Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Times article about Pier 63

Almost forgot, in my very hectic weekend I read a very good article in the New York Times concerning the status of Pier 63. I had actually heard some rumours that are confirmed in this article floating around the pier last week - chose not to post about them because they were basically thirdhand & rather alarming in the form in which I heard them. I figured that at some point a journalist would get wind of it & actually write a story. Sure enough, there it was in the Times this weekend. Sorry, registration required & it will be going into archives in a few days.

39 ain't so bad so far...

I do not really have time to write right now but since I haven't posted for a few days I thought I would just say something quickly...and that something is, DANG, I have only been 39 for 6 days but it's been a rather great 6 days (aside from the persistent too-much-work-at-the-day-job that was going on all last week & is likely to continue for the next week or two). Maybe those birthday fireworks were telling me to get ready for a really good year (please knock wood for me right now, OK?).

One of the really good things that happened that I will absolutely, positively be trying to post about, assuming I can squeeze in even one evening to do a little writing, was that I kind of got promoted...I had my first real first mate duty on the schooner Adirondack. I've been considered capable of serving as first mate in a pinch for quite some time, but this weekend there was a little scheduling glitch that put one of our usual incredibly capable first mates both working on the Adirondack & training crew the Adirondack II (now sailing in Newport) simultaneously. Now Michael is a seriously talented young man (great sailor plus a bona fide musician, classical guitarist) but he hasn't quite figured out how to be in 2 places at once, so there we were, in an actual pinch.

It was kind of scary, also kind of exciting - in the end, I think I did OK. Certainly plenty to improve on - think I'd give myself a C+ - but that's at least a passing grade.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Sailor, the Boathouse Cat

This is Sailor, the official boathouse cat of the Yonkers Paddling & Rowing Club.

Not that I'm going to try it, but if there was ever a cat who could be taught to ride on a kayak, this is the cat. This cat loves kayaks.

Of course I suspect that in typical cat fashion, he just thinks that these are elaborate cat baskets, and that the members of the club have just been kind enough to provide him with eighty or so to choose from. He does allow them to borrow the cat baskets to do that silly floating-on-the-water thing that humans, in their derangement, seem to like doing in these special cat baskets, but I doubt he'd appreciate it if one were to try to actually involve him in that activity.

Now there was at one time a kayaking couple in my area who had a cute little Jack Russell terrier who was trained to ride on the guy's back deck. They'd glued a sheet of closed-cell foam to give him some traction. I'm not positive that the dog really liked it - he looked fine when he was out there but I watched him coming into a dock one time & he looked like he was really excited about getting off the boat. But then I'm told that Jack Russells are masters at giving the impression that they are suffering untold woes at the hands of their cruel owners even if they are the most adored & pampered pet in the neighborhood.

(had posted this picture yesterday, just for the sheer gratuitous cuteness factor, figured I'd give him his very own post instead).

Birthday Fireworks

So as some people figured out in the comments (thanks to Larry!), yesterday was my birthday. I'd gotten too busy with work and the symposium to really put together a party for myself. On Tuesday night, when I'd originally thought I was going to come home & start writing down some thoughts about the symposium (in a little more depth than "it was awesome"), I ended up at the office until way too late, due to somebody dumping a task of a type I'm usually given 2 weeks to do in my lap with 3 days' notice. At some point during the collection of data, I took a break & sent out an email to my paddling gang saying that I intended to paddle on Wednesday night, that I'd be at the barge at around 6 & that yes, it was my birthday & I'd enjoy having a celebratory burger & beer.

Wednesday found the work still piling on, though.

Around 5:00 it became obvious that the original plan wasn't going to happen, though. I'd been working flat out all day; I was tired, and the later the work day looked to be stretching, the more unhappy I was. I sent out a note to the gang that I wasn't going to make it (I probably wouldn't have been much fun to paddle with anyways). I decided I would just go home.

But the more I thought about that, the more I thought maybe I still needed to go paddling. Just solo, at my own speed, not too far, just to unwind - I was just feeling all angry & frustrated in a way that if I just went home, I was going to spend the rest of the evening stewing. Decided a paddle would probably be smarter.

I got to the pier just before sunset - went out with my lights already on. I decided to use my Greenland paddle since there wouldn't be any keeping-up issues while I fiddled around with the Greenland stroke (that one class back in February left me with lots still to learn on that front).

I headed south at a leisurely pace, trying to get the blade angle right, trying to convince my right hand to quit being the control hand, trying to recreate the sense of the correct stroke I'd had down in Florida. I hugged the pierhead line, ducking in and out of the embayments, working on the various turning strokes, trying out some of the BCU strokes, and took plenty of breaks to watch the sunset, or admire passing schooners...in short, futzed around all the way down to the north end of Battery Park City. Once there, I hung out & kept practicing in the area just south of Pier 25. Not really focused, just noodling around, playing with the paddle, trying to see how quietly I could move while the sky darkened & the city lights started to shine on the water.

Paddling like that, the stress leaves fast. Your concentration is pulled from what a crappy day you had at work to the other boats around you, the movement of the current, the darkening of the sky...even had that been the end of the story, I would have gone home much happier after my time alone on the river. But then, just as I was getting ready to head back up to the pier, fireworks started to go off over Liberty Landing State Park. They went on for fifteen minutes. It felt like I was having my own private fireworks show!

Now that made what would have been a perfectly lovely post-work paddle feel like a proper celebration! Got back to the pier at 10 or so,thoroughly content with the evening.

Think I can face my cubicle again tomorrow. I'm so glad I went paddling instead of home to feel sorry for myself. I'm so happy it's spring & I can start being a little more flexible about my start times!

Back on the topic of the symposium - I didn't have much time to take pictures, but I did get a couple on the morning of the last day as I was walking down to the dining hall. here are a couple of the buildings at Camp Mariah, with Beaver Lake in the background. Not too bad, yeah?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Volvo Ocean Race update -

There's been such sad news from the Volvo Ocean Race over the last few days.

Movistar abandoned (reading that, all I can think is "What a wise & admirable captain").

Saddest news, though, was about a crew member being swept overboard in a storm - they found him, but too late. Hans Horrevoets, 1974-2006

You just know that the people who do this ocean racing at this level understand the risks they are taking - they are no weekend warriors who think that if things get rough they'll just pull out their cellphones and somebody will come make sure they're safe - but it's still sad, especially in contrast to the excitement I felt in the air that morning in North Cove.

Can't say anything more.

Symposium report later. I feel like mixing that in with this would be disrespectful. I will say, though, that it was a wonderful weekend. Last year was great although there were a couple of odd glitchy things, mostly, I think, because it was the first one - those glitchy things seemed to have been ironed out very nicely this year. As I was heading down the hill from my cabin to the dining hall yesterday afternoon, on my way to teach my last session, I realized that more than just about anything, I wished we could keep going for a week (that's not a hint, the weekend plus Friday afternoon is a good length for what we were doing - it was just that I was enjoying it all so much I didn't want it to be over).

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Gone Paddling.

'Til Monday, all! Off to the Hudson Valley Kayak Symposium tomorrow morning. Should be fun! Hope everybody has a good weekend & gets exactly as wet as they want to!

Thanks to Goofyman for the photo!

I found a kayak!

Decided to go out for a short paddle & strokes practice tonight & tomorrow night, to get warmed up for the Hudson Valley Symposium. Tonight's was decidedly enlivened by finding a stray double kayak partially beached, partially wedged in some pilings. First thing I did was ascertain it was just one of Manhattan Kayak Company's that had gone astray - if I hadn't recognized it, I had my VHF with me & I would have reported it & just waited there until somebody came. There were other people out & about & at first I thought about getting help, but conditions were pretty quiet so I decided to get it myself & see if I could have it out & in tow before anybody else happened by (which I knew was only going to be a little while). Seemed like good practice. Once I decided to do that I got a rather ridiculous amount of entertainment out of jockeying my Romany into a good spot, keeping an eye out for wakes, figuring out how I could best extricate the double from the pilings that it was wedged between without putting myself in an overly awkward situation(I ended up cheating a bit & jumping out of my boat for a minute to get it started, it was shallow & unusually good footing for the Hudson River - most of the river bottom is soft mud, but here it was nice solid gravel & small stones, as you can see!), getting it away from the beach & clear of all the pilings, then trying to empty it out (it is HARD to do a "curl" on a swamped double full of rocks) and then towing my stray back to it's home. I did get a little help getting it up on the dock - turning it up on one gunwale, we were able to slowly empty it of water. I left the rocks for MKC to deal with, that part isn't going to be NEARLY as amusing. Hee hee.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Waterwomen: Websites, Books and Blogs

So I have been trying to put together a handout for one of the classes I'll be teaching at the Hudson Valley Symposium tonight - it's a Women on Water class & one thing I thought would be fun would be to pull together some info on some of the inspirational women sea kayakers I know about who are out there doing their various things in their various ways. I'm sure I've missed some really great women paddlers & instructors - this is by no means meant to be comprehensive, and in fact is pretty much limited to the subset of people who I've heard of before. I'm planning to edit it down - if I can get it on one page, that'll be great - I might work on it on my lunch hour, so since I have to stash it somewhere I can get to it...why not inflict it on the blogosphere? If anyone has additional suggestions, please feel free to comment (heck, feel free to comment any time, they're always open unless Haloscan's being balky).

So without further ado...here are some wondrous waterwomen!

Cheri Perry: Remarkable Greenland-style kayak instructor Cheri competed at the Greenland kayak championship in Greenland in 2004. She has two sites, one business, kayakways.net , the other with a great deal of information, in writing, video clips, and galleries at her White Mountain Web page

Cheri attempts to teach me some new tricks - photo by Jack Gilman

Audrey Sutherland: This octogenarian adventurer has been doing long solo kayak trips, generally in an inflatable kayak, since the 1960’s, first in Hawaii, later in Alaska. She really just seems to do it for her own satisfaction, so she doesn’t have any sort of website, but you can find a wealth of articles about & interviews with her by Googling “Audrey Sutherland kayak”. She is the author of two books – stories of her adventures along the coast of Moloka’i , Paddling my Own Canoe (1978, University of Hawai’i Press) and the guidebook Paddling Hawai'i (1998, University of Hawai’i Press).

Shawna Franklin: The first U.S. woman to attain the BCU’s 5-star award, and a member of a 3-person team which successfully circumnavigated Iceland in 2003. Shawna is co-owner of the well-known and highly regarded Body Boat Blade outfitter & kayaking school, located on Orcas Island, Washington.

Justine Curvengen: British paddler & adventurer Justine is the founder of production company CackleTV.com and the producer (and star!) of numerous adventure sports videos, notably This Is The Sea and This Is The Sea 2. The latter includes a half-hour documentary of the first ever circumnavigation of Tasmania by an all-women team, accomplished in November-December 2004. Justine was joined for that expedition by Trys Morris, the first woman ever to attain the ranking of BCU 5-star coach, and Gemma Rawlings, who Justine describes as “gutsy, talented paddler with a broad background in canoeing and river paddling.”

Renata Chlumska: Swede Renata Chlumska, a professional adventurer & motivational speaker, is currently attempting the first ever circumnavigation of the lower 48 United States. She is traveling solo by bike, rollerblade and sea kayak. She launched from Seattle on July 4th, 2005 and headed south; at the time I am writing, she’s in the vicinity of Cape Cod and headed for the Canadian border, where she’ll bid adieu to her kayak & head back out West. RenataChlumska.com

Renata packing her boat at pier 63 - she was so focused, she didn't notice the paparazzi - finally she looked up & saw us & laaaaughed!

Ginni Callahan: Owner and head instructor of Columbia River Kayaking – her surfing is featured in Justine’s This Is The Sea & she has posted some good stories on her website. One of her stories is included in Steady As She Goes: Women’s Adventures at Sea (2003, Seal Press).

Wendy Killoran: Canadian schoolteacher Wendy is the first woman to complete a solo circumnavigation of Canada’s smallest province, Prince Edward Island, and is now circumnavigating Newfoundland. Although she does not have a website that I have found, a Google search under “Wendy Killoran kayak” brings up several articles by or about her. She is being joined for a leg of her Newfoundland expedition by German Greenland enthusiast Freya Hoffmeister.

Freya Hoffmeister: German gymnast Freya is the most recent notable arrival on the Greenland-style kayaking instructor scene. She got hooked on Greenland rolling after watching Cheri Perry do a demo (Cheri has that effect on people!) and with her gymnast’s background she quickly reached the point where she was able to begin passing the rolls on to others. Read more about her at Freya Underground.

And just to close out – here are a few kayakwomen’s blogs!
In addition to www.frogma.blogspot.com (yours truly, live from NYC!)
headwinds.org (Jennifer Pivovar in the Finger Lakes area of New York)
SandyBottomKayaker (Dawn, mad North Carolinian adventure racer)
PaddleTales (Sandy in Florida – lovely wildlife photography!)

And a couple more books I’ve enjoyed, just to finish things off –

Shooting the Boh: A Woman’s Voyage Down the Wildest River in Borneo, Tracy Johnston (1992, Vintage Press)
A Boat in our Baggage: Around the World With A Kayak, Maria Coffey (1994, Abacus Press)

A few others of whom I have good recollections - Jan Shiner, formerly of Eskape Kayak in California, where I took my ACA Instructor Development Workshop; Janice Lozano at Atlantic Kayak Tours; Jessie Stone of Jackson Kayak; Jean Totz of Sweetwater Kayaks; Melissa Maynard of Sea Cliff Kayakers…and although slightly off topic, how can I not mention the awesome women with whom I’ve worked on the schooner Adirondack…and that’s leaving out all the non-professional level women…yes, there really is quite a list…

Monday, May 15, 2006

More of Captain Peter's Volvo Ocean Race start photos!

Limited time today, I thought I'd put up more of Captain Peter's photos from the start of the Volvo Ocean Race. I got one small detail wrong about that phone call - I think he was calling from the Manhattan, the Scarano's new motor yacht. Rick put some serious engines in that boat, it can do 20 knots. For all that the Adirondack is the fastest sailboat in New York Harbor, she wouldn't be able to keep pace with these guys for near as long as the Manhattan did...

Fireboat display near North Cove - this is one of the active-duty fireboats, they are the ones who can do the colored water displays. Wouldn't be surprised if the John J. Harvey, everybody's favorite retired fireboat, was out there too. BTW for those who are not from NY - North Cove Marina is directly in front of where the WTC used to stand, the buildings with the pyramid & dome are in the World Financial Center - they sustained some damage but everything was repaired.

Brunel gets buzzed...I bet they'll be glad to get out of our noisy, busy harbor & back on the open sea!

Here they go through the Verranzano Narrows and out to the lower harbor, where you start to feel the Atlantic -

And there goes Pirates of the Carribbean, out past Coney Island (if you know what to look for here, you can just make out the landmark Parachute Jump). I was crewing this weekend with one of the guys who got to work this very special event on the Manhattan. He mentioned a great detail - when they decided to go ahead & chase the race as far as the Lower Harbor, they opened up the throttle to the point where they were doing around 17 knots (close to 20 mph). Pirates passed them. This shot is Pirates receding into the distance. Impressive detail?

That's all for now. Thanks again to Captain Peter for the photos!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Volvo Ocean Race - 2nd - 5th place finisher photos

Well, I said yesterday I couldn't wait to see Jarrett's pictures. I don't have to anymore, he has posted them at June 23rd.

And I sort of take back what I said about Captain Peter being mean yesterday...sort of. There was a present in my email this morning - he got some great pictures at the start, as the schooner Adirondack went to see them off. Here's the fleet heading on down the Lower Harbor on their way out to the Atlantic. Next stop, Portsmouth, UK!


My friend Brian has been off racing a leg of the Clipper Around-the-World Yacht Race. I can't believe it but he's done, they arrived in Victoria on the 7th...and I had all these updates I never had time to post. Here was the final one -

NY Clipper arrived in Victoria at 1:50 PDT, in 7th place,only 10
minutes behind Qing Dao Clipper. After 5600nm of Pacific Ocean racing,
mere minutes separated the 6th, 7th and 8th place boats.

Brian is tired but in good shape. He thanks you all for your interest
and support.

And here's a happy-looking Brian arriving in Victoria, BC. Congratulations, Brian! When's the homecoming party?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Volvo Ocean Race Finish Line

More photos today, thought I'd put up a few from Monday morning at the Volvo Ocean Race Leg 6 finish line. Can't wait to see Jarrett's, sure wish I'd rousted myself out of bed about an hour earlier. Have had too much going on lately, though, been tired. Oh, on the too-much-on-my-plate front? Got news today that I think means I get to stand down from this self-appointed mission to get the dockmaster to come talk to the Pier 63 paddlers - the news didn't make everybody happy but it was enough of an answer for me to say "OK, it is what it is" & let it go at that. Anyhow, that'll be the subject of another post one of these days. It is something of a relief, though. Back to today's:

Arriving at North Cove sometime after 7, here's what I see - the 4th & 5th place finishers waiting their turns to go into the marina.

Here's the scene at the dock!

They are done racing, but they still have a lot of work to do before they can enjoy their hard-earned break.

At least they get coffee delivered by dinghy, though. That's got to taste amazing.

More work - winching somebody up the mast...



and awaaaay! Gives a good sense of perspective of just how big these boats are, doesn't it?

I hung around for a while, just enjoying the scene. I'd heard a rumour that the 6th place finisher (to be) was not far away, and every now and then I'd head over to the river & take a look south. Finally, just when I was thinking I might need to leave -
there, waaaaaay down the harbor, was that big sail I'd been watching for. I decided to run down to the finish line, on the south side of the marina. Here's most of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet from the land side.

There's the Brunel, passing the Statue of Liberty - quite a sight!

And here's the guy with the horn, waiting to do his thing...

And here comes Brunel - 6th place - at the finish line and there goes the horn!

And that meant it was time for me to go to work. What a start to the morning.

Speaking of work - there I was at work today at about 12:14, reviewing invoice codes, when the phone rang. I thought I recognized the number, I picked it up, and sure enough, it was Captain Peter from the schooner.
"You picked up fast!" he said.
"I was reviewing invoices, so I was facing the phone, and I saw your number" said I.
"That's nice. I'm calling from the harbor. We were just thinking of you because we are out here with the Adirondack watching the start of the Volvo race."
Oh Captain, My Captain...mean Captain, more like! Cruelty to the cube-farm inmate, I call it!

Actually I said something to the effect that I hated all of them - but I was laughing when I said it so he knew I didn't mean it. For all my protestations of seething jealousy, it really was nice to at least get a call from somebody who was getting to see it. He said it was a really exciting scene. I just wish I could have been on board!. I got to crew in 2002 when the Around Alone race started in New York Harbor - that was an indescribably incredible day. Bet this was another, even being sort of gray.

Scenic Newark Bay

Paddling along Staten Island's north shore - it's a little hard to tell from the angle but we were actually across the Kill Van Kull & paddling just outside the channel by the time the car carrier came into view. Definitely the preferred arrangement. Those guys are big.

Abandoned warehouses (probably too far gone to be future luxury co-ops, Staten Island

Road Salt Mountain, Staten Island

Dredger in the Kill Van Kull

Staten Island Ferry in floating drydock, Staten Island

Paddling into Newark Bay

Lunchtime scenery

Container Ship in the Kill Van Kull, beneath the Bayonne Bridge

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Sorry, today's post had to go...

I had put up a lunch hour post featuring a few pictures from my Newark Bay picnic paddle on Sunday - something is wrong with Blogger's photo upload feature, though, and 3 of the pictures were too big & fouled up the formatting completely so my blogrolls were all waaaay down underneath all the posts, and the 4 was postage-stamp sized, and it was a sort of half-baked post for the sake of posting anyways.

I've got a lot going on right now - lemmesee...

*work work (just found out one of my co-workers is leaving, I could just cry, it's been so nice being at full staff for a few months - well, at least he waited 'til budget season was over)
*schooner work (I told you the internal debate would end the minute the boat turned up)
*I've been organizing a small Greenland intensive day with Cheri and Turner (it actually appears to be coming together and I'm very pleasantly surprised - I hope I am not speaking too soon though, there is one tiny remaining detail which is um obtaining a day use permit for the beach I'm hoping to use - I'm just paranoid because other than that everything is coming together far too smoothly).
*Waterfrickinfrontfrickin politics...there's some weird stuff going on at Pier 63 involving the infamous north-side launch restrictions - if you're an NYC paddler & unsure, yes, I know Pier 64 is down to a piling field right now & no more inherently dangerous than any other piling field, doesn't matter, the rules have been clearly laid down & they say no launching or landing on the north side of Pier 63. There's been some confusion; I'm lobbying to get the Hudson River Park Trust's dockmaster for our section to come in & actually talk to people at the pier. The secondhand email thing that's been done so far doesn't seem to be working, there've been miscommunications and a lot of the more seasonal folks who are starting to turn up haven't necessarily gotten the word, I'm just hoping that I can get somebody to come in, meet us in person, talk to us, answer questions & hopefully clarify everything so we don't end up losing launch privileges (I don't even know what I would do...) - this is the sort of thing that just makes me very, very tired sometimes but it just has to be dealt with. Makes my head hurt, though.
*Last but not least on the looming-stuff list - but a good one - is the Hudson Valley Kayak Symposium". I'm teaching there for the 2nd year and that is coming up faster than I realized and I have some preparation to do. This also makes me a little sad 'cause last year that ended up being my last teaching gig for the year - I'm so backwards, normal people teach in the summer, take a break in the winter - oh well, so I'm weird.

Long sob story short (oops, too late), I seem to have an awful lot on my plate right now, so things may get a little sparse around here for a while. That's one nice thing about blogging - it's easy to put it on the back burner when everything else in your life seems to be boiling over simultaneously. Yeesh. I do have a lot of nice pictures of Renata's departure, and Newark Bay (yup), and the Volvo Ocean Race finish line scene (thanks to Jarrett at June23rd.com for making me aware that they were actually coming in before work - I didn't get going early enough to see the pack of 4 that came in close together but I saw the 6th-place Brunel finish - gorgeous boats - the sailors aren't too bad either, heh heh, the boats are at North Cove tomorrow & I think they start again on Thursday afternoon, totally worth a visit if you like boats - and if you don't like boats what on earth are you doing here? ;D) and I can't remember what else - maybe I'll just make a photo blog for a while, save myself the writing part.

Oh, and speaking of Newark Bay - the gist of the earlier post with the formatting problems was basically that if anyone ever invites you to go on a picnic paddle in Newark Bay, turn them down unless they are talking about a put-in on the Hackensack River. Nice group to paddle with, beautiful day, and the bay itself was interesting in an desolate, industrial waterfront sort of way. Of you saw my whole "alas poor Pier 64" series you know I actually do find visual interest in that stuff - I really liked some of the photos I got out of this trip, in fact, I just don't plan to repeat it. Problem is, it was just not interesting enough to warrant the 4 crossings of the Kill Van Kull it turns out that you have to do to get there from Manhattan. The Kill Van Kull is a MAJOR, MAJOR shipping channel, out in the middle of it not a comfortable place to be in a kayak, and 4 times in one day is more stress than I needed. I guess I'm glad I did it once & satisfied my curiousity but that is not going on the "trips worth repeating" list!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Hawaiian Encounter

Not much time for blogging this week - it's month-end close & I've still managed to sneak out of the office at 5 twice this week - Tuesday to go for a paddle (first paddle of the season with no drysuit, just my Mountain Surf farmer jane & my NRS hydroskin top - felt SO good not to have latex clutching at my neck! - and man, we had the BEST sunset - uh, probably because of the smoke from the 5-alarm fire in the ancient warehouses on the Brooklyn waterfront, but still quite lovely - I kinda floated home with a happy post-paddle hum), Wednesday to go teach at the 2nd to last class at Sarah Lawrence. Saturday I'll be off to work a couple of sails on the Schooner Adirondack, and Sunday I'm going to pass on the 8 am Breezy Point surf run that the Adventure Squad is going to do, but I might join a couple of friends for a picnic paddle down to Newark Bay (OK, I must admit that Newark Bay doesn't sound like the most promising site for a picnic, but the 11:45 - 6 projected time sounds nice). Yes, spring seems to FINALLY be here. Hurrah. But having all that fun during a close week meant that I had to pay for it with no real lunch breaks on Wednesday or Thursday, and a late night here Thursday. Maybe tonight, too, although I am taking lunch break today. Just had to share a really neat email my dad sent, though! My dad has taken up hiking in his re-retirement (he retired from the Navy & went on to teach math to 7th graders in the Hawaii public school system for another 10 years or something like that - how cool is that? - so now he's re-retired, but clearly not tired) - not that we didn't hike when I was a kid, but he's joined a pretty advanced group that seems to have a great time. Anyhow, they had a sort of special wildlife encounter last week - here's the picture & then I'm just going to paste in the exchange we had about it.

They found this:

up here:

Dad: So do you recognize where I might be from the attachments, and what the close-up shows? That's the first one I've seen alive, and it was the highlight of the hike yesterday. Fortunately we were with people with sharp eyes and who knew how to look for these critters.

Me: Wow, I was thinking that it was going to be a picture of a Hawaiian monk seal but that must be one of those very rare Hawaiian tree snails, right? OK, I cheated a little bit & did a quick Google search, but just looking at the picture brought up the name "hawaiian tree snail" & the idea that these were one of those endemic animals that took a beating from some other animal being brought in. I also see the Hawaiian name "pupu" on the Bishop Museum page about it & that reminds me of singing a song way way waaaaay back in elementary school, "Pupu hinu hinu", I bet this was the shell that song was about...very neat! And I can see why you'd need the sharp-eyed folks to know what to look for! BTW I got two of the same picture so I don't know where you were, except that there were leaves there & they look pretty green & damp so it must be on the windward side (hm, although after your solid month of rain I bet even the driest bits of the leeward side are unusually lush).

Dad: The tree snail part is right on, and rats, and later cannibal snails, brought in to get rid of African snails, brought in to raise for escargot were, I believe, the two main culprits on whittling seriously into the population of tree snails.

Dad (a little later): And with a little more research, "Hinuhinu- Intensification of hinu; bright, glossy, shining, lustrous, glittering, as of polished stones or shells; splendid; splendor." I get the sense that pupu also refers to other shells, but I think it very likely the song had these colorful snails in mind. Within our lifetimes people collected them and made necklaces, etc. because they are so pretty.

Me: I wonder if whatever teacher taught us that told us about that, that was sort of what I was thinking. That was in elementary school sometime, before California - it may have been something my class learned for a Lei Day performance at Pearlridge. I know I took hula lessons from somebody else, too, but I think this one was for school. So was this on that hike that you like in the Kolekole Pass? Looks like it was a beautiful day!
I don't know, I just thought that was sort of neat. It's also a classic example of the problems that endemic species in Hawaii ran into as introduced species started competing (or consuming). The big escargot snails that the cannibal snails were brought in to control are doing just fine, btw, I remember plenty just in our backyard. Mongooses were sort of like that too - some genius decided to bring in mongooses to control rats in the cane fields, only the rats are nocturnal & the mongooses are diurnal so instead of eating rats, the mongooses started in on the native birds - who were also a favorite food source for the rats. You can read more about this here - there are tons of online resources but this is a good quick writeup.

That also reminds me that I never did finish my Hanauma Bay series I'd started on last August...maybe I'll finish that off one of these days.

Back to work now, though.

quick note a little bit later - I'd asked my dad if the "A" on the snail's shell was a tag - he said he & his hiking group agreed that yes, it was an "A", but no one knew the purpose. He's sent out a couple of emails about it, if he gets back anything interesting I'll post it here. I'm imagining this might be part of a University of Hawaii study or something.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Amazing Bronx River Flotilla gallery - plus The Wonder of the Internet.

I've spent my lunch hours the last couple of days working on a new gallery for the 7th Annual (and largest ever!) Amazing Bronx River Flotilla. I was duly amazed. The gallery is a work in progress (I'm trying to actually give the virtual-tour effect on this one, the pictures & captions are meant to be consecutive although you can always just pick the ones that look interesting from the thumbnail page) but I've made enough progress now I figured I'd mention it here! Check it out here!

I was aware that you could buy all kinds of crazy stuff on this-here internet...but this cracked me up.

Courtesy of BillyBlog.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Hidden Harbor Tours on May 20th. Plus - WTF?

1) Of possible actual interest - here's a chance for folks to get out & see some corners of the harbor that you won't see on the usual harbor tours without having to paddle there themselves!

Explore New York Harbor by Boat!

Fifth Annual Working Harbor Day
Saturday - 20 May 2006
Sponsored by the Working Harbor Committee

For online reservations and other info: www.WorkingHarbor.Org

(or call 212 757 1600)

All trips are 90 minutes
All trips are $10 adults, $6 kids (12 and under)

All trips leave from Pier 63 Maritime, End of West 23rd Street, behind Basketball City, north of Chelsea Piers

For directions www.Pier63Maritime.com

All Day
Hidden Harbor Tours®

Free entertainment
Free exhibits & open house on historic vessels

Food & Beverages available

Departure Tour

10:30 AM Brooklyn Waterfront
11:00 AM Staten Island / New Jersey
11:30 AM North River & New Jersey
12:30 PM North River & New Jersey
1:00 PM Staten Island / New Jersey
1:30 PM Brooklyn Waterfront
2:30 PM Brooklyn Waterfront
3:00 PM Staten Island / New Jersey
3:30 PM North River & New Jersey

Tour Descriptions

Tour 1 - Staten Island / New Jersey South fast to the Kill Van Kull, (passing Governors Island and the Statue of Liberty), tugboat yards and oil docks, on past Howland Hook to Port Elizabeth & Port Newark, then back to Pier 63 Maritime.

Tour 2 – Brooklyn Waterfront South, around the tip of Manhattan, by the South Street Seaport, up to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, then south to Atlantic Basin, then further south to Erie Basin, then around Governors Island and back to Pier 63 Maritime

Tour 3 - North River & New Jersey South along Hudson River Park to Battery Park City, by Caven Point (& the rail yards), by Global Marine Terminal and Military Ocean Terminal, up the New Jersey side as far as the NY Waterway yard, then cross over to the Passenger Ship Terminals, and back to Pier 63 Maritime.

Please pass this on to your friends, neighbors, co-workers, relatives and anyone else you can think of.

It’s a great bargain for an enjoyable day on the water, visiting places that the normal sightseeing boats don’t see – the “hidden harbor” of NY/NJ.


Capt. John Doswell
Executive Director
Working Harbor Committee
455 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036

212 757 1600
fax 212 265 4833
cell 917 578 4292
email John@HiddenHarborTours.Com

Mr. SeaLevel got the same notice & HIS post on it has the additional bonus of featuring a link to his very enjoyable experience last year - with pictures!

Me...well, y'know how I said my internal debate about working on the schooner was likely to last until precisely the moment I saw the masts? Well, the sound of the Adirondack's horn was actually the first clue I had that the boat was here on Saturday, but I took Richard from the Rosemary Ruth out for a great sunset sail yesterday (he was feeling a little at loose ends with the RR in Tottenville and at a stage of sandblasting where his tools are all sealed up behind plastic - I'd originally planned to avoid the shuttle bus misery but it was so pretty out, and I was psyched to have a chance to get him out on my boat when he's been the one who kept me sailing over the winter), and it was so nice to see everybody, and...well...as I mentioned yesterday, I'll be working next week & it'll probably be all downhill (if not all downwind) from there...btw let me reiterate - the schooner does reasonably priced 2-hour sails that are open to the public, if you'd like to come out, check out www.sail-nyc.com!

2) I've been seeing some stuff in my sitemeter that has me absolutely baffled. If any of my more technologically savvy friends can tell me why I should give a flying f*** about this, I'd appreciate it. In the meantime - sorry, but does this blog LOOK like the HaloScan help desk?

The really funny thing - and also the thing that's making me a trifle cranky about the whole thing - is that this being the second time this Styrheim blogger has been complaining about something over which I have absolutely NO control, I attempted to be polite & leave the following comment indicating that yes, I have seen this but am not really interested in trying to tell HaloScan how to do their coding:

"I saw that trackback - I was apparently supposed to go complain about it to somebody or something. Thing is - it's free and it's easy to use, no particular coding knowledge required, and that's plenty good enough for me. If this is a big problem, there are enough bloggers out there that actually DO know coding that I'm sure that HaloScan has probably heard about it, OK?"

I typed that up, and hit "Post Kommentar", only to get the following message:

System Downtime
The system are down for maintenance work. We're sorry for the downtime, but will be back up as soon as possible

This is sort of like this automated message I keep getting on my voicemail at home: "Hello. This is an important message for Gloria De Somebody or other. Please call us back at such-and-such". Now I have tried calling them back more than once to tell them that this person is not at the number at which they have been trying to reach her for months, nor has she been since at least late 2004 - but I get directed to a queue, then after a couple of minutes on hold I get the automated voice saying that the office hours are Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm, and that I should call them back during those hours. Well, folks, if it was that important you'd have somebody there to take the call when I think of it, which is generally going to be when I check my messages, which is generally after work or in the evening.

Seriously, though, I can geek out entirely as well as the next person about boat things. Physics of sails? Yeah! The relationship of laminar flow & turbulence to weathercocking? Nigel Foster explaining that was just one of the cool things in the Fun with Foster session I took at the Sweetwater BCU/Greenland week.

Geeking out over html kinda leaves me code!

(get it? code? it's a pun?...oh, gee, look at the time...gotta run...)