Thursday, March 29, 2007
updated lunchtime 3/30 with a few more links - scroll down to "go Taino go!"
Seems like most of the time, for most people aside from fortunate few (Gandhi, Mother Theresa, George Bailey), the way life works out is that we muddle along, trying to do our best, but maybe not always knowing if our actions are leading to good stuff, or to the place that's said to be at the end of that storied road that's paved with good intentions.
In my muddling along, I have actually managed to get involved in one or two things that clearly HAVE had good results. Once upon a time, there was a vehement, but well-behaved, community uprising/letter-writing campaign that saved the Yonkers Paddling and Rowing Club from the wrecker's ball a few years back. That was awesome. I think I was one of the early sounders-of-the-call-to-save-the-club, because I was so appalled at the idea of that old boathouse being knocked down to serve some stupid political ends (long story...) - but just one of a number, and the response was unbelievable, and in the end I don't think any one person's participation was the key, that was a triumph that belonged to the entire paddling community. You could never ever apportion it out by shares. Boy, I LOVE it when stuff like that happens.
I've also done things that I think were good, but I'll never ever know if they actually mattered. Tip-top of that list was stopping a lot of people from going somewhere I knew they shouldn't go on Sept. 11th, after the first plane but before the second - I came out of the door to the mall to find myself face to face with a whole newly arrived & momentarily oblivious commuters who'd just stepped off an E train & thought that they were going to walk on into the WTC mall, get their coffee & go to work same as always. I knew the police were evacuating the mall because I'd just come into the subway from there, and I'd just been chased away from the only other exit in the vicinity by four cops running towards me screaming "NOT THIS WAY!"; I really wanted to keep going but there wasn't anybody telling all these that they couldn't go into the mall - so I stopped & made announcements for as long as it took to get them all redirected away from the mall. Again, I look back & I like myself for doing that when I really wanted to just keep going. I don't know if my stopping when I saw something that seemed like it should be done & nobody doing it really made any big difference, the police would have been turning them back a minute later when they got inside...but I like that I did.
Fact is, everybody thinks of the police & the firemen when they think of "heroes of 9/11", and I'd never want to detract from them - but there were an awful lot of smaller, quieter acts of bravery there that day & I'm glad I had one of 'em. Even if it was only a minute or two long & probably didn't make that much of a difference.
Makes a good story anyways. although I always feel a little weird trotting that stuff out. kinda heavy for this blog...still, it's the best example of my entire life, I think, where I did something that I think was genuinely kind of brave, but will never know if it made any significant difference. Now there was one lady who I made get on what was probably the last train out of there - that's the only person who I'm pretty sure had a measurably better day because I happened to be where I was when I was.
Every now & then, though, you do get lucky enough to find out that something you do really HAS made a difference. Way, way back in February, I got an email from a friend saying "Wow, great work hooking up Taino" (a very accomplished local paddler) "with that Puerto Rico expedition!"
Now, I have been doing a LOT of work on a lot of fronts lately, much of it pretty darned good, I think, but I hadn't lifted so much as a finger to connect anybody with any expeditions...but I went straight to the Chasing the Ana site, and read "Through Bonnie, known to bloggers as "Frogma", he learned of our intention to circumnavigate Puerto Rico."
emailed him right away.
"You're going where? with who? and you found out how? COOL!"
He got right back to me. Yes, he'd found them through a link on my blog - and as it turns out, their plans dovetailed perfectly with something that had been a dream & a goal of his since he began kayaking a few years ago.
He asked me to kind of keep quiet about it for a while though. Smart. One of our locals getting in on something like that? That would've been worth an immediate post - but a fair number of NY area paddlers read this blog, and at that point Taino wasn't sure enough about the cat to let it out of the bag in any major way. I could see his point - the only thing worse than having the opportunity to fulfill a dream & then having it fall through because you couldn't swing the money/time/whatever would be to have all the local paddlers excited for you & then find out that it had all fallen through.
However, he sent an email to a bunch of us recently & it sounds like it is definitely a go, and I emailed & said "Can I post now?" and he said yep!
Go Taino go!
3/30 lunchtime update - a couple more links - more on both Taino the paddler, and Taino the people.
2/11/07 - Welcome Aboard Taino Almestica
Official Tribal Government Website of Jatibonicu Taino Tribal Nation of Boriken
Wikipedia entry on the Taino
Congratulations, I hope it all goes GREAT.
In the meantime, I'm rather enjoying the odd sensation of knowing that this silly hobby has apparently led someone directly to a way that he could hopefully achieve a dream faster than he would have otherwise (AAAAGH! I PROBABLY JUST CURSED IT! EVERYBODY! PLEASE! KNOCK! WOOD! RIGHT! NOW!!!!!), completely & utterly unaware of the fact that I'd done so until I got that "nice work!" email. Awfully pleasant symmetry to times when I've tried to do something good, knowing full well that I'd never know whether I'd even made a measurable difference (or if that difference was good or bad!).
Right there on my windowsill.
Y'know, if I never eat a single squash from these plants, I've still gotten enough of a kick out of my little windowsill squash patch that I'm totally satisfied with my return.
I don't think I've ever gotten quite as much enjoyment out of any one item purchased at the supermarket for personal consumption. For anyone who missed how this whole squash thing got started - I bought an acorn squash at the local C-Town supermarket to cook for dinner one night. I cut it open & cleaned it out & then on a complete whim, I planted some of the seeds.
I've now got a cabetza squash & some cherry tomato seedlings too and I'm wondering what else I can grow this way...wouldn't it be funny to have a garden that's all started from stuff that usually just gets thrown away?
Of course I'll probably end up getting some seeds at the hardware store in the end, but the concept of seeing how much of a garden you could generate as a by-product of normal grocery shopping - somehow I just really like that idea, seems like an entertaining challenge.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Apologies to the non-NYC people who are probably bored to tears. If tonight's post is a lovely series of the Rosemary Ruth sailing off the dock nice as you please, would that make up for all the garbage talk?
The reason I'm suddenly interested in non-boathouse stuff is that made for one very exciting Community Board One meeting tonight.
Connie Fishman, president of the Hudson River Park Trust, didn't show up & didn't want to send Noreen, the vice president who I have mentioned here from time to time in conjunction with my frustration over lack of public notice about park-related meetings. Apparently no one else on the Trust is qualified to speak about the Pier 25-26 situation. They'll invite Connie to the next one on April 30th but that took a lot of the point out of that agenda item for tonight. In the meantime, they'll refine the specific questions they want to ask, and maybe start listing ideas for how to get some interim uses going there (since the current timeline involves Piers 25 & 26 being under construction until 2009 at the VERY soonest).
Al Butzel and Yvonne Morrow were the last people on the agenda (the first ones were East River Park planners - I got there a bit too late & was sitting outside for that one so can't speak to what happened there). They were there to ask CB1 to support their Committee to Protect Our Parks, which apparently already has a fair number of supporters. Their speil all sounded pretty good, although the organization sounds incredibly incestuous (typical for waterfront politics) - their stated goal involved keeping the Hudson River Park land as park, rather than allowing the legislation to be changed to allow for a marine transfer station for recyclables to be built on the Gansevoort Peninsula, and for Pier 99, the pier I've always referred to as "the garbage barge pier" to be expanded to handle a lot more garbage.
Currently, the Sanitation Department is using the Gansevoort Peninsula as a garage. They're supposed to clear out but haven't given any sign of doing them.
Al, working through his Friends of the Hudson River Park, had organized a batch of community people & park folks to sue Sanitation to get them out. They had their plaintiffs, and I guess the Committee to Protect Our Parks is a wider coalition of groups & politicians supporting the lawsuit.
Catch is - New York City is a BIG city and we make A LOT of garbage. That takes transfer station & truck garages & there's just no way around that. Seems there were a series of negotiations between the FOHRP and Sanitation & eventually a deal was cut that Sani would get to build an enormous garage in the Hudson Square area.
The meeting got exciting because the question was posed - "Who speaks for this organizations, and what's the decision-making process?" Al said that they had meetings, and emails would be sent around -
well, there was a gentleman there who lives in the area where the settlement said that Sanitation could build their garbage truck tower & he began to ask some extremely direct questions about just how open the decision to build this thing was. According to him, a number of the plaintiffs who FOHRP had claimed to be acting on behalf of felt that they were misled or not properly notified of the size of this thing that was now landing in their neighborhood.
Turned into a bit of a fracas. No actual fisticuffs, but Al was called a liar; Al then started getting visibly tense and called the detractor a liar in return, the detractor said his neighborhood didn't deserve this thing, Al said maybe the detractor deserved it, somebody asked if Al had a thing about CB2 to say that, Al said "Maybe I have a thing about Dave", and at that point pretty much all hell broke loose, people were yelling, Robert's Rules were flung to the winds, until finally Julie started calling for order & loudly suggested that the motion to support the Committee to Protect Our Parks be tabled until the next meeting. Enough board members heard here to vote in agreement & that was the end of the meeting.
The unbelievably contentious end to the meeting.
Anyways. Wow. Next to that, boathouse politics are pretty tame.
Of course I only have what I heard tonight, but the decision-making & notification process Al was describing did sound less than ideally transparent. Lots of money & lots of political connections involved there too - that's where I think the people in charge of a group really do need to make sure that they are actually representing the people they claim to be representing & that all of those people are kept completely informed & have ample opportunity to express their opinions - and have those opinions listened to & respected.
In this case, clearly there are people who don't feel they were treated with that repect.
Anyways. Exciting. Haven't been to a meeting where people were actually yelling at each other since I don't remember when.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Local interest - don't forget, tonight's the CB1 Waterfront Committee meeting where Julie Nadel has asked Connie Fishman (president of the Hudson River Park Trust) to come discuss the recommendations made by the Pier 26 design task force. I plan to be there, hope to see lots of other people. Interestingly enough, I think I remember Connie saying something at the last Advisory Council to the Trust meeting about the boathouse being larger than the restaurant - don't hold me to that, migraines do rotten things to your powers of observation, but it will be interesting to hear the Trust's side of the plans for Pier 26.
Also wanted to mention another event I heard about recently. It's at noon on April 14th, and they are looking for a WHOLE LOT OF PEOPLE wearing BLUE to form a living depiction of what downtown's high tide line will be given a 10-foot rise in sea level (appropriately enough, I heard about it from Mr. SeaLevel, who's alive & well although very busy & who appreciated all the comments when he put SeaLevelNYC on permanent hiatus). I'm trying to keep this short so I'll just swipe from their website for details:
What is Sea Of People?
New York City’s coastal location makes it particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels and more powerful storm events that will result from unabated warming. In combination, these factors could result in the periodic flooding of coastal parts of our city later on in this century. Permanent inundation could result with the collapse of either the Greenland or Antarctic ice shelves, which would lead to a 10 to 20 foot rise in sea level. Such a rise would greatly reconfigure the map of our city, sinking much of lower Manhattan beneath the water. While this may be several generations off, action to avoid such an outcome must begin now.
The Sea Of People project combines the dynamics of a mass rally with the expressive power of an interactive artistic installation. Following a 12 Noon Rally in Battery Park on Saturday, April 14, thousands of participants, dressed in blue, will stretch north in two columns along the projected eastern and western 10-foot waterlines that may one day redefine lower Manhattan under the ten-foot sea level rise scenario.
The goal of the organizers is to have both lines extend one-half to one-mile north from the Battery. We estimate that a line of this length would call for 5,000 participants, and no less than 200 volunteers to help coordinate its movement and formation. Therefore the need to execute successful and broad outreach prior to the date will be of paramount importance.
If they get enough people, this will be something to see.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
1. Go to kayak club. Enjoy sight of little green shoots coming up all over the place, even the final bits of snow from the hopefully final blizzard of winter 06-07.
2. Paddle 'til you drop. Close eyes. Drift for unspecified amout of time, listen to canada geese, lapping water. Then get up, go into clubhouse, sit down close to the woodstove, have some hot soup & cider & sit until darned good & ready to put boats away.
3. Join gardeners working on decorative plantings by front door.
4. Start working on bed for the squashlets. Make loads of progress & be at good stopping point by the time it's time to go. Go out for dinner with friends with whom you've just spent the day paddling & gardening, then head back to their place for coffee & hanging-out.
5. Get home & tell the squashlets to be patient, just a couple more weeks...
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Here's Captain Sarah filling the Carina's fresh water tank. What a vacation that was. Isn't water lovely?
And today I'm not just talking about the variety that floats our various and sundry boats - I'm talking about water in all its' wonderful varieties. Drinking, washing, irrigating. raining, cascading, flowing...oh one could go all poetical with it...
The point of posting this particular picture is - it says something about how easy it is for those of us in developed nations to take clean, fresh water for granted. I think that boating does help instill an appreciation for this vital fluid - that business of knowing that all the fresh water you have is what's in your tanks (or camelback, or bladders in your hatches, or whatever container you use to tote the stuff) makes for less extravagant use. But even so, on this trip in the BVI's, we still had the distinct luxury of knowing that when we were running low on water, we'd be able to find somewhere to top off pretty easily.
And that's a luxury that a lot of people don't have. I didn't realize it until I heard it on NPR this morning, but today IS World Water Day.
And I'm happy to use my lunch half-hour to bring that to your attention!
Happy Water Day, everyone!
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
I did make it to the meeting on Monday night, oddly enough because I got a migraine after starting the day with some work unpleasantness - I've started having migraines again after a decade-plus lapse, but the new versions don't seem quite as thoroughly incapacitating & I had just enough gas to go quietly sit in a corner (near a door in case I had to leave fast, which was a distinct possibility) & listen. I crashed hard the minute I got home but it was worth going. I did take a lot of notes and if I get a free night anywhere in here soon I'll consult those & do a proper writeup. But the upshot is - wow, there's a lot going on in the Park, and here's what I recall off the top of my head:
*Pier 66 boathouse tenant expected to be chosen by April 1 - they didn't say this but I know that the Pier 63 gang is one & unless there was some very weird twist I didn't know about, Randy at New York Kayak is the other.
*The barge should be moving to it's new pier within a few weeks
*there's STILL no answer on the paddling out of the barge from the DEC.
*The mounted police have moved up to the tow pound by the ferry terminal, ribbon cutting was today
*asbestos abatement in the old Basketball City bldg has begun & the structure is expected to be gone within a month
*construction contracts for piers 62-63 are being signed on Thursday
*pier 66 itself is ready for use, has been closed due to ice on the deck but should be open for riverwatching once it warms up a bit.
*The decking on Pier 64 is expected to be completed in May, and landside construction will begin after that.
*the Pier 84 boathouse is done & ready for Floating the Apple (oh gosh I need to do my Cast of Characters post...) to move in except that they haven't got a Certificate of Occupancy yet.
Sounds like for the next couple of years, that section's going to be primarily a construction site, but with the barge there & with pier 66 there will still be places to sit & watch the water go by, and at least SOME boating...even more than before if the DEC relents & amends the permit. Please knock wood now.
Meanwhile, south of Chelsea, the decision between the 2 Pier 40 proposals is coming to it's conclusion and there will be a PUBLIC HEARING at the end of April - you bet I will post details here.
Piers 25-26? Well, the whole CB1 boathouse task force thing doesn't sound like it's under consideration yet, but I wasn't expecting that to be in there yet, that may take a little more time - but the idea of interim use (like temporary storage for human-powered boats in shipping containers) was introduced in view of a rather long timeline until ANYTHING usable is there.
One other random good development - the boathouse-related launches in the park are all going to be declared public launches, so that (as was always the case at Pier 63) a kayaker does not have to be affiliated with one of the tenant organizations in one of the boathouses to launch. Good news for folders & cartoppers, suspect that the request for that came from the Hudson River Watertrail Association rep, since she's the one I'd first heard that from & she's the one who asked where that stood on Monday.
That's what I can remember off the top of my head. Interesting meeting. The next CB1 one should be good too - that's where Connie Fishman, President of the Trust, is being asked to discuss the plans for Piers 25 & 26. Stay tuned...
Past my bedtime, but wanted to get at least a summary up.
just finishing off at work before heading off for a spot of Irish music (I promised the gang I'd come because I made all of them watch the three-Muppet version of Danny Boy, so now I have to appear in person & accept whatever abuse they choose to heap upon my guilty head) and it's starting to look like another week of sparse posts. However, I had shared my story of how I learned about cold water over on Peconic Puffin and I thought that might just make a post in and of itself.
I posted this picture before, it was from a great ice paddle back in February. See that big smile on my face? Well, I'm smiling despite Camelback-hydration-system-freezing conditions because I'm all properly (extravagantly, even, thanks to TQ's extravagant Christmas gift, what a guy...) geared up for the conditions, right down to a thermos of soup and a thermos of cider in the day hatch. If I wasn't dressed right, I might have been a little frowny that day!
Now, the Puffin had taken a look at Chuck Sutherland's cold water site and had been suitably impressed to put up that link on his site, with a few of the quotes that really made him go "hmmm" - like 9 elite marines drowning in March when they'd capsized 100 yards from shore. Right before he'd posted it, I'd had a conversation with TQ that ended up with us both cracking up. OK, actually that's not uncommon with us, but in this case I didn't realize how funny what I was saying was, just rattling on quite earnestly, until I looked at TQ & saw that he had this HUGE grin on his face, and suddenly realized just how ridiculous what I was saying must have sounded to anyone who didn't spend their formative years in the tropics. It all had to do with my growing up in Hawaii, and what cold water is there vs. what cold water is here, and I just couldn't resist sharing the story. So now here's the same comment as sort of a cheater post!
This is the perfect time of year to be posting this stuff, too - it's the warm air that really lulls people into letting their guard down, but the water's still...oh, I think the official description is freakin' cold.
I had a lot to learn about cold water, having grown up in Hawaii, my idea of "cold water" was a little skewed - basically in Hawaii, "cold water" is when you don't feel like swimming for more than half an hour or so.
It's funny, too, my old Hawaiian standards of cold are apparently still alive & well right alongside what I've learned over the last few years of frostbite paddling & sailing. I'd almost moved back out there once, and last night I was telling TQ about how I'd planned to pack up my Romany & take it out there, figured it would be nice for winter paddling - and I used the phrase "and I'd be all snug and warm and all the surfskis & sitatops paddlers would be all jealous as they are freezing their okoles off"...and TQ started laughing at me, and in a second I realized what I'd just said & was cracking up myself. You can take the girl out of Hawaii...
Yeah, I had a thing or twenty to learn about "freezing" when I started paddling in the wintertime. Lucky for me, the first time I was ever out on water that was probably getting to cold-shock cold (and btw COMPLETELY underdressed for it, lake paddling in PA on a lovely warm October day), it was a friend of mine who was wearing a wetsuit who flipped. It was a class, this was my first year, we were practicing edging & bracing while the instructor taped our practice for discussion that evening (when we were dry, warm, and had post-paddle drinks in hand). Edging & bracing drills like that frequently lead to capsizes if you're really committing. She came up yelping but OK with the wetsuit. I woulda been miserable in my shorts & swimsuit! I was impressed - I think it was immediately after that trip I bought my first wetsuit.
I also didn't get as much out of that class as she did 'cause once I saw that, I got very timid about pushing my own limits. Was great when I had the right gear 'cause then I could get back to some serious playing.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
p.s. in case any local paddlers are interested - I got the following notice from Noreen Doyle at the Hudson River Park Trust.
The Advisory Council meeting has been scheduled for Monday at 5 pm at the NYC Comptroller’s office. The Chair has not circulated an agenda yet. In the future we will post on our website.
HRPT Advisory Council
When: Monday, March 19th, 2007
Time: 5:00 p.m.
Where: NYC Comptroller’s Office, 1 Centre Street
Agenda will follow
One of the folks who's very involved in the Hudson River Paddler's Guild had mentioned that at that Monday meeting too (thanks Mike!). Sorry I didn't mention it sooner. I still haven't seen an agenda, but with Pier 63 still up in the air, and the developments at CB1, I may still try to attend, just to see if anything interesting happens. I will definitely be late, and wouldn't it be just my luck to work my tail off to get out & down there as soon as I can and walk in just as they are finishing the boathouse section & moving on to the dog run people (oy, and if you think this water access business is a big ol' soap opera, I hear the dog people are WAY more emphatic than the paddlers). If I get an agenda, I'll post it here immediately.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Trivia for non-Irish-music-devotees - St. Patrick's Day aside, Danny Boy is probably the one piece of music least likely to be performed in NYC's Irish pubs - which is where all the good seisiuns. My friend Am first introduced me to the Irish music & dance scene back in the early 90's, when we were both working at Carnegie Hall. Good story, that - my folks were still in England then, and on a trip to Ireland, they'd had picked up a book by the name of The Bodhran Makers. I'd read it during a visit, loved it, and when I saw it on a St. Patrick's Day display in a bookstore, I snapped it up. Had it sitting out on my desk one afternoon when Am walked past - she spotted, froze, pointed dramatically & said "Where did you get that?". I told her, and she said that if I liked the book, there was something we had to do as soon as possible. That something was a great seisiun that Brian Conway and Don Meade used to lead at Muldoon's, in midtown. Oddly enough - remember what I said about Irish music circles being very interconnected? - the only time I ever heard Danny Boy played at an Irish music event in NYC was actually at one of the concerts Don used to produce at the Blarney Star Pub on Murray Street. It was a guitar player that night, cripes the name escapes me but he was one of those guys who it's all you can do to keep from getting up to dance - anyways, some drunk lady shouts out from the back corner of the room "Can you play Danny Boy?". There was this silence. He got this funny look on his face like "huh...I wonder if I can?", and gamely launched into it - gave up after about the first verse or so & shook it off with a good driving set of reels.
More musical trivia -
Did you know that the musical saw can't be played when it's below freezing?
Not quite time to put them outside yet, I guess! We'd had some days in here where I was starting to wonder. I've seen a real blizzard on St. Patrick's Day, so I wasn't going to rush things - but jeeze, it's been springy!
I have, however, begun hardening off - on days when it's been nice, I've been leaving the windows open so they can get used to the breezes, and direct sunlight. I do that anyways - nice to air out the place, anyways. BTW I never would've known to do that, fortunately I was hanging out with Adele the Gardening Co-Chair & we were talking about Spring and she realized that I wouldn't know to do this. So I am & will continue to do so, oh, probably until April or so.
Looking forward to Spring as much as ever, but honestly the way the last couple of weeks have been, I'm not dissappointed at this little weather-induced hiatus. Will let me finish a couple of things I need to today, then tomorrow I'll get out on the Rosemary Ruth instead of paddling in Norwalk. The invitation said "Heeling test! You must be good at hanging on!". TQ's got some stuff he's working on on a deadline too, so I'm hoping next week will be a better week & we'll both be feeling a little caught-up with our respective responsibilities & can have a nice Sunday together with clear consciences all around.
Friday, March 16, 2007
was looking for info on canoe hale (the simple beachside structures where outrigger clubs store their boats on Oahu, thinking about the boathouse issue of course) & stumbled across this rather interesting Maui Kiteboarding Association info on sharing some popular kiteboarding beaches with swimmers, paddlers and other recreational users.
Not always simple, this sharing the water with others business. Looking at that site, what really jumps out at me is just like kayakers get a bad rap because of the very small percentage of nitwits who don't understand that the Law of Gross Tonnage (not to mention yer basic laws of physics) TOTALLY overrule the business of nonmotorized vessels having the right of way & go waltzing down the middle of the channel, it looks like probably the responsible members of the Maui Kiteboarding Association end up taking the rap for a few nitwits who just don't bother to check on the local agreements before they head out. Actually my dad mentioned a while back that there has been some unhappiness over the increasing commercial use of Kailua Beach Park, which touches me 'cause when I go home for a visit, I always like to rent a surfski from Bob Twogood, and Kailua Beach is where somebody from his shop brings the boat...
Yep. Not always simple.
Another interesting snippet of publicly available info - remember that opinion poll about waterfront use that I posted? Well, the results were pretty wild:
What would you like New York City to do with its waterfront? (3/9/2007)
15% parks, with views and promenades
4% cultural destinations
78% recreation opportunities: boating, swimming, fishing, etc
2% maintain manufacturing
OK - there are definitely ways that poll could have been better. Multiple choice, for starters - looking at the poor old Rustbucket alone, that barge, all by itself, provided 3 out of those 5 items - it was a lovely place to sit & watch the river roll by (park, with view if not promenade), it was an awesome venue for concerts & other performancess, and of course water access was being provided for all kinds & levels of boaters (and the odd swimmer too). Then I guess the other thing I would've liked to see was some mention of "P-O-R-T" - not ALL four letter words are bad...
I guess the only thing I would be sort of vehemently against would be housing. I like the Hawaiian plan of the beaches are supposed to be PUBLIC - people can build houses BY the beach, yes, but there are rules about maintaining public right-of-ways providing access to those public spaces. The other ones - yes, for me personally, I don't think I'd still be living in this city if it weren't for the kayaking, but I've seen all of those uses & they all seem to be of value - and not necessarily incompatible (any more than motorized & non-motorized vessels are, pffft) as long as each set of users recognizes the value of the others & all work together.
whoa. that was one big pipe dream moment wasn't it?
Anyways. Picky picky picky, that was clearly not meant to be a highly scientific poll, it's just part of a series of weekly snapshots. For what it was, the outcome was interesting!
Now I go attempt to finish the seemingly endless work I had this week. Silly silly me, I insisted on having a bit of an after-work life this week - paying for it now. Blech.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
(note to G.C. - don't worry, finishing the newsletter article is in the "assorted fun stuff" that's taking precedence over blogging!)
Did want to post this, though, it came in over my Irish music yahoo group - I love it when my interests converge harmonically! This sounds really neat...unfortunately, as I told Matt, I have some tentative plans involving being on the water on Sunday, possibly in the Norwalk Islands in CT, and doubt I can make it - but I did want to put this on here. Me being me, and liking having my cake & eating it too, I've of course asked if there's any chance they'll do it again...shoot, they should hook up with New York Packet (if they're not already hooked, Irish music circles in NYC look a lot like those mazy Celtic designs on the t-shirts the musicians sometimes like to wear) and do it at the South Street Seaport Museum...that would be cool...ok, already spent more time than I was supposed to, 'nuff pipe dreaming, here's the announcement, for anyone who CAN make it!
Please excuse the interruption, but I wanted to make everyone aware that I will be performing this Sunday with a small group at the Construction Company Theater (10 East 18th St, 3rd Floor Between Broadway and 5th Ave). The songs are all original material that was put together for this project and are all based on the theme of New York Waterways and the history that flows from it. Feel free to come along on a relaxing trip downstream with us....
As a warning, please forgive any butchering of an Irish tune or two that will be thrown into the mix. This group primarily does songs with a little bluegrass thrown in, so don't expect a night of jigs and reels.
See below for details:
Sunday, March 18
The Contruction Company Dance Gallery Presents:
A warm interweaving of music, photographs and poetry that creates a stirring, impressionistic overview of New York's hardworking waterways . Featuring:
Matt Diaz: flute, banjo, pennywhistle, bouzouki
Rob Meador: mandolin, guitar
G. Doug Pierson: guitar, button accordian
Ian Stell: dobro, weissenheimer, guitar
Loren Stell: spoken word
Colin Dean: acoustic bass
10 East 18th Street , 3rd Floor (between Broadway and 5th Avenue)
Sunday March 18
Monday, March 12, 2007
This was weekend before last. Wish I'd been there. Wearing one of Richard's nice warm Mustang float coats...wheee! Fortunately somebody had a video camera!
Did not get outside boating this weekend despite noises to that effect on Saturday. Actually started pulling gear together, but then thought about lack of food in 'fridge, and article I'm working on, and lack of clean clothes, and length & intensity of Sunday's activity, and also possibility of getting all the way out to Sebago only to find the basin still iced in (probably wouldn't have negotiated the ice solo) & ditched paddling for a nice long brisk walk. Nice night, it was. Feels like Spring, tra la la!
The symposium was great, I think I only missed about 3 majorly crucial points on my paddle presentation (like I meant to mention that a great way to go about choosing a paddle is to paddle with a club or group of experienced paddlers, ask people how they like their paddles & ask if you can try them - frankly I just think all new paddlers should paddle with groups, the learning curve is SO much kinder when you get to learn from other people's mistakes instead of making every single one of them yourself, y'know?).
More later on the symposium. Already spent too much time responding to a comment from the prior post - there's day-job work to be done before I run off to the meeting tonight.
Folks who've been following the whole Hudson River Park saga might find those comments interesting, btw. My response is pure opinion on my part of course, the frustrating thing about real life is you just never know, sometimes, whether you're right or wrong, all you can do sometimes is say what you think is right & hope for the best.
Although it's easy to read evil motives into a situation where you have one pier that used to be all about boating & ecological education turning into a pier whose main focus is a big restaurant, and another pier where there's boating going on being eyed as a just another permanent venue for entertainment empire Cirque du Soleil (maybe they'll do "O" and call it water-dependent...grrrr...why not Times Square, with the Lion King and Madame Tussaud's? That would be TOTALLY appropriate & quite cool!), the story usually isn't that satisfyingly dramatic. More thoughts in those comments. Back to work for me now.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Sunday, that's my fun day (she said, promptly aging herself quite nicely)...
Me and some of my Sebago Sebago friends are attending & participating in the 2nd Annual <Long Island Paddlesports Safety Symposium . Should be fun - along with participating in a rolling demo I'll be talking about paddle-picking for beginners at 1:30, and then I'll be sticking around to hear the next presentation in that room, because it is actually the guy who runs my FAVORITE cold-water paddling info site, Chuck Sutherland, Ph.D - missed him at the The Small Boat Shop back in January, so I'm looking forward to listening to his presentation. Never hurts to have a brush-up. BTW, it's March, this is the time when we always hear about somebody taking a boat out on a warm day & not coming back because the water is still cold enough to incapacitate a person very fast if they fall in, so this is a GREAT time to come hear a real expert talk about the dangers of cold shock & hypothermia, how to avoid, and what to do if you suddenly find yourself or a friend showing signs of the "umbles" - the uncharacteristic mumbles, grumbles & fumbles that can signify that a person is sliding into hypothermia & something must be done FAST. Anyways, oops, up on my hobbyhorse again. Pool demos too, and prizes, and lots of valuable information, all free (the poster adds "Please bring a donation of non-perishable food for THE MINISTRIES Paddle Out Hunger campaign").
Monday, back to meetings - this is the one I've sort of been drumming up - the invitation is addressed to a certain group bu the public is welcome to attend, and in fact I think Julie & the task force members would feel good about the show of support that people turning out to listen in indicates. Meeting will be at 6 pm, in the Community Board 1 office at 49-50 Chambers St. Security checkpoint in the lobby, bring photo ID & leave your favorite Swiss Army knife at home!:
Dear Waterfront Committee members and Pier 26 Task Force participants:
On Monday, March 12, we will hold the final Pier 26 Task Force meeting. Due to the need to address Pier 26 issues at the full Community Board meeting on March 20, it will be a joint meeting with the Waterfront Committee (the regularly scheduled Waterfront Committee will still be held on March 26).
Attached are the two reports from the Pier 26 Task Force meetings. (Bonnie's note: click here to read estuarium comments and here to read boathouse comments.)
The two attachments to these documents will be available at the Monday meeting for your files. In this reports, the issues covered in the meetings is documented. In brief, they say:
1) the estuarium should be built, even in temporary or scaled down form, as soon as possible, and the report goes on to describe the qualities and features that the Task Force felt were important in its design, programming and management.
2) the boathouse report reviews the Trust's plans and rejects them as not suitable for their intended purpose. Also, a substantial restaurant appears in the boathouse plans. This restaurant was not reviewed by the Task Force, since its stated purpose was to deal with the boathouse and estuarium problems; however, the community may want to weigh in on this as well.
Please note: Currently, there are no plans and no money for the estuarium, and plans but no money for the boathouse.
I hope to see you on Monday. A resolution is anticipated to be voted on at this meeting, to be based upon the work of the Task Force and the discussion at the meeting.
OK, PSA all done, I have this odd thought that I might throw some stuff in a bag & go paddling. Outside. What a novel idea!
Friday, March 09, 2007
Well, this just in today from the Hudson River Watertrail Association's Metropolitan Coordinator. Sounds like a good project. Glad I'm not coordinating, but I hope I'll be able to help 'em out some!
Later today I will also be posting the documents from my other favorite project, the Tribeca boathouse project spearheaded by Julie Nadel of CB1 with major input from the Downtown Boathouse later today - no time now BUT the Monday 3/12 meeting WILL be at 6, in the CB-1 office at 49-59 Chambers Street.
But this is just a fast cut & paste so I'm gonna go ahead & throw it out there.
The following is a press release from the NYC Parks Department.With this initiative, the Parks Department is expressing a commitment to maintain, enhance, and expand human-powered boating in NYC.The guide will be posted online to facilitate updates, and will be a free service. If you are interested in helping to collect information, survey conditions at sites, photograph area launches, submit day-trip ideas, and/or write narratives on the history, geology and points of interest along the trail, please see the contact information at the end.We will be getting started in the next few weeks and this project cannot happen without the input from our vibrant local paddling community. Please spread the word!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PADDLING FROM PARK TO PARK Parks & Recreation Plans to Create a NYC Water Trail—Volunteers Wanted!
Before planes, trains and automobiles…it was boats that carried people from one place to another by way of rivers, lakes and oceans. New York City is surrounded by such bodies of water, yet its shorelines have been largely dominated by commerce and industry for centuries. One of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's highest priorities is to restore access to the City's waterfronts and interpret the rich history of its shoreline. "Throughout the city, parks along the shoreline are being built and renovated to reconnect the public with the water—Baretto Point Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Hudson River Park, Fort Totten Park and Fresh Kills Park to name just a few," said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "Among the amenities available at these parks, many have or plan to have canoe and kayak launches. To connect these sites and enhance the users' experience and safety, I have asked our Queens Borough Commissioner, Dorothy Lewandowski—a water sports enthusiast and an accomplished kayaker—to spearhead the initiative to create a NYC Water Trail." "As an avid kayaker, I am delighted that the opportunities for kayaking right in my own backyard are expanding," said Queens Borough Park Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski. "And am thrilled to be working to create a comprehensive guide that will enable people to safely travel throughout the City via its waterways and to thoroughly enjoy their day at sea."
The NYC Water Trail will provide information on safe and legal access to the waters surrounding all five boroughs of New York City. The project will identify park launch sites, as well as connect those to non-park launch sites. The guide will also provide recreational, educational and scenic opportunities on each leg of the trail.
This spring and summer, Parks will be collecting information, surveying conditions, photographing, and writing narratives. There are currently 18 existing public canoe and kayak launch sites on parkland with an additional 11 sites in planning and nearly 20 identified as potential sites. Borough Commissioner Lewandowski plans to travel each leg, along with project volunteers, to document the trail. Once all of the information is gathered, work on the website development of the guide will begin—with hopes to launch in the spring of 2008. Parks will be working with the Hudson River Watertrail Association, Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance and American Canoe Association.
This project will rely on volunteers who understand and use the waters of New York City, as well as those who can provide information on the history, geology and points of interest along the trail. If you are interested in becoming involved in this project please contact Borough Commissioner Lewandowski's office at 718-520-5905.
For more information on existing canoe and kayak launch sites in New York City parks, visit www.nyc.gov/parks or call 311.Contact: Warner Johnston / Abigail Lootens (212) 360-1311
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Quick lunchtime post - Monk Parakeet Update!
Back in December, I'd reported that a pair of monk parakeets (Brooklyn's favorite invasive species) were investigating the utility pole in front of the Sebago Canoe Club for a potential parrot homestead.
Although they didn't seem to have made any progress by the time we left the club on the day I took that picture (which was an awfully windy day), they perservered, and by the next week, there was a full-sized nest there.
Then it seemed like they went away. Not far away, they were still being seen occasionally - but always apparently on their way through to somewhere else. Adele figured they'd built a nest somewhere further down the basin where there weren't as many pesky gardeners hanging around (we've got a bad infestation at Sebago, and as I've mentioned before, between them & TQ, who likes to grow things too, I think I may be getting infected - black thumb notwithstanding, my squashlets are doing beautifully & I'm looking forward to transplanting in another month or so!). I'd been around the club in the evening a couple of times, when I thought that they would've been turning in for the night, but I didn't see them or hear them (and if those guys are anywhere within a quarter mile, you hear them). We all thought they'd left.
But then - I saw them perched on the power lines above the nest a couple of weeks ago; someone else saw them on the nest a week ago; and then yesterday Adele & I had the following exchange:
>>Sent: Mar 7, 2007 9:30 PM
>>Subject: parrots at sebago
>>I went to Sebago today and saw the parrots huddled together in their
>>nest. They looked extra cute. I put down a bunch of sunflower seeds on
>>the ground. I hope they eat them.
>>See you Sunday,
>Well, either they'll eat them, or we'll have sunflowers. Or both! It
all sounds good!
>I think I'm driving Stevie crazy with my requests for paddles...
Near the nest - on the nest - IN the nest. That's good enough for me! Ladies & gentlemen, looks like we've got parrots.
Maybe the pair just went on a nice vacation - one last one before they get busy with eggs, y'know?
Now I just hope they don't get spooked away when it warms up & the gardening resumes. Been pretty cold over the last few weeks. Maybe if we supply some supplementary food every now & then, they'll decide we're not so bad!
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
I try not to get too negative on this blog, although there are days when I'm so frustrated with one thing or another that I'd just like to sign onto Blogger and scream, I try to keep it to a whimper whenever I can.
But I thought it might be fun to have a little wallow today, and invite anybody who feels like sharing to wallow along in the comments.
Now what got me thinking of doing this was a funny little confluence - first off, finding myself smack in the middle that battle for world domination I'd mentioned yesterday, secondly, I left comment on Tugster today saying "go check out this video, but don't tell the guy I sent you, he hates kayakers!".
And I got to thinking - do all boaters have that one variety of boat they just think should go away?
Joe Rouse fears the threatened takeover of the world by Laser sailors. EliBoat thinks kay-whackers should all have their boats sunk by orcas, just like in the Powerade commercial. (2010 note - linked to Google cache...EliBoat is gone? :( ) Tillerman thinks catamarans are boring. At least the virtual variety. In the kayaking world alone, there's the Greenland vs. Euro thing, all KINDS of snobbery rained down upon recreational kayaks, sitatops, and inflatables, I used to know a guy who was good for at least a half-hour of the most entertaining ranting & raving if you even whispered the word "Prijon" within earshot...oh, the list goes on and on.
Me? Oh, I'm pretty openminded, don't even hate jetskis the way so many kayakers do - sure, I'd hate 'em on a peaceful mountain lake, and I hated the yay-hoos who used to use the Hudson & thought it was hysterical to come at a kayaker at full speed & spin out at the last possible minute - or, less terrifying but still annoying, come up to tours I was guiding & try to pick up every single female below the age of 50 - but I've also seen some awesome safety work done by jetskiers at the Quicksilver Eddie Aikau Big-Wave Surfing Contest, which my dad & I had the amazing good fortune to catch in person one year, and then you just can't scoff at the folks who put the "tow" in "tow-in surfing", even if it's the surfers who get the glory (this clip ROCKS! DO NOT MISS the WINDSURFER at the end! You have to keep a sharp eye out for the jetskis, but they are there & Laird Hamilton wouldn't be doing this without them).
So nope, I don't hate jetskis, just jerks on jetskis. But I'd be lying through my teeth if I said I was that open-minded on ALL boats - nope, my universal to-the-last-member-of-it's-class loathing is of course reserved for cigarette boats. I genuinely think the waterways of the world would be a better place if these gas-guzzling eardrum-shattering compensations-for-certain-shortcomings were all turned into one big artificial reef somewhere. See, I'm just as rabid as the rest of the world!
So my question for today is - if you could nominate one kind of boat to add to that artificial reef, what kind would it be, and why? You get to define the class, it can be anything from "the smoke-belching stinkpot in the berth next to mine" to "every plastic boat ever made" to...well, you get the idea, right?
Monday, March 05, 2007
Also very exciting, it seems that my hopes of learning to sail a li'l dinghy at Sebago this summer has gotten me a role in a battle for world domination. Of course I'm not sure whether my role is as significant as that of the surfing rodents, but it looks like this could be almost as much fun as the ongoing struggle for paddle supremacy. The one in which I stubbornly continue to play the field, refusing to choose Euro or Greenland or wing. What can I say, I like 'em all!
And anyways -
Baby, this ain't Sisimiut!
(oh, but please don't tell THEM that, they'll be SO disappointed)
To close...oh, I just couldn't resist...
Sunday, March 04, 2007
But I had sailed there a little over a month ago, and I had had the most marvellous time writing up the trip report as far as the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. I'd closed that with the promise, "Part II To Come!"
Well, sometimes it takes me a while to get back to it - but this seems like a good evening to take a break from all the political stuff & wander back through the rest of my pictures, see how much I can remember!
When last we left the charming schooner, after patiently await the passing of a parade of behemoths, she was crossing the Verrazano Narrows to the Staten Island side.
And now - under we go...
into the Lower Harbor.
Green "21" to port. Lightly frosted with ice, as the shoreline's been all along. Yes, you're right, it's red-right-return, but there's a fair amount of room between this marker and the end of the deep water, we're fine. LOOK at that current! We're ripping along!
The Verrazano recedes in the distance as we head south into the quiet of the lower harbor. Tugster is our tillerman.
These are Hoffman and Swinburne Islands, two of the many tiny islands scattered around the waterways of New York City. These two are entirely artificial, having been constructed of landfill in the 1870's; like so many of those little islands in the "Manhattan archipelago", these two have their history as a place of quarantine. In that respect, they are linked directly with a far more famous pair of little islands - Liberty (once Bedloe's) and Ellis - this was where immigrants who were denied entrance to the country because of disease - either active or feared to be highly possible due to an immigrant's country of origin - were held. You can read an interesting post on the subject here, on Google Earth.
Here's a slightly closer view of the ruins on Swinburne. Today, the only inhabitants are various birds - these little offshore islands make wonderful nesting areas where they can raise their young well away from all us troublesome human-types. There are some seals who've also come to appreciate that privacy in the last few years, although their basking is sometimes interrupted by fascinated kayakers. I haven't heard of any seal sightings yet this year, though - it seems as though perhaps with the winter being as bizarrely warm as it was up until a couple of weeks ago, the seals may not have travelled as far south as they sometimes do.
And that, by the way, is about as close as we can safely get to those islands in the Rosemary Ruth. I noticed that there's a lovely surf break between the two - that's the shallowest spot in the area - that turns out to be indicative of the entire south shore of Staten Island. I was actually surprised just how far we held a course that was nearly due south - my only other boating experience in this area was the kayak circumnavigation of Staten Island for which I joined the Rustbucket Adventure Squad a couple of years ago. In a kayak, you just don't notice the extent of the shallows that border the southern shore of Staten Island, but in a schooner, even a small one, you have to respect the limits of the Old Orchard Shoals, which extend nearly three nautical miles out from shore at their widest point. For ships like the big freighters and car carriers and tankers we were waiting for at the Narrows, the navigable waters are even more restricted - looking at a chart, you can see them laid out like roads, taking the giant ships straight to the ports. The channels are well marked, but being a harbor pilot for those behemoths has got to be a hair-raising job at times. The chart itself speaks to that. In the shorthand language of charts, "obstns" stands for "obstructions", and "wk" stands for "wreck". I see that and it leaves me wondering - is there a story behind it? It must be written down somewhere - even if only on a page somewhere in the dusty old archives of an insurance company.
At any rate...there's the West Bank Light - and we're close enough that Richard's ready to change our heading & sail for the Old Orchard Shoals light. A freighter or bulk carrier, for example, wouldn't be able to cut the particular corner we're cutting - but the Rosemary Ruth draws little enough water that we can get away with it.
And looking at the clock now, I'm afraid that's all I've got time for tonight.
Part III to come!
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Friday, March 02, 2007
The Question Is: What would you like New York City to do with its waterfront?
Head over here to cast your vote, and please - spread the word! Only takes a second!
evening note...oops. Sometimes linkage suffers when I do these quick lunchtime posts. As Sitemeter stats tell me that a few people have already discovered, I had the wrong link for Peter Ponders Picking Paddles, I linked to the Braca site instead I've fixed the link in the original post, too. Sorry! BTW, the link will land you in the comments, just scroll up to the top for the post itself, which is a fun read.
Just a quick lunchtime post with some information that will probably be of interest to locals.
For non-locals - oh, I had an exchange with Peter in Denmark the other day that made me laugh, and I'm going try to work in an excerpt or two from his post on his new Braca IV in that "How to Pick a Paddle" presentation Stevie (who's the one who got me into this in the first place) & I have been working on. I've been spending a lot of time thinking about that presentation, and browsing links that one or the other of us have found, and generally Taking It All Very Seriously, and then I went over to read Peter's blog one day and it just made me laugh. I loved it. It's so funny how the more you learn about paddling (heck, boating in general), the more you realize you don't know. I wouldn't have the temerity to advise more advanced paddlers on picking paddles, but I'm aiming it at beginners, and if I do my job they won't walk out of that room knowing what paddle to buy, but with a good list of questions to ask that will help them go to work on narrowing down the choices. Anyways - here you go, Peter ponders picking paddles in his own very entertaining way.
Meanwhile, back in the Bronx (and NYC in general) and Manhattan -
This was posted to NYCKayaker today - it's a little on the last-minute notice side, but it sounds interesting & I do see "Bronx" in my sitemeter every now & then so in case any Bronx people are reading - check it out (thanks SC!)!
PLANYC2030 Town Hall Conversation: Bronx
Date: Monday, March 5
Time: 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM
Location: County Court House, 851 Grand Concourse, Bronx
Transit: Subway B/D/4 to Yankee Stadium
For more information: PlaNYC2030
Let the Mayor's Office know how important the water is to you! The
Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability will be holding Town
Hall Conversations throughout February and March for you to put in
your two cents. Whether your passion is kayaking, ferry transit, or
blue herons, your input can help make NYC waters cleaner and healthier
places for decades to come.
Now, that PlaNYC2030 is a really interesting initiative, and includes a waterways component! Yes, very exciting, finally ALL the shorelines & waters of NYC are being looked at as a valuable part of the city not just for commercial uses, or as a pretty backdrop (which was the park role to which many of us feared the Hudson would be relegated even before the Hudson River Park Trust existed) but as an underutilized, underappreciated recreational & ecological resource, not something to be carefully fenced off & made difficult to access. The stated goal is "to open 90% of our waterways to recreation by reducing pollution and preserving our natural areas". They're looking for ideas of how to do that now! If you've got any, here's the form to leave them on! Comment period closes in March, so hurry!
And the last Tribeca Boathouse Design Task Force Meeting is on Monday, March 12th. Probably at 6, probably at 49-50 Chambers St. I'll update before the meetings. These are the ones I've been all sort of excited about, and the organizer, Julie Nadel, sounds pretty excited about it too. And determined. Yay! At this one, they'll be reviewing the recommendations they've come up with from all the input, and if everybody likes it, that will probably then get presented to the trust as a formal recommendation from Community Board One. I hope to post a copy of those recommendations here, and they'll probably do the rounds on the listserves as well.
Here's hoping the Trust listens!
And that's all I've got time for now.
Happy Friday all!