Jun 28, 2011

Jamaica Bay water quality agreements signed

NEW YORK CITY, NY, June 27, 2011 -- New York environmental agencies have signed two parallel agreements to significantly improve water quality and habitat in Jamaica Bay.

The agreements, signed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), continue several years of joint efforts by these agencies to clean up the bay, with the active participation of a civic and environmental coalition, including the Natural Resources Defense Council and Jamaica Bay Eco-Watchers, which were named in one of the legal settlements announced today.

The agreements require DEP to invest in heightened nitrogen treatment systems at four New York City wastewater treatment plants that discharge into the Bay, at an estimated cost of $100 million. DEP will also dedicate $13 million in Environmental Benefit Projects (EBPs) and $2 million to restore marsh island habitat in this nationally prominent ecosystem.

The agreements also require New York City to adhere to a schedule for plant treatment upgrades and provide for the civic and environmental coalition's continued involvement in the cleanup. The agreement between DEC and DEP also will keep on track the multi-year program to improve water quality in Long Island Sound through nitrogen treatment upgrades.

"The signing of this historic agreement will benefit generations of New Yorkers and millions of tourists who want to enjoy one of New York City's hidden gems," said New York City Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway. "And we have not waited for the drafting to be complete to get to work. We are already removing roughly 8,000 pounds more of nitrogen per day than would be the case without this agreement; when it is fully implemented, we will have cut nitrogen discharges from our treatment plants by at least 50%."

Popular for fishing and bird-watching, Jamaica Bay is one of the focus areas of the America's Great Outdoors program, the Obama Administration's initiative to develop a 21st century conservation and recreation agenda.

The Bay is a diverse ecological treasure that supports multiple habitats, including open water, salt marshes, grasslands, coastal woodlands, maritime shrub lands, and brackish and freshwater wetlands. These habitats support nearly 100 fish species, 325 species of birds and many reptile, amphibian and mammal species. Over the past several decades, Jamaica Bay's marsh island habitats have been disintegrating at an accelerated rate.

Excess nutrient nitrogen in salt water systems is a major cause of algae growth and associated low oxygen conditions that can cause fish kills, wetland habitat decay, odors and bio-slimes -- sometimes referred as a nitrogen "dead zone." These conditions often impact both Jamaica Bay and Long Island Sound during warmer weather. Ninety percent of the nitrogen going into the Bay comes from municipal sewage treatment plants.

Jun 20, 2011


The recent revival of Sebago's Canoe Committee, and the upcoming Bronx River trip have reminded me that I used to do a lot of paddling, single blade, old school, "J" stroke and all. I dug up some of my old photos of two special wood canoes that I had. One, an Old Town 15' lightweight "guide" model that I completely restored, and the other an ultra-light, Tom Hill designed lapstrake canoe that I built. Holly and I put many miles on these two boats, making several week long trips in the Adirondack lakes, and some weekend forays to the Pine Barrens. We paddled a bit on salt water too, on trips to Maine and Nova Scotia. Here are some pics.

The Old Town Guide, with her original canvas before restoration.

Stripping off the old varnish. The canvas has been removed.
I decided to take a canoe restoration class from renowned builder Rollin Thurlow, who was teaching at the WoodenBoat school in Brooklin, Maine. This week long course was excellent, and I came away with a nearly done boat. We stripped the old canvas off, and removed all of the old varnish prior to traveling up to WoodenBoat. This was back in 1990 or 91. Once there, I removed the old end decks, repaired the stem ends, and replaced several broken ribs with new, steam bent white cedar. Most of the planking on my boat was sound. The exciting part of this whole business was the re-canvassing. The hull is suspended in a "hammock" of #10 canvas, attached to the building on one end, and a powerful come-along tackle on the other. Here, Rollin is jumping up and down in the boat, and shoring down from the ceiling to stretch the canvas tight.

New canvas!

Stretching the canvas tight at the gunwales, before stapling.
The canvas, once stapled, nailed, and trimmed, is filled with a proprietary canvas filler (secret recipe) before painting. This mix has to dry for a few weeks, so I finished off the boat at home.

The finished boat rests beautifully in the Batsto River, Jersey Pine Barrens.
I had actually begun building the lapstrake canoe before we bought the Old Town. At the time I thought that the restoration would be quicker than building the new boat. I was wrong about that! We  finished the lapstrake boat and took a trip up with her up to Nova Scotia before we ever finished the wood and canvas restoration.

Lapstrake canoe building form.
The lapstrake canoe is built on molds and ribbands. The finished hull is lifted off of the form, which can be used to build another boat, which we in fact did. The bottom planks were glassed before planking the rest of the hull.

Sanding the interior. Inwales are also being glued on.

Portaging the 45 lb. canoe in Vinalhaven, Maine.

A beautiful sunrise on Lake Kejimkujik, Nova Scotia.
I would love to see Sebago revive some of the regional canoe trips to the Pine Barrens, the Adirondacks, and beyond. Its a wonderful experience!

Jun 15, 2011

SEBAGO SAILING- 2011 basic sailing course

Here's a report on another successful basic sailing course for small boats. Congratulations to all the participants! This year, our chief instructor Holly had just completed the US Sailing Small Boat Instructor course, bringing a new level of professionalism to an already superb level of instruction.
As usual, we combine classroom instruction with "on the water" drills, pairing each student with an instructor. Our water drills out in the bay are accompanied by two rescue power boats. The second boat has proved invaluable, both in terms of safety and in maintaining close contact with the students. Further, we can load instructors in the power boats, rather than landing on the beach, while the students are doing their solo drills. We start out in the classroom and on land.

Holly demonstrates sunfish rigging.

Severn practices the tiller hand exchange.
After the lecture and land drills, we launched the boats and headed out to the bay. Because of the bridge construction, we are doing a lot of towing. On Saturday, we had a stiff east to southeast breeze coming in with the flood, so towing was an absolute necessity going out. We also had some pretty dreary weather, and were chased in by a good sized thunderstorm, but not before everyone had done a good bit of sailing. It was way too wet to worry about the camera that day, so there are no pics from the bay. On Sunday however, we had it easy, launching in a very light north easterly with the last of the ebb. Most of the sailors sailed or paddle/sailed out of the channel. Our wind switched south (don't we love that) and gradually filled in to a max of 7 or 8 mph. Perfect conditions for learning! We set up buoys, anchored the two safety boats, and everyone sailed solo for a couple of hours.

Lee and Oscar sailing, with Holly, Tracy, and Matthew in the skiff.
John and Severn sailing.
Laurie sailing.

Oscar on a reach.
Lee with good tiller form.
Rounding the mark.
When everyone had enough tacking, jibing, reaching, beating, and running, it was time to practice our capsize recovery drills. All the students were successful, which is not always the case!

Former kayaker, Quint, demonstrates recovery from a turtle. This constitutes a "roll".
Climb on, Laurie!
I'd like to thank the students, Laurie Bleich, John Thomas, Severn Clay, Oscar Aarts, Laura Segal, Quint Klinger, Lee Von Kraus. And the instructors, Tracy Kornrich, Justin Steil, Chris Bickford, David Cripton, Holly Sears, Bob O'neil, Jim Luton, Matthew Peverly, and Mark Rand.

Jun 8, 2011

NY1 Photos

NY1 Live truck came to Sebago on June 2nd, 2011

Mike Boxer talks to NY1 Roger Clark

Tony interviewed by Roger Clark

Steve does a roll...

Jun 2, 2011

Sebago makes it on NY1

From NY1 website:

A Brooklyn canoe club is urging New Yorkers to paddle up this summer.

The Sebago Canoe Club is helping teach the basics at the Paerdegat Basin in Canarsie.

The volunteer, not-for-profit club has been around for 78 years teaching the public the basics of canoeing and kayaking.

Members, who pay a yearly fee of $225 and come from all walks of life, say they share a common love of being out on the water.

"It's relaxing, it's very soothing, it's like a runner needing to run basically," said Sebago Canoe Club Member Mike Boxer.

"This is just wonderful, it's like nothing that you find anyplace in the world, you know, it's just wonderful," said Sebago Canoe Club Member Elain Winslow.

Club members spread their love of the water through summer open paddle sessions which cost just $10 and free paddle trips for kids from the Police Athletic League and local schools.

"A lot of them are very timid at first and when they come back they have big smiles on their faces and they feel like they've accomplished something, they've overcome their fears," said Sebago Canoe Club "Commodore" Tony Pignatello.

While the waterways around New York City have not always had the best reputation for their water quality, club members say the basin has never been cleaner.

"There's a sewage treatment plant, and it's fully on line, and it's really magnificent," Pignatello said.

For more information on the club, visit www.SebagoCanoeClub.org.