Meet the Paddlers, Part 4

NBBC exists to enable and advocate for human-powered boating on the waterways bordering Greenpoint and Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in particular, and all through the New York Harbor. It is a community organization, and the member-volunteers — trip leaders, trip assistants, and program volunteers — who keep us on the water come from that community and give back to it by making NBBC programming happen.

Here are two more of those amazing volunteers. These two go all the way back to the beginning of NBBC, a part of our origin story: they put a boat in Newtown Creek and came back to tell the tale! So if you see Dewey, Jens, or any of our trip leaders and volunteers around the club or out on the water, say hi, and thank them for lending their time and skills to keep North Brooklyn boating!

And visit the Trip Leaders and Volunteers page on the NBBC website to learn more about them!

Dewey

Founding member
Kayak trip leader
President of the board

Q. How did you first find North Brooklyn Boat Club? What’s your origin story as a club member?
A long time ago, I made a short film about a man and a woman who are paired in a boat at a cheesy singles canoe outing and get swept out the East River. I took one of the prop boats, and my wife Katherine and I started paddling, awed and thrilled by the freedom and adventure of the river.

Years later, I started the boat club because, having launched our kayaks and canoe from the broken concrete street-ends in Greenpoint and being on the Community Board in the wake of the 2005 Waterfront Rezoning, I saw that when developers talked about “waterfront access,” they were talking about walking up to and looking at the water, not getting on it. I also knew that, without an organization, we would have no real voice in advocating for paddlers.

In 2009 I posted a notice for a meeting at the Brooklyn Rod & Gun Club (RIP, sigh), and, from the very first meetings, there was tremendous interest and, moreover, an amazing group of people passionate about getting on and cleaning up the waterways

Dewey, old-school!

Q. What kind of background and experience with paddling did you have before you joined, in general and in NYC specifically?
A. I learned to paddle a canoe at a camp on the Kangaroo River in Australia when I was 9. Started kayaking here in New York many many years later.

Q. Tell us about a favorite route or trip that you like to use for club paddles
I think we’re very lucky to have the extraordinary Bushwick Inlet in our reach. A very rare natural embayment off the East River, untouched (legally) by humans for decades after being fenced off from the street and nearby industry, it is a key stopover for migrating birds. Even though Kent Avenue is only a few yards away, it feels like a real sanctuary.

Jens

Founding member
Canoe trip leader

Jens, Gertie, and Millie on Newtown Creel

Jens, Gertie, and Millie on Newtown Creek


Q. How did you first find North Brooklyn Boat Club? What’s your origin story as a club member?
A. When I moved to Greenpoint in the midnineties I immediately started looking for ways to get on the water. I found the East River Kayak Club, but they were winding down as an organization. I volunteered for a while with Floating the Apple back when they were on 42nd, but I still wasn’t satisfied. When I heard about the North Brooklyn Boat House proposal (which was the genesis for the club), I knew I wanted to be involved, so I started showing up at those first meetings, which were held at the Brooklyn Rod & Gun. I’ve been involved ever since, first as a founding member, then as an instructor, and now as a board member.

Q. What kind of background and experience with paddling did you have before you joined, in general and in NYC specifically?
A. I grew up on the water: swimming, canoeing, windsurfing, sailing. As an adult I did a ten-week Maine Guide course that really gave me the skills in boat handling, trip management, and risk assessment that have been so valuable to my work with the club. I was one of the club’s first canoe instructors and trip leaders, and it’s been a real pleasure!

Q. Tell us one of your favorite stories about a particular club trip.
A. I don’t know where to even start. Here’s a few: paddling through bioluminescent jellyfish in Newtown Creek, being checked out by a seal in the East River, paddling back from Gowanus Canal at three a.m. in hard chop and rain, riding the massive standing waves (the ones that have capsized tugboats) in the East River during max ebb. Every trip provides some kind of exhilaration!

Earth Day, 2016

Learn more about Jens, Dewey, and other super-skilled and endlessly enthusiastic NBBCers on the Trip Leaders and Volunteers page!

NBBC Is Hiring: Environmental Education Coordinator

Patterson shows wildlife thriving in the Living Dock to a class from St. Joseph College

Wildlife thriving in the Living Dock

Job Description

The North Brooklyn Boat Club (NBBC) is seeking a part-time Environmental Education Coordinator to oversee educational programming throughout the summer and fall season of 2017. NBBC offers marine-based education to visiting school groups, community organizations and the general public through land-based activities at our headquarters in Greenpoint and on-water canoe tours. We are seeking a motivated self-starter to conduct outreach, handle administrative duties, maintain our educational space and run on-land programming. The Coordinator will report to the Board of Directors and also help coordinate our dedicated volunteers in running educational programming.

Responsibilities

Outreach to existing and new educational, community and corporate partners in scheduling and offering environmental education programming at the North Brooklyn Boat Club’s boatyard. Tasks include outreach and scheduling, coordination with volunteers and running marine based education programming using established NBBC lessons plans and activities.

Work Schedule & Compensation

  • 15 hours per week, May 1 through October 31
  • Availability to work on weekends is a high priority; scheduling is flexible
  • Possibility of additional hours depending on funding availability
  • $20 per hour

Qualifications

  • Highly motivated and self-driven with ability to work well with others
  • A natural communicator with experience in community outreach and engagement
  • Experience working with groups of all ages in educational setting
  • Background in marine or earth sciences is a plus
  • Must be comfortable in small boats, willing to learn basic paddle skills. Canoe experience is a plus
  • Familiarity with Greenpoint/Williamsburg neighborhoods is a plus

Interested applicants should submit a resume and cover letter to info@northbrooklynboatclub.org. Resume should include 2 or 3 references. Position will remain open until filled.

About NBBC

The North Brooklyn Boat Club is a 501c(3) non-profit organization located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. NBBC is dedicated to enabling and advocating for human-powered boating on the waterways bordering Greenpoint/Williamsburg Brooklyn. The organization enables local citizens to be effective stewards of the ecology and so preserve the recreation and freedom that the waterways engender. Since 2012, NBBC has safely taken thousands of people out onto local waterways and run environmental educational programming for dozens of schools and educational groups. More info on NBBC Environmental Education here.

Tony Pignatello

NBBC mourns the passing of one of the legends of NYC paddling, Tony Pignatello, former Commodore of the Sebago Canoe Club.
Sunset from a kayak, 2015
“For all the river took away from us, it returned the greatest of gifts — a clean and unassailable purpose to existence. We lived to go another mile, to try to encounter it fully so memory would register it deeply, and to stay around long enough for the next mile and a reward of repose at the end of the day.”
–William Least Heat-Moon, River Horse
Kayaks on the dock at the Lake Sebago cabin

Meet the Paddlers, Part 3

NBBC exists to enable and advocate for human-powered boating on the waterways bordering Greenpoint and Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in particular, and all through the New York Harbor. It is a community organization, and the member-volunteers — trip leaders, trip assistants, and program volunteers — who keep us on the water come from that community and give back to it by making NBBC programming happen.

Here are two more of those amazing volunteers. If you see Monica, Ros, or any of our trip leaders and volunteers around the club or out on the water, say hi, and thank them for lending their time and skills to keep North Brooklyn boating!

And visit the Trip Leaders and Volunteers page on the NBBC website to learn more about them!

Monica

Founding member
Kayak trip leader

First canoe-kayak Roosevelt Island circ, 2012

First canoe-kayak Roosevelt Island circ, 2012


Q. How did you become a trip leader?
As NBBC was getting set to open, I flew to Tybee Island, Georgia, for several intense days of training and testing so the club would have its first ACA-certified trip leader in time for opening day in spring 2012.

I also conducted workshops in those early days, and my 2012 workshop has blossomed into five: Trip Planning Theory, Trip Planning Practice, Marine Radio and Weather, Rules of the Road, and Knots for Kayakers.

[See the NBBC calendar for Monica’s upcoming workshops!]

Q. Tell us about a favorite route or trip that you like to use for club paddles.
A. After thirteen years of leading kayak trips on the East River, my favorite trip is any that lets people fall in love with paddling and thereby inspires them to care for and cherish nature and the environment. Plus, a side effect of learning to paddle is a boost to self-esteem and confidence.

To that end, I try to make my trips accessible to as many skill levels as possible, especially beginners, while keeping safety and fun in mind.

Finally, it gives me great joy to have played a part, even if small in those who go on to become leaders or instructors, continuing the cycle.

Monica in the East River

Monica in the East River

Ros

Membership coordinator
Canoe trip leader

Paddle instruction, Opening Day, 2016

Ros gives paddle instruction, Opening Day, 2016


Q. How did you first find North Brooklyn Boat Club? What’s your origin story as a club member?
A. I stumbled upon NBBC when I was doing research for a harebrained scheme, trying to get to this abandoned island outside of the city. Dangerously ignorant of paddling knowledge and other essentials, I was looking for a place that would rent a little hand-powered boat to me. Thankfully, that trip never materialized; if it had, I might not be here today! Anyway, I was smitten by the idea of a community boathouse whose work was to open access to our waterways, provide ecological and historical context, and equip folks with skills to venture out safely. So, I joined.

I finally made it to a night-time paddle going up Newtown Creek. As we waited for a couple of barges to do-se-do, our canoes gunwhaled up by wooden pilings on the Queens side just distal of Sims Recyling, we saw something incredible: bioluminescent comb jellies swirled beneath us, their electric blue forms flashing, folding over themselves, drafted by the tiny wakes of our canoe paddles.

Since then, I have been coming back to the club as much as I can. It has allowed me to discover so many things I love that I didn’t expect to find when I joined: the Dutch Kills swing bridge and other beautiful rusty fixtures along the creek; the epic annual night-time Manhattan Circumnavigation; the opportunity to learn so many interesting skills in community, like starting a fire with a knife, quartzite, and charcloth; witnessing groups of NYC schoolkids seeing tiny grass shrimp, snails, and fascinatingly disgusting bristleworms for the first time; relaxing my shoulders on a water break as the wide expanse of blue surrounds my small boat; working together as a crew on the water and off; laughing my guts out around a campfire with all these great goofy amazing people. There’s nothing better in Brooklyn.

Q. What kind of background and experience with paddling did you have before you joined, in general and in NYC specifically?
A. Okay, I did have a little sit-on-top kayaking experience before showing up to the club; I had gone out with some friends in Louisiana before. But compared to what I’ve learned from other NBBC paddlers, I knew virtually nothing. And look at me now, ma!

War-canoe rescue training, Hallets Cove

War-canoe rescue training, Hallets Cove


Believe it or not, Ros has a lot more to say! Learn more about Ros, Monica, and other super-skilled and endlessly enthusiastic NBBCers on the Trip Leaders and Volunteers page!