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!