Dec 14, 2009

Matinicus Peapod Update

I have put in a good deal of work on the peapod lately, and now have one plank to go! The complete post is on my own blog here.

Also, another boat-builder, Steven Clancy from Bellingham Washington, sent me some photos of the same boat that he built nearly 20 years ago. Here is a fine example of the double-ender in her home waters of the Pacific Northwest.

Dec 4, 2009

Sebago Member Marcus Demuth Presents Tierra Del Fuego Expedition Plans

Sebago Canoe Club member Marcus Demuth and his paddling companion Biff Wruszek recently talked about their upcoming Kayaking Expedition to Tierra Del Fuego. Read more about their presentation, with links to photographs from the evening and to other sites related to the event and the expedition, at Summit to Shore.

Marcus Demuth Expedition site:

Nov 23, 2009

Blue Fin anyone?

Published: November 22, 2009

Here is a story of a kayaker who likes risks. Catching Blue Fin Tuna in a kayak and dragging it back to port... Only thing crazier than would be to catch Mako Shark that follows Blue Fin...

Here is the story.

Sewers at Capacity

Here is a good New York Times article about storm water pollutions around the country. We had our shares of issues with the storm water facilities and it seems we have less issues as we are aware and take proactive measures.

It is 3 pages long and talks about issues at a Brooklyn facility and Suffolk county. It also mentions RiverKeeper which does a lot of good work. It is worth a read.

Again here is the link.

Nov 21, 2009

Sebago Canoe Club Sponsores Pool Sessions

Sebago Canoe Club's Flushing Meadows Corona Park Aquatic Center Pool Sessions 2010

Sebago Canoe Club is proud to announce the start of their winter kayak instruction program at the Aquatic Center in Flushing Meadows Park ( next to Citifield). Easy walk from the #7 train or free parking is available.

It is open to all, club membership is not required.

The sessions will take place almost every Sunday from 9am to 11am starting January 10, 2010 and will run until the middle of April.


Sebago offers the ONLY program that allows full sized sea kayaks in the pool. Other kayaks will probably be there as well. Our program usually has at least 2 A.C.A certified coaches each week.

The program is for people who have never been in a kayak or are new to kayaking and those who just want to sharpen their skills or learn to roll. Many sessions will have use of the diving area for those experienced kayakers who just want to practice. This is especially good for practicing rescues.

For the beginner: learn how to do a wet exit, learn a self rescue with a paddle float, learn how to edge your boat.

For the intermediate paddler: sharpen your bracing skills, learn how to scull, learn advanced self rescue techniques and begin to master a roll.

For the more advanced: perfect your roll on both sides, practice your balance braces and finally learn to roll without a paddle.

Have more fun and be safe the first time you get back into the water this spring.


Boats, paddles, PFD's and all equipment provided if needed ( see cost below)

Swim caps are required for all participants. If you have one, bring it. If not, one will be provided.

If you bring and share a boat $20.00
Without a boat $25.00

Non A.C.A. Members will pay a 1 time insurance fee of $10.00 which will cover your insurance for ALL sessions.

We'll be washing the boats out thoroughly before they get in the pool. A
hose will be provided.

For those meeting at the Sebago Canoe Club to load boats and car pool,
we will meet at at 7:30 AM. Others meet at the rear of the pool before 8:30AM to help move/prep boats and get ready for our time slot. PLEASE be early, late arrival takes precious time away from others.

Reservations or questions contact Steve McAllister, preferably via email at If email is not an option call 917 496 1523.

Info about the pool:

Some of Bonnie's pix from last year:

Directions. Be aware that we enter from the rear:

Thanks to Dorothy Lewandowski for this opportunity.

Nov 17, 2009

Harper's Magazine December issue - of special interest to fans of the Hudson River

cover courtesy of Harper's

The December '09 issue of Harper's Magazine should be on newsstands any day now, if it isn't already there*. I plan to buy a copy. The editor is one of our clubmates at Sebago. The last time we paddled, he'd mentioned that the December issue included a well-researched and very sobering look at the status of the Hudson River PCB's.

Subscribers can read it online now. For the rest of us, especially those of us who take a very personal interest in the well-being of the Hudson River, it sounds to be worth the cover price.

*update since original posting - the word is, "The official onsale date isn't until next week might be in the newsstand on Bleeker and Broadway".

Nov 10, 2009

Fall Sailing

We had a lovely early November sail recently. The winter ducks have settled in. There are thousands of Brant Geese, and many rafts of the beautiful little Buffleheads. There may still be some good days left! This is a great time of year to be on the Bay.

Holly and Jim aboard Cricket. Photo by Bonnie Aldinger.

Looking east toward the wildlife refuge.

Without a big lens, its hard to get good photos of the birds. Here's a couple of shots of my decoys.

This is a male Bufflehead decoy, from my collection.

A Brant Goose decoy from my collection.

Nov 9, 2009

Cruising the Great South Bay

Avi, John W., Elizabeth, Walter, Beth, Pete, Phil, Tony and I (photo top right) started arriving at the Club House around 8:00 AM Saturday morning. By 9:00 AM nine kayaks were on five cars and leaving Sebago, headed for Heckscher State Park, and perhaps the last cruising trip of the season.

After the fifty mile drive we all pulled into the parking lot at Heckscher State Park, just feet away from the north shore of The Great South Bay, and by 10:45 AM we were on the water (photo second from top). The water temperature was around 48-50. At put in the air temperature was 52 but warmed up to 58 by later in the afternoon. Most of us were wearing dry suits but a few had donned wet suits.

After crossing the Great South Bay we beached on Fire Island, near Sailors Heaven Center, around 12:20 PM. With the picnic area to ourselves we enjoyed a true picnic lunch. After refueling we tied up our kayaks against any rogue waves and followed the boardwalk into the Sunken Forest where we were treated to a close encounter with a five point buck. Passing through the Sunken Forest we emerged on the southern shore of Fire Island and briefly visited the Atlantic Ocean before heading back to our boats.

Putting in from Fire Island around 2 PM we paddled back across the Great South Bay (bottom photo right) from whence we had come. With wind and tide combining to provide one to foot waves for our enjoinment, the water was just a little more rougher for our return trip than it had been earlier in the day. Every once in a while it seemed like waves were over two feet, but those were few and far between.

By 4:00 PM were back on the beach at Heckscher State Park, changing, and loading boats for the return drive. Before we pulled out we were treated to a spectacular sunset over the Great South Bay.

Back at the club we unloaded and stored boats and gear, said our goodbyes, and signed out by 6:45 PM.

I have posted a more embellished report about this Great Day on the Great South Bay on my blog, Summit to Shore, complete with a link to more photographs from the trip.

Oct 13, 2009

Columbus Day Paddle

Why Should Columbus get all the credit?

In 1492
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
517 years to the day
Sebago kayaked Jamaica Bay

Eighteen paddlers, 6.9 miles, 3 ½ hours. Read all about the Columbus Day Paddle at summit to shore. A link to photos from the trip is at the end of the post.

Oct 7, 2009

Early Morning Early October Paddle

Tony, Michael, John W. and John H. enjoyed an early morning paddle Tuesday, Octoober 6, 2009, under almost perfect conditions. Water in Jamaica Bay was around 62. Air temperature at put in was near 60 but warmed to the high 60's by trip's end. There was little wind and the water seemed unusually clear. Paddling east into Spring Creek and Hendricks Creek, they paddled 11.8 miles, averaging 3 mph over the trip. A fuller trip report, with a link to more photos, is available at Summit to Shore.

Sep 30, 2009

New Safety Boat!

The classic Boston Whaler that we recently acquired has new power! We've just installed a new 30 hp Honda 4 stroke on our 13' whaler. All Island Marine, in Oceanside LI did a bang up job with the installation. Here are a couple of pics after the test run on Tuesday. They left the boat hanging in the slings while Holly and I adjusted the trailer bunks.

We will christen the boat on Sunday, after the annual meeting!

Sep 29, 2009

Birthday Paddle

Led by Tony, five early morning paddlers including two Johns and two Michaels, left Sebago Tuesday morning around 8:00 AM, paddled through the wind past the Marine Parkway Bridge, and were back at the dock by 12:15 PM, a 9.2 mile paddle. By the way, it was Tony's birthday! Since he intends to do some sanding of his boat, Micahel prepared birthday party hats made of particle masks (photo right). I have posted a fuller trip report about this early morning paddle, with a link to more photos, on my blog.

Sep 22, 2009

TARPTASTIC! Day 1, 5 Years Around Long Island

If you are ever looking for the right people to take camping in a howling gale -- have I got your crew!

The campsite we stayed at, Hither Hills, has rules about how many tents you can have per campsite. This is a perfectly sensible rule for car camping situations, where people are bringing canvas (ok, nylon, whatever) Taj Mahals along, but when you get a bunch of kayakers, whose tents tend towards the teensy, trying to comply with the rule, things get interesting. So Steve H., our Paddling Chef, brought along a great big old old-school tent, just like the ones I remember my folks renting from MWR (Morale Welfare & Recreation for the non-military) for at least one church retreat at the camp that Aiea United Methodist Church had access to (Camp Erdman?). The non-picky folks shared it, and if we had gotten busted for a tiny tent or two too many, we had somewhere for a couple of us singletons to move.

Steve had a big square tarp for the roof of the tent, which would've been fine if it had been just raining, but we had winds gusting I think it was to 30 kts the first night, and slated to get higher before things calmed down. The square tarp had already been flapping so loudly it was a wonder people in the tent had slept - and we were a little afraid that with a strong enough blast (especially when the tent was empty), the tarp would either rip off, or worse, take the whole tent aloft and away like a kitesurfer. We weren't being paranoid either - that exact thing happened to the folks on the neighboring site. They dissapeared quite abruptly at some point. It turned out that that point was shortly after the great big tent they'd started out with decided it was actually cut out for a life on the rolling sea & bid them adieu.

So with a precedent like that, we definitely knew that something more aerodynamic was in order. We'd seen some very nice tarp arrangements on the campground, so once paddling was crossed off the list of possible activities for the day (unfortunately AFTER I'd stuffed myself with a huge storm-paddle breakfast), the very next move was a visit to the hardware store for the biggest tarp they had in stock -- then back to base camp for a little remodeling!

(click here for bigger slideshow)

Sep 17, 2009

Cold Water Kayaking Season !!!

Summer's end is near and cooler air is here to stay.

Looking forward to frozen digits and fire side chat. Here is a warm up video from the Northwest. See seals surf!

Sep 16, 2009

Dutch Leeboard Sailboats

This Weekend is the last chance to see the Dutch Festival. Go to
for more info. Remember, Paedergat and all our surroundings are influenced by the Dutch. A fleet of Dutch traditional leeboard vessels of all sorts-low slung skutsjes, fishing boats (Botters, Lemmeraken and Hoogaarsen) and barges (Tjalken en Ponen)-the direct descendants of the vessels that sailed the Dutch coast and around Manhattan in the 17th century, will sail into New York Harbor.

Sep 15, 2009

Friday's Conditions, or Why We Went Bowling.

Not the best kayaking day ever. Note the airborne sand flowing low along the beach.

Sep 13, 2009

Heck With Kayaking. Introducing the Sebago Bowling Team!






Low Pressure!



It was a touch on the windy side for our original plans (and we had 2 of those) for Day 1, Year 3 of the 5 Years Around Long Island paddles. As John H. put it on one of his Twitter post, we went to Plan C.

That's all I have time for now, got a bag of wet, sandy gear festering in the foyer. Glad I decided to take today off. Check out John's Twitter for a nutshell report. Don't miss the dolphins!

Sep 6, 2009


April 10th, 2009:

From The Old Dock, and Opening Day 2009 (New Dock Dedication)

September 5th, 2009

We lost our gate to an accident yesterday afternoon at 4:00 pm.

As I heard, when I arrived at the club at 7 for the full moon paddle, there was a car chase involved. The 2 cars sped down one of the nearby cross streets; the pursued driver went up on the sidewalk. 5 shots were fired by the pursuer. The pursued car crashed into our gate. The pursuer fled the scene. Our poor Officer of the Day was seated at the usual OOD table just inside the gate (doubtless enjoying a very nice day of what is normally one of the pleasantest ways to knock off a few hours of your work obligaation); fortunately she was unhurt & had the presence of mind to immediately call 911.

There were conflicting rumours last night as to the outcome for the driver of the car that hit our gate, but the last I'd heard, it sounds as though our gate was the only actual fatality.

Sep 3, 2009

Academy for Conservation and the Environment visits Sebago

Late last Thursday afternoon and early evening, September 3, 2009, the Sebago Canoe Club, for the second year in a row, hosted rising ninth graders from our neighboring high school, the Academy for Conservation and the Environment, Michele Ashkin, Principal. It was a short paddle up Paerdegat Basin toward the school but a good paddle nonetheless. Look at the photos and see for yourself. We were on the water by about 6:00 PM and off an hour later before the sun set. Most of the students paddled sit-on-tops while faculty, staff, and Sebago volunteers paddled traditional kayaks.

New NY State Lifejacket Law.

New NY State Lifejacket Law

Just In, Fresh off the AP wire, via NYCKayaker.

> New York has become the first state to require life jackets for everyone in all small pleasure craft during the six coldest months of the year, when capsized boaters drown faster in chilly water.
>ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- New York has become the first state to require life jackets for everyone in all small pleasure craft during the six coldest months of the year, when capsized boaters drown faster in chilly water.
>Starting Nov. 1, kayakers, canoeists and all those aboard motorboats under 21 feet must wear Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices while on lakes, the ocean or other waterways.
>The rule remains in effect through May 1. Violators will face fines ranging from $100 to $250.
>Similar measures apply to canoes and kayaks in Massachusetts and to all manually propelled vessels, including rowboats, in Connecticut.
>Falling into cold water can trigger shock, disorientation or gasping and inhaling water. Immersion can lead to hypothermia and passing out.

August 30, 2009 Long Distance Paddle

Ten padlers embarked on a long distance paddle last Sunday. Ten returned!

We had one intentional roll, one unintentional capsize, saw birds, were blasted the sounds of motorcycles and jet skis, enjoyed SOME peace and quiet, paddled through some exciting waves and wakes, and thoroughly enjoyed an afternoon of great paddling and fellowship.

It was a nearly perfect day led by Bonnie and assisted by Phil. See more photos from the trip and read more about the day at my blog.

Aug 31, 2009

Last Year's Visit from South Shore High School

These are photos from last year when South Shore High School visited us to test the water, plant some trees and do a general clean up...They are coming again soon...stay tuned..

Aug 26, 2009

Brand New Sunfish Racing Sail!

Hey Sunfish Sailors! Wanna kick your sailing up a notch?


One of the old Sunfish sails just went to the big sail locker in the sky - and look what our sailing committee co-chairs got as a replacement. That is an official racing sail for a Sunfish. Adjusts to make the most of the wind!

Talk to Holly if you want to learn to use it!

Click here to see a photo of sails like this in use.

Aug 23, 2009

Big Surf or Big Hype?

Best wave of the day, Sunday, August 23 Rockaway Beach

On Sundays visit to Beach 90th street, the waves were less than the crowds or the media. They were good overhead, 4-6 feet but none were the promised 12 feet. Depends if you measure it Hawaiian style, which would barely make it 2-4 feet (they measure it from the looking from off shore as a surfer sees it). What made it such a hype was the fact that it (Bill) came before labor day weekend and on a Sunday. Normally hurricane surf comes after labor day and on a weekday, so it hardly makes the news. Wait till September for bigger surf.

Aug 7, 2009

Sebago CC wins at Canoe races...

This Thursday, the Annual Canoe Races were held at Sebago Beach.
The ACA team, composed of members of Sebago Canoe Club and more,
won 1st place in the Boys division, and 2nd Place in the Girls Division.
Here is a slide show from the race.

08/02/09 Jamaica Bay Circumnavigation

Bonnie (pictured right) and I enjoyed an excellent long distance paddle last Sunday, August 2, 2009 after both of us had crappy weeks and after the storm passed over Jamaica Bay. It was my second longest paddle ever, longest this season, and the best trip Bonnie ever cancelled. We have both written about our five and a half hour circumnavigation of Jamaica Bay on our respective blogs. Photos accompany both posts. Read out posts and see our photos by clicking on the hot links above.

Aug 3, 2009

NEWS FLASH: Minh missing from Lake Sebago this past weekend!

Anh Minh Nguyen was missing from the lake this weekend. Rumors have it that he was in Brooklyn leading trips and taking care of other responsibilities as fleet captain.

In spite of this, things went OK.

Trip leaders were trained, a few even passed the assessment.
We worked on other paddle skills including Anja and Ben both learning to roll and in fact doing multiple rolls in the rain.

This all in spite of Minh's absence.

We were even able to do our own cooking and it didn't turn out as bad as you'd expect.

So for those of you that have a fear of coming to the lake without Minh present, don't worry, surprisingly things still work out.

Jul 29, 2009

Video from Brooklyn Independent Television

From Brooklyn Independent Television's "Neighborhood Beat: Canarsie." Original air date July 2, 2009. Yes, water lovers, it is possible to get in a floatation device of your choice and paddle away on the lovely waters of Brooklyn. Every Wednesday and Saturday, the Sebago Canoe Club in Canarsie hosts an "Open Paddle Program" where experts and amateurs can test the waters close to home.

July Youth Paddle

Beach Closing Days Nationwide Top 20,000 for Fourth Consecutive Year

Beach Closing Days Nationwide Top 20,000 for Fourth Consecutive Year
New Report Offers 5-Star Rating Guide for 200 Popular U.S. Beaches and Analysis Revealing Climate Change to Make Water Pollution Worse

WASHINGTON (July 29, 2009) – The water at American beaches was seriously polluted and jeopardized the health of swimmers last year with the number of closing and advisory days at ocean, bay and Great Lakes beaches reaching more than 20,000 for the fourth consecutive year, according to the 19th annual beachwater quality report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

“Pollution from dirty stormwater runoff and sewage overflows continues to make its way to our beaches. This not only makes swimmers sick – it hurts coastal economies,” said Nancy Stoner, NRDC Water Program Co-Director. “Americans should not suffer the consequences of contaminated beachwater. From contracting the flu or pink eye, to jeopardizing millions of jobs and billions of dollars that rely on clean coasts, there are serious costs to inaction.”

Using data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, NRDC’s report – Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches – confirms that our nation’s beachwaters continue to suffer from serious contamination – including human and animal waste – that can make people sick.

NRDC’s report also provides a 5-star rating guide for 200 of the nation’s most popular beaches, based on indicators of beachwater quality, monitoring frequency, and public notification of contamination.Five-star beaches included Gulf Shores Public Beach (AL), Laguna Beach-Main Beach (CA), Bolsa Chica State Beach in Huntington Beach (CA), Newport Beach (CA), Ocean City (MD), Park Point – Community Club Beach in Duluth (MN) and Hampton Beach State Park in Hampton (NH). Some of the lowest ranking beaches (1-star) were Zach’s Bay at Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh (NY), Ocean Beach Park in New London (CT), Venice Public Beach (FL) and Central Beach in Point Pleasant (NJ).

While the report found a 10 percent decrease in closing and advisory days at beaches nationwide from 2007, it reveals this drop was the result of dry conditions in many parts of the country and decreased funding for water monitoring in some states last year, rather than a sign of large-scale improvement. The decline follows two years of record-high closing and advisory days and the primary pollution source, stormwater runoff after heavy rains, continues to be a serious problem that has not been addressed.

“When the rains return,” Stoner said, “so will pollution, forcing beaches to issue more closings and advisory days.”

For the full report, go to

Jul 26, 2009

Sunday SailComm Cruise

More pictures in Picasa gallery here: Sebago SailComm Sunday Cruise

Phew! I was really starting to wonder if I was going to get to sail at ALL this summer.

Thanks Jim & Holly for a great day, and for arranging it so that those thunderstorms didn't roll through until we were off the water & finished with that wonderful potluck picnic (and thanks, Mark, for organizing the picnic, that was a brilliant idea)!

Jul 23, 2009

Why Water Quality Reports Are Not Reliable, Or totally useless...

I have been testing our water, I even purchased a fecal coliform test, studied the NYC water quality charts, and read all I could on how to test our waters... I have come to the following conclusion: We have no way of knowing how the quality of our water is with scientific tests, as the time delay between the day the water looks bad and the results from the test can be as long as 3 days later. By those three days, the water can clean up and be safe again. Here is the proof from an article in Hartford Advocate... but before this article, use your eyes, your nose and remember how much rain fell the night before you go in the water...

An example of a totally useless water quality report: NYC Department of Health
Why? They are never correct...list good water on the worst days, bad water on perfectly clean days...a total waste of our tax dollars and time.

Testing the Water

It's Friday afternoon, and Rosemarie Soldi points to a coffee cup and a piece of plastic next to her on the sand at West Haven beach. Nowadays, she only goes into the water up to her waist. "I would not take my granddaughter to swim here," she says. She has watched the beach become dirtier and dirtier in the 30 years she's lived here.

When West Haven's water is dirty — too dirty by state standards — the town's Public Health department doesn't let beachgoers know. According to an Advocate investigation, West Haven is the only one of five shoreline towns (New Haven, Branford, East Haven, West Haven and Milford) that hasn't closed its beach or posted a dirty-water advisory at all since 2003. But last summer alone, 19 water samples from West Haven exceeded the safety limit suggested by the state.

One June day last year was particularly bad: 13 of the 18 water samples taken by the Health Department at different locations along the beach came back above the acceptable bacteria standard, but Connecticut's longest public beach remained open for swimming.

The state encourages towns to send beach water samples to its lab for free testing every Monday. The lab counts the number of colony forming units ("cfu") of Enterococcus — a bacteria — per 100 milliliter of salt water. State guidelines consider an Enterococcus reading of more than 104cfu per 100ml of water to be potentially dangerous.

Enterococci are indicator bacteria: If levels are high, there's a good chance of too much human or animal feces, which can carry contagious diseases.

With a result above 104, the state says towns should look for pollution sources at the beach, put up an advisory or close the beach and retest the water as soon as possible. Since this isn't required, some towns close their beaches and others don't.

Because of the time lag between when samples are collected and when results come back — it takes one to three days — some health officials disregard test results. Water conditions may have changed by the time towns are notified of a high bacteria count.

Some officials place more trust in what they see on the beach: If nothing looks suspicious, the beach stays open. Most beach closings and advisories — more than 75 percent between 2003 and 2008 — are due to rain, not high test results. Several towns, like Milford, proactively close their beaches when there's heavy rain. Stormwater runoff picks up pollutants and, in older sewage systems, runs down the same pipes that carry raw sewage to treatment plants. The plants are overwhelmed when it rains, so they dump untreated sewage into Long Island Sound.

Chances are, testing only once a week won't catch most sewage spills. A test taken on a Monday wouldn't detect a pollution incident occurring on Tuesday.

Only occasionally does the test have perfect timing. One West Haven beach sample, taken on June 24 of this year, showed more than 19 times too many Enterococcus bacteria. After the test results came back, Ray Puslys, West Haven's chief sanitarian, walked the beach and discovered the culprit: The city's sanitary sewer line was backed up. He warned the city, which fixed the problem, but not the public. In the meantime, the beach stayed open for swimming.

The tests, West Haven's Puslys argues, are meaningless if water conditions have changed by the time the test results come back days later. "Going by the results," he says, "you tend to close a beach when it should be open and open it when it should be closed."

Because the Enterococcus test is slow and out of date, local public health officials are caught in a difficult position, says Jon Dinneen, a research analyst at the state's Department of Public Health. The federal Beach Act of 2000 required that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) come up with new standards and a faster test by 2005. When that deadline passed, the National Resources Defense Council waged a successful lawsuit against the EPA. The new deadline is 2012.

Dinneen says swimmers should always follow the state's long list of safety guidelines — don't swim with open cuts, don't put your head under water, don't bury friends in the sand, always towel off after swimming. Because you never know when you're swimming in unsafe water.

Jul 19, 2009

CIty of Water Day - just a few pictures!

Preparing to launch at Valentino Pier

Sebago Canoe Club City of Water Day participants, obligatory group shot with Statue of Liberty (sorry we didn't make it there, John, we should do that as a club trip sometime)
In the Buttermilk Channel
At Yankee Pier (where the free boat rides were going on all day)

Sebago Canoe Club participants on Governor's Island
The Saturday-only group leaves around 5:30