Thursday, September 28, 2006

J-24s at Ellis Island - plus meeting outcome synopsis



One of the cool things about weeknight early evening sails on the schooner Adirondack is that there are frequent J-24 races held down by Ellis Island. Sailboat races are lovely to watch anyways, like a flock of big white birds wheeling about, and when they get to the downwind leg the spinnakers and it's just breathtaking. Especially when that happens around sunset & those big bright sails catch that gold light & glow like giant lanterns. I don't usually bring my camera when I work on the schooner, but everytime I see that I think "Oh, I need to go out for a ride one of these nights & try to catch that".

Well, we had a glorious evening on Tuesday & I took my folks out for a schooner ride, and sure enough the J-24s were down there - only Capt. Sarah was "driving". She and I started the same year & she's just awesome. I have hardly seen her this year because she's been really handling the business side of things this year, so I was catching up with her - specifically, I was getting the Little Dipper version of the Mayor's Cup race. The Little Dipper, which belongs to a guy who works on the Adirondack from time to time, is not big, but was apparently giving the Adirondack an embarrassingly strong run for her money for the first leg of the race this year. The Adirondack version of the race was "They were staying with us and yelling for us to throw them some beer because S. forgot to bring any, so we threw them some beer, and they went away". Sarah was on the Little Dipper as crew & she had a slightly different version - they were doing well because they were being canny about the current & while the Adirondack was trying to bull her way down the middle of the harbor - once they tacked onto the second leg, that stopped being such a factor & the Adirondack was then able to pull away. Anyways, with all the catching up (and entertaining catching up it was, too), I missed it when the racing fleet hit the downwind leg - turned & saw it just as they were going into the shadow of Ellis Island. I took some pictures but I'd missed the moment.

Fortunately my folks had gone up forward to do a little proper sightseeing & my dad did NOT miss the moment!

That's all I have time for now - have to be on a 6 pm train to PA to meet the family down there - my sister was down there & my folks went yesterday so I go join the whole gang tonight. Bad bad timing for a vacation day but probably my only chance to catch up with my sister this year.

Mostly I wanted to post to say that the infamous meeting last night went pretty well - the situation is the same, that was by no means the finish of this business - this stuff is all very Looking-Glass-Land-ish, hope to give a full writeup one of these days but the Trust says it's the DEC permit that doesn't allow human-powered boating, the DEC says they just wrote the permit to comply with the Estuary Management Plan that the Trust wrote...round and round and round she goes...anyways, what the Rustbucket management & paddling gang was hoping to get last night was a letter from the CB4 waterfront committee saying that they supported revising whatever needs to be revised to let us all keep paddling out of the barge the way we always have, and although a lot of them were really confused by the whole situation at first (can't blame it for that, I can only keep it halfway straight & I've been following the whole saga since we built the first kayak storage racks for the MKC fleet in the early early spring of 1999 - they were really confused because it's really confusing, that much is simple!) but in the end they're going to put something together.

YAY!

There's a full CB4 meeting next Wednesday at 6:30 where last night's committee will be presenting their letter - I'll be in close week but darn it I am going to try to go again...I did actually say something last night, but in general I feel like just being AT these meetings says "I care!".

A letter from the community board isn't going to be the solution in and of itself - but having the official support of the community can make a difference.

Fingers crossed.

Knocking wood.

Back to work with me, now.

J-24s at Ellis Island - plus meeting outcome synopsis



One of the cool things about weeknight early evening sails on the schooner Adirondack is that there are frequent J-24 races held down by Ellis Island. Sailboat races are lovely to watch anyways, like a flock of big white birds wheeling about, and when they get to the downwind leg the spinnakers and it's just breathtaking. Especially when that happens around sunset & those big bright sails catch that gold light & glow like giant lanterns. I don't usually bring my camera when I work on the schooner, but everytime I see that I think "Oh, I need to go out for a ride one of these nights & try to catch that".

Well, we had a glorious evening on Tuesday & I took my folks out for a schooner ride, and sure enough the J-24s were down there - only Capt. Sarah was "driving". She and I started the same year & she's just awesome. I have hardly seen her this year because she's been really handling the business side of things this year, so I was catching up with her - specifically, I was getting the Little Dipper version of the Mayor's Cup race. The Little Dipper, which belongs to a guy who works on the Adirondack from time to time, is not big, but was apparently giving the Adirondack an embarrassingly strong run for her money for the first leg of the race this year. The Adirondack version of the race was "They were staying with us and yelling for us to throw them some beer because S. forgot to bring any, so we threw them some beer, and they went away". Sarah was on the Little Dipper as crew & she had a slightly different version - they were doing well because they were being canny about the current & while the Adirondack was trying to bull her way down the middle of the harbor - once they tacked onto the second leg, that stopped being such a factor & the Adirondack was then able to pull away. Anyways, with all the catching up (and entertaining catching up it was, too), I missed it when the racing fleet hit the downwind leg - turned & saw it just as they were going into the shadow of Ellis Island. I took some pictures but I'd missed the moment.

Fortunately my folks had gone up forward to do a little proper sightseeing & my dad did NOT miss the moment!

That's all I have time for now - have to be on a 6 pm train to PA to meet the family down there - my sister was down there & my folks went yesterday so I go join the whole gang tonight. Bad bad timing for a vacation day but probably my only chance to catch up with my sister this year.

Mostly I wanted to post to say that the infamous meeting last night went pretty well - the situation is the same, that was by no means the finish of this business - this stuff is all very Looking-Glass-Land-ish, hope to give a full writeup one of these days but the Trust says it's the DEC permit that doesn't allow human-powered boating, the DEC says they just wrote the permit to comply with the Estuary Management Plan that the Trust wrote...round and round and round she goes...anyways, what the Rustbucket management & paddling gang was hoping to get last night was a letter from the CB4 waterfront committee saying that they supported revising whatever needs to be revised to let us all keep paddling out of the barge the way we always have, and although a lot of them were really confused by the whole situation at first (can't blame it for that, I can only keep it halfway straight & I've been following the whole saga since we built the first kayak storage racks for the MKC fleet in the early early spring of 1999 - they were really confused because it's really confusing, that much is simple!) but in the end they're going to put something together.

YAY!

There's a full CB4 meeting next Wednesday at 6:30 where last night's committee will be presenting their letter - I'll be in close week but darn it I am going to try to go again...I did actually say something last night, but in general I feel like just being AT these meetings says "I care!".

A letter from the community board isn't going to be the solution in and of itself - but having the official support of the community can make a difference.

Fingers crossed.

Knocking wood.

Back to work with me, now.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Look, up in the sky!

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's...

The schooner Adirondack on a billboard at 34th & 10th!

Capt. Peter spotted this on his way to sail on Sunday & grabbed a picture. We all found this quite entertaining!

That's all I have time for today - tonight's the big CB4 meeting & I have scads of work I'd like to have done before I go (work work, the kind I get paid for, not bargeiopolitical). At the risk of looking like a total geek, I'm carrying my Greenland storm paddle - that's short enough to work on the subway at rush hour, and the HRWA rep suggested paddlers carry something that identifies 'em as paddlers, so I figured what the hey...

and what the hey, here's Nancy's last reminder - she took the time to write it, so I will post it in it's entirety & then heigh ho, heigh ho, it's back to work I go:

*************
Important Community Board 4 Waterfront and Parks Committee
Meeting
THIS Wednesday, September 27, 2006 @ 6:00 p.m.
Holland House, 351 W. 42nd St. (b. 8th / 9th), Basement

(Please try to arrive for the start of the meeting as this issue will be first on the agenda)

Issues of free public water access for human powered boating in Hudson River Park will be discussed, specifically as they relate to the recent closure and imminent relocation of Pier 63 Maritime (aka the barge, the frying pan, pier 63).

The current plan for the for the barge will see the vessel, its cafe, and historic ships moved 2 blocks north to pier 66a, but WITHOUT A PUBLIC LAUNCH FOR HUMAN POWERED BOATS OR KAYAK / CANOE STORAGE.

Please come show your support for the NYC area's human-powered boating community's continued presence in Hudson River Park, and free public access to our local waterways.

The greater our attendance, the louder our voice.

Please make sure to sign in at the meeting as a concerned paddler, and any visible props, like paddles, pfd's you may choose to bring will help garner needed visibity.

Please feel free to forward this announcement to any and all parties interested in the issues of water access for human-powered boaters in this and other regions.

***************

WISH US LUCK!!!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

New York Botanical Garden - Chihuly (and a bee!)





The bee on an aster is for Claire!

The strange glass art is by Dale Chihuly -

Both photographed on Saturday at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.

My folks are visiting, so not much blogging time. Barge stuff grinds on apace - meeting on Wednesday will be interesting. Work stuff grinds on apace - most insane aspect of job I am inheriting for the indefinite future has at least turned out to be something my superiors agree is sort of insane & they are looking into ways that that can be improved. I still feel like doing a post entitled "The Jenga school of management" but I'm not going to start calling agencies.

This weekend, though, was pretty good - my dad went up to a tower-bell ringing thing a ways out of NYC yesterday, leaving me & my mom to have a girl's day out. Well, despite the fact that I live in such a darned exciting place to visit, I was absolutely drawing a blank on what the girls should do with ourselves - seeing as neither my mom nor I are big oooh-let's-go-get-manicures types or anything. I think I was surfing the net around 1:15 looking for interesting exhibits - then I suddenly got a great idea - "Hey, there's this Chihuly thingy at the New York Botanical Garden. She'd probably like that...hmmm...train schedules...oooh, there a 2:23, if we left RIGHT NOW and everything went PERFECTLY that would work".

Well, we made it & it was pretty cool. That's good 'cause we really had to scramble to make it & my poor mom lives in Hawaii (all together now - "awww, poor Bonnie's Mom!"), so to keep up with her NYC-based daughter travelling at top NYC-resident-tries-to-catch-train mode was a bit of a challenge to one who's accustomed to a laid-back Island lifestyle. She was a good sport, though, kept up with me fine as I flew to the departures board, the ticket machine and then the track, & we did pull it off - but I would've been very bummed out if I'd put her through that for something sort of so-so after putting her through all that!

The exhibit had gotten a sort of lukewarm review from the Times, as I recall - but I think they went earlier in the summer, when the garden was much more effusively floral than it is here at summer's end, and it wasn't so much that they didn't like the glass, as they felt like Ma Nature (and the botanists of the NY Botanical Gardens) was just providing a more interesting show.

With that in mind, I think fall may be the perfect time to go see this. My mom & I enjoyed it & I took plenty of pictures - I have a pretty good selection of the various glass art thingummys posted over in a Buzznet gallery.

Worked on the schooner today. May've looked sort of gray & gloomy but I tell you it was perfect. Harber full of speeding wind riffles & frolicking whitecaps, dramatic skies, great passengers (honestly that's generally the thing that tips a day from "pretty darned good" to "perfect") Got to talking to one passenger about children's publishing & quickly found out out that her mom wrote one of my favorite children's picturebooks, The Mud Pony - that was fun. Oh, yes, and we did some really good sailing. Nope, no complaints about this one, kayak-lesss though it was. Least I got out there on the Hudson - and it was lovely.

Hope to post a couple more photos before too long, but the captain & the other crew member have to remember to send 'em first - just a couple quirky-but-fun things they caught on camera, which sort of fit well into the good tone the day had.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Red Hook - Ole Kayak Valet - 9/23/06



Valentino St. Pier in Red Hook, from my June Red Hook Rambles gallery.

That was a really nice day. Too windy to be on the water, but the perfect spring/early Summer day for wandering about in a really interesting old Brooklyn waterfront neighborhood.

If my folks weren't visiting this weekend, I might very well have ended up volunteering for an interesting event run by an interesting organization on the 23rd. It sounds like great fun for both seasoned kayakers and the merely kayak-curious alike - it's the first ever Ole Kayak Valet. Yep, if you're a fairly good kayaker with your own kayak & access to a launch site in the NYC area, check out the provided tide charts & rules of the road (I liked that touch, that's a pretty busy area & us tiny-boat types need to be aware of those rules if we're going to share the river with the big guys without coming to grief) & if the currents work out well, you can paddle to the Valentino Pier & drop off your kayak with some responsible folks who'll keep an eye on it while you go do a little exploring, armed with a claim check that will get you a discount on Steve's Key Lime Pie...and some other things too but I loooove key lime pie...

mmm...

key lime pie...yummy...

*snaps out of creamy lime reverie* Oops. Sorry. Anyhow, that's for the kayakers - btw they'd appreciate an RSVP at mail@portsideny.org

For the kayak-curious, the Red Hook Boaters will be offering free paddling, and there will be information there.

Red Hook is a really interesting place to go poke around anyways - this just sounds like a fun addition to a day.

PortSideNY itself is an organization that's working to create a viable interface between the working maritime operations already located there & the "landside" residents. Red Hook, after years of being cut off from the rest of Brooklyn by the Bronx-Queens Expressway, is suddenly becoming the next hot neighborhood - with a Fairway already there, an Ikea in the works & some doubtless magnificent condos being built in some old warehouses there, all served by New York Water Taxi, the gentrification process is well underway. There was a really interesting New York Times article earlier this year talking about the concerns of the folks who earn their livelihoods working on the Red Hook waterfront, notably the Erie Basin - they are quite concerned that the new neighbors might find that the charm of tugboat whistles might wear thin quickly. Sort of like city folks buying themselves a piece of land in the country, then discovering that when the wind blows from a certain quarter, having a chicken farm as your nearest neighbor suddenly becomes less quaint, I guess. And I don't think the condos or co-ops in question are low-income housing either...the new residents are going to have some bucks to throw at anything they find disturbs their harborside idyll.

Anyhow, this sounds like an effort to try to build some bridges that will hopefully help preserve the working maritime character of the neighborhood.

I'm all for that.

BTW the woman who first sent out the Kayak Valet notification turns out to be a noted professional writer & photographer who's spent a lot of time in and around New York Harbor. Did you like my Tugboat Challenge pictures? Well, you will love taking a look around HER website! I first got the info through my schooner circles & knowing absolutely nothing, went charging in offering all my favorite kayaking outfits that might be able to help her. I'd also forgotten that my friend Tim has also been quite involved in bringing kayaking to Red Hook. Boy did I feel silly when I figured all that out. Oh well. She was quite nice about it & so was Tim.

Anyways, still sort of wish I could volunteer. Maybe next year. And hey, maybe I'll drag my folks there on Saturday - you don't have to be a paddler to enjoy the view from the Valentino Street Pier!

Well, must get some sleep now. My folks get in tomorrow, and I'm also having a rough spot at work - we've been down one staff member since April, and now we have another one leaving at the end of this week, and it seems like my already small & hard-working division is being downsized by attrition.

We were down by 2 before, and we did manage to carry everything - but I was quite frayed at some points, and that was all working under the assumption that the vacancies would eventually be filled (although it took months) -

I don't seem to be bearing up quite as well under the idea that here's a bunch of extra work for keeps.

In fact I feel a bit like I've run into a brick wall, a very solid & immovable one.

dang I want to go paddling. No time. Access tricky.

This SUCKS.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Pier 63 past & present plus CB4 info again!


Pier 63 Maritime, aka the Lackawanna Railroad Barge, aka "The Rustbucket", the Thursday of my last paddle. I wandered around and took pictures until it was too dark, then set out on a beautiful last paddle. The Empire State building was an orange-y peach - the full moon rose golden orange - I set out planning the shortest of paddles, as I was still recovering from my cold, but once I got out & started working my way south against the strong flood that the full moon brings, I found some energy - stayed out for almost 2 hours - savoring every last moment.


Pier 63 today - closed & empty. I worked on the schooner until 6 today, decided to swing past the barge to see what was actually going on there. The bubble top of the BasketBall City building was gone, so from the minute I got to the pier I could see the Trust has finally, really & truly managed to get their interim-yeah-right tenants out (although there still appears to be some mounted police activity in the downstairs section) - but I was curious, wanted to see. A Parks Enforcement Police officer stood outside turning people away as they tried stepping over the concrete barriers or throught the metal barricades that block off access to the parking lot. She had her hands full & hadn't been given any but the most rudimentary information - certainly nothing about the CB4 committee meeting.

I stopped & talked to her & told a few of the more dissappointed would-be bargegoers about the meeting. She turned away maybe a dozen people during the ten or fifteen minutes I was there; she said that there'd been a steady stream all day & that some people almost looked like they were going to cry. One lady even asked if she could just go aboard for a moment to say goodbye. The answer, of course, had to be no, just like it was for everyone else - but the PEP officer clearly wasn't enjoying her breaker-of-bad-news role at all.

And it was sad to see the barge sitting all empty & still on this glorious last Sunday of the summer of 2006. Clear sky, temperatures in the mid to upper 80's - a little more wind would've made us all a little more happy on the schooner, but after a week of rain, rain, rain, this was a lovely weekend. People just wanted to go out there, hang out, have a beer, watch the sunset. No dice.

Anyways. Where I'm going with this is -

I thought I'd put up a truncated version of the CB4 Committee Meeting notification I posted about the other day, just in case anyone stumbles across while looking for information on Pier 63 closure, Community Board 4 meeting re Pier 63, CB4 meeting for Pier 63, any of that stuff - if you're looking for that info, here it is.
Anyways, so here's the details again, then I must get some sleep.

verbatim, from earlier post:
"Important Community Board 4 Waterfront and Parks Committee meeting 9/27, 6pm

Pier 63 Maritime (aka pier 63, the barge, or the Frying Pan)has been closed in anticipation of construction of the Chelsea segment of Hudson River Park. The current plan is for the barge to relocate to the float bridge at pier 66a by the start next year's boating season..."

Please mark your calendars and come to the:

Community Board 4 Waterfront and Parks Committee Meeting
Wednesday, September 27, 2006 @ 6:00 p.m.
Holland House, 351 W. 42nd St. (b. 8th / 9th), Basement

Obviously my particular interest in the barge lies in the existence or lack thereof of affordable storage, with water access, for privately owned kayaks - but there's a whole lot more people out there who've enjoyed John Krevey's rusty, but welcoming little slice of the waterfront. Don't want them to feel like they can't come - I think anyone who's interested in hearing more about what's slated to happen with the barge would be welcome. The topic will be all of the changes that the DEC permit will require be made before the barge reopens, if left as is - I've mostly focused on the no-more-paddling aspect, for obvious reasons, but I think there's a good bit more, too. Don't have all the details on the other stuff but it sounds like the DEC permit is for a barge that's very stripped down from the freewheeling melange it's been up until now.

Friday, September 15, 2006

April 30th, 2006: Renata Leaves Pier 63







there she goes -- Renata Chlumska, southbound on North River, bound for the Narrows, then north, then west...

September 15th, 2006: In just a couple of hours, Renata will be landing at Seattle's Moss Bay Rowing Club on the southeast shore of Lake Union, where, on July 4th, 2005, she took the first paddle strokes of her circumnavigation of the lower 48 states. All on one-Renata power. Go, Renata, go go gooooo!

Amazing.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Photos from downtown

Sunset, 9/11/06


Walking towards the Winter Garden.


Tribute in Light from a distance.


Tribute in Light - standing just below. It's fascinating - creatures from gnats to seagulls pass through the lights, and they glow. I went one year when it was drizzling & from a certain angle, there was a rainbow in it.


Here's the Deutschebank building.


I had to work quite late on Monday (the sunset is from the roof of my office). I did still took my usual walk downtown - that's become something of a ritual. I didn't even go up to the perimeter this year - too many people, didn't feel like being in with the crowd. Took a few pictures but mostly walked & thought.

sorry if it seems like I'm dwelling. Seems like I just have to give it a certain piece of time each year, then it's past. This year that time has been hard to shake loose.

I said I was going to write some more - I did intend to, had a lot of thoughts, but haven't had time - pier politics and work left very little free time this week.

boy, do I want to go paddling...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Community Board 4 Meeting About Pier 63

This was posted on the NYCKayaker list today by the metropolitan chair of the Hudson River Watertrail Association, who's on the board of the Advisory Council to the Hudson River Park Trust & has been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes liaison work between the various paddling groups on the barge. Sorry, not of great interest to non-Tri-State area folks...you folks, go out, look at your kayaks sitting in their racks in your garages, or your basements, or wherever they are. Gaze upon them, and savor what you have. Now put 'em on your car & go for a paddle for me, OK?

Without further ado, heeeeere's Nancy!:


Important Community Board 4 Waterfront and Parks Committee meeting 9/27, 6pm

As many of you know, Pier 63 Maritime (aka pier 63, the barge, or the Frying Pan)has been closed in anticipation of construction of the Chelsea segment of Hudson River Park. The current plan is for the barge to relocate to the float bridge at pier 66a by the start next year's boating season. Unfortunately the future of human-powered boating at the new location is uncertain.

Pier 63 and Pier 40 were the only two year-round accessible commercial kayak storage locations on the West Side. The future of Pier 63 Maritime as a human-powered boating facility is unclear, and the future of Pier 40 is subject to decisions to be made by the developers of Pier 40 who will be selected through an RFP issued by the Park Trust last week. An RFP for an operator for the newly constructed boathouse at pier 66 will be issued soon, so that location's particulars are up in the air as well.

Kayaking is growing in popularity and it is likely that the number of independent kayakers on the Hudson will continue to increase. We need to show that NYC-based kayakers are an important part of the waterfront community and make sure that there is provision for both not-for-profit and commercial storage well into the future.

If you paddle the Hudson River or plan to in the future, THIS CONCERNS YOU and we need all the support we can get!

Please mark your calendars and come to the:

Community Board 4 Waterfront and Parks Committee Meeting
Wednesday, September 27, 2006 @ 6:00 p.m.
Holland House, 351 W. 42nd St. (b. 8th / 9th), Basement

Human-powered boating and water access in Hudson River Park will be discussed, particularly as they relate to the closure, relocating, and reopening of Pier 63 Maritime. Other related issues that may be raised include specifics of the barge structure itself and the amount of insurance required from its tenants and sub-tenants which would include anyone storing a kayak at, or launching/landing from the barge.

From the CB4 website: "The Waterfront & Parks Committee is actively involved in the planning and operation of the Hudson River Park and other developments along the waterfront. It works with environmental groups and government agencies on various matters involving the waterfront and inland open space. The Committee advocates for the creation of new parkland and increased funding for recreation centers and parks."

If you know anyone on the Waterfront and Parks Committee at CB4 please contact them priot to the meeting and express your support for continued public access for human-powered boating at the barge's new location.

That committee is:
Kristin Dionne, Co-Chair
John Doswell, Co- Chair

Chris Allieri
Gwen Billig, public member
Margo Cates
Doris Corrigan, public member
Frank Eadie
Adam Honigman
Kevin Kossi
Edward Kirkland
Anna Hayes Levin
Velma Murphy-Hill
Jean Preece, public member
Ann Sewell
David Tillyer, public member
Robert Trentlyon

Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11, 2001 - that evening

I'd written this to send to all my friends and family the evening of September 11th. I'd sent my father the briefest of emails, just basically "Please tell everyone I am fine", in the morning; in the evening, I went to a friend's home on the Upper West Side & took the time to write this account. I thought I would post it here today.

Hi all. Glad to still be here & writing. As all of you probably know, I was laid off from my job at Fiduciary, where my office was on the 97th floor of WTC 2 (the second to get hit and the first to collapse) in July. However, I was signed up for a 2-day, Fiduciary-sponsored employment outplacement workshop on the 11th and 12th, from 9 am to 5 pm, on the 93rd floor of WTC. So I was actually there yesterday.

First - a bit of layout. The World Trade Center complex actually covered a space of several blocks under the Towers themselves. The north tower was called WTC 1; the south (where I used to work) WTC 2. There was a public plaza between them with benches, a big fountain, restaurants, and stages for performances in the summertime. Under the plaza there was a large shopping mall. The Chambers Street subway station extends several blocks north from there. There was an entrance to the mall at the south end of the station which you got to by walking through a passageway that ran the length of the station (which was twice as long as a subway train as the A&C platform was north of the platform for the E, which terminated there). Along this passageway were staircase exits that led up to the street, one exit every couple of blocks. There were street level entrances to the mall.

I overslept my alarm a bit, having been up late the night before updating my resume. I'd left myself some extra time - the security checkin was going require standing in line to get a temporary ID. The subway connections went well, though, and I got there about 8:40 am. I decided to go upstairs and walk outside since it was a beautiful, warm day, I was several blocks away from the Center, and the subway station was hot.

I had just put my hand on one of the northern street doors to the mall when I heard a terribly loud zooming noise, punctuated by a tremendous bang, just over my head - like standing right next to one of the Macy's 4th-of-July fireworks. I was wearing a cap as it was sunny, so I had no upper peripheral vision - but what I could see was that everyone in the street looked up, screamed, and started to run towards the doors I was by. I jumped to the conclusion that a small plane had just crashed into one of the buildings and that debris was falling towards the street, and I didn't take the time to look up to verify that, just bolted into the mall as fast as I could go, past a newsstand, down a set of stairs, and then around the corner to be out of the path of any wreckage that might make it through the doors. At that point I became more concerned about being caught up in a panicked stampede (well, i already was) so I ducked into a restaurant where I joined all the patrons as far from the entrance as we could get. I told everyone that I thought a small plane had crashed. They gave me some water, and when the panic outside died down I went out again.

By this time, the police were evacuating the mall. The doors I'd come into weren't
an option, and the exit leading to the subway station was just a little ways away, so I went that way, stopping to tell arriving commuters not to go into the mall because there had been a plane crash & the mall was being evacuating & that they should go the other way.

I decided to walk north in the underground passageway until I was well clear of the crash zone, then go upstairs to reconnoiter. This being New York, a small plane crashing low on WTC 1 would not necessarily preclude attending a workshop on the 93rd floor of WTC 2 - there would probably be a delay while emergency personnel did their jobs, but life would go on.

Then came the second blast. It wasn't loud, but it sounded big. People began to stampede again. I ran with them until I could get into an exit turnstile (one-way revolving gates the height of a person) out of traffic to take a minute to figure out where exactly I wanted to run. I had heard someone say "the plane that crashed just blew up" and that was one possible explanation but the blast just sounded too big for that and there was also the possibility that we were being bombed & that there might be more - so I was trying to decide whether upstairs or downstairs was the better option, when I saw an even BETTER option in the form of a train pulling in downstairs. I didn't care which way it was going, just that it was going somewhere else - which was EXACTLY where I wanted to be as soon as possible, wherever it was - a lot faster than I could possibly go on foot. I ran for the nearby entry turnstile as fast as I could, pulled out (HONEST!) my Metrocard, paid my fare, dashed down the stairs & got into the train. I think I said something to a couple of people who were getting off and I know that I turned around to see a woman standing on the platform looking confused and said "Just get on the train!", which she did. Everybody was staring at me.

I rode to 23rd street and went to the diner where I sometimes eat breakfast before tours - they always have a TV on and I figured I'd ask them to change to the New York One all-local-news station if something wasn't already on.

Obviously it was and that was when I first understood what had actually happened.

I had a big glass of orange juice then decided to head on over to the pier.

Once I got there there was plenty to do - at first I just opened the MKC office to people who were passing by looking for working phones or water or whatever, then in the early afternoon we (all the barge regulars) started helping to run a free ferry service to New Jersey which got a lot of people to New Jersey using three party boats that volunteered, the Horizon (capacity 600), the Royal Princess(225) and the Amberjack (200). The Royal Princess is berthed at North Cove downtown and was covered with debris so she looked rather ghostly but everyone was happy to see her. I helped out with crowd control until about 6 - by then the edge people had had earlier had turned into tiredness, so with the possibility of stampedes looking pretty low (it takes energy to stampede & that was just plain gone) so I headed uptown to a friend's apartment.

That was pretty much it.

The good part of the story is that out of my 600 former coworkers at Fiduciary, only 130* are unnaccounted for. I'd spent yesterday assuming they were just all dead (the work was good in part because it kept my mind off things) but they started to leave after the first crash so most of them got out. Also I had a wonderful message from one of my early "refugees" at MKC who'd spent an hour trying unsuccesfully to reach her husband, who worked in WTC1, that she was OK & her kids were OK and best of all, her husband was fine.

Anyways - glad to be here & writing this. Love all of you!


Bonnie


*Very strange, in hindsight, that this was good - but the plane had hit far below the offices and I actually spent the morning thinking that most of the 600+ people I'd worked with there had to be gone. As it turned out, there had been announcements made in the building that people should remain in place, and if they'd listened, many more would have died - however, as many of my former co-workers had been there for the first WTC bombing, they chose to evacuate. In the end, less than one hundred did not make it out. That sounds terrible - and it is - but you have to remember that there were over five hundred sighs of relief.

Sometime in August, 2001


Taken by an MKC client who hired me to take him to the Statue of Liberty in late August of 2001. I'd been laid off from my job at a private bank in June - my office had been on the 96th floor of WTC2.

The economy was good, and I was confident of getting a new job fairly easily. I had a severance package that included continuing to be paid & have health insurance through mid-September. I was a partner at Manhattan Kayak Company. With a guaranteed paycheck through the summer, I decided to spend the next couple of months being a kayak bum. On a technology officer's pay, that was a sweet, sweet summer.

This guy was from Israel. He'd done some paddling with Terra Santa. He came out for a sunset tour which I'd guided, and had so much fun he asked to do a 3-hour tour the next day. He suggested a time. I pulled out Eldridge & saw that if we left half an hour later, we could do a Statue of Liberty trip. He was good, totally capable of doing a river crossing & handling some chop, so I suggested that. Deal.

I timed it perfectly, and he was fast, and we actually had time, in the 3 hours I'd allocated, to stop & do some shopping at New York Kayak on the way back up (he'd heard of it & wanted to go buy some gear, asked me where it was - I pointed to Pier 40, said "Right over there. We're running way ahead of schedule. Want to stop by?").

Probably one of the most memorable trips of the whole summer - guiding isn't always fun, but when it is, it's just the best.

He took this picture on the way back up, that's me in my old Seda Glider. We're just off Ellis Island.

Not too long after this, I signed up for the outplacement course that would put me back at the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11th.

He got in touch with me as soon as he heard about the WTC. He sent this to me & it's been the background on my computer ever since.

I'll post more about my Sept. 11th experience tonight, I think - still at work right now. Sept. 11th? We've got a quarter to close. No time for reflection now.

Small Boat Shop Demo Days Weekend Pix (plus...oh yeah, that's right, it's...)

Yes, I know, it's Sept. 11th...

Not going to write about that now though. Too late. Just back from the nicest weekend, I worked as a safety boat for the Small Boat Shop's Demo Day. After all the sturm und drang of the last two weeks, it was wonderful to just go sit in a boat & keep an eye on folks while they tried out boats, answer questions, put people back in their boats - even did a little teaching, a couple of people left with a better idea of how to use edging to turn a boat. I doubt that was part of my job description, but hey, if people ask questions that lead to the topic, why not do a little show with my tell? If they try it for themselves, even better. Fun event & they had the most perfect weather.

Anyhow, I was working, but found time to take a few pictures too...







The best thing about working was that it did at least keep my mind off of that morning when one minute I was wondering if they'd have coffee & danish at the outplacement workshop or whether I should buy some on the way up, and the next minute I was running from the most terrible noise I have ever heard in my life.

Been hard NOT to think about it this year, with the media campaigns stuffing the media takes down our throats. 9/11 The Movie! 9/11 The Miniseries! What do we get next, I wonder, 9/11 The Cartoon?

Ugh.

Anyways, with all that going on in the last few weeks, plus the barge shutdown & attendant fallings-out with people with whom I didn't particularly want to fight, it was truly a blessing to just be somewhere else, somewhere quiet. Messing about in boats.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Au revoir, Pier 63 (plus tug challenge pix!)


And the verdict is in. No extension to the paddling season, Pier 63 will be off-limits to the public come Monday, 9/11. However, yesterday's meeting, which I did not attend, did at least have the outcome that people who aren't able to get find alternatives that fast can call the contractor to arrange to get their boats out for at least a little longer.

The end was a rotten one too, at least for me - internal politics reared their ugly head in ways I totally didn't expect, I tried to be part of it & got thoroughly squelched in various ways & finally had to take myself out of the picture. Sucks, but the guy who ended up somehow being the leader wouldn't listen to me & finally snubbed me completely when I ran into him as I was leaving on the barge on Sunday. I walked up to him & another person from the group - he saw me, and before I could say ANYTHING, he snapped "I don't want to meet right now", turned on his heel & walked away fast, leaving me feeling very, very put in my place. Now, the back story to this was that I'd been being difficult about some procedural points I really thought should be followed, when he was working his butt off to get a bunch of stuff done fast, but I was just there on Sunday to watch the tugboat races, have a nice day on the barge, and think about something other than stupid friggin' waterfront politics. I still had this cold, but right up until that moment I'd been having a really wonderful day. Anyways, that was the last straw for me, I backed out when I got home that night. Still chiming in when I have a piece of information that I think is important - I do still have hopes that something can be worked out to include human-powered boating at the barge (hence "au revoir", not "so long"), and if I think I have a piece of the puzzle that they need, I'm not gonna sit on it - I just don't think my participation is important enough to be worth the kind of fights I can see having if people are going to act like that. Anyways, Manhattan Kayak's working on it too & they are the ones who actually run the storage & who the Trust has been working with since they (we) moved to the barge in 1999.

On a happier note - Mr. SeaLevel and I went out & joined Sebago. I've been worried about that & not completely sanguine - it is a BEAUTIFUL place to paddle (remember my early full moon paddle?) but it's always a little scary trading a known situation for an unknown one.

However I'm feeling a lot better about everything now. Aside from the friendly welcome we received from the board last night, I've been absolutely overwhelmed with the generosity shown by a whole BUNCH of my new clubmates - Kayakboy (who's been working on me to join for ages - "You could teach!"), I. (who hasn't been actively working on me but has made sure I get out there - paddling there is tempting in & of itself), the commodore of Sebago, and a few others. Mr. SeaLevel and I somehow ended up making the same decisions in roughly the same time frame (I was dragging my feet so working about a week behind him) so we were trying to coordinate a boat move - well, first I. was going to get us out there, but then the communication loop expanded & suddenly Kayakboy was calling me this morning with news of Operation S.O.B. - Save Our Boats! The commodore heard of our plight & he, with the assistance of Kayakboy & Mr. Sealevel & I think maybe one other club member) is taking care of everything.

Wow. I'm so relieved. It's the most wonderful thing.

Anyways, it's 1:30, I'm finished with lunch & must get back to work now, but I'll leave you with some fun photos from the tugboat races!

Line throwing contest - here comes the Janice Ann Reinauer (one of a couple of Reinauer tugs there). The idea is to hook one horn of a cleat on the barge & flip the hawser behind it so you're secure. The guy raising his arm on the barge - that's the "GO!" signal. This is timed.


And here's the throw - D'OH!


Here comes the Growler, in for the kill - no, I mean the throw. The children in the audience LOVED the Growler, which hails from the Merchant Marine Academy in King's Point. BTW they missed too. This is not easy!



Only one tug at a time could do this - meanwhile, the other circled & occasionally indulged in bow-to-bow pushing matches.


Here's a tugboat guy getting interviewed.


Um...oooookay, you go right ahead...
(ok, in the interest of not tarring this unidentified paddler as a completely reckless maniac, actually this was right at the end, and the outrigger headed north, all the tugs were at the barge & south of it - so it wasn't as completely insane as it looks. I might have waited a little longer, but then I'm known for being boring that way.)

Here's John Doswell, the man (or at least one of the people) behind the Working Harbor Committee. Thanks for a great day, John et al!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Dinghy's Demise: Aftermath of a Tugboat Race.



I was actually down at Pier 62 for the end of the tugboat race, had swung by to thank the guy who took my schooner time & probably saved me a trip to the emergency room (I'm still not at 100% today, I might have made it through the whole day but would've been running on sheer stubborness, and I'd be recovering until next year), so I didn't see the leadup to this - but Mr. SeaLevel did, and he caught the whole thing on "film"...

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Ernesto the Three-Dollar Umbrella* Slayer

All carnage spotted within a 3-block walk.





*For you non-New York residents - One thing that is extremely easy to purchase at a moment's notice in New York City is a cheap umbrella. Every newstand & shoeshine shop carries them. The cheapest are three dollars - when the sun is shining. These may actually have been five-dollar umbrellas, because the minute it starts to rain, the price of your standard black folding three-dollar umbrella goes up to five dollars. Econ 101, supply and demand in action. In addition, when the raindrops start to fall, the standard newstand supply is instantly augmented by hard-working immigrants pushing carts full of umbrellas and chanting "Umbrella! Umbrella! Umbrella!" (sorry if that's not PC, it's just what happens!). The umbrellas last about as long as you'd expect an umbrella that costs three dollars (or five if it's raining) to last, but if you are careful about not letting the wind get on the wrong side of 'em, they'll generally get you through a few rainy days before they give up. Ernesto was WAY more than they were ever supposed to stand, though - these poor shattered wrecks didn't have a chance.

BTW I spotted them all on the way to & from the tugboat races. Yep, I did feel well enough to go see them & it was a GLORIOUS day for a tugboat challenge. They were GREAT! Got some good pictures (plus a nifty Reinauer cap, and an MS Harborfest t-shirt, usually don't buy t-shirts but this was too cool to pass up, plus it was a fundraiser for MS)- will try to post some later this week.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Fun with Ernesto

Rainy, windy day here in New York City as Ernesto's been passing through. I stayed in most of the day, doing a little cleaning here, a little stashing of pictures on my new external hard drive (to the great relief of my poor "c" drive that's been staggering under the accumulated megabytes of a year's worth of photography) there, a spot of cookie-baking, a little sending off an application to the Sebago Canoe Club...

Yep, a few more shifts in the scenario & I think instead of taking TQ up on his rescue offer (don't worry, he will still be thanked extravagantly ;D), I'm just going to join Sebago & ride this out there. If they'll have me, I shouldn't speak too blithely when I haven't heard back from their membership chair yet (well, it may be miserable but it IS Labor Day Weekend, and people are out of town). Just simpler that way - keeps my boats in reach and allows for paddling during the interim during which we can't get to our boats. Not too expensive, either, and the volunteer requirement doesn't sound too onerous. Fact is, I'm not seeing entirely eye to eye with some of the folks who have taken the forefront in the advocacy effort, so rather than keep trying to argue my point of view, I figure it's better to step down from taking any role & let them do their thing. I've had more than my share of waterfront politics, anyways, my involvement was pretty much on an "Ugh, well if I have to I'll do it" basis. Seems maybe I don't.

If MKC ends up being able to continue offering storage come Spring (and the word from MKC isn't discouraging, I been talking to them some & there's no sense of a lost cause there at all), I'll move the Romany back there & probably leave the surfski at Sebago - Jamaica Bay is actually a good place for practicing with a tetchy boat like that, quite sheltered, less ferryboat wakes.

Reasonably productive day considering I'm still not feeling so hot. I did also spend some nice down time just watching the tree branches lashing about outside. I only went out for the briefest time, just to run to the grocery store - I came back drenched and as windblown as I usually am after a good breezy schooner day!

Speaking of breezy schooner days - I worked the 6:30 - 8:30 sail on the schooner yesterday. Ernesto was just beginning to announce his arrival. Captain Peter had cancelled the 8:30 - 10:30 by the time I got there, but he thought we could squeeze in the earlier sail.

Sometimes, those stormy-weather sails can be fantastic - it's exciting to be out on the harbor with the whitecaps flying and the seagulls whizzing past with the wind at their backs, or laboring mightily with their wings in the other direction (I swear I've watched birds tacking into a headwind, rowing hard with their wings and ferry-gliding like kayaks, until they get tired or bored & decide maybe the other direction has some appeal after all, fall off and go zipping off like lightning). Get the right group of passengers taking it all in the right spirit, and it can be the best experience.

Last night's ended up being a little on the rough side. For starters, the wind was extremely shifty & gusty. Wind is generally better than no wind, but a nice steady strong wind is much more fun to sail in than an unpredictable, flukey strong wind. We only raised the foresail & staysail (the ease with which the amount of sail can be tailored to the wind is one of the nice things about schooners). That kept life reasonable as far as the big gusts hitting, but even with that, keeping them trimmed was a headache. I was also not feeling great, and my crewmate for the evening is one of my favorite people to work with but he was also tired after moving. Skipper could've introduced us as "And the crew tonight is Sick & Tired".

Let's see, what else was wrong from the git-go - oh, yeah, the head was broken, that always sucks (although actually in this case the problem was that the head DIDN'T suck, one of the valves in the pump which is supposed to be one-way had become two-way).

Then we ended up having a number of people on board who seemed to have a thoroughly good time based on the amount of laughter going on - usually we like that but in this case the laughter was over things like spilling red wine, spilling the refill of the red wine, and the way one or the another would find themselves staggering as a gust hit. That was the particularly stressful part - we do a safety speech before every sail. Part of that safety speech is about holding the shrouds (stout steel cables that hold up the mast) while standing. On a gusty, choppy night like last night, this is a rule we REALLY want people to take seriously. The captain caught one of them (a guy who said he was a sailor) standing up by the foremast without holding on, gave me a hand signal to speak to him. I did so. The guy's English was good, but less than perfect, but I thought I managed to get the idea across. A minute later, his two female companions came up to join him. I don't think they spoke English at all. I tried saying "Please", putting my own hand on the shrouds; they never quite seemed to all get it at the same time, though. They were all clustered right by the side, and everytime I'd look over, one or two of them would have let go either to take a picture, or to pose...this of course got especially true down by the Statue. Thing is, there was an awful lot of laughter every time I got nervous & asked them to either sit or hold a shroud - this peaked right when we were getting to tack, and I don't know whether they were doing it intentionally to mess with me, as a joke, or whether they just didn't get it, but my gosh, I've never felt so worried about passengers going overboard, even on days when we're booming along under full sail with a rail in the water. There's a certain type of rowdiness that just doesn't work well on a sailboat. Intentionally or not, these folks had it in spades. Fortunately everyone else was very cool, donned our yellow slickers with cheerful good humor & had a nice, safe, non-crew-distressing good time.

Par for the course for the way the week's gone though.

The skipper decided to have us drop the fore not too far up from the Statue - the trip down was downwind, so pretty quiet given the conditions (although I was tending the foresheet like I had OCD, with the wind being so shifty it was given to start swinging in pretty fast) - once we were on the upwind leg, the gustiness really got sort of unpleasant. Naturally, the week being the week it's been, the drop was rough too - the staysail halyard fouled the gaff collar, we had to drop the staysail a bit to free it, then with our stay all messy, we went back to dropping the now-freed fore - naturally this was the time the peak halyard decided to tie itself in knots that I had to shake out as I dropped. Ordinarily I do a pretty good sail drop, if I may say so myself, smooth & fast like a bird folding her wings...this looked more like one of those broken-wing displays those killdeers do when they think you're after their babies. It wasn't a dangerous situation by any means, but with the sails banging around & making all kinds of noise, and especially with the pause to futz around with the staysail halyard, it can look to the passengers like things aren't so good, which is not the impression we like to give.

I was MOST happy to get back to the dock. With the Russians, or whatever they were, I was particularly relieved that none of their horsing around had led to anybody going swimming.

That was the last sail until tomorrow. With Ernesto coming through, we were particularly diligent in our evening shutdown - we lowered the gaffs until they were resting right on the booms (ordinarily we leave them up just a titch, for looks & to minimize wear & tear on the hoops & sail), put some extra lines around them so that they were lashed down well, then doubled up on all the docklines (my crewmate spent the last part of the sail, after we'd lowered the fore, down below in the foc's'le finding some extra lines).

Watching the trees whipping around today, that was no wasted effort.

I went over to the barge afterwards - had gotten a little teary about how much I'm going to miss my Hudson paddling, and just wanted to go sit & watch the river go by. There was a wedding going on - the most wonderful, bizarre NYC cultural melange - I watched their Chinese lion dancers perform, while a troupe of Irish stepdancers in full regalia stood by flexing their calves -

I went up to the roof deck & listened to the music filtering up from below while I watched the tugboats go by.

Then I went to my favorite noodle shop for a nice hot bowl of noodle soup & they lost my order for half an hour (usually they're practically bringing it before I've finished saying "with thin Cantonese noodles, please"). What kind of planetary misalignment was going ON this week, anyways? Is it possible that Pluto is out for revenge after the demotion? Could always be worse but it was just a pretty rocky week. Human tendency is of course to look for causative factors, right?

Still not feeling so hot today - in fact when Captain Peter called this afternoon to say that if I wanted tomorrow off, he had a willing replacement for me, I took him up on it. With all the bad weather we've had, some of the full-time crew folks have not been getting their usual hours; knowing I was a little under the weather, but also knowing I'd have to be half dead before I'd skip my day, Capt. Peter made a few proactive calls & got a replacement pretty easily. Still feeling a little on the lousy side, and with a day that could potentially stretch out to 5 sails, starting at 10 am & finishing at 10:30 p.m. - I was actually relieved to get the offer.

Heck, if I'm feeling even a little better, maybe I'll finally go watch the tugboat races!