Friday, June 30, 2006

Sunday - Day of the Super Cats!

Meow! Meow! Meow! Purr.

No, not THAT kind of cat. Although this is a pretty super cat, this is Poosay, who lives with my aunt & uncle is Texas - like all my aunt & uncle's well-cared-for menagerie, she loves people, but don't be fooled by that sweet face. Mouser shmouser, Poosay killed a copperhead one time!

Nope - I'm talkin' the FLOATING kind of cat -


um. No, not you either, Sailor the Boathouse Cat. Although at least there are boats in that picture so we're getting closer!

Nope, I'm talkin' THIS kind of cat:

(photo stolen without permission from the Sandy Hook Bay Catamaran Club, I hope they're OK with that since it's their race I'm talking about - usually I ask but I'm trying to do this quickly within the space of a lunch hour, as I sometimes do).


The Hobie variety! Purr-ty! And this coming Sunday we're going to have a whole FLEET racing up from Sandy Hook to the Statue of Liberty and back, according to the following comment from Alex at the Sandy Hook Bay Catamaran Club:

Just wanted to let you know (and, I couldn't find a way to contact you elsewhere on the blog) that the Sandy Hook Bay Catamaran Club is hosting the annual Statue of Liberty Race on Sunday. Close to 100 beach cats (think of them as two kayaks, with sails) will start in Sandy Hook, NJ, race up under the Verrazano, and around the Statue of Liberty, and back to Sandy Hook. Some of the best racers in the country will be there. It sounds like the kind of thing that fits in your "day of the superhumans" category. No aerobic activity, but there is incredible skill involved, and hanging onto the side of a boat doing 15 knots is pretty grueling. More info at Fleet250.0rg.

Should be a fun day on the harbor - hope we get good wind! Alex, if you happen to see a big, beautiful, schooner, (white hull, plumb bow, happy-looking passengers) out there a schoonin', sing out, I'll be working.

And oh boy, will this ever be a test of my self-imposed rule about not taking pictures while I'm working. I stick to that because when I pull out the camera, I think it says that I'm not really paying attention to my job, which is to sail the boat & make sure the passengers are having fun...but oh my, a whole fleet of rainbow-sailed Hobie cats zipping (well, I hope they're zipping!) past the Statue of Liberty? Now THAT is going to be hard to resist...

For those of you not lucky enough to work on a schooner, I bet the view from New Jersey's Liberty Landing State Park is going to be SCHVELL!

Oh, and one other item of interest to sailboat racers - remember when my friend Brian was racing across the Pacific in the Clipper Around-the-World Yacht Race? Well, his leg finished in Victoria, but the race goes on (yeah, yeah), and they're in New York today and tomorrow, at the North Cove Marina, right where the Volvo yachts were. Last stop before the finish, too, just a skip across the pond to Jersey, not the new Jersey, but the original Jersey. Good luck to all of them on their last leg - but especially - Go New York Go New York Go!

summertime summertime it.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

And now it's raining some more, just for a change.

Photo Hosted at

OK, I'm a big fan of the Skeptic's Dictionary; I'm basically an intelligent, rational person.

I'm completely aware of the concept of false causal relationships & all that good stuff.

But y'know --

When it's a lovely warm night --

And your Yahoo paddling group have been emailing about lovely lovely plans for a lovely lovely paddle all week --

And you find yourself sitting in a dentist's chair with a jawful of novocaine and the dentist drilling away on your wisdom teeth while your head is filled with uncharitable thoughts of your friends who are out there enjoying themselves --

and then you leave the dentist's office to discover that there's a raging thunderstorm going on outside --

It's just tough not to feel at least a little witchy!

Note to anyone of the hold crew who's reading - I SWEAR on my Romany's little red dragon, I didn't do it!

Although I do have to admit that this made me a LOT happier about my choice of
evening for the appointment.

Now the question is - will this system ever move out? We have enough water! Reports were coming in on the Yahoo group that the flood has been almost completely supressed by the runoff -- the Hudson is tidal up to the locks at Troy, slightly north of Albany, but it's also the recipient of all the water that drains from the Hudson Valley watershed. The ebb is almost always a little longer and a little stronger than the flood - the more excess water is draining, the more that's true. There's a period that that happens almost every Spring as the winter's accumulation of snow melts & runs off. For that to happen in the summertime? That's pretty unusual.

The water in the Hudson is officially gruesome these days, too. I worked on the schooner on Sunday - the amount of crap (and I'm not using that word loosely) in the water where the schooner docks was about as bad as I've ever seen it (hm, although I think every other year or so we have a bad rainy spell & I say that - I guess it's always just a little shocking to see how bad it really does get, when it's so much better and cleaner than most people would believe most of the time. There was a mallard duck swimming around near us at one point, grazing on the algae that grows below the waterline of the floating dock we moor to - I felt so sorry for that bird. The stuff we make those animals swim in - ugh.

Keeping my fingers crossed for a decent 4th of July - working on the schooner as usual on Sunday, then have paddling plans for Monday & Tuesday - hope the rain gods choose to relent!

One last note, then it's off to bed - just one more word about the Atlantic Kayak Tours Expert Center (yes, I'm linking again - too lazy to put it in the blogroll tonight & want to make it easy to find - Dan at Adrift at Sea made a very good point about that in comments yesterday - they've actually got quite a bit of stuff that's just good solid general boating information in there along with the kayak-specific topics. Definitely going in the blogroll soon.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

More About That Tugboat

Nice to get a couple of comments about the tugboat Hackensack and her ultragroovy paint job - that also reminded me to go do a little lunchtime sniffing around to figure out what exactly the deal was. I'd run into Pam one day as I was heading to work on the Adirondack & asked her about it - she's the owner of the tug Pegasus, which is berthed on the north side of Pier 62, which is also where the Hackensack has been berthed until she moved down to her current spot between Piers 61 & 62 (cattycorner from my schooner). I figured she'd be as likely as anyone to have the scoop on the paint job, being neighbors & all. Sure enough, she gave me the general outline I had already (nonprofit, kids in hospitals) - they had in fact approached her about using the Pegasus, but the Pegasus is a 1907 tug & if you follow that link I gave above, you can read all about the work Pamela is doing to restore the tug she piloted in New York Harbor from 1987 until the late 90's & convert her into a working museum -it's worth a visit - basically, though, the paint job wasn't going to fit very well with the charter Pamela's working under!

The guy who owns the Hackensack, though, was amenable to the peacockification of his tug for a good cause - and after just the quickest of Google searches today, I found the organization responsible - Portraits of Hope.

From their website:

In 1995, Ed Massey and Bernie Massey founded Portraits of Hope, continuing their utilization of art and poignant visual imagery for large-scale projects of social consequence. Developed initially as a creative therapy program for seriously ill and physically disabled children, the program has expanded to include a wide array of children and adults who participate through various community programs and institutions. From its inception, Portraits of Hope has emphasized hands-on civic engagement opportunities for the broader public. All projects under the Portraits of Hope umbrella concentrate on unifying families and communities through the arts.

The symbol of the Portraits of Hope program is a flower in an array of vibrant colors. The flower is the universal icon of joy, life, beauty, hope, inspiration and healing - the heart of the Portraits of Hope message.

The tugboat, which is the centerpiece of the Chelsea Piers project, is just one in a series of large-scale projects. You can read more them here.

AKT's Expert Center, New & Improved

Boy. Bill & Janice Lozano's Atlantic Kayak Tours has been the place I go for most of my instruction for the last couple of years. Bill is the chairman of the British Canoe Union North America, and their website, particularly the "Expert Center" section, has always been very informative - but I went over there yesterday to get the address to give to someone who had some sea-kayak questions I didn't really have time to answer, and discovered that they've updated it since last I looked. The new setup knocked my booties off - it's so darned simple.

Of course with that out there, I may never write anything again. I have not had time to browse the whole thing, but it looks pretty darned comprehensive - they've more or less got a complete manual of sea kayaking online, with an index categorized by topics.

Anyways, you can check it out here.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Psychedelic Tugboat "Hackensack"

Tugboat as art.

Personally I guess I prefer tugboat as tugboat but this is pretty wild. It's apparently an art project for kids in hospitals - they're doing this sort of thing in various places. I'm going to try to find out more 'cause it's all over Chelsea Piers. The Hackensack is currently berthed between piers 61 & 62 - worth checking out if you're in the neighborhood!

A Few Manhattan Island Marathon Photos

Fellow paddling blogger Charlie just asked me I had pictures up yet, so I figured I would take a moment & put some up here so I could say yes! Of course don't miss Saturday night's rain shot. It's not the best picture I've ever taken, but it really says it all as far as how the race went - it was one soggy day out there. I had quite the waterborne weekend - I was on the river from 5:30 am to around 5 pm on Saturday, then worked 2 schooner trips on Sunday. Worked out to around 17 hours on the water. I can feel my stamina improving week by week. Summer just rocks.

Kayak escorts gather at North Cove, 6:30 AM

Good morning, Charlie!

Swimmers jumping in the water

Swimmers waiting for the start -

And they're off!

I have a few more pictures over on Buzznet. I don't spend a lot of time taking pictures during the circumnavigation swim - the kayaks really are there to serve a purpose, we literally (litorally? ha ha, estua-really!) guide the swimmer around the island, make sure we keep them on course, keep an eye out for obstacles (and jellyfish, we're in jellyfish time right now), all while not getting in the swimmer's way yourself - tough to do all that & take pictures too.

Oh, and I see that one of my Buzznet acquaintances & his friends didn't just ATTEND Saturday's Mermaid Parade - they braved the rain & marched in it! Well, just stands to reason, who's ever heard of a mermaid who's afraid of a little water? You can see his gallery of all the tawdry Coney Island fun here. Thanks, Seawall!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

How that radar translated to real life...

We had a little extra water with our water today - but swim they did.

3:25 A.M.

Car service comes in 20 minutes so I can make my 5 a.m. launch at the pier. Mantra to self: I do this because it's fun. I do this because it's fun.

Been raining & thundering all night. Have I ever mentioned what happens to our water quality around here when there's more than an inch of rain in a 24-hour period? The water quality goes straight into the toilet. Or more like the toilet goes straight into the water quality. Anyways, they'll do a water quality test; if it's officially not swimmable, they warn the swimmers & let 'em make their own decisions -- the race then becomes unofficial, but if a swimmer who's trained for a year for this & paid plane fare & all of that still wants to jump in and start swimming, having been made aware of the issues, well, nobody's going to stop them.

Lightning & thunder? Well, that may stop things.

Weather map looks like so:

Well, we shall see what we shall see. Update tonight. Gotta go!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Corporate Challenge 6/22/06

Just a few photos from last night's Corporate Challenge. I run this every year, I usually make at least a gesture in the direction of training (cross-training is good, after all) but this year I've just had a lot going on, good stuff but time-consuming enough that it's been encroaching on things like blogging (at least coherent blogging, posts with actual points, all that good stuff) and running. Personally of course I think it's a lot better for life to impinge on blogging than the other way around. Anyhow, long story short, yesterday was hot & muggy & I decided that instead of even trying to run the whole thing, I'd have some fun & take a few pictures, so I took my camera. Ran some, walked some, took some pictures, got thoroughly sweaty & gross anyways but didn't get taken away in an ambulance, which I think at least a couple of people may have.

Now I am running to go prep for the Manhattan circumnavigation swim tomorrow (interesting forecast, thunderstorms all day) and then get to bed early so I can be up in time for my ick ugh argh 3:45 am car service, but I thought I'd at least toss up a few pictures here before I launch into that:

Who needs Venice? Spotted en route to the starting line. The gondolier was even singing. Nice date if you're into having somebody else - uh - paddle? row? scull? what the heck do you call the way a gondola is propelled, anyways? - move the boat for you. I think the people who run Port Liberte, aka Venice-on-the-Hudson need one of these!

Looking back from the 12-minute-mile flag in the non-competitive start area. River of people.

With that many people, the starter's horn goes & nothing happens for a few minutes. Then ever so slowly...shuffleshuffleshuffle...

10 minutes later or so, my section finally reaches the starting line!

One way? Well, yes, just not that one, I guess.

There's more, but I have some organizing to do, so that's it for now! Have a good weekend, everybody!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

This is Kayak Girl (fka Mrs. Kayak Boy)!

She was very happy when this picture was taken because she had just gotten a bunch of friends & relations to come over and help her and Kayak Boy paint their new apartment (kind of a brilliant idea if you have the right kind of friends & relations, i.e. the helpful sort who actually think that sounds like fun - and it was, too!). Their colors came out very snappy - there was a green that was a little eye-popping when it went on but dried nicely, and the blue looks a little purple here but think Wedgwood blue & white, very very nice. They have a little green blob on the ceiling to remember me by - I was up on a ladder painting around the doorframe & as I got the last bit & Kayak Boy pronounced the room Done, I shouted "Woo hoo!" and raised my arms into the air in triumph, forgetting that I was holding a paintbrush in my hand & was about a foot and a half below the ceiling. And the ceiling sort of stucco-ey. Oops.

Anyways, Kayak Girl cracked me up with this face & she gave me permission to use this...remember, KG?

I'm posting this now 'cause she just spoiled my contentment with my already insanely aquatic weekend (circumnavigate Manhattan w/swimmer on Saturday, work on schooner on Sunday) with a reminder that I am YET AGAIN missing the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. This is my revenge. Bwahahahahaaa!

As I said in a response to her comment, the Mermaid Parade is something that I've wanted to go see every year since I found out it existed, but never get to because of all these dad-gummed boats of mine - I always forget to find out what day it is, end up getting myself committed to some boat duty or other, and never get to go. This time I'm working the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, as outlined yesterday.

ok...secretly maybe I'd really like to march in it someday...

just something I threw together for an office Halloween party a few years back (one of my co-workers took this). Y'know, a bikini instead of a turtleneck, a little heavier on the glitter, and...

naaaah. But I would like to see it. Maybe next year.

Well, KG, if you take any good pictures, can you send me a couple? that would make for a fun post!

Oh man, and the Gay Pride Parade is on Sunday...a person who likes taking pictures could just go crazy. I'll be out on the schooner that day, though.

Well, here's to perfect weather for all of us!

And just so he doesn't feel left out (plus because I thought it came out kind of neat), here's Kayak Boy cleaning up after the painting party!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Saturday June 24th - Day of the Super Humans

Oh. my. gosh.

6/20 note - I have discovered that the press release and the course maps for the Liberty Challenge seem to be contradictory - from the press release, I thought they'd be going down the Buttermilk Channel & around the south end of Governor's Island on the outbound leg - from the course map, it looks like that's on the return leg - I'll post which it is as soon as I know for sure!

I have just figured out that June 24th should be dubbed Human Powered Day in New York Harbor.

At 6:30 am, the first wave of swimmers will set out from the Battery in the annual Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. That means all the way around Manhattan, each swimmer entirely under their own steam, no flotation devices allowed, and "marathon" is not an exagerration, the distance around Manhattan is slightly more than an actual running marathon. This is pretty darned amazing & I shall be accompanying one of those swimmers or relay teams all the way around, just as I've done for the past few years. I really enjoy this one. It's hard to estimate times but if you are by one of the 3 rivers (Hudson, Harlem or East) and you see swimmers in the water - know that they are doing something pretty remarkable & cheer them on - they can't always hear the cheers, but sometimes they do & it's just got to be nice to hear that as you are swimming along!

On the same day, New York Outrigger (who shares dock space with the kayak crew at Pier 63) will be hosting the 9th Annual Liberty Challenge, a race for Hawaiian-kine outrigger canoes. From their press release:

This years Liberty will start and end under scenic Brooklyn Bridge, with festivities in the city and state parks on the Brooklyn side of the bridge and an evening luau open to the public on the Manhattan waterfront . The race course is 16.5 miles in length, with boats and their crews of six proceeding down the East River, around Governor's Island, past the Statue of Liberty, and up the Hudson River as far as 45th Street. Viewing will be excellent both from the shore and from escort boasts and a 15 minute film on the race will be aired on TV.

An email I just got today added the following:

The women start at 7:30 am and we hope to be heading back by 9:30 am, 10:00 ish.
The men start at 11:00 and the mixed crew is early afternoon. Do come and support us. In the evening, we will be holding a Luau at the pier we keep our canoes, Pier 63 at 23rd street starting at 7;00 pm.

Should be QUITE the Saturday, huh?

Side note to all ferryboat pilots, charter boat captains & the rest of the usual harbor denizens - you might want to stock up on Advil...

Side note to anybody else - there are some pretty good pictures in the MIMS page photo link, including a few of me - yellow Romany, yellow PFD, teal rash-guard. You'll see this one too, I think this is probably the best picture I've ever taken. I took this during a rerun of the MIMS that was held for a couple of the local swimmers after last year's ended up being called off due to severe thunderstorms (I'd been accompanying Dan, the swimmer in the photo & he asked me to come back for the second try - that time, he made it). It's a little tricky taking pictures, the kayaker's got a job to do & taking pictures is too distracting to do very much, but I did manage to get a few in as we were going around & this was my hands-down favorite.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

More Red Hook

Chorus of Red Hook Rara, by the 5th Graders of PS 27:

This is where we rep!
This is where we rep!
This, this, this, this is where we rep
Violence, happiness, bullets in the air!
Yeah, we care!
Yeah, we can see it real clear...

I've posted the rest of my pictures from Red Hook. This one is of some of the kids in the 5th grade class at PS 27 performing the "Red Hook Rara". This was pretty neat - the whole free dance performance was sponsored by Dancing in the Streets, a nonprofit organization that (among other things) is helping to "develop arts and cultural programming in the community" (in quotes 'cause that's straight off the Red Hook Initiative). For this particular performance, members of the Ase Dance Theatre Collective (some of whom you see here in the background singing along) worked with the 5th graders at PS 26 to write their own rara.

I'll post the words of their song here tonight - I just wanted to post the link to the pictures, and couldn't resist at least a quick explanation of what's going on in this picture. These kids rocked.

Oh, and what's going on in yesterday's picture - that's a crane from Weeks Marine that's been brought in to continue work on Pier 64. Our northside launching restrictions continue, and at this point all the boats that had been on the north side (the Frying Pan, the schooner Anne, and the Laissez Faire) have all been moved to the south side to give Weeks space to work. First they'll pull out all the old pilings, then they'll start building a shiny new park pier, with grass and trees and benches where you can sit and watch the water go by. The outrigger canoe dock also moved - you now can't get to them by land - the rowboats are New York Outrigger's solution to that little access glitch!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Red Hook Ramble

On Sunday, as I mentioned in yesterday's post, I worked on the schooner & it was the most perfect of sailing days. Saturday I had free. It was an absolutely beautiful day, one that made me want to be out & about, but a little windier than ideal for kayaking. Besides, every now and then I like to make a weekend day a Brooklyn day, one where I don't leave the borough - that still leaves plenty of territory to explore if I'm in the mood to wander!

Usually my wanderings end up somewhere in the Brighton Beach or Coney Island areas - but I've been meaning to head to Red Hook one of these days. Red Hook has been quite the talked-about area lately - cut off from the rest of Brooklyn by the BQE, it's retained a lot of the flavor of the old port neighborhood that it is & hasn't been subject to the same kind of development as many other parts of Brooklyn. That's all changing now & it seems that Red Hook is the next DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, for the non-locals!) - an underdeveloped neighborhood full of interesting old industrial buildings just ripe for conversion to expensive lofts. However, there are lots of people already living there who like it just fine the way it is, thanks - lots of human interest there along with the developer interest, and that means plenty of articles about the tensions that arise as the character of the area changes.

Having read plenty of those articles, I'd been wanting to go wander the area for a while - I finally got the impetus when I read in Friday's New York Times that the nonprofit group Dancing in the Streets was offering a free Caribbean dance performance in Coffey Park. The perfect excuse (not that I needed one) on the perfect day - grabbed my camera & off I went!

Ase Dance Theatre Collective

The performance was great fun. Afterwards I wandered around to places I'd heard about but never gotten around to visiting - the cruise ship terminal, the Waterfront Museum, the Beard Street Pier, and Valentino Pier being the main spots I wanted to visit. It's an interesting old neighborhood, and a fun one to explore with a camera & no particular timetable.

These three photos are just a sample of the results. I've posted quite a few more over on a new buzznet gallery. Today's are mostly buildings & street scenes, I'll finish off with the dancing later this week. Hope you enjoy my ramble in Red Hook - I suspect you'll be able to tell from the pictures that I did!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Hey Mid-Atlantic Sailors!!!

Did Sunday rock, or what?

I shall expand that for the non-sailing crowd to - dang, we had some faaaaantastic sailing weather yesterday!!!

Capt. Michelle trying to put the rail in the water - crew egging her on - passengers contentedly sprawled out across the tilting deck - sunshine - air just warm enough - harbor filled with sails -


Friday, June 09, 2006

Meanwhile...Egads, It's Full-Tilt Boating Season!

So while I've been running around too busy to write much, the last lingering springtime brants have headed on up north, Memorial Day has come and gone, and the first day of summer is not far away, and boating season has gradually come up to speed here on the Hudson. Egads. It got here so fast. Compressed version of the last few weeks down at the piers...

I've put the protective spray on the latex gaskets of my drysuit and hung it up in the closet with a sigh of relief.

I'm looking at that slapdash seat repair I did on my Romany & realizing that it's warm enough now that I can fix that; a work-on-my-boat day is in the offing, one of the decklines is beginning to fray, so I think I'm just going to replace all of them.

My surfski is probably expecting to be taken out for a spin one of these days - that poor boat ends up sitting on a rack collecting the rust flakes that fall like snow from the deck of the barge all winter. Surfski season starts with giving the boat a good cleaning - somehow I end up feeling like I'm giving a dolphin a bath. It's a very old surfski, and it never quite gleams, but it's nice to see the accumulated winter grime wash away.

Meanwhile, out on the river, the recreational boaters are out in force. Motorboats, sailboats, jetskis - no more river-all-to-ourselves days for us paddlers, now we have to share!

At Chelsea Piers, the seasonal yacht crowd is now mostly present and accounted for. The Adirondack II has headed on up to Newport, R.I., so we're down to two Scarano boats at Pier 62, and those two, the Adirondack and the new motor yacht, the Manhattan are hard at work (and I've worked on both, now - the Adirondack's of course way more fun 'cause you get to sail, but I've worked a couple of charters on the Manhattan & it is a pretty nice boat, and an awfully nice option for those days when it's terrible weather and only the most adventurous would have any fun at all on the schooner) but the other regular charter boats have all returned and there've been more and more megayachts docking with us at Pier 62. Or at least what look like megayachts to me. What do you think? BTW, when I posted this picture on Buzznet I think my caption was "Ever wonder why I don't just run away to sea already?"

megayacht = megascrubbing!

More swallows returning to Capistrano...Offshore Sailing School's Colgate 26's have been back giving lessons out of Chelsea Piers for a while. Best of all, though, our friends from Biloxi, the Kennedys, are back. These guys run 3 very cool charter boats. Their biggest one, the Mariner III, is probably the schvellest charter yacht - she was built in the 1920's and when they pass you at night in the harbor with a band playing on board, it's like a visitation out of The Great Gatsby.

But it doesn't really feel like the season has begun until the Kennedy's smallest boat turned up at their regular berth at Pier 62 -

It may not really be summer, but if the Chelsea Screamer is back in town, ready to accomplish her annual mission of soaking as many passengers as possible - well, it feels like summer has begun!

Seriously, I'm not big into motorboats...but this one's just flat-out FUN. They give a really good tour in an hour, kids love 'em, and in a heat wave they will cool you down right nicely...bwahahahaaaaaa!

Also seriously - it's always fun when these folks get back into town. It's like the neighbors are back. They've been using Pier 62 for the Screamer for a long time, and they & their crew and the staff of the Adirondack (and the Manhattan) all get along really well - in fact there's almost a symbiotic relationship, the Kennedy's staff works on the Scarano boats pretty often, and the Scarano staff works the Kennedy's boats, and we get a lot of people out to see the sights in the harbor in all our various ways...

woo hoo, the season is here!

Anybody wanna go for a boat ride?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Still there!

Pier 63 update - not an official here's-the-scoop kind, but I thought I'd just mention that I was at the pier today & can tell you that everything is still there.

Everything that was on the north side of the barge (the Frying Pan, the schooner Anne, of the 1000 Days, and the Laissez-Faire) has moved to the south side - that's because before too long, Weeks Marine will be coming in to start work in earnest on the new Pier 64.

Beyond that, everything looks just like it did when I was over there a few days ago.

Speaking of still being around - I want to apologize for my scarcity of late! We are in the year-end close at work; boating season has also started in earnest, and I've just got a lot going on - some of it really good - time is at a particular premium right now. Think most of the boat-bloggers out there can sympathize, right?

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Pier 63 - A Better Explanation!

This is for Chosha, who asked for "Summary? Crucial quote? Main point?" concerning that NY Times article, which may have vanished into the archives. This made me realize that although I think a lot of the people who read this blog are returnees, they may not necessarily have quite ever gotten the full Saga of Pier 63. So here it is!

The main thing to know about Pier 63, in relation to this blog, is that the barge at Pier 63 is where my trusty Romany and my poor old fourth-hand surfski reside, along with a whole lot of other kayaks belonging to the group known here sometimes as "the Rustbucket crew", "the Pier 63 gang", and the subset recently christened "The Adventure Squad". Other residents of the barge include New York Outrigger (Manhattan's home for Hawaiian-kine outrigger canoe paddling), New York Kayak Polo, and Manhattan Kayak Company. MKC provides the rental storage space & water access that enables me to do pretty much all the paddling I do in the NYC area. Like most NYC residents, I do not have a car and although my Brooklyn "lily pad" has closets that most NY residents would envy, there's not quite room for a sixteen-foot sea kayak, so take away my riverside storage and that would make my life in New York a lot less pleasant. Seriously, without all my river stuff, I don't know if I'd still even be in New York City.

Anyhow - Pier 63 Maritime is actually a "car float" - a big barge designed to bring boxcars across the river. People don't always realize that it's a barge, but it is. The company that runs the barge is a subtenant of Basketball City. In the picture above, see the big white bubble-topped building? That bubble houses basketball courts. The ground floor houses a stable, which is a crucial part of the story. Pier 63 sublets office space from Basketball City in the north end of the building, and MKC sublets office space from P63. The real landlord, though, is the Hudson River Park Trust.

The main thing about this whole setup is that it was always supposed to be temporary. It's very clearly written into the Hudson River Park Act that the piershed at Pier 63 is to be demolished. Basketball City moved in with that understanding. The barge came to be because a clause in the subtenant lease requires all subtenants of the Park must provide a certain amount of waterfront access. With the Pier 63 building being actually built on pilings, this was going to involve some rather expensive cantilevered thingummy being built out over the river behind the building - but then, according to barge legend, John Krevey, the owner of the barge, approached Basketball City management with the proposal: "Rent me your loading dock and I will solve all your public access problems". They did so, and shortly thereafter a tugboat-owning friend of John's was shepherding the barge into position, the spuds were dropped to moor it in place & there you have it!

There have been a number of tense moments for the barge and the denizens thereof since then, but through everything, everybody involved always knew that the entire arrangement was not going to last forever.

For all that, though, Basketball City has done their level best to stay there as long as they possibly could. They have been dragging the whole process through court for ages - apparently they lost their last appeal & the Trust would now like to enforce the departure deadline of June 7th!

Making things even more interesting is that bit about the ground level of that bubble-topped building being a very nice stable. Around the time that Basketball City was going into business, somebody else got the idea that what Chelsea needed more than anything else in the world was a really exclusive stable - thus was born the Chelsea Equestrian Center.

Turned out somebody got the wrong idea, though. The center eventually went bankrupt & the horses were all spirited out in the middle of the night one night. The beautiful box stalls and the indoor and outdoor arenas sat empty for some time - then Basketball City found a new subtenant - a New York Police Department equestrian unit (seeing as one of the parking lot attendants and I caught a burglar at Pier 63 one night during the time when the stable was vacant, I LIKE having these folks there!).

In addition, although Basketball City is a for-profit corporation, they do provide a valuable community service in that a whole lot of local public school teams get to play basketball there for free...

So, the whole I-don't-even-know-whose-side-to-be-on setup is -

On the one side, you have the Hudson River Park Trust, frustrated by tenants who went into the tenant relationship fully aware that it was temporary, and that eventually they would have to leave to but nevertheless digging their heels in & resisting going when it's long past the time they were originally supposed to go, sitting on land that a lot of Chelsea residents are extremely eager to see turned into a place where they can go sit under a tree & watch the river roll by...

on the other hand, you've got the Trust evicting police horses and a place where schoolkids play basketball -- and of course the Basketball City people are playing that aspect to the hilt.

Caught in the middle of all of this, it seems like the owner of the barge is just trying to lay low & not make waves (pardon my pun).

Fact is, it's June 3rd; the eviction notice that was served a couple of weeks ago gave a date of June 7th; at this point, no one seems to be lifting a finger (or a hoof) in the direction of leaving. Plus, the rumours du jour are encouraging as far as the barge getting to stick around for a while even if the on-site offices have to close.

In the slightly more distant future, there's a lot of talk of the barge moving a few piers north.

But for now, everything's up in the air, and we'll just have to wait & see how it all comes out. One of the points I hope has become clear, here, though, is that pretty much describes how the situation has been since at least as far back as 2004 - and even before then, we all knew that at some point in the not-so-distant future, things were going to change.

Closing now with a sigh and a shrug. Ah well, why watch soap operas when it's so much more fun to live one?