Dec 17, 2011

Sebago's Saturday Night Indoor Pool Sessions

Sebago Kayaking FUNdamentals ACA Level 1

Learn the basics of kayaking with certified instructors in the comfort of a classroom and heated indoor swimming pool!

Three Saturdays at the Flushing Corona Pool $99

January 7th – 7:30pm-9:45pm

January 14th and 21st – 7:00pm-9:45pm

January 28th – snow day if needed

Material includes the basics of kayak design, transportation and launching. Students will capsize and exit their kayaks and learn both assisted and solo techniques for getting back in. Fundamental paddle strokes and maneuvers will be taught for easy control of your kayak.

Sebago Rescues and Recoveries

Students learn a wide variety of sea kayaking recoveries for maximum safety

Two Saturdays at the Flushing Corona Pool $75

February 4th and 18th, 8:00pm-9:45pm

Rescues taught include the paddle float, paddle float with sling, cowboy, Eskimo reentry and roll, T and T-X. More will be taught as time allows.

Sebago Eskimo Rolling

Learn to right your kayak after a capsize without exiting the boat!

Two Saturdays at the Flushing Corona Pool $75

March 3rd, and 17th, 8:00pm-9:45pm

Relieve yourself from the fear of capsizing. A solid Eskimo Roll increases kayaking safety and broadens a paddler’s horizons. Students are taught the C to C or Sweep Roll or the Eskimo Roll of their choice.

Advance Registration Required

Contact Walter at to register

Nov 30, 2011

Just Another Ho Hum Day On Jamaica Bay...

Nah, nah, just kidding. Off-season paddling takes a certain amount of preparation & awareness -- but boy, it ROCKS.

Nov 13, 2011

Work Day Slideshow

Just a few pix from today's work day.

Aug 28, 2011

Photos and video after Irene

"Video of the dock as it looks at 10 am Sunday.."

Notice the walkway removed to prevent it floating away.

Leaves and debris on the kayaks and canoes, no big branches on any

Inside the clubhouse, lots of water, the phone still works!

The worst damage was not from mother nature,
but from a human...can you identify the above suspect?

Aug 22, 2011

Plane Zones

Plane zone, Saturday:
plane zone

Plane zone, Sunday:
plane zone 2
Noon to two,
woo hoo hoo!

Holly the Sailing Co-Chair's post-sail comment - "Anyone who didn't plane today is doing something wrong".

What a splendid Sebago weekend it was!

Aug 19, 2011

Return to Orient Point

Eddied out again (except I washed out while I was filming) - this time with a few friends!

Friday afternoon found me & TQ back on the road to Orient Point again, where the Sebago troops were gathering at our favorite "kamp"site out there, the Eastern Long Island Kampground.

There'd been discussion of an afternoon or evening paddle - but after all the packing up and getting ready to go, and the fun of the sheepherding class we took TQ's dog Bella for with the trainer with whom the dogs were staying for the weekend, and a couple of last-minute stopping shops, I found that the only thing I was particularly interested in doing once we'd made camp was testing out the Thermarest for leaks. It was functioning fine - and it was absolutely perfect weather for napping in a tent with the flaps open & the breeze passing through. Aaah. TQ had brought a book along, and then when I woke up, well, there was still time if anyone had really pushed for it, but somehow we were all quite happy with camaraderie and beer.


If we'd known what was coming on Sunday (recordbreaking rain), we might've gotten off our duffs & gotten out there, but I'm not going to lie - I thoroughly enjoyed the evening. I spend entirely too much of my life running around doing stuff and I love it when there suddenly aren't any deadlines or places to go or things to do. There was discussion of dinner, but I was already getting peckish, and we'd stopped for corn, potatoes and tomatoes at a farm stand, and I decided to break out my camp stove and cook up an ear of corn for an appetizer, only it was my first fresh corn of the summer and I couldn't stop at one, and John had brought out his usual fantastic cheese, and Jake was suddenly passing around cheeseburgers, and somehow all the sudden I was full. Go figure! We talked about the various plans for the weekend, we sorted out more or less who was going on what, TQ & I brought out the chart and the Eldridge & talked about what we were going to find in Plum Gut on the following day, TQ gave a nice on-shore (more like on picnic table, really) lesson about ferry-gliding using his pocket knife as a model kayak, and there was more beer & more camaraderie and it got dark and the cicadas started to sing and then we all got sleepy and that was pretty much Day 1. Nice, huh?

Day 2 - Woke up psyched for the day after a good night's sleep. TQ knows me entirely too well, he'd brought Spam! Eggs and bread, too, and he cooked those up while I made coffee and packed up lunch. By ten o'clock or so, we were back at Orient Point!

Look familiar?

Now, we had promised our little crew a real rough-water play-session, boils and eddies and waves oh my, and I had pored over my Eldridge carefully, and by gosh, look at the veritable MAELSTROM into which our...
little band...

No, no, no, we totally meant to do that. Ebb was starting at the Race right around noon, and Plum Gut really gets going before anything else does. We very intentionally set our launch time for about an hour and a half before that because that's when we figured things would be quietest - and I hate to brag but look, we nailed it. I'd wanted to start with some rolling and rescue practice, just to get warmed up; we did that, and TQ also came up with the great idea of going out & giving everyone a calm-water preview of the area we were going to be playing in as the current started picking up. We did that, caught a few boat wakes to practice surfing, it was all very nice --

and as we were out there, our bands of standing waves ever so gradually began standing up.

We went in for a lunch break, a little more discussion of using eddies and ferry angles, and another good look at the Gut from the point - things starting to move now, the waves still not very big, but you can see where they are shaping up, and where the eddies are forming, and all that good stuff:

And then after that, time to go give it a try!

Main hazard of the day:

We should have had helmets, but we had a pretty capable group and as long as we stayed downcurrent from the rocks, we thought we would be OK; water temperature was fantastic, air temperature likewise; there were motorboats around but we kept our eyes peeled & didn't have any problems with them - really, these lion's-mane jellyfish were the main issue. Fortunately, as you can see, they are big, easy to see, and while there were plenty of them, it wasn't anything like my first trip to the point a couple of years ago, when there was a bumper crop of smaller ones & you literally could not have capsized without running afoul of at least one. Stevie did get a little bit of a sting at one point, but these are also not the worst of the stinging beasties out there; he was able to keep going fine & by the end of the day the redness was gone.

We'd gotten back on the water at a good time - things were starting to pick up but we had some time for Luis & Derrick, our two takers who were trying this for the first time, to familiarize themselves with the feel of moving water before things got to max ebb.

Stevie already knows his way around moving water fine - that was nice, TQ and I were the "official" trip leaders on this one, we've done plenty of paddling on our own and with others in water this size, but this was our first trip where we were actually in charge & taking care of others (that was neat...there are SO many people out there who've taken me out in conditions that were at my outer limits, finally & officially doing the same for others felt like the start of paying back a longstanding debt -- great stuff) so a one-to-one ratio plus one extra totally competent person out there too was VERY nice.

Derrick working his way up an eddy -

Oops. Shore break while one of the trip leaders makes the aforementioned (aforeblogged?) emergency repair (SO disconcerting to look forward as you're careening about in waves & current & realize that you are looking INTO your hatch - I was just lucky I noticed it BEFORE I took anything over the bow - that was starting to happen, too)

Paddle flourish from Luis - Derrick & Luis both really got the hang of this fast & Luis even got a combat roll (not his first, really, but his first in moving water - that was VERY cool - "Boat over!" - "Boat back up, WOOHOO!")

This is actually right when the video at the start was taken - we'd been playing for a while, and we were about to strike out for the lighthouse, and there's a patch of large rocks right before you get out into the more open section, and that makes a nice spot for a group to take a bit of a breather.

TQ, having fun!

Stevie makes his break for the lighthouse -

And a minute later the rest of us followed & once we left the shelter of those rocks, no more pictures until --

Rest break at the lighthouse

Stevie, Luis, TQ & Derrick at the lighthouse

And the next pictures I took was of the purple potatoes I was cooking for dinner -

and a very shiny car.

Day 2 ended with an absolutely ridiculous amount of food (Sebago's notorious for eating well, but this was over the top - I swear you could've stocked a small butcher shop with the meat that was cooked!) and a thoroughly entertaining debate over whether marshmallows should be Gently Toasted, or set afire (I supplied the marshmallows that fueled the debate and I think that has to be one of the most entertaining contributions I have ever made to a Sebago repast), and some good stories.

Day 3 -

A total...


Stevie was the only one crazy enough to want to paddle in the deluge (with possible thunderstorms), so that didn't fly - but still -

spirits remained fairly high -

An extra tarp was set up -

Coffee was made -

and then TQ and I got the heck outta Dodge & back to the club, where I took advantage of the good soaking & the rain-every-day-for-the-whole-week forecast by planting some seeds - my beets had gotten strangled by weeds, and I hadn't planted enough basil seedlings, and I had some seeds in my bag and figured a wet week might make it worth trying again. We'll see!

Then home, to where the bathroom is still festooned with stuff hung up to dry.

Could've been more paddling - but on the whole, what a really fun weekend.

Aug 14, 2011

“How is the Water?"

"How Is The Water?' Report

Jul 31, 2011

A Sebago Day to Remember

Joe Glickman coaching Laurie Pea on her forward stroke
 Yesterday afternoon, Sebago Canoe Club Commodore Tony Pignatello posted this comment on facebook: “Coming back on the Open Paddle I saw about 50 kayaks on the water. Open Paddle, Stroke Clinic, Level 2 classes plus individual paddlers. That's what makes us one of the best in the city. Thanks to all who gave their time.”

I was one of those paddlers Tony saw. My wife was another. She and I were not participating in the same activity but happened to be on the water at the same time.

Yesterday was indeed a day at the Sebago Canoe Club to remember, a day that rivaled our annual open house in terms of people and activities. Vicki and I pulled into a nearly full parking lot a few minutes before 9:30 AM. Vicki came to the club to participate in the second half of the ACA Level 2 class. I came to participate in a Forward Stroke Clinic led by Joe Glickman, one of the premier paddlers in North America.

As the stroke clinic and ACA Level 2 class were gathering and preparing for the day, the open Paddle was finishing outfitting. A few minutes later, they were all standing in a circle, paddles in the air, Stonehenge like, making introductions and receiving a safety briefing and short paddling instruction. I estimate that about thirteen to fifteen paddlers were among the group.

While the open paddle carried kayaks down to the water and began to paddle, five students and three instructors as well as a dozen or more participants in the Forward Stroke Clinic stood around Joe Glickman as he demonstrated the forward Stoke. After half an hour or more of instruction on terra firma, the two groups broke apart and the ACA Level 2 class hit the water, paddling out into Jamaica Bay while the Forward Stroke Clinic finished outfitting.

By the time the Forward Stoke Clinic put their kayaks into Paerdegat basin and headed out toward Jamaica Bay, the ACA class was already out of sight. As those of us in the Stroke Clinic paddled, Joe observed our forward stroke. Once in the bay, we caught up with the ACA Class, passed it by, and paddled into some shallow water where Joe offered each Stroke Clinic participant some one on one instruction.

Sitting on the bow of each participant’s kayak and facing the paddler, but with his feet on the bottom of the bay, Joe prevented the paddler’s kayak from making forward progress while observing the paddlers’ forward stroke. From Joe observing me while paddling out toward the bay, and from the one on one session, I learned that I need to keep my paddle shaft and shoulders more parallel, follow-through from 11 O’clock to 12 O’clock, and focus on not allowing my right hand to drop during the follow-through.

While were receiving our individual instruction, the nearby ACA Level 2 Class paddled away toward Ruffle Bar and were eventually out of our sight. Those of us in the Stroke Clinic eventually paddled to the concrete ramp at Floyd Bennet Field, each paddler focusing on their forward stoke as we paddled.

At Floyd Benet Field, most of us beached to stretch our legs. As we were standing on the beach, we watched two large NYPD Boats circle nearby to the south. Eventually, a helicopter took off from Floyd Bennet Field, hovered about 15 yards above the bay between the two police boats, and three scuba gear clad swimmers jumped out of the helicopter into the water. The swimmers eventually climbed into a motored raft and headed toward shore while the helicopter flew away. Apparently the NYPD was doing the same thing we were doing, capitalizing on a beautiful day on the bay to practice and refine their skills.

Already having been out on the water several more hours than we had expected, and having paddled farther than we expected, we climbed back into our boats, paddled toward Sebago, again focusing on our forward stroke while paddling, even though Joe was no longer observing us.

Back at the clubhouse, the open paddle had long been back and there was no evidence of their even having been there. With our boats on the wash racks, washed but not put away, we sat around a picnic table and pulled our collective lunch resources to enjoy a late lunch. As we were finishing eating, the ACA Level 2 class began pulling in to the dock, so we hastily put our boats away to make room on the wash racks for their boats.

After the ACA Level 2 Class had washed and put away all their gear, instructors and students gathered around cold beers in the Sebago Club house for some post class debriefing. Those few of us still around from the Forward Stroke Clinic were permitted to listen in. Hearing both students and instructors debrief the day as well as the entire two-day class was itself instructive.

About seven and a half hours after we arrived at Sebago, Vicki and were a slightly tired, a slightly bit more tanned, and slightly improved paddlers. Throughout the day and as we headed toward home, we were both amazed at the level of activity at the club that day, three major events, but a few individual paddlers and sailors doing their own thing. We were also impressed with the level of expertise possessed by so many of our club members, expertise they were willing to share with others as trip leaders, assistant trip leaders, and instructors.

Jul 23, 2011

Jamaica Bay Mussels

Generations of New Yorkers have stained the creek along which the Native American Canarsie tribe once lived.

Still, the ribbed mussel persevered, and now city officials are hoping they can help clean up.

While pumps may have worked, crews rigged nets and trays in an effort to get thousands of mussels to latch on.

"Sometimes the simplest solution can be right in front of you, and you need to look at it through a different lens," said John McLaughiln of the Department of Environmental Protection.

Mussels, like other bivalves, are natural filters. They ingest the water, unharmed by toxins from untreated sewage and street runoff.

In the next four or five days, ropes and trays will be completely submerged by water. All that’ll be visible are strips of reflecting tape on top for boats passing in the night.

The hope is that in the coming months, the mussels will start to collect and help filter the water as the tide comes in and out.

"Each individual mussel can probably filter 20 to 25 gallons per day, so when you multiply that by 10,000 or even 100,000 mussels, you're getting a lot of filtering of the water," said McLaughlin.

There are plenty of the mollusks already, but only on the banks tethered to cord grass roots.

So the city hired a crew and paid $350,000 for the entire project. It's part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's PlanNYC, which hopes to reverse environmental damage citywide.

It's smack against a residential community, but discreetly so. Despite trash and less than pristine water, there aren’t just scores of mussels but jumping schools of jumping fish and ducks paddling northbound.

If the plan works, New York's waterways could become a veritable seafood buffet. After luring oysters and mussels to stay in the five boroughs, officials say they're next considering bay scallops.

Dept of Health Water Quality Report is full of Poop!

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 22, 2011

NYC WaterTrail Web: Public Boating Program Cancellations due to Sewage...

NYC WaterTrail Web: Public Boating Program Cancellations due to Sewage...: "Please be advised that the following organizations have alerted NYCWTA that they have canceled all or some of their public paddling programs..."
As things stand now, it'll be business as usual at Sebago!

Sewage Update

Ugh. Do I ever hate having to write a title like that.

Anyways. The Times has an article today about the fire & the resulting water quality issues - click here to read -

And as they mention in the article, there are now advisories against swimming at 4 beaches south of the Verranzano - here, again, is the water-quality site; advisories are now posted for Midland, Cedar, and South Beaches in Staten Island, and Sea Gate at the westernmost tip of Coney Island.

As of now, water quality at the beaches closer in to the bay is still fine and barring further changes, all programs at the club will run as planned this weekend.

We are fortunate.

Jul 21, 2011

Hudson River Sewage Dump

Updated w/closure & advisory info at 4:30 pm. Please scroll down for details.

If you have access to a kayak & Hudson River waters in the NYC vicinity, and you had any thoughts about beating the heat with some rolling and rescue practice - DON'T.

A fire at the North River Sewage Treatment Plant has knocked out a couple of pumps and there's been a massive discharge (ongoing as I post). Click here for full details.

Via the NYC Kayaker Distributed E-mail List - thank you as always to the Hudson River Watertrail Association for maintaining this incredibly useful "kayak grapevine". I usually hear it there first.

Adding a suggestion, slightly later - if you were considering attending any of the area's public paddling programs this weekend, it would be a good idea to check the website of the place you were going to go before you do. I think most of them have phone numbers you can call for a status update or will make announcements on their sites. I'm only aware of one so far (Hoboken Cove) that has made the call to not run their program this weekend, but others are considering it & will make their decisions as the situation develops.

Sebago will most likely be open for business as usual - we're way way south and around a very sharp turn, I think we're unlikely to have any problems. As long as the Brooklyn beaches along the inlet to Jamaica Bay are OK, we are too - click here for water quality reports.

Update, 4:30 pm...hat tip this time to the the New York City Watertrail Association, -
Rob Buchanan from the Village Community Boathouse got a press release from the DEP a little while ago. None of the beaches in the Lower Harbor or the Rockaway Peninsula have issues; as of now, seems that it's mostly the area north of the Verranzano that's been impacted. Testing will continue and if there are any changes in status, it'll be up on the water quality site shown above (think I got that from Andy Novick originally, thanks Andy).

Here's the description of the area that the DEP says IS affected:
Water quality modeling indicates that there is no immediate impact to permitted beaches due to the dilution capacity of the river. Based on recommendations from NYC Health, the Hudson River, the East River from the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge to Verrazano Bridge and the Harlem River will not be fit for recreational activities such as swimming, canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing or any other water activity that would entail possible direct contact now through at least Sunday.