Monday, July 11, 2011

Could've Been Better, Could've Been Worse. At Least There Was Ice Cream.

That was sort of the weekend's theme.

Saturday - went to the club to see if I still had a surfski, or if it had finally crumbled away into a heap of fiberglass shards (or kevlar - it may be kevlar, the hull is that gold color, although it doesn't seem all that light).

Well...the ski is still basically intact -


but there's work to be done before my next surfski ride.


Not the first time, obviously - but I think this time a power tool is going to be involved. The other pedal fell off but the rivets fell out of the holes, leaving them open - I just wired the darned thing back on. This one, the rivet broke but stayed in. Ah well. Definitely could've been worse - I quite unwisely chose to go over to Canarsie Pol, thinking I'd say hi (aka "show off") to the group that was circling the Pol that day, then, instead of coming back with them as I'd originally thought I'd do, I decided I wanted to continue on to go see if the ospreys stuck around this year. Could've been a very annoying trip back, but I was lucky - noticed that the ski wasn't turning to port so well but it wasn't until I was back at the dock & taking a look at what was going on that the pedal broke off in my hand. Oopsie. This particular ski, I could have set the rudder to neutral and gotten home using sweep strokes - but it would be a pain in the okole.

Did get in a nice paddle, as it was. Plus I got a couple of fun sailboat pictures - the Sailing Committee had decided to go out for a cruise. I got back to the the bridge at the same time as they began to trickle back in off the Bay - the first sailboat had begun their approach as I arrived, but either that one didn't quite work or they decided to just be nice and let me through. I took them up on that & went on by, but then decided to go see if I could get through outside the channel on the west side of the basin. That's been a possibility in the past - this time there was a barge completely plugging that side. J & S had already started tacking through & I wasn't going to get in their way, and it hit me that that would be a cool shot - I've talked about how complicated our bridge is these days, I think this shows it well!

You have to shoot...

the chute...

It takes a little time and patience and a whole bunch of short tacks, and with the sides blocked off it does require some understanding from our powerboat neighbors. 99% of the motorboats are perfectly considerate & wait for us but the few that don't can be quite annoying! Don't know if they don't know the rules of the road, or that sailboats can't sail straight into the wind, or if they just don't care - definitely makes an already challenging situation even worse.

Got back to the dock, broke off my rudder pedal, and then Holly came zipping up in her Laser & said she needed to just drop off her boat on the dock & run back out in the safety boat give a more novice sailor a lift through the bridge. I was already wearing my lifejacket so she asked me to come along & help, which I was happy to do - makes it easier to do the towing to have another person along, all we had to do was to get him under the bridge & with him in his boat & me & Holly in Seagull, we had enough arms to just do a contact tow, no lines needed - Holly circled around behind him, came up alongside, I latched onto his boat, he held onto the tiller with one hand & Seagull with the other & we were through the tunnel in a moment. Chris B. was still out with his daughter in his Melonseed Skiff - we went to check on him & he was fine (he's a very experienced sailor plus the boat's designed to row very nicely, too, so the bridge doesn't pose an obstacle to him at all), but look what a nice picture I got to take!


More fun in the sun on Sunday.

I returned to the Brooklyn Bridge Park to assist Tom, founder & head of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse and ICE classmate Todd S. (Red Hook Boaters)with another ACA Quick Start class. Gorgeous weather, and an awfully nice group (a mix of volunteers from the local boathouses, interns from the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, and a Conservancy staff member).


Not my best day as an instructor, though. I got myself off to a terrible start by completely forgetting to check what sort of havoc the MTA had planned for the weekend - if I had, I might have called myself a car service for once, 'cause it was something of a "cain't git thar from here" sort of morning. I was supposed to be at the boathouse at 8:30. Between trains not running and bad directions from an underinformed token booth clerk, 8:30 AM found yours truly up in the street, a mile away from the boathouse as the crow flies, more like 2 for those of us who don't happen to be crows or any other sort of flying creature & have to follow city blocks, thinking that if I had to get there by shank's mare, that's what I was gonna do. Didn't know exactly where the subway station I wanted to get to was 'cause I couldn't manage to find an area map (most stations have neighborhood maps at the entrances but Atlantic/Pacific is an exception - probably has some, but not at the exit I chose). Fortunately, unlike a lot of this city, downtown Brooklyn has fantastic directions for pedestrians - hadn't been able to find the neighborhood map in the subway but after about 5 minutes of walking in the general direction of the river, I saw one of the pedestrian map signs & instead of 2 miles to the river, I walked 2 more blocks to the subway station that would get me within a few blocks of the boathouse.

Got there at 9 but all sweaty & discombobulated & never really regained my composure all morning. Blew my reverse stroke demo, chickened out on an activity I'd planned (good one for people who have a modicum of control but at the point I'd planned to use it, I wasn't seeing quite enough) and didn't have a good simpler alternative...etc etc etc...and too much talking...just generally not getting over being completely rattled. Didn't actually teach anything wrong, but would've done SO much better if I had













I've been meaning to redo my Trip Planning Tools list one of these days - cold water safety does NOT need to be at the top any more. I was planning on all the usual stuff - weather, tides, safety info...think I might just add the MTA Service Changes site. I was cursing out the MTA as I was trying to get there...but really, with a modicum of foresight that was as completely avoidable as going out unprepared for conditions when the forecast's been warning about a cold front coming through for days.

Plus...I'll have to remember that with beginners, it might be a good idea to have a couple of activities in mind for my pieces - one for if they've had some experience or are just catching on fast, a simpler one if they need it. Obvious in hindsight, but easy to overlook during the ICE - there, you're teaching paddlers who are skilled enough that whatever you dream up, they'll be able to do.

Live & learn - and this is why I'm glad Tom has invited me to help out with these classes. Excellent practice.


Fortunately, by after lunch I was able to more or less recombobulate myself - and in the meantime the class rose above the less-than-best teaching (at least from me) and learned a ton in the hours they were with us.

The exercise I'd chucked as a probable exercise in frustration in the morning would've been totally reasonable by the afternoon.

Learned a new game for sweep strokes, too - "bow bumping". That was really funny - Tom had been told about this simple little game where you have people pair up, put their bows together & gently touch them together, alternating sides. Great for fine control. I'd never heard of it but was game to use it if he wanted me too, so I quietly asked him on lunch hour if he could tell me how it worked. Turned out he'd assigned it to me because the person who told him about it said that I had invented it! Well, no such luck, but we talked it through & decided to try it because we liked the sound of it & it actually worked pretty well. We did 'fess up to the fact that we'd totally used the class as guinea pigs, but it was a successful experiment & I'll definitely use it again.

The Conservancy crew had to leave at 3 to go do Zumba (speaking of the energy of youth - that's some sort of exercise dance class when we'd already had 'em for 6 hours!!!!) but we had some lovely Boat Dances with the group that was left (this is a little choreography exercise that's fun to do at the end, that's a thing I learned from Bill Lozano up at Atlantic Kayak Tours the students come up with their own routines using the strokes they've learned through the day as their "steps" - I must remember to video one or two of those sometime, people come up with such creative routines!

We finished off (and cooled down) with some rescue & towing practice. Getting wet felt GREAT...

peekaboo, I see you!

Post-class discussion proved that the students HAD noticed some of the problems I'd mentioned I was having in the morning, but had had a good time, learned a lot & enjoyed their day. I'll try to do better by my next class - starting with getting there on time. Yeesh!


Finished the day with a hard-earned & completely unavoidable ice cream at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory - unavoidable from the moment earlier in the day when someone had uttered the words "Ice Cream" within my hearing. Tom came along when I, in turn, mentioned my set plan - I was glad he came because I hadn't been to the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory & the Peaches & Cream he recommended was absolutely superlative - vies with the first Lappert's cone I had in Hawaii when I made my first trip home in years as best cone I've ever had. Of course that one was extra-entertaining because my mom was so surprised that I got it - we'd gone to visit Aunt Angie, who was still living in the Hilton Hawaiian Village hotel/apartment complex - we were heading back to the parking lot, which meant walking past Lappert's, and I'd said I was getting a waffle cone, and my mom thought I was kidding because we were heading home for dinner. Ha!

There really are some excellent things about being a grown-up.

In fact, can it be a coincidence that both of the best cones of my life broke the normal rules of the order in which you're supposed to eat dinner & dessert?

Anyways, that & a hot dog & a cold drink set me up nicely for the trek home - I'd been pretty sure that I'd seen another service-change sign that meant that High Street only had Manhattan-bound trains going through. Instead of even messing around with that, I just took a nice walk along the Promenade to Atlantic Avenue, where I knew there'd be a bus that would take me to the train that would take me home.


Could've been worse.


Pandabonium said...

Yeah coulda been much worse. Initial discombobulation not withstanding, it looks like a nice way to spend a day.
The weather sure looks good.

But taking those kayaks on the MTA must be a real chore!

Buck said...

An incredible post!

bonnie said...

Thanks! Just another hectic weekend in the life of an NYC paddler!

Pandabonium - Kayaks on the MTA? hee least you could always guarantee you've got breathing room - if the crowd gets too thick, just shoulder your boat & make like Charlie Chaplin! :D

O Docker said...

This is definitely the best post I have ever read about running late for an appointment, subway trains that are out of service, short tacking through a narrow channel, towing a sailboat, teaching a kayak class, broken surfski pedals, bow bumping, boat dancing, and spoiling your dinner with an ice cream cone.

bonnie said...


bonnie said...

Y'know, I'm actually looking forward to a weekend when I can just write:

this space intentionally left blank

I think I have one in October.

bonnie said...

Note to the anonymous person who just told me to click a link to watch the next Harry Potter movie:

No thanks, I think I'll wait until Thursday for the official preview I have got tickets too. Bigger screen, less viruses.

Carol Anne said...

Life is uncertain ... Eat dessert first!

bonnie said...

And too short to drink cheap wine!