Apr 27, 2014

CCNY Concrete Canoe Team at Sebago

4/28/14 Update - YOWZA! This just in from the head of the Canoe Committee:

Sebago Canoe Committee
Please pass the word .........

The CCNY engineering students won overall FIRST PLACE at the American
Society of Civil Engineers Concrete Canoe Competition at Cook's Pond !!!

They have much thanks and appreciation for their training at Sebago.

They set course record for Coed !

They immediately asked if they can return to train at Sebago for the
nationals in Pittsburg in 2 months !

Bravo Sebago !"

Oy. Here we are, two weeks after the Season Opener, and I still haven't finished talking about what we found going on back in the basin, after our paddle around Canarsie Pol and prior to retiring to the clubhouse for the traditional consumption of mass quantities.

We found a crew of energetic young folks charging around the basin in a most unusual craft - a canoe made out of concrete. 
This group was the City College of New York's 2014 Concrete Canoe team, who'd been working with members of Sebago's Canoe Committee for a few weeks.

The American Society of Civil Engineers hosts this annual competition (which began in 1988, not surprisingly in Michigan, a canoe-crazy state if ever there was one). Teams are challenged to design, build, and finally race their own concrete canoes.

From the ASCE's Concrete Canoe site: "The ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition (NCCC) provides students with a practical application of the engineering principles they learn in the classroom, along with important team and project management skills they will need in their careers. The event challenges the students' knowledge, creativity and stamina, while showcasing the versatility and durability of concrete as a building material."

It was really neat finally seeing one of the boats! Like most people, when I think of something made out of concrete, I think of something that's solid and immobile - fascinating seeing it made into something floaty and fleet. I should've take a close-up or two - the boat had nice racing lines to it but when you looked at it closely, it absolutely wasn't pretending to be made out of anything but concrete (and I think they said it took about 7 people to move it around).

The team had been coming out for a few weeks in all kinds of weather and were being coached primarily by a member of the Canoe Committee who's done a lot of dragon boat racing. I'm not a great judge of canoe technique but I thought they were really looking like racers, and they had the boat well under control on what had turned into a very breezy afternoon. 

For a few more pix, click here.  

Apr 11, 2014

Spring Safety Spiel (cross-posted from Frogma)

Well, goodness, have we got a nice-looking weekend coming up here in the Northeast. Temps in the 60's in NYC, light winds and sunshine - perfect weekend to break out the ol' canoe, right?

And of course the answer to that question is, as always for this time of year,

"Yes, of course, but please learn
 the risks and have the right gear."

I suspect I'm preaching to a combination of choir and fellow preachers here but I always feel like I have to do this this time of year - the air's warming up but that water is still cold to the point that a mishap that would be humorous in August could actually be the last mistake that person makes.

There've already been a couple of the usual late winter/early spring news stories about kayak accidents doing the paddler social-media circuits - a couple of fatalities, plus one really lucky saved-life story. Naturally the story with the happy ending involved a paddler who was wearing their life jacket - I haven't got time to hunt down the link right now but if I'm recalling correctly, the story was that someone spotted the overturned kayak from shore and called for help. The paddler was past the point of being able to move by the time rescuers arrived but the lifejacket kept them afloat.

In NY State, we're still in the time of year when anyone out in a recreational craft of 20' or less is required by law to wear a properly-fitted lifejacket; that's not the rule everywhere, but a boater who doesn't is taking a big and completely unnecessary risk.

Beyond that, dressing properly is also important - remember that we had a very, very cold winter; I was talking to some of my polar bear swimmer friends last weekend and they were remarking on how cold the water remains right now at Coney Island.

Thinking of doing some spring boating, but not sure how you should prepare, or just feel like you could use a refresher? Visit the links in my Cold Water Safety section on Frogma, top of the sidebar - always good to know before you go!

Mar 18, 2014

Seal Watching Sans Kayak, Hoffman and Swinburne Islands, 3/16/2014

Morning at Pier 17, South Street Seaport. Meeting friends from Sebago for an Audobon tour of NY HarborWe left our kayaks at home this time - here comes our ride, NY Water Taxi Seymour B. DurstChecking out the birds along Governor's Island.Statue of LibertyPassing Red Hook - Art Trees, and the Waterfront Museum, downtown Manhattan in the distanceNext stop, Erie Basin. First seal sighting here - only it was a seal-shaped piling doing an excellent impersonation.
Scotty Sky, one of a very small number of tankers still around in NY Harbor. I got a nice shot of 2 more together later on in the trip.Not a great picture, but it's a Red-Necked GrebeParking Lot of Broken DreamsObligatory skyline shot!Tugs and barges in the anchorage at the Bay Ridge FlatsBochem Ghent fueling, just north of Staten Island
Bay Ridge Eco DockSwinburne and Hoffman IslandsBrants and canada geese off of Hoffman. Swinburne and the West Bank Lighthouse beyond.Harbor heron nests on Hoffman IslandA juvenile bald eagle flew right over out boat!Mol Efficiency, headed for sea
Approaching Swinburne. This is the island favored by the seals.Looking back - Hoffman, Verranzano Narrows Bridge and the city beyondNadir had told us to keep our eyes peeled as we approached, and sure enough, here was our first actual seal sighting - and it was a big one!Circled the five little heads that were visible at this moment. There were a whole bunch here, and very active!Checking out the area.The harbor police on Det. Robert Parker were out doing some seal-watching too.
Seal-Watching Sans Kayak, Hoffman and Swinburne Islands, 3/16/2014, a set on Flickr.

Possibly the easiest Sebago trip I've ever planned. "Hey guys, here's the event, here's the website, buy yourself a ticket if you want to come, see you on the boat". Ended up being a great day - I'm so glad that the Bowsprite took Tugster Will on an Audobon tour for his birthday, I'm not sure I would have thought of this on my own. Click here for Tugster's post - brrr, there was still snow then! The tours were only supposed to run through the 9th, but they extended for 3 weeks. I got a ticket the first one when I found out (I'd tried to get on the one on the 9th but it had been sold out, so I was tickled to find out about the extension), and then decided to spread the word at Sebago as this seemed like a great off-season activity that anyone could enjoy. We ended up having a very nice turnout, 8 of us went, and aside from the fun of having friends along, I think this was probably much nicer than the sold-out one on the 9th. With the short notice, I think the Sebago crew made up half of the passengers - no sardines at the railing trying to get the best view, there was plenty of room for all! Sound like fun? There are 2 more left, tickets can be purchase on the NYC Water Taxi site.  

Feb 2, 2014

Iced in at Sebago, 2/1/2014

I'm finally recovering from a cold I've had for a while and with the forecast this weekend calling for temps in the spendidly high 30's (woohoo) I found myself itching for a paddle. 

Fortunately Steve the Paddling Chef called for a hike instead. I'm awfully glad I decided to join in on that instead of paddling - turns out there would have been a major logistical issue with paddling! Here are a few photos from the club yesterday, taken before and after our short hike at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. 

No more writing - click on the first picture to go to the better slideshow view.

Cross-posted from Frogma.