Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bowsprite Accepted the Challenge!

And look what she sent! :D
hula gal by Bowsprite!

Looking forward to introducing her and a few other adventurous friends to Spam Musubi and other ono kine grindz tomorrow after work! Yippee!

OH! PS - if you didn't already see it, go check out Harbor Time Lapse #2 - a Bowsprite/Control Geek Joint Production! Great stuff!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Late June Garden Report

Oh shoot. Didn't I leave a garden around here somewhere? I could've sworn it was right here a couple of weeks ago...

Hmm, like around those sticks over there -

oooh, let's see...

Yay! I think I found it!

A large number of minutes and many, many mosquito bites later, there it is!

We'd been getting plenty of rain for a while up until last weekend, and I've been busy with work & running around with TQ, so I'd just trusted the garden to fend for itself. Saturday, when we went to sail, I finally got a good look at it for the first time in a while. Egads. If I was after a hay crop, it was fixin' to be a bumper. Anything else - not so good! I'd fully planned to weed on Sunday, but then I ended up feeling a bit under the weather & skipping the club. Finally made it out tonight, was terribly terribly tempted to go sit on the dock & hang out with my friends who were there running the Wednesday night open paddle, but I managed to discipline myself. I'd come to weed and weed I did. There is a certain type of "weed", lamb's-quarters, that I usually hold aside to take home & cook, makes a nice green sauteed or steamed - but with limited light left in the day, I didn't have time for distinctions like that - I just wanted to get my garden back!

Underneath the mess, everything's coming along more or less OK. I may have lost the beet crop - the grass roots were so tangled and the beets were so choked that even though I was being very, very careful not to get beet tops in with the handfuls of weeds, the beets would come along as part of the mass of roots that would get pulled out of the soil. I stuck them all back in but I don't know it they'll make it through that kind of brutality or not. If they don't I guess I'll replant, beets are fine going into the fall.

Everything else was battling away much more successfully and I'm hoping that with all the competition sent to the dumpster, there'll be some good energetic growth.

Might pick up a few more basil seedlings if I can find any - didn't do any from seed this year because I got started late & had never been sure if they'd done much or if it had been the seedlings I would always plant after getting impatient with the slow growth from the seeds. The seedlings I did plant are growing nicely, I feel like I had more plants in there last year. Pesto & the green leafy bits of caprese salad are very important crops, you know!

Under cover of the grass, the cucumbers had launched a stealth strangulation attack on the tomatoes. I broke that up & the cucumber is now being encouraged to climb the trellis instead of the neighbors. The tomatoes appeared to be unphased by all of it - there are blossoms on some and although they don't quite need staking yet, I should do that before much longer. As I cleared out the underbrush, I even another determined little volunteer fighting it's way up towards the light. It's got lots of breathing space now - grow grow grow!

The onions are doing fine, as is the bucket of herbs - those both survive winters and are in their 3rd and 4th years respectively & are thick enough that the weeds just can't get in there and get going the way they can among the new growth.

Mission accomplished - garden retrieved. Must try not to let it get that way again!

Random Thought

Words that I never expected to hear used in the same sentence:

"Bergdorf's spray tan", and "need".

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hooray For Gateway Bike & Boathouse!

A ha ha ha haaa! Great news from my friend Rick at Gateway Bike & Boathouse!

This just in:

Dear Gateway Bike & Boathouse Supporter,

I’m happy to announce that the National Park Service and Gateway Bike & Boathouse will be working together to provide kayaking opportunities at Riis Landing in Gateway National Recreation Area for the 2011 boating season! This remarkable achievement comes after many years of effort on both sides. A special thanks to all of our supporters who have donated their time, money and support to get us to this point. It will be well worth the wait.

Here’s a quick update on how it’s shaping up:
1. Building #215 in Riis Landing (on the west side of the parking lot opposite the ferry) has been renovated to serve as our boathouse
2. 26 kayaks, singles and doubles, sit in and sit on, have been purchased by NPS through a grant by Coke-a-Cola
3. NPS has asked the Gateway Bike & Boathouse to assist them in running a kayaking program in Riis Landing
4. Programming for 2011 will consist of “walk-up” kayaking for people wanting to try kayaking for first time and organized tours for those with some experience
5. The boathouse being opened to the public during the months of July and August with weekends having set hours and weekday events as scheduled
6. Gateway Bike & Boathouse volunteers who help run the kayak program will earn the privilege of using the boats individually when available
7. There is no room in this facility for any private boats owned by individual GBB supporters at this time
8. There will be no bicycle component this season. We want to focus exclusively on developing a smooth kayaking operation first.

Blogger's side note: That covers the info that the general public who's interested in trying kayaking there needs to know. Website & directions can be found at the end of the post. The initiation of their program means that the Gateway Bike & Boathouse is actively looking for volunteers - the email continued with specific info for people who are interested in that angle. If you are interested in helping out, please read the following, and then contact Rick at RickHoran"at-sign"GatewayBoathouse"dot"org . It's terribly short notice, but if you can't make it, contact him anyways - these walk-up programs always need lots of people & I'm sure Rick would be happy to hear from anyone who can't make it. If you can, tell Rick & John that Bonnie said "Hi" - they are both great guys!
Train the Trainer
The first training session for Gateway Bike & Boathouse volunteers has been scheduled by Park Ranger John Daskalakis, who has been operating NPS’ successful kayaking program in Canarsie. Rita Mullally and Unit Supervisor Dave Taft have also been instrumental in bringing this kayaking program to Rockaway.

John has invited us to participate in a special training session this Thursday, June 30th from 5:30 to 7:30 PM. Bring your bathing suits as this will be an on-water training session. John will review safety procedures, paddling techniques, the topography of the Riis Landing coastline, current/tide information, procedures for checking out boats and dealing with the public among other topics. The weather is supposed to be beautiful.

Gateway National Recreation Area – Riis Landing. The Boathouse, (Building # 215) is on the left side of the parking lot, just behind Building #217.

Please let me know if you can make it so we know how many folks to expect. If you cannot make this session, there should be other opportunities soon. Hope to see you there!

The Gateway Bike & Boathouse is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization

Congratulations to Rick & the rest of the gang behind the Gateway Bike & Boathouse. It's been a long trail with some ups & downs for them and it is WONDERFUL to see all their hard work finally coming to fruition.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Guess what I did!

I bought myself a bunny!











I'm calling it Stew.





It's going to be delicious!

(I'm sorry, was that really awful?)

First Real Sail of 2011

TQ and I had taken out a Sunfish together for a little while at the end of the Open House, but now he's taken the Sebago Sailing Course & is qualified to sail his own! Two in a Sunfish may sound cute but honestly, we both think that works better if the parties in question are around 10 years old. This was my first real sail of the year (frostbiting pretty much got canned this year because conditions in March, when I started last year, were a little rough this year, and I also had to paddle to get ready for my instructor certification exam), and TQ's debut as a Level 3 sailor (certified to solo in Sunfish), and it was just as much fun as we always thought it would be.
Out from the Paerdegat!
Out from the Paerdegat!

We'd originally planned to do this on Friday (I took a day off and TQ works a day that starts and finishes early), but the weather forecast was looking a little iffy, and since we were taking the special lightning-rod equipped boats, we decided to wait for Saturday. Good call, the lightning never materialized but it was sort of cold & clammy Friday evening - Saturday was spectacular. Added bonus - our friend Chris showed up, he was planning a shakedown cruise in his sweet little Phil Bolger-built Melonseed Skiff - his wife was joining him for the Sunday cruise (which TQ & I were also going to go on until we decided to go help out with a trip leader workshop instead, we need trip leaders SO badly!) and he wanted to get all the first-trip-of-the-season rigging glitches & such worked out beforehand. It's always a pleasure to sail with Chris - but this time it was a particular relief. His Melonseed is designed to be rowed as well as sailed - and he offered, if necessary, to give us a tow out. We'd gotten to the club a bit earlier than he did, so we went ahead and launched ahead of him, figuring we'd take some time to warm up in the basin. It took him some time to rig & launch, though (entire point of a shakedown - you take the time to make everything right), and eventually I asked TQ if he wanted to go ahead & start trying to get out. I'd gone right up to the exit at one point & I wasn't sure how it was going to work; it was flooding so the current was going to push us back in but aside from one dead spot just inside the basin, there looked to be breeze. I figured we could start working on it & if we got out, yay, and if not, Chris would eventually turn up give us a tow. TQ was game so off we went, down the chute!


The new bridge is going to make the lives of Sebago sailors MUCH simpler (the old one had pretty closely-spaced footings and just being able to get through going upwind was the biggest challenge of a novice's skill - I'm envisioning the old one living on every time those of us who had to deal with that get to talking story with sailors who learn after the old one's gone - "Why, when I learned to sail here...") but in the meantime -- well, I'm hoping you get the idea from this cropped version. At this point, EVERYONE has to go out the main channel - there's a barge parked inside, and then 2 outside, parallel to each other. Fortunately most of the motorboats are very patient, because once you've gone into the tunnel, there's nothing you can do but tacktacktacktacktack. You can see a motorboat waiting patiently for TQ. We both had to evade one that pretty much decided that he wanted to come in and he wasn't waiting for no stupid sailboats - I was between the barges and only had a few more tacks - he forced me to fall off & run down to where I could duck in behind "Alfafa", where there's a space that is big enough to circle in; TQ just got off to the side & went into irons. I love the guys who were working on the bridge - they'd been cheering us on as we were working our way out and I didn't hear the entire discussion but it sounded like they gave the guy what-for! The other boats were FAR more patient (thank goodness) and gave us the time we needed - and yes, we both made it on our own!

Out in the Bay!
It's hard to describe just how lovely it felt to finally make that last tack to clear the barges & go tearing off into the bay! The breeze was absolutely PERFECT for a first sail of the season - the sun was shining, the spray was flying, the boats were flying, but everything was under control. Woohoo! In this picture I'm actually going back to rejoin TQ after taking off on a really fabulous plane - think it was one of the longer ones I've done going upwind.

TQ hiking!TQ was doing great too - also well within his comfort level & having a great time. I think he did better with his lesson than I did with mine - Holly the Sailing Chair actually said his class was one of the best she'd ever seen, every single student grasped things quickly enough that they were ALL able to do courses & drills by the end. Me, I could barely tack around a buoy! Now, my class did have rougher conditions - winds gusting to 17 kts, and VERY gusty - but TQ had also done a lot more messing around with small sailing craft than I had. He really didn't think he'd be good at it because he'd never quite sorted things out by himself when he was doing things like playing with a Sunfish as a kid - but maybe that gave him some sense of how they move, and how you move around in them. Whatever the cause, he had a really excellent class and we had a great sail.

Whoa nelly!
"Whoa nelly!"

The best sailing days aren't always the best picture-taking days - I left this in because it sort of cracks me up. We'd decided to make our inaugural sail a pretty short one & just go to Canarsie Pol. I didn't take any pictures from the time when TQ was tacking through the bridge until the time when I turned to go back to TQ after my sweet plane ride because going close-hauled really took two hands! I'd fallen off to go back to TQ, took those 2 prior pictures - didn't put the camera away as I headed back up towards the Pol, thinking maybe I could catch up & get another picture. This picture is a great demonstration of how well that worked!

Rerigging Chris had caught up with us in the meantime & joined us on Canarsie Pol. He needed to re-rig, something wasn't running right, TQ helped him out with that. Never got any pictures of the Melonseed under sail - hopefully we'll have plenty of other chances!

Study in Red White and Blue (and Green and Tan).
Study in Red White and Blue (and Green and Tan).

Nice lunch break.


TQ sailing off after lunch.

Running home.
Running home.

Another nice thing about a Saturday sail --
Another nice thing about a Saturday sail --

Friends are at the club & suggest dinner at Nick's Lobster Dock!

Sometimes you just have to get the lobster.
Sometimes you just have to get the lobster.

Sunset on Mill Basin

Sunset on Mill Basin, and the end (almost) of a perfect day.

The coda - the friends who proposed Nick's then took us to visit their sailboat, a C&C 25 I think it is, at a nearby marina. They are waiting for an engine part, so it was just a visit, but I'm really looking forward to doing a trip report entitled "Sailing Mischief" one of these days!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Challenge For Bowsprite

Spam MusubiSpam Musubi Art (If You Don't Mind Stretching the Definition Of "Art" Quite A Bit).

By me.

Because Bowsprite says SPAM reminds her of me. So if that's how it is, I think that she should have the full Spam Musubi Experience. Pick an evening, Bowsprite, any weekday (not this Friday, 'cause me and TQ have a date with a pair of Sunfish, but pretty much any other day in the next couple of weeks should work). We'll go to L&L & I'll introduce you to this very special fusion cuisine!


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New York Harbor Time Lapse

OK - are you tired of politics now? Ready for something fun? Check this out! High-def and full-screen recommended & don't blink around 0:16 or you'll miss the Half Moon!

P.S. - Is it corny that I would really like to slap a high-speed instrumental version of "New York, New York" on that puppy?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lake George Case Update: A Fast Response from Saratoga County D.A. Jim Murphy

It can't have been 2 hours ago that I sent a comment. Here's a response already - and an encouraging one too!
Dear Bonnie,

Thanks for your email and for your interest. I too am a kayaker and was stunned to read the judge's decision and the court's incredibly strict and narrow interpretation of the Navigation Law. We have decided to pursue a statutory change to affect all New Yorkers by amending the Navigation Law in next year's legislative session. As you probably are aware this year's session is only days away from recess. We have spent the last few months speaking with the widow of the deceased kayaker and determining whether we would appeal the case to a higher court. Based on those conversations and for her personal reasons we decided not to pursue that avenue. We think that a legislative change is a more appropriate fix and will have a longer lasting and widespread impact should we be successful.

We are in the process of drafting language that would be suggested statutory language to amend the Navigation Law that we hope will be submitted by a group of interested assemblypersons and senators this fall. We'll start with our area representatives who are aware of this case and who we anticipate will be supportive. After that, we would welcome any help blogs or publications like yours could provide.

Thank you again. Regards,

Hon. James A. Murphy, III
Saratoga County District Attorney
Director and Past Chairperson,
NYS District Attorney's Association

Municipal Center
25 West High Street
Ballston Spa, New York 12020

Office: 518-885-2263
Fax: 518-884-8627
The contact form on the website clearly worked fine, btw! Click here for that. This pretty much answered my question - it'll definitely be something interesting to watch for in the next session!

If I get any more updates, I'll put them up right away.

Monday, June 20, 2011

What's to be done? Revisiting the Lake George case.

Excuse me while I take a moment to get serious here, but I've been having an email discussion with a friend who can be a bit of a gadfly & as gadflies sometimes do, he's gotten me thinking and I would just like to mull over some of those thoughts here.

I think that a lot of people who read this blog remember the case I'm talking about - there were a couple of weeks where it seemed like that was the only thing that was being discussed on Facebook & the boating blogs, but for anyone who missed it, here was the story (and I'm going to try to keep it very simple, I'll add my own opinions after the basic description):

A little over a year ago, there was a collision between a motorboat and a kayaker on Lake George. The kayaker died. The motorboat driver was initially charged with reckless operation, a misdemeanor, but after hearing much testimony, the grand jury chose to indict on a lesser charge of failing to yield the right of way (using the "rules of the road" as defined in NYS Navigation Law).

The case was sent to court on that basis and last April, the local kayak community was set electronically a-roar when the judge ruled that the motorboat driver was innocent of all charges because kayaks are not considered vessels under NYS navigation laws.

Of course the area papers were all over it very quickly - and giving about as much background information as I just did. For a kayaker who first became acquainted with the story at that time (as I did when a friend posted it on my Facebook wall), it was the easiest thing in the world to fill in those blank outlines with our worst fears and prejudices - some knucklehead yay-hoo at the wheel, defended by some shyster lawyer and some half-asleep judge who didn't care enough to see justice done...

Except that it really wasn't like that at all. The first blow to my instant ugly picture came because the first thing I tend to do when I see a story involving a certain interpretation of a set of rules is to go look at the rules. I'm no lawyer but back in the testing days, I did pretty well in tests of reading comprehension and I still trust myself to read things correctly as long as I take the time to sit down and read them carefully. NYS navigation law is a pretty long document but there's a nice clear table of contents & if you follow it it actually ends up being very easy to find the exact bit that -- yes -- completely excludes canoes and rowboats from the Navigation Rules! I couldn't believe what I was seeing because I went looking with the assumption that we are SO covered - but there it was, right on what would've been the first page if I'd been looking at a hard copy!

Article 1, § 2, line 6-(c) "Pleasure vessel" shall mean and include every vessel not within the classification of public vessel or residential vessel. However, the provisions of this chapter shall not apply to rowboats and canoes except as otherwise expressly provided.

With that in mind, I then headed on down to Article 4, § 41, Pilot rules, where sure enough, there was no express provision extending any role whatsoever to paddlers & rowers in the right-of-way hierarchy. There are other provisions which mean that the judge's decision certainly isn't the declaration of open season on us teenyboaters, but...yes, we just don't count in the NYS version of the rules of the road.

Bizarre, but true, and a real eye-opener - but I still didn't have any real picture of what had happened until I took that info into a discussion that was going on on another friend's wall and involved a number of real-world friends. It was in that discussion where I finally got a better picture of what might had happened - someone who actually lived in the Lake George area basically came in & started talking about not the yay-hoo I think we were all picturing, but a responsible boater who was absolutely distraught after hitting a paddler on a windy, choppy day of the exact sort when most of us kayakers know we are very hard to see.

It was at that point that I went & found earlier versions of the story that were reported in a much less sensationalist style - like this one in the Albany Times-Union, which described a perfect setup for an accident, a terrible one but an accident - novice kayakers, carrying but not wearing lifejackets, paddling out onto a placid-seeming lake & then being caught out too far as the weather suddenly turned nasty on them. Detail that really got me - as soon as he realized he'd actually hit a paddler, the motorboat driver (who had 55 years of experience & a perfectly clean record) jumped overboard to help look for the victim, and stayed in so long that he himself had to be treated for hypothermia.

That is not the act of a person who doesn't care, and I think it was when I was reading that that I decided that I didn't want to jump on the bandwagon and do a blog post about it. I just didn't see what I could say

So why on earth am I doing one now?

Well - because my friend Chuck was asking what I was doing, and I got to wondering if there was anything that was worth doing, and I started thinking that if there was a silver lining in this tragic case, it was that this bizarre loophole has been brought to wide public attention.

And the last article I saw about the case was perhaps the one that was the most interesting, and that's the one I thought I might bring back to people's attention. The fascinating coda of the case?

"Both the prosecutor and defense lawyer in a case against a man whose motorboat killed a kayaker say the case demonstrates the need for changes in navigation law to protect paddlers."

Full article here.

I don't know if there's anything we paddlers and rowers can do to express support or urge action. I still think the 2 best navigation rules for paddlers are informal ones that will never appear in a law book - the Law of Gross Tonnage (the bigger boat is always gonna win in a contact situation) and the Law of Assumed Invisibility (do everything practical that you can to be seen, and then assume that nobody does anyways)-- but it does seem like with human-powered vessels being SO much more common now than they were when the Navigation Rules were written, this business of the pilot rules excluding them seems like something that should be revisited and (hopefully) revised.

Anyone have any thoughts, or any more recent information? I'd be genuinely interested in reading it - mid-April seems so long ago and once the initial flurry of shock at the ruling was over, it seems like the whole thing faded fast.

It would be a shame if the loss of public interest meant that the opportunity that was opened up by the case ended up closing without anything happening - I'm hoping that things are still moving in the right direction even without the attention of the social network (sometimes they do).

If a weird rule falls in the forest, and nobody blogs about it, does it make a noise?

Lunch hour note, following day: Well, there have been some very good thoughts & suggestions in the comments - totally worth a read. I have already somewhat acted on Buck's suggestion that paddlers who would like to be included in the pilot rules (even if it's at the bottom of the right-of-way hierarchy, as we might well end up being) should contact their assemblymen & senators - I will do that too, but first, I sent a comment to the office of the Saratoga County D.A., who is the one who was saying that he was considering lobbying to have the law changed. That seemed like a good place to start. My comment was pretty short - I just asked if he was still pursuing that & that as a NYS kayaker, I support revising the rules. If I hear anything back about where that is, I'll post it here. If anyone else wants to do the same, click here to go to D.A. Murphy's comment form. It only takes a moment. Thanks!

Palisades Hike

It was a busy weekend. Saturday, we went up to Lake Sebago for the first aid class that TQ & I both needed before the American Canoe Association considers us fully certified Level 4 coaches (now pending only the sending of the instructor's official letter to the ACA, which I will probably do from work) - we also had a very nice paddle, originally that wasn't part of the plan but a friend needed a ride, and she wanted to paddle, and with this being TQ's first time at the lake, and my first visit in a very long time, we decided that was a good idea.

I tried a self-rescue in my new hybrid lifejacket - uninflated, there was clearly less flotation but it did hold my head completely clear of the water. I was still able lift to the bow of my boat high enough to mostly empty it - that was nice to know, that's a manuever that I was afraid the lack of flotation was going to make harder.

No inflation test yet, I'll do that sometime when we don't need to be all dried off & ready to learn at 1 pm. Oh, I do plan to ask someone to videotape that - could be entertaining!

This made for a very long day cooped up inside for the dogs, and they were very very good, and TQ hadn't been able to exercise them as much as he usually does during the week. Today being a glorious day, we decided to treat them to a good hike - and the Palisades were a treat for all of us. Gorgeous day, as you'll see if you watch the (mercifully and unusually) short slidehow!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

One Heckuvah Swim, Camping in Brooklyn and -- A Sunfish For My Dad?

Links 1 through 3 - Wet Feat!:

If you are on Facebook, you already may have seen some of my raves about a truly amazing athletic feat that was accomplished on Wednesday. A swimmer by the name of Liz Fry swam from Manhattan to Sandy Hook, NJ and then BACK TO MANHATTAN. Holy cow. There's a short article with details here, you can see her route here, and Vladimir (whose pictures I've posted here before - this can't have been too different from paddling with that dolphin!) got great shots. BTW, the GPS track is actually a little longer than the swim was 'cause it was on Vlad's boat, and he kept going up to New York Kayak, where he stores his boat).

The fact that somebody swam this absolutely blows me away because I paddled the same route once. It wasn't the longest day paddle I've ever done (that was probably a paddle to the Tappan Zee Bridge, somewhere around 50 miles) but it was by far the most challenging. If you're on Facebook and you missed my description & are curious, I shared my recollections here.


Link 4:

The one thing that would have taken the trip to Sandy Hook that I did from one of the hairier trips I've ever done (TQ likes to say that it's not an adventure until something goes wrong; by that rule, this was an adventure times four or so) to one of the most spectacular trips would have been A CAMPSITE AT SANDY HOOK. My gosh. It was Fall, it was a beautiful day, we got to Sandy Hook late in the afternoon and it would have been nothing short of heavenly if we'd been able to pitch some tents, cook dinner, talk story under the stars, fall asleep to the sound of the waves of the beach and then wake up in the morning & paddle back. As it was, we had about a half-hour to stretch legs & then back in the boats to do again (and this time in the dark). Well...I hope I haven't gotten anyone TOO excited, because NO, there is still not a campground at Sandy Hook, and I don't know anything about it if there are any plans that way.

But there IS going to be a public campsite opening up at Floyd Bennett, which is in the Gateway National Recreation Area. There's been camping there for a long time, but only for organized youth groups; the one exception I know of when adults unencumbered by packs of children for whom they have agreed to be responsible (yikes) are allowed is the annual fishing tournament. Now that I'm thinking about it, I think I may have heard a rumor or two about the new development - but this was the first formal announcement I saw.

I don't know if I'd kayak camp there for the sake of kayak camping there - it's almost too close to the club to bother when we've got places like the Norwalk Islands not too far away - but I'm already thinking about how Sebago could offer a Kayak Camping 101 class. Be a great intro for anybody who's thinking about it & wants to have a nice low-pressure, low-risk trip to figure things out.

And if the Floyd Bennett site goes well, maybe someday they might consider other places in Gateway.

I was going to add another link, but it's getting a bit late and I'm actually feeling sleepy instead of insomniacal. Plus I need to buy a prop for the other link (hee hee hee) and I didn't have time to go buy it tonight because I decided to go up to Macy's to sign up to win my dad a Sunfish! Behold, my father's possible future boat:

And being the good and loving daughter that I am, I will even offer to store the boat at Sebago - out of my own pocket & everything - until such time as he can arrange to come and collect it!

Want to lessen my chances of winning? That's OK, it's actually quite a nifty giveaway, at least if you happen to live near one of the 2 stores where this Macy's/Nautica joint promotion is going on. You don't even have to buy anything - just stop by either Macy's in Herald Square or Macy's in Dadeland, Florida before Father's Day and look for the peppermint sail!

(PS - note to my dad - I'm only half kidding about you coming and getting it...)

Purple Kitteh

Because he came out sort of cute, even though he's a lot simpler than most of my clay critters (I'd found a block of clay with googly eyes in the giveaway bin & was trying to decide what to make - made a couple of preliminary pinches & thought "Hey, that looks like a kitty!") and because the top post for the last day has been a pretty grumpy one & I wanted to lighten up. I have something real & very cool to post about later but I thought I'd just let the purple kitty be here for a little while.

BTW, I was so intent on getting out the message about not buying from the illegal vendors around the WTC, I forgot to say that that is going to be one impressive building - according to the pictures I've seen, it's going to continue to grow until the diagonals converge in a point. And it's already pretty tall - I was in fact amazed at how fast it's going up - I'm not down there that often but I feel like it can't have been more than a few months since I was last through the area!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The New 1 World Trade Center ("Freedom Tower") - and a request.

Freedom Tower

So here was something else I saw for the first time on Saturday evening. Funny that my two firsts were something as old as a classic Movie Palace and something as new as this.

I don't make it down to the World Trade Center site that often, but the PATH train to Jersey City is here, so here I was. I had no idea how much progress they'd made.

As usual, there were a couple of vendors illegally selling stuff right across the street from the site, and I'm going to post a request here that I posted earlier on Facebook - this is not so much for any of the regular visitors here as for anyone who might somehow stumble across this searching for "visit World Trade Center", "visit WTC", or even "visit Ground Zero NYC" (no one I know calls it that, though, we all call it the World Trade Center) -

If you ever visit NY, and you go to see the WTC site, and you are standing across the street from where the towers used to stand, and somebody walks up to you and tries to sell you a souvenir, please don't buy from that person. There is a rule against selling in the immediate area that was put in place after an absolute flock of vultures descended for the selling feast as soon as the area was reopened. after 9/11. Most vendors respect the rules - if you need a trinket or a book, please walk a couple of blocks away and patronize one of their stands or shops.

Don't know if this will do any good, but maybe I'm just venting. Every time I see somebody haggling for a souvenir book right there where it all happened, it just rankles, I always want to say something and I never do.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Farewell, My L'Ocean

You were a great, great lifejacket. I'll miss you, but when a lifejacket's usable life is over, it's over.

I can't just let you go without some sort of tribute here, though - you were one fine piece of gear. Best design, highest quality.

You were my oldest piece of gear, the last survivor from my very first trip to buy stuff from Randy, the owner of New York Kayak. It was my first year of kayaking, I loved the sport, I had found myself a couple of excellent coaches at Manhattan Kayak Company, and I'd come to the conclusion that I was going to be doing this for a while. I wasn't ready for a boat, for a lot of reasons; like most neophyte paddlers - at least in NYC - my first big purchase consisted of a carbon-fiber paddle (MKC had decent paddles for customers, Werners, but eventually somebody would let you try a carbon-fiber paddle & that would get an itch going) and a lifejacket (a better-fitting, more comfortable one than the ones MKC had for customers).

The paddle was an Epic - lasted a few seasons before it broke (OK, before I broke it - it didn't just break, I stepped on it), but the Werner Camano I have now is my second main paddle. I've been through two main boats, three sprayskirts, two wetsuits, four drysuits (including one warranty replacement), and an uncountable number of booties, nose clips, hoods and other sundry accessories.

But the Lotus L'Ocean that I bought from Randy that day in 1998, bright-yellow, shiny and new from the North Carolina factory floor - that's the only lifejacket I've ever owned.

Randy took the time to make sure that he was selling me a lifejacket that fit me well. I suspect that people who complain about their lifejackets being uncomfortable didn't go to a good outfitter to buy, just grabbed the first one that caught their eye. Lifejacket fit is more like shoe fit than t-shirt fit - you could grab a t-shirt off a shelf, look at the tag & more or less know that it's going to fit, but would you be terribly surprised if you bought a pair of shoes that way & found out they were uncomfortable? I wouldn't. I tried on a whole bunch, and the L'Ocean extra-small was IT (that I needed an extra-small was a bit of a surprise to both me and Randy, because I am not a particularly petite person, but he brought it down because the next size up was close-but-not-quite, and sure enough, extra-small was JUST RIGHT).

And it kept me safe (and completely comfy) for many, many, many miles.

No other piece of gear that I own gets used on every single paddle. I switch boats between the Romany, the surfski, and whatever boat I rent or borrow when I'm paddling somewhere else. I switch paddles - sometimes it's the Werner, sometimes it's Greenland, and if I'm on the surfski, the wing is the paddle of choice. But wherever I am, whatever I'm doing, the L'Ocean almost always came along.

New York. Connecticut. New Jersey. Massachusetts. Florida. North Carolina. California. Hawaii. Canada (Georgian Bay)...everywhere I've gone, the L'Ocean came along.

I've known the end was coming for a while. Lifejackets - especially a lifejacket that's used as heavily as mine - only have a certain number of years in them. I kept an eye on the seams and the buckles. The bright yellow has faded and gotten splotchy-looking. The embroidered mandala that was the Lotus trademark has worn away to a ghost of the original bright-green design. I stitched up a few minor tears and mouse-chews, I washed it, I swam in it on a regular enough basis that I knew the flotation was still good and floaty, it was always stored inside when not in use, and in March, it actually passed Coast Guard Auxiliary inspection.

But the Memorial Day trip that TQ and I took proved to be the end of the line. It was a long paddle, we were moving fast, and when we got back to the club at the end of the day and I went to wash it, I found myself staring at my poor old lifejacket's innards - not the seams, but 2 matching wear-throughs, one under each arm.

I had one moment of wishful thinking. "Maybe I could get some wide seam tape, and patch it" - but I knew the thought for wishful thinking as I thought it. Further inspection quickly confirmed that this was, indeed the end - there were several other areas where the fabric was clearly wearing too thin to trust, the worst being right along the neckline (where the floatation would just float right out the minute the fabric gave way).

So long, L'Ocean. I wish I could've gotten another L'Ocean as a replacement, but Lotus is long gone - purchased and then run into the ground and shut down by Patagonia. BOO.

Went to Randy on Friday & we had another good thorough fitting session. I think he got down five different vests. By the 3rd one or so, we had something that would work. 5th was the charm, though. Not quite as perfect as the old one, but pretty darned good, pretty darned good indeed.

End result:

Hello, Sea-02.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Loew's Journal Square


Loew's Journal Square, a set on Flickr.

OK, I have a real post lined up, one about the end of a much-loved piece of gear (sniff!)...but there's stuff I need to do, so in the meantime - check out the Movie PALACE! Unbelievable. A friend at work told me about the showing of The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad that they were having. Journal Square is a long way to go to see a movie (especially when my own voyage started at Sebago - I traded in Cold Spring for helping out with the Open Paddle, which ended up being lovely), but seeing a stop-motion classic in a Grand Movie Palace with a Pipe Organ That Rises From the Stage And Rotates Magestically sounded like it would be worth the trek.

I was on the fence for a day about Cold Spring, but poor Beth, our trip-leader coordinator for the Open Paddles, was having a terrible time lining up leaders. That made for a nice tiebreaker, and I was SO glad I went to see Sinbad - I knew that moviegoing used to be a much grander experience in the earlier days of the industry but oh my gosh, I never imagined anything quite like this!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Here Comes The Rain!

Here Comes The Rain

Posted yesterday morning on Facebook:

"Dear Rain: Please come down! The garden misses you."

Looks like the rain was listening. And how. Well, I shouldn't be surprised - Dan Kim has an in with the Weather Goddess & said he'd pass along my plea.

Looks like the result is indeed going to be a gullywasher. In fact, Dan had mentioned that exact term.

Pat Byrnes had made me chuckle by asking where the gullies of Manhattan were.

I said Manhattan was more canyon than gully, so maybe the appropriate term for a Manhattan deluge was "canyonwasher".

As far as I know, we don't really have a good local colloquialism for a fast, heavy rainstorm, which is weird, since lord knows we have some good ones here. Toad-strangler & gullywasher both have something of a rural flavor to them. Raining cats & dogs is kind of generic.

I have a couple of ideas that might be good.

We could call a serious NYC downpour a "subwaystopper" - because when too much water gets into the subway system too fast, everything grinds to a halt.

Or maybe we could call it an "outfaller".

Area kayakers, dinghy sailors and open-water swimmers will know exactly what I mean.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


but soooo much more interesting than the politician I bet you thought this post was going to be about.

Ha ha ha!

I picked up a copy of the Times for the morning subway ride, and they had the best article about jellyfish. Absolutely fascinating. Did you know that they eddy out to stay where they want to stay? That some of them have crystal-weighted eyes? That if you run into a man wearing pantyhose in Australia, he might not be a cross-dresser, he might just be going to the beach? Fascinating stuff.

I'll definitely have to remember the pantyhose thing for the next time I'm giving a talk about hazardous marine life. Faaaabulous trivia!

Monday, June 06, 2011

ACA Quick Start in the Brooklyn Bridge Park, 6/4/2011

The Brooklyn Bridge Boathouse ran an ACA Quick Start class for boathouse volunteers on Saturday. They were looking for help & I'm glad I volunteered - what a spectacular spot, and what a nice bunch of people to spend the day with.

More later, I hope. I feel like I've had a bit of blogger's block of late -- almost have had too much going on, should've had a dozen good posts out of the ICE/IDW, season opener, NYS Safe Boating certification class, and preparations for the Sebago season - but noooo, I get home from all of those, sit down in front of the computer, try to thing of something to write & end up going "humannahummanahummana". When do I finally find myself feeling like I might be able to write something that is at least coherent? Oh, usually an hour or so into a work day the following week, when I can't. Anybody else get that? :D

Anyways, for now, I just couldn't resist tossing up this slideshow of one of the more spectacular venues in which I have ever had the pleasure of teaching.

Public kayaking at the Brooklyn Bridge Boathouse begins next weekend (June 11). For more information, visit their website,

Thursday, June 02, 2011