Friday, September 30, 2011

Preparing for Ederle, and "watching" the event

Well, this was pretty funny...the night before a long paddle, I like to have a simple yet hearty dinner. It's not usually all purple, though! :D

Pure coincidence - I had some beets from the garden, I had some purple potatoes from a farm stand in Long Island, and when the butcher shop didn't have the leg of lamb I went there planning to buy, I got a nice eye of round which I marinated in red wine and garlic. The results were quite tasty, but it is one of the weirdest-looking dinners I've ever fixed myself!

Anyways - off to bed now, got an early early start, meeting Princess Polar Bear Capri and her team at the Hudson River Yacht Club at 5 am. She'll be starting her epic swim at 7 am, and if you'd like to follow along and see how we're doing, click here to go to the event page and look for "GPS tracking" in the upper right hand corner.

Wish us well!

11:15 update...oops. Best laid plans, etc etc. Small craft advisory means Ederle swim postponed until Sunday. I'm turning off my alarm & going back to bed!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

And for my next epic paddle...

Ederle swim by bkfrogma

Ederle swim, a photo by bkfrogma on Flickr.

Just signed up for Epic Weekend Paddle Part 3 (or maybe 4). Part 1: Mt. Sinai Harbor to Red Hook with the 5 Years Around Long Island crew, 2 weeks ago. Part 2: ACA Level 4 Tidal Current & Surf Zone, teaching with TQ at Democrat Point, last weekend.

Part 3: I have just signed on as an Ederle swim support kayaker, accompanying Capri Djatiasmoro, the Queen of the Polar Bears herself, from Sandy Hook, NJ to North Cove, Manhattan. Chart above, btw, is just to give the general idea of the route - I rather expect we won't just go waltzing up the middle of things as shown here!

I said "maybe 4" thinking of my Sept. 11th paddle. That one was nothing particularly epic in and of itself (15 miles, 6 hours, pretty average) but being out there by myself watching the sunrise on the bay that morning was pretty special.

One thing I'm looking forward to about THIS Sandy Hook to Manhattan paddle is that it's likely to be a lot less epic than the LAST one I did. Motorboat ride one way, and harbor patrol and coasties/coastie aux keeping watch over the whole endeavour? Faaaantastic! Not that anything went horribly wrong on that first one (except for a friend losing a nice paddle), it was just a little too much in the dark in places where the big boats go, and a little too much against the current, and it just made for an awfully long day paddle.

If we could just have camped out on Sandy Hook, it would've been nothing short of a little slice of heaven.

This weekend should be fun. I was a little worried about boat transportation (official check-in is actually at the finish line at North Cove, and then everybody who's meeting there jumps into the motorboats, and getting my Romany from Sebago to North Cove and then back was going to be a considerable hassle involving at least 1, and possibly 2 extra trips to the club if it had to be done with cars), but Capri's support motorboat is apparently a fellow Paerdegat resident, so if all works out & the skipper's OK with it, I should just be able to go to the club early in the morning, load up my boat, jump in, paddle the 50 yards or whatever it is across the basin to the Hudson River Yacht Club to meet him and his crew - then it's a nice boat ride to the start, and then another boat ride from the finish back to the Paerdegat. Woohoo!

Friday, September 23, 2011

And a little more about last weekend...

The Control Geek has posted a wonderfully concise trip report.

He says at the end that he's sure I'll have something soon - well, next week, TQ & I have a Level 4 weekend to get through. In the meantime, though, I can at least send you to the usual big flickn' mess o' pix.

Highly photogenic leg, this one was.


(frogma kayak smiley, patent pending)

A Little Something About Last Weekend.

Image courtesy of - thank you!

Between Leg 5 of the 5 Years Around Long Island expedition being last weekend, my very first Level 4 Coastal Kayaking course being this weekend, and a recurring biannual crazy period at work, I have been Very very swamped right now, but I figured I'd at least drop by and say "Aloha".

Year 5 was quite good - the usual group dynamic issues cropped up on Day 1, when we did a crossing that ended up being a lot longer than some of the group was actually able to sit in their boats without being in pain (one short stretch break would've helped tremendously), but the next 2 days were positively sublime, conditions were perfect, food was great and...oh, there was a VERY special treat here at the end.

Lifting this from my Facebook page btw - too tired to actually write.


I never realized it but our Paddling Chef's dad, the very kind gentleman who hosted us and all our stinky gear this weekend, is a racing sailor of very high repute. He and his brother won the Snipe International Championship in 1942. Their boat was named W.P.A. - We Pass All.

He continues to race succesfully in the Manhasset Bay One Design fleet, and through his good graces, we had permission to launch and land on the grounds on one of the magnificent estates on Sands Point - fictionalized as "West Egg" in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. What a treat for a longtime Fitzgerald fan to stand on a sweeping lawn, looking over at the docks across the bay, and imagining that green light shining at the end of one of them.

Curiousity about our gracious host's racing career thoroughly piqued, I came home after the trip, googled him, and immediately came up with Jackrabbit's page, where, with the webmaster's permission, I got the photo shown above.

And don't miss the link at the end to his article in the June 1967 issue of One Design & Offshore Yachtsman.

Good stuff.

Friday, September 16, 2011

9/11/11 solo sunrise paddle

Not so funnyDawn in the PaerdegatDawn on Jamaica BayHere comes the sunsunrise on J-bay 2sunrise on j-bay 3
Drifting into the Ruffle Bar marshMarsh grass, light current1 day before full moon - tide high enough the marsh is breaking out at the beachDoesn't that abandoned jet ski just make the scene? :-(Heading into Mill Basin - some sort of aquaculture going on here.Entering Four Sparrows Marsh
Osprey circling over Four SparrowsOsprey circling over me!More hulks here. Old hulks...New hulks (thank you Mr. NY 5916 EM for leaving your lovely "Mariner's Star" here...blech!103Leaving Four Sparrows
It's A Sign!More signs

9/11/11 solo sunrise paddle, a set on Flickr.

A much more peaceful 9/11, ten years later.

15 miles, 6 hours, some moving along, some drifting in marshes, and plenty of time for quiet reflection.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"Boatlift" and The Maritime Role In 9/11 Exhibit - GOOD TALK WEDNESDAY 9/14

So, one more serious 9/11 post. This video has been going around on Facebook and I thought I would share it here. I was actually involve in the boatlift (which I've seen referred to as the "American Dunkirk") myself, ended up at Pier 63 (where the Amberjack V was running along with a couple of other party boats) after fleeing the WTC by subway (I was lucky enough to get on what had to have been the last train through moments after the 2nd plane hit) and spent the afternoon helping out. I was still somewhat in shock myself, and it was SO good to have something simple yet concretely useful to do with myself during those hours immediately after the attack. The video focuses on downtown, but pretty much anywhere there was a pier that could accomodate any boat that could take passengers, there were boats taking people across.

Now, if that's of interest to you, and you live in the Tri-State area, you might want to think about going to take in the exhibit that's now on view on the historic steamship Lilac. Produced by PortSide NewYork, this is:

"a multi-media exhibit (photography, videos and oral history) and presentation about the extraordinary and little-known maritime role in 9/11, from evacuation to rubble removal". The boatlift is quite well-known; I'll be very interested in seeing the information about what went on in the following months, too.

HIGHLIGHT of the exhibit: tomorrow night, Wednesday, 9/14, Carolina Salguero, current director of PortSide NewYork and a photojournalist who documented 9/11, and Jessica DuLong, journalist and Chief Engineer or retired fireboat John J. Harvey, will be giving a talk. Click here for full details.

Should be fascinating.

And btw, if you want to know a little more about what I did with myself that day, here's my story, as written for my family that evening, from the shelter of the apartment of some friends who took me in for the night. Same thing I link to every year, just hadn't done it yet this year.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dawn, 9/11/2011

Dawn, 9/11/2011 by bkfrogma
Dawn, 9/11/2011, a photo by bkfrogma on Flickr.

This is what I did for myself today before the annual meeting - a solo paddle to meet the sunrise. Unfortunately it was marred by beginning and ended with rudeness from a couple of individuals at the club just to the north of us, but the paddle was lovely. Been a long time since I paddled solo and I have never watched the dawn on the water on my own.

The day turned dreary later, but 6 a.m. on Jamaica Bay was magnificent.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Peace on 9/11

I will be offline most of the day on 9/11 - finally figured out something to do for myself that I can fit in before the Sebago annual meeting. Yes, it might involve a boat. Hope others who are having a hard time this year are also able to find something good to do. Peace to all.

Friday, September 09, 2011

WTC & Brooklyn Bridge, East River (and a thought about bravery)

This is actually related to the prior posts in an odd way. Remember how I said it had been a long, long time since I'd been on a Circle Line? Well, I'd taken this photo on that very trip. I can't remember if this was when we were in town for my cousin's wedding (the fateful event during which I got my first job in NYC), or when my family first visited me after my dad retired & they were on their way back to Hawaii and having a nice leisurely trip across the country visiting everybody they could think of on the way. Whichever it was, we did the "half-circle", because that gets the highlights. This was one of those.

Got to do the full circle many times, under my own steam. Boy, I should look and see if there are any fall dates that I could run one for the club. Been ages.

Note a bit later: I just wanted to share something I posted on my Facebook wall - because I've just been so sad here in the leadup and it felt good to add a little "proud" to that. There's been this thing going around about the NYPD and NYFD not being invited to the ceremony this year. I'm feeling a little too overwhelmed by all the...stuff...this year to take sides, but I just had to address a phrase about them running in while "everybody else was running out". It wasn't quite that simple. We were actually better than that that day.

People were leaving, but one of the magnificent things about that terrible day was that there were THOUSANDS of individual acts of courage, small and large, performed by people from every walk of life. We will never know the true measure of the collective bravery that happened that day.

We were all leaving, yes. But we were slowing down, stopping, even sometimes going back to help others where we saw things that we could do.

That's truly worth remembering, too.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

We Interrupt The Carnage for A NEWS FLASH

Good news today - the South Street Seaport Museum is under new management. Thanks to the Old Salt for the initial heads-up. Glad to see it!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


Alright, I'm starting late, I'll come back to the tugboats tomorrow - but I just can't WAIT to give you the promised carnage!

Yes, it's the event that Tugster had promised to...

"spare you out of concerns for propriety and delicate palates."

A kind, gentle, and considerate man, that Tugster.

But alas, there are others in the blogosphere who lack...

The respect that Tugster has for others' potential squeamishness. And speaking of squeamish, check out the expression on li'l sister's face...

So brace yourself, 'cause here it comes...

Popeye Spinach Eating Contest...

...or would that be "vegenage"?

btw...guess who won?


Oh...disappointed not to find any bow-to-bow pushing contest pictures here today? Well, head on over to Tugster for some excellent photos of that and also the line throwing competition, which we really couldn't see at all from the spectator boat. I was OK with the tradeoff of getting to run alongside the race, but I also really enjoyed seeing Tugster's shots of the things we couldn't see so well, and I think you will too!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Off To The Races!

Pier 83! 8:45 am, Monday, Sept. 5th.

Our chariot awaits! Boy, it has been a LOOOONG time since I was on a Circle Line boat.

9:00 am. All aboard!

It was fun listening to the banter among the crew - they sounded like they were almost as psyched about getting to work the tugboat race cruise as we were to be passengers on their boat. Some of the deckhands on the other boats who were just getting ready to go do their six-gazillionth trip around Manhattan sounded a little wistful when our crew told them where we were off to!

Northbound on North River. The contestants have just begun their post parade from the Intrepid in the background. The bargelike boat with a derrick on it is the Army Corp of Engineers harbor cleanup vessel Driftmaster - for a little while we were speculating on whether they'd decided to go head-to-head with the tugs in the race, but it turned out that they were there to mark the finish. A sailboat wanders onto what will, in twenty minutes or so, be the last place in the area that a small craft would want to be.

Fortunately for them, there were plenty of volunteers from the local Coast Guard Auxiliary on duty, watching to make sure no unwary passers-by got trapped in the coming stampede. Here comes one of the CGAux vessels to let the sailors know.

Circle Line Manhattan has now pulled in closer to the parade. Here are four of the nine contenders passing Riverside South (aka "Trump Place"). The starting line was just at the north end of this development, around 70th street.

Arriving at the starting line, the racers begin to turn back to the south. I think the northbound post parade took about half an hour. The southbound run back to Pier 84 (at West 44th Street) will go a LOT faster!

Lining up.

The committee boat stands by to start the race. Hooray for the committee boat!

On your mark...get set...five, four, three, two, one...

And with a great and gleeful blowing of horns (in which our Circle Line captain gleefully joins), THEY'RE OFF!

Takes these big guys a little time to get up to speed...

but gradually the white foam piles higher and higher, and the field begins to spread.

By around 60th street, the tugs have gotten up a good head of steam - look at the foam flying around those broad bows now as the three biggest tugs pull away. That's K-Sea's Ross Sea with the tall pilothouse in front, with McAllister's Maurinia III just nosing into second and Vane Brothers' Quantico Creek just behind. If I've read their specs correctly, that's a stampede of around 10,000 horses going on if you combine the three of them. MIGHTY impressive to watch them getting to cut loose and go like this!

By the way, Tugster Will explained to us later that the race is handicapped so that the Growler, the US Merchant Marine Academy's handsome vintage 65-foot ex-USCG yard tug, has got just as good a shot at winning as these big modern tugs - 1st, 2nd and 3rd on the course doesn't really mean anything, it's just all about pushing your boat as fast as it can go without going beyond that (there was at least one tug that pushed it too hard in a past race and had to be towed home themselves).

Fireboat Three Forty Three (named after the number of firefighters lost on September 11, 2001) begins a water display at the finish line.

The leaders now passing the blocks in the mid-50's - the smaller tugs charging hard past the sanitation piers at 58th and 59th street.

Leaders pass the cruise ship terminals. I wonder if the captain and crew on the tug with the fuel barge are wishing they could've joined in, or if they're just enjoying getting a show with their good day's work?

Nearing the finish line - here's a nicer shot of Three Forty Three. It was a nice morning, but a bit hazy, as I'm sure you noticed.

Frontrunners approach the finish line --

and then they disappear behind the sheets of spray.

Here comes the rest of the fleet!

And here come the big tugs working their way back north. The pier with all the garage doors that's between the northbound pair and the southbound one (Pegasus, I think - not the 1907 one I have on my sidebar and am so fond of, but another nice old tug that shares the name) is at 34th street - took the big guys somewhere close to ten blocks to stop! This is why smart recreational boaters don't mess around with crossing in front of these's not that they want to run us over, it's just that there's these laws of physics.

Hey, it's the Old Salt again!

The fleet reconvenes at Pier 84 after another great, great, Great North River Tugboat Race. I still don't know who, but I think Tugster's got it right when he says,

"my bias says everyone who participated or spectated–even before hurrying to baseball, tennis, picnicking, or what have you– won."

Oh...yeah...and that WAS a video camera the Old Salt was wielding in both of today's posts. So now that you've gone all the way through my writeup with pictures -

Yes! NOW you may go watch the video!



Next Up: Pushy, Pushy! and, The Scenes of Carnage Which The Tugster Was Kind Enough To Spare You But I, Alas, Am Not! MUAHAHAHAAAAA!

Thanks again to everyone Working Harbor Committee for making this race happen. What a wonderful way to celebrate Labor Day in New York City!