Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Shana Tova!

Just a quick lunchtime post to wish a Happy New Year to anyone who's celebrating today! This year, in honor of Rosh Hashanah (also possibly in honor of the fact that I am really crunched for time, but what else is new, hey I am a voluntary resident here in Forbes's 2nd most stressful city in the country - oh those poor Chicagoites - ), I thought I'd pass along a perennial favorite that a friend posts on the NYCKayaker list every year around this time. Need not be Jewish to enjoy!

Rosh Hashanah (Tashlik) *
**Tashlik is a propitiatory rite, the name of which is derived from the passage (Micah vii. 18-20) recited at the ceremony. In illustration of the sentence "Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea," it is customary to congregate near a running stream on the afternoon of New-Year's Day, when Micah vii. 18-20 is recited and penitential prayers are offered.

To start the new year with a clean beginning, Tashlik involves the ritual and symbolic casting of our year's accumulated sins into the waters, allowing us to purify our hearts and souls for the new year. Usually this involves walking with one's family or congregation to the banks of a river or the sea, and casting pieces of bread (symbolic sins) into the water to be washed away.

. . . . .
* *

1) Plenty of accumulated sins to throw (you have three more weeks to
accumulate these if you need extra time and sins),

2) A readiness to start the new year with an open heart.

3) Bits of bread to cast into the waters


Occasionally, people ask what kind of bread crumbs should be thrown.
Here are suggestions for breads which may be most appropriate depending
on your specific sins and misbehaviors this past year.

For ordinary sins.....................White Bread
For erotic sins.........................French Bread
For particularly dark sins........Pumpernickel
For complex sins.....................Multi-Grain
For twisted sins......................Pretzels
For tasteless sins....................Rice Cakes
For sins of indecision..............Waffles
For sins committed in haste....Matzoh
For sins of chutzpah................Fresh Bread
For substance abuse..............Stoned Wheat
For use of heavy drugs............Poppy Seed
For petty larceny......................Stollen
For committing auto theft........Caraway
For timidity/cowardice.............Milk Toast
For ill-temperedness...............Sourdough
For silliness, eccentricity.........Nut Bread
For not giving full value............Shortbread
For jingoism, chauvinism.........Yankee Doodles
For excessive irony...................Rye Bread
For unnecessary chances........Hero Bread
For telling bad jokes/puns........Corn Bread
For war-mongering...................Kaiser Rolls
For dressing immodestly.........Tarts
For causing injury to others......Tortes
For lechery and promiscuity.....Hot Buns
For promiscuity with gentiles....Hot Cross Buns
For racist attitudes.....................Crackers
For sophisticated racism...........Ritz Crackers
For being holier than thou..........Bagels
For abrasiveness........................Grits
For dropping in without notice......Popovers
For over-eating............................Stuffing
For impetuosity............................Quick Bread
For indecent photography...........Cheesecake
For raising your voice too often....Challah
For pride and egotism.................Puff Pastry
For sycophancy, ass-kissing.......Brownies
For being overly smothering........Angel Food Cake
For laziness...................................Any long loaf
For trashing the environment.......Dumplings

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Scotch on Sunday.

I'm gonna need a bigger mug.

I am SO done with this cold. Wish it was done with me. Maybe this will work...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Soup on Saturday. And cleaning, and a junk-mail rant & reminscensces of travelling as a navy brat...

There we go. Big kettle of ducken noodle soup. Slightly spicy from the hot pepper that the West Indian corner fruit & vegetable stand includes in every packet of soup greens. Good stuff. Sleeping in, a bowl of this for lunch & a couple of hours curled up on the couch with...er...would you believe, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus Volume 5? Oh, the things you find in the giveaway bins at the Really Big Children's Publishing House. I'm pretty sure there's at least one Five Little Known Facts About Me meme out there I got tagged with & never had time to do - well, one little-known fact about me is that I'm actually rather a graphic-stuff fan. Not enough to actually buy the stuff, but since the RBCPH has got a rather popular "Graphix" line, there's always research going on & a lot of those "research materials" end up in the giveaway bin. Was happy to find this Buffy thing - I don't have a TV but I do tend to be curious enough about these series that so fascinate people that I at least have the general idea. And I guess I have to admit that if I did have a TV that Lost probably would've lost me - but I bet I'd be a big Buffy fan. That suspicion was just confirmed by the way I just flopped down & SUCKED down the entire Volume 5...

That being done, I'm now taking a little break from house cleaning. Needed to do that one of these days anyways...between work being so busy & having so many fun things to do on weekends, the business of home maintenance & recordkeeping tends to get neglected. An enforced break from my usual weekend boatwhirl is not the worst thing to have here...I'm not just moving things from messy stacks into tidier stacks, I'm actually throwing things away. I have just got too much STUFF. I don't even buy stuff, really...yet somehow it stacks up.

The big culprit? Junk mail. Argh. Every night I get home. I'm tired. I open the mailbox and there's this huge freakin' clot of paper in my mailbox. I take it upstairs. I pull out the obvious good stuff (postcards from my parents' latest trips, BCU certificates). The rest - wll, I can't throw it away until it's sorted because there are bills that look like junk mail, and MetroCards that look like junk mail, and the junk mailers are now getting equipment that's sophisticated enough that there's junk mail that ALMOST looks like a card from a friend. So I drop it in an untidy stack on the table in the dining nook. Well, a month like the one I've been having & the piles grow, blend together & pretty soon I'm pushing back stuff to clear space to eat.

Wouldn't it be great if there was a Do Not Mail list? Just like the Do Not Call list. Junk mail may not be quite as obviously invasive as telemarketing...but the creeping growth of the mounds of crap I end up sorting through & throwing away 80% of once I fit in some cleaning time? That's my space that crap is taking up. It's also a complete waste of trees, postage, GAS (hello, has anybody ever done a study on how much fuel goes to transporting this unsolicited garbage every year in this country?) my mail deliverer's time, my time, my superintendent's time & the time of the trash guys who haul it away. I've never bought ANYTHING or donated to any cause because of some crappy unsolicited thing that turned up in my mailbox. In fact, the immediate increase in junk mail that I get when I DO give to a cause has actually dampened my enthusiasm for giving to causes...I gave to the USO once. I like the USO. As a travelling Navy brat, USO lounges were a refuge - I remember heading out to Italy one year when I was in college, my flight was through SFO. Think it was Christmas eve day. Foul weather had shut down several airports; delays were terrible. Off to the USO lounge for the night. Of course they were overflowing. Coffee & doughnuts for all comers, but there's a hierarchy to who gets cots, chairs, etc. Basically, active duty personnel travelling on orders get first dibs. Active duty travelling for personal reasons, 2nd dibs. Next comes retired and/or maybe reserves. Dependents - especially older ones - are pretty much the bottom of the heap. But they gave me a blanket, and a pillow, and I found myself a little corner on the floor back behind the Christmas tree & slept OK there under the twinkling lights. And for free. By the next morning things were moving again & we all headed on to our destinations. Sort of miss that being able to go to the USO lounge for layovers now that I'm a grown-up - they weren't fancy but the ladies who tended to work there were always these sort of nice motherly types & it just felt a little homier than the sterile seating outside.

So anyways...major warm fuzzy feelings about the USO. So one year, a while after 9/11, when we were still pretty much a country united in our sense of rightness about the actions we were taking in the Middle East (I don't think we'd started in with Iraq at that point, it was still simply "The bad guys are in Afghanistan & we're after them" & almost everyone, with the exception of a few conspiracy theorists, was behind that), there was one of these e-mail chains going around urging people to give to the USO. And I thought "Well, what a good organization to give some money to" and fired off twenty-five bucks or something.

Well, about a month later & my mailbox was absolutely bursting open every time I turned the key, and all the mail was from these various conservative groups. I think that was the first time I ever really was able to tie a specific donation to subsequent junk mail. Went back to the USO site & sure enough, buried in there somewhere was their information-sharing policy, which was something like "We promise that we will only pass along your email to other not-for-profits that we think you might want to support". Gee, thanks.

I've gotten a lot better about checking those information-sharing policies, and I did go through a period when I was getting so much that I was frustrated enough to start sending them back marked "Take me off your mailing list". I think the bulk has gone down since then.

But wouldn't it be great if there was a Do-Not-Mail List?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Fish on Friday

Sad to report that I am only feeling slightly livelier than this ex-striped-bass & former resident of the Montauk environs. Why did my worst cold of the year so far have to hit right on one of those weeks when I couldn't stay home? I did give in to it insofar as that I left work about an hour early yesterday 'cause I just couldn't keep going. Came home, threw some veggies in the pot of chicken broth I'd (fortuitously) made last weeked, put it on simmer, crashed for an hour, woke up, added some noodles, ate 2 bowls, crashed again. 10 hours of sleep gave me just enough energy to go to work today. Well, I hadn't infected all of my co-workers yet, you know?

So it's a quiet weekend in Brooklyn for me, which bums me out because I'd planned to spend tomorrow with the Sebago crew at the Alley Pond Environmental Center's Estuary Day festival. I had so much fun last year.

Another fun area Estuary Day event that I would have posted about last night if I hadn't been so wiped out happens up at the Peter Jay Sharp Boathouse up in Harlem.

Not me though. Picked up a roast duck in Chinatown on my way home, added it & topped off the soup pot. Ducken noodle soup for the whole weekend plus some for the freezer, that's the plan.

Oh, btw, you know how Estuary Day is always the last weekend in September (well, if you didn't, now you do). Can somebody please tell me where September went?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Party On Gowanus Canal

No time for a real post today but this reminder that got sent out on NYCKayaker is worth passing on! Wish I could go, sounds like fun.

Hey everyone,
Just a final reminder that the Gowanus Dredgers annual Bacchanal party isThis Thursday 9/25.
This is a lot of fun, live music, prizes, all the BBQ you can eat, and allthe beer you can drink for only $25!!!
There are fun activities for kids early in the evening 5-7PM, then moreadult activities later in the evening. It's really two parties in one.
But you must buy your tickets ahead of time, go to www.gowanuscanal.org and place your order.
The money we raise from the party helps to fund the operation of theDredgers, as well as the following groups that the Dredgers sponsors:
Red Hook Boaters
Staten Island Kayak Association
Long Island City Community Boathouse

I'll buy anyone who paddles over a string of raffle tickets!!!

Tim Gamble

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Trash Bash 2008 Flickr set here!

Sebago's Trash Bash was originally slated for the weekend of Tropical Storm Hannah & quite wisely moved to last Sunday, the 21st of September. We had a beautiful day for it, we were joined by the Boy Scouts (the same troupe that had come to Sebago before in preparation for a major canoe camping trip & had a very exciting windy day for their training) & picked up all sorts of things.

I think my strangest find of the day was a slightly melted wax figurine carefully bound in thread. Good thing I'm not superstitious (knock wood). I also found a large handbag and 2 shoes. Who needs Macy's? OK, so the shoes didn't match, whatevahs...

Mary was our organizer, and she sent the following stats & comments for the day:

"HEre are some stats (I just completed the report). John counted 57 bags of trash, and the first prize goes to : TADA -- plastic bags (936); Plastic beverage bottles a distant second with 513, but another 150 total for cans and glass.
I don't think I had the description of your goddess in my data, so I didn't report that (most likely from one of the ceremonies that leaves fruit and flowers all over the beaches). The skull got my vote (though I guess technically it's not trash, but who cares). It looked pretty great on the box of the kayak coming back, and I'm sure someone's parents were truly delighted to have allowed their son to collect garbage under our watchful eyes."

There was also a Little Tykes slide, a child's motorized toy jeep, and a lot of coconuts (but we didn't pick those up).

I do think the oddest find of the day went to Mary's friend David, who had this to say:

"I know that we expect to see everything during these events, but out team found a plastic commode from a boat (okay, call it a head). The whole team was flush with excitement!"

There was a sink involved in that head. That's right, we didn't find everything but the kitchen sink. We found everything.

The interesting part of this, to me (having never participated in an American Littoral Society Beach Cleanup Day), was that the focus wasn't so much on actually cleaning up Canarsie Pol as it was on gathering statistics. We had a big big crowd & if we'd just focused on picking up trash, we could've gathered two hundred bags, I bet. I also bet that you could come back in a week & not know that the place had been picked up. Think Sisyphus. Think Augean stables. However, as it turns out, these events are really just as much about gathering statistics - the Littoral Society sends the cleaning squads out with survey forms & we actually reported the items we picked up. There are events going on all over during the month of September, and the data they collect is all rolled up together. In the end, the Littoral Society ends up with some good statistics to support their environmental efforts (btw I think various other groups are running more beach cleanups over the next 2 weeks, check out the nationwide Littoral Society for your local branch if you're interested - NY folks, click on the link at the start of this paragraph & look for the crab)!

Anyways - it made for a fun day. Thanks to "Prof M" for organizing, Joan for cooking & the Boy Scouts for helping out.

Cross-posted at the Sebago Canoe Club Blog

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Feast of San Gennaro, September 2008

Every September, there's a big street festival thrown in Little Italy in honor of the patron saint of Naples, San Gennaro.

There are a lot of street fairs thrown in NYC over the summer - I absolutely adored them when I first moved to NY, but after you've been to a few, a lot of them get to looking pretty generic - the big ones will stretch for 10 blocks & you start to notice that it's not just that you see the same booths at the different street fairs, but that if you walk the entire length of one single street fair, you'll see the same booths repeating every other block.

The older ones seem to have a little more character, though, and I think the Feast of San Gennaro is one of my favorites. OK, it's also the one that's a 10 minute walk from my office - that may have something to do with my faithful attendance for the last few years. But with 80+ years of history, I also think this one's got a little more heart to it than many!

This year, I took a camera, got some good pictures, including (much to my delight) the procession of San Gennaro. Ate torrone & carne asada al llanera, in that order, too -- torrone is a nougat candy that I got quite fond of when my parents were stationed in Italy & Ferrara's was fabulous, I bought a little bag & I meant to just have a taste & pretty soon it was just gone (how'd that happen?).

Ferrara's torrone guy, carne asada al llanera grilling over a wood fire, the Red Mike Festival Band & lots more San Gennaro fun over on Flikr.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Splice the mizzen! Batten down the cutlass! And fer' Neptune's own salty sake, don't give the wench on the left any more rum...

Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

John H's Trip Report & pictures

I'm not sure when I'll have time to get all my pictures up & write any more, but my friend John has posted a bit of a writeup over on Control Geek, with links to pictures, videos & GPS tracks.

His Twitter log gives a nice little quick snapshot!

I will have a link to one of my more typically "bloggerheic" (ha ha ha) writeups...oh, someday. Right now, much work to do & trying to have a social life too. Silly silly me.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

We're back!

Well, Leg 2 was supposed to be the Smith Point Marina to Lake Montauk. Sometimes, though, these things don't work out according to plan. Actual final stop - Georgica Pond.

Here, we're headed out to the Shinnecock Inlet on Saturday morning. Glass-calm, as promised. The forecast for Sunday degraded pretty badly between the one I posted the other day & the ones we listened to at 6:30 a.m. S Winds 10 - 20 in the morning, with a small craft advisory coming into effect sometime in the afternoon - not what a bunch of tired paddlers who've done 2 consecutive 20-mile-ish days really want to hear.

Add to that one of our number getting very ill on the water yesterday & still being far from up to snuff this morning, and we decided that we would pack it in at Georgica Pond this year. Instead, a few went back to Brooklyn after breakfast; the rest of us scouted our route for next year. Sightseeing with a purpose, you could say. It was a relief to see that further out on the South Fork, the surf goes from this brutal dumping shorebreak we've been launching & landing on (I made all of mine OK but we had a number of wipeouts & also cases where people thought they were in safe & popped their skirts only to have the wave that would rear up on the backwash from the wave they'd surfed in on get 'em) to a much pleasanter long, spilling surf. In fact I think today's most frustrating moment was our stop at Ditch Plains. Ditch Plains is a famous surfing beach, and aside from the fact that famous surfing beaches are usually famous for yikes, big waves, I'd also been warned that the board surfers there are particularly territorial & kayakers should assume that the unwelcome mat is out. So I've equated Ditch Plains with "scary place".

Well, today's S wind was sort of mushing the waves down in a way that doesn't work well for boards (John H. talked to one woman who'd just come off the water & that's what she said was going on - or at least that's the impression I got), so the gangs of surly board surfers we'd been told ran the place were completely not there - and the waves that they weren't surfing today looked just about perfect for some sea kayak surfing. Sea kayaks can have a fantastic time playing in surf that makes board surfers into bored surfers & that was exactly what Ditch Plains had to offer today. But alas, our boats were halfway back to Brooklyn, so all we could do was drool...

Anyways, we didn't get the mileage we'd hoped for, but for the most part I think we all had a good time. I was actually really happy to get to go climb the Montauk Point lighthouse, and my friends humored me with a stop at the super famous lobster roll "Lunch" place, and we stopped at a farm stand & just generally enjoyed playing tourist - none of which would've happened if we'd paddled. Getting a good close look at our potential launches, landings & emergency pullouts for next year was very reassuring, too. The charts tell you a lot, and we've got some sources of local knowledge out there, but there's nothing like actually going & seeing the arrangement with your own two eyes.

Next year's the big one, then - Georgica Pond to Orient Point. That includes rounding Montauk Point & the open-water crossing from the South Fork to the North Fork.

That will be exciting - hopefully in a good way!

More pictures to come!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Off for a bit.

Heading out bright & early to go get in touch with my inner marine mammal. Back next week. Have a great weekend (I expect I will!)

p.s. - just for the record, irregardless of what that Republican senator who happens to share my gender said a couple of days ago, and speaking as one of the American-woman-type people who that senator (sorry, I'm drawing a COMPLETE blank on her name) said was owed an apology - well, no, personallly, I don't feel like Barack Obama owes me an apology for using a common colloquialism. Yeesh. I truly hope the whole cosmetically-enhanced-domesticated-animals phase of the campaign has run it's course & we're back to actual issues by the time I get back.

hey, I can dream, right?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11th

Omer, a friend from Israel took this the day after I first met him. He was a client on a sunset paddle at MKC. He had such a good time, he wanted to see more of the harbor the next day. Having been laid off from my job at Fiduciary Trust (based in WTC 2), with a very generous severance package, and being a part owner of a kayak company, I was being a kayak bum for the summer, so of course I said I'd be happy to guide him. He suggested 3 hours, launching at a certain time. I consulted Eldridge & discovered that the timing was perfect for a trip to the Statue of Liberty. So the next morning, off we went. This ended up being one of my favorite guiding memories, with a fun twist from the usual Statue of Liberty trip. He's a great guy and a strong paddler (an early client of the now very well known Terra Santa Kayak), so it felt more like paddling with a friend than Oh Gosh I'm Guiding - really relaxed. I'd timed it just right & we moved along so well that as we were coming back, we were way ahead of schedule. Terra Santa wasn't doing retail yet, it was hard to get good kayaking gear in Israel, so as we were paddling back up towards Pier 63, Omer asked where New York Kayak Company was. I pointed across the river to Pier 40 & said "Right on that pier. Want to go?" I was half joking but we ended up at Randy's shop where Omer was able to get everything he was after. As you can see, it was a beautiful day anyways, and that spontaneous shopping stop completely cracked me up.

Anyways, I think this was sometime in August. A couple weeks later, of course, I went for that outplacement workshop at WTC 2. Omer was of course back home in Israel by then, emailed me to see if I was OK. When he heard my whole story, he pitched in to help me recover by sending me every bad joke & funny video around. Oh my, there were some bad ones! :D

I'm smiling as I type that. A lot of people helped me get through in a lot of ways. Eventually there was counseling but all the people around me probably shortened those sessions a lot. Getting emails that made me laugh when I just wanted to cry all the time? Sounds silly, but you'd be surprised how much that helped.

He also sent me this picture. That did make me cry. What a summer that was. At least if I had gone that day, it would have been after a whole summer on the river.

That is all I have time for this morning. We are loading boats on the trailer at 6:00, I'm getting an early start at work today so I can do that. For the first few years, I developed something of a ritual of going downtown for a walk & reflection. Won't have time for that today. Life goes on, and that's how it should be. Being in a rush because I'm getting ready for a wonderful 3-day paddle with friends? That's just good.

If you are interested in reading about what happened to me on September 11th itself, there was an email I sent to friends and family that evening the next day*, just so that everyone would know. That's posted here.

Time to work now. Peaceful day to all.

*Looking at the email I realize that I wrote that the day after. The evening of Sept. 11th, I was up at my friends' Richard & John's place with another friend of theirs who couldn't get home, the guys rescued both of us, gave us a place to sleep, cuddly kitties to play with and good food. And it was good to be with friends. John made pizza; Richard and I worked on the logo for the original, Mayor's Cup kayak event, which we'd been planning at the time. OK, actually mostly he worked. But it was good to be doing something that night.

ps: Back to Smith Point Marina to Lake Montauk paddle: This is too funny. Not only will it be extremely well blogged with 4 bloggers involved (me, Stevie, Minh, and John) - apparently, WiFi, conditions & speed permitting, the trip is going to be Twittered.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bad Joke Left A Bad Taste In Your Mouth?

Sorry about that! How about a slice of DiFara's Pizza to chase that bad taste away?

Oh, good, it looks like Mr. DiFara's just finishing a pizza now!

Finishing touches -

There, is that better?

oh, and btw, that bad joke was inspired by watching the forecast for Friday & the weekend sliding all over the place as final preparations for Leg II of 5 Years Around Long Island are put in place. I tend to look at NOAA, Wunderground.com & Weather.com, so I can't remember which one it was but I swear that on one of them, I was looking at one screen - ONE screen! - where in one place it said "Saturday chance of precipitation: 50%" and in another it said "Saturday chance of precipiation: 30%". There was a momentary murmer about postponing until next weekend in hopes that that one would turn out to be one of those sparkly September weekends - but right now we've got a very solid marine forecast & that's really key. Friday we'll be traveling "in the bays". I've been exchanging emails with the Peconic Puffin about the trip & that's the phrase he used to describe our Day 1 route, Narrow Bay to Shinnecock Bay, possibly heading out the inlet there & trying to get a couple more miles to the the east if we're doing well & conditions outside are OK. Saturday's landings & Sunday's launch will be on Atlantic shore beaches, and then Sunday afternoon we'll be rounding Montauk Point, so for those, it's comforting to see these light winds & small waves. We've all done surf landings & launches but personally, 2-3 feet is about as high as I've dealt with. Much more than that & I'd be getting a little concerned. As it is, this looks pretty darned good!





Full photo trip reports from last year's fantastic Leg 1 (a 2-parter) are over on my Picasa gallery

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A Really Bad Joke That I Made Up All By Myself.

Q: Why did the meteorologist get frustrated?
A: Because the weather was always up in the air.

Hey, just keeping the humor at an appropriate level.

blog readability test

Movie Reviews

Last Day at Astroland - 9/7/2008

How could I not go?

Lots of pictures here. Sort of random, barely edited, but hey, isn't that what Coney Island is all about?

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Storm Paddle

Remember how I said I was planning on "coocooning" today? Nice quiet day at home, a little housework, maybe putting together a big pot of something yummy to simmer on the stove for hours, then curling up on the futon couch with a good book while the rain poured down & the trees outside my window danced in the wind?

Didn't quite happen that way!

Earlier in the week, the Saturday marine forecast called for tropical storm conditions during the day on Saturday, but over the week, Hanna's arrival time got pushed back to the afternoon. Instead of an entire day of winds gusting to 40kts, we ended up with a rather moderate morning forecast, with the force of the storm beginning to be felt in the mid-afternoon, not reaching maximum force until late at night.

Combine that with the fact that the air & water temperatures are both very warm right now, and the winds were coming from SE & therefore onshore in the vicinity of the Paerdegat Basin, and what you get is actually perfect conditions for a couple of reasonably experienced paddlers who trust each other to go out & push themselves a bit,so when John H. (the other tower in the sunken Klepper rescue, and a very capable paddler who's joining us next week in the paddle to Montauk) sent out an email saying "Anybody want to go out?" I changed my plans without a second thought.

We both liked the same plan - go out in the morning, paddle while the wind built, stay close to the basin & head for home when anybody either got tired or started feeling like conditions were getting beyond them.

We tentatively discussed arriving at the club at 10 am, but when we talked at 8 am this morning to finalize, it was hot & sticky without a breath of wind. After consulting the forecast, which showed things picking up around mid-afternoon - we moved our plan to him picking me up at noon, being on the water sometime before 1. Worked out perfectly. Here was what it looked like at the dock as we launched:

John & I weren't the only ones with this idea, either - Joe G. was there (he's training for the Mayor's Cup) and E., another club member who'd had a similar plan, only even more conservative since he was on his own & actually had a much farther drive than John. E. launched before us, joined us on the water when we got out & then did head back when the rain started.

John & I headed out past Mill Basin & on towards Floyd Bennett Field until the first squall hit us, at which point I suggested that we might want to head back & just be a little closer to home - the winds had picked up very abruptly, and although it did turn out to be a squall & passed quickly, it was hard to tell, there in the middle of it, whether that was going to be the case or if this was just the beginning of deterioting conditions. It's a long walk back to the basin from Floyd Bennett Field in the rain.

BTW, not that they'll ever read this, but soggy hats off to the fishermen who were actually fishing today! No, no, not the launch-ramp guys sitting snug in their cars, but the guys who were out there in it. That's some REAL fishermen!

John agreed that getting back on the Paerdegat side of Mill Basin was a good idea.

Joe G. reappeared about this time - he'd lauched a little bit after we did, passed us in the basin & vanished into the distance, as is his wont. John mused at one point an hour later or so "I wonder where Joe is now", I said "Sandy Hook". Never did find out how far he got but he's the guy who writes all the canoe magazine articles about surfski races all over the world & is a pretty elite racer himself & he was just having a blast. Gave us a cheery shaka sign as he shot past (I JUST missed it!).

We'd noticed this sailboat when we first set out. We ended up doing a couple of big loops out into the bay & back towards the basin to get some surfing fun (OMG, did I get some great rides, the Romany was so happy, I think it thought it had been sent back to it's native Wales). Since we were paddling out that way anyways, we decided to paddle on out & ask if he had any Grey Poupon. He did not, but it was fun saying hi anyways, and we'd been terribly curious. Turns out he's out of Atlantic Highlands & whatever his usual anchorage arrangements were, he felt better about riding the storm out at anchor here in our more sheltered bay.

We were both feeling like we'd had enough fun at this point, and things did seem to be picking up, so we headed on back to the dock. More great surfing going back. A big Harbor Police boat went by with the lights flashing - we were afraid they were coming over to yell at us but they must have been responding to an actual call for help, they didn't pay the least bit of attention to us.

We made it back to the Paerdegat fine. Perfect timing - just as we rounded the corner coming into the dock, the fit hit the shan! How bad was it? I'd put TQ's camera (in a waterproof shoot-through envelope) down on my spraydeck - and it started to blow away!

And if that blast didn't convince us we'd made the right call - Joe G's appearance moments behind us confirmed it!

It was tons of fun, though, and I'm so glad somebody else was up for this!

John's got a lot more pictures & even some video of the day over on Control Geek - he rigged up his camera on a little tripod on his front deck, which worked out well!

Pretty blustery out there now as I wrap this up close to midnight, and it's rained a lot, but it hasn't sounded like it's been too terrible. Here's hoping that the Prayer of the Puffins was heeded!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Upcoming Events -

Just a couple. Be careful out there this weekend, of course. Think I'm cocooning on Saturday.

1. Today & this weekend: What a maroon. I found out about the first ever NE Canoe & Kayak Symposium a couple of weeks ago when I got one of their emails looking for volunteer instructors. I and almost everybody else at Sebago already had plans, but it sounds like a fun event. I totally spaced on posting about it, started today & runs through the weekend. It's too bad the weather forecast's so rotten, but they've got classroom stuff, and that Teva Reel Paddling film festival, and Jon Bowermeister - lots more details here!

2. This weekend: the Small Boat Shop in South Norwalk, CT, is holding their fall sale. This has traditionally been their Demo Day sale, I've worked the last couple & it's always been lots of fun, they set up at the Ascension Beach Club & people come try out boats & watch demos all day. This year, they couldn't get the club, so it's a warehouse sale instead - which, given the forecast, is actually just as well. Full details on their website, www.thesmallboatshop.com.

3. 9/25/08 - Tim of the Red Hook Boaters and the Message in a Bottle Project posted the following to the Rustbucket yahoo group recently:

Hi Paddlers,

On Sept 25th, the Gowanus Dredgers are hosting their annual fundraising party. This party is always a blast, and it raises a lot of money for the Dredgers, as well as the organizations they support, Red Hook Boaters, Long Island City Community Boathouse, and Staten Island Kayak Association.

See: www.gowanuscanal.org

Please click on the link, and buy a ticket, then come to the party. It will really help us with the planning if you can buy a ticket now so we know how much food and drink to get.

Here are pictures from 2006.
We had so much fun in 2007 we didn't get the pictures up yet.

It's really 2 parties in one. The early part of the evening is great for kids, they can take a canoe ride, be entertained by the fun pirate lady, and get their faces painted. Later in the evening there is more beer drinking, music, and rabble rousing.

Beer and food is included, so you can't beat it, and there are chances to win prizes.

Tim Gamble

5. 10/12/08: Riverkeeper is running a harborwide Waterfest! They need participants & volunteers. Sounds like fun, I'd think of doing it if I wasn't gonna be in Deception Pass woohoo!

6. 10/16/08: Oscar Chalupski clinic at Pier 66! Marcus Demuth posted the following:

Oscar Chalupski, 11 time World Paddle Ski Champion, Olympic paddler (Barcelona, 1992), and cherished instructor for all things Forward Stroke and beyond, will give a full day paddling clinic at Pier 66.

The class and instruction will be catered to both surf ski paddlers and sea kayakers who wish to increase their speed, form and reach, on Thursday, October 16th, appr. 10 AM to 6 PM.

The cost will be $150 for the full day. To reserve a spot for this rare full day clinic, please email

6. 10/19/08: Mayor's Cup!

7. 11/13/08: Just in from the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance (this gave me the impetus for doing this post)

Dear MWA Partners and Supporters,

Please save the date for the 2008 MWA Waterfront Conference: Thursday, November 13, 2008! At this daylong event, we will formally launch our Action Agenda for the Waterfront, a 12-point platform for a healthy, shared harbor. This agenda was formulated and shaped over the last year through the MWA Task Force discussions, in which more than 240 different organizations and public agencies have participated. The recommendations of each Task Force will also be released through the publication of six Waterfront White Papers, including:
+ Aquatecture
+ Mass Water Transit
+ Waterfront Recreation and Play
+ Green Harbor
+ Harbor Education
+ Waterfront Works

We would love to see you at the Conference on November 13th and at our upcoming "Heroes of the Harbor" Gala on October 6th. You can find out more about either of these events on our website - www.waterfrontalliance.org.

Hope everyone had a great summer and we look forward to your participation at these upcoming events!


Roland Lewis
President and CEO
Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance
457 Madison Ave, 5th fl
New York, NY 10022
tel 212-935-9831 x296
cell 917 696 3139
fax 212-935-3193

And last but definitely not least - again Marcus posting to the Rustbucket list

8. 11/22/08 Exciting news (I hope):

Justine Curgenven and Barry Shaw, will visit our pier 66 boathouse on November 22nd, 2008 (Sat.) to show a 1 hour special of, and talk about, their recent circumnavigation of the South island of New Zealand, and to present the 4th installation of Justine's This is the Sea 4 DVD series.

You can see a preview at cackletv.com

More news when we come closer to the event ...

And that's it for the off-the-top-of-my...


I almost left out the most important one - my gosh, they woulda ridden me outta Canarsie on a rail if I forgot this! PHEW!

Thursday, November 6th, 2008 - it's the Sebago Canoe Club's 75th Anniversary Splash! The committee got the Prospect Park Picnic House, it's gonna be fun! Woohoo!

There! THAT'S it for the off-the-top-of-my-head lunch hour coming-events update!

Marketing detail report calls, back to the grindstone!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

What else happens in Brooklyn on Labor Day?

Besides paddling that is?

Why, the West Indian American Carnival Day Parade, that's what! And if I hadn't gone paddling, I think I would've braved the crowds & gone - they could not have had a more beautiful day for it. My neighborhood's got a great Carribean flavor to it anyways, and here are just a couple of shots I took in the morning on my way to the club.

This house is always flying flags of several Carribean countries - on Labor Day, they add even more color. So festive!

A couple of young ladies making their way to the parade, carefully hand-carrying their handmade headresses. I'm not usually one for taking random pictures of people on the street, but I just couldn't resist the way the orange plumes were glowing in the sunshine:

I honestly don't know how many more years I'm going to live in NYC - I love it but there are a couple of other options I've been thinking about a lot lately. One's old, one far more recent, both a little scary & feel like a monster gamble, but...well, they're there & I'm thinking about them.

I am capable of thinking about things for a very very long time of course, but if the time eventually does come to leave this fair, unfair, ridiculous, amazing, exhausting city, there are a couple of events that I really hope to have attended with a camera in hand. This parade's one of 'em. I used to live much closer to the route than I do now, so I've gone to a couple, but that was before I got bit by the digital-photography bug. The Mermaid Parade and the Coney Island Polar Bear Swim are the other main ones. Oh, and the yellow submarine in Coney Island Creek...no, not an event, just something I want to go take a picture of. Funny how all the things I want to take pictures of are in Brooklyn, isn't it? Seems like since I moved my boats to Canarsie, I just don't pay that much attention to the other boroughs. Seems Brooklyn's got everything I need. If my office wasn't in Soho & I didn't travel to Connecticut on a regular basis, I might never leave the borough any way other than by kayak.

This Labor Day, of course, I was too busy having fun saving a Klepper to be there, but here's a couple of bloggers who actually have pictures of the parade itself!
Gowanus Lounge has posted some gorgeous shots of marchers in full regalia -

And here's a fun one, the Brit in Brooklyn got up very very early (or perhaps just didn't go to bed the night before) to catch J'ouvert, the early morning procession of the steel bands that starts the day. I admit I didn't know about this until I wandered over there to see if he'd gone - learn something new every day, I guess, and this was an interesting thing to learn about.

Something to keep in mind for next year, I suppose!

Quite the bash at Pier 66 tonight -

I can't make it, but I figured I'd pass this along -

Big Party tonight at Pier 66 - it's been 500 days since the Schooner Anne set out from Hoboken - halfway to the 1000 Days.

Been some really strange developments along the way, but he's kept going.

Not sure whose determination is more fascinating - his, or the folks who've apparently pledged their souls to his downfall (actually some of them may be there tonight, one of their ringleaders went to the party to welcome Soanya back & his report back to his gang was pretty much "Reid may be the antichrist & the biggest danger to sailing since Robert Fulton, but that was a pretty good party").

It's been interesting, to say the least.

Now to see how many hate comments this gathers (until they start, you can see a sample comment here). Whatever.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Sunken Klepper Team Rescue

And it really was a team effort. I don't know about everyone else but I not-so-secretly thought this was actually quite a bit of fun, working together to get this boat back up the Paerdegat to Sebago's dock. With a real puzzle of a retrieval, a lovely afternoon, and no one in any danger at all, it was like the wackiest scenario the most creative coach could have come up with.

I was officially the "Assistant Trip Leader" but we actually had a plethora of qualified trip leaders, and the few non-trip-leaders did fine on our trip to Gerritsen Creek. Coming back was a bit of a slog, as we had a headwind & current against us, but everybody (including one of our seniorest senior members - I hope I'm still paddling at 83!!!) plugged away until we were (happily) turning into the shelter of the Paerdegat. Beautiful day, nice crowd, no trouble, couldn't ask for more. As we entered the basin, we saw the small sail of the Klepper. At first we thought it was Holly the Sailing Chair, but it wasn't moving right - Holly's tacks are snappy - this one, every time the boat tacked, the sail luffed for a loooong long few moments before it began to move again.

As we got closer, we realized it was a Klepper, being sailed by someone we didn't recognize. John & Mary & I were out in front, said hello & paddled on. A minute later, John H. suddenly looked back & quietly said, "That guy just capsized". Turned out he'd heard Phil yell "Capsize!" - my ears weren't quite as sharp.

The guy was already in good hands - he'd capsized right next to Commodore John & Commodore Emeritus Phil, and a couple of the paddlers in the group decided to keep going to the nearby club dock. John, Prof. M, me, and one of our newer paddlers went back to see what was going on & found the situation I described - a large sailing kayak, with full sailing rig including leeboards, turtled, mast tip in the mud, and half-sunk with no flotation. "Cleopatra's Needle" Deeeee-LUXE!

Phil, Commodore John, John H, Prof M & I all went to work while the less experienced paddler observed (and was eventually impressed into service as the photographer while the tow was underway, - he & John H took all of these with John's camera - thanks M & John for taking these, and thanks, John, for letting me play with them!).

There's a pretty standard method for dealing with a sea kayak that's ended up in a partially-sunken Cleopatra's Needle position (so called because usually where there's no flotation, one end or the other will usually trap a little air & be sticking up in the air, while the other fills up & sinks down below the surface). You get hold of whatever decklines you can get to. You sloooowly begin to move your way along that deckline hand-over-hand, moving from the floating end of the boat, where you got the line, back toward the center of the boat & the cockpit. Sloooowly because a flotationless kayak full of water weighs - well, not literally a ton, but a good portion of a ton (more on that in a second). As you slowly walk your hands towards the center, the boat will slowly be resuming a more proper horizontal relationship with the surface. You get to the cockpit, get a good grip on the side of the coaming (cockpit rim), you roll the boat on it's side and then you slooooowly begin to curl the boat up out of the water. As the boat rises, the water pours out; you flip it rightside up when you can't raise it any higher, et voila, there you are with a floating kayak. This is a maneuver that can be done by a single person.

Didn't work so well in this case!

The Klepper was first of all very BIG. Here it is on the dock, with a person to give some scale.
The payload weight (the amount the boat, when properly assembled, can carry) of a Klepper Aerius II is 772 pounds. In gallons, the payload is given as 159. A gallon of seawater weighs approximately (VERY approximately!) eight and a half pounds. So I think we can safely say that this boat, full of salt water, weighs at least 1,351 lbs. Complicating the standard Cleo's-needle rescue even further are the leeboards, which are that assemblage sitting behind the person's legs. The plank joining the two larger, parallel, sort of teardrop-shaped boards is mounted across the cockpit & fastened with wing nuts; the leeboards extend into the water on either side of the boat & serve the same purpose as a centerboard or a keel.

They, and the mast, also make it completely impossible to get your own boat alongside & parallel to the sunken Klepper, in the position you need to get to to do the slow, water-draining curl.

'Nuff exposition. Here's the situation we found when we got back to the capsize scene. Leeboards sticking up at the back - owner in water near those.

He was fine, if a bit embarrassed. First things first - Commodore John took him over to the docks at the club adjacent to Sebago. One of our members (Tom of the Penguin Drive silliness day) is also a member there & fortunately was there, so that was no problem.

Phil decided to just follow them, towing the Klepper over to where Tom & the owner were now watching. He hooked onto the D-ring at the bow, started paddling, and the clip and the towline instantly parted ways. Wow.

Clearly the poor beast wasn't towable quite that way.

We all started moving around it, trying to figure out how we could get it at least partially righted & drained.

Here, Prof. M & Phil have actually succeeded in righting it. Prof. M. (yellow boat) is actually stabilizing Phil by leaning on his back deck - when one paddler is braced by another like that, it's an incredibly stable setup & the braced paddler can put all their effort into the whatever it is they need to do. Unfortunately, although they did get the boat rightside-up, the aft end of the coaming was a foot below the surface, so we couldn't do something like them steady while the rest of us grab our bilge pumps & get to work. That's where the sponsons would make all the difference - those would float the boat high enough that once you righted in, the boat would be stable, the coaming clear of the surface & you could start bailing. Leave those air tubes along the gunwales deflated, and it complicates things tremendously (I bet this guy never, ever makes that mistake again).

Here, I've moved in & am trying to figure out if I can get enough of a grip on the leeboard to at least drain a little of the water. It works a little tiny bit. Just enough to get the mast up to where Phil & Prof. M can reach it. As they pull the mast up towards the surface, a little more water drains. Aha! I continue to steady the boat by hauling on the leeboard while the other 2 wrestle the mast until it's lying securely across Phil's deck. John H moves in as this is going on & clips in to the d-ring. As Phil & Prof. M. get past the point where my steadying is useful, I clip in too, we check to see if Phil's set, he is,

And off we went!

It was something trying to get the whole assemblage moving. First few yards we were barely making headway, but we gradually picked up steam & started closing the distance to the dock.

And hey, look, we made it!

Closer view of the arrangement that finally let us clip in -

Once we were back at the dock, it was a lot easier to see how & where things were attached. We derigged with the boat still swamped & in the water; once the mast, sails & leeboards were out of the way, we were able to drain most of the water. There was still quite a bit in the boat, but a couple of the guys carefully wrestled the boat up onto the dock with no mishaps. All was indeed well that ended well, we handed the boat back over to it's owner to complete the dissassembly. And boy did the post-sail beer & cheese that the commodore had brought & the rest of us supplemented (somebody had crackers, somebody had sausage, there was wine, and I ran & raided my garden for cucumbers & tomatoes) taste extra extra good!

Unusual end to a Sebago paddle!

Cross-posted at the Sebago Canoe Club blog.

Saturday's Forecast, and Trash Bash!

519 AM EDT WED SEP 3 2008
519 AM EDT WED SEP 3 2008


Hmmm. I guess I'm NOT going sailing this weekend!

Actually this is a wee bit of a drag - I was looking forward to doing a little Trash Bashing out on Canarsie Pol! The club does this every year as part of the American Littoral Society's Beach Cleanup. It seems like a really nice way to help the local waterways that just MAKE my quality of life work, living here in NYC. Looks like there's a good chance we'll be postponing until the 20th, which is the "official" date anyways. BTW, if you're interested in joining in the trash-bashing fun, just click on the "Beach Cleanup" link (under the crab) - the "official" date is the 20th, but there are events going on all over NYC & beyond from this weekend on through early October (and for most of 'em, you don't even need to paddle). Great way to get to know your own local waterfront & meet people who love it (be it ever so humble!)

Funny/sad moment involving littering last weekend.

I went out to Breezy Point on Saturday. It was a nice, nice paddle. The water in Jamaica Bay water been particularly brown & murky this summer (I think the algae likes the warm water as much as the as much as the jellyfish do)- but you get out to Breezy Point though & all the sudden the water is glass-green & glass-clear. So nice. The sheer beauty of the water made it all the more annoying to suddenly see an empty Corona bottle come flying out of a big motorboat that had anchored out there & splash down to go bobbing away in the current. I stopped paddling & sat there a moment & looked at the bottle, back at the motorboat, back at the bottle, back at the motorboat.

Eventually paddled on but really wanted to toss that bottle right back on board.

Figured that broken glass all over the deck would try even the most mild-mannered stinkpotter's sense of humor, though, and their boat was way bigger than mine. If it had been a beer can, instead...

Just kills me to see that kind of complete thoughtlessness. Oh, la la la, here we are on our great big motorboat enjoying a beautiful day on the water. Hey, let's throw some trash in it, that would totally improve the experience! Yeah!


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Which is Weirder?

OK...which is weirder -

This story?
OR -

The fact that I found out about it through a guy who lives in Vermont?

OK, the accident itself isn't so strange. Manhattan's piers become some nasty strainers when the current gets crankin'. Unlike our last newsworthy freak kayak accident, there's no mention of another paddler trying to rescue him, although it's said that he was taking a lesson. That's the weird part.

9/3 update:

Just had to share a response from a noted weisenheimah on the yahoo group for the Pier 66 gang (I shared this with them since they are right in the vicinity), cause it kinda cracked me up:

"Bonnie, what the rescuing crew member MEANT to say- is that -"in a couple of more minutes he would have been FINNISH! ( it is a little known maritime standard that after 15 minutes at the mercy of the aquatic elements most survivors consider themselves natives of Finland- nobody knows why......)"

BTW, since I got nosy, I've gotten a couple more versions of the story - it's all hearsay & secondhand so I'm not gonna pass those on but let's just say that it sounds like the story was a trifle misreported in the Daily News & moreso in the Post (not surprising for the Post, the Post is a rag - best headlines in town, but a rag nonetheless). Hey, who's gonna miss a few silly little facts when the story's soooo much more exciting without 'em?

Monday, September 01, 2008

Cricket Goes To Maine, plus An Unusual Rescue (Part 1 of Gerritsen Creek Trip Report).

Remember Cricket, the prettiest boat in Jamaica Bay?

Cricket, along with Sebago sailing committee co-chairs Holly & Jim (Jim built Cricket), recently got to go spend a wonderful few days in Maine. I went on an interesting paddle with a very unusual ending today, and had gone to post a few pictures, and found that Jim had just recently put up a short post about their trip, with a few pictures & a link to his own blog, Small Craft Warning. I can't resist linking myself. Cricket was in good company at this event - there's some pretty, pretty boats!

I'm afraid that by the time I finished oohing & aahing over the pretty boats, it was getting to be pretty late, so a full trip report will have to wait - but here's a hint of the unusual end -

This is a Klepper Aerius II with full sail rig.

Definitely not the prettiest boat in ANY harbor, but an interesting craft nevertheless. The Klepper Aerius is really the original folding kayak, perfected in the early 1900's by a tailor by the name of Johann Klepper, who put the craft into production as a boat that could be packed up in a couple of large bags & therefore taken up a river on a train. Kleppers are still considered the Cadillacs of folding kayaks & are incredibly sturdy beasts used by adventurers from Capt. Franz Romer, who crossed the Atlantic in 1928, to Dr. Hans Lindemann, who crossed the Atlantic in 1956, to my former coach (and eventually business partner for three years) Eric Stiller, who paddled one partway around Australia with a Calvin Klein underwear model (male variety).

Interesting bit of Klepper trivia offered by one of the paddlers who was along today - he said that the original design included no pieces that were any longer than the longest skis of the day, as the trains that the paddlers used in the summer were actually outfitted for carrying skiers in the winter.

At any rate - this is a big, solid kayak. As you see, you can put a sail on it but Holly the Sailing Chair says it's like sailing a sofa. I think I believe her. It's not supposed to be an exciting sailboat, the sail just gives you another option besides the paddle.

Retrieving one of these, when the "inflate sponsons" step of setup has been left out (probably why the capsize happened in the first place - the sponsons are very important, they tension the skin & provide flotation & stability), and the boat has ended up turtled, with it's mast in the muck, and the boat itself partially submerged (a situation known to paddlers as a "Cleopatra's Needle"), was an interesting proposition.

hmmmm...(to be continued)

(photo by John H - thanks John!)