Aug 16, 2007

Another day on Jamaica Bay

Just before the open paddle, I went out on a surf ski. Moving on surf ski is different from kayaking. It makes me focus on forward strokes and I feel every bump and wave.

Today is another day like others. Two people on a water scooter tried to gun me and came within eight feet or so from behind. I was crossing the Mill Basin channel and tend to look both ways for boats. There are quite a few water scooters hanging out. I made it almost to the other side short of a hundred yards or so. They came from the bridge and instead of going straight, they went diagonally towards the metal wall. They saw me and tried to be funny. There was nothing funny about what they did. There were at least four scooters and they seem to know each other. Two people on the scooter were wearing red PFDs. I abhor scooters for their lack of common sense or protocol.

During the open paddle. as we were passing the beach to the marsh, the NY Police boat rushed to the green buoy full speed and then made almost U turn and started using a loud speaker. There we sat and straining to listen what they were saying. They were saying we should not get on the horse beach. What an odd experience?

The paddle went fine except until we were back in the basin. I surged ahead and logging some sweet forward strokes. A boat was passing but he was lagging behind me. I slowed to Phil's request to let the boat go. Crossing the water behind the boat to the right of the basin, there was a large fresh oil slick. It did not smell but it covered a large area. It could have been engine oil. I think he slowed to release oil before going into his marina. I went over and tried to speak to him about his spill. He did not respond and I remembered his plate.

It seems more motor boats are on the water. There must be rush hours on the bay and I like to find about them.


bonnie said...

If jetskis harassing paddlers continues to be an issue, I would suggest the same approach we took on the Hudson -

We started by telling the harbor police about the problem. They asked that we do the following: Carry radios.
Report the incidents when they happen.
Get the ID numbers of the jetskis if you can & include that in your report.

Now in the case of Jamaica Bay, they are breaking the law just by being there. Might be good to notify the Gateway Rec Area park people about it? Is there a Phil or John or Stevie or um Elizabeth reading that might have a more informed opinion than me (conditional member, less than a year, what do I know!)?

The horse beach thing is a little more complicated - I can totally understand the stable not wanting kayaks to land on that beach, horses spook easily at strange things, they've got riders of all levels out there & they are concerned about those riders' safety & the safety of the horses, too.

But they don't own the beach & the harbor police warning you off like it was the security zone around the Statue of Liberty - that's not right.

Did Phil have anything to say about it?

Hopefully it was just an isolated incident involving a patrol who'd misinterpreted something they'd heard. I had some harbor cops pull me over one time when I was heading back to the barge at the end of an evening paddle, they asked me if I was planning to be out much longer & when I said no, they said "Good, because it's against the rules for kayaks to be on the water after dark".

I asked if that was a new Coast Guard reg, they said yes. I didn't argue the point but I contacted the Coast Guard about it the next day & they said no, the rules were the same as they'd always been, kayaks could be out whenever they wanted to as long as they had the required gear for the hours & conditions.

I figure the guys on the boat that pulled me over had probably read section J of the NYC Parks canoe & kayak launch regs, which reads "No person launching a boat from a kayak and/or canoe launch may begin a boating trip before sunrise or complete a boating trip after sunset. The launch sites will be open from April 1 to December 1". If it had happened again, I would have been concerned that the harbor police were somehow giving that precedence over the less restrictive Coast Guard regs & begun trying to talk to people - but it was just the one incident.

pcastagner said...

it's not a horse beach - period. If a horse can't handle seeing the occasional kayaker - and most can - don't ride the horse on the beach! I land there all the time. Even if it were their beach, they can't keep us out the intertidal zone.

anyway folks, if you don't look straight at the horse but show it your back instead it probably won't freak out.

pcastagner said...

while i'm at it... how about we get the horse people to teach us how not to spook the horses? I land there all the time, and the riders always wave to me. My experiences with those people have all been positive, whether it is a group of horses or a single rider. Perhaps fishing has given me an inflated sense of "inter-tidal rights", but really those who are navigating the waterways, fishing, or hunting should have first rights to the beach.

Chalu said...

I went to that horse stable posing as a wannabe horse rider. Well, I have ridden horse in the past out in the West. There was this sly stable hand, the late 40's guy. He was telling me the beach is protected as a bird sanctury and he chases kayaks away. It is pure turf game in his mind. I did in fact encourage him speak more on these kayak points as he thought I would take a horse on my own and with him as a guide. He made it sound like the bird santuary was from the bridge to the bridge. That is a large swath of land, even beyond that beach. All I can say is that I despised this stable from this encounter in April during my bike ride.

bonnie said...

Hi Chalu -

Why not send an email to the parks department asking for clarification about the official parks policy for landing human-powered vessels on the beach between the Paerdegat & Mill Basin? Then we all know exactly what the rules are & can quote them with confidence if someone hassles us.

I actually do want to go riding there someday - it looks wonderful & I'm totally willing to overlook one yahoo employee.

Chalu said...

Which email do I use?

bonnie said...

Sorry, been busy at work & de-dsl'd at home.

I don't have a specific email but you could try this.