Aug 28, 2010

Small East Coast fish fuels big environmental feud

At one time, schools of migrating menhaden could stretch from Maine to Massachusetts. Jamestown colonist John Smith described his boat sailing into solid masses of schooling menhaden--so many of them his crew could scoop them up with frying pans.
What is a menhaden? It is also known as a bunker,a small bait fish, and we used to see hundreds of them in Jamaica bay. Even thousands.. How many do you see when you go for a paddle? Why should you care? This bait fish is missing not because of pollution, our water is the cleanest it has ever been in years...It is missing because of over fishing from the Omega 3 is the article that explains it:click here

Aug 24, 2010

Fall Dinghy Racing Series at Sebago

Jim announces the course for the 3rd race of this spring's Laser Regatta - From Sebaga Laser Regatta 5 22 2010

I'm happy to share the news recently emailed by Jim & Holly, Co-chairs of the Sailing Committee of the Sebago Canoe Club - we'll be having a Fall Racing Series this year! Come join us for some fun days on Jamaica Bay. Notice of Race, Sailing Instructions and a full schedule can all be found on the Sailing Committee page at

Hope to see you there!

cross-posted at Frogma

2010 Mayor's Cup - Carnage the way it ought to be

Written by Joe Glickman

Gone were the 30 knot winds, frigid temperatures, and pelting rain that whipped the gun-gray river into froth during last year’s race. There were no frantic paddlers pinned by the current against a parked barge.

Sean Rice pulls the pack (notice the angle they hold the wing paddles)

for the rest of the article, click here

Old map of Paerdegat Basin

Old map of Paerdegat Basin ...from
For more photos of old photos of same area, click here

Aug 15, 2010

Sunday SailCom Cruise

It felt a bit Septemberish, gray skies & cool weather, but the wind was great (more in the low teens than the 5-10 kts the forecast had called for) and Holly & Jim set a good course with the windward leg being the sail to our favorite lunch beach on Ruffle bar, where all the work getting there made my empanada lunch taste extra extra good, and then the trip home again being a big looping S around Ruffle Bar & Canarsie Pol. The trip home was awesome, all reaching & running, and with the wind & the waves, we flew! I felt like I was getting more speed out of Swampfox & maintaining it for longer periods of time than I've managed before in a Sunfish - usually I have a few fantastic moments then do something to foul up whatever I was doing right, but today there were long stretches where things were going great.

I did learn one really good lesson today - I have a light wetsuit top that just needs to always be part of my sailing kit. The weather wasn't quite as warm or sunny as the last forecast I'd seen had been talking about & I was lucky Holly had a spare top because the day (and especially the windward leg) would've been a chilly one if she hadn't had that for me.

I didn't take a lot of pictures because conditions were just enough that the sailing really required two hands & full attention, but here were the few I did.

I can't show you pictures of one of the "end" results but I can tell you that I will be needing a cushion for the next few days! :D

Aug 14, 2010

City of New York awards $27.1 million ARP deal

City of New York awards $27.1 million ARP deal

The City of New York has contracted ThermoEnergy Corporation to deploy an ammonia recovery system at the City's 26th Ward Wastewater Treatment Plant, situated on Jamaica Bay, as part of a $27.1 million deal.

Once in full operation, the company's CASTion Ammonia Recovery Process (ARP) will prevent approximately 2.4 million pounds of ammonia from entering Jamaica Bay each year, helping the City to achieve its goal of improving the health of Jamaica Bay as outlined under Mayor Bloomberg's Jamaica Bay Watershed Protection Plan. The CASTion ARP process will be used to treat the 26th Ward wastewater treatment plant's ammonia-laden, internal recycle stream called "Centrate." When operational, the ARP facility will treat 1,200,000 gallons of water per day.

Cas Holloway, environmental protection commissioner, said: "This past year, the City committed to reduce nitrogen discharges into Jamaica Bay by at least 50% through $200 million of investments in nitrogen-control technologies over the next decade.

"While nitrogen poses no risk to humans, it can reduce the Bay's dissolved oxygen content, which fish and other aquatic life need to thrive."

Aug 12, 2010

The Ultimate Brooklyn Kayak, And Other High Points from Orient Point

With apologies to my good friends at Brooklyn Kayak and Kayak Brooklyn, behold clubmate Eugene and his remarkable craft-

The Ultimate Brooklyn Kayak! Bottom tagged with a proud proclamation of Eugene's place of abode, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and sides featuring a lively cityscape -

with the Brooklyn Bridge & everything:

A couple more interesting facts about the boat & the builder -

1. Eugene had never paddled a kayak before he built this boat. He just enjoys woodworking, saw a plan online & decided to make himself a beautiful boat.
2. The story behind the graphics (which I love!) is that when he was finished, he had a boat that was, indeed, beautiful - on top. The underside had a few cosmetic flaws - and he suddenly started looking at it as a canvas.
3. The boat was designed to be 18 feet. Eugene cut it down to 16 because that's how much room his Bay Ridge Brooklyn basement has.
4. Once he had this awesome kayak, he had to learn to paddle, and that's how he & his girlfriend Jen came to join the Sebago Canoe Club. They've both gotten to be quite good. This was my first time meeting them & I'm looking forward to paddling with them again.

So I promised a trip report, but guess what - you're not exactly going to get one!

Why? Because it was a long, full weekend of fun & I just don't think I can squeeze it all in here if I try to do the traditional first we a, then we b, then we c. I've already sort of done that on the gallery I'd put up, I've added captions & it now gives a pretty nice chronogical account of the paddling, from the pre-trip huddle over charts -

to the day-end boat-toting, and then on to the next day. I also got silly with a Google map (featuring locations like "Ferries! Eek!", "Ice Cream Here, Yay!" and "Here An Osprey", "There An Osprey", "Everywhere an Osprey-Osprey"). So with 2 differents linear explanations of the weekend's adventures - I thought I'd just ramble about a few highlights, like Eugene's Ultimate Brooklyn Kayak (which I've just been dying to post about since the minute I first saw it at their campsite on Friday night). So here we go!

End of the Day Boat Toting:

Why is that a highlight? Because I learned something obvious but amazing from organizer Walter this weekend. Look!

did you know that if, in addition to the person at the bow & the person at the stern, you add one or two at the cockpit, it's easier to carry the boat? Seems obvious, but who ever does it? People on serious kayak camping expeditions, that's who (load up a kayak with enough gear and 2 people CAN'T carry it any more) - and also people who have just had the Wind God kick their okole for them in the last two miles of an almost-15-mile paddle. Worked great - I love my Romany but it's a heavy heavy beast of a thing & if just 2 of us had tried to carry it the 30 yards or so from the beach to the loading area, the arms would've been burning. Add 2 more carriers & whisk whisk whisk, where's the next boat? I know, I know, this should have been a no-brainer, but sometimes it's funny the things I would just never think of on my own.

The Eastern Long Island Kampground Is Growing On Me:

The Eastern Long Island Kampground is growing on me. First time I saw it I sort of looked down my nose at all the RV's - but the folks that run it are really a nice bunch (even found one of our folks who'd forgotten to make a reservation a spot in their full-up campground), the Sunday morning pancakes are really pretty good, and you know, it's just fun seeing a place where packs of kids go hurrahing about on their bikes or splashing in the pool or just generally running around outside instead of being glued to their little beepy things or driven from one scheduled thing to another. Also fun the way almost everybody in the camp hangs out around their campfires talking in the evenings. A few too-cool-for-camp teenyboppers were the exception - for some reason they preferred hanging out in the bathroom simultaneously complaining verbally to their physically-present friends & by text message to their cell-phone friends, sort of a 21st-century Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah! There are boob tubes in the RV's but the campfires & conversations do win out.

Blackberries Are Good And Liz Is The Queen:

I love that Walter took us blackberry-picking during our lunch break. This seems like a very North-Fork thing to do, you really do feel like you're out in the country there. Liz was the Blackberry Queen - the rest of us had no restraint (and swimsuits also aren't the best blackberry-picking attire) but she picked enough that there were even some left at breakfast the next morning.

Food, Part 1:
Speaking of food - Tony & Walter (aka Pinky & the Brain) had quite a challenge on their hands organizing meals, especially dinners. The way Sebago trips work, usually everybody handles their own breakfast & lunch food, and then dinners end up being a coordinated thing. With 18 people, this got tricky! The amazing thing was that somehow, even without a real plan (and with some unexpected timing issues on Saturday after a totally abortive attempt at celebratory drinks in Greenport, we were chased from the town by barking, snarling parking-lot attendents), everything worked out great. Jen & Eugene were the linchpins of a fantastic feast on Friday night - the original plan had been more to go out, but they showed up with all of this Russian-style marinated pork & chicken & something like a bushel of fresh sweet corn - I think they could've sent us all to bed full & happy but it got better, sort of kicked off the Stone Soup effect. I remembered I'd grabbed a big cucumber out of my garden right before Mary Ann & I left, put that & some good cheese out, somebody else mixed up some great yogurt-mint dip, more cheese appeared, sausage, wine, caprese salad, artichoke dip...what a feast.

Why Is Kayak Distance Is Not Like Every Other Distance?:
We need a paddler Einstein to appear and give us the equations that explain how it is that in any given 15 mile paddle, it can it happen that the last 2 miles of the day end up being longer than the entire preceding 13. This is a fact. Anyone who paddled the last 2 miles will tell you so.

Food, Part 2:
Friday night was Camp Food Magic Night. Saturday night, not so much. Actually had a bit of tension to it - everybody was tired from the aforementioned last 2 miles & I'm only half-joking about the snarling parking lot attendants - they only chased us out of their parking lot, but in the process completely split up our group, despite pleas to let us stay together. Eventually we all regrouped at camp, where we'd all originally planned to eat, but by that point Braun's, the excellent seafood takeout place where a number of us had planned to pick up food to bring back, had closed. There was a lot of confusion over what was available at camp - shrimp, no, no shrimp, not enough food, might be enough food - and everybody was tired & a bit cranky & that was sort of another low point. But by then, everybody just wanted food & nobody was married to the Group Dining Experience & so thank goodness, we just sort of split off into smaller groups & went our own ways. Mary Ann, Elizabeth & I ended up going to this little local favorite (warmly recommended by one of the Kampground managers as he & his wife's favorite place for dinner), where some really great seafood & a nice bottle of local chardonnay proved extraordinarily soothing. Think everybody else found something good too because at the end of the evening, we all regrouped around the campfire & the day finished on a good note with a few more minutes of talking (now cheerful) and marshmallow roasting.

Maybe the moral of the story is if there are 18 of you, and it's Saturday night, skip the celebratory drink in Greenport & just go drink the wine you have in camp!

Even more though - when you're up to 18 people, just be ready to be flexible. In the end, everything worked out great, and some of us even made it to Braun's the next day. Made the perfect pre-drive lunch stop.

Funny that the dinner drama loomed so large!
Losing Stuff, Part 1, or,
I'd Lose My Head If It Wasn't Attached To My Neck, And, It's So Nice to Find Out That People Are Waiting For You:

Also looming large was my gear, or more precisely my inability to hang onto my gear! I don't know what was up with me but I tried my hardest to make this into a Very Expensive Weekend. Tried to lose my camera, my lifejacket, my sprayskirt, my better swimsuit, a pair of shorts & my NYC Watertrail Cap! First loss was the camera. We'd left the lunch break at the point & paddled past the ferries, then reached into my lifejacket pocket to grab the camera & take a picture of the rest of the crew passing the ferry. Oh camera! Checked the cockpit. Checked the dayhatch. Gone. Asked Walter to check the dayhatch. Confirmed, no camera. I'd known I'd had it right before we launched. I decided to go back after it. Thank goodness I keep a bright orange float on it - as I approached the spot where we'd launched - aaah! there was a little blob of orange bouncing around just off the beach! I paddled up to it, grabbed it, turned around & began the long catch-up sprint, broken only by a short pause for the ferry. I was glad I had my VHF along because I took advantage of that stop to let the group know I was chasing them. Next voice I heard on the VHF was Dotty, amazingly clear - well, it turned out that she & Susan had stopped to wait for me! Very, very, nice of them - it is tough chasing a distant group, you may be moving faster than them but there's always this long time when you're just seeing dots in the distance & not feeling like you're gaining at all. Nice to find people waited for you - and boy did the ice-cream at the next stop, where the 3 of us caught the rest of the gang, taste good!

I Feel Good:
I was pretty happy with how I did on Saturday - particularly with the longish catch-up sprint after retrieving my camera & also during those sloggy last 2 miles. Last year wasn't a great one for exercise, I was feeling so overworked & then of course we had such a cold & nasty winter; I came into the summer feeling pretty puny. Being back at mostly-full staff at work has made a huge difference - I haven't been consciously sticking to an exercise program or anything but I have been paddling or sailing most weekends since March, and I think those 10 days in Hawaii did a lot too - I was hiking, paddling, swimming or some combination thereof almost every day I was there. I just felt SOLID this weekend. And here -

I don't LOOK too puny, do I?

Losing Stuff, Part 2, or
The Incredible Niceness of the Orient Beach State Park Manager:

The lifejacket & sprayskirt, I didn't realize I'd lost until we were back at Sebago. I'd left them hanging up in the sun in the shower room. I think I decided to leave them there until the last minute to let them dry as much as possible before I put them in the car - but then out of sight, out of mind & the last minute came & went without my remembering that that's what I've done. Fortunately there's a really amazing manager there - I called on Monday morning; she confirmed that she had them (HOORAY - my lifejacket is a Lotus L'ocean, fits me better than any other lifejacket I've ever worn & has been basically irreplaceable since Patagonia bought Lotus & proceeded to drive the company into the ground - it's now defunct, although I've heard a rumour about the founder starting a new one - one quick message to him if by some fluke he reads this - L'OCEAN CLONE, PRETTY PLEASE?) & then, as I was trying to figure out how I was supposed to get 'em back, she completely blew me away by volunteering to go to the post office & mail them back to me. And then the post office blew me away too - she mailed them on Tuesday, the box was less than $10 and it arrived at my office right around lunchtime today. Isn't that fantastic? I was SURE I'd be borrowing club gear for at least a weekend! Now, it did help that she's friends with one of our members & knows about the club - but even so, I still can't get over how nice of her this was. I'm SO glad we'd patronized her park!

And that's pretty much it for the highlights, and lowlights that turned into highlights too. Overall, as I think I'd already said - another fantastic weekend by Tony and Walter. Thanks Guys!

I will just close with -

What A Nice Bunch Of People I Have To Paddle With At The Sebago Canoe Club.

I'll be looking forward to the next Cruising Committee event I can join, which I think is...hmmm...something to do with our friends at the LIC Boathouse, if I'm remembering correctly?

Now that should be fun!

Cross posted at Frogma

Aug 10, 2010

New Bridge at Paedergat Basin

Here is the new bridge as proposed, with east and west bound lanes seperate...

Aug 9, 2010

Sun? Check! Fun? Um...

Maybe not so much at the moment this picture was taken -- or at least I bet there were a few people who wouldn't have used the word "fun" as their first desciption of the last couple of miles of Saturday's big Orient Point paddle!

Most of the day we'd been blessed with insanely perfect conditions (even the notorious Race was barely a-bubble as we passed through), but the Weather Deity decided our characters & skills needed at least a little bit of building at the end & threw in a good quartering wind of the sort that makes a kayak act like wayward, cranky, iron-mouthed old trail-ride horse whose mind is entirely focused on the grass on the side of the trail. Takes focus & a lot of energy to keep that nose pointed in the right direction!

Characters were duly built. But I guarantee skills were too, and aside from that tough last stretch and a couple of other odd moments, like the one where we were being yelled at by surly parking lot attendents in Greenport (silly us for trying to go have a drink there on Saturday night, I guess) it was another great weekend pulled off by the Cruising Committee!

And look look how beautiful.

More pictures tonight. If you really want, they are up on Picasa now & I think that clicking on the photo above will take you to an uncaptioned gallery - I hope to add captions tonight, though, and although a picture may be worth a thousand words, sixty are a lot to plough through without at least a little storytelling to go along! Still, couldn't resist this quick lunch-break post.

This trip report "teaser" cross posted at Frogma.

Aug 6, 2010

Residents want to see plan for Paerdegat Basin Park

By Gary Buiso

Tuesday, August 3, 2010 7:11 PM EDTA fast-tracked plan to beautify Paerdegat Basin Park — which sat on a shelf for 15 years before being brought to life by federal stimulus money —has residents demanding the city let them know what’s being done.

Critics charge that the Department of Environmental Protection has bulldozed portions of the 160-acre park without informing locals about the work, which they claim has already devastated local flora and fauna.

“There was supposed to be a park plan. Where is that plan?” demanded Mary Anne Sallustro, president of the South Canarsie Civic Association.

Already, unkept forestland along four blocks of Paerdegat Avenue North has been completely wiped out, with more blocks up next.

“There was no public process that we know of,” said Canarsie resident David Phillip. “I’m angry no one was notified.”

But the city disagreed, saying that it met with Community Board 18 in July and Jan. 2010, and that locals have been amply briefed about the plan to rebuild the park — which has not been amended since the board approved it over a decade ago, and is available for view on its Web site.

Still, Phillip charged that the city provided information only to those “who they wanted to hear it and not who would really be affected.”

They included state Sen. Carl Kruger (D-Mill Basin), who represents the Bergen Beach side of the basin, and Community Board 18 District Manager Dorothy Turano.

City officials met with them a year ago, just before a letter typed on community board stationary was dispatched to the agency stating that “it was the shared sentiment of all the interested parties to wholeheartedly embrace and approve the Paerdegat Ecology Park Project at the Paerdegat pumping station.”

That didn’t make sense to Steven Kaye, vice president of the civic association.

“It is not a community board meeting if you don’t have community board members there!” he roared.

Board member and Canarsie resident Mercedes Narcisse said she doesn’t recall receiving any word about a summer meeting.

“If this is going to affect the community, there should be a fair presentation,” she said. “I would love to see a park, but the community should be made aware.”

But those at the meeting said there is no cabal.

Turano said she briefed the board about the meeting in Sept. 2009, and said there were no changes to a plan the community board approved in the 1990s — and that the South Canarsie group blasted back then for adding truck traffic to the neighborhood.

Still, she said, the city never bothered to notify the board when it would be doing the work.

“I was never given a specific plan,” she said. “I complained that we were not notified. This is a good thing, but it’s not a good thing we weren’t notified.”

Kruger said the meeting he attended was strictly informational.

“It only memorialized what was going to be done,” he said, adding that any changes would have to go through a formal public review procedure, which was not undertaken.

Ultimately, he said, the city is beautifying an area that has been long-neglected.

The two-year project began in March, and the city insists it will result in a lush Natural Area Park —with no public access in order to promote habitat restoration and ecological improvement — and a five-acre ecology park on the Bergen Beach side of the basin.

The $15-million, 38-acre habitat restoration and park was planned and approved back in the mid-1990s as an accompaniment to a state-mandated initiative to clean the polluted basin.

When federal stimulus money became available last year to fund the parkland portion of the work, the city was finally able to move ahead with the project.

The city sent out a notice to CB18 with a project description, requesting a summer meeting, so that the agency could advertise and award the contract for the work by Dec. 31, 2009.

But a full board meeting was never convened.

The $15-million parkland component is small potatoes compared to a massive$457-million upgrade of the pumping station at Ralph and Flatlands avenues and construction of a 20-million-gallon underground storage tank, which will prevent raw sewage from being dumped in the basin during heavy rains, a common predicament caused by the city’s aging sewer system.

Aug 4, 2010

Some pictures by Dwan

Dawn Kish works with National Geographics. She played with a simple camera while out in the bay. Here are some pix. She is off to Wyoming on an assignment.

I know I am in the pictue a lot. Enjoy. Have a great summer.

Aug 2, 2010

What is going on at Paedergat Basin?

The project Will Improve Water Quality, Create Ecology Park and Restore Jamaica Bay Wetlands

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection announced the registration of a $15 million contract to restore 38 acres of wetlands and natural grasslands adjacent to the Paerdegat Basin Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Facility located on the shores of Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn. The registration means that the contractor, Tully/Posillico Civil, can begin to mobilize so the stimulus-funded project can get underway.

“This investment will greatly improve the ecology of the Paerdegat Basin area,” said Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway. “When finished, the community will be able to enjoy a five-acre ‘Ecology Park’ teeming with native plant life. The combination of absorbing more stormwater and the creation of tidal wetlands will improve water quality in Paedergat Basin. This is just one part of DEP’s larger commitment to improving water quality and ecology in Jamaica Bay.”

The project will help absorb stormwater by reintroducing local plant life and restoring the shoreline. Five acres of parkland will become an “Ecology Park,” which will offer access to salt marshes and grassland area and include educational exhibits about coastal habitats. Construction is expected to begin this spring and completed in January 2012, with public access in 2013. The project is funded through Clean Water State Revolving Funds — a program administered the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation — that were authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The restoration will complement the $357 million capital investment that DEP is making in building the Paerdegat Basin Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) abatement project, which will store 50 million gallons of CSOs during storms. When stormwater surges into sewers it can trigger CSOs when sewers and treatment plants reach capacity, which by design protects the sewer system and treatment plants. CSO tanks reduce this problem by storing flows until storms pass, allowing for release and treatment. The City continues to invest in major infrastructure projects that improve the wastewater treatment system and has budgeted $1.9 billion in capital improvements. The City is also taking steps to incorporate sustainable strategies that keep stormwater from reaching sewers in the first place.

DEP manages the City’s water supply, providing more than 1 billion gallons of water each day to more than 9 million residents, including 8 million in New York City, and residents of Ulster, Orange, Putnam and Westchester counties. New York City’s water is delivered from a watershed that extends more than 125 miles from the City, and is comprised of 19 reservoirs, and three controlled lakes. 6,600 miles of water mains, tunnels and aqueducts bring water to homes and businesses throughout the five boroughs, and 7,400 miles of sewer lines take wastewater to 14 in-City treatment plants. DEP also manages storm water throughout the City, and ensures that the City’s facilities comply with the Clean Water Act, and other federal, state and local rules and regulations. The DEP police protect the watershed and its facilities (including seven wastewater treatment plants), and the agency’s HAZ-MAT unit responds to hazardous materials emergencies and toxic site remediation. The agency is also responsible for asbestos monitoring and removal, and enforcing the City’s air and noise codes.