Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pier 63: Making a Home for the Kayaks

So Eric asked, and John offered, and as soon as things started warming up enough in the early spring of 1999, the paddlers of Manhattan Kayak Company began making an odd-shaped end hold at Pier 63 Maritime into a home for the company's fleet.

Krevey's welding team had done the heavy lifting for us. The barge was an old railroad float barge.
image from's FAQ's - links to that & an interesting article about NY Harbor's last remaining car float operator can be found at the end of this post.

the hold 2
the hold 2

With the deck needing to support that kind of weight, this space was originally filled with heavy cross-bracing. When John found an occupant for a hold (and I think most of the other holds had occupants at this point - an eclectic mix of a boaters, artists & dancers, plus the public restrooms - ours was just too weirdly shaped for anything but storing a bunch of small boats!) the first thing that would happen would be that his welding team would descend & cut out most of the cross-bracing, leaving enough to make sure that the deck could still handle light delivery vans & such, but leaving a workable open space. They would also cut a more practical access - the original access being little round hatches The Hold
The Hold

For us, they also cut a hole in the end. That let right out onto a low dock - this was actually a nice change from Chelsea Piers, where every paddle began and ended with a time-consuming boat carry through a parking lot.

But that still left a lot of work to get the place ready for the 1999 season!

What a weirdly fun time that was. I went to John's viewing last night, and one of his close friends told about going down to Delaware to help John and Angela renovate the newly-purchased Frying Pan. "For a week, I shoveled sand, and scraped barnacles - for fun!"

I got a good laugh out of that because it was so wonderfully reminiscent to my own introduction to the strange little world of the barge.

They say genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration. If Krevey thought you had the inspiration - oh, he'd give you (and all your friends) the place to work up the perspiration! :D

We (the 1999 MKC partners and friends) moved rusty scrap metal, and scraped rust, and painted rust. We became Rustpeople. We blended in with the barge. I don't think I've ever been as dirty in my life.

My gosh, it was fun.
- me, Brad, Stef, Bob, Eric, Jonno, Irene & Susan

And of course we paddled too - as soon as things were cleaned-up enough to bring in some boats!
rustpeople go paddle
rustpeople go paddle
- me, Abigail, Jeff, Eric, Irene & Bob. This may have been MKC's first paddle at the barge -

we were all giddy.

That's all I have time for today - need to run in & put in a couple of hours in the office, but I just wanted to share these pictures. This was about all I had from that time, I didn't have a digital camera yet, but I had scanned these prints in & posted them back in 2006 in a fit of nostalgia a couple of months after the barge had been shut down at the 23rd street location.

What an exciting Spring that was.

Working Harbor Committee's Harbor FAQ's, source of the working car float photo: FAQ's

Read more about future of the last remaining NY Harbor railroad car float operation in the June 4 2010 Waterwire


ddf said...

ah, the hold. i remember it well.
i left a whole bunch of skin in there.
thank you tetanus vaccine!

bonnie said...

I've got a nice little scar myself. Let's see - one, two, three. Three stitches it was.