Dec 10, 2013

Manorville Hike, 12/8/2013

Some of us at Sebago do keep paddling all winter, but not everyone's got the inclination (or the cash, a drysuit can be a very expensive addition to one's paddling wardrobe). However, most members are still very interested in spending time outdoors in pleasant company, so one of our members, Frank F., has volunteered to organize some hikes over the off season. I joined in on one of these yesterday. 

 It was a really nice hike, about five and a half miles in the Manorville Hills County Park. We started out with a couple of miles along the Paumanok Trail, and here I'm just going to share the little writeup that clubmate Dottie left on my Facebook version of the gallery I'll link to at the end of this post:

"The Paumanok trail is a 125 mile trek through wilderness, where you can encounter glacial kettles and erratics, rolling hills with panoramic vistas, parabolic dunes, coastal plain ponds, White Atlantic Cedar swamps, Dwarf Pines, Pitcher Plants, Painted Turtles, fields of Reindeer Lichen, maritime grasslands, Harbor Seals, Harrier Hawks, Olive Hairstreak Butterflies, Cedar Waxwings, and more. Long Island is an island of great natural diversity and the Paumanok Path visits much of it."

We didn't see too much wildlife because we were all talking, catching up with each other as we walked, but that was half the fun. The scenery wasn't as dramatic as some hiking areas but it was very pleasant. It was a pretty quick drive, we had people along who knew a lot about the area's geology, which always makes a hike more interesting to me, and the gently rolling hills made for some very nice hiking, not boring but not too hard either. Another good point that Frank pointed out about this park is that it's got a pretty extensive network of trails, so it can actually handle a lot of hikers without feeling crowded. There were a number of cars in the parking lot but except for a couple of gentlemen who were doing trail maintenance for the county, we didn't see anybody else all day!

I'm just at the point in recovering from a nasty cold I'd come down with the weekend after Thanksgiving (why do we say "I caught a cold" when it's more the other way around? This was an office bug that I'd managed to evade for 2 weeks before it finally got me but when it did, ugh!) that I really felt like it was time for some gentle exercise. if it was summertime, this would've been when I would've go joined my open-water swimmer friends out at Brighton Beach for a slow swim and some basking in the sun - this time of year, though, this hike was just what the doctor ordered. It was hard to get myself out the door in the morning - I got a ride from neighbor Beth so I only had to walk a block to meet her, but our meeting time was 7:30 am and it was sooo chilly outside - but I'm very glad I did.

Click here for a photo trip report! 

Cross-posted from Frogma.

Oct 7, 2013

Four Sparrow Marsh paddle september 2013

A nice September day to paddle from the clubhouse to Four Sparrow Marsh behind Flatbush Avenue in Mill Basin. A little windy on the bay but quiet and serene in the marsh.

Oct 5, 2013

Sebago Canoe Club volunteers at Floyd Bennett Field's "A Day on Jamaica Bay" Family Fun Day

Here are some photo's from last Sunday's family fun event at Floyd Bennett Field, "A Day on Jamaica Bay". Our friend -- that's "our" as in "most of us at Sebago", not "our" as in the royal We -- John, one of the head rangers there and the one who started their kayaking program, had planned this event to feature kayaking but because his seasonal staff had already gone back to school, he called on Sebago for volunteers to help him run it. Eight of us (I think) turned up to help out.

Things got off to a little bit of a slow start and I was afraid I was going to regret giving up the dinghy racing that was the original plan for the day, but then John went across the street to the Ryan Center, where the rest of the events were centered, and let people know that kayaking was happening at the Gateway Marina. After that, we had a very nice flow of people for the entire time, there were always people on the water but never too many for us to keep track of and also, I think, never so many that anybody had to wait, which was nice because we didn't end up having to pull anybody off the water to give somebody else a turn. John estimated that we ended up getting about 70 people on the water, and as far as I could see everybody had a great time! Gorgeous day, glad this was able to happen (one weekend later and of course it wouldn't have happened). Nice way to see out September!
John gives a five-minute intro to our first visitors

Waiting to launch early on. We didn't have quite enough boats (especially doubles) on the beach at first but we quickly got more off the trailer when people started turning up in good numbers. The doubles were important, we had a lot of parents who were able to paddle with children who were too small for their own boats. In one or two cases there were tears when the parent decided it was time to go - usually you don't really want to make children cry but crying because they don't want it to end? That's not so bad! 

Paddlers on the water. This was at Gateway Marina and it was a great venue, very sheltered but a fair amount of water for people to paddle around on. The less adventurous stayed near the launch, but we let people go as far as the pier marking the outside of the marina and a lot of people did go down to take a look out at the lower harbor. 

Doubles race!

Fellow volunteer - towards the end of the day, we were wrapping up.

Beach cat people came out to play just as we were putting the Parks boats away. Not part of the event but too pretty to not take a picture!

And here's a happy, wet, and sandy Ranger John - we made his day! Here's hoping he's able to get back to welcoming people to his park SOON. 

Cross-posted from Frogma

Aug 30, 2013

Touching the Sublime from a Boat in Jamaica Bay

I have observed Jamaica Bay from the driver’s seat of a car inching along the Belt Parkway, through a window of the A Train as it rattles over the two bridges connecting Broad Channel to the rest of Queens, and from inside a roaring passenger jet as it takes off and lands at JFK.  By far, my most cherished vantage points are while paddling my kayak or sailing my sailboat upon its waters.

One may experience the sublime anywhere, while walking The High Line, peddling a bike through Central Park, or sitting on a bench at The Cloisters as much as by attending a service at St. John the Divine or any Synagogue, Sanctuary, Mosque or Temple in the city.  Among my favorite touch points is the cockpit of a boat, be it a sailboat or a kayak.  It is then that I truly, mystically, experience the sublime as mediated through nature and the beauty and isolation that can be encountered in Jamaica Bay.
Far from the honking horns of the Belt, the rattle of the subway, the roar of a jet, and the cacophony of noise, jumble of sights, and mixture of smells that is often urban New York City, while my sailboat or kayak silently floats upon and slices through Jamaica Bay’s waters, I sometimes experience peace that is as much spiritual as psychological as I physically retreat from the mundane urban landscape.  After paddling or sailing awhile on some of the more remote parts of the bay, my soul feels refreshed and my mind and senses cleansed as if all the stress of city life has been washed away in the bay’s cleansing waters.
Be it walking or running shoes, bicycle, kayak, canoe, sailboat, or any non-motorized form of transportation that will take you into a through nature, find your own vantage point, some place and activity far removed from video games, cell phones, computers, taxis, subways and buses, far removed from the urban landscape where you too may touch the sublime.  You and our city will be better for the experience.
- - -
Last night I attended Gotham Writers Workshop free Essay & Opinion Writers Workshop in Bryant Park.  Workshop leader Melissa Petro invited those in attendance to take fifteen minutes to write an essay.  The above is an edited and revised version of what I wrote.  It is also posted on my personal blog Summit to Shore.

Jul 23, 2013

City of Water Day at Sebago - 7/20/2013

From City of Water At Sebago -- July 20, 2013

It was a very good day at City of Water Day in Canarsie! It was very hot and a little windier than we like for beginner paddles, but we got a whole lot of people out on the water in canoes, kayaks, and a Sunfish sailed by Holly the Sailing Co-Chair, with safety boat support provided by sailors Jim (the other Sailing Co-Chair) and Chris B. Between them being out there and the relatively sheltered area we have in the Paerdegat Basin, we were able to keep trips running all day. Click on the link below to see a few more pix of the day. 

Apr 28, 2013

2013 Season Opener

Saturday, April 27th, was not only the season opener, the first “official paddle
of the season” for the Sebago Canoe Club in Brooklyn, it was also one of the first post Hurricane Sandy events.  A group of kayakers left the Sebago dock around 10:30 and paddled around Canarsie Pol.  Other paddlers and rowers paddled independently of the organized paddle.  My wife, Vicki, and I were two of those who paddled independently.

Looking at the Belt Parkway Bridge over Mill Basin
Vicki and I put in just after the Canarsie Pol paddlers had taken out.  It was our first paddle of the season, first paddle since Sandy, first paddle since sometime in the fall, and first time to paddle under the newly finished Belt Parkway Bridge over Mill Basin and not under the old bridge which has been removed.  I paddled my Ocean Kayak Drifter, a sit-on-top I probably had not paddled in over a year.  Vicki paddled her Current Designs Sirocco.  Using an old fashioned mercury thermometer, I checked the water temperature under the bridge.  It was 57°F.  The air temperature was in the mid 60’s.

Kayak Committee Mtg Convened by Kayaking Chair, Tony
Vicki and I paddled under the bridge, past buoy 13, and to where the channel to the salt marsh would have been if it had been high tide.  Not wanting to miss the kayak meeting or the food, we turned around there and paddled bcak.  Our total paddle was about only an hour long, but enough to reacquaint us with paddling in Jamaica, especially after Sandy, and to wet our appetite as well as paddles and bats for an upcoming paddling season.

General Mtg Convened by Commodore Walter
After getting back to the Sebago dock we carried our boats up to the wash racks where we rinsed both salt water and debris from Sandy off.  Then we attended the Kayak Meeting, held in the club house at 3:00, and convened by Kayak Chair, Tony Pignatello.   After the Kayak Meeting we took a break and headed outside for the General Meeting, convened at 4:15 by Commodore Walter Lewandowski with several other chairs and officers making reports.  We enjoyed food, wine, and fellowship before, during, and after the meetings.

Feb 13, 2013

Follow the Osprey

Canarsie Pol osprey, April 2007

With the remnants of last weekend's blizzard still in evidence, there's certainly no mistaking the fact that it's still winter, but the days ARE getting longer (I do love it when I start seeing a bit of blue still left in the sky when I leave work at my usual hour of 6, and we are there!), and the various Sebago committees are beginning to gather to plot out the season's fun (SailComm was last night, kayak & canoe committees this weekend), and before too much longer, our local ospreys will be starting their long flight back from their wintering grounds to the South. One of the ospreys that nests in the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (over in Broad Channel) has actually been tagged with a GPS tracker, and I'm really looking forward to following along on Osprey's Journey.

Thanks to John at Control Geek for passing the word word word, word on the bird!

Cross-posting at Frogma.

Jan 20, 2013

Sealwatching Hike

With a forecast for winds gusting to 32 mph, Sebago's sealwatching paddle turned into a sealwatching hike. We did a loop around the west end of Jones Beach, starting and finishing at the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center - about 5 miles at a nice leisurely pace. It was hard to see the seals in all the chop but there was one definite and two possible sightings, plus all sorts of birds. Lovely day to be BY the water. More pictures tomorrow!

Jan 8, 2013

Sailing: Philosophy for Everyone: Catching the Drift of Why We Sail

The sailors among us might be interested in Sailing: Philosophy for Everyone: Catching the Drift of Why We Sail, Edited by Patrick Goold; Forward by John Rousmaniere, ISBN 978-0-470-67185-6, and my review of it on Summit to Shore.

Jan 1, 2013

Welcoming the New Year, Sebago style!

From Sebago Canoe Club Annual Frostbite Regatta (plus New Year's annual meeting)
Happy New Year! Here's a link to a few (by my standards anyways) photos from this morning's annual New Year's Day paddle at the Sebago Canoe Club. Always a nice way to start off a year. Welcome 2013!