Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Paddling the East River

Vicki paddling into the sunsett and under the bridge
I have lived in New York City for three years and since moving here have kayaked in Jamaica Bay and in the Great South Bay of Long Island. I have kayaked and sailed in the Hudson River. It was not until this past Saturday, however, that I paddled in the East River.

Thanks to an invitation from the Long Island City Community Boat House (LICCB), several members of the Sebago Canoe Club were treated to a late afternoon-early evening paddle on the East River. Most of us paddled tandem sit-on-tops. My wife and have been paddling our own sit-on-tops for over nine years but this trip was the first time we have ever paddled together in a tandem, an Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL. Our paddling seemed well coordinated and our marriage survived.
We put in around 4:45 PM at the LICCB floating dock across the river from the United Nations. Paddling south with the ebb tide, we passed under the Williamsburg Bridge and Manhattan Bridge until we beached near the Brooklyn Bridge, where a wedding was in progress in the public park. We treated wedding guests to the sight of over a two dozen kayakers beaching their boats on the rocks not far from the ceremony, but neither the Bride or Groom, or any of the wedding party and guests, seemed phased.
After beaching, we spread out during a break while waiting for the flood tide. While waiting, my wife and I joined a few other Sebago paddlers to explore a nearby bookstore and pizzeria.
The flood tide started flowing at about the same time the sun appeared to set below the Manhattan skyline. With deck lights now adoring our kayaks, as New York State boating regulations require, we paddled with the flood tide up the east River, from whence we came. Near the end of our paddle, some of us let out an Allan Ginsbergesque howl, as the nearly full but now waxing moon appeared above the Eastern cityscape.
Back at the Boat House, with kayaks and gear stowed, we retired three flights up to the roof top for refreshments and a mixer between the two clubs, all under the rising moon and with the vibrant lights of upper Manhattan clearly in view across the river to the west. Cheese, crackers, chips, dips, beer and wine were in abundance.
One of the things I appreciated most about this trip was the generosity and hospitality of the LICCB, which allowed my wife and me to pack light and take the subway to the trip. We did not take, as we usually do, our own PFDs and paddles with us. Nor did we have to drive to the Sebago Club House, load boats on our car, drive to the destination, only to drive back to Sebago after the trip, unload, rinse boats and gear, and then drive back home.
According to my GPS, our trip covered about 9.5 miles, but I think a mile of that included our walking around where we beached, so the actual distance we paddled on the East River was probably closer to 8.5 miles. Here is a link to my picasa site where I posted a few photos from the trip. Tina Lee also shot some pics and here is a link to her picasa site.

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