Ribbon-Cutting of the New York City Watertrail, Thursday, March 27, 2008, Valentino Pier, Red Hook, Brooklyn
Sebago contingent arrived first of the paddlers. Jerry & Stevie stowing gear.
Stevie & John bring a Gowanus Dredgers canoe down to the water. This ended up being the boat in which Adrian Benepe, NYC Commissioner of Parks, went for a quick spin with the rest of the paddlers once the ribbon was cut.
Jerry gets interviewed by "It's My Park!"
Meanwhile, Jerry, Stevie, Minh & I arrange the boats as the gentleman in the blue shirt directs us.
Laurie, another Sebagoite, arrives. Have boat, will paddle!
The Staten Island contingent arrives...
And they are welcomed by the enthusiastic "It's My Park!" team & the Queens Commissioner of Parks, Dorothy Lewandowski (who's an avid paddler herself & really spearheaded the effort to create the Watertrail).
Adrian Benepe welcoming us.
Dorothy Lewandowski was next - she thanked all the people who made it possible, individually as much as possible - this was a really good effort by a whole lot of local individuals & organizations.
Bad picture, GOOD crowd. Despite a discouraging weather forecast, the turnout was really nice. I know I wasn't the only one who took a day off from work, either!
Marcus Demuth has got some big plans this year - 1. Circumnavigate Iceland 2. Compete in the "elite" category for the Mayor's Cup Race (full circumnavigation of Manhattan). That means surfski or marathon racing kayak. This is his new boat, and he paddled it down to Red Hook from Chelsea. I'm impressed - my poor surfski never gets wet in the wintertime.
Oh, jeeze, would you look at that. How shocking. You'd think they could have found some COMPETENT kayakers for this shindig - but no, they get this inept crew who just can't seem to keep our boats rightside up!... ... ... Ha, ha, did I fool you? That's Jerry, I think, doing a little rolling - those who were able to showing off some mad kayak skilz was always part of the plan. That water's still pretty frosty, but we had fun!
Ceremony's done, but the pre-shindig consensus had been that as long as we were going to be in kayaks, in full winter gear, at Valentino Pier in Red Hook, we might as well PADDLE! Yeah! Been a while since I've been here...and I have a question...
What the heck IS that thing? Cirque du Soleil's fallback plan if they don't get Pier 40? Oh, and I had to laugh afterwards at one thing that says I may have been boating in NY long enough that I might be said to have become blase...I was so focused on the mysterious thing I actually didn't notice that the Statue of Liberty was in the picture.
The section of Brooklyn waterfront we paddled today has been undergoing some interesting developments - it's still an active port, but it's also the area where the Brooklyn Bridge Park is located, and there's a lot of development/gentrification in the area. I hope that the new residents and the old can find a balance - obviously, I like waterfront parks, especially the ones with boat launches, but I think it would be quite sad if the Brooklyn waterfront lost these last working cargo docks.
Northbound on the Buttermilk Channel, Governor's Island in the background. Not a brilliant picture but taken about 30 seconds before Stevie spotted the first seal I've ever seen anywhere in New York Harbor. Unfortunately the camera was already off & in the PFD and as I fumbled for it, the seal decided I was stalking it (my fault, and I know better) and left. Fortunately it was not really spooked and was back on the beach by the time we returned - that time we kept at a distance & it didn't leave. There've been more & more harbor seals spotted in the upper harbor - it was great to see one with my own eyes, for a change!
A little more industrial character.
Quickly approaching the Brooklyn Bridge. Nice flood, we're flying. We set out with no real plan but I made a joke about how the currents were actually just about perfect for paddling up to the Brooklyn Bridge Park & going for pizza at Grimaldi's - well, we didn't make it to Grimaldi's, but everybody liked the idea of a lunch paddle, so the joke became The Plan!
Brooklyn Bridge Park! Unfortunately this is NOT part of the NYC watertrail - I'm not even positive whether this is somewhere we're allowed to land these days or not, Brooklyn Bridge Park is a sort of strange situation, and if we'd planned to do this we would've checked the regs in advanced - but it was a total spur of the moment thing, nobody chased us away & we didn't come back after our pizza lunch (not Grimaldi's, but very good) to find tickets under our deck bungees.