Monday, October 30, 2006

This week's Waterwire

Sorting through the emails that came in - this was pretty interesting. Wish I could attend, this is one of my pet concerns with the rapid expansion of recreational kayaking in a busy commercial harbor (I could go into a lot more detail on that if I ever had time to really write any more - unfortunately I'm now paying for my three days away with a fairly late office day, just taking a break between invoice types). Plus it ties in with the various boathouse woes, in a backwards way. There just seem to be so many layers of disconnects going on here - City Council having various meetings that seem to be about encouraging boating, just as DEC & Hudson River Park developments seem to be inadvertently shutting out a whole lot of people who have been boating & providing boating.

It's all so frustrating.

Anyways - this was this week's Waterwire, from the Metropolitan Waterfront Association (this was just the email newsletter which one can subscribe to on the website - website has all sorts of info).

Here's Carter:

Now that a crisp autumn has arrived and boating season is almost over (except for you hardcore paddlers and rowers!), it's time to focus our energy on an important City Council hearing this coming Tuesday October 31. For most of us, this boating season was the most exciting and enjoyable EVER so this upcoming hearing is a rare and important opportunity to make our case that in- and on-water recreation is the BEST place to spend our public dollars traditionally spent on green parks and open space.

The hearing is Tuesday October 31 @ 10 am (and you CAN come in costume). The specific topic is "Rules of the Road, Boating Safety and Cooperation in New York City Waters". The meeting will be held at 250 Broadway in the 16th floor hearing room. Remember to bring ID.

To learn more about MWA's effort to improve access in your community click HERE,

To view the hearing details on the NY City Council website click HERE.

Please let me know if you plan to attend, or if you have any points/ issues
you want MWA to raise in our testimony.


What the...

Seems like Hudson River Park paddlers just can't win these days...

No news of new developments on the Pier 63 front in the 5 days I've been incommunicado in western PA, either.

Sadly the drysuit (not to mention the boats that TQ went to all the trouble to bring) didn't get used. We're not exactly what you'd call fair-weather paddlers but alluring though the prospect of paddling through one of the US's rare remaining old-growth hardwood forests was, we made a no-go decision. Good call too, Saturday (the planned paddling day) featured skeins of sleet racing through the air horizontally. We still made a feint at going for a hike, but in the end we wound up doing a couple of errands, picking up some groceries & a couple of DVD's & holing up back at his friend's place for the rest of the day.

We did get a few nice walks in, plus an evening at the Pittsburgh Symphony. Beethoven's Fifth! Funny, I've heard that so many times - who hasn't? - but honestly I don't ever remember actually hearing it played by a live orchestra. Makes such a difference. There's listening, and then there's listening. A live performance makes you pay attention to all the little details in a way that a CD never would.

Mostly we relaxed & enjoyed not having any deadlines. Seems that's what I've been needing more than anything.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


There's a pretty good chance this blog will be untended until next week - taking a few days of much needed vacation.

Should be a good one, too. The packing list includes a drysuit, a wetsuit, and a little black dress of the velvet persuasion.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

My last Adirondack day of 2006

The Adirondack actually sails through next weekend, but this was it for me.

Glad we had some wind. Good sailing.

Happiest I've been all week.

More pictures from Sebago on a new gallery.

Just about to head out to my last sail of the season today. I'm not working next weekend because TQ & I are off to western Pennsylvania (I'm looking forward to that SO much), and I can't do the delivery trip this year because we're too short staffed (I look forward to that trip so much, it's one of the high points of the year & I am incredibly dissappointed about losing that), so today's it.

Yesterday was so beautiful.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Community Board 4's letter of support - YEAH!

Can't resist posting this - it was a bright spot in a miserable day, plus it's a great statement of how all this business started. In other news that I choose to see as VERY good, someone from the DEC has actually returned a call from MC, the gentleman who ended up acting as our spokesperson (and doing a great job) after the original spokesperson managed to ruffle a lot of feathers (especially mine) & finally stepped down. The DEC was the one organization in all of this that seemed like a faceless beaureaucracy, there wasn't any name attached - well, now there are some, and one of them has taken the time to really talk to MC, and like everyone else involved, it doesn't sound like they set out with the intent of taking water access away from a bunch of people who've been enjoying it for years.

That doesn't necessarily mean everything's going to be hunky-dory now, there may still be some patient persuading to be done - but it feels like progress.

Like I've said before - there don't seem to be any bad guys here - it's all just the unfortunate result of various policies which may have seemed, to the writers, like they would work well, but had an unexpected result.

Now the one weird thing is that the DEC person has introduced a bit of a new angle - saying something about there were also some environmental considerations involved...

I'm not going to go into that right now though.

Enough preamble....

City of New York
Manhattan Community Board No. 4

J. Lee Compton

Robert J. Benfatto, Jr. Esq.
District Manager

October 6, 2006
Louis Oliva, Acting Regional Director, NYC
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Region 2 Headquarters

Re: Pier 63 Maritime (Lackawanna Railroad Barge) at Pier 66A: Kayaking Application

Dear Mr. Oliva,

As you are aware, Pier 63 Maritime, a former railroad car-float transformed into a waterfront access site, is a very popular center for historic ships, park visitors, neighborhood residents, commercial and recreation boaters, maritime enthusiasts, and, as was amply demonstrated to Community Board No. 4 (CB4) at a recent meeting of its Waterfront & Parks Committee, a very large and active community of kayakers.

Approximately three years ago, Pier 63 Maritime (P63M) came before CB4 to seek its endorsement of a plan to move the barge to Pier 66A, a partially restored railroad float bridge, when its lease from its landlord at the time, Basketball City, was terminated as stipulated by the Hudson River Park Act. The plan was approved by CB4 concept.

Subsequently the owners of P63M began discussions with both the Hudon River Park Trust (HRPT, its new landlord to be) and New York State Department of Environmental Consetvation (DEC) with regard to this move, slated to occur in the coming months. It is our understanding that these discussions have resulted in a pending permit from DEC and a draft lease, still in negotiation, from HRPT.

At the last meeting of the Waterfront & Parks Commeittee, several issues related to this move were discussed in detail, in particular (and the subject of this letter) the status of kayaking at the barge after it moves to its new location.

According to Manhattan Kayak, a subtenant of P63M, as wel as numerous independent kayakers, approximately 150 to 170 kjayaks and canoes are currently stored in and/or launch from Pier 63 Maritime. The majority are stored below the deck of the barge with the remainder on adajacent floats -- none are stored above deck. These boats are divided between Manhattan Kayak's own training and tour boats, a kayak water polo club, New York Outrigger and independent privately owned kayaks, the latter being the largest contingent by number (over 100).

It is our understanding that the DEC permit as currently proposed, does not allow either the storage of or the launching of kayaks or other human powered boats from P63M once it moves to its new location at Pier 66A. We also understand the reasons for this prohibition may come from one or more of the following reasonings:

1. That there will be a boathouse and hand-powered boat launch immediately north of Pier 66A (at Pier 66) that will be sufficient to handle the current and/or anticipated activity of this nature,
2. That P63M will be host to motorized vessels as permitted (historic vessels, commercial excursion boats and water taxis) and will thus be unsafe for kayaks, and/or
3. That P63M at Pier 66A will lie within a "motorboat zone" as defined by the Trusts's Estuarine Sancturary Management Plan, and therefore human powered boats are not permitted at this location under the plan.

The kayking community has demonstrated to us that the first reasoning (capacity of the planned boathouse at Pier 66) is not valid based on the numbers presented - up to 170 in the current situation compared to a capacity of about 55 (according to the kayakers) in the new boathouse -- leaving over 100 without a place to launch or store kayaks. It further appears that other kayak facilities in the Hudson River Park are not capable of absorbing this overflow. It is also evident that this activity seems to be growing in Hudson River Park as well as other locations.

As for the second reasoning, the kayaking community has stated that combined kayaking and motorized boating ahas taken place at Pier 63 Maritime safely and without incident for many years, as well as at other locations such as Pier 40 (also within Hudson River Park, the 79th Steeet Boat Basin and many other locations in teh city, state and the US.

As to whether the interpretation of the Estuarine Sanctuary Management Plan prohibits kayaking within motorized boating areas, we have no opinion. However, the owner of P63M has ageed to keep motorized vessels away from the north side of the barge, paving the way for the Trust to re-designate that area for human-powered vessels if necessary. If such a change is needed and if all parties can agree to such a solution, CB4 sees no reason to object.

In summary, it appears that a definite need exists to accomodate both kayak storage and launching at p63M as well as the adjacent boahouse at Pier 66, and that there is no particular danger in allowinng this to occur. Assuming that such activities are in accord with either the current or potentially revised Estuarine Sanctuary Management Plan to the satisfaction of DEC, the Trust, the kayakers and the owner of P63M, and based on our knowledge of the situation, CB4 urges DEC to allow the kayaking and human powered boting activities (storage and launching) to continue at the new location as they have for many years at its current location.

This letter was pase unanimously at the October 4th meeting of Manhattan Community Board No. 4


J. Lee Compton
Community Board 4

John Doswell
Waterfronts and Parks

Kristin Dionne
Waterfronts and Parks


HEAR HEAR! Thank you, CB4!

fingers crossed & knocking wood now...

BTW I think that letter outlines the current situation better than anything I could say, and with that all the who said what to whom and when I was starting to go into becomes blissfully irrelevant.

Maybe tomorrow I can write about rolling at Lake Sebago instead...

Monday, October 16, 2006

Morale? That's a type of mushroom, right?

Supervisor guy: Those issues I emailed you about. Are you going to talk to those today?
IT guy (just back from a week away, not entirely of the fun variety): Tomorrow morning.
Supervisor guy: Don't use the staff loss as an excuse.
IT guy: But that's the main cause.
Supervisor guy: Come up with something positive.

(I wish I was just quoting Scott Adams' latest offering...sigh)

Few more Lake Sebago photos.

A very nice place to paddle, indeed.
Photo Hosted at Buzznet
Photo Hosted at Buzznet
Photo Hosted at Buzznet
Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Lake Sebago, Harriman State Park, NY

And yes, that's my Romany on the dock.

And yes, I do remember how to roll! :D

Off to hot bath & bed now. More...maybe tomorrow night.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Barges Are Not the Only Access

Taking a break from my own personal paddling soap opera today to focus on a new paddling possibility - this is too good to not post -

Remember my friend Staten Island Steve? I don't get to paddle with him very often but when I do, or even just run into him, it's always a pleasure. Here he is at Dyckman Street with a really big sandwich...

And here's Staten Island Steve in his natural habitat...
yes, that green & lovely place is Prall's Island & we're paddling in Prall's Creek, the other side of which is bordered by Staten Island. The Prall's Island Reach section of the Arthur Kill runs on the other side of that island. This was one the pictures I took during a 2005 circumnavigation of Staten Island. This was one of the more surreal moments of the trip - here we'd been paddling along just outside of a major shipping channel, Steve had volunteered to guide us & one of the things he knew was where you had to observe a security zone for a facility on the shore & sneak along right at the edge of the channel, and where you could tuck yourself a little more comfortably close to the shore - that channel is heavily, heavily trafficked & it was fascinating listening to the captains passing the word back about the kayakers on the VHF (fortunately no swearing, they'd mention that we were out of the channel, don't know if they realized we were doing that intentionally but the air wasn't turning as blue as it sometimes does when ship captains talk about kayaks on the radio) - then Steve took us behind Prall's Island to get out of the big guys' way for a bit & suddenly we were in this beautiful, quiet marsh...oh that was nice. Staten Island is a great place for paddling, you just have to be aware that you're sharing the water with behemoths who can't turn - as long as you're aware & just stay out of their way, though, that becomes part of the experience. Ospreys, herons, ships' graveyards, tugboats & tankers, beautiful burgeoning restored marshlands like this one just up a ways from tank farms & giant cranes for loading container ships - like so much urban paddling, the amazement lies in the contrasts.

Anyways. The point of this post, which is supposed to be of the short, lunchtime, largely cut & paste variety, or at least that was the idea until I got all nostalgic-like (I do think I'd like to do that trip again someday only remember to put on the suntan lotion so that I don't end up with blisters worthy of names - mine were Jed and Ed - that put a damper on the last leg in a big bad way) is that Staten Island Steve posted a note to the NYCKayaker list yesterday. He's involved in something that sounds really, really neat. And yes, there's a meeting. It's New York City, there's real estate involved, you bet there's a meeting. Seriously, though - Steve posted, and his topic was:

***Message of Importance to the Entire Paddling Community around NYC ****

And Staten Island Steve doesn't indulge in a lot of "waffle" on that list. So when he says that, I read it. And now I post it, too, because it seriously sounds cool - for paddlers, and for that matter anybody else who lives on or visits Staten Island, even if you've never set foot in a boat & never want to & get seasick looking at a goldfish bowl. So, if this sounds neat to you, too, and you can in any way make it to a daytime City Council meeting, this could be a good thing for all of us. Without further ado, on to the cut & paste:

This is a message of importance to the entire paddling community in and around New York City.
The former U.S. Naval Station on the north shore of Staten Island - The Homeport, will be converted over to public use. A group of people, including myself, are working for a boathouse and floating dock along the mile long cove's shore front. This is an area of Staten Island that is going through a renaissance. New restaurants, parks and recreation areas will be built along side this boathouse. This will make it an excellent future destination for New York paddlers and others. The City of New York has already pledge sixty million dollars to this overall project.

We need the support of the entire paddling community and especially paddlers from Staten Island to make every effort to attend the following event. The show of bodies will give the New York City Council a very good idea of the length and breadth of the New York paddling community. Staten Island paddlers should definitely write and/or call councilman McMahon and let him know how you feel about paddling around New York City and the need for paddling facilities at the Homeport. He and his very friendly staff will be delighted to hear from you, as they were to hear from me.

The Staten Island Homeport will appear before the City Council Zoning Subcommittee
on Tuesday, Oct. 17 at 9:30 am. It will be held In the Committee Room at City Hall in Manhattan.

Verbal support from paddlers would be wonderful to justify the funding for this
project and if anyone knows someone in SI, they should contact the councilman:

Michael E. McMahon (D)
130 Stuyvesant Place, 6th Floor
Staten Island, NY 10301
TEL: (718) 556-7370
FAX: (718) 556-7389

Currently plans call for a space for a boathouse to be constructed but it's far
away from the shoreline and I fear may become a boathouse storage facility and
not a vibrant, community gathering space similar to the boathouses we love.

There's no funding as of yet for the facility - just a spot but that's a start.
There will be a floating dock included as part of the project and there will be a
smooth pathway to roll boats to the shoreline.


"Staten Island Steve"

(Bonnie with a P.S. - Steve said in his original post that if anyone wanted to contact him, they should feel free, and gave his email address. I'm not posting that here until I get his permission to do so if you're interested, just leave a comment & fill out the email space (only I see that) and I'll send it on to him.)

(Bonnie with a P.P.S. - Even for those of us who aren't Staten Island based, this could add a really nice destination for a longer day paddle with a lunch break at one of those restaurants)

(Bonnie with a P.P.P.S. - Been thinking about my winter paddling option out at Jamaica Bay. Mitsuwa's waaaay out of reach now but I've been ruminating about the feasibility of a Pierogie Paddle...hmmm...pity I haven't got a Pirogue, then I could do a Pierogie Pirogue Paddle.)

one more Staten Island shot to close:
Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Getting it down

Lunchtime preamble to a post I wrote last night:
Back when I was a partner at Manhattan Kayak Company, I used to joke that I didn't need a T.V. to watch soap operas - I was living one & the name of the soap opera was "As the Kayak Rolls". Things got less dramatic once I dropped out of MKC - rather pleasantly so - but over the last couple of weeks I've been feeling like "here we go again". Been wanting to write down some of coherently & sequentially. Now that the first string of meetings is over, I think I have a little time to do that!

It all started with an email.

Or at least this phase started.

Or maybe this was more of an end.

Anyways. There it was.

Aug 28, 2006 12:07 PM.
From: Manhattan Kayak Company.
Subject: Manhattan Kayak Storage Access Information

Opened it up and my stomach instantly tied itself in a knot (nice tidy one, of course, I do sail too).

You can read the rest of it here. The gist, though, as you'll know if your a member of the Rustbucket Alumni Association or even a moderate follower of this blog, was simple -

It was the time that had always been coming. The Rustbucket was being shut down so that the Hudson River Park Chelsea section could finally be built.

If I had a dime for every time I'd said or written "This was always supposed to happen", I'd have enough for a pretty decent bottle of wine by now. Probably not quite up to a bottle of Balvenie, but definitely a decent bottle of wine.

Basically, back in the fall of 1998, when Manhattan Kayak got the boot from Chelsea Piers, we moved to the barge with the full understanding that it had a finite term of existence in the Park - possibly as short as a couple of years.

That decision to move had happened before I actually joined, if I remember correctly that had a lot to do with a woman Eric had nicknamed "Ubergirl". She was a good guide & teacher, and also a powerful & very competive paddler, had rowed crew at Cornell. She'd been guiding for Eric at Chelsea Piers during the summer of '98, she'd also been doing some outrigger paddling with New York Outrigger, who'd been based at the barge since 1996. When the need for a home for MKC arose so unexpectedly, Ubergirl suggested the barge to Eric as a possibility, Eric met John Krevey & decided John was Han Solo and the barge was the Millennium Falcon & that was good enough for him.

I came in a while after that phase but had been keeping close tabs on the situation because I really missed paddling. This was a few years back, but that's sort of how I recall the decision happening.

The point is, we moved into a very tenuous situation, we knew all about it, & we did so willingly. The idea was - it was there. It would work without needing to invest too much money in facilities (thanks to a lot of enthusiastic volunteers who were willing to come in and scrape rust until they looked like coal miners...well, not coal miners, but rust miners...oh, man, if I am going to write this right I have GOT to go scan some photos of the construction of the first hold). Even in a worst-case scenario, it would at least have bought the company another year or two, during which we'd be diligently looking into alternatives.

I have already described the overall situation we moved into back then back when we had Shutdown Scare #1 this year, back in June. Have linked to that writeup a few times during this process as I think it's good to understand the backstory. If you missed it the first 27 times - here it is again - Pier 63 - A Better Explanation!

Nutshell version, though, is that we moved in as subtenants of Pier 63 Maritime; Pier 63 was a subtenant of BasketBall City. BasketBall City was supposed to be an interim tenant - the Hudson River Park Trust was their landlord. There were, if I remember correctly, a couple of legitimate extensions of the BBC lease because the Hudson River Park Trust wasn't ready to begin construction - but eventually those were exhausted. That's when BasketBall City dug in their heels & proceeded to drag things out in court for a few more years.

Jumping back up to 2006 - the June shutdown scare? That was averted because BasketBall City tried to declare bankruptcy in one last last-ditch effort. That one finally got thrown out of court in late August. The eviction notice - covering BBC and all of their subtenants - was already written up and ready to fly the minute that happened.

That was what precipitated the MKC email.

MKC had gotten a much, much longer ride at Pier 63 than we ever thought we would when we moved there precisely because of all the BBC footdragging.

I was only shocked when I got the email because I'd gotten the impression from someone who was pretty well connected there that we'd be good through November, then there'd be a move & maybe a paddling hiatus of a couple of weeks while that happened & things got set up at the new location.

Take away my whole winter paddling season? Oh no! That's much worse than I expected!

My natural reaction to such a surprise?

Pull out my email contacts for the Hudson River Park Trust & fire off an email. Talked all about the glories of fall paddling - the crisp air, the absence of motorboats, etc. etc. etc., and how much it hurt to have that anticipated Fall yanked away on such short notice.

I closed with the following words:

I do understand that getting the park built is your priority - but I hope that the Trust will at least remember that there are some eighty-odd kayak owners - some of whom are even more passionate about their paddling than I am - who's treasured river access is being restricted during this time.

Please, I beg of you, do whatever you can to make that restriction as short as possible.

Never hurts to ask, right? Worst they'll do is say "No can do, please be patient 'til spring", right?

Little did I know...

to be continued.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Getting Ready for Winter Paddling - Cold Water Programs at Hudson River outfitters.

Here's fellow Rustbucketer TH getting ready for last year's New Year's Day paddle at the late and EXTREMELY lamented Pier 63 (although as I mentioned yesterday, I'm hoping for a glorious resurrection at Pier 66A...DEC, hear our prayer...). This year, I'll probably be joining the Sebago Frostbite Regatta. Actually that always sounded like fun - Jamaica Bay is lovely in the winter, although I will have to do my New Year's Day roll way way way away from the dock, which is an inlet where there's yep a sewage treatment plant...ugh, the things we do with our crap...

anyways. No, I'm not warming up to an environmental rant, here.

I'm just doing a quick lunchtime post to share something that I just got over NYCKayaker. I've heard very good things about this workshop. Won't be attending myself, as I mentioned yesterday Saturday simply HAS to involve an actual kayak, but if you are an NYC-area paddler & haven't been to a cold water presentation, I can't recommend doing so strongly enough. Of course the worst time of year is in the Spring, when unwary people decide to go for a paddle on the first warm day & find out the tragic way that the air may be singing songs of May, but water's still all full of January...

anyways - this one's on Saturday here in town at Pier 40 (Hudson River at Houston) -

Here's the detail on Randy's -

New York Kayak Company is presenting a free Cold Water Paddling
Workshop in the classroom next to our store on the south side of Pier
40 Saturday morning at 11:00 AM. If you intend to continue paddling as
the air and water temperatures drop, or if you hope to get an early
start in the spring, please join us for information that will enhance
your comfort and safety.

Bellevue ER physician Dr. Kaidi Fullerton will present a talk on cold
water immersion and hypothermia. Nick Dyslin from Kokatat will discuss
kayak clothing for all temperatures. (Nick is also the rep for Lendal
paddles and will be available to discuss paddle styles and sizing - he
will have the new Pad-lock Wing paddles with him.) I will give a short
talk on risk management for cold water paddlers. Participants with then
have an opportunity to demo a drysuit IN THE WATER! If you have any
questions or concerns about how to identify the hazards posed by
off-season paddling and how to manage the risks that they pose - please
join us for this very popular event.

Hope to see you!


New York Kayak Company, Inc.
Pier 40, South Side, New York NY 10014
212-924-1327 800-KAYAK-99


For non-city-folks, Atlantic Kayak Tours does one up at the Annesville Creek Paddlesports Center in November - that one's with Chuck Sutherland, the guy who maintains one of my personal hands-down favorite cold-water boating sites (AKT's got some info on their site too).

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Pining & planning to paddle...

How lovely. I'm finally getting to work out some paddling plans for the coming weekend. Naturally I sail on Sunday, but Saturday is fair game!

Some of the Greenland enthusiasts from Sebago are trekking up to the club's namesake, Lake Sebago - I am leaning heavily towards joining them. Lake Sebago is just the nicest place for intensive practice of any sort. Calm, clean water, with a warm cabin nearby in case you get chilled.

I honestly can't remember my last "yoga-in-a-boat" session. There was one beautiful night that stands out in my mind - we had a new addition to the Rustbucket gang who'd never done rescue stuff, so we all pulled in down by Pier 40 & fell in the water, which was still warm. I did some rolling, Floating the Apple was out rowing around, we paddled back up north as the sun set - perfect summer night. Can't recall for sure but I suspect there may have been a post-paddle beer. Oh, boy, do I ever hope the DEC relents. I just can't imagine a summer in New York City without those post-work paddles.

Somehow can't remember doing much playing after that. There was one of those rainy spells - dreadful things happen to the Hudson during those rainy spells - and then I was sick sick sick for 2 weeks. I didn't do any rolling during my last paddle at the barge because it was a little chilly & I was just over that cold - plus I was by myself & having not rolled for a while, I decided to play it safe & not roll solo.

I did do a little bit of rolling on the first day at the Small Boat Shop's Demo Day, but it was just the tiniest bit too cool to really cut loose when my job was to sit in one area & keep an eye on novices. Plus I didn't have my Greenland paddle there. Rolling with a Euroblade just isn't as much fun - that's just rolling, it's rolling with the GP that lets you sloooooow down, that's where the whole kayak yoga thing happens...

With my folks in town for the last 3 weekends, there hasn't been time to paddle...

Ever feel like even though you know you know how to do something, you haven't done it for so long that maybe you won't remember how?

Just getting in a boat and running through as many different rolls I can sounds like heaven.

Although I'm going to be stiff. I just can't imagine things working really smoothly after a hiatus of more than a month.

Monday, October 09, 2006

A few pictures from Mystic, CT

Final leg of the Family Visit Saga of 2006 - a trip up to Mystic, CT. We thought we'd spend a couple of hours at Mystic Seaport, then go have dinner with some old friends of the family from submarine days, then head down for a paddle with TQ on Sunday...

Well, I haven't been to Mystic Seaport since I was somewhere around 4. Obviously my folks have some clearer recollections of the place as it was at the time - I just have the vaguest images of going on a really big boat with masts - but it turns out that they've improved the place a bit since the early 70's. A LOT.

And the weather was just perfect, and the visiting with friends was lovely, and the tickets to the seaport turned out to be good for 2 days - so no paddling this weekend. But lots of fun.

Here are just a few pictures - more to come, probably in a buzznet gallery -

Friday, October 06, 2006

Old fart moment.

Frogma will now take a break from our usually scheduled boring kayakpolitical reports while the amphibian-in-charge vents for a second.

OK, you know the comments? I use Haloscan. I LOVE Haloscan. For starters, it's my favorite price - free. Like blogger itself. The installation was simple enough that even a complete html doofus like me could do it - copy text A, paste in slot B, vi-ola! I have hardly gotten any comment spam since I set it up oh way back when. The one or two pieces of spam I have gotten (like that one selling motorboats, hello did you even read my blog?)I've deleted, banned the posters & haven't gotten repeats. Plus you can give your comment-number thingy cute little descriptions like "High Water at the Battery". All good stuff.

But I am getting really really REALLY tired of signing on to see if anyone's said anything and seeing this picture in the sponsor (aka "advertiser") area:

Paired with the unnaccountably annoying quote "Bringing the laughy-laughs".

Laughy-laughs and a cleavage shot, and that's considered good advertising? Yeesh. You'd think this Interweb thingy was entirely populated by zitfaced thirteen to sixteen year old boys or something.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

CB4 - unanimously in favor of letting paddlers paddle!

OK, in the unlikely event anyone was holding their breath over the outcome of tonight's CB4's OK, you can breathe now!

It's past my bedtime but I couldn't wait to post to the Rustbucket list so I'll just copy some excerpts from that here. First, and explanatory notes - the meeting was a two-part event with, as I mentioned in the last post, 25 agenda items to be voted on. The first part was public - people could come & sign up to make a brief statement on any of the 25 items. I didn't leave work until about 6:50 instead of my planned 6:30 (was ALMOST done with a month-end close task & couldn't stand to leave those last few invoices sitting in the inbox, had to crunch through 'em) but I still got there in time for the bulk of the Pier 63-related public commentary. Once the public had all had their 2 minutes each to speak, the board meeting itself started. Most people who weren't actually on the board left. Non-board types were allowed to stay & listen but of course couldn't vote & couldn't comment (that's what the "public" part of the meeting was for, after all) and then the board started working through the agenda 1 item at a time, with a fair amount of discussion about each one followed by a vote. :

I stuck around, wanted to hear the results as well as the community testimony (got there JUST in time for the latter, I was VERY happy with my timing).

The board voted unanimously in favor of writing a letter saying that the community supports paddlers being able to continue paddling out of the barge once it moves to 66a.


Furthermore, during the comment time, one of the board members raised his hand &
added something to the effect that with all this going on now, and the obvious popularity of kayaking, various organizations should be encouraged to develop more storage (not just for kayaks, but sailing & rowing & stuff) because demand is obviously going to increase in the future & with all these miles of coastline, it makes sense to plan for it.

That's the extent of my report 'cause that's about how painless it was.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

CB4 meeting tonight - plus Staten Island Ferry and a blatantly commercial schooner plug.

Ack. Little late, but working under deadlines - this is a straight copy & paste of an email I sent around yesterday, figured I'd post here:

Just thought I'd post the information for the next Community Board 4 meeting, for anyone who might be interested. The Parks & Waterfront Committee's letter regarding the proposed changes at Pier 63 (or 66A) Maritime are on the agenda.

DATE: Wednesday, October 4, 2006
TIME: 6:30 pm
PLACE: Roosevelt Hospital - 1000 Tenth Ave. (57/58)

We are item 16 on a 25-item agenda, so even if 6:30 is tough to make (it is for me this week, I don't even really have time to be doing this) it might still be worth swinging by if you are involved with the barge or just curious to hear for yourself what's presented.

I'm actually also very curious about Item 17 - a science barge - would've liked to stay for that last week but the Pier 63 topic took a really long time to explain (many of the committee members were hearing about it for the first time, and it is confusing, I can hardly keep it all straight & I've been following the twists & turns in the barge's saga since 1999) and I needed to get dinner & get home.

For more on tonight's agenda, check out the CB4 e-newsletter here

For those who aren't in on this, here's a nice picture (also all cut & paste, from my Buzznet stuff):

This was the view from the bow of the schooner a couple of weeks ago. Our usual 2-hour sail is from 23rd St. to the Statue of Liberty & back - but every now & then, when everything lines up just right with the tides & the wind, we get to add a bonus - around Governor's Island! I have NEVER pulled out my camera while I was working before, not in all five seasons I've crewed on this boat - but this was simply too pretty to pass up.

Actually usually I leave the camera at home when I'm working - otherwise, it's just too tempting.

OK, one quick plug for my BIG boat, now...Fall brings some fine, fine sailing weather, and the schooner will be doing sails to the Statue of Liberty along with some longer foliage sails all through the month of October! Schedule, prices & reservations all available at Come on out & see the harbor the old-fashioned way!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Intercourse, Pennsylvania.

Now here's the entertaining truth about yesterday's lovely, bucolic, pastoral picture. I just backed up a few yards to take this one!

The cows are bovine set dressing for a tourist attraction. Seriously! The farms & fields are for real. Actually the cows are for real too - but they've got them in this little roped-in area, right next to the parking lot where they lend maximum picturesqueosity to your digital foreground.

This particular parking lot is for a "shopping village" that's grown up behind the main drag of Intercourse, Pennsylvania. Yes, you read right. Seems to be a huge destination for bus tours. Can't imagine why...

It was interesting seeing how the Amish and the Amish-inspired/themed tourism coexists. We knew we were in Amish country when we started seeing laundry lines behind some of the big farmhouses, with simply-cut clothing and sheets blowing in the autumn sunshine. Ditto when we had to slow down passing a horse-drawn buggy. The most striking moment was when we spotted a group of men harvesting with a team of huge Belgians. I don't think I have ever seen draft horses actually being used to do serious farm work before - that was fascinating. Very real. There was one team working a harvester or mower of some sort, and then we passed a cart stacked high with stalks of corn drawn by another team.

The town, though, almost seemed like it was aimed specifically at giving us tourists a way to gawk to our hearts content, without gawking at people just trying to live their lives. Buggy rides, a petting zoo, pretzels, kettle-corn, fruit butters, jams, preserves, old-timey candy and enough country-themed tchotskys to stock a thousand grandma's kitchens. Out on the main street, higher-end stuff, beautiful quilts & I'm sure some nice furniture - all concentrated right there in one convenient location, buzzing with bus tours, while the Amish quietly worked their fields and lived their lives at speed that never exceeds the pace at which a good horse can trot.

Sounds kind of nice, doesn't it?

The place was a little on the tourist-trap side, but, well, it serves a purpose. I'm not much in need of "things" these days, but they did manage to pull a few bucks out of my pockets for apple butter, old-fashioned crackers & some malted milk balls, my sister got some shirts, and my folks got a new quilt -- perfect for those brutal nights in Hawaii when the temperature drops to a fearsome sixty-five fahrenheit, of course!

Amish country

Been out of town for the last few days.

Waaaaay out of town. Cows & everything.

Pretty scene, isn't it?

I'll tell you/show you something entertaining about it tomorrow.

If you know, SHUSH! Spoiler comments will be deleted!