Saturday, December 30, 2006


I gave away my drysuit this week.

Well, one of them anyways, since I found myself quite unexpectedly & delightedly in possession of 2. Yep, TQ absolutely blew me away with his slightly early Christmas gift - he presented it to me on the Wednesday before Christmas, when we were getting ready to launch for that wonderful camping trip. GoreTex. With socks. Faced with such an unbelieveably great gift, it just seemed that passing on the old one gratis was the only decent response. Especially I'd already gotten a killer deal on the old coated nylon one, which was a replacement from Kokatat for the old Frankensuit (so named by Goofy because of the AquaSeal & edges of old gaskets peeking out from under various replacement gaskets I'd put on it over the course of several years).

Found a taker quickly, and told him that I was going to be up in CT for Christmas, but that I'd be back at work this week from Wednesday through Friday & he could come try it on & collect it then. He did so on Thursday. Fit him fine, and I'm hoping he can get out on some of the paddles the Rustbucketeers have been doing.

He asked me when the last time I'd been out was. I thought back. It seemed like weeks ago - we didn't get out over Christmas, family was visiting & the weather was just sort of dreary. "Oh, gee, not for a couple of weeks, I guess. But I'm going out on New Year's Day. Can't wait."

After he left, it hit me that the last paddling I'd done had been our camping trip exactly one week before.

But then there'd been running back and forth between CT & NY - Chocolate Mission to Rockefeller Center -- a Christmas Eve Day run to B&H photo to pick up the Optio WP20 that I'd been hemming & hawing over getting TQ until he took me by surprise with his gift - plus various other errands, and housekeeping, and catching up with people I hadn't talked to in ages.

Then there was Christmas itself - TQ is the youngest in a large family, and there was a houseful, including a couple of fairly young kids. Definitely fun, but a little overwhelming for someone who's sort of opted out of formal holiday celebrations in favor of staying in NY and enjoying a nice quiet couple of days off, maybe having a few friends over, doing a little paddling, and generally taking at least one long walk out at Coney Island. Phew. Big change of pace.

Uninspiring weather didn't help either - we had a couple of short jaunts, but not as much outdoors time as I usually try to get over the holidays.

Went back to work on Wednesday feeling very overfed & underexercised. We used to have a gym, but that got closed as part of cost-cutting measures - I really missed it this week. Instead, I went for a couple of long walks after work & spent my subway rides daydreaming about long paddles out along Coney Island

I am really looking forward to the Frostbite Regatta. Sounds like we'll have a good couple of hours of paddling, and several people joining me in some New Year rolling - not as tough as the Polar Bear Swim paddlers, but should be fun!

But I think I'm also looking forward to the end of the holiday season!

It was sort of funny how abruptly it hit me that I'm sort of holidayed out...

TQ's coming down for New Year's, and I actually found myself getting a little panicky trying to figure out Something To Do on New Year's Eve. Sadly, at one point we'd actually been talking about going to see James Brown, but the club he was going to be playing at was really close to Times Square & when I started looking at the instructions for how to get through the police barricades I got scared off, and we mutually decided that we'd go next time he was performing at BB King's...I really thought there would be a next time.

Anyways, this left us planless for New Year's Eve itself. The Big Night. With the Frostbite Regatta launching at 10 on the 1st, I didn't want to make too late a night of it. There's a great new restaurant in my area, The Farm on Adderley - I checked there & sure enough, they had 2 seatings for New Year's Eve. I figured I'd make reservations for us for the earlier, I could dress up & look nice, we'd have their 5-course meal, it would be nice.

Except that I just couldn't get excited about it - and when I started trying to figure out why, I realized that I was just getting ready to make those reservations because It's New Year's Eve And You're Supposed to Do Something Fancy. Fact is, a five-course meal, after all the good eating & minimal exercise of the last couple of weeks, just isn't something I can get excited about.

Far more appealing is the idea of just staying home, making something good for dinner &...oh, have I mentioned this is not a relationship blog?

Thank goodness, he was fine with that too. He's just finished up with a houseful of people, too - wasn't too hard to sell him on the idea of having a nice, quiet, low-key evening at my place.

One of the things I really like about TQ is that he's not big on doing things because You're Supposed to Do Them. I'm not usually, but after the full-tilt family Christmas, I think I just sort of got hypnotized by the hurry of the season.

I'm so relieved to have snapped out of it before we were sitting there eating a large, expensive meal that neither of us really felt like we needed. Now I'm actually looking forward to New Year's Eve.

And New Year's Day, too, of course!

Closing now, possibly 'til '07, with a hearty "Hauoli Makahiki Hou", straight from Brooklyn! Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

You Are What You Eat. And So, to a Lesser Extent, is Whatever Waterway Into Which your Sewage Outfalls.

Super quick post this morning, I just found this pretty fascinating - apparently scientists in Seattle have been studying treated sewage at a local wastewater plant & have found that there are measurable spikes in seasonal spices like cinnamon & vanilla. .

It's not just cookies, either - apparently all that Starbucks has a measurable effect on Sound water, too. Says the article:

"King County researchers several years took caffeine measurements to try to learn whether the city's coffee drinking habits had any effect on the sound. Caffeine was found in more than 160 of 216 samples in water as deep as 640 feet."

Wow. I know that our waste never really goes away, no matter how much we'd like to relax into the out of sight out of mind mentality, but that's really something to think about. Vivid statistic. Might bring up some less-than-sugarplummy images - but is that such a bad thing?

Stencilling storm drains with the message "Goes to the Sea" is getting to be more and more common - it's inexpensive, it's a project that volunteers of all ages can do, and I bet it does make people think a little bit. I hope so, anyways. I think I first saw stencils featuring that message after my parents had returned to Hawaii after my father retired from the Navy. I haven't seen any here in New York City yet, that was one of dozens of suggestions that were offered at the Jamaica Bay Watershed Protection Plan workshop I attended not long ago, so they may eventually start popping up around Brooklyn - only with a striper or a bluefish instead of a humuhumunukunukuapua'a.

Perhaps toilet lids should be marked with that message, too.

BTW if you have stumbled across this page looking for suggestions on how to organize a storm drain stencilling project, here are some guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency. Good luck & have fun!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Season's Greetings from NYC!

From the quiet of the Norwalk Islands, to the heart of NYC!

Getting off the train at Union Square - always seems to be "doings" in that station around the holidays! Last week, it was SantaCon - this week, I heard the unmistakable, unearthly sound of Silent Night, as performed on the Musical Saw - followed the sound to find the one & only Saw Lady! You never saw anyone play the saw with as much verve & panache as Ms. Paruz. Had errands to run but thoroughly enjoyed the moment!

The cause for my even venturing into the holiday madness of midtown New York City...Teuscher Chocolates for TQ's family.

Teuscher specializes in fancy packaging. Yes, the angel chorus is actually packaging for appropriately heavenly chocolate. When I go get this kind of chocolate, I make a habit of always getting a large box for giving, plus a small box. Call it the "decoy box" - it's basically to keep myself out of the big box!

Mission accomplished, I wander out past the tree, and the rink. I'd never skate here - there are lovely ice rinks in Prospect & Central Parks - but much though I'm not really into big crowds, this is always fun to see.

Needs no caption, right?

Back off to Connecticut now, chocolates in hand!

Happy Holidays to all!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Norwalk Islands, 12/20 - 12/21

Well, here's some pictures - winter camping was fun!

although not the wintriest of winter days...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Greenland Kayak Rolls

Andrew Elizaga performs a range of traditional Greenland kayak rolls in his skin-on-frame East Greenland replica qajaq, demonstrating the grace and beauty of these magnificent seagoing arctic hunting craft. This movie features the names of the rolls in English, an original musical score and guest appearance by Baby Seal.

- bonnie's note...well, here it is 7 pm. I'm finishing up at work. So much for leaving at 5. I will be incommunicado for a couple of days, going for my first EVER winter camping trip (aside from maybe Hawaii & California, but I don't think that counts as actual WINTER camping) - hope to have some pretty pictures & good stories when I get back!

In the meantime, O.G. sent me this jazzy-riffic little video which turns out to be none other than the Dash Point Pirate himself! Enjoy!

Monday, December 18, 2006

SantaCon 2006

Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the city
The shop-windows sparkled with gimcracks so pretty
In the Union Square station I ran from the Q
On my way to Grand Central to visit TQ
My scheduled departure was 5:36
I was rushing to transfer, not pausing for pix.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a hundred St. Nicholases, sodden with beer!

OK, enough bad poetry. That's basically what happened, though. I wasn't actually late, but I was at the point where I did not have all sorts of time to futz around. However, when you are running to catch the Lexington Avenue Express, and you're not actually late, and suddenly the stairs from the platform begin spewing hundreds of drunken Santas (santi?), with the odd reindeer, elf, Elve-ira Mistress of the Toyshops, and angel mixed in, and you happen to have a digital camera on your person, you simply owe to yourself to at least take a FEW pictures.

Otherwise people accuse you of hitting the eggnog too hard, y'know?

Thank goodness I had read about the phenomenon last year on NewYorkOlogy.

Sometimes, this ridiculous city has it's points.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Sebago Parrot Update - 1 Week Later

Looks like our utility pole passed inspection!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Monk Parrots, aka Monk Parakeets, at Sebago Canoe Club

And now, back to a happier subject.

This is a picture of pair of Monk (or Quaker) Parakeets (or Parrots), who appear to be investigating the transformer box outside of the Sebago Canoe Club as a possible nest sight. Of COURSE I had to take their picture!

Just call me a pa"parrot"zi...

(oooh, I am soooo sorry, I just couldn't resist)

Flocks of these birds are curious, but not uncommon, sights in certain neighborhoods of Brooklyn. I see them (and hear them, they have typical parrot voices) fairly regularly in the morning as I'm walking to the subway station, and it's very odd to see a bird that looks like it should be living in a jungle, or on a veldt, flying over the local bagel shops, bodegas, and 99 cent stores.

The generally accepted story of the parrots' introduction to Brooklyn is that the founding flock escaped from a broken crate at John F. Kennedy airport sometime in the 60's. Originally bound for the pet market, the escapees, like so many other immigrants, found the city to be a hospitable enough environment that they were able to make a place for themselves, and thrive. You can spot the enormous, shaggy-looking nests that colonies of the birds build on utility poles all over Brooklyn.

Being absolutely adorable-looking little critters, they are immensely popular in the borough - far, far more than 2 other, commoner, introduced birds, pigeons and starlings, both of whom suffer the dual disadvantages of being far more common and far less cute. A recent outbreak of parakeet-poaching raised a local outcry, and even drew the ire of Borough President Marty Markowitz - you can read the story as reported by here.

But although even the Brooklyn "beep" may be a high-profile supporter, the A-#1 fan of the birds has almost got to be Steve Baldwin, webmaster of the website. He blogs about them, he photographs them, he tapes them, he writes poetry about them, he sings about them, and even he leads Parrot Safaris (the next one is on January 7th and if you'd like to join the Lincoln Karim of the King's County psittacine set on a parrot-watching adventure, you can find full information on his December 12th post).

Steve's site has a lot of information, all from the point of view of the ultimate parrot enthusiast. I also found a more balanced view of the species at the website of the University of Tennessee's Institute for Biological Invasion, which named the Monk Parakeet as Invader of the Month for December 2000. I'd actually found this one back when I first saw a flock of monk parakeets in my neighborhood & found myself wanting to know more. Now, "Invader of the Month" may sound like a thoroughly condemnatory title, but they actually didn't come down all that hard on the birds at all - in fact I found it a rather interesting & reasonably well-balanced article. I have found myself wondering if they'd still be considered cute they ever got up to the numbers that the 2 other introduced species I mentioned earlier, pigeons and starlings, and this article does give you some ideas about that.

Speaking of starlings, I stumbled across an interesting National Geographic article while doing a little background research - I knew starlings were an introduced, invasive species, but I didn't know that all the starlings in the country are descendants of one flock that wasreleased in Central Park in 1890 by a well-meaning Shakespeare fanatic. Wow.

At any rate - although I can't quite work up complete, unalloyed enthusiasm for an introduced species, even a cute one (I think people who've spent much time living in Hawaii end up with a basic distrust of non-native species - that is because so many introductions out there have had such bad results for the local flora & fauna, you grow up hearing about it, it's something that's taken quite seriously out there) - when I got out of Stevie's car to open the gate last Sunday morning, heard that distinctive chatter, looked up at the transformer box, and what was going on, my first thought was "Well, it would be interesting to have our very own resident parrots". When we came back at the end of the day, there was no sign of them, so maybe they decided it wasn't quite right - but they're definitely around & if they do happen to decide to settle in, the club is going offer some interesting parrot-watching opportunities, on top of all the other advantages I've been enjoying.

In addition to all the various articles & websites I used, which I linked to, thank you Stevie & Adele for filling me in on the parrot poaching - you were the first people from whom I'd heard a word about that!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Not Tonight's Planned Post.

I had a certain idea about something I wanted to write about. It's actually kind of fun, and I'll still do it one of these nights, but I need to get an earlier start than I am tonight.

There've been a couple of untimely deaths in circles I travel in of late. Both people in their 40's, an age far younger than that at which you'd expect the body to give way that completely. The first was a close relative of one of my new clubmates at Sebago - all of the sudden one day he couldn't go on one of our Breezy Point trips because this had happened. The next one, last week I think, was a guy I knew, although not as well as a lot of people I know did. He was a very active & popular local paddler around here, nice guy, tended to write some very good posts on NYCKayaker. He'd joined Sebago recently too, we'd talked about it after I'd sent him a back-channel compliment on something he'd written about the Hudson River Park access business, it was one of the best-worded posts I think I saw on the topic - he asked me if I'd joined Sebago, as he'd heard. I was looking forward to doing some club paddles with him.

He lived what sounds like a good life, though - had good friends, did a lot of what he loved, spent some time in beautiful places.

Then tonight, just before I left work, I decided to take a look over at Rivertyde, one of my longtime favorite blogs, and found myself reading Michlt's account of his perfectly healthy, strong, 48-year old partner's stroke. He's recovering now. But still. Makes you think.

Anyways, it had rained all day today, but I walked out of the office, at the reasonably decent hour of 7:15, and into an absolutely beautiful night. Clearly a night meant for a walk across the Manhattan Bridge, not a night to ride in a hole in the ground.

So instead of catching the express train home, I stopped at a Korean place I like, had a good dinner, and then had a lovely walk across the East River.

May've even sang a little while I walked. Most people don't think beyond the subway this time of year, and I always sing best where no one can hear me. Just random stuff...

I guess the moral of this story is - when you get handed an unexpected mid-December walk-across-the-bridge night - and your plans will allow it - go walk across the bridge.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

And Now, A Pier 63 update from Marcus.

This is the paddler formerly known on this blog by his Nom de Blog, "Sticks" (a reference to his former life as a drum shop owner & maker of drums - I believe Mr. SeaLevel came up with that, I am terrible at those catchy nicknames). I think I can now start calling him by his real name, Marcus Demuth.

Marcus is the MOST adventurous of the group I refer to collectively as "The Adventure Squad". He just started paddling in October 2003, and took to, take a wild guess.

Marcus is already somewhat famous among certain circles in our area for his expeditionary exploits, and I wouldn't be surprised if down the road he gets to be one of those people everybody talks about. In addition to being an awesome paddler, he's also a fantastic photographer, a very good writer, and an incredibly warm & open-hearted person. And funny, too!

Anyways - I'm de-anonymizing him today because recently, I found out that he's got a website, (yes, there's a link in minute). Linking to that was definitely in the posting plans for the near future. That just became today because last week, he'd told us all about a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Pier 66A (site of the new boathouse that the DEC had wrongly supposed was going to absorb all the boats on the barge), which was going to feature an assortment of officials, and that he was planning to attend. He did, and got a chance to actually talk to Governor Pataki, Mayor Bloomberg, and NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benape. The exchange was brief, but the tone of his writeup was optimistic. Here's a link to that writeup - and once you've read that, wander around the rest of the site - I really think you'll enjoy it!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Jamaica Bay - Paerdegat Basin to West Pond, 12/9/06

Here's most of my pictures from yesterday. There are a couple more, but the Blogger photo upload thing sometimes just gets to a point where it uploads, but doesn't put 'em in the post. Got to that today. So here's yesterday's trip, starting at our destination, West Pond, in the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. Temperature was I'd say in the low 30's, windspeeds 15-20 knots - when I'd posted this trip to the Greenland list, I referred to the predicted conditions as "feisty", and indeed, it was. Great workout. Slept like a log last night!

Clubmates Stevie & Ami, at the pond. This pond is actually a freshwater pond, artificially maintained, with easy walking paths around it & a spiffy new visitor center, where we gratefully took a warming break. I was kicking myself, too, I had money in my kayak, I knew there was a visitor center & it just didn't hit me that I should take the money & buy that eastern bird book I was talking about). We startled some birdwatchers, who told us they were there trying to get a couple more key species before the migratory flocks moved on. I was sorry we didn't get here a little earlier, because just as we were approaching the area, enormous flocks were taking wing, I suspect they'd been on the pond & that would've been a sight to see close up (it was even pretty spectacular from a distance, it was almost like clouds of smoke, they were so dense).

If you're looking the right way, it's easy to forget that you are in the middle of a major metropolitan area - but see that plane? It just took off from John F. Kennedy International Airport, which is located right on the shore of the Bay. Now, you need your airports, but this turns out to be one of the major contributors to the pollution levels in the Bay. De-icers, jet fuel, road salt, all kinds of things running into the bay with every rain. Stevie, on the way back, was telling me about how he & another paddler were out fishing one day, noticed a strong smell of jet fuel, and realized that they were in the middle of a slick - apparently there are circumstances under which a plane has to discharge fuel, and since they absolutely can't do that over a populated area, they have to do it in the Bay. One of the issues that came up at the workshop was that the airport is apparently asking to renew or expand some permit, and there hasn't been much oversight of that.

This was just a nice view from the walking path - old rowboat in the foreground, marsh full of brants in the middle ground, and the community of Broad Channel in the background. Stevie told me that there used to be other residents in the Bay, but when they went to clear the islands & make it into a wildlife refuge in the 60's (not coincidentally, that's when Sebago Canoe Club moved there from their namesake lake), but the Broad Channelites succesfully resisted eviction. The people who live there are very important to New York City - lots of policemen & firemen. Now, I have also heard that these are the people who first started raising the alarm about the shrinking marshes - when you live somewhere, and you love it, you notice when it starts to change for the worse. The idea of instilling a sense of stewardship for the Bay in the surrounding communities was mentioned repeatedly in the water-quality breakout session at the workshop - there's definitely already some of that out there.

I never knew that Brooklyn counted cactus among her native flora. However, as I learned from one of the trailside signs on the path around the pond, the sandy, salty conditions of Jamaica Bay are close enough to desertlike for a couple of desert species to thrive (note the yucca plants, with their swordlike leaves, behind Stevie & Ami, in the first picture).

Back to our boats after a nice warm-up and pit stop with plumbing. Ami wonders where the water went.

Phew. Good thing I pulled my boat up that 15 extra feet from the waterline. Force of habit, y'know?

It was a long haul back to Sebago. The wind seemed to get up to around a steady 20 kts as we went, not many whitecaps in this picture but they got to be frequent as we went on. The original plan was more sightseeing, but I enjoyed the workout. We didn't do any rolling today - I've been trying to do a few rolls every time I've been out, so that I can acclimatize myself to the dropping water temperatures, but it was just at that level of cold & windy where it just didn't seem smart to mess around. Even without rolling, I think the 3 of us did probably get some good work in on our "sea okole". BTW - see the Empire State Building and downtown Manhattan awaaaaay far away?

Buoy Number 12, and the Paerdegat bridge. Almost home! You can't see it in this shot but there's ice on the buoy. Somehow it doesn't seem like it made it up to the predicted high of 40.

And here's a holiday scene from the beautiful Paerdegat Basin. They had Christmas carols playing, and a little later, the lights went on. Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Answers to questions I've posed...

OK, there were 2 semi-rhetorical questions I've raised on this blog recently that I actually have ANSWERS to!

Question 1 (ok, it was in statement form):
Can't keep going around talking about those cute little black-and-white ducks, like to be able to figure out if they are Buffleheads or Common Goldeneyes.

Answer - Looking over a Baykeeper flyer showing common wildlife of Jamaica Bay, I'm going to put my money on Buffleheads!

Picked that flyer and a lot of other literature up at the workshop last night. It rocked, btw. I learned so much, my head was spinning by the time I walked out. I will DEFINITELY be writing about it - if I ever figure out where to even start!

Question 2:

If sailors get sea legs when they've sailed for a long time, what does a paddler get after paddling for a long time?

Well, Michael the CKayaker gave a very good answer in the comments that day, but I have to admit that TQ and I were operating on kid-outta-school level that day. I thought about it for a second then gave him a made-up Hawaiian answer:

"Okole o ke kai!"

I did give him an English translation a moment later. A rather vulgar one, 2 very short little words. Succeeded in cracking both of us up in a thoroughly satisfactory way. Thing is, it totally made sense to us - see, it goes like this:

if sea legs are legs that have adapted so thoroughly to being on a moving deck that they adjust to every shift without the sailor having to think about it, well, then, doesn't it seem like every good salt-water kayaker would want to achieve...

(momentarily regretting ever telling extremely non-vulgarity-using parents about blog...)

a "sea ass"?

OK, on that note, have a happy weekend! I've called for a photography paddle tomorrow in Jamaica Bay, and much to my amazement, there are others who are willing to come paddle with me even though I have warned them that when I get into picture-taking mode, I move like a turtle with attention deficit disorder (oooh! a rock! ooh! bubbles! ooh! buffleheads!). Tomorrow may be a little gusty, so it conditions decree no pictures, that'll be ok, but if I'm lucky, maybe I'll get some nice shots.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Jamaica Bay Workshop - tonight at Kingsborough College

Using and enjoying Jamaica Bay - wisely, respecfully, and with great appreciation, of course...

Tonight, I'm going to be attending a workshop that I hope will be a good way to learn a lot more about my new club's home, Jamaica Bay. It's the Jamaica Bay Watershed Protection Plan Strategy Development Workshop, it's in Building U, Room 220 at Kinsborough Community College, in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn (btw, it's cone-shaped building you can see in the background of one of my pictures from last Sunday's paddle). Actually I owe a certain Professor from the Sebago G-list big time - I had it stuck in my brain that the workshop was tomorrow - that woulda been a major bummer, fortunately I asked if anyone else was going tomorrow & she said, Well, I was planning to, but I can't, but it's tonight!

Phew. Sorry I did not get it up sooner, though. This sounds pretty interesting.

Anyways. Keeping this quick, if you want more info there is an absolutely lovely PUBLIC NOTICE with ALL the info! It's at the top of the list on their DEP News page - today, 12/7, it's the first document in the Public Notice section - tomorrow, I expect the first document will describe the next public meeting, it looks like they keep it quite up-to-date.

BTW - that's exactly the sort of clear public notice section I was hoping to find on the Hudson River Park Trust website, and didn't. I found that notice in 30 seconds with a Google search; I could just as easily have gone to the DEP website, looked around for a second & found the Public Notices section in the News page.

So I'll repeat - if you'd like to see Hudson River Park meetings be that easy to find out about, email Noreen Doyle at the Trust at - if you want to be heard, sometimes it's as easy as just speaking up.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Making Trouble...

OK, I've got people thinking I'm making trouble again - well, I guess I am, so I might as well just fling myself in with a will.

A lot of the train-wreck business back around Thanksgiving was partially due to the fact that in the past, the local kayaking community has had an incredibly effective grapevine, which I at least didn't realize how much I relied on until it suddenly didn't work.

If you actually slogged your way through "A Tale of Two Emails", you'll recall that I therefore attempted to figure out how to find out about these meetings, coming from the point of view of a random member of the public. Couldn't find any public notice section on the Hudson River Park website. Got in touch with Noreen Doyle at the Trust, she said she'd add me to the list, and she also said that I was welcome to send around her email, and she'd add anyone else to that list who wanted to be.

Where I'd like to be a troublemaker is - I don't know what sort of notice is considered to be sufficient, but it seems to me that it's not quite enough to give a paddler permission to circulate an email address. Fact is, if there'd been a proper, easy-to-find way of receiving notice about meetings posted on the Hudson River Park website, the people I got upset with for not spreading the word about the meeting could've taken every ounce of wind out of my sails by just saying "Look, here's the calendar, too bad you didn't know about it, next time you do".

As it is, it's just not that easy to find these things out once you've gotten out of the in crowd.

So - especially if you are an NYC-area resident who's interested in the ongoing development in the Hudson River Park - two points:

one, if you're interested in receiving notice about Park-related meetings, go ahead & email Noreen - So, again, her email is - & ask her to add you to the meeting notice mailing list.

and two, if you also think it would be better for there to be public notice someplace on their website, by all means, tell her that too.

Right now, I think it's just me who's been saying that. If you agree, let the Trust know!

And there was an interesting idea floating around recently, too - so far, most of the focus has been on our local paddlers, and in keeping with that, I was sort of aiming this at our local paddlers (if any of them are still speaking to me, she said ruefully) - but hey, if you're not from around here, and you like the idea of being able to come to New York, hire a guide & paddle out of the Hudson River Park to the Statue of Liberty, or the George Washington Bridge, or 26 miles around Manhattan - I suppose you could say something to that effect, too...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Larry's back...

So my friend Larry is blogging again - actually his email saying so finally prompted me to fix some blogroll problems I'd been meaning to attend to (still need to fix FH20 though! soon! sorry Francis!)

Larry got mentioned on Curbed because he noticed some funny commentary on some pretty smug advertising -

here was the first post -
here was part 2,

and here was curbed.

I guess the moral of the story is if you don't want answers, don't ask questions.

Larry had emailed me about those links this morning & also with a link to BlogChelsea - Michael, who writes Blog Chelsea, and Larry had both attended a meeting last night, and the Pier 63 area came up - Bob Trentlyon (who I think I've mentioned once or twice as one of the key players in the whole Chelsea park scene - try a "search this blog" for "Trentlyon") was there, and gave a description of what's to be expected at Piers 62, 63 & 64. Larry added that there's going to be a waterwheel that changes directions with the tide, too.

No mention of anything north of Pier 64, which of course meant the boathouse/barge problems didn't come up - still, it is interesting to hear what's planned for my old launch site. Sounds nice, I guess.

Glad there's a skatepark in the mix - I was sometimes known to wax slightly crochety about the music, which was sometimes awfully loud, but I always got a kick out of watching the kids doing acrobatics at Pier 62.

Intrepid Vs. Tugs, The Rematch -

And this time, the tugs won!

Boy, that must have been something to see.

You understand that if I'd pried myself out of my nice warm apartment (and I was very very tired this morning after working a 12-hour day yesterday, and my next forecast deadlines looming tomorrow (2) and Friday (1)) at 6 am to go try to get pictures, that ship would still be sitting at Pier 84?

Or at least that's what I'm going to tell myself. Sigh.

Amy at NewYorkOlogy has a good post about it, with pictures & everything.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Plumb Beach to Breezy Point

Riverdance? Nope, baydance.

Off to Breezy Point. More like Not-So-Breezy Point today. The sandbar that had 3-4 foot waves last week had fun little riffles to play in today.


Landing for lunch

Romany Romany Romany!

Coney Island, with Parachute Jump & Verrazano Narrows Bridge. I would like to go around that corner & go exploring up the Brooklyn waterfront sometime - would have to be with the tides of course, but timed right, I think it'd be fun. Wouldn't even have to cross a shipping channel to get there!

End of yet another perfect day.

So much to learn in this new venue. I had a funny little light bulb go on in my head yesterday - I need to start carrying visual distress signals again, because the waters I'm paddling now are oh so definitely wider than a mile. Dredged out some old flares just to have to show the Coast Guard (they do occasionally stop paddlers to see if they've got the required gear), but there's not a chance in heck that they'd still work if I god-forbid actually needed them, I have got to get some new ones. Any of you open-sea paddlers have a favorite type of VDS these days?

Plus oh my gosh I need a good bird book - can't keep going around talking about those cute little black-and-white ducks, like to be able to figure out if they are Buffleheads or Common Goldeneyes (they are cute though). Oh, and I never would have expected to see the birds I saw today. Saw and heard - if I hadn't heard that laughing call, I would have just thought "Cormorants", but I don't think there's any bird that makes the sound I heard but a loon. I didn't even know loons went to sea! I have a Field Guide to American Wildlife , by Henry Hill Collins, Jr. (circa 1960, my folks were sending it off to their church's bazaar, but I grabbed it instead) - it's a nice book to have, but in order to fit all those animals into a hardcover book that actually takes up less space than a paperback edition of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Henry was somewhat constrained about the amount of detail he could provide - each bird, mammal, reptile, amphibian, food & game fish, seashell, and principal marine invertebrates gets a picture and a paragraph. Time to get something that's a little more specific to the area!

Think the third item on the shopping list may be a small pair of field glasses. I would have liked to see the loons better, but I didn't want to make them fly.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Very cool blog!

Check out Tugster!

Reminds me that I really need to listen to that little voice in my head that says "Enough politics. Go take some pictures of J-bay, already".

Tugster, thanks!

Ready for a good day's paddle

Readying for launch last week Sunday. Another part of the best week I've had in ages.

Heading out to Breezy Point again tomorrow - here's hoping it's as much fun as last week!

Intrepid Vs. Tugboats - The Rematch!

So a little NYCKayaker-bird told the list that they're gonna have another go at getting the Intrepid out of the mud - 8:00 a.m., Tuesday morning, be there or be somewhere else!

Sadly, unless I really turn & burn on Monday, it'll be the latter for me.

Friday, December 01, 2006

A Tale of Two Emails:

Today, I'm just going to post 2 emails, sort of to try to close out the train-wreck issue:

The first is from Noreen Doyle at the Hudson River Park Trust, in response to an email I sent her after trying & failing to find an easy way to find out about future meetings. I'd decided to do that became evident that the paddler's grapevine (formerly fairly reliable) was now apparently suffering from phylloxera:

I'll ask that your home address be added too, and we'll correct your email. And of course, people can email me if they want to be on the circulation list for meetings. It would be helpful if they could understand that the Advisory Council itself includes organizations that are specifically named to the Council. There is a legal cap on the number of members that can be added. Others are welcome to attend in that the meetings are public (though as I said space is limited at most meetings). It is up to the Chair to set the agendas, and the Trust does not control this process. People who want to know more can read the Hudson River Park Act, available on our website. Pier 63 Maritime will shortly be added to the Council as a result of last week's vote, subject to our Board's confirmation.

So...she may not thank me for the but wotthehell, Archie, wotthehell:

Better than nothing. Still these meetings are supposed to be public, and if the public can't find out about 'em easily, maybe that's not really public enough. It shouldn't be any easier for noted squeaky-wheel Bonnie Q. Frogma to find out about this stuff than it is for Jane Q. Paddler who paddles a Feathercraft Java & has never heard of any of our assorted local list & clubs & what-have-you, but is curious & finds the Hudson River Park website through a Google search.

Now here was the other email - from one of the folks who DID get word about the last meeting:

Dear Bonnie,
Hi, my name is Bill Bergeron and I am a paddler who used to store his boat at Pier 63. I am writing to you today to announce some exciting news that I know you'll be interested in. I, along with a number of local paddlers, have formed the Hudson River Paddlers Guild. The "Guild" is a non-for-profit corporation devoted to the interests of independent paddlers, like yourself, who use the Hudson River and surrounding waterways. We formed the Guild to give a voice to our community when we found that, as independent paddlers, we had none during the closing of Pier 63.

While the situation at Pier 63 has been our first focus we have incorporated with a larger mission ahead:

• To promote and support the practice of recreational watersports, in particular kayaking.
• To encourage training, technique, competition, and safety programs for the community of paddlers who seek ways to improve their skills and knowledge.
• To provide a forum for human-powered boaters, not-for-profit organizations and commercial entities that share the Hudson River to promote safety and communication for all.
• To improve and protect safe public access to rivers and to promote care for the aquatic environment of all rivers, in particular the Hudson River, for recreation and enjoyment.

This vision, of an organization that represents the paddlers point of view, would be incomplete without you. I am writing to ask for your input, let me know what you think the Guild can do to meet the needs of our community.

As you may, or may not be aware, independent paddlers are already having an impact. As part of a team of paddlers and water-front community advocates, we are supporting John Krevey in his ongoing efforts to modify his existing DEC permits. These amendments would provide for both storage and launching facilities to return to Pier 63 Maritime when it reopens at Pier 66A.

Recently, we were encouraged when The Hudson River Park Trust Advisory Council voted, unanimously, to recommend that the Hudson River Park Trust support John's suggested amendments. In addition, the Advisory Council will be sending a letter of support to the DEC. While this is encouraging progress it will be months before we know if these amendments will be granted.

In addition to our efforts to restore what has been our community's home, the Guild has joined a consortium of other non-profit and private groups to make what we hope will be a successful bid on the recently released Pier 66 RFP. The details of our proposal are still in progress but so far we are supporting:

• Boat Storage that is convenient and reasonable priced.
• Safe and clean facilities, including docks that are well maintained and not slippery; good lighting; readily available emergency equipment.
• Flexible launch hours, as per independent paddlers needs
• Hot showers, changing area and lockers

We would like your suggestions about how the design and operation of this new facility can serve your needs.

We also need your support. If you believe that independent paddlers should have a strong and unified voice, if you believe that access to our cities waterways should be safe and unfettered, if you believe that paddlers should be caretakers of the river environment, then join us.

Becoming a Guild Member is simple. For just $35 you will not only have a seat at the table where your voice is heard and information comes to you first-hand but you will enjoy these additional benefits:

• Website, currently under construction, with timely news and information on the issues that effect our community presented in a clear, concise and timely fashion
• Bi-monthly newsletter covering the greater Hudson region
• Subscription to Adventure Kayak Magazine, a fresh new voice in paddlesports.

To become a member simply fill out the attached PDF and send it along with a check to the address below. I will follow up within a few days of receiving it with information on how you as a member can get involved and send your suggestions.

You can get involved today by sending this message and the attached membership form to anyone you think shares the interests and ideals of our community.

Yours truly,

William Bergeron-mirsky
Hudson River Paddlers Guild

Interested but not ready for membership? Reply to this email with "Friend of the Guild" as the subject line and we will continue to send you updates as we make progress in this exciting time for our community.

As I'm handing out emails - Bill's is .

Some of what they're proposing sounds useful, but I'm having a really hard time swallowing: "For just $35 you will...have a seat at the table where your voice is heard and information comes to you first-hand".

I thought that's what my tax dollars were supposed to get me.

I also have a problem with the fact that they got word of the last Advisory Council meeting & did not spread the word. No, it's not their responsibility, but it just bothers me that they didn't.

Ah well. Lovely paddle I had yesterday, wandering the mazelike grasses of the Elder's Point Marsh with TQ, looking down at the shells on the bottom through water clear as glass, musing over important questions like "If sailors get sea legs when they've sailed for a long time, what does a paddler get after paddling for a long time?". I'm pretty much settled on staying where I am. In some ways, I think it may a far, far better place for somebody who's as burned out on the Hudson River Park access issues as I am.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


Tomorrow's December?

How'd that happen?

Oh right, the earth turns on it's axis, orbits around the sun, and there ya go.

Well, came down with that terribly Romany flu today, sniff sniff, cough cough, oh dear, can't go to work today...

no, actually, TQ & I had planned this for a while, and it was a legitimately arranged vacation day, but oh my, it was just such a beautiful day that paddling, instead of going to work, felt gloriously like playing hooky.

See, TQ works weekends, and gets Wednesdays & Thursdays off. A few weeks ago, the Working Harbor Committee sent out an invitation to a benefit concert by blues pianist David Maxwell. Well, as I mentioned the other day, blues are good in our books, and the cause was one I liked (programs to teach kids about the harbor, how can you not like that?), so I asked TQ if he'd like to be my guest, and the concert was great, and then today we went out for one of my favorite destinationless paddles-for-the-sake-of-paddling. Between that, and the marvelous paddle on Sunday, and the hike-off-the-turkey that replaced my usual ritual of day after Thanksgiving paddle-off-the-turkey-paddles, and that concert - all with my favorite paddling companion - this has just been the best 7 days. The key has been absolutely glorious weather. 50's, maybe even 60's...hardly seems like the last week before December.

I've just been in heaven.

Here are some pictures of heaven, er, I mean Sleeping Giant State Park in Connecticut, day after Thanksgiving. We hiked the Gorge Cascade trail, top to bottom - every corner we turned, it just got more beautiful.

From the top of this tower, you could see Long Island Sound, and Long Island beyond.