Thursday, July 28, 2011
Full details here!
PS - Meanwhile - what the HECK happened in Gerritsen Beach???? GerritsenBeach.net is saying it's the fire again, but given the updates that Nancy's been posting assiduously over at The NYC Water Trail Web, that just doesn't make any sense.
Monday, July 25, 2011
I'd promised Nancy, one of our best local spokesfolks, incredibly active in both the Hudson River Watertrail Association and our local New York City Watertrail Association, that I would post about this - then I got all obsessive about posting every single scrap of news I heard about the North River Wastewater Treatment Plant situation and this got pushed to the back burner until Nancy sent out the following blurb over the local kayak e-grapevine today (and I'm posting it verbatim to encourage anyone who might be interested to sign up - as she says, it's sometimes hard to commit in advance, but this is the first time they're doing this and knowing in advance how many people are going to show will really help them make it the best event they can). Heeeere's Nancy!
HRWA is doing a fundraiser for the Susan G Komen Foundation to raise money to help fight breast cancer.The event will be Saturday, August 6th.It may sound familiar because I keep posting it everywhere! Seriously, I know that paddlers hate to be pinned down by conventions like "dates" and "times" and such, and that some (many?) of you are planning to come support the cause and enjoy a great day out paddling but prefer to wait until that morning to make the final call.
However, since we have to order race t-shirts and breakfast, snacks, drinks, and bbq with some idea of how many to expect (not to mention how many porta-potties to line up!) we'd really appreciate it if people can pre-register.
It starts in cold spring and finishes at annesville (near peekskill) and participants choose between a 16 mile race (long enough to be respectable but short enough not to hurt) and an 11 mile poker run (with the current so it should be an easy paddle, quite possibly suitable for bringing the family along) and then it all wraps up with a big bbq with live music, a raffle, awards ceremony, etc.
info is here: http://www.hrwa.org/pages/cure.shtml
The entry includes the race or poker run, breakfast, snacks, beverages, race t-shirt AND a donation of at least $20 (probably more) to the komen foundation - hrwa is not going to keep proceeds - everything above what we spend on food, "facilities", etc, will go to komen.this is the first year we're doing this event and we really hope to make it a tradition for hrwa to help raise funds ot fight a disease which has touched so many people we know, so please consider coming out and paddling that gorgeous stretch of the hudson for a great cause.(plus, the water there is less than 50% sewage.)
I don't know if I can make it (I always seem to be overscheduled & overextended in the summertime, so many more things that I want to do than I can do) but I absolutely wanted to get it up here, because it sounds like a fantastic event. HRWA's been around for ages and has done SO much to advance the cause of (and amenities for) Hudson River paddlers; the Susan G. Komen foundation is also a well-respected group; the race is in the Hudson Highlands (my absolute favorite part of the Hudson River, spectacularly beautiful, inspiring artists and boaters since, oh, probably about the time that the glaciers finished with their carving-out of the Hudson's bed and retreated...I told you I was going to burble) and a big party at Annsville Creek afterwards -- what's not to love???
This morning, I made the following comment over on Facebook:
"I sincerely hope that the next time I use the word 'poop" in a post, it is either a rant about the state in which swans left our dock, or part of a description of a raised area in the vicinity of the stern of some replica of a historical vessel."
Well, when a person happens to have a simple hope that's well within their own ability to fulfill, shame on them if they don't.
Regard the lofty poop deck of the Mayflower II!
Taken from Friday's comments - I just put one down that was practically a free-standing post, so figured I might as well take 5 more minutes & finish this off before anybody suggests that I change the name of the blog to "The Big Blog of Sewage Ickiness".
So I'd asked on Friday what the glaring issue with the DOH water-quality site was. Tillerman actually caught an interesting linkage issue - I've been using that site for long enough that I don't read the directions anymore, but for those who do, the directions say to click on the map for borough details, which doesn't actually work - you click the links below the map. That would be easy enough for the webmaster to fix.
That wasn't what I was after, though. My beef with this site after last week's problems? It's entirely beach-o-centric! There's not ONE place in the entire stretch of water around Manhattan that they bother monitoring. They haven't caught on to the fact that these days, it's not just beachgoers who need this info. The DOH was keeping close enough tabs on things last week that I was able to click on this map, look at the Brooklyn beaches & be quite confident that we'll be able to drop people in the water during the class I'm helping with tomorrow without any problem - but all my friends who paddle up in Manhattan? Their waters are a Giant Black Hole Of Non-Information. Seems to me taht the DOH really ought to fix that. A few more monitoring spots at NYC Watertrail launch sites & it would be useful to a lot of people who instead are just hanging on for press releases. Bleah!
Now...a friend from the club weighed in with the points that even for the spots that are tested, there's usually a 24-hour delay, which, given the tidal nature of the area, is usually enough that by the time you see the notice, the condition has probably already improved (for example, most of the paddlers who are in the loop around here KNOW that CSO's, Combined Sewage Outfalls, start putting crap in the water when the system is overwhelmed, so a heavy rainstorm means no rolling practice for a day or so). He also says that sometimes the folks at the DOH will sometimes post erroneous readings, or sometimes even make things up.
I can't really address the last 2 charges...all I'm trying to suggest here is just something that seems to me to be a practical, not-too-hard-to-implement step to take in improving the way the city gets information out to EVERYONE who's recreating in the water these days. All my friends at the boathouses were upset about how clumsily the information on the spill was disseminated (especially those who were playing in the river the day the spill began and found out about it the next day). The DOH HAS a website that is specifically designed to share exactly the kind of information that needed to be shared, and in this case it worked reasonably well - it just didn't give any information to anybody in the area that was the most affected. Updating that site to give similar information to people using the water around Manhattan seems pretty much like a no-brainer of a step to take.
Of course one reason the DOH might prefer NOT to give that info is because despite the fact that there are NO official swimming beaches around Manhattan, there are still plenty of places that people can get into the water, and if the water quality updates include North River, East River & Harlem River, that might somehow be interpreted as some sort of official acknowledgement that the water that people are swimming in anyways is actually OK to swim in...
Using that as a reason to maintain an information blackout for the entire area around Manhattan seems like some awfully head-in-the-sand, down-the-rabbithole, bass-ackwards rationalization, though.
This really seems like a perfect wake-up call to the city to recognize that it's not just beachgoers that need to be kept informed.
As far as the lag - I can accept that as natural; perhaps a more direct approach to getting the info out in case of a major spill like this one should be kept at the ready. Wouldn't it have been nice if when the sewage started to spill, somebody (parks, FDNY, harbor patrol, CG Auxiliary, any or all of the above) had been called and asked to put some people out on patrol to let people who were using the water AT THAT TIME (like the NYO folks who paddled north until their noses told them to turn around, or the New York Kayak Polo team who were enjoying a pleasant evening's practice at Pier 66) know what was going on?
They wouldn't even have had to go around kicking people off the water - just tell them what was going on, let them make their own decisions and ask them to spread the word & watch for official announcements as things developed.
Thus endeth the rant. Thank you for letting me vent (or outfall). I expect to return to my normal cheery burbles tonight.
Friday, July 22, 2011
So, I'm curious - did Aanybody else notice the big problem with the NYC Gov/Department of Health water-quality website I've posted about twenty times in the last couple of days?
Here it is again. And I'm talking obvious. It's not like there's some broken link or a typo or something in there somewhere. Well, there could be, but that's NOT what I'm after.
P.S. - YAAAAY! :D
Anyways. The Times has an article today about the fire & the resulting water quality issues - click here to read -
And as they mention in the article, there are now advisories against swimming at 4 beaches south of the Verranzano - here, again, is the water-quality site; advisories are now posted for Midland, Cedar, and South Beaches in Staten Island, and Sea Gate at the westernmost tip of Coney Island.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Ugh...the air is brown. Reminds me of when I was a kid & we'd come to the NJ the summertime to visit my maternal grandparents. My mom's folks lived in Basking Ridge, and we'd fly into Newark, and the air would be this same ugly color. Basking Ridge was a good long drive - the air could still be thick but it would've lost the tint, and we'd sit out on their great big back porch eating fresh Jersey peaches, tomatoes and corn - but first there was always the smog.
Another http://www.earthcam.com/ photo taken from the coolness of my cubicle in the middle of SoHo, btw!
If you have access to a kayak & Hudson River waters in the NYC vicinity, and you had any thoughts about beating the heat with some rolling and rescue practice - DON'T.
A fire at the North River Sewage Treatment Plant has knocked out a couple of pumps and there's been a massive discharge (ongoing as I post). Click here for full details.
Via the NYC Kayaker Distributed E-mail List - thank you as always to the Hudson River Watertrail Association for maintaining this incredibly useful "kayak grapevine". I usually hear it there first.
Adding a suggestion, slightly later - if you were considering attending any of the area's public paddling programs this weekend, it would be a good idea to check the website of the place you were going to go before you do. I think most of them have phone numbers you can call for a status update or will make announcements on their sites. I'm only aware of one so far (Hoboken Cove) that has made the call to not run their program this weekend, but others are considering it & will make their decisions as the situation develops.
Sebago will most likely be open for business as usual - we're way way south and around a very sharp turn, I think we're unlikely to have any problems. As long as the Brooklyn beaches along the inlet to Jamaica Bay are OK, we are too - click here for water quality reports.
Update, 4:30 pm...hat tip this time to the the New York City Watertrail Association, http://www.nycwatertrailweb.blogspot.com/ -
Rob Buchanan from the Village Community Boathouse got a press release from the DEP a little while ago. None of the beaches in the Lower Harbor or the Rockaway Peninsula have issues; as of now, seems that it's mostly the area north of the Verranzano that's been impacted. Testing will continue and if there are any changes in status, it'll be up on the water quality site shown above (think I got that from Andy Novick originally, thanks Andy).
Here's the description of the area that the DEP says IS affected:
Water quality modeling indicates that there is no immediate impact to permitted beaches due to the dilution capacity of the river. Based on recommendations from NYC Health, the Hudson River, the East River from the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge to Verrazano Bridge and the Harlem River will not be fit for recreational activities such as swimming, canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing or any other water activity that would entail possible direct contact now through at least Sunday.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
City of Water Day 2011, a set on Flickr.
Here it is, the overlong, underedited album from which I've been pulling pictures for the last few posts. Might do a few more posts like that - I'm helping out with a Level 2 Intro to Kayak Touring class at the club for the next 2 Saturdays and I need to start really thinking about what to do.
Actually should be a fun class - I enjoy planning trips and this is all about that.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011
Bowsprite's offline and away for a while, and doubtless having a wonderful time, but I found myself wishing she was with me for a moment at City of Water Day on Saturday when I spotted this dazzle-patterned gig.
King Tide one of the handsome fleet of handmade Whitehall gigs built and rowed by the Village Community Boathouse. These are a traditional small craft here in New York Harbor; in the days of sail they were used to shuttle all sorts of goods & people about and according to one person who was once telling me about the history of the boats, nobody knows whether Whitehall Street was named after the boats, or whether the boats were named after the street. Don't know if there's any more truth to that than there is to the story that Buttermilk Channel got it's name because back in the Nieu Amsterdam days, farmers used to swim their cows across the channel to pasture and the water was so rough that the milk would turn to butter in the udder, but it's similarly entertaining to repeat, so, I do! Ha!
Anyways...King Tide is a highly eyecatching boat anyways - but a few weeks ago I might have just figured the paint job to some particularly jazzy op-art thing (after all, the titular Village of this Community Boathouse happens to be the historically jazzy & artistic Greenwich Village). Seeing it when I did, though? I knew it for the Dazzle-inspired pattern that it is, because I'd quite recently read Bowsprite's fascinating overview of this WWI-era camouflage pattern.
Certainly seems to be working on this young man!
Oh, and p.s. - as long as I'm giving shoutouts to blogging friends...a big "Thank you" to Tugster, who has spotted the long-lost Sebago kayak mothership down in Key West (no, no, not the first one, scroll down a bit). Lost how long? So long we didn't even know we had it. That's OK, I'm sure I can drum up a posse to go down & reclaim that which is clearly rightfully ours - especially if I schedule the mission for November, when it starts to get cold and dark again! Chaaaaaarge!
Bluefish jaws, specifically. Spotted at "Bailout Beach"* under the Verranzano Narrows Bridge. Don't understand why nobody's ever made a schlocky B-grade horror flick about these bad boys...they've certainly got the equipment for the role!
*"Bailout Beach" - explanation will be given when I have a little more time for a trip report. Good name, though.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Sebago contingent returning to Red Hook
Back from City of Water Day, which was great, and today's Gov's I - Sebago paddle, which would have been great if there hadn't been more than a hint of the "Torture Paddles" I kept finding myself doing in the spring (setting out for a stamina-building 15 or 20 mile paddle & then having the wind turn it far harder than planned). Have sorted pix, am uploading photos to Flickr.
Would talsk more npw except i jave tooooo sleeeeeeeeeeepaetojjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj
(falls asleep on keyboard)
Friday, July 15, 2011
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
If anybody ever said "Don't have a COW, man" to the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, they didn't listen. Good thing, too - COW is fun!
Here's a short album from City of Water Day 2009 - posting in honor of the fact that City of Water Day 2011 is almost here!
This Saturday, 7/16, 10 am to 4 PM, Governor's Island, NYC, and Liberty State Park, NJ. Looks like great weather - come out & play! For full details, visit
PS - for more pictures & details from 2009, just click on "City of Water Day" tag in the "Labels" section at the end of this post.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
I like this one, too.
Has some canoe drifted
off in the mist
all by itself
leaving its island behind?
Has some island drifted
off in the mist
all by itself
leaving its canoe behind?
Has one we knew drifted
off to sleep
all by themselves
leaving their someone behind?
And how do we know
if we have drifted
if our canoe has drifted
if our island has drifted
if we are all in the mist?
I like this one, too.
poem by o-docker
Monday, July 11, 2011
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...
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.
Thursday, July 07, 2011
speaking of which, here's how that's coming along:
Cukes doing great
Tomatoes got off to a good start, but we may have an issue - I think there's some sort of blossom rot thing going on... :(
Chard good as always (so reliable, so easy), beets need replanting, onions & herbs rocking the plot, still think I want to throw in a few more basil seedlings.
OK, back to work now.