Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Meeting went OK -

Quick update, then I am off to bed, I'm absolutely zonked. What a week, what a week.

The meeting was OK - in fact I think about as well as anyone thought it would. The Advisory Council was rather amazed by the size of the turnout, which was GREAT -- they'd set up in the lobby instead of their usual conference room & it would've been pretty mortifying if nobody showed up. As it was, we pretty much filled the chairs that they'd set out, and when one of the council members asked for the folks who store boats at Pier 63 to raise their hands, there was a gratifying show of hands.

There were no solutions tonight, but then of course we'd all gone to this with the understanding that there wouldn't be. However, at least the Advisory Council and the Trust now all understand that as things stand, more paddlers stand to be displaced than can possibly be accomodated even if the new boathouse at Pier 66 were simply turned over to us (which would of course isn't going to happen as it would be flat-out illegal - the park boathouses are built with public funds & must therefore be assigned through a fair & open selection process beginning with a Request For Proposals), a whole lot of us would still be left with nowhere to keep our kayaks.

That's now been made clear & a dialogue opened, which is a definite improvement given the fact that earlier this week this was all being presented as a set-in-stone ultimatum.

Lots more good points got aired, too tired to go into detail now, but the end result was that 3 main items were agreed on as recommendations of the Advisory Council to the Trust -

1. A working group should be formed to continue investigating ways to smooth the transition. I don't know if I'll be asked to join that or not but if I am, I probably will. If not, you can bet I'll be pestering for updates on a regular basis.

2. Ways for the displaced paddlers to be absorbed in the interim should be looked into (more than they had, which was not at all.

3. (and this is the good one that made me happy to hear the chair say it) - The Trust should investigate whether the DEC permit can be amended in light of the fact that the current wording directly results in at least 40 current regular water users losing their access.

Like I said, there's more details, and at the moment I am writing this, the situation is still that we need to get our boats out of the barge by the 10th - but the overall outlook doesn't feel as totally bleak as it did yesterday.

BTW I should've mentioned that as far as my personal outlook - I'm fine, there's this really great guy up in CT (yup, same one that rode the Cyclone with me!) who instantly offered my boats a place to stay for a little while when he heard the news on Monday. My hero. Seriously, I don't need rescuing very often but in this case, it's a huge relief to just know there's somewhere I can take them in a pinch.

That would make those after-work paddles a little tricky, but at least it gets them out & buys me a little more time to weigh the other options & see if anything is likely to develop from the seeds that were planted at tonight's meeting.

8/30 Update on Pier 63 & Meeting

Photo Hosted at Buzznet
The ramp to the barge, Stad Amsterdam in background, April 2006

Thanks for the link, BlogChelsea!

That meeting, again, is at 5:30 tonight, 8/30, at the Hudson River Park Trust offices. This is an Advisory Council meeting which had been scheduled before all of this blew up - the paddler who works with the Trust as the metropolitan rep for the Hudson River Watertrail Association asked to have the pending events at the barge added to the agenda to allow the people who are affected to at least get some firsthand information. It's just one of a number of agenda items & although the public is welcome to attend, there won't necessarily be a chance to speak. The kayakers who stand to lose our storage have one guy who's going to say a few words; I believe Manhattan Kayak,New York Outrigger, and the New York Kayak Polo Club will also have representatives there. We're all just looking at this as a first step, too - we are not going in there expecting miracles (in fact at this point we'd consider a couple more weeks to figure out where to move our boats a reasonably good miracle), this isn't a meeting where decisions can be made or current plans can be changed.

But at least it's a chance to hear the people in charge's take firsthand. This is especially important to me now that the grapevine I've been stupid enough to trust all along turned out to be totally wrong.

As I said in a comment to Larry of yesterday, "Can't promise excitement or any useful outcome but at least people being there says that people - ordinary people, taxpaying people, voting people, park-using members of the public - care". It just isn't going to be one of those public-commentary type meetings where you can sign up to say your piece.

BTW the shutdown, in and of itself, is absolutely not a surprise. It's the timing - the aforementioned grapevine had spoken of being in place until Fall, and then a brief interruption of water access while the barge was moved to Pier 66A - and the fact that once the barge moves, paddling ends. For those who aren't familiar with the background of the case, here's a writeup I did back in June when there was the big eviction-notice scare.

Man, I hope I am not turning into the frog who cried wolf...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Party would Seem to be Over


I don't have time to write much now.

Plus my head is still spinning.

Hudson River Park Trust Advisory Council meeting is on Wednesday the 30th, at the Trust offices at Pier 40 (at the Hudson end of Houston Street) at 5:30.

Apparently the Trust just told Krevey some time last week or so that once the barge moves, they really didn't expect people to keep paddling out of it. Guess they just want a nice museum. MKC management may have just heard this this morning. I found out last night.

I thought - as all the Rustbucket gang thought - that we were just talking about a temporary interruption of our ability to paddle. I wanted to attend the meeting to actually find out how long that interruption was going to be. Once I had that, I figured that then I could figure out whether I wanted to make interim storage arrangements, or whether it would be a short enough period of time that I could live without paddling that long.

This is such a different situation I'm just...oooh...James, my smelling salts, please...ok, so I guess maybe we all get in touch with Randy at New York Kayak, who is essentially being handed the monopoly on private kayak storage in the Hudson River Park (and the supply of storage halved).

Well, I did say in several of the emails I sent that all I wanted was some solid facts that I could use as a basis to decide what I do next, as opposed to the rumours and hearsay that have passed for information all year.

Like they say - careful what you ask for, you just might get it.

It's still the miscommunications, noncommunications, and ludicrously delayed communications that are driving me nuts here. I don't think anybody set out intending to make this an exercise in aggravation for anyone - but that's what we've got.

Stay tuned. This could actually get interesting.

BTW - for those not familiar with the background, I did a writeup earliet this year - here's a link: Saga of Pier 63.

And I have to add - I may have an overly rosy view of human nature, but the more information I'm collecting here (which I will try to organize into a post before too long - there's the HRPT and the DEC and an RFP and a whole lot of permits and stuff...), the more I'm NOT seeing any actual malicious intent - just bureaucracy, poor communication, and your basic human tendency to want to ignore facts that aren't in line with the way we'd like things to be. Good intentions all the way, but we all know what's paved with those.

Anyways - upset though I am, I am trying to keep this in perspective. In the big picture, what we have here is an inconvenience, an annoyance, an irritation, not a tragedy. We'll live.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Quelle jour...

Oy vey, what a day. The minute I got that email from MKC, I should have just walked into my boss's office, explained the situation & taken a vacation day to go stir up trouble on my own time. Anyways...long story short but after a whole lot of crossed wires involving a meeting of the Hudson River Park Trust Advisory Council on Wednesday night, seem to be pretty much settling on trying to get folks to attend, not necessarily to speak (we've got one guy who's tended to do some of this stuff these days) but just to be there. Me, as I said - I just want to get as much of the story firsthand as is available - this business of "We MIGHT shut down from the 10th until, oh, sometime after that" is, for me at least, a whole lot tougher to swallow than "OK, we shut down on the 10th, move your kayak before then if you want to see it again before x-and-such date".

I don't think this is any sort of conspiracy to make the lives of the Rustbucketeers difficult - just a good old-fashioned failure to communicate well on about 27 levels. These things, they happen. Especially in the middle of the park & Manhattan Kayak Company's busy seasons. Anyways, hopefully a batch of us will make it to that meeting, to listen if nothing else, & hopefully at least we'll come away with a clearer picture of what's going to happen - that would make me a lot happier even if the picture is not necessarily the one I'd like to see.

But what a jarring development to find out about - especially after the really quiet & relaxing whatever happens, happens, rain-on-the-river day that was Sunday. Felt so peaceful that evening.


3:00 update - seems there's a meeting of the Hudson River Park Trust Advisory Council on Wednesday at 5:30 at Pier 40 (I assume that would be in the Trust office) - the Rustbucket may or may not be on the agenda. I've pencilled it in & posted it to the hold list & told folks from New York Outrigger & the kayak polo set. If nothing else, it will be a relief to actually have a chance to hear these folks face to face, instead of getting this vague, secondhand "may not be able to continue operations" from MKC (I suspect that the Trust is the source of the vagueness, I think Richard wrote that letter & he'd be as precise as circumstances would allow). Jeeze. C',mon Trustees. Give me something definite so I know whether I can keep paddling, or have to move my boat to do so - don't give me this "we might shut you down on the 10th" crap. It would be very cool if the Rustbucket crowd (not just 'yakkers, but outriggers and the polo gang too) could paddle down there en masse - but I can't really start drumming for that unless I find out a) if Pier 63 actually IS on the agenda and b) whether the dock situation there could take it. Probably simpler to just go straight there after work. Sigh. One of the coolest things about dropping out of Manhattan Kayak Company was that I got to quit going to those meetings...

I should have known better than to believe the rumour that we were fine until November.

I'd heard it from somebody I thought would be in a position to know - but sometimes, it's hard to distinguish whether the folks who run the barge are stating actual facts, or the world as they'd like it to be. Sometimes I don't think they even know.

Like I've said before, this was always supposed to happen, but finding out it's happening in 2 weeks, and with the entire freakin' Fall paddling season left, is very annoying.

-----Original Message-----
From: Manhattan Kayak Company
Sent: Aug 28, 2006 12:07 PM

Subject: Manhattan Kayak Storage Access Information

Dear Kayaker,
We, MKC have been notified that we may not be able to continue operations at Pier 63 Maritime after Sunday, September 10, 2006. While the “barge” will still be moored there, for an as yet indeterminate time, all public access will be prohibited as the Hudson River Park Trust moves forward with its plans to re-develop the local area.

Any boats that you have stored with us will remain in their respective holds, but you may not have access to them until the “barge” is moved to Pier 66a.

This letter is to inform you that all contracts will be frozen for the period of time that access to the barge and the holds is restricted. You are welcome to leave your boats with us while this transition takes place. We regret that we do not have an exact timeline for you as of the writing of this letter, but we felt it was important to inform you, sooner rather than later, of this turn of events.

If you choose to remove your kayak(s) until access to the barge is reinstated, please let us know and your slot will be reserved for your return when we re-open. Your contract will be similarly frozen as for any client that chooses to leave their kayak in the holds.

For however long the contracts are frozen, the renewal date on your contract will be extended to reflect that amount of time.

We, MKC would appreciate your cooperation in this difficult time of transition, and we look forward to serving your with a new home in the coming year. We have been working hard ever since we were notified of this deadline a few days ago to secure the means to continue our paddling season until the end of October in nearby locations.

As private storage hold customers we will offer you the opportunity to utilize our rental fleet boats excluding the times of our scheduled tours/classes. When we have secured a definite launch and storage facility, we will notify you. You will be expected to use your own PFD, paddle and accessories, but we will try to provide open access to the boats if possible.

If you wish to join us on a tour we will honor a 10% discount for you.
We thank you for your patronage, your understanding and your patience while we do all that we can to serve you well into the years to come.

As new developments take place we will let you know. Again, this is a preliminary message so that you can make timely decisions and make alternate arrangements if you so desire.

Sincerely yours,
Eric Stiller
Richard Chen See
Manhattan Kayak Company, Inc.
Richard Chen See (co-owner)
Manhattan Kayak Company, Inc.
Pier 63 North River
New York NY 10011
(917) 591-0843 FAX

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Shamefully late first surfski run of the year...

I watched the weather forecast yesterday, so this was no surprise.

Yes, this is a picture taken from the salon of a schooner that did not sail today.

I rather wilfully did not call prior to going in, though. I could have, but I had a Plan B. I packed my kayak clothes. It's great having kayaks one pier up from the Adirondack - if I plan things right, I always have a backup. I'd opted to stay home & read yesterday (got a new book, 1776 by David McCullough - fascinating reading about those pivotal early battles that happened right here where I live, so I can actually picture where they were & even, to a certain extent, what the scene may have looked like), so by today I was really interested in getting out on the water one way or another.

And looking out at the calm-looking water - there were riffles where the wind was brushing it, but very little chop - I realized that I finally had the time, the inclination, and the conditions to pull out my poor neglected surfski.

The funny thing about keeping boats in a rusty old steel barge is that the barge produces a slow, but steady, flow of rust flakes. I get out often enough in my Romany that it never gets too bad - but since my surfski lives on the top level, right below the deck, and ends up getting put away for the entire winter (and this, yikes, a shameful amount of the summer, too - I can't believe it was the end of August before I pulled it out this year, usually it makes it's first appearance a little while after the drysuit's made it's last appearance - I've been even busier than usual, though, this year), it comes out of winter storage in desperate need of a bath:

Had an awfully nice spin on it - just an hour or so, long enough to get over that wobbly feeling & the tendency to slap-brace at every puff of wind or minor wake. I actually love rainy days on the river - it's so quiet, and you have the place all to yourself. I didn't go anywhere today, just around in a whole lot of circles and oblongs and figure-eights between Pier 63 & Pier 62, then down a couple of piers to the golf driving range at Pier 59, then back up looping in between piers, but it was still a really nice way to while away the time I had before I needed to be back at the schooner - the rain got harder and harder while I paddled, and I suspected the 3:30 would be off too, but you have to go be ready on the off chance you get a bunch of die-hard sailing enthusiasts - 6 brave souls & we'll go.

Here's my surfski looking a LOT happier. Oh, see the yellow thing out there? the one that might or might not look like a giant rubber ducky?

That would be a giant rubber ducky. Hey, it's a strange place, the Rustbucket...

Naturally the 3:30 did get cancelled. We did have to prep the boat, as we ended up having 8 people who didn't bother calling, just didn't show up - if they had, we would've gone. As it is, well, less work for the Monday staff.

Capt. Michelle had already cancelled the 8:30; I'd called Chris, who was supposed to come relieve me at 6, and told him I'd hang out & work the 6:00 in the unlikely event that it actually happened. He took me up on that. Capt. Michelle suggested we go get a bite to eat & sit "somewhere fun". We went over to the barge - Sticks was over there, had had the same thought I did that it would be nice to paddle for a couple of hours in the rain. I asked him to pose with the ducky...

While I was doing that, the skipper & the first mate had discovered that the bar & grill were sort of on the closed side, so we headed on over to the Half King, where we continued to behave as though we were actually sailing (i.e., no beer). Finally, by 4:30, after a couple of calls - that sail got cancelled too. Oooh, did somebody say "heffelweissen?"

Sort of a washout of a day - but a nice one. Think I was ready for it.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Pirate Song

Oh my gosh, I found out last night that former Adirondack crewmate Chris Mancini has got his Pirate Song on this MySpace thingy. Got 5 minutes?


And blame me if you find yourself walking around singing "Bring that horizon to me, boys, bring that horizon to me" all afternoon. I've been singing it for a couple of years, on and off, ever since one marvelous evening on the schooner when we were all hanging out with our postsail beers, and Sarah got her fiddle, and I think I may've played a tin whistle tune or two, and then Chris ripped into his newly-written Pirate Song. It was the summer of Pirates of the Caribbean, and Master and Commander, and we were all pirate-crazy, and by the time Chris finished the song, we were all belting out that horizon chorus with a will.

As the Irish would put it - great craic. Great night. That was a good crew that summer.

Oh, and Chris actually ended up being an extra in Pirates of the Caribbean II.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Funny ad commentary...

I did a google search for cigarette boat pictures after putting up yesterday's post as I am thinking about writing more about why I hate these things so much more than any other kind of watercraft (first I have to get my DSL working at home, though, it quit on Tuesday night & that would be a longer post of the type I prefer to do at home instead of trying to squeeze it into lunch hour). I ran across this ad & some accompanying commentary on, a site aimed at people in the advertising industry - they show ads & comment on each one's effectiveness.

Now, this ad itself is pretty par for the advertising course - buy product, get laid - a bit more overt than usual but isn't that the message most ads try to convey?

As a non-fan of cigarette boats, though, I found something in the commentary kind of amusing - not ROTFLOL funny, but worth a snicker. You can go read for yourself here. I hope I'm not the only one who thinks that's a pretty aptly turned phrase they use in reference to the "guys and dolls"!

Back to work now, just stopped off in the library to do this quick post. I just have to mention that my chair feels like it's rocking - I've been getting a LOT of water time in this week. Sunday, as I mentioned, I "schooned" all day. A few of us had a lovely Tuesday Night Club - beautiful weather, gorgeous sunset, and some good rolling & rescue practice (we've had a new guy join the Rustbucket trip list, he just bought a Kirto & hadn't done rescue work before, so I jumped at the chance to do a little teaching & also practice my own rescues). Last night I worked a 6:00 - 8:00 charter, and tonight (assuming the forecasted thunderstorms allow) I'm sailing until 10:30. I was thinking of being a complete glutton for punishment & paddling Friday night, too, but I think I'm going to go home & call my ISP about the problem with my DSL modem (no ACT light). TTFN!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Off to the Races!

(photo (c) 2004 by Bernard Ente, via Working Harbor Committee website, link below - I'm emailing Doswell at WHC to make sure this is OK...).

Wow, quite the string of races coming up here, warrants a lunchtime post!

They start weekend after next - Sunday, September 3rd - It's the Working Harbor Committee's Annual Tugboat Race & Competition. YEAH! The event starts with the Tugboat Parade at noon, then three separate events will test the mettle of these Clydsedales of the harbor and their crews - there's a race, a bow-to-bow pushing contest, and a line-throwing contest.

Of course ONCE AGAIN I have to miss this 'cause Sunday is my regular day to work on the schooner - this happens every year, I've NEVER gotten to go watch 'cause I've always got something else I have to do - but I really recommend attending if you can, it has just got to be a blast. Reservations on spectator boats and all other information is available at the Working Harbor Committee website.

The week after that, one I am far less enthusiastic about - yep, September 10th is the annual day on which they shut down the river, usually from 11 am until early to mid-afternoon, for the annual New York City Stupidboat Race. I mean, wait, the term the organizers of the stupid event use is "Superboat Race". Yeah, that was the term. Ugh. Cigarette boats... This is the one class of boat which I simply and sincerely loathe as an entire class, irrespective of how good or bad the drivers are. I'm not posting about their stupid earshattering event to tout it, I'm mentioning it to warn any local paddlers that that would be the ideal weekend to be anywhere BUT North River. Maybe you could go visit Bill and Janice at Annsville Creek, or Terri and her general manager, Ray in Cold Spring, or maybe even a nice hike somewhere...or stay home & do some laundry, doing laundry is TONS more fun than being out with those freakin' waterborne jackhammers...Ugh. Once again, gentle boaters & others who appreciate of the relative peace & quiet of a day on the water - September 10th, I recommend finding some water other than the North River (the stretch of the Hudson that goes past Manhattan). I may actually have to be there - like I said, I work on the schooner on Sundays. We may sail north instead of to the Statue - doesn't matter, though, given the 2-hour schedule of our usual trips, we can't sail far enough away to get to peace & quiet. The amount of noise these things put out, they'll need earplugs in Yonkers.

And Saturday the 16th is the Mayor's Cup Schooner Race! This was a sad day in Adirondack-land last year, this year hopefully we reclaim our honor & the cup. Or at the very least, we don't go limping home with a mangled bow. Tickets are available, check out the Special Events section on our website,, or call 646-336-5270. Sorry, no friends-of-frogma discounts available, but it should be a fabulous day out on the water. OK, if you really want to read about last year, it's here, sigh.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Go Renata Go!

Remember when I was going totally gaga over Renata Chlumska, Swedish professional adventurer & motivational speaker who's been circumnavigating the lower 48 states by kayak, bike and rollerblade?

This was her setting out from Pier 63 in New York City on a brisk and shiny April morning -

here she was looking up from packing up her boat & realizing she was as ringed with photographers as a movie star!

here she was getting her astrological chart done by Pier 63's resident astrologer -

And although I didn't listen in, I bet that W. only saw success for Renata in the stars.

Since then, I've been following her adventures at as she's slogged her way through some horrible weather - torrential rains, windstorms, heat waves - well, I've been pretty busy lately & hadn't checked in for a while (plus I guess there was some glitch with her GPS position on the website map) and last I'd seen she was in the Lake Superior area, enjoying her last bit of paddling.

Well, she got out of her kayak, got on her bike, and started heading west with PURPOSE and when I went on there today - holy cow, she's estimating 24 days until she returns to Seattle - where she launched on July 4th, 2005.

Can you even imagine what her return to "normal life" is going to be like?

Well, she'd mentioned while she was here that it would hopefully include another loop of the country - this time the easy way, not the human-powered way, giving talks about her trip. Hope New York's on the schedule!

Go Renata GO!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Home Before Dark

And it felt like a luxury, too. Once the heat wave broke, we started having some wonderful summer weather, and that's been making me want to play outside - or work outside, as has been more the case. Seems like everyone at the Really Big Children's Publishing House is on vacation - and the part-time job seems a little short-handed, too, I've been working pretty much as many hours a week on the schooner as I can without getting too exhausted. This has actually entailed - gasp? - turning down sailing time.

Sound bizarre?

Well, remember how I commented on how the freedom from schedule on that Wednesday night full-moon sail made me really appreciate sailing for fun, instead of work?

Well, here's been the last couple Sundays for me:

10 am - head for the subway. 11 am - eat extremely large, unhealthy breakfast at favorite diner (the waiters all know me there) while reading paper. Sounds awful I know - thing is, if I stuff myself at the start of the day, that generally fuels me up to the point where just some fruit before the 6:00 and the 8:30 keeps me going, then I'll have something more solid when I get home.

11:30 am - Get to boat & GET TO WORK! Pull boarding steps up to boat, open the boat, stow the sliding cover & the padlocks from the companionway. Check bilges for water. If it rained the night before, stow the raingear that's been hung out to dry in the salon. Drain coolers (resultant buckets of water get hauled up the companionway & dumped over the side. Stock coolers. Get ice for coolers. Stock table where beverages are stored - if that's well stocked, keeping the coolers full all day is easy. This does involve going inside an airless metal barge & hauling around cases of drinks. Very sweat-inducing on a sticky day - I'm usually wearing a t-shirt for the set-up that I'll change out of just before the passengers board. Clean salon, clean head. Engine check. If it's rained, raise the main & fore, they always catch rain & you don't want to dump a sailful of water on the passengers. Hose decks, cabin tops & cockpit. Scrub decks, cabin tops & cockpits. Squeegee same & dry with chamois. Stow cleaning supplies. Put out cushions. There, all ready. Change from sweaty cleaning shirt into clean crew polo (too bad you can't do anything about sweaty you). Oops, sunscreen, if you forgot that earlier. Try to get hair looking half decent. Try to get you looking half decent. Yeesh.

If you're lucky & everything's gone well, you've got 10 or 15 minutes to sit down, drink some water, use the "land head", chat, and otherwise compose yourself.

12:55 - Captain says "Ready for boarding?" Crew says "Youbetcha!" or something like that. Here they come. "Welcome aboard! Welcome aboard! Watch your step. Here, let me take that. Would you like that stowed down below? Welcome aboard! Welcome aboard! I'm sorry, this is a wooden boat & we don't allow smoking, please put that out before you come aboard. Welcome aboard! Here, you can take my hand, just step on the nonskid there...great! You can sit anywhere that's white or green...ALL the seats are good! Here, can I take that...etc etc etc..."

1:00 Captain's safety speech time - sometimes also given by a crew member if the boat's full. Concepts to introduce in 5 minutes or less, all important: Availibility of lifejackets. Moving around safely on a boat. Where they can sit. Where they can't sit. Where they can't go, period. Finickiness of marine heads. Absolutely no self-service of drinks, crew must serve. Parents must be with children at all times. What booms do to unwary heads (people heads, not finicky marine heads). Yes, of course we use the obvious pun (but did you know that "boom" is from the Norwegian word for tree?). Got it? Great, let's go sailing!

While speech is going on, crew's been readying for departure - gate latched, boarding steps pulled away, stowing large bags & baby strollers & what have you down below. One line is looped onto one horn of a cleat, all others cast off by a crew member on the dock, crew member gets aboard as the bow presses in and the stern swings out, signals the feet from the barge to the bobstay (which we like intact), and makes sure that the line slips off the cleat as the captain starts to back out...

TOOOOOOT! TOOT! TOOT! TOOT! Look out river, here we come!

Watch at the bow as we move out from between the piers. Signal captain for oncoming traffic. Coil docklines, stow fender (we're down to one now, the rest are on the dock). Check with captain - drinks first or sails first? In whichever order the captain says, raise sails (4 of 'em!) and get a round of drinks out. I'd say that's usually all done by 1:30 or so (faster if we've got 3 crew on board). Coil halyards and...oh, boy. The heavy work is done & now comes the fun part. Stand watch, sail the boat, schmooze, make sure people are having fun. Talk-story about the harbor if somebody wants stories. If people want to talk quietly among themselves, or sprawl out on the cabin top & doze, leave 'em alone. Part of the fun is sort of figuring out the rhythm of the group & interacting appropriately. Tell about our boat, tell about the other boats in the harbor, talk about the harbor seals and porpoises (and now the manatee!), point out the sights to the tourists, leave the smoochers alone. Keep an eagle eye on the antsier kids. And sail! Woo hoo! Right by the Statue, let's see how close the skipper can shave the security zone buoys this time - ten feet! excellent (I love to tell people that we're as close as we're legally allowed to be).

In the meantime, make sure that folks are following our rules. No wind can definitely put a damper on things as we end up motoring instead of sailing (which makes all the sweat of raising the sails feel pointless, except that it just looks better), but nothing spoils the time between the raising of the sails and the dropping of the sails like people who don't think our rules should apply to them. Think the things that irritate us (and scare us) the most are people who don't attend to their children, and people who mistake us for a booze cruise & think it's funny to help themselves when we won't bring 'em a fresh beer every 5 minutes. You might think that a seasick passenger could also bring things down - it does, but in a very different way, them we just worry about & are sorry they aren't having fun.

If it's a large & thirsty crowd on a hot day, and you have time, you usually restock coolers. If spills happen, you clean 'em up. Basically, you try to keep the boat looking nice. You check the head a couple of times during the trip to make sure it's still working (if it's not, the half-hour between sails is going to be yucky 'cause you'll have to unclog it).

And oh yeah, you drink water. You make sure your crewmate(s) is/are drinking water. They make sure you are drinking water. Everybody makes sure the captain has water. Sometimes you sweat so hard you don't feel like you can drink enough water.

2:45, we go back into getting-things-done mode. Sails are dropped. Empties are collected. Docklines are reset, the fender is put on, and as we make our approach to Pier 62, we request the passengers to please make sure they remain seated until the captain has turned off the seat belt I mean until the captain has turned off the motor and stepped out from behind the wheel...

Just before 3:00 - hand signals again, bobstay to dock in feet, given by crew on the foredeck (that's why we ask the passengers to stay seated, captain's got to see those & then any signals the crew that's cleating off the docklines gives) - 50 - 40 - 30 - 20 - 10 - 5-4-3-2-2-3-4 - the foot count goes up as the skipper swings the stern in - the other crew person steps off the stern & starts making off the lines as the on-board crew passes the docklines to them - then while the on-dock crew person & the captain attend to the final adjustments, the on-board crew person brings up everything that was stowed down below, and oh yes very important the tip bag -

Boarding steps are swung back into place, gate opened, captain steps away from the wheel & gives a final little thank-you speech, and then the passengers debark - "Thanks for sailing with us! Thanks for sailing with us! Enjoy the rest of your day! Thanks for sailing with us! Hey, nice driving! Enjoy the rest of your day..." -

By the time the last person's off the boat, there's about 25 minutes to reset and the captain and crew springs into action!! Take out the trash, stock the coolers, fetch the ice, clean anything that needs to be cleaned, check the head to make sure it's still pumping OK. Wolf down some food if hungry (for me, on a hot day like this last Sunday was, all I wanted was fruit - watermelon before the 3rd sail, an orange before the 4th - that's the idea behind the enormous unhealthy breakfast, I start with that & then I can eat light the rest of the day).

And before you know it, it's 3:25 and the captain's saying "Are we ready to board"?

And you repeat the whole process 3 more times.

Of course every sail's a little different. Same as every time I go paddling - I may be covering the same ground - but it's not the same. You have different passengers, the conditions can change - maybe 2 sails, the sailing is magnificent, and the skipper's grinning like a maniac and the passengers are whooping with joy, then on the 3rd the wind craps out completely and you motor the whole way, then the 8:30 is just a nice gentle breeze, and the passengers are hushed, speaking in murmers (and that's the one where you get the couples on dates getting all lovebirdy - the 6:00 is the sunset trip, the 8:00 you get the drama of the city lights -

It's a funny balance of wonderful, sublime, fantastic moments on a beautiful boat, and sheer hard manual labor. I worked from 7:00 until midnight on Saturday; 11:30 am until 11 pm on Sunday - I'll be working one sail Wednesday, two on Thursday -

I love working on the schooner but I'll be glad when the out of town folks get back. As it is, I've been turning down some work anyways - I try not to let the amount of schooner work I do get to the quantity where the work side starts to subsume the sublime.

Getting pretty close now - but not there yet & don't plan to let myself get there. That's one nice thing about not being a twentysomething - learning where your limits are; and even more, learning how to do something you love, but with enough moderation that you keep loving it.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Riding the Cyclone

The Cyclone roller coaster, Deno's Wonder Wheel & the Parachute Jump - New Year's Eve, 2005

So out we went to Coney Island, and after we'd walked for a while, we came to Astroland Park.

"Is that THE Cyclone?" TQ asked.

"Yep" I replied - then after a pause & a very deep breath, rather like I imagine one would take before jumping out of a plane voluntarily for the first time - "Want to ride?"

"Sure!" he said.

And that was how I got myself to go on a non-kiddy roller coaster for the first time in over 30 years!

You see, I've been scared to death of rollercoasters ever since I was a little girl & was taken on some rollercoaster in Virginia Beach. I remember being completely terrified and screaming "Make them stop the train!" which of course they couldn't do! I believe that was the first and last time my parents took me on a rollercoaster - from that point on, I was permitted to opt out - which I did, because I simply could not imagine going on a rollercoaster without seeing it from the viewpoint of a terrified five-year-old (or however old I was).

This silly fear is not particularly one I've ever been terribly concerned about. I've never sought counselling for it, as I believe that a person can live a rich and happy life without going on rollercoasters.

However - well, here I have been living in Brooklyn for years, and I've walked by the Cyclone so many times, and I love the look of that rattly-bangy old coaster...well, it just seemed like riding the Cyclone would be a really cool Brooklyn experience. And really, it doesn't look all THAT scary from the ground. But when I'd think about riding it, I'd feel a little sick to my stomach - but the more times I walked past it, the more I started thinking that this was the same sort of thing I've felt before I've launched a kayak into surf, or a whitewater run, or even jumped off the platform at the New York Trapeze School - and busting through that initial "yikes" reaction in every case ended up being utterly exhilerating.

So I'd suspected that it might actually be fun - but I'd never had a really good excuse to follow through & give it a try. I wasn't really interested in going by myself - there are plenty of things I do solo but somehow riding a rollercoaster seems like something that should be a shared experience; my friends & I aren't big amusement-park goers & I would've felt funny asking if anybody wanted to come help me get over the silliest childhood-trauma-related phobia of all time when we'd all rather be kayaking. So although I'd given it much consideration, it hadn't happened.

But then TQ asked "Is that THE Cyclone?" with just the right tone in his voice to be the nudge I'd never had before. I knew when he asked him if he wanted to ride that if he said yes, there wasn't any way I was going to then wimp out in front of him.

I did at least explain the situation as soon as he said "Yeah!" - wouldn't have been fair not to. Just in case my inner chicken won out & I had a rotten time.

Being a smart guy, he was immediately ready to skip the Cyclone - no derision, no even mild arm-twisting. Even warned me that the old wooden coasters could be scarier in some ways than new ones - so much more rattling, banging, and boneshaking in the old ones. Advice heeded, and left to make the decision, I told TQ that I wanted to try it. Also told him that he was a VERY smart guy to leave it up to me so I couldn't blame him if I hated it!

Anyways, I'd been prepared to do it from the minute I'd asked. Like I said, it doesn't look that awful from the ground - and it's only a minute and 50 seconds and I figured I should be able to stand anything that long.

Off we went to the ticket booth. We bought our tickets and wended our way through the white-painted wire chute - no waiting on a Wednesday night - and there it was, the little train with it's snug-looking little red vinyl padded seats. TQ asked where I wanted to sit, noting that in back you get whipped around more, and in front's scarier 'cause, well, you're in front - I opted for the moderate middle. We got in, the operators shut the lap bar. They checked & double-checked everyone's lap bars, then the train gently pulled away from the platform & started it's clanking climb up to the top of the first hill.

Yikes. Committed. The butterflies in my stomach achieved the size of Canada geese.

I'd wanted to look around at the view as we went up - but I couldn't tear my eyes away from the shortening track in front of us. A young lady a couple of cars ahead already had her face buried in her boyfriend's shoulder. We laughed about that. We laughed about the sign at the "Don't Stand Up" sign at the top (OK, seems like a no-brainer but according to a guy did die on the Cyclone after, yes, standing up). Then we quit laughing as we PLUMMETED down the first drop. I swear that I have never before appreciated the word PLUMMET in the same way I do now. "Doesn't look that bad from the ground" did I say? Ha. Ha Ha. Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha. The Wikipedia article on the Cyclone lists the maximum vertical angle as 58 degrees - somehow, it feels more like 80! I didn't scream, but TQ & I were both clinging to the grab bar with white-knuckle grips, and I had my jaw clenched - heck I had every muscle in my body clenched, I think I had my TOES clenched - no hands in the air, here! And then we didn't die and the car was thundering up the next hill - feeling like it wasn't losing an ounce of speed - whipped around a bend and then again the train just PLUMMETS, "falls" just doesn't cut it, and on this time you just had no idea it was coming (as opposed to the first one where at least you know it's coming) - and so on and so forth, whipping through a maze of scaffolding that keeps you from really having any idea what's coming next...

But although the first drop was purely terrifying, somewhere shortly after that something else started sneaking through -

Yep. I had a blast.

I forgot to look at the view but I think by the end I was grinning like I have when I caught a wave surfing.

We did NOT opt to stay on for the four-dollar Round Two - nobody did! - but I walked off of that ride giggling like a 13-year old. TQ seemed like he'd enjoyed it too.

As we walked away, we heard the young lady who'd been in the car in front of us say to her boyfriend "I still love you, but I hate you for making me go on that thing!"

I leaned over to TQ & repeated what I'd said earlier - "You're a smart guy".

Excellent article about the Cyclone at NYCVisit - explains a lot about how it is that such a rollercoaster that doesn't look like such a big deal ended up being such a big deal. Those folks that built the thing back in 1927? THEY MEANT TO DO THAT!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Funny ol' fear...

(photo from

Fear. What an emotion.

So useful, in moderation, and under control.

But so useless - or even dangerous - in excess, and out of control.

That kayak guide/possibly soon-to-be outfitter in Hawaii I linked to the other day? The post that I first found myself reading, after following a "kayaking women" google search from my sitemeter, was a good example of fear of the useless variety. Didn't turn dangerous, because it sounds like everything else stayed more or less under control while the client freaked out, but that's the sort of thing that's really scary as a guide, since if anything REAL goes wrong on top of that, the extra distraction af the panicking client could just be the thing that tips it into Deep Trouble territory.

I've had situations like that myself while guiding. Never with the actual screaming I-need-to-get-out-of-this freakout, but I have had people who just seemed to sort of shut down and stop listening to me. It's a nasty, nasty feeling to suddenly realize that someone has frozen up & can't or won't hear you - it is your job, as a guide, to get your clients back safely, and most kayak guides spend a lot of time, effort and money in learning to do that - but clients get the most benefit of that when they listen and try to use what you can tell them to help themselves. When they stop listening, it gets to be about...well, some combination or other of prayer, a tow rope & all the physical & mental strength you can muster (both of your own and of other competent paddlers in the vicinity). Conversely, I've had a really scary situation that turned out just fine because everybody stayed cool & worked with me (oy, that was my first year as a partner at MKC & I came within a hair's breadth of dropping out after that, I was so shaken by the whole experience - but friend/mentor/business-partner Richard talked me down from that bridge with a story from HIS early days of guiding - wonder if any guides DON'T have one of those?).

I've also dealt with my OWN fear in my development as a boater. More than you might think, even. My most vivid early recollection of being in water is, in fact, one of falling into the deep end of a pool, long before I knew how to swim. My mother was right there & fished me out but I still remember being absolutely terrified and helpless. Took me a few years (& some Marines in the kiddy pool...that's a good story, worth it's own post) before I got over that early fright & truly got comfortable in the water.

Learning to kayak has brough plenty of moments where I was standing looking at something & having to wrestle with my inner chicken. It's not so much stuff that hits while I'm out that I'm talking about - that, you deal with. I'm talking more about stuff where you make an active choice to put yourself out into something scary - whitewater & waves.

Of course every time I've done that, I end up having an absolute blast.

Guess what though - this post isn't REALLY about kayaking -


TQ came down for a date (yes, on top of all the other stuff I usually try to cram into a summertime, this summer I've actually been seeing someone - don't worry, though, this is never going to turn into a dating blog, there's stuff I prefer to keep private) on Wednesday night. We had an offer to go out on the Rosemary Ruth, which would've been great, but he's only driven down to Brooklyn once (when he picked me up to go to NC) and that didn't go well. So, we decided that this time at least we'd keep it simple and keep it in Brooklyn (although I think we've now figured out a way that 79th street could be worked in without too much additional travel time...hint hint, Richard...;D).

It was a beautiful night. We had dinner at my favorite local restaurant, Picket Fence - then, since it was such a nice night, I suggested a walk on either the Coney Island Boardwalk or over the Brooklyn Bridge.

He thought the boardwalk sounded good.

(oops, look at the time. Lunch hour's over, to be continued!)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

America's Funniest Home Kayak Video - and the one that got away.

We definitely have a contender here (First Descent Chilton clip).

Now I might have had an entry if I'd been clever enough to have my camera on me on Tuesday. Had an absolutely LOVELY post-work paddle with fellow Greenland enthusiast Mr. SeaLevelNYC - he did a nice write-up here. It was a perfect night, and I was really happy to be on the water in my kayak, which I hadn't been in in 2 weeks, which is highly abnormal for me, but between the fact that we've been shorthanded at work, the extra hours I had to work to go to North Carolina, and the fact that I've been doing a lot more hours on the schooner than usual, the paddling for fun has gotten short shrift (in fact my poor poor surfski hasn't felt the water yet this summer, I really must pull that out soon!). Mr. SeaLevel has also had a lot going on, family stuff that's taking him off to Maine every weekend, so we were completely in agreement that a leisurely 2-hour paddle with the skinny sticks was the perfect plan. I'm a lot happier with my Greenland forward stroke ever since I actually got some instruction & found out that I was simply leaving out the most effective part of the stroke - I still like my Euroblade, that's still the paddle I'd pick to cover a distance fast (like racing a thunderstorm back to the dock, or paddling ANYWHERE with the Adventure Squad), but the GP is now becoming a little more just a fun rolling toy which is mostly what it used to be for me. Still needs some work - tends to be a little splashing on entry - I do hope that I can start getting out after work a little more regularly.

Anyways, the video I didn't get but wish I could've would've been at the tail end of the rolling practice I did at the end of our post-work paddle. Y'know how I'd posted about how a silly roll I made up at Yonkers is now famous? Well, I actually hadn't done the silly roll in a long time & took a whim to give it a try. It didn't go precisely as I expected, though. I stuck the paddle down the back of my PFD, but didn't secure it under the waistband. Felt kinda loose & I thought about it, but then decided "Naaah" (Mr. SeaLevel had already been very nice about spotting me when he's still sort of restricted in his own ability to practice by that silly Necky lawnmower-seat-back). Well, I went over & because the paddle was loose & free to do a little lateral motion, the end stayed angled up out to the side & up to the surface on the side I'd capsized on. OK, that's not how it had happened before. Still had plenty of air, though, so figured I'd try to see if I could make it happen. I needed the end of the blade to come down & travel across the bow of the boat. To accomplish that, I arched my back away from the deck - actually bringing my head down deeper in the water. The paddle came along nicely, and I added in a lateral motion to bring the paddle across to the other side -

and SQUISH. The end of the paddle went right into that nice sticky, icky black Hudson River muck! Yep, it was low water and not quite 6 feet deep, and evidently my manuevering had made the tip of the paddle dive deeper than there was room.

Still, plenty of problem yet...could bail but nah, let's work this puzzle out.

Reversed the arch of my spine, pulling my shoulders back towards the deck -

Paddle pulled loose & I swept my torso on over to the side I'd wanted to get the paddle to - folded up close to the deck- let the paddle find the surface, and sweep out and hip flick and YEAH! Over she goes!

After all the shenanigans the paddle flopped over to the side, but I'd done it. I came up totally cracking up. Sometimes the rolls that don't go quite the way you planned can have way more personal entertainment value than the picture-perfect ones...

I just wish I could've seen what it looked like. Probably quite silly.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Blogging Kayak Guide In Hawaii! Plus Big Blob O' Boats!

Here's a woman who grew up in Maine, eventually moved to Hawaii, found that people tend to paddle there, and is now possibly on the verge of buying a kayak business - her blog name is Gravity and how much I don't know and I stumbled across her while following a "kayaking woman" type search on Sitemeter (always fun to see how people got here).

Now THAT should make for some good reading - assuming she still has time to blog once she goes into business (bwa ha ha ha haaaaa). Good luck, K8inhawaii!

And Now - I give you:

Big Blob O' Boats!
Photo Hosted at Buzznet
Another something you don't see every day, unless you happen to live or work in or commute through the Lincoln Center area, in which case you probably do. Interesting use for old kayaks, huh? This is called Big Pleasure Point - it's a new public art installation at Lincoln Center, by LA-based artist Nancy Rubin. Somebody on Buzznet left a comment that they hope it's hurricane-proof...

Monday, August 14, 2006

Here's Baby, in full frontal glory! Funny thing about this picture is that you MIGHT think that I had taken a cleverly lined-up shot of a normal sized flower sitting on a table...

So here's a better one for perspective. For all the much-vaunted stinkiness of the Titan Arum flower -- oops, I know better now & should say "inflorescence" -- the greenhouse didn't smell. At all. I was quite surprised, I was expecting something along the lines of, oh, the way the Fulton Fish Market used to smell during a heat wave, but at most I caught the tiniest whiff as I walked past. Even that may have been my imagination. Here's a lady who really wants to find out for sure!

I initially went through WAY too fast. The line actually wasn't bad at all - at times, you could almost walk right in, if you didn't want to stop & read the info they'd put on large signs in the queue area for people to read while they waited - but the security guards were really trying to keep people moving along. "Take your pictures, then move along". Well, I was a good girl, took my pictures & hurried along - then as I walked out, I realized that I had taken pictures - but I hadn't really taken a good look at this amazing thing for my own memory (it's NOT the same thing!). So, back I went through the non-existent line & this time actually looked - both at the INFLORESCENCE (I know that now!) and at people reacting. Not sure which was more fun. Then, it was time for Baby's star turn!

That's when the botanist turned up. It's such a pleasure to see someone TRULY enjoying their job - this gentleman was having a great time fielding questions. I asked why it didn't stink - he explained that the inflorescence has male flowers and female flowers, and in order to avoid self-pollination, the female flowers open first. They're the ones that stink, but the production of the smell, and the heat the plant generates to diffuse the aroma, takes a lot of energy, only lasts for about 12 hours. Having done their thing and gotten pollinated by the flies & beetles drawn to the smell, the female flowers then close up & the male flowers start producing pollen, unaccompanied by stench. In this case, according to the BBG's blog, the stink started about 8 pm, and was mostly gone by the time the gates opened at 8 am on Friday. By the time I got there, later in the day on Saturday, it was long since gone (which is why I think the whiff I thought I got may have been my imagination).

He also explained why there was a little window cut into the back of the thing - this was what they had to do to collect the pollen from the male flowers. Botanical gardens work very closely together to propagate unique plants like this - in fact they've attempted to pollinate Baby with pollen from the Titan Arum that just bloomed at Virginia Tech, so if we're lucky the next event at the BBG may be to go see the fruit - that also looks pretty fascinating. The BBG will in turn store their pollen ready to send off to whoever is lucky enough to be the next owner of a blooming corpse flower. Oh, and that word "inflorescence" I keep using? Well, this is not really a flower, but an entire structure with lots of flowerets down inside that sheath - you can see the flowers through that little window, before they patched it back up again, on that selfsame blog as I mentioned before (worth a link, worth a read - they go into SO much more detail than I can even begin to).

And in the meantime - well, even without a corpse flower to see (or smell), the Brooklyn Botanical Garden is still a wonderful place to spend a summer day. Just ask the locals!

Not Something You See Every Day.

Photo Hosted at Buzznet
"Baby" the Corpse Flower & a botanist who's really enjoying telling us about the life & times of the Titan Arum.

Real post after work!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Friday 8/11 - Proud day in my amphibious life...

or at least a day that brought in a HIGHLY amusing email from my G-mentor Jack G.

Hi Bonnie-

remember a few years ago at the pool in Yonkers you
did a spine roll with the paddle stuck in your pfd? I
showed it to Dubside and now your roll is famous!

See the video




And I can't quite resist posting the "companion photo" to a picture I saw last week on Sea Level

that was not a nice stable sort of kayak.

Well, I've been let off the hook for the morning shift on the schooner tomorrow, which is great 'cause not ONLY was that going to be a 14-hour day (I was worried about that, even the 11-hour day I worked last week ended up telling somewhat at the day job the next day, it took me a lot more hours & coffee before I started feeling productive, and we're short-staffed right now & 2 people are on vacation, so a modicum of sharpness is going to be needed on Monday) but I was also going to have to cancel a date I've been looking forward to all week (which is the reason I didn't just suck it up & do the 14-hour day anyways - would've probably just had the quietest of days here & gone to bed early in an attempt to make up for the sheer amount of effort I would've been expending tomorrw) - so I'm thinking I'm going to finish my laundry, do a little cleaning & then stop by the gardens to see how "Baby the Corpse Flower" is doing on my way out to dinner. Full report tomorrow or Monday - at least if the lines aren't 4 hours long & the flower hasn't collapsed already (apparently they do that after about 2 days).

Friday, August 11, 2006

2 Unusual Things to Do On Saturday.

I already posted about the Harrison Street Regatta (where the 2nd paddler across the line wins - apparently in the old days, when people actually took it semi-seriously, everyone would paddle up to the finish line hell-for-leather - then stop & eventually everybody would be milling about waiting for somebody to CRACK under the pressure and cross - then EVERYBODY ELSE would try to be the 2nd) - I'm not doing it but it's always fun.

OR -

You can go to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and see (and smell!) a corpse flower!

I think I might need to go do THAT. If I can roust myself out of my apartment tomorrow. I'm working on the Adirondack tonight, I might be working on the Adirondack from 8:30 am 'til 10:45 pm on Sunday - the usual 1:00, 3:30, 6:00 & 8:30 sails, plus a 10 am private charter - I'm trying to get out of the 10 am, which I just found out about yesterday (& aside from being a hideously long day, it sort of messes up my original plans for Saturday night - but the full-time first mate who was so good this year quit & things are a little chaotic right now, and I'm not going to say no if they can't get anybody else...), but if I can't, the idea of not budging from my neighborhood tomorrow may be too appealing to resist.

Although the BBG is just a few minutes away by subway.

We'll see just how lazy I feel like being tomorrow.

This may not be a TRULY once-in-a-lifetime thing to see...but it COULD be. Never know when you're going to run across another blooming corpse flower.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Night Sail on the Rosemary Ruth

The Rosemary Ruth cast off from the 79th Street Boat Basin, oh, it must have been around 7:00 or so. The fact that I'm not sure what time it was that we did - that's proof that I was truly sailing for fun last night. Everything almost always happens right on time on the Adirondack - with 4 scheduled sails a day, you live by those launch times. Last night - we launched when we were ready to; when everyone was aboard, with our various bags & packages stowed.

The breeze was better than forecast, and we had one or two less-experienced boaters aboard. The Rosemary Ruth has a fairly deep "v" shaped hull, with hard chines (distinct angles where the flat sections of the hull meet - you can see that clearly on one of Richard's photo, check out the lower right hand photo here). Students of kayak hull design will recognize this as a hull that's going to have great secondary stability - just like a hard-chined Greenland kayak, once she gets over onto that plane, she's perfectly happy - but the heeling to get there can happen a little abruptly. Knowing that's the case, and since it's easier to shake out a reef you don't need than put one in if you find that you've got more sail up than you need, Richard decided to have us put in a single reef on the main. Then everybody else took turns raising the sails. I played passenger and took pictures!

Sails raised, Richard killed the motor. The wind blew. The sails caught it & held it. The rail dropped down & the river swirled in gently through the scuppers. The water hissed under the bow.

The motor yacht Manhattan came purring up from the south & circled us. Nice crowd on board - probably a charter. I waved & maybe enjoyed my next sip of beer even more than I did the first few. Working on the river is nice - but so is playing on the river. Hope the passengers got some nice pictures! They headed back down towards the south - given the speed of that boat, the skipper was probably aiming for the Statue of Liberty to coincide with the deepest tints of sunset.

Meanwhile, on the Rosemary Ruth , "destination" might as well have been a foreign word, at least until the moon started to rise. You may notice that the bowsprit in that photo is pointed south; the water was bubbling nicely around the bow; but we're actually traveling stern-first towards the George Washington Bridge - sailing backwards!

This is a not entirely uncommon occurence in recreational sailing on the Hudson. Last night, being full moon & therefore spring tide (that's when currents are at their strongest owing to the gravitational pull of the moon & the lesser gravitational pull of the sun being in line & working together, rather than at angles). Although we were making good forward speed through the water, the water itself was moving north at an increasingly swift clip, and with the angle of our tacks, the northbound current was gently but firmly pushing us up towards the bridge.

But we were sailing, and the temperature was perfect, and except for quiet conversation, laughter, the waves on the hull & the occasional flapping of the canvas as we tacked, it was quiet. So much quieter than down by the Statue of Liberty, with all the tour boats making their scheduled passes.

The sun went down & the moon gradually began to show big and gold over the city - looking as though it was traveling northward over the buildings, keeping pace with us as we moved towards the bridge. Stunning moonrise, and the George Washington Bridge sparkling behind us...finally someone broke the spell and said "When are we going to have turn on the en...I mean the unmentionable?"

Richard's original plan had been a return around ten-ish. So the answer, with the current rocking along at high speed (and it speeds up as it funnels past the bridge), was "Very soon".

"We're not going to the bridge?" someone else asked. We sailed on, discussing.

"Who wants to go to the bridge?" asked Richard - there were a couple of "Me's!"

"If we go under the bridge, we won't be back until 11 to 11:30 - does anyone have any problems with that?"

(Voice of reason in my head murmured something about the time it would take me to get home afterwards. Voice of self-indulgence told voice of reason to put a sock in it. Voice of reason looked at the rising moon & said "aw, heck, twist my arm..."). Silence fell over the boat...I think I may not have had the only half-hearted internal debates about the wisdom of staying out that late on a "school night".

But the moon and the bridge won, and the moon hanging low over the bridge with the city lights below and the darkness to the north was breathtaking, worth it. Finally Richard said it really was time to drop sails & turn on the engine.

I spent a good part of the ride back to 79th st. lying on my back on the cabin top, looking up at a star hanging between the tips of the masts.

I always feel good when I see people doing that on the Adirondack. Even better if they doze off. Means we're doing our job & they're having a good relaxing time. Felt great to get to do that myself.

Somewhere during that time, I even realized that the terrible crick I'd had in my neck all day at work - could barely turn my head - had vanished completely. I think it had unkinked the minute I was on board.

We pulled back up to the 79th st. boat basin at 11:30 on the nose - just what Richard predicted.

Turned out that one of the other folks on board also lived in Brooklyn and had brought his car & gave me a ride home.

I'll be back at work on the Adirondack tomorrow night, and I'm sure we'll have a great charter. But boy, it was so nice to be out there sailing for fun & just letting the river float all the things that have been bothering me right out of my mind for a few hours as it floated us north, stern first.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

tiny little rant...

OK, one more useless little squeak here -

Remember how Bush said, not long ago,

"America must never abandon our fundamental morals" and "it also offers temptations
to manipulate human life and violate human dignity. Our conscience in history as
a nation demand that we resist this temptation" not long ago?

I do wish that he would actually practice what he preaches. However once again, looks like he wasn't talking about the already born.

And I'm really feeling sort of ill about the whole business of how 9/11 has now been processed and become an entertainment event. A summer blockbuster, I suppose. Ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh, UGH. I find this revolting in the same way I found tourists snapping pictures of the still-smoking wreckage while vendors held up their wares chanting "Takealook, takealook, takealook" and pedicab drivers sat dinging their little dingety-dingy bike bells trying to lure passengers...god, I'm skipping that movie, wouldn't see it if you PAID me to. Actually I read somewhere that most of New York City is skipping that movie. Read some comment somewhere along the lines of "Who needs to see a reenactment when you were there for the real deal?"

Unfortunately even without an idiot box at home, it's still completely impossible to avoid all the hype. It's all got me very jangled.


Glad I'm going sailing tonight. On the Rosemary Ruth, too, so it's purely-for-fun sailing, not sailing-as-job-although-a-fun-one sailing. Been a while.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Harriman Street Regatta

Tim of Message in a Bottle is one of the main organizers at the Downtown Boathouse (now in Midtown) has been spreading the word on our various kayak lists about the Harrison Street Regatta. I'm working a full day (and when I say "full day" that is not a joke, that means 11:30 a.m. through 10:45 p.m.) on the Adirondack the next day, so I don't know if I'm going to go play, but I have done this race & it makes for a fun day. Here's the announcement Tim's been sending around:

The gala event of the year at the Boathouse is this Saturday 8/12 the Annual Harrison Street Regatta. This is our annual fun-race and BBQ that is held every year at the Boathouse. It is the highlight of the paddling season.

Because of various construction and permit issues we have changed the course. This year the race goes from our Pier 96 location at 56th St. to the Boathouse dock at 72nd St in Riverside Park.

The winner is the 2nd boat to cross the finish line. The race is open to all human-powered craft. Our fleet of public kayaks is available for use, or bring your own boat. Come at 1:00PM to register, the Race Starts at 2:00PM. A BBQ is held after the race. Everything including the food and soft drinks is 100% free.

The winner receives a trophy that must be made by hand by the previous year's winner. For the last 5 or 6 years the trophy has been captured by a Downtown Boathouse Volunteer, and displayed prominently in the Boathouse trophy case. We plan a spirited defense again this year. Last year I won, and I have been planning the trophy since the end of last season. Final construction will be completed this week, and hopefully the paint will be dry by Saturday.

We encourage everyone to participate in the race. For most people it is just a fun paddle. We try to get all our boats out on the water at once. Last year we probably had 50 or more kayaks out in the river at once.

We have plenty of kayaks available for use, mostly sit on tops, and we will make them all available to the public on a first come, first served basis. If you want to car-top your boat in, please read the car drop-off directions on our website carefully:

If you come by water please try to be at Pier 96 by 13:30.

If you can't paddle, please stop by anyway for some food and to visit.

Also, while I'm doing a superquick post, have to put in a quick plug for a friend - looking for a great New York City tour guide? Check out New York By Jack!

Friday, August 04, 2006

A few pictures taken en route & during my outdoor manual-labor part time summer job...did I mention there's a heat wave here? I've been coping by either going to movies, or going & doing rolling practice. Rolling practice was originally slated for tonight, but I ended up getting a call to go work & said "Sure". Even though these are the sorts of days when it really does feel like work.

This just made me laugh on the way to the schooner.

We had something that the forecast kept referring to as a "cold front" coming through. That was an awfully optimistic description - should've been referred to a "slightly less hot than our current pizza-oven temperature front". Anyways, I'd been checking the forecast all afternoon & was starting to have some doubts as to whether the 6:30 - 8:30 was really going to happen. I could feel a bit of a breeze when I got off the subway at 5:30, and the clouds were starting to pile up in fairly dramatic ways. Here's a nice little Cecil B. DeMille effect, right at Chelsea Piers:

And it just looked better and better. Fortunately, we now have this motor yacht alternative, so instead of just saying "Sorry" & sending the charter folks home, we now have the option of setting them up on the Manhattan instead. We did that today, and...

it was a good call. Here we are attempting to evade a squall line that's heading up towards the Statue. In the schooner, we would have had drenched passengers. Here, they were all able to come inside & enjoy the drama but still stay nice & dry. The squall was done about 10 minutes later, we did another loop past the Statue & got back to the pier just as the sunset was getting spectacular.

The schooner crew still all likes working on the schooner better, though.

Oh yeah, and after all the drama - it still feels pretty darned hot...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A couple more shots from Sea Cliff

End of the day

Well, phew, it was sultry today. I think my office decided to cooperate with ConEdison (not to mention those poor folks who got stuck in a blackout in Queens for 8 days) - somewhere around 4 it started getting stuffy, and at 5 p.m. sharp my computer crashed, so I decided it was time to go fall in the water, as planned.

It was the perfect activity for such a scorcher of a day. The only question in my mind, as the sweat ran down my face as I pulled out my boat, was whether I even wanted a boat. There was a certain appeal to the idea of just jumping off the dock & going swimming. As it was, Goofy, Mr. SeaLevel & MC were all waiting for me, and THEY were all in boats, so I decided that if that's what all the cool kids were doing, I'd do that too.

And it was great, too. I'm so nice & unwound now - and the best thing is, it turned out that our rolling & rescue session was soon enough after our Greenland day in Sea Cliff that all of the stuff I'd been working on that day (especially this really excellent storm roll exercise that I'm absolutely thrilled to have been introduced to because it involves 2 rafted kayaks instead of a person standing next to a kayak, so it's perfect for our no-shallows environment) stuck & stuck well enough that I was able to do it in my Romany.

We didn't really end up doing rescues, just lots & lots of rolls & braces. Funny thing happened when I went to call for a t-rescue practice, which I did at the point when I'd rolled like 50 times on both sides & had a lot of water in my boat which I wanted emptied out. I did my usual wet exit & came up expecting one of the guys to start in on the rescue - but they all refused & said I had to dump my own boat by lifting the bow, then do a re-entry & roll with a pause to reattach the sprayskirt before the roll.

Seems they'd all run across some video somewhere...

So, OK, I did it. Bow lift needs a little more oomph - Romany's a heavy enough boat that when I tried to push it up into the air, it went up a "skoshie bit", while I went down quite a lot, under the water in fact - there was still quite a bit of water in the boat & I can't really say for sure whether I actually got any out or not, I wasn't completely swamped in the first place. Maybe a harder kick coordinated with the lift. The other funny thing was that I've done most of my re-entries & rolls lately in swimming pools, without a PFD - getting into the boat involved a sort of upside-down reverse somersault which just wasn't gonna happen with that Lotus L'ocean keeping me all nice and floaty & completely unable to submerge my upper body (which is of course precisely what a PFD is meant to do!). Anyways, I did get it to work, although it could be better - it will be another fun thing to work on, I guess. Especially when it's this hot!

Well, I have finished both my laundry and this most wonderful cool non-alcoholic nightcap I made up in honor of the heat wave - basically a float made of Jamaican ginger beer, orange juice, and a scoop of Haagen-Dazs raspberry sorbet, YUM (and I bet it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if a little dark rum found it's way into such a concoction - I just didn't feel any need for that sort of elaboration tonight) - and I've got the window fan at maximum speed, and I think it's time to turn in. After such a good rolling session I think I might even sleep pretty well!

Hope everyone's

Sky for FH20 (no, really, I was thinking of him when I took it!)

OK, I'm curious...

Hm. Just spent lunch hour surfing a couple of blogs I haven't looked at recently. Sez over here that the Department of Justice actually stops by blogs that use the Technorati tag "FOIA" - Freedom of Information Act.

I'm curious enough to give it a try. I'm hardly a blogger anybody could be too concerned about - not happy with the way things are, as I mentioned the other day, but more likely to respond by going paddling to try to forget about it than anything else - so let's see what happens when a mild-mannered paddler/sailor/finance analyst, one with liberal leanings but primarily focused on earning a living & messing about in boats, says:

p.s. if anyone is actually here looking for useful information on the Freedom of Information Act, I'm afraid I have none, sorry, I'm just checking this out for myself!

p.p.s. My neighborhood has recently gotten a couple of very large, very obvious NYPD closed-circuit cameras. I guess I should feel nice and safe now. However, I do not particularly like them.