonight. Tomorrow - Tivoli or bust!


That was all I had energy to write. I launched at 10 and I came off the water with the sun getting quite low in the sky, a little before 7:30, and fortunately still with enough light to see all the sprigs of poison ivy scattered around the campsite proper. I ended up setting up on a sort of plateau of moss-covered tree roots that looked to be above the normal high-water mark. There was a metal cabinet for raccoon-proof gear storage in the same spot so I figured it would work, which it did, was more low and dry at high water than high and dry at high water, but it did stay dry (phew). Woke up in the early morning to hear the water lapping very close by, looked out of the tent to discover my little plateau was now a peninsula, but that was as high as it got and I was fine where I was. 

I don't think I got out of my boat all day, I had fruit and Kind Bars for lunch, I'd taken care of those things which sometimes make a person get out of their boat right before I left Waterford, and I knew it was going to be a long haul - that was the price for going through a lock (whee) and I'd accepted it. Ended up being about 28 miles to Bronck Island, would've been a few more to Gay's Point - if I'd gotten the earlier start I'd planned on I might have pulled it off but I was actually really ready to call it a day when I got off the river. I actually didn't feel sore as far as muscles (in fact I never ended up using any painkillers) but I was starting to get blisters. I'd felt good while paddling, but stopping felt good too. Phew.
Google map of Day 1.

Finding Bronck Island - I was actually just about to paddle on when I saw this 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of laminated paper with the oh-so-welcome green and blue flag! I was SO happy to see this!  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hudson River Paddle Part 5 and a half: Charts!

I'd hoped to do the post where I launch tonight, but I came down with a bad case of stuckattheofficeitis and then decided that since I was leaving so late anyways, I would stop by Dempsey's for a pint and a few tunes, so now it's a little late to do a full day's report (and the first day, as I mentioned was a VERY full day). But there was one thing I did to prepare that I hadn't mentioned yet (too busy babbling about eggs and GPS's and who knows what)  and that was charts! Aside from provisions, my main purchase for the trip was a waterproof chart book for the Hudson River. This was actually a really fun thing to get, I love charts and I've already actually done a few trips up and down the Hudson River between NYC and the port of Albany (schooner deliveries back when I was working on the Adirondack) so I found it really interesting to sit down with the book and see what I could match to my recollections of the trip. 

My basic guide was of course the Hudson River Watertrail Guide, which has black and white versions of the same charts with all of the Watertrail info overlaid onto them; it's NOT waterproof so you can't really carry it on deck, but what a lot of people do is copy the charts that they need and carry those in a chart case (or even just a large ziploc bag), but this is bigger and a little clearer and just really, really easy to use. Plus it's just a nice thing to have around - the club occasionally does Hudson River paddles and I've now got charts for anywhere we'd be likely to go. 

What I ended up doing was sitting down with the guide and the chart book one night and copying the campsites I was shooting for into the chart book.

These, for example, were the day 1 possibilities. There were 3 Watertrail campsites within a fairly short distance of each other; first one is Bronck Island - indicated by a little pencilled-in triangle (tent) -

And then there were Gay's Point and Stockport Middle Ground just a couple of miles to the south - these ones had camping and water (actually the island didn't, that was a goof-up because the two are part of the same park - water wasn't a big concern at this point, though, I'd filled all of my containers at Waterford and had more than enough for the first couple of days). 

Each chart with a campsite on it also got a little icon up in the upper right-hand corner so I'd know it was on there. This worked out very nicely.

It was funny, I actually ended up measuring distances by how many charts I was crossing, not how many miles I had to go. 3 charts was a long day. 2 charts was a nice day. Less than 2 full charts was a fantastic break. I think I only had one of those but, oh my gosh, it was after 2 consecutive three-charters and I practically did a little dance when I went to check the next day's distance and discovered that my campsite was on one chart and the next night's was on the very next chart over. Woohoo!

Here was Day 1! As usual, click on any picture for more detail. 

The chart book started at the Troy Lock, Waterford is a couple of miles north there. Here's the piece I was missing, my campsite is circled (just north of Peeble's Island) and so is the Troy Lock. 
The chart book actually runs from NY Harbor UP the Hudson, so I was doing it back to front, right to left. Troy Lock is in the upper right-hand corner of the right-hand chart on Page 24; I did that whole chart, the one on the left, 
turned the page and kept paddling. 
Page 23 - The orange arrow on the right points to the Bronck Island campsite - the one on the left, Gay's Point. 
My experienced friends in Yonkers had actually recommended Gay's Point; they said Bronck Island was actually tricky to find, but for various reasons, I'd gotten a much later start than I'd originally planned, I paddled through the entire flood, and by the time I was approaching the area where the Bronck Island campsite was supposed to be, it was approaching sunset and I was feeling HIGHLY MOTIVATED to find it, and I did. I have never in my whole life been so happy to see an laminated sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 paper tacked to a tree!
So that was Day 1, by the charts. Pictures from the actual paddle tomorrow - but here's one more, one of the reasons I got a late start. I'd taken a sketchpad along with the idea of doing a little drawing along the way. That didn't happen that much, I didn't really end up having that much free time (I'd also brought my tin whistle and a couple of books in case of being stuck in my tent for a day or something, those didn't get touched), but I did take the time to do a quick one before I launched on Monday morning. Grrrr, baby!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Hudson River Paddle Part 5: On to Waterford

Sunday, 8/10 - after a good night's sleep, a not-too-rushed start, and a delicious omelet made by Louise from good local eggs, cheese and mushrooms, I checked emails one last time, added a few more contact numbers to my cell phone, then packed up the car and strapped my boat back on the roof (with Louise's help, how nice that I never had to get it up there solo - like I said, I can do it but it's no fun). I'd mentioned to Louise that my first day was going to be a doozy, 30 miles and change as planned (don't forget, all plans were subject to change as needed), and she took me to a natural food store in Ithaca for some TraumEel tablets, a homeopathic pain remedy which she finds work well in conjuction with Advil (with which I was of course already supplied, that being a pretty standard-issue item in the middle-aged paddler's wellness arsenal). Did I mention she's an Antarctic kayak guide and a very experienced expedition paddler herself (like she did a trip all the way a around Lake Ontario to celebrate her 50th birthday)? She was so encouraging about this and excited for me - she said she almost wished she could come with me, but she totally got the "do it self" aspect of the trip (if you missed, that, it was in Part 1 of this series). 

Me and Louise at the GreenStar Market - we who are about to shop! 

I picked up snacks for the drive, too - a "Hiker Bar" (basically a shortbread cookie with a sweet nutty topping) and some blueberry drinkable yogurt; Alice, who'd hosted me for the weekend, had also fixed me up with a little dish of homegrown cherry tomatoes, some orange variety that was sweet as candy (note to self - don't overlook the cherry tomatoes when you buy your seedlings next year) and I figured with the additional snacks I wouldn't have to stop for lunch anywhere.

Just as we were leaving the store, my eyes lit on a chest freezer full of local grass-fed beef and other meats - I stopped in my tracks, looked at Louise, and gleefully announced, "I'm having steak for dinner tonight!"

We walked out to the parking lot together, where she gave me a nice simple set of instructions for getting to Waterford (I had the GPS but this was clear enough that I didn't need it), she led me out of the parking lot to my first turnoff and I waved goodbye.

It was an absolutely beautiful drive. The picture above was taken en route when I stopped at a farm stand for the things what goes with a juicy grass-fed steak (namely corn, new potatoes and peaches for dessert, plus a bottle of honey that I never opened during the trip), oh boy. I had onions from my garden already. That was my only stop, aside from that I drove straight through from Ithaca to Waterford, with the yappy GPS lady silenced (up until the last bit when I let her help me find the canal visitors' center) and the Boston Symphony Orchestra with YoYo Ma, live at Tanglewood, playing on the radio. Now that was a nice drive. 

I arrived at the Waterford Harbor Canal Visitors Center  at 3:50 which should've been just in time, except that it was such a gorgeous day that I guess they'd shut down early - the doors were locked and no one was around. I was glad I'd spoken to them before I came, I'd asked if there was anything I needed to know about camping arrangements there and they'd said nope, just find yourself a nice patch of lawn and pitch your tent, so that's just what I did! 

Here it is, Campsite Night 1, Waterford, NY! Woohoo!

I set up the tent and threw all of my stuff in - I had no choice but to leave my stuff while I took the car to the Albany airport, but somehow I felt like a person might have some second thoughts about actually going into a tent to take something, and anyways this seemed like a pretty peaceful place, there were plenty of other boaters there. Getting rid of the car worked exactly as planned, I dropped off the car with Enterprise and then went out to a cabstand and got a cab back to the canal. There was one slight detour - as I was unpacking the car, I discovered that I'd picked up an extra sprayskirt -- with a small deck and a small tunnel, I figured it was Louise's and I must have just accidentally grabbed it off of the clothesline in the morning. I wanted to get it back to her because she does a LOT of kayaking and a sprayskirt is a pretty key piece of gear, plus I was already concerned about getting everything into my boat (did I mention that I ran out of time to ever do a full practice loading of my boat? I'd done my tent and had a good sense of how much space was left but something had come up on the only day I would've had time to take everything else out and so I had my fingers crossed - knew it was going to be tight, though). The GPS claimed that the nearest Kinko's was in Boston, I was highly doubtful that that was the real case so I asked the cabdriver if he knew of one; he took me by what turned out to be their actual shipping facility, they couldn't actually take packages there and didn't know if there was a 24-hour branch in Albany - now Albany being the seat of NY State Government and all that, I didn't see how there could NOT be at least one 24-hour Kinko's in the city (and of course there is), but I didn't see any point in continuing to pursue this, figured I would just add the sprayskirt to whatever ended up on deck and maybe mail it back from Wappinger's Falls when I stopped to see my friend there.

So back to the canal we went - I took this picture for my friend Harry because my cabdriver said that that was Vermont off in the distance - Hi Harry! 


Back at the canal, I got my stuff a little better sorted out for the big load-up in the morning, and there was still enough light for a little sightseeing - obviously I was now on foot but there was lots right there to look at, there's a lovely park built around the canal and some neat boats at the docks.

Figurehead of the Onrust - more on this one at the end, I particularly enjoyed seeing her again!

Evening at Peeble's Island

Doggy paddle!

Cabin and smokestack of tug Buffalo

Looking towards the Hudson

A few shots of Lock 2 on the Erie Canal

Canal, vessels, and the Waterford Harbor Canal Visitor's Center (you can't see it but my tent's over there).

Then, dinner and a little wine,
and then to bed to get a good night's sleep to get ready for the next day's excitement!
End notes on the Onrust: I mentioned that it was particularly fun to see the Onrust again -- the first time I saw her was in 2009, when she traveled to NYC to join in with a fleet of canal barges that had been shipped from Holland as part of the quadricentennial celebration of Henry Hudson's visit to the river that now bears his name. I went to watch the Blessing of the Fleet on a very dreary day that year and she was there for that - here was my photo of her then:

2014 is actually the quadricentennial of the building of the original Onrust, which was the first ship built in the area that eventually became New York State. The name is Dutch for "Restless", and as Tugster Will was telling a few of us who attending a screening of Graves of Arthur Kill at the Midtown Library last week, she was built by a group of Dutch seafarers whose original ship, the Tijger, burned at anchor in NY Harbor -- they were too restless to stay where they were, so they built a new vessel, the original Onrust. Will was fascinated by the build, and there's a fascinating series of posts on the project over at Tugster. Click here to read those, and click here to visit the Onrust Project's website. Also, click here for an intriguing article about how the charred remains of the Tijger may have been found early in the 20th century, but lost again to NYC's march of progress culminating in the construction of the World Trade Center.