Thursday, July 29, 2010

Aloha from Hawaii

Hi hi hi! Long time no blog - because I've been using pay-by-the-minute internet setup, this trip has been easier to report on Facebook, so if you're on Facebook, go follow my Facebook badge-link-thingy & you'll get the fabulous blow-by-blow.

It's been fabulous. I've been hiking, and paddling, and snorkeling, and had a great time meeting David & the crew of Valis (those who hadn't already split, but at least I got to fill in for Ed at the awards banquet - thank you Ed, and thank you David for talking me into "being Ed" for the evening, what a marvelous way to spend one of my first evenings on Oahu!) and eaten all the wonderful Island foods I can't get in Hawaii, and spent a great (and very full) day in Aiea (my hometown), and even had a walk around the Iolani campus. I got to drive a Mustang convertible around for 3 days, and then BECAUSE I gave up the Mustang & switched to public transportation, I had the most astounding experience yesterday watching throngs of sea turtles ("honu") grazing on limu along the shore from Haleiwa to where the walkable beach runs out before Waimea (at a certain point the shore turns rocky & you have to go up to the road). The original plan had been the around-the-island trip on The Bus with Stop 1 in Haleiwa for a Kua Aina burger (recommended by a work friend) & Aoki's shave ice, and if I'd still had the car, that's exactly what would have happened & I would have passed the "honu coast" (not what it's called, but it should be!) without a clue - but instead, I walked a little way along the shore, started seeing turtles right there, then took a whim to keep walking for a while & then just kept seeing turtles. Pictures, tons, when I'm back home, right now I'm sort of limited to text...

Anyways, I ended up hoofing it from Haleiwa to Waimea Bay (appreciating, at ever moment, the fact that here in Hawaii, the beach is still public land, so you decide to do something like that on a whim & know that you can without ANY hassles!), astounded by the numbers of turtles all the way (except after the coastline turned rocky & I went up to the road, no turtles on the road. I jumped on the bus again at Waimea. Disembarked again for a Longboard Lager & a spectacular sunset (with the sun on the correct, far, side of the ocean instead of over the freakin' parking lot like it is on the East Coast), then back on the bus, catching a glimpse of the Pirates of the Caribbean shooting a bit before Kaneohe (very dramatic, pirate ship, big movie lighting & lots of fake fog, if I wasn't already looking at a late night (those darned turtles) I would've had to jump off the bus again for a little more gawking. Even without that, can't imagine a better day. Really.

So happy I decided to do this. I'm just absolutely wallowing in being back again!!!

Bed now. Going to try for an early start tomorrow, catching The Bus to Hanauma Bay! Yay!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Status Report

Body: at work.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Another interesting Saturday sighting -

Link to the people who built Dragonfly's Banquet, showing the raft rigged for sailing (yes, really).

Dragon figurehead seen in the link seemed to be undergoing repair -

Rockaway Artists Alliance, current caretakers.

More about this rather spontaneous long trip in the next couple of days, if I have a chance. It was part of Sebago's All-Club Invitational, which I think was generally a big success. Big thank-you to the crew I did this trip with - I know it got to be a bit on the long, hot & beastly side at times, but I still had a very good time helping out with this trip.

P.S. - My friend Tugster has left a comment that I thought worth bringing up into the post: Were you aware that the movie featuring scenes from Son of Town Hall's construction, testing, inspection by the Coast Guard, and then crossing will be shown as part of PortSide NY's Atlantic Basin programming this coming thursday night, July 22? well-worth it

I was NOT aware of that! The Son of Town Hall is another Neutrino raft (see Wikipedia's Poppa Neutrino article for a brief explanation, and the "Dragonfly's Banquet" above leads to the Neutrino website, where Son of Town Hall can also be found. When Will says "crossing", he means Atlantic.

New Yorkers may also remember the Town Hall raft, which was moored in the embayment between the north end of Battery Park City and Pier 25 (which was the one that featured a sculpture garden with works by local artists, beach volleyball courts, and a hamburger stand) until the Hudson River Park Trust, in an extremely controversial move, confiscated the raft, which was unintentionally but completely destroyed in the confiscation process.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Unusual Sighting at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

White pelicans are NOT a bird we normally see in this area!

Saturday Silliness!

Who says scientists are boring?

Well, ok, probably not that many people but if you DO run across anyone who holds that opinion, go find a computer an show them this.

I would like to thank another very non-boring scientist for the link. Loved it!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Upcoming Events - Blue Network, Sebago Invitational & City of Water Day

Moving right along! I promised Lorraine, who's interning right now for the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, that I'd post about City of Water Day tonight. She didn't have to twist my arm on that a bit, I had a wonderful, wonderful time there last year & one of my very few regrets about the timing of my fast-approaching 25th H.S. reunion is that I won't be in town for the fun this year. It was great last year, and it'll be bigger & better this year!

Here's what it's all about, from Lorraine:
A FREE day of entertainment, education & adventure for the whole family celebrating the potential of our waterfront!

On Saturday, July 24th thousands from throughout the metropolitan region will make their way to the waterfront for the 3rd annual City of Water Day Festival, presented by Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance. A FREE day of entertainment, education, and adventure for the whole family celebrating the potential of our waterfront, the City of Water Day Festival is held each year on Governors Island and this year features activities in Liberty State Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and Atlantic Basin. Festival highlights include: over a dozen fun and free narrated boat tours; special children’s activities like fishing, races, sing-a-longs, arts and crafts, and more; an exciting line-up of local bands; delicious foods from NYC’s best vendors; and more! Please visit for all of the exciting details.

From the upper Hudson to Raritan Bay, we are a City of Water—yet too many of us are cut off from this tremendous resource. Help us revitalize the waterfront with a festival for the entire family.

This is a festival for ANYONE who's interested in our city's wonderful waterways, not just us boaters! Save the day, it's sure to be a good one.

Of course since it turned out I'm doing an events post today, I have to get in another plug for Sebago's own big waterfest, the All-Club (And Anybody Else Who Has Their Own Boat & A Way To Get It To Canarsie To Join Us Too) Invitational! That's this Saturday, the 17th of July. 10 am - 5 pm, rain or shine, Full details here.

And finally - I never did a post about the last Vision 2020 waterfront meeting, the Blue Network one on June 24th, but I did make it. It was another interesting discussion, but it ended up feeling truncated. They had some good harbor-expert speakers who had a lot of interesting things to say. They also had a whole bunch of people from all walks of harbor life, commercial pilots to open-water swimmers & everyone in between too, who also had a lot of interesting things to say. The big hitch was that the speakers all had certain amounts of time reserved for their presentations, which ended up only leaving enough time for each of us public commenters to have a 60-second-or-less sound bite. There was much grumbling & discontent as it became apparent that time was going to run out without a huge percentage of the info people had come to get on the record being heard. Actual mutiny was averted & a fair amount of speed-commenting was done, but the organizers did recognize, in the end, that there was indeed a need for a Round 2 for further exploration of the issues & ideas that were being raised. That Part II has been set for next Monday, the 19th, from 6 - 8:30. Full details here. BTW, if you missed your borough's meeting & want to know what was said, or if you can't make it to this one but you've got something to say, there are recaps of each meeting up until the Staten Island & Blue Network Part 1 ones (both "coming soon") at that same link, and also a link to an online comment form. It would be impossible for every single New Yorker's waterfront dreams to be fully realized, the nature of a mixed-use waterfront like we've come to have is always going to be one where compromise & cooperation is going to be required among the various users - but if you've got a dream, an idea or a suggestion, this is a time to be heard!

Monday, July 12, 2010


Caption, anyone? (click on picture for larger shot.

More photos from a wonderfully photogenic afternoon paddle here! Glad Joan suggested it.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

End of a Perfect Day

Spectacular sky day on the bay today. This was just the grand finale.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Rain, Rain, Please Do Stay!

I think I heard the plants of Midwood & Ditmas Park singing a nursery rhyme today -

Rain, Rain, Please Do Stay,

soak our dry roots for a day

save our leaves that fall away

rain, rain, please, please stay!

I'd been puttering around in my apartment all afternoon when the sounds from outside started changing. First the rustle of leaves, then a long hiss of rain. After the heat wave we've been having, a walk in the rain? Fabulous. Out I went. Wasn't just me, either, everyone was out watching the rain. The young lady with the red umbrella in the first picture echoed my own thoughts so perfectly I laughed to hear it - "Isn't this WONDERFUL?"

Unfortunately, although it started strong, it petered out to barely a drizzle. That did last for some time over the afternoon, but our poor local flora really looks like it could use a good, long, steady rain to begin recovering from this long, dry, hot spell. I hadn't been out much during the heat wave, actually working some extra hours, partly to get ahead of my work so that I can relax & enjoy my upcoming homecoming (ok, technically it's a reunion but it feels like a homecoming, too), but also partly to stay in the AC. I'd known it was dry, I've been worried about my own garden (although when I asked, enough of my fellow gardeners said that they'd been watering that I chose to skip the long trip out - I'll see how it came through tomorrow), but I was a little shocked to see the condition of our area's beautiful trees - it almost looked like fall out there.

Forecast is showing scattered thunderstorms all week. Here's hoping they scatter themselves generously.

Planning a good long paddle tomorrow, so I will see how the garden's doing then & take my turn watering anything that's looking droopy, if today's brief downpour wasn't enough.

Hope my basil is OK - it was doing fine last weekend but I found out from my friends with the chickens that this year's version of the terrible tomato blight is a terrible basil blight...

Friday, July 09, 2010

Vicarious Chicken.

I can has chicken?

No, I cannot has chicken. But I had the best time meeting some friends' chickens tonight. They moved to my neighborhood, they got a bit of land & joined the growing urban chicken movement. I said I'd be happy to be on their caretaker list - I love animals, in my adult life I've never been in a situation where I felt like I could have a pet, but I've always been happy to take care of other people's animals. Chickens are a totally new one for me, but I went over to meet the birds tonight, they are really, really sweet, & plus I can't wait for breakfast. All the sudden the urban chicken movement makes total & complete sense!!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Vicarious Pac Cup.

Go Valis Go!

OK, actually right now it sounds like it's more a case of Drift Valis Drift. :( But I'm sure things will improve & in the meantime, hey, 0.00 kts on a sailboat in the Pacific beats 0.00 kts in a cubicle in New York City any day.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Remember "ice"?

And not just the meek, domestic variety you'll find confined to a cooler or clinking in a glass, tamely keeping your refreshing beverages refreshing, but the wild spontaneous kind, running untrammelled and free across the wide-open spaces?

OK, actually I'm not THAT enthusiastic about winter and ice and all that. But I have no air conditioning, just a window fan, and I'm kind of having fun sitting in my steamy apartment looking at stuff from the winter's adventures. That day of iceboating was one of last winter's high points.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Glorious 4th

Hope everyone's was happy and safe!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Elder's Point Marsh Restoration

You know, back in March, I went to a really excellent presention on NYC's Working Waterfront at the South Street Seaport Museum. It was an interesting and informative presentation with some very good speakers and I had sat there scribbling notes, taking pictures & absolutely champing at the bit to get home & share all the information.

Unfortunately, during the post-presentation chatting, I overheard a speaker who'd given an absolutely marvelous talk about the current state of shipping in the area make a comment about horses on highways. I was so upset about hearing that old thing dredged up again that instead of coming straight home & posting a rave, I came home & posted a rant.

Unfortunately I never got back to the originally intended rave.

Here's a bit of that now!

I'd particularly enjoyed the presentation given by a gentleman from the Army Corps of Engineers. He started out interestingly enough with an explanation of how his organization came to be in charge of the sorts of waterways management they handle.

He talked some about the fleet of boats they use to keep the waterways clear for navigation, like the drift collection vessel Hayward (seen here at last year's fantastic City of Water Day on Governor's Island) -

I was already enjoying his presentation thoroughly - but then he moved on & spent the last half of his allotted time talking about a topic of particular interest to me & all my clubmates at Sebago - none of whom were there! I'd mentioned the evening on our Yahoo group, but I had no idea that one of the the high points was going to be a thorough rundown on marsh restoration in Jamaica Bay. D'oh!

I'd first seen evidence of the marsh restoration back on a full moon paddle that my friend Ilene had invited me to join in July of 2006, launching from Sebago, a few months before I ended up taking refuge there when my old home base at Pier 63 got shut down. It was a glorious evening & I came home & did a trip report. I think that was the first mention here of Sebago - little did I know!

Here's an excerpt from that post:

(Jamaica Bay is) a beautiful place, but ailing. Over time, the islands and marshes of the bay have been shrinking. Our course around Ruffle Bar (one of the islands) took us past this odd-looking barge. This turned out to be a relay station for the marsh reclamation station that's now underway - they are pumping sand to replace some of what's been lost. The New York Times just happened to have a great article by Nicholas Confessore about the project yesterday, perfect timing to make me really enjoy seeing this!.

For those who might not be registered, or read this after the article has gone into the archives, here's a quote and some statistics from the article:

The project had to overcome some significant early resistance. During the 1990's, residents of Broad Channel, the island neighborhood that sits in Jamaica Bay between Howard Beach and the Rockaways, began noticing that the marshes they considered their backyard were shrinking. State environmental officials, however, were initially slow to agree.

"It took an enormous amount of arguing with the powers that be to convince those of us in government that there was a problem," Mr. Weiner said.

Satellite photography in the late 1990's showed conclusively that the marsh islands — there are 16 left in Jamaica Bay — were ebbing away, and that Elders Point would most likely go next. (Elders Point, once a single island of 132 acres, is now two islands totaling about 21 acres.)...

The restoration plan is financed by the Corps of Engineers, in connection with a $1.6 billion project to deepen New York Harbor, and by the Port Authority.

Yearly marsh loss: 50 acres
Time until marshes are gone, at that rate, with no action: 15 years
Cubic yards of sand (if I'm getting this right, the sand is coming from the harbor deepening project) added to Elders Point since start of project: 120,000
Number of acres of marsh to be added over next 2 years: 70 (ok & this is where my inner number cruncher is going "that's still a net LOSS of 15 acres a year" & feeling like it's better, but still...)
Length of sand-pumping pipeline from Floyd Bennett Field (where the sand is stored until mixed with water & pumped) to reclamation site: 3 miles
Number of marsh plants to be planted by hand over next 2 years: 900,000 (WOW).
Cost of project: $13 million.

I'd remembered that barge, and I found it fascinating to hear more about how that phase of the restoration worked. The sand was a re-use of material dredged from harbor shipping channels - so practical, we have too much sand here, and not enough there, let's make this work! The dredge tailings were stored at Floyd Bennett Field (the guy had excellent photos of the mountains of sand on the runway). When it was time to move the sand, it was mixed with water into a pumpable slurry. The barge shown here was one of the pumping stations. The site to be filled in was prepared by having the perimeter outlined with big rolls of coconut fiber called "coir logs". The slurry was pumped into the area thus defined, the logs holding the sand in place while the water drained out. In the meantime, spartina grass taken from other marshes in the bay (to ensure the proper strain) was being cultivated. Once the fill was completed, marsh grass plugs were planted. As the spartina fills in, the coir logs gradually biodegrade, and the gentleman from the corps said that in the end, a random person happening by would have no way of knowing that the marsh they were looking at hadn't been there forever.

John & I had set out on Sunday with no particular direction; I suggested that we start by going over to see in the ospreys were nesting at Canarsie Pol this year, which they were (didn't go close enough to see if there were babies because that would be way too close & freak out the parents), then John asked what the orange netting over towards Elder's Point was. That reminded me of the talk so of course I just had to go take some pictures over the fence. Here's some of the spartina -

It's a little hard to see in this picture, but over on the land that's above the high-water mark (where the construction equipment is), they've planted saplings -

Give it a few years, and I imagine you'll have something very much like this:

BTW, if you are out in the bay, although it is interesting to see, I would now probably recommend against checking this out for yourself unless you're up for getting yelled at by irate construction workers. There weren't any signs that said "No landing", and I assumed that the fencing marked the boundaries of places where they didn't want people to go but thought it wouldn't be a problem to walk up to them & look in. As we were looking at the work, though, 4 jetskiers came riding up yelling - at first we thought they were just noisy jetskiers looking for a spot to pull out for a second, but then we realized that their leader was screaming AT us - "THIS IS MY SITE! I GOT EQUIPMENT HERE! YOU CAN'T BE HERE!"

I think I did eventually convince him that we seriously had no interest in his equipment whatsoever - told him I'd seen a presentation & thought the restoration project was interesting & I was genuinely just curious to take a look at it & since I didn't see any "no landing" signs I had no idea it would be a problem. Eventually he simmered down, said "It's bullshit, but I get paid for it" & we parted ways with no further ugliness - but if anyone else thinks it might be fun to check it out themselves, well, just be warned that the contractors are extremely protective of their equipment!