Delaware & Hudson Canoe & Kayak Club -
Atlantic Sea Kayakers
Manhattan Island Circumnavigation

July 8, 2000

Low water at the Battery: 8:50 a.m
High water at the Battery: 3:03 p.m.

10:00aTwenty-four paddlers start south down the Hudson from the Englewood Boat Basin. Fourteen solo and 3 tandem kayaks, including one solo and one tandem sit-on-top, and 2 canoes. The weather is perfect - sunny and heading for 80 degrees with a 10-knot breeze from the north pushing us down the calm Hudson. It's a rare hazeless day in July and we can see all the way to World Trade Center.
11:00aSoldiers' & Sailors' Monument. We're making good time with the 2-knot current and 10-knot breeze. The canoes and solo sit-on-top are bringing up the rear, with everyone feeling fresh and paddling strong.
11:30aThe Tall Ships are in port, recovering from OpSail 2000 on the 4th of July and preparing for the trip to Boston tomorrow. At 42nd St. our group is hugging the Manhattan shoreline to avoid the bustling boat traffic and get a good view of the Tall Ships. "There's the Intrepid," someone said, but it wasn't the Intrepid. It was the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy, a real warship, and we were paddling too close for the Navy's comfort. A Navy speedboat with a flashing lights, bullhorn and armed personnel confronts our fiberglass flotilla and orders us farther out into the channel, away from the JFK, and thus preventing any potential suicide-kayak attacks from our group.
12:00We continue south joining up with a group of kayakers from the Dowtown Boathouse on their way back from a round trip to the Intrepid. The Downtown Boathouse is hopping, with lots of folks wisely taking advantage of the opportunity for a free paddle on the Hudson. The paddlers in the lucky group were winners of a lottery this morning for the privilege of venturing beyond the Downtown Boathouse's wide embayment. By noon we are even with the ventilation tower for the Holland Tunnel, with the current still moving swiftly south. Lower Manhattan brings big swells and giant wakes in the heavy boat traffic. Even the Staten Island Ferry has ventured into the Hudson for a Tall Ships sightseeing trip, and it seems odd to see the big orange boat off its usual route. The authorities are out in force to deal with the pounding boat traffic today, and we encounter the NYPD Harbor Patrol, the Coast Guard, a NY State Police Boat, and the Navy.
12:30pThe Battery. We bob on the waves for a while to allow the stragglers to catch up, staring back at the tourists who are staring at us as they wait to board the ferries to Libery and Ellis Islands.
12:50pHuge crowds and more Tall Ships at the South Street Seaport. We pull into beach under the W pier of the Brooklyn Bridge for rest and lunch.
1:30pRest stop over; resume heading N up the East River. As we set out two kayakers are forced to make wet exits under the Brooklyn Bridge, one because of a failed attempt to show off his eskimo roll, the other when a gust of wind catches his paddle while he was off balance. With assistance from the group we reenter, pump out, and set back on our way. There is a very fast current and big chop in the bay between the Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges. One of the canoes takes on buckets of water from a rogue wave and when they paused to pump out, the raging current carried them toward a pier at a frightening speed. Dropping their pumps and hoisting their paddles they furiously stroked out of danger and rode the current Uptown.
2:30p44th Street. Huge standing waves are guarding the south end of Roosevelt Island, combined with busy traffic of large, fast boats. Two kayakers are without skirts, and they take on a lot of water. Under the Queensboro Bridge the waves settle down and we can enjoy the flying 4-knot current along the Roosevelt Island promenade. Again at the north end of Roosevelt there are huge cross waves and furious currents.
3:00pMill Rock. We wait for the stragglers to join the group. The last kayakers up the East River are the ones without their skirts, and they drag into Mill Rock in a half-submerged state. Once they arrive, 20 kayakers look downriver together, wondering how the canoes are ever going to survive the malicious conditions on the East River.
3:30pAll 19 boats pull into Randalls Island for a rest stop. Somehow the canoes stayed afloat, although they each have brought many gallons of East River water with them to Randalls. We lift our boats onto the seawall and wait for the current to turn north in the Harlem River.
4:40pSet out N from Randalls. Current is moving N in the Harlem River and we are paddling easily against the N wind. Drunks toss empty bottles of Andre over the Macombs Dam Bridge into the Harlem River, which we pick up for proper disposal.
5:40pDyckman Street. The canoes, lagging far back again, are invited in for a beer at the Marina.
6:00pSpuyten Duyvel. Short rest at the beach on northwesternmost corner of Manhattan.
6:30pEasy crossing of the Hudson and we pull into the beach at the Boat Basin.
7:00pCanoes arrive.

Photos by Bruce Taterka and John Jones

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