Tuesday, August 30, 2005

We interrupt our regular estuarine ramblings...

Wow. I just got caught up with the Hurricane Katrina news. Bad stuff. Time to take Scott-O-Rama's suggestion (and technical assistance with the banner, which will take you to the Red Cross site) and try to do something useful...

Please Give to the Red Cross

I do hope you'll make a donation if you haven't already. 'Nuff said.

Not to distract from the donation impulse but I also HAD to put up a link to some aerial photography that was on SeaLevel today (he found 'em on boingboing and they are really astounding)

Tugboat Challenge

Oh my gosh, if I was not crewing on the schooner all day Sunday I would definitely be trotting out to Staten Island on Sunday the 4th to watch the tugboat races!!!!

Not in my kayak though, I would go on the ferry. This would be the last place I'd want to be in my kayak. It would be like being a mouse in a buffalo stampede.

(photo from the National Lighthouse Museum Tugboat Challenge site)

Monday, August 29, 2005

Pointless post with pretty sunset.

This is sunset on the Central Park Reservoir. Pretty, yeah?

Actually did a little land-based picture taking last week Thursday - combined with a bit of a scheduling glitch on the schooner, this ended up messing up my plans for getting as much done as I wanted to, but some of the pix came out nicely. Oh well. Stuff happens, right? Anyways, I did absolutely nothing yesterday except put up a few of the Thursday shots on my Buzznet account. Might get back to Hanauma Bay tomorrow but tonight...Blues Brothers! Big screen! Yeah!

actually I had hopes to write tonight - and/or have dinner with some of the friends I'm joining for it (this is actually a birthday celebration for a friend) in addition to the movie - but I'm kind of frazzled right now in the last week before my first vacation since October 2004 (note to self - DON'T WAIT SO DARNED LONG NEXT TIME!!!!) and didn't realize until about halfway through the day that the credit card I used to order the ticket is sitting at home on my desk where I left it after renewing my anti-virus program. Thhbbbtt.

I really, really, really love it when I waste my own time.

Anyways, this is the best picture I took last week, but figured I'd share all of 'em seeing as I've done myself out of writing time tonight. Funny thing is that there seems to be a trend of people buying Pentax Optio Waterproof digital cameras among the people I paddle with - guess everybody who's been even remotely considering buying has seen how much fun I'm having with mine & decided that if I, who am definitely not one who must always have the latest & greatest electronic device, am enjoying it so much, it must be pretty neat.

Oh, there's one artsy-ish one in there of a vine climbing a chain - that's a "Message Bean" plant that somebody started growing on a windowsill at my office - it was pretty interesting, it sort of grew back and forth until it happened across that chain, which is the pull chain for a windowshade that nobody ever shuts - the bean plant is quite happy with it and I've taken on watering it just 'cause I'm getting a kick out of watching it climb. I really wonder where it's going to go when it gets to the top of the window - I guess I'm just easily entertained. But I knew that already.

I hope somebody else takes care of it while I'm away, would be a bummer to come back & find it dead.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Hanauma Bay - Ocean Rules

I am returning, after a couple of days’ hiatus, to my series on Hanauma Bay.

I have actually had an email discussion with a friend in Seattle – rereading it, I find that I actually gave myself a good outline for where I’m going with this. There is most definitely going to be a point to it. Bear with me here & I’ll get us there. And then, once I’m done, I’m going to turn my attention to a letter to Maria Burks (as Mrs. Kayak Boy said in a comment yesterday – one person can make a difference, but they won’t if they don’t at least try, right?) Anyways, more on that at a later date.

For now – here are the “Ocean Rules”. Maybe a bit rushed as I'm on lunch hour, but here goes!

My last post on Hanauma Bay was about the unwritten rules I remember that concerned moving about on and around the reef; following those guidelines minimized the chances of an unfortunate brush with one of the reefdwellers. None of the creatures that called Hanauma Bay home were aggressive towards people, but some of them were more than capable of self-defense in the event that people were aggressive towards them (in the two specific examples I used of sea urchins and moray eels, aggression towards them would consist of stepping on them, or reaching a hand into their home). A modicum of respect and awareness allowed the human visitor to avoid any untoward incidents. Lack of awareness could result in a painful injury, and one that might send you to an emergency room (to have your moray bite stitched up, or the wana spines dug out of your foot) – but they were unlikely to be fatal.

The sea itself, though, was far more exacting.

Hanauma Bay is sheltered by the protective arms formed by the remnants of the ancient crater walls – but it still opens on the open sea.

When I think about the precautions that I, and other children in Hawaii, were taught to follow around the sea, they seem to boil down into one phrase –

Never turn your back on the sea.

I do not know where I heard that or read that first. But I know I heard it or read it more than once – and it sank in deeply.

The power of moving water is tremendous. The strongest human being is a gnat beside a wave. To try to outmuscle moving water is to risk exhaustion and death. I know, I know, that sounds awfully portentious – but it’s true.

The thing is – as long as you know that, and know the water around you, you can do a lot to minimize the risks. I suppose a less foreboding way to phrase “Never turn your back on the sea” would be “Always keep your eye on the sea”.

The main hazards at Hanauma Bay were waves and currents.

Waves are sort of the obvious ones. Even small ones breaking across the reef could knock you down & bang you up on the coral if you weren’t paying attention.

Big ones can pull people right off of ledges. You had to be aware of incoming sets – and in some cases you also had to pay attention to where they’d just been.

That’s why I was glad to find Trevre's shots of the Toilet Bowl - good illustration! The picture above actually shows the last bit of the trail, and also demonstrates what I'm talking about pretty well -

The Toilet Bowl is in a little inlet on the ocean side of the eastern arm of the crater. To get there, you would hike all the way out to the tip of that arm, around the end, and out along the seaward side. As I mentioned in my post with the original pictures, one of the things I’ve found out while checking the veracity of the facts I have had in my head since childhood is that the lava is eroded more quickly by the salt air than the waves, leaving a ledge of varying widths – the trail led out along this ledge, which was rough, with occasional sections where you’d have to do a little scrambling to get over boulders & things.

There were tidepools all the way out, and little places where you went over small channels – but what you really watched out for was sections of the trail that were actually wet. The Hawaiian sun and the heat that the dark lava holds dries the ledges fairly quickly, and if that ledge was wet – that meant that a wave had washed over that section of the trail fairly recently. If another large wave arrived while you were there, it was quite likely to wash you from the ledge and that was quite likely to be fatal. This happens in other places in the islands too. People really die – sorry, but there’s just no way to soften that fact.

In these pictures – there appears to be a LOT of water on the trail. Can’t see around to the other side – but a day when the trail looked like this might have been a day when my family skipped going out there.

It wasn’t a risk worth taking just to have a little fun.

The other major risk was strong currents – these aren’t as noticeable or dramatic – until you’re in one. The big one at Hanauma Bay – the one that always really impressed me as a kid – is the current that runs just outside the mouth of the bay. It’s called the “Molokai Express” because it runs towards Molokai, which is around 30 miles away. You can see the island from Oahu on a clear day, but your chances of swimming there were pretty much nonexistent. An unwary swimmer or diver that ventured outside of the bay could easily find themselves caught up in this current.

There was a awful lot of ocean out there. Yes, brrrrr.

The thing was – this may all sound terribly dramatic – but it was so much better to acknowledge the power that the water had than to not know about it or pretend that nothing could happen to you. You didn’t let it scare you out of enjoying the beauty that was there, but you did do everything you could to minimize your chances of coming to harm. That was just how people in this most beautiful of ocean states approached the sea, and that’s the atmosphere in which I grew up.

I’m going to close “Ocean Rules” by sharing an article I stumbled across while trying to make sure that I wasn’t blowing the risks out of proportion. Here’s an excellent Ocean Watch column by Susan Scott in which she touches on the same point I’m trying to share in this series of posts (see, it's not just me!!!).

I shall be a-schoonin’ all weekend – hope everyone’s weekend is good, and I’ll be back next week with the next installment - that being "how we nearly loved Hanauma Bay to death" - death, in part, by frozen peas! – and the rescue – and my first return there since "small-kid time".

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Oh, this is rather depressing...

If you find that depressing too, here's some additional info from the Monterey Aquarium - advice about what us everyday people can do about it.

As I've said before, I hardly consider myself an environmentalist - more or less environmentally aware, yes, but I'm just not committed enough to award myself that title. Still, I do what I can 'cause I figure even doing a little bit is better than thinking "I'm just one person, what I do won't make any difference".


Just a quick note here - I thought I was going to write up "Ocean Rules" last night (although after watching Gutted, that PBS show about the Scottish fishermen, I am feeling like a big poser) but I'm inadvertently de-computered this week - got an emergency call to kittysit for the Most Adorable Toilet-Trained Kitties in New York City, and the guys usually leave a laptop set up, but not this time. Well, actually there is a laptop but it doesn't seem to be connecting right. This is not such a bad thing, though - I've been working pretty hard (I'm going on vacation in Texas with my family week after next - I have been having a hard time remembering my last vacation, but I was talking to my folks about that this weekend and my dad remembered for me - it was last October when Captain Sarah & I went on our lovely Maine schooner adventure on the Lewis R. French - that was great but it was eleven months ago - no wonder I've been feeling a little run-down!)& a little extra sleep felt good. Anyways, I am working on the schooner tonight, so this is all I have time for - will probably try do some writing tomorrow on lunch hour when I have a little more flexibility to stay late to get things done.

Things are likely to be a bit sparse until next week, though. Sorry!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

New pix.

Here's a new Buzznet gallery from last Saturday's excursion - it's not really Frogma Virtual Tour #3, but it was just so much fun when the 5 of us that paddled up to Dyckman St. from Pier 63 came back from a quest for lunch (we found a pretty good Dominican buffet after it turned out that the soccer game with the amazing taco stand - squash blossom quesadillas, handmade tortillas, todos autenticos y muy delicioso according to the rumours! - was probably a Sunday event) to find Broken Glass Beach (the waves there don't so much crash as jingle) being stormed by about five million kayaks, I had to take a few quick pix! Sorry they're a little out of order, I tried Quickpost last night & forgot about working last to first - but chronology isn't quite as key on this one as for some of the others I've done & I'm not gonna spend the time to straighten out the order.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Tugboat Alley

I'm going to take a break from my Hanauma Bay series today simply because the New York Times had a really interesting article about Staten Island's "Tugboat Alley" (sorry, registration required), which is the area in which I took this shot of a Staten Island ferry in drydock (turns out to be the Alice Austen) which is in my Staten Island Circumnavigation Part II virtual tour on Buzznet.

I'd been very intrigued by this section at the north end of Staten Island - found it quite fascinating to see this whole little section of waterfront that was bustling with commercial activity, with tugboats and drydocks everywhere (but apparently not bothering the ospreys that were nesting in the area at all!) and it was great to "read all about it". Liked it enough to share.

Besides, this frees up the entire evening for good thorough lily pad cleaning (and I'm trying very hard to convince myself that that's a good thing).

Friday, August 19, 2005

Hanauma Bay - The Toilet Bowl

Note for first-timers or anyone who hasn't read recently - this is Part 3 in a series - actually sort of started at "Maria Burks has the coolest job" but 1st post on Hanauma Bay was "Small Kid Time at Hanauma Bay".

Here are some excellent pix of the Toilet Bowl that I found after a quick Google search last night. Here's a close-up shot - the Toilet Bowl is that hole right at the end of the inlet
Now that you know where it is, here's a wider-angle shot taken as the hole drains as the trough between swells arrived at the inlet -

And then the next swell arrives, and here's the flooding! WHOOOOOOSH!

I looked for these last night as I thought some pix of this area would be helpful as an illustration for my next post - these were better than I'd hoped for! Since there's a pretty good chance I may not get to "Ocean Rules" for a couple of days (got some good weekend plans) I thought it would be fun to just go ahead & post these now - I think I did a pretty good job of describing it, but this makes it a lot easier to visualize, yeah?

Aside from the fact that there are no people in there, this is precisely as I remember it from when I was little.

BTW the rock here is all lava, which weathers away faster in the salt air faster than the waves can erode it, hence the shape of the ledges here. The sand is greenish because there's olivine in it - green volcanic glass that was one of the products of the explosive creation of the crater that became Hanauma Bay. The olivine I knew about; the bit about the weathering is something I've learned while writing this. So far, all of what I've written has been straight out of my own recollections, but I've been checking to make sure that all the "facts" in my head are right - so far my general understanding has been pretty accurate but boy, I've picked up a lot of interesting details too.

Photos courtesy of Trevre Andrews, webmaster for the University of Minnesota Geological Society - thanks!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Hanauma Bay - Reef "Rules"

2nd in a series.

Hanauma Bay became an underwater park in 1967.

The visits about which I was reminiscing yesterday happened primarily through the 70's and early 80's. This was well after the first time that the bay had begun showing clear signs of overuse (which was the motivation for turning it into a park), and even longer past the destruction that had happened in the 50's, when a cable was laid there (more on both of those in a future post - probably the next one). The bay had largely recovered, and had become the sanctuary I remember visiting.

The legal-type rules of the park at that time were very relaxed. No fishing, probably no removal of coral or reef animals, no littering - the usual common-sense rules involved in keeping a beautiful place beautiful. In fact, I'm sure there were more rules - but they were so common-sense (and/or so outside of the scope of concern of an average 10-year old - like there may've been rules about alcohol, but that wasn't something I'd even think about then, and closing time, which I wouldn't have thought about 'cause it was my folks who said "Time to go home"!) that I actually don't remember those.

There was another set of rules besides the ones that would get you fined or kicked out of the park, though. Those ones, I remember. There weren't a lot of them; they were very clear and very easy to remember.

I don't remember learning them any more than I remember learning to look both ways before crossing the street - and like that one, following these was purely in the interest of keeping yourself safe. I'm sure my parents drummed them into me & my sister's heads when I was still making sandcastles & preferred the little inlets on the trail to the Toilet Bowl to the rough & tumble of the big one.

In fact the bit I mentioned in the last post about knowing to stay away from the inlet to the Toilet Bowl? That's a good example.

Hanauma Bay is beautiful, but there were a few hazards to be aware of, and the "rules" I'm talking about were in response to those. You could almost say the bay, the ocean, and the residents of the reef were the enforcers of those rules. You paid attention to them because the fine for disregarding them was never a matter of money.

Here are a couple of the simple rules that pertained to the reef and it's residents:

Don't walk on the reef. This is one of the ones that really gets emphasized now; coral is actually a colony of tiny animals & people walking on them is tough on them. Now, when I was little, I don't remember this rule having quite such an environmentally conscious spin to it, but I followed it nevertheless. First off, the reef has a very uneven surface, it's tough to walk on. There's the risk of twisting and ankle or worse in case of a misstep; it's also easy to get knocked off-balance by waves. A fall would result in coral cuts, which, if I remember correctly, don't heal too well. Besides the coral, there were plenty of sea urchins, or "wana", who made their homes on the reef - that's a picture of one on the right, here. They like to snuggle themselves down in nice secure little nooks & crannies. As you might imagine, stepping on one of these guys would wreck your day - the spines break off short in your skin & stay there, and just to make things even better, some of 'em (like the one shown here, in fact) have venomous spines. Not likely to kill you, but they hurt even worse than the normal ones. We used to include old worn-out tennis shoes in our beach bag to wear in the water - these came in handy in case you absolutely HAD to walk on the reef, but on the whole it was really easier & safer to just swim.

Don't stick your hands (or anything else) in holes in the reef. This might sound pretty random, but it's not. This is a moray eel. See the teeth? Moray eels live in holes in the reef & that's why you don't stick your hands in holes in the reef. Makes sense, yeah? Morays look terribly fierce, but they are actually not one bit aggressive towards people - some of them can even be rather tame, if they become accustomed to divers - the teeth are for catching dinner, and dinner to a moray is a fish, not a person. However, if you go sticking your hand into a hole in which a moray has taken up residence, he or she is absolutely, positively going to bite you really hard with those really sharp teeth and really strong jaws, and it is absolutely, positively going to hurt (pretty good chance of stitches, in fact). It's pure self-defense, though, can't blame the eel at all.

Neither of these is likely to kill you, of course - but you could end your nice relaxing day at the beach at the emergency room getting the results of your carelessness tended to.

The most important rule, though, was one I remember as "Never turn your back on the sea".

Ignoring this one could kill you, and I have never forgotten that.

(Next installment - Ocean Rules)

Images from coralreefnetwork.com courtesy of Keoki & Yuko Stender (thanks again!)

Monday, August 15, 2005

Small Kid Time at Hana'uma Bay

As I've mentioned, I've found myself doing a lot of thinking lately about recreational use of the Hudson River - both what's exciting and encouraging, and what's troubling and sometimes kind of scary.

It's a big & tricky topic, and my thoughts on the matter are rather complicated.

As I've been thinking this over, I've been following one of my favorite blogs, Courting Destiny as she's been working herself gently into the topic of writing about someone who played a very significant role in her life - in both good ways & bad. A lot of her blog is her talking-story (to use a Hawaiian-kine pidgin word, since I will be working my way back to being a kid in Hawaii, I might as well start working myself gently into that frame of mind) about people she's encountered in her life, and she does that really well. This guy, though - he's a little trickier for her to describe, and she's approaching it at a beautifully measured pace. Once small piece at a time.

Anyways - what that has to do with what I've been mulling over of late is that I started thinking, on the subway on the way home tonight, that her approach - one measured step at a time - might work well for this, even though I'm writing about bodies of water instead of people.

So that's how I'm going to approach it - as a series. I may turn away from the matter, but I'll try to keep coming back to it.

Part of why I have such a hard time sorting out my viewpoints on this matter are because I actually see the issues from different angles myself. I look at the river one way from my Romany, and another way from the deck of the schooner. I look at the river with the eyes of someone raised on an island where water access was a right, not a privilege - and I look at the river with the eyes of someone who's lived fourteen years in New York City and has a sense that in comparison to the average New Yorker - I learned an awful lot about water without ever really realizing that I was learning.

I think a good place to start this series is by talking about a place that used to be one of my favorite destinations for family outings when I was a kid (a.k.a., in Hawaiian-style pidgin, "small kid time" - hence the title!) - Hanauma Bay.

Hanauma Bay is perfect because it is truly a crown jewel of a natural wonder in a state filled with wonders - and came within a coral polyp's breadth of being loved literally to death not once, but twice, within the last century.

With today's post, I'll try to introduce you to the bay & show you how I saw it back then.

Hanauma Bay was once an active volcano. As the island of Oahu drifted northwest, leaving the volcanic hot spot where the islands of Hawaii sprang to life one by one, Oahu's volcanoes became extinct (one Pele story I remember involves Pele landing on the northwesternmost island of the main island chain, Kauai, and working her way down the chain until she found her home on the Big Island - at each island, she dug with her digging stick, but at each island, the fire she found went out, so she moved on). One wall of the volcano that became Hanauma Bay faced the sea at the southwest tip of the island, and over the eons, the sea simply wore away at that wall until it was gone and the sea claimed the long-cooled crater.

The arms of the wall that once held out the waves now embraced the water. In the sheltered circle, a coral reef grew, and fish in all the colors of the rainbow made their home.

Here is a legend I wasn't familiar with, concerning how the bay came to be formed and named, courtesy of an 8th grade science class team at the Kamehameha School on Oahu - stumbled across it looking for the exact translation of the name, which I couldn't quite recall except that it had something to do with arm-wrstling. Mahalo to the kids! Beautiful story.

As I said, I loved visiting Hanauma Bay when I was a kid. There was always the morning packing-up-to-go-to-the-beach ritual - my dad collecting towels, masks, snorkels, our mom packing up lunch in the kitchen, my sister and I helping one or the other, packing things up, and then finally loading everything into the car. The drive there always seemed so long, and circling the dusty parking lot looking for a spot seemed even longer. Then there was the long hike down the switchback trail, laden with all our beach paraphernalia - and finally, finding the perfect spot on the beach to set up our spot for the day - then, at last, hooray, it was time to go see the fish!

When I was little, I would stay in closer to shore - I liked to drift along the inner edge of the reef, or go into the "Keyhole" (see the keyhole-shaped light blue space in the coral that opens onto the beach, right between the two swathes of white foam left where a breaker has just rolled in over the reef?), following butterfly fishes and Moorish idols and the other smaller fish that tended to congregate inshore - then I'd come in and build elaborate drip-style sand castles, or draw on the margin of wave-smoothed sand.

As I got older and more confident in the water, I'd go further out over the reef past the break zone, into the deeper blue holes you can see just outside the surf line. Out there, the water was blue and clear, and the fishes were more interesting than the inshore small-fry - the Moorish idols and various butterfly fish were joined by big parrotfish (known in Hawaiian as "uhu") - you could hear their beaks crunch as they grazed on the reef (they eat the coral, extracting nutrition from the polyps, while the stony matrix that the polyps build for their home is ground up & excreted as fine sand), schools of Achille's tangs would swim past, the colors of Christmas and bird wrasses would mesmerize me, as would the very dancing of the shafts of sunlight, filtered and focused by the blue water (and in case you were wondering, the occasional humuhumunukunukuapua'a would, indeed, go swimming by). So many others, too - far too many to name. I remember never wanting to come out when my folks wanted me to. Lots of minor sunburns there as the salt water would wash the sunblock off my haole(caucasian) hide!

There was one other big adventure there, besides seeing the fish - if you walked out along and around the bend of one arm, you'd come to a place called "The Toilet Bowl". This was a spot where the action of the waves had tunneled out a passageway leading to a good-sized eroded hole in the lava rock ledge, and as swells came in, the hole - which was big enough for a bunch of swimmers - would fill up, then drain out again, lifting the occupants up and setting them down again. Big swells tend to come in in sets - between the sets, the rise and fall would be gentle, but then the water would drain down to your ankles and you'd brace yourself for a wild ride up when the crest behind that trough arrived! No, it definitely wasn't 100% safe - in fact getting out, which was best done during one of the big swells, generally involved a bit of getting scraped up on the lava rock - but it was fun. The main trick was to keep well away from the tunnel - everybody seemed to know that rule.

The walk out along the ledge took you past tidepools (each with their own doughty set of lava-colored inhabitants, who I was not always nice to - I specifically recall taking hermit crabs out and putting them down on the lava to watch them make their way home again - I never took them too far away, maybe a few yards at the most, but that's a pretty good hike - the cool thing was that they really did find their way back to their specific tidepool quite unerringly), arched rocks, and even one or two little inlets that were like tame little versions of the Toilet Bowl - when I was smaller, I have to admit that kind of preferred those to the rough-and-tumble of the big one.

It was always hard to leave at the end of the day, and climbing the switchback trail up the cliffside seemed three times as long.

I have so many good memories of that place from when I was little.

I remember having moments of awe every time we went there - particularly as I got older & gained more understanding of and appreciation for what I was seeing.

I also remember obeying some rules that weren't set by people, but by the ocean itself.

What I actually don't remember so much is frozen peas.

Next time I come back to this, I'll talk about both of those - and go into a bit more detail about how Hana'uma Bay was nearly loved to death twice.

(Hana'uma Bay image from the Hawaii Coral Reef Assessment and Management Program Site - an interesting site in and of itself. The Hanauma Bay site proper is also full of much more in-depth information than the summary version I'm giving here.

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Maria Burks Has The Coolest Job!!!!

This lady has the coolest job. She's the first Commissioner of the National Parks of New York Harbor Boy, would I ever love to meet her.

At the very least I think I am going to have to write her a letter asking if she's considered that kayaks are worth looking at too. Since we're out there already & everything.

Frankly, I'm still a bit steamed about some friends of mine who were blithely considering doing a so-called "commando camping" expedition - in the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge a while back. "Commando camping" is kayak slang for using an unauthorized site for overnight camping & I have mixed emotions about it in general but on this one my opinion is that's just wrong, wrong, WRONG, I think that a wildlife sanctuary should be treated with more respect than that -- especially around here, where the population density is so high & places where birds can go about their business without us bothering them are so rare -- oh man, I can't start into this, I actually have work to do today, had a couple of quiet weeks here but that's over now. Anyways, I think that if the park service would do something like open their campsites to kayakers - maybe working with the Hudson River Watertrail Association to develop something even - that would cut down on the temptation to camp on those tempting but fragile islands in the bay. Or else do a publicity blitz giving reasons why that can't be done -- we're not talking about people with bad intentions, just a little blissful ignorance, a little education might do wonders.

This is one of the threads of this too-big-for-one-post issue I've been feeling driven to write about. I just haven't been able to because I have been too busy & it's not something I want to do an off-the-cuff thing about.

But the article's really interesting.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

PHEW...Crazy day on the river!

Today's schedule:

Leave home 8:30 am
Grab bagel w/lox spread en route.
Report to schooner Adirondack, 9:30 A.M.
9:30 - 10:30 - Prep boat. Scrub 64 feet of deck. Dry same. Stock coolers, lug ice, clean cabin, etc. Apply sunblock to already sweaty self. Ugh. Slam some waters.

Did I mention it was already 98 degrees or so? And quite humid?

10:30 - 12:30 Brunch sail. Lovely. Nice breeze, 8 passengers (who feed us birthday cake - we're not really supposed to but when they set up a plate for you & bring it up forward, well it would be rude to refuse!

Thankfully the sea breeze mitigates the fact that it's already 98 degrees or so - I mentioned that, didn't I? Upwind leg is downright nice...downwind leg (where you feel the breeze less, that's the northbound leg today) - gets long. Captain Teddy knew that, saved the motoring for downwind.

12:30 - 1:00 Clean boat, restock (not tough, 8 passengers don't make much of a dent in the beverages), prep for next sail. Morning captain leaves, afternoon captain arrives.

1:00 - 3:00 - Afternoon sail. Lovely passengers, lovely breeze, life's jes' groovy until I go down to check the condition of the head (that's what the bathroom's called on a boat) and discover it's clogged. Arrrrgh. The head is a finicky, finicky beast.

Did I mention it's feeling 100 degrees outside now?

3:00 - Start to work on unclogging head. This is never a pretty, pleasant, or remotely sanitary project. I will get to practice my recently refreshed removal-of-soiled-latex-gloves skill from first aid class. Did I mention...oh yeah, I think I did. Suffice it to say that doing this in a pizza oven temperature doesn't make it any nicer.

3:30 - Captain decides to delay 3:30 sail until 4, give passengers cut rate, and use the time to keep working on unclogging the head. The primary owner (who built the schooner) arrives & takes charge.

4:00 No dice & looming thunderstorms lead to cancellation of sail. We continue to deal with the head. Fun fun fun. Around 5:15, I return from a run over to Pier 63 with a wire hanger & a snake that the owner of the barge was nice enough to lend us when I explained our predicament to find that Rick (the owner) has succeeded. Yay!

Of course now we have completely ripped the salon apart to get to the plumbing & everything's got to be put back together again by 6 (the next sail).

No problem. I even take borrowed snake back to P.63.

I was actually supposed to check out at 5:30 - but I offer to stay & with a full boat and a hot day, Ben accepts my offer.

6:00 - We launch. It's looking very grim & dark to the north & as we leave the shelter of the piers, I see a lightning strike. It's north, though - doesn't look like we're going to have a problem.

However, it is windy enough out there that we raise only the staysail - and make very good headway under that alone.

6:30 - All hell breaks loose. The storm that we'd seen to the north, that was one small cell on the radar when we left, suddenly blooms into this HUUUUUge thunderstorm. I break out the slickers - classic yellow rubber raincoats, just like the Gorton's fisherman's wear - while the guys tend to dropping the single sail (phew) that we'd been using as the captain heads for home. We continue to serve champagne; a bunch of Broadway people who've come out start singing "Whenever I feel afraid, I hold my head up high, and whistle a happy tune..." - with the whitecaps dancing, and the lightning flashing, we're interested in getting our passengers home safely, but at the same time, it's actually a spectacular time on the river, and with our big Volvo engines thrumming away, driving us safely towards the dock, the crew is all grinning with the excitement of it all - and the passengers seem to pick up on that & enjoy it too, and that's just great to see.

The final sail of the day gets cancelled when the captain takes a look at the radar and finds that the cell that multiplied and sent us running for home has apparently invited a lot of friends over for a big thunderstorm party.

That end-of-the-day beer never tasted so good - we must have been quite a picture, the captain & crew all looking like we'd all fallen in the river, and surrounded by the slickers that we'd hung from the porthole latches in the vain hope that they'd dry - still smiling, though. Good heavens, what a day. There are days when it seems bizzarre that sailing that schooner is actually work I'm paid to do...this wasn't one of those!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Hot Summer Evening, NYC

There's my schooner. Ain't she purty?

Went down to Battery Park City Friday night to watch the dancing lights on their 2nd-to-last-day. It wasn't the best photo day as you can see but I did take this shot - I had to chase 'em down the esplanade to get this shot 'cause they motored for a while, so I'd figured I wouldn't be able to get a good one - but then they started sailing again & that sent 'em back over in my direction. I was able to get down close enough to get this.

It was very hot here today - one of those days when working on the schooner almost feels like work. Prepping the boat in the morning, scrubbing down the decks, laying in a good stock of beverages - we were melting. But the minute we motored past the end of the docks it all got better - there was a lovely sea breeze, better than we'd hoped for.

One thought that ran through my tired mind this evening -

There's nothing like doing outdoor work in a heatwave to make a plain old hot shower feel as luxurious as a fancy spa treatment. Mmm mmm mmmmmm. Feels soooo good to scrub off all the sweat & grime & sunblock & get clean. Oh yeah.

3 sails tomorrow - I hope that breeze cooperates as nicely as it did today. Even if it does, I think I may have to go fall in the river after I get done, just like I did last week.

Bedtime now - 3 more sails tomorrow.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Pier 63 Sampler & The Helpful Token Booth Clerk (no, fo'real!)

Here’s Manhattan Kayak Company getting ready for a tour on a beautiful summer evening in New York City. The guy with the helmet and the "8" on his pfd is with New York Kayak Polo; the boat who's red-white&black stern you can just see behind him is a 6-man outrigger canoe, one of the New York Outrigger fleet, and the red and yellow open boat in the water behind the double is a Hammerhead surfski racing boat & is being paddled by Stefani Jackenthal, who's very cool & makes me look like a couch potato. The Big G - you can just see the name on the stern of the green & white boat in the background - is a retired police launch that a group has bought & renovated. I think I like this shot so much because it shows such a solid little subset of all the kinds of water-related "stuffs" that go on at Pier 63.

That was Tuesday night, last week to be precise. That was a good night out there! We've had a lot of those lately.

I hope you’ll accept this in lieu of the “real post” I said I’d do tonight. I’m just too tired to be coherent because of last night’s track fire. One of the things I really like about living in New York is that I don’t have to own a car at all – I just use public transportation, or hoof it if it’s nice. I wouldn’t call myself an environmentalist – environmentally aware, yes, but not quite good enough to claim the actual title of “environmentalist” - but I figure I get a whole lot of eco-karma points for that. However, every now & then the system gets fouled up that does make for a loooooong trip (of course that happens with cars, too, right?).

Long story short about the "helpful token booth clerk" to whom I referred - I know that that sounds like a COMPLETE oxymoron - at least to NYC denizens - passengers ended up getting kicked off express trains at Canal Street last night and sent upstairs to the local track where the express trains were supposed to have been switched. After having worked both sails, I had enough tip money to take a cab home, but since I live pretty far out in Brooklyn that would've eaten an irritatingly large chunk of the evening's net. I decided to wait until 12:15 (we got kicked off the other train at 11:45). 12:15 arrived but no train - but what I found particularly irritating was that there were no announcements, leaving that annoying sense that there was a chance that if I left the station, an express train could turn up in 2 minutes & I would be wasting my cab fare. I actually tried to call the station manager's line (posted where I could see it from a pay phone) to leave an angry message about that but the voicemail was full (I was clearly not the first person who had that idea) so I decided to actually make a detour on my way out expressly (ha ha) for the purpose of saying something to an MTA person.

Not that I expected any satisfaction - usually yelling at token booth clerks is an excercise in frustration - they are securely encased in steel and bulletproof glass and generally don't care; and if they do care there's not usually anything they can do about it. I'll admit it, I just wanted the satisfaction of venting my irritation at being left totally clueless for 35 minutes at an actual human representative of the Metropolitan Transit Authority. That was all - I fully planned to go get a cab after getting that all off my chest.

Well, I marched up to the booth & started in with a completely unpunctuated diatribe - went something like this:

"WHERE is the TRAIN we have been waiting for THIRTY-FIVE MINUTES and there's NO TRAIN and they kicked us off the Q train and told us to come upstairs and wait on the local track but there's NO TRAIN and there hasn't been one single announcement about WHY and it's FINE if there aren't any trains but if there aren't any trains you should at least TELL us whether there's going to be a train or NOT so we can decide what to do and...oh...huh?? really???!!!...thank you!"

See, I was totally ready for anything from complete disinterest to outright hostility but the guy totally took the wind out of my sails by actually listening to what I was saying, looking concerned, saying "Let me see what I can find out" and WHOA - picking up the phone! I actually let out one more little half-hearted sputter - "I mean, it doesn't matter if the train's 5 minutes away or 20 minutes away, just TELL US" - and then sort of drifted back over to the local track & just as I got there there was an announcement that ALL trains were running were now running on the EXPRESS track - which was where we'd been kicked off the train 40 minutes earlier. I wonder, if that guy actually hadn't actually taken the initiative to look into it, or if I hadn't told him, how long that crowd would've been left sweltering on the local track - which had been shut down for track work at midnight.

So every single other person was pissed off. Me, I was thinking "Way to go, token booth man!". I couldn't get back out to the booth to thank him (I'd already gone out to chew him out & then swiped my MetroCard to get back in, and once you swipe an unlimited-use card like I use you can't swipe it again at the same station for 20 minutes or so - precaution against people sharing the cards to ride the train at the same time - if I want to loan my metrocard to a friend for a day, that's fine, but if my friend & I are taking the train together the MTA would prefer that we both actually pay) but felt bad that I hadn't waited to do so & just wandered off while he was making the call, but I did go to the turnstile by the booth & jumped up & down & waved until the guy saw me, then gave him a big thumbs up and an ear to ear grin.

Boy, the MTA should have more people like that guy. How refreshing.

Set and Drift - Governor's Island Art Exhibit.

Alright, so I'm a little slow on the uptake on mentioning this rather neat-sounding art exhibit on Governor's Island, seeing as it opened in July and closes on the 13th.

Looks interesting. I can't go 'cause I'm working on the schooner on Saturday but figured I'd mention it anyways - not too late for normal people who don't feel driven to have a part-time nautical job in additional to a perfectly good day job crunching numbers.

It came to my attention because I worked the 8:30 - 10:30 sail on the schooner last night. This is the first night sail I've worked in a long time. I was standing watch as we were heading North from the Statue when, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that there were a lot of cars driving fast along the street that runs along the perimeter of Governor's Island, which grabbed my attention because the most traffic I've ever seen before on Governor's Island was one vehicle, probably driven by a security person. Turned out that what I'd read in my periphal vision as "a lot of cars driving fast along a road" was actually the exhibit "Beckon" - dancing white lights chasing each other, slowing down, speeding up, blinking out for a minute - it's pretty neat, the effect is almost hypnotic. I had to remind myself that I was on watch & that I couldn't forget about the rest of the lights I was keeping an eye on - i.e., the ones that were attached to boats! Fortunately Wednesday nights aren't bad nights trafficwise so I was more able to enjoy "Beckon" than I would have been able to on a Thursday or Friday. I suspect you can see it from the Battery - I need to go home & crash early tonight 'cause a track fire resulted in my not being in bed until 2 AM (would've been later too except for an MTA token booth clerk who actually cared enough about stranded passengers to DO something - WOW - more on that this evening when I'll do a real post!!!!) but I may go see what I can see tomorrow night. Always nice to go for a walk down in the Battery anyways.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Boredom Numbs the Work World!

The truly amazing part is that that's NOT from The Onion.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Adirondack's Angels!

What an absolutely glorious night.

Good followup to the weekend really. One of our usual crew on the Schooner Adirondack is up in Newport this week working on the Adirondack II, so I've been called in for a couple of evening sails.

Tonight was breathtaking - one of those nights on the harbor that we tend to get when the trailing end of a cloudy day reaches us just a bit before sunset, and somehow the light that glows in under the clouds is just trapped and reflected in a way that just sets everything on fire - everything just glows golden.

Couldn't take pix but it's the same impression as I managed to get some pix of last year in this gallery. Not exactly the same - it seems like no two nights are every precisely the same, the place changes from day to day.

Plus it turned out to be All-Girl Crew Tuesday! Woo hoo! Captain Sarah, me, and Meghan. Captain Sarah and I are both in our 4th season and Meghan (who has the most amazing smile of anyone I know) is in her 3rd - we know each other, we know the boat, and I love working with these guys. Just feels really solid.

Plus I was happy with myself in that I finally did the new bow jump - somebody has to get from the bow to the dock to make off the lines at the end of the sail; owing to a switcharound of the dock, we've reversed the direction of the boat & the jump now involves being out on the end of the bowsprit instead of perched on the gunwale by the aft end of the whisker stay (the cables that run from the tip of the bowsprit back to the sides of the boat to stop any side-to-side motion), and somehow it just feels like a lot more of a jump. I've been stalling on doing this - most of the crew are very young and springy and like jumping, and I kinda figure why risk joints that are closer to 40 than 30 (ok, there's one other crew member my age but she's a dancer and knows how to land lightly, whereas I just sort of land however) - but this is something that we all need to be able to, so tonight, feeling pretty great, I went ahead & did it - it was definitely higher than the old jump but I was fine & now that I've done it once, I know what it's like & I'm not so worried. Which was great, and I was psyched - and we were all in such a good mood after the sail - and one of the perks of working on this particular schooner is that you get to hang out on the boat & unwind for a little while at the end of the day. Tonight, with no 8:30 sail, and the sunset just fading away, this was a particular luxury - usually my enjoyment is mitigated by a keen awareness that the longer I unwind, the longer it's going to take to get home.

What a great night.

Hope tomorrow's anywhere near as nice.

Here we are, playing Charlie's Angels after the sail tonight - Captain Sarah, Meghan and me. All a little windblown, yes, but the three of us have just been showing some very happy passengers just how much fun we have sailing an 80 foot schooner.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Pointless post re lovely weekend.

Actually I'm really, really mulling over that Serious Type Post on water access & the recreational use of the Hudson - but if we don't have some bad weather here it's gonna fall by the wayside like all the other long & well-written posts that I haven't had time to write.

Heck with it, though. I just had THE perfect NYC summer weekend (that's a picture of my neighborhood just to demonstrate how nice it was - isn't that JUST what you picture in you mind when someone says "Brooklyn"?). At least according to me. Of course I'm a bit outside the norm. But I want to write about that & it's my blog. So there.

It actually started on Friday night - an old friend who I haven't seen much of lately called and after a round of phone tag we finally got in touch in the evening - we ended up going for Italian ices at Uncle Louie G's, then going for a walk on the beach in Brighton Beach while heat lightning lit up the clouds out over the Atlantic;

Saturday morning I slept in, then another friend & I hit the local farmers' market, which I love (I rave about it over here...took the new toy along & put a few local shots in my miscellaneous album - maybe that'll prove that I'm not COMPLETELY monomaniacal!), then went for iced coffee (although I ended up with iced jasmine tea) at our favorite local leftist/anarchist/socialist coffeeshop...who are being awfully capitalistic & bringing in completely irresistable pastries from Balthazar. Bad leftists. Bad. Granola I can say no to but a Balthazar's sticky bun? STOP it! Anyhow, at 2:00 it turned out that the founder of liberal radio station Air America was giving a reading from his new book, so we stuck around for that - then after that it was time to head off to work the 6:00 and 8:30 sails on the schooner. They were both booked solid, so the crew was kept busy, but we had great sailing and the most glorious sunset - oh, and on the 6:00 sail there was one of the regattas the Manhattan Yacht Club always has & all the J-24's had their spinnakers flying as they ran north past the Statue and it was SO beautiful and I had my camera with me but I couldn't take a picture of that OR the sunset 'cause I was working...sorry!

And then Sunday I worked the afternoon shift on the schooner - much less crowded, and more good sailing - better than we'd hoped for, actually, the wind seemed dead around our dock but we had a nice fresh breeze down by the harbor. Meghan and I were the crew, and then we had trainee Carl doing his last 2 sails as a trainee - actually we'd been the same crew the night before and Carl had absolutely pulled his weight on a very full boat, so this was just one last formality. There were less than 20 passengers on both the 1:00 and the 3:30 - 20 is actually the point at which you sort of start to want an extra pair of hands, while with less than 20 Meghan and I could've run things on our own easily, so with Carl helping out too, things were very relaxed. Nice.

It was cloudy, but pretty hot. One of those days when people tend to sprawl out on the cabin tops & the rocking of the boat just lulls them off to sleep. I kept making noises about falling in and man-overboard drills 'cause that cool green water, touched with white as it swirled away in our wake, looked so tempting.

However, seeing as man-overboard drills are more traditionally done with a fender or a PFD or something more disposable than crew, and seeing as I didn't particularly want to get fired halfway through my 4th season, I refrained.

At one point, we hit a wake in such a way that a beautiful plume of spray leaped over the deck - just forward of where I was standing. Rats!

But I had my swimsuit & boardshorts & fully planned to go get wet after the 3:30 - 5:30 was over. I was really worried for a while - there were some incredibly dramatic black clouds down over the Lower Harbor (again, I would've loved to take pix but the crew isn't supposed to be sightseeing!)& the south end of the Upper Harbor, and more up north of the city - I was crossing my fingers that the rain would just hooooold off until I finished work!

It did. I credit a regular passenger who always comes on Sunday, got poured on a couple of weeks ago, and requested her slicker in advance. I brought it to her & of course that meant no rain. Yay.

Carl did fine on his last 2 sails as a trainee so got his promotion as expected; as it turned out that there were 40 people on the 6:00 - and the evening sails are always a bit tougher than the day sails, service-wise, as we add wine, champagne, & beer fancy enough to require a bottle opener for the night sails. I offered to stay but Carl had heard me talking about how much I was looking forward to falling in the river, and Mike's pretty good at serving and um maybe I didn't sound really enthusiastic in my offer...anyways, the guys said they were cool with working the sail with 2 so I scampered off for Pier 63, where people were falling in the water left & right. Whee. The water felt soooo good. I swam a little, floated a little, swam a little, got Mr. & Mrs. Dockmaster to jump in too, made a friend practice her swimmer bow-carry. Lovely. I should swim more. I've been trying to be a little better about crosstraining & have been doing some running - but I like swimming more than running. Paddling, and only paddling, does not a fitness routine make. Thinking of joining CIBBOWS - I live so close to Brighton Beach now I can't believe I didn't think of this before but it actually took getting a notice regarding kayak support for a swim race they were planning before that particular light bulb went on...oh yeah, BB stands for Brighton Beach...duh! Problem with just going on my own is of course the "who will watch my gear" question. I can't exactly suggest to a friend that we go to the beach, then when we get there, pull out my goggles, say "O.K.,I'll be back in an hour", now can I? CIBBOWS seems to have that worked out.

The issue, of course, is time. I'm already sort of stretched as it is. And as long as it hasn't rained a lot, the barge isn't a bad swimming hole (as long as you're a good swimmer & know enough to stay out of the current).

After I'd swum enough to cool down, I finally felt inspired to pull my kayak out & do some rolling - Jeff was there, and he'd gotten to talking to a woman who'd just discovered the barge after suffering withdrawal pangs from an extended trip to some shore somewhere - anyways, she'd come to the barge and found Jeff jumping in the water, and then I turned up & also jumped in the water, and then other people also jumped in - she wasn't dressed for jumping in, but Jeff has a Heritage Kayaks sit-atop (a little nicer than your average sit-atop) and after she quizzed him about kayaking for quite some time he'd decided it'd be simpler to just give her a lesson (he's American Canoe Association certified & has guided for MKC so she was in very good hands). I pulled out my boat & did some rolling - I worked through the weirdness with my offside, which I was having some very confidence-shaking problems with back in June, last week Tuesday - I deal with anything like that by just putting myself back through the basics...sometimes a few hip snaps off somebody's bow are just the ticket to get your brain back into the right space (i.e. the underwater, upside-down one!) - as Mr. SeaLevel found out the other day & wrote up in a pretty darned good post.

Then I went home and had a lambchop & a salad of farmers' market tomatoes & baby lettuce for dinner...

Apparently the salt water really soaked into my brain though... This morning I was asking one of my co-workers if she had a bright-colored interoffice envelope - most are standard-issue brown so the odd bright pink or blue one is very useful for sending urgent things to our backoffice in New Jersey - makes the item stand out. When my co-worker said "No", I actually heard myself say "No problem, I'll go see if there are any down below".

Meaning of course in the mailroom in the basement.

I don't think I've ever actually used boat lingo outside of a boat situation by accident. Intentionally, occasionally, and then only to make fun of my own pseudo-salty reputation...but never by accident.

Made me laugh at myself.

Just a little more evidence of what a good weekend it was!

Sailing. Swimming. Paddling. Farmer's market. Walk on beach. Italian ice. Heat lightning. Iced jasmine tea. Working with friends. Hanging out with friends. Playing in the water with friends.

Really...does it get much better than that?

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Staten Island Circumnavigation Part 2

Finally got obsessive-compulsive enough to finish off the 2nd half of the Staten Island circumnavigation gallery - you can check it out here.

Time to go sailing now. Nice weekend here in NYC!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Filler - A Funny Story About My Dad

It is hot & muggy today in NYC and I plan to go spend a pleasant evening falling in the river some more - rolling practice, if I can make it, first, then I thought I'd pull out the surfski before it gets too rusty. I actually went to the library during lunch intending to go back to the re-creation of the Tuesday-night rolling's-GREAT post but got sidetracked by an interesting article on religion in Harper's magazine -

So here's a filler instead. A good one though. Heh heh heh. Funny, I never heard this one from my dad & I'm grateful to the gentleman who saw fit to put it up where I was able to stumble across it with a Google search! BTW the Robert E. Lee is a submarine (see below), the CO is the Commanding Officer (aka my dad) and the XO is the Executive Officer (second in command).

On board the Robert E. Lee SSBN601B, the crew stole the XO"s door. The next day's POD said there were to be no movies until it was returned. For privacy the XO hung a blanket over the opening.

By the 3rd day he had gotten into the habit of walking thru the blanket instead of moving it. On the 5th day we replaced the door. Re-hanging the blanket over it, and then settled back to watch the fun.

Suddenly the XO came running down the passageway enroute to his stateroom and thru the blanket/curtain, coming up very short upon meeting the door. Nose bleeding and demanding an answer, the CO came to his rescue.

After surveying the damage the CO marched to control, grasped the 1MC and announced, "This is the Captain. The XO's door has been found. MOVIE CALL!"

Found on SubmarineSailor.com

("Mr. OnKayaks is gonna LOVE that site!)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Arrrrrr & Argh & Yum

Hey, look, only 46 days 'til Talk Like A Pirate Day 2005!

Woo hoo!

I mean ARRRRR!

Afterthought, later in day, brought on by my drink of choice at Mrs. Kayak Boy's going away party (which I'm reminded of by her comment & I wouldn't have missed, I'm just glad she's still speaking to me after it was kind of partly my fault she ended up in that ill-suited post in the first place - better luck at the new place!) - the perfect drink for getting in the mood for Talk Like a Pirate Day is, of course, the Dark & Stormy, which is 1 part Gosling's Black Seal Rum, 2 parts ginger beer (the gingerier the better, I'd say!) over ice. Yummy. First ran into these at the Mayor's Cup Schooner Race post-race festivities in '02 and thought that they may've tasted so darned good because we'd won the race, and the finish had been neck and neck with the captains shouting salty things at each other about holding fair courses and stuff, & the party was on the Peking, (a big old barque that's part of the South Street Seaport Museum collection - this ship was a nitrate carrier until 1932 - they've done up some displays belowdecks & the absolute coolest thing there is film footage that was actually shot on one of her voyages around Cape Horn...unbelievable scenes of a storm, plus the bit about the captain's dog is pretty funny) and it was just the most wonderful night - but they tasted pretty darned good on Monday night at a pub in SoHo, too.

So I figured heck, why not add a drink recipe since I still haven't finished the post that went "poof!"?

This post brought to you in lieu of the post that Blogger mostly ate last night - I actually thought it was pretty good. "retrieve post" got back the start, but it was a little to involved to finish on lunch hour, plus I couldn't quite seem to recapture the spirit I had last night right off the water. I totally geeked out, I was totally inspired by a really fab falling-in-the-Hudson play session at the pier last night - it felt so great being in the water that in the end I just jumped off the dock and went for a swim, then hosed myself off and dripped-dry over a burger & beer with a couple of the other people who'd come out to play. Nice nice night. Ah summer. I'm very bummed that the post written during the afterglow went bye bye, I couldn't quite recapture it with one eye on the clock this afternoon.

Monday, August 01, 2005

International Rules of Pillow Combat (plus interesting article re Hudson River Parks piers 25 & 26)

Oh dear.

Having reviewed the International Rules of Pillow Combat, as laid down (heh heh, "down", get it?) by the supposedly biased Mr. SeaLevel - specifically the following clauses -

- pillows to be filled with 100% duck or goose down, with no synthetics permitted.

- Filling will not exceed 75% of available interior space, to facilitate grab and swing and discourage duellists from using their pillows as mere clubs.

- Finally, mahi-mahi throw pillows are strictly prohibited, unless used by BOTH contestants.

I find that my vaunted arsenal is entirely disqualified by virtue of both stuffing and, in the one case, mahi-mahiness.

I suggested the possibility of paddle floats but I am also thinking that bilge pumps at 20 paces might be more in line with the great historical kayak battles as told in the oral traditions of the Great Hudson River Paddle Sorry, you won't find the shenanigans to which I refer written up in that link - like I said, we're talking oral tradition here! What you do is find somebody who's done it since the first one, give them a couple of beers & get them talking story. There's at least one mammoth water ambush of an unsuspecting day-paddle by the through-paddlers that usually comes up!

I also wonder if I should do a little heritage check on Mr. SeaLevel - I believe he claims to be of Canadian origin but most of us Norteamericanos came from somewhere before that...hmmm...

OK, now I'm just getting silly, and there was actually something interesting that I wanted to share, which was the actual point of posting right now - this article was in the New York Times this weekend, and it gave a really good description of the type of things that are going on in the very rapidly developing Hudson River waterfront. Sorry, registration required & if you're reading this after August 6th or so the article will be one of those "archive - $" items. I thought people might find it interesting stuff though - it's very reflective of the entire park-building process, which has such an effect on so much of the paddling that's done in Manhattan. Hope you enjoy!