Sunday, February 28, 2010


Meanwhile, back in Brooklyn, I could barely talk myself into leaving the apartment this weekend. I'd decided that shoveling snow on the Mary Whalen was a good idea on Friday because I knew I was probably not going to be able to cajole myself into going paddling - I've been tired, it was a rough week at work last week (bad enough that I finally broke down & told my supervisors that I really feel like I'm in way over my head with the responsibilities I was handed last year - thank goodness there is a ton of other stuff I AM pretty good at, and there are some pretty good people in charge of me, I didn't end up feeling like I've jeopardized my employment, but it was a horribly depressing conversation to have to have), and there's still enough snow around that schlepping the Really Big Bag full of winter gear on the cart was going to be a complete pain, and when you add all of that to the "mind-body winter dichotomy" I wrote about a couple of years ago (short version - I don't like cold weather, I hate all the extra gear & there's a part of me that really just wants to go full couch-potato in the wintertime, I just don't because I know I feel better when I'm getting outside regularly), I just knew I wasn't likely to get myself pulled-together enough to go paddling. So a couple of hours of shovelling really did sound like a good idea, a little pre-emptive workout in case the weather turned yucky again & I couldn't talk myself into anything else.

And as you saw in that picture, it really did end up being a beautiful night to be outside shoveling snow - there was a nearly-full moon, and it wasn't that cold, and the ship's cat Chiclet came out with us while we shoveled (she's adorable) and then I tagged along when Carolina decided she had enough energy left to go get a glass of wine, and we went to this wonderful little place she likes called Homemade, and it was just about as nice as a spontaneous decision to do a little volunteer work ever gets.

And then, in fact, I didn't leave the building yesterday. Went & hung out with a friend downstairs for a while in the evening, which was nice, but for most of the day was just feeling sort of bleah. Had a hard time getting up today & had a splitting headache when I did (and no, the hanging-out the night before wasn't the hangover-producing type). I was feeling thoroughly unmotivated & could easily have spent another sluggish day at home, but as usual, I know that really not wanting to go out is a sign that I need to. So...motivation. Hmm. Prospect Park is always pleasant, but let's about an extra-special reward-type destination...

Oooh. I've got it! :D

Amazing selection. The first time I was here was in December, when I brought TQ - that was fun, we got some of those big champagne-bottle-sized bottles of Belgian to share. I stuck with an assortment of normal-sized ones this time, wishing TQ was along on this trip the whole time I was picking things out.

5 mile walk, round trip, and the weighted backpack on the return leg must give bonus points somehow!

It's funny, the options you have for walking in NY. This weekend, a five-mile walk for fancy beer. Last weekend, I ended up walking home from the theater where I saw Avatar - that was a couple of miles, I had planned to take the bus home, but it was nice out, I started walking, and the bus just never turned up!


WOOHOO! Cowboygrrrl bought herself a shiny new boat for 100. OK, just read the website over there...that's intense. 100 miles of paddling - I was figuring there'd be camping, but no, you just put in and paddle 'til you're done. Congratulations & good luck!!!

ps - LOVE the sandy dog banner!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Night View from the Mary Whalen

Actually ended up being a lovely night for shovelling snow on a nice old retired tanker (HQ of PortSide NY). And what a view!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Public Meeting - Analysis & Preliminary Charting of Recreational Traffic Patterns in NY Harbor - 2/25/2010

2/25/2010 Update - Meeting postponed due to the weather. New date not yet announced, I will post it here once it's been announced.

So, I was planning to do a half-humorous, half-serious post about committee meetings being a better harbinger of Spring than robins (who hang around all winter in these parts) - but I'm not sure when I'm going to have time to do that with all the meetings, and this one's coming up fast. The following invitation has been widely circulated among the NYC-area kayak community & it just hit me that this is absolutely worth posting here.

Harbor Safety, Navigation and Operations Committee

Harbor Education Subcommittee - Mapping "Working Group"

UPCOMING Meeting: Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pier 66 Boathouse, West 26th St, Hudson River

6pm - 8pm

Project Information

The mission of the Harbor Education Subcommittee is "to develop a safer and more compatible interaction of recreation and commerce within a mixed use Harbor.

Following a number of recent discussions we need to broaden the partipation from all sectors of the maritime community to help us with this Mapping initiative. We believe that with a few group discussions over the next few months we can develop a plan to meaningfully advance this issue.

There have been many conversations over the years, in the Harbor Operations committee and various subcommittees about potential ways to reduce risk of collisions and incidents between human-powered craft and commercial vessels.

There are initiatives going back more than a decade to enhance local navigation charts with information about location of boathouses and other in-water program areas, and then to show frequent routes and paths for trips, tours, and other outings so that a wider group of harbor users could understand the patterns of human-powered activity. Much of this data already exists in data sets and map layers created by various groups like CUNY, MWA, Going Coastal, Water Trail, NOAA and others.

Project Goal - to identify areas of concern, and develop potential
guidelines and recommendations for boaters to follow (such as specific routes and/or VHF protocols - for high-volume areas of human-powered transits and especially crossings.

In December we hosted a meeting including representatives of Harbor Ops and the Tug and Barge Committee. Some of the suggested areas of focus were:
All Ferry Terminals, Chelsea Piers, The Battery, W 30th St Heliport,
Williamsburg Bridge, Hell Gate, Newark Bay, Raritan Bay, Erie Basin

Specific info on your own experiences as a mariner and or paddler and recommendations we should consider would be useful. Best practices from other Ports and countries are certainly welcome.

Our hope is to work on this winter and into spring, and then have some potential recommendations to discuss at the next Captain and Paddlers meeting in late Spring 2010.

Contact: Carter Craft, Harbor Education Subcommittee Co-Chair, Harbor Ops Committee of the Port of NY/ NJ

Historical note -

I'm not sure I can attend, but I would like to - I was involved in a similar project back in 2000 under the now-defunct Harbor Community Liaison & Oversight Committee & it was really an interesting thing to work on. Unfortunately, the HCLOC fell victim to internal politics - just for starters, the chair had a major grudge against the Hudson River Park Trust, was involved in a lawsuit against them & refused to admit that that might be a conflict of interest. I actually ended up publicly calling him on it when he began manuevering to force the Trust to go through his committee if they wanted to get Harbor Safety, Navigation and Operations Committee (Coast Guard & commercial operators) input on their plans for boathouses in the park. I just got to a point where I couldn't keep quiet & blurted out "But you're SUING them!" in the middle of a meeting one evening. Hadn't particularly planned to, just did it. Blech.

What a very strange & depressing time that was. I'd been very enthusiatic about what we were doing & had put a good bit of time & effort into it, and there I was turning on the guy who had put it all in motion. Felt like I had to, but it didn't feel good.

Anyhow, the paperwork from 2000 was lost (I think I heard it was destroyed on Sept 11th, 2001), but the idea is being resurrected now. The NY harbor estuary boating scene has changed a ton since those 2000 meetings - twenty times more EVERYTHING, I think. I don't think I could even contribute much, since I haven't paddled the upper harbor/North River area since '06, but boy, it would be interesting to hear what those who still do have to say.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Pool Session Sunday with Sebago

OK, maybe it's not precisely the kind of warm, clear water that some of us are dreaming of right about now - but it's still awfully nice to do some rolling in a more relaxing environment than Jamaica Bay offers right now. The Flushing Meadows Aquatic Center is definitely that! We're very fortunate to have access to this for our sessions, it is a beautiful pool - I love those big windows! BTW, if you're an area paddler & would like to join a session or two, you can find full information on the Sebago Canoe Club website. They have been booking up fast, but it's always worth checking - I ended up doing this on Sunday, instead of an outside paddle, when an announcement came out on Friday that spaces had opened up for this one. That was right about the same time as a rapidly deteriorating forecast (beautiful, but getting windier & windier) was starting to make me wonder if maybe a paddle wasn't such a good idea. I jumped on it so fast Stevie didn't realize I was responding to his announcement!

Hard to believe that was my first rolling session of the season on Sunday! Between my PA jaunts & some very appealing outdoor alternatives, I haven't been missing it that much - but as usual, I had completely convinced myself that my hand roll was going to be completely gone, so it was good to get in the pool & find that yes, it does still work.

Speaking of those appealing outdoor alternatives - we've been having a nice thaw, and I can't believe I'm actually less then 100% thrilled about it, but Tugster & Bowsprite & I had been hoping for maybe another iceboating adventure, and it's not looking so probable. I guess there's still time for another hard freeze - but somehow, with March right around the corner, that doesn't seem likely. I am so glad we went when we did - what a wonderful day it was.

I tend to say that I don't think I could ever move anywhere colder than Brooklyn - but boy, if the unimaginable somehow happened & I did, I think I'd want to learn to do that!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Paperless Charts

HA! Did my title fool you at all? Did you think I was about to make Frogma history with a review of a new electronic wonder-gadget?

Nope. Maybe someday, but not today & not tomorrow. Me, I'm still sort of attached to paper charts, a compass, and knowing where I am. It's not that I'm against GPS's or iphone apps or all the other doohickeys available to a person who wants to find their way around electronically - it's just that for my usual purposes, the non-digital stuff I've already got works fine (and the batteries never run down!).

Nope, what I'm referring to when I say "paperless" charts today is simply charts made from materials other than paper, like the one above.

This is a stick chart of from the Marshall Islands, showing a group of islands (marked by shells) and the directions & interactions of the ocean swells as they pass through (shown by the sticks).

I think it's safe to say that almost anyone that grew up in (or has even just spent some time in) the Pacific Triangle has seen one of these. I don't know about the rest of you, though, and I thought it would be fun to show you one today. I was reminded of these Polynesian stick charts after learning about another pre-paper wayfinding tool. This kind, I'd never seen before this week, and I thought it was just fascinating. See it for yourself over on E.B. Klassen's Kayak Yak.

You can read more about the use of the Polynesian stick charts at Jane's Oceania, where I found the picture above. For many more beautiful examples & a whole slew of additional links to more info, try The Nonist.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Happy Birthday Proper Course!

No time for a proper tribute right now, would some bad poetry suffice?

Oh My Goodness!
Sakes Alive!
Proper Course
Has Just Turned Five!

Congratulations, "Lord T"! Here's to many more laughs, meditations, writing challenges & may someday, one very adorable granddaughter learning the ropes from her grandfather!

(first rope to learn, of course: It's not a rope, it's a line!)

ps - the photo above is the end result of the Quest for the Peas of Mushiness - a Tillerman-inspired adventure, of course! Mmm, wonder if I could wrap up tonight's project in time to make trip to A Salt and Battery (now featuring sustainable seafood, very nice).

Happy dog!

dogs love snow!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Downtown & NY Harbor As Seen from the Top of the Empire State Building, 1:20 pm, 2/16/2010

Awe-inspiring, sweeping & magnificent, isn't it???

Image courtesyEarthcam. For some better samples, check out my 3-part Earthcam sunset set. What's going on in today's shot? Another snowstorm, of course! If you were standing on 34th street looking up at the Empire State Building, the top would probably be invisible in the clouds. I spent the weekend out in PA & was really a bit surprised by the steadiness of the snow - it wasn't heavy, but it just kept coming down, TQ said that had just been how the whole winter had been with the exception of a brief January thaw (lucky for me, that was when my last trip was). I kept thinking how really sort of moderate NYC winters are in comparison (and feeling lucky for it) - but boy, it seems like maybe that PA weather may have followed me home!

Friday, February 12, 2010

One Last Iceboat Post - "Stern Steerers" Documentary

Weeeeeell, I might as well finish out Iceboat Week with one more ice yacht post. Here's a good documentary I found on YouTube, lots more info about these lovely old craft & the folks who restore, sail & love them - nice glimpse of the old boats' modern descendants, too!

Thanks for posting, "Emanpewaukee"!

Part 1:

Part 2:

Really enjoyed Biff & Marcus's presentation tonight - will give a bit more of a review when it's not quite so far past my bedtime, but since I do need to turn in (and am off to PA for the weekend so probably won't be posting 'til Tuesday), I just couldn't resist sharing this one last item. Hope you enjoy!

I think Tugster, Bowsprite & Jeff will recognize a few of our new friends!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tierra Del Fuego Talk TONIGHT, 2/11/2010

D'oh! Been so caught up in ice yacht reveries that I almost forgot that Marcus & Biff are doing a presentation about their adventures in Tierra Del Fuego TONIGHT at the Pier 66 Boathouse! Should be fascinating, I'm glad it's not a close week here at work. Visit their blog for full information.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Iceboating 4 (last of the series)

I told you I got a little silly last night. Hope you enjoy!

Iceboat Week Continued!

Well, it's definitely turning into Iceboat Week here among the NYC boat bloggers who went up the Hudson on Sunday!

Today, Tugster and Bowsprite both offer their own perspectives on the wreck of the Galatea - Bowsprite was on board, and Tugster watched the boat go down.

Jeff doesn't blog, but he's a very good photographer & I think we're all looking forward to seeing a gallery on his Picasa.

And me? No, I'm not done yet! I have ONE more post planned. I got a little silly last night, will hopefully be able to post the results sometime today & honestly, beyond that I just don't see how I can milk the topic any further. You'll see!


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Iceboating 3 - The Wreck of the Galatea (and much much more)

From Ice Yachts! 2-7-2010

Well, I don't know about eloquence. But I did at least achieve captions for the Ice Yachts! 2-7-2010 gallery & now it's a pretty good photo trip report from our iceboat adventure. Wonder what the heck is going on in the picture above? Head on over, it's all there!

Quick lunchtime update - John Sperr, owner, skipper & restorer of the Galatea, has posted his own report of the day's events over on Lots of interesting information about just how much care & effort goes into these restorations - for instance, people were talking about how they'd find the old ice yachts stored in a barn somewhere; I had pictured the boat being in pieces, but essentially all one place, but it sounds like just finding all of the main components can take a good bit of detective work. Fascinating reading!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Iceboating 2

From Ice Yachts! 2-7-2010

Well, Tugster has begun to wax eloquent & informative on the topic of yesterday's adventure, with fascinating technical details.

I will not be able to do so until tonight. The Really Big Children's Publishing House does pay people to write eloquently. I'm not one of those people, can't do more than a quick lunchtime post right now - but I just can't resist going ahead & giving the link to the extensive photos I uploaded last night, along with an email I sent (with the link) to the Sebago Sailing Committee in the morning. The photos are as of yet uncaptioned, but they should be pretty self-explanatory (ice yachts! sailing! beautiful day! yay!) -- still, there is a section that might need explanation, plus there was a good story to share, so here was that email, repurposed into a blog post!:

I tried something new yesterday. Iceboating!

Took "a few" pictures - you can see them here: Ice Yachts! 2-7-2010

BTW, the pictures that look like people organizing a wrecked ice yacht for transport back to shore are indeed pictures of just that. These are beautiful craft & most of them very old. The Galatea was having her modern debut after restoration & the runner plank (the crosspiece that holds the runners) turned out to have some undetected dry rot at the heart. My friend "Bowsprite" was riding when it went... Fortunately the boat sagged first & the owner said that the friction probably slowed them enough that when things really went to pieces (literally) they were both fine. Sad sight, but the owner said he can probably repair the plank with a scarf (there was at least one other boat that had had that done) & Galatea will rise again.

After that, I was thinking that this was a wonderful thing to see but there was no effing way I was getting on one. But I got over that -- when the owner of the most amazing boat in an amazing fleet (Vixen, lateen rig with the interesting rigging where the sail is actually suspended from an A-frame arrangement of masts)asked me if I wanted to go for a ride, I just couldn't climb aboard fast enough!

And it was awesome. We were tacking across Tivoli Bay, which was too narrow for this one to get anywhere CLOSE to up to speed, but the acceleration was still impressive & at least gave a hint of her speed*!

The Vixen was built in 1885 & she was a famous racer in her day. I heard a good story yesterday about how she came to be in the Hudson Highlands - she was built in NJ, her owner came up the Hudson to race & proceeded put the best boats of the Hudson Highlands area to shame, and at the end of the day one of the Rockefellers walked up with a fistful of cash & said "You're not taking that boat home"!

*it was a bit like watching a good horse playing in a small corral - you can't see the ultimate speed, but you know it's there. I think that snippet of video gives a good sense of that, you can see how she picks up speed after the tack!


Tugster thinks I might be thinking of trading my kayak in for an ice yacht...

I don't know...this WAS an awful lot of fun!

More pictures & video to come. Thanks Tugster, Bowprite, Jeff, and the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club for a beautiful day on the river!

Sunday, February 07, 2010


palm pilot  ur doin it rong
moar funny pictures

I am back-dating this because I refuse to interrupt my iceboat reverie for politics, but inspired by the inimitable Tillerman, I cannot resist just one leetle LOL.

ees vaffer theen...

Friday, February 05, 2010

Iceboat State of Mind...

So, this weekend's fun is actually unusual. Not just another boring old paddle, but a road trip up the Hudson with a couple of friends to see what we can see.

And we're hoping that that includes watching some iceboating.

And I had to laugh this morning because -- well, you know how I said I couldn't imagine what it's like to be an iceboater & so dependent upon a certain very, very specific set of weather conditions happening for me to be able to get out & play?

I think I have at least got a hint of what it's like now!

I was listening to the weather forecast as I was getting ready for work this morning. We're going on Sunday. There's a big winter storm coming through tonight & tomorrow & it sounds like there's going to be a fair amount of snow.

I found myself thinking "Oh noooo! It's going to ruin the ice!" - and then having hope restored as the announcer continued with the information that the snow will be concentrated in & around the city & areas to the...

drumroll please...


Hey, speaking of sightseeing up the river - want to see a friend of mine having an amazing encounter? Click here!

Note, slightly later: Oh dear...

Thursday, February 04, 2010

All Work & No Play

All work & no play makes this a dull blog.

But hey, look, Sebago sailing co-chair Jim's Matunicus double-ender is getting pretty!

And Never Sea Land has the funniest mermaid ever.

As for me...well, there's fun afoot for this weekend, and there was fun last weekend. There was the fun which I already mentioned (and for another view of that day, check out clubmate John Edward Harris's Summit to Shore), and then there was this!

And did I mention I'm going to Hawaii? And it's working out nicely - I have two friends who have asked to stow away in my baggage, and two other friends who have offered to carry my baggage, so I will let the baggage-carrying friends carry the friend-containing baggage. As long as I don't have to carry the bags with the stowed-away friends myself, it's all good!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


Just updated my Facebook status...

HOORAY! HOORAY! HOORAY! I am definitely going to Hawaii in July, will be at the Iolani 25th Reunion activities on Friday & Saturday & then 7 days before that of indulging in as many nostalgic whims I can think of & squeeze in!!! I'm So Excited!!!

Airbnb was a good invention.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


Phocine: adj. Zoology
Of, relating to, or resembling seals.

When you're out for a winter paddle, and you're really hoping to see a seal, it's really amazing how many things there are out there that can resemble a seal. There are seal-shaped rocks, seal-shaped lobster pot markers, seal-shaped Clorox bottles, seal-shaped coconuts, all sorts of seal-shaped things.

Here, for example, we have a seal-shaped piling.

And here, by way of comparison, we have a seal-shaped seal.

See what I mean???

As I'd mentioned a couple of days ago, we had had a verified sighting of genuine seal-shaped seal out by Ruffle Bar the weekend I was out in PA, so I was seriously on the lookout for seals when we were out there on Saturday. Boy, did that piling ever have me fooled for a second! Just the right size, just the right color, and when I first saw it out of the corner of my eye, I was seriously fooled!

(Seal-shaped seal photo courtesy of Stevie. Thank you Stevie!)

Monday, February 01, 2010

Who Hates Wind?

Who hates wind?

Marcus and Biff, that's who.

They were making fantastic progress around Tierra del Fuego for a while, but then relentless winds pinned them in place (fortunately in a sheltered bay) for 11 days straight. When the possibility of a helicopter ride out of there unexpectedly materialized one day, they weighed their options & chose to abandon ship (literally, they left their kayaks behind).

Can't have been an easy call. It takes courage to do the sort of thing they were trying to do. It also takes guts & a good dose of common sense, in the end, to say "OK, this isn't working out, our options are getting slimmer with each passing day, we have been granted this opportunity to get out with no further risk to life & limb - let's take it."

I think back to Marcus's early days & laugh. He had a number of us women of the barge in full mother-hen mode because he seemed to be fearless. That might sound like a compliment, but I think fear, at a controllable/overrideable level (not unreasonable fear or panic, those are no good at all, just a healthy respect for the overwhelming power of wind & water & all the other hazards out there) is a pretty necessary emotion to have in kayaking.

I don't think we needed to worry quite so much - I think Marcus just had to go a lot further than most of us do to find his limits.

So, congratulations to them, in spite of the early end. I would've loved it if they'd made it, but at the same time, they'd been in the same place for an awfully long time, the last Spot track had a certain silent eloquence, and scanning on up the coast they were going to be travelling next, I wasn't seeing any nice places to run in. In light of all that, the announcement that they were bailing was not a surprise & in fact was maybe even a bit of a relief.

I hope they will be doing a presentation or two when they will get back - it should be fascinating.

I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to watch Marcus develop as a paddler. And now I'm getting to watch him develop as a sailor too - last year he bought a Laser & joined Sebago! Yeah, that "Who hates wind?" thing was hyperbole - it's not all wind, just the winds that are blowing too hard from the wrong direction, halfway through a big expedition. I'm really looking forward to seeing how he does at Sebago's Laser regatta (May 22nd, official Notice of Race in process but any Laser sailors out there, mark your calendars if you'd like to join us on J-Bay!).