OK - that was sort of funny. I got a Facebook message tonight. It linked to a post on a local tug captain's blog & said "So, what do you think?". The post began, "Who’s the mental midgit (sic) that came up with the idea of kayak tours of the East River’s waterfront?", and continued in roughly the same vein. Ordinarily, I'd read something like that & my response would be "Whatevahs...", because this is something I've seen going on since I started kayaking, NYC's waterways are increasingly mixed-use, the commercial folks who used to have the place to themselves resent the added stress, kayaks are a convenient scapegoat, and when a skipper has a blog, it's perfectly natural for him to vent there. The occasional calls for nanny-state type regs have been going on for years, I do occasionally vent myself but mostly I don't worry about them so much any more.
However, I'd misread the message as being FROM Capt. Brucato...and I read it as a direct challenge. So, being an obliging sort, I figured I'd step into the ring & go the requested round.
Fortunately, I went back & reread the message prior to posting. That was when I realized that it was from somebody else entirely. D'oh!
My first thought was to just delete the comment, heave a sigh of relief at an averted potential conflict, and get back to my Norwalk trip report.
But I had already put a good bit of time & thought into the response, and with a few excessively snarky bits carved out, I really didn't think it was such a bad thing to say. So I said it. We'll see how it goes.
Here's Capt. Brucato's post.
My totally longwinded response (posted & resulting in a pretty interesting discussion, and I am not being facetious in my use of the word "interesting"):
Capt. Brucato – if you want to teach people, teach them. If you want to insult them, insult them. Your call. But if you start by insulting them and then offer to teach them, what kind of results do you think you are going to get?
I’ve seen some idiotic behavior out there myself. Every experienced NYC paddler has – I challenge you to find one of us who hasn’t got a horror story. I’ve also seen a lot of people do a lot of good – and much needed – work on boating safety for recreational boaters. I recently got my NYS safe boating certificate after a day class taught by a gentleman from SUNY Maritime (sponsored by the sailing committee of my boating club). I’ve been to a boating safety class taught the NYC-area Power Squadron (sponsored by the NYC Watertrail Association & New York Riversports), and my club has a very good relationship with the Coast Guard Auxiliary members at the yacht club next door (I wish I could join the Auxiliary but I simply haven’t got the free time).
All of those organizations, and the individuals involved, manage to do a very good job of educating recreational boaters. And PS – the sites you visited probably don’t say much about harbor traffic specifically because they are aimed at letting people try out kayaks in controlled situations. The only place that I know of in NYC where a person can rent a kayak & just go is in one of the farthest corners of Jamaica Bay. I bet that if you emailed any of them saying “I just bought a kayak on Craig’s List and I just can’t WAIT to get out on the river, what do I need to do”, you’d get a response much more in line with what you’d want to see. Personally, I’ve had some mixed emotions about some of the all-free all-the-time programs – but some of them are run by some very skilled paddlers who are as committed to teaching people safe boating habits as you would want them to be.
If you want to help, I’d suggest that you drop the name-calling, try to rustle up a modicum of understanding for kayakers (listen, if I had the money to paddle the east end of LI every weekend, or elegantly cruise about on my “yot”, I bloody well would, but I grew up in Hawaii, being on the water is my favorite thing in the world, and guess what, local kayaking through a local club happens to be what I can afford), get in touch with any or all of the volunteer organizations named above. You are correct in that with the influx of recreational boaters, some with absolutely none of the experience a boater needs to operate in NYC’s heavily mixed-use waterways, getting out there in all kinds of craft, there’s a crying need for all the education that can be made available – you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, though, there are some damned good programs out there already.
PS – ordinarily I wouldn’t have left a comment here – but I got sent to the post by a Facebook message asking for my opinion. I misread it & thought it was from you, and although I usually keep my more strident opinions to my own blog, I thought that you were looking for sparring partners & figured I’d obliged. Went back & looked again and…oh oops, it wasn’t you. However, upon rereading what I’d written (and excising a few overly-snarky moments here & there), I think I do have something of a point. So…there you go.
Anybody else want the soapbox? I’m done with it now!
PPS – note to J. – if the captain now proceeds to verbally dismember me, it’s all your fault &…oh, I think you’ll owe me a beer, OK?
hm, and speaking of boating safety, one of these days I really need to redo my area trip planning tools (cold water safety will drop lower on the sidebar until the fall - not such an issue here in July). Featured among those will be iboatnyharbor.com's boat handling page - down at the end, the guy still persists in calling us "HPV" (which bugs me because that's usually short for "human papilloma virus"), but I'll forgive that in light of the fact that it's one of the best short writeups I've seen on the topic of how to handle NY Harbor's significant commercial traffic & live to tell the tale.