Tag Archives: canoe

Meet the Paddlers, Part 5

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. So if you see Amy, Peter, 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!

Amy

Canoe trip leader

Public paddle, 2015

Amy in the bow at a public paddle, 2015


Q. Tell us about a favorite route or trip that you like to use for club paddles.
One of my favorite trips is Hallets Cove with a Roosevelt Island circ. It’s a great trip length, and it’s always fun to get some ice cream from Costco and check out what’s going on in the Socrates Sculpture Garden. And coming back via the west channel is really fun. I’m also a huge fan of public paddles; you can find me sterning one of the big canoes at most of them. I love encouraging new people to come out on the water and learn about the Creek and what NBBC is all about.

Q. Tell us one of your favorite stories about a particular club trip.
My first City of Water trip was incredible. It was so fun to see so many other people-powered boats out and about and to know we were all headed to the same place and that everyone else on the water knew it was happening. It was a great sense of community. Crossing Buttermilk Channel for the first time was exciting, and when we got to Governors Island, exploring with other NBBC folks was amazing! When we camped that night (this is the only day you can camp on Governors Island!), after a wonderful dinner, much talking, and stargazing, I slept under the open sky, and it was wonderful. To this day, I’ve only ever been to Governors Island by canoe, and I kind of like it that way — it changes how I think about the place.

Prepping for big canoe rescue training, May 2016.

Prepping for big canoe rescue training, May 2016.

Peter Tiso

Canoe trip leader

Pete gives Public Paddle paddle prep

Pete provides the public Public Paddle paddle prep


Q. How did you first find North Brooklyn Boat Club? What’s your origin story as a club member?
Back when NBBC was still meeting at the Brooklyn Rod & Gun, I went to go write about them for Greenpointers. I nervously sat around a table eating peanuts and surrounded by people I didn’t yet know would become my friends, but I knew they were on to something. I held a relevant merit badge from the prestigious Boy Scouts of America, but my canoeing was pretty rusty when I first got to the club. When I brought down my old canoe to donate and Willis took me out in the middle of the river at night for the first time, I was totally hooked.

Q. Tell us about a favorite route or trip that you like to use for club paddles.
I really love the trip from Greenpoint to Brooklyn Bridge Park. The feeling of having the whole river pushing you both ways is indescribable, and there are many small, interesting places to explore along the way, and the best view of the Williamsburg Bridge is from the water underneath it. After you do it a few times, the tricks of the current around docks and pilings feels like a playground.

Peter on the Creek

Peter on the Creek


Q. Tell us one of your favorite stories about a particular club trip.
Jeff Stark once put on a performance set on the Gowanus Canal called The Dreary Coast, which placed the audience on a barge moving up and down the canal. One night he opened it to people who arrived in their own craft, so we paddled down in one of the 25-foot war canoes. Aside from the performance itself — one of the best uses of forgotten space I’ve ever seen — the trip down and back was memorable. We surprised a tugboat we were coordinating with over the radio with how fast the canoe could go when full of good paddlers, hit some exciting rough water in the harbor, and went out for sandwiches in face paint and life jackets. I think all of our canoeing should be done while dressed as damned souls and our faces painted to terrible masks.

Pranking the kayakers, September 17, 2015


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

The Public Paddles Are Here!

The next public paddle is August 27!

The next public paddle is July 8!


At these free, informal paddles, North Brooklyn Boat Club welcomes walk-up participants to join trained NBBC guides for short trips on Newtown Creek and often out toward the East River, where we often pause to take in the view of Manhattan. Usually we take out our 25′ big canoes. Everyone on the paddle works together under expert instruction to forge a unique NYC experience, seeing the city in a new way. We might also take out regular tandem canoes or sit-on-top kayaks depending on the weather.

Heading west along the bulkhead

Heading west along the bulkhead

In Dutch Kills

In Dutch Kills

Public paddles are free and open to everyone. We especially hope to welcome our Brooklyn neighbors to the boatyard to see the city the way we love to see it — from the water. In particular, we are proud to welcome other nonprofit community organizations to join us and relax from the hard work of making the world a little bit better.

For May 20, we invited El Puente to the Public Paddle, and for June 10, we invited Make the Road New York. It is our great pride and pleasure to invite our North Brooklyn neighbors and partners to paddle with us, and you should join us, too, as we break tradition by building bridges on the water!

We will try to get everyone who shows up on the water using our war canoes, but the earlier you arrive the better your chance of going on a paddle. All our voyages are led by certified trip leaders and include some of the best views of the city. This is a great way to check out the boatyard and get a chance to explore the local waterways. Paddling is free! And we serve beverages, veggie dogs, hot dogs, and other snacks. Our public paddles are child and pet friendly.

This year’s schedule (subject to change; please check our Calendar of Events):

  • Saturday, May 20, 12-4 PM — Special Guest: El Puente
  • Saturday, June 10, 12-4 PM — Special Guest: Make the Road New York
  • (read about the day here)

  • Saturday, July 8, 12-4 PM
  • Saturday, July 29, 12-4 PM
  • Saturday, August 19, 12-4 PM
  • Saturday, September 16, 12-4 PM


The big canoes!

The big canoes!

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!

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!