North Brooklyn Community Boathouse Statement on Black Lives Matter

The North Brooklyn Community Boathouse, Inc. (North Brooklyn Boat Club) stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and against systemic racism and police brutality. We support the demands for justice for Black and Indigenous communities and all communities of color.

NBCB is dedicated to building a diverse and inclusive paddling community that is also an effective force for the ecological stewardship of our harbor and estuary. We acknowledge that there is much more that our organization can do to attain these goals. We must reflect on our structure, priorities, and programs and ultimately move beyond diversity and inclusion to work that helps bring justice and better lives to the communities we serve. We acknowledge that the historical legacy of segregated outdoor recreational activities persists in the boating community, and we will work to counter it.

We commit to ongoing discussions facilitated by our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee about the role of our organization in addressing issues of race, privilege, equity, justice, and the environment. The goal is to develop tangible antiracist actions that we can take as an organization to improve our own practices and positively affect our communities, the neighborhood, and NYC. We invite all interested members and neighborhood residents to join us. We pledge to seek out communities that have been especially cut off from access to and connection with the local waterways and to center Black and Indigenous communities and communities of color in our outreach and programming. Please watch our website and e-mail newsletter or contact info@northbrooklynboatclub.org to get involved.

As a community group dedicated to environmental justice, we join our partners at the Newtown Creek Alliance, the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, and others in demanding a drastic reallocation of the City budget to benefit Black communities and communities of color by providing services such as education, health care, housing, pollution mitigation, and green jobs.

The North Brooklyn Community Boathouse wants to be the community boathouse for all those affected by and connected to our urban waterways. We have always tried to provide celebration and joy as well as historical, cultural, and ecological information. We look forward to working together to create and enjoy more accessible and healthier waterways and a better, fairer world.

COVID-19 Paddling Protocols for NBBC

Because of the ongoing pandemic, this season is going to look much different for North Brooklyn Community Boathouse (North Brooklyn Boat Club). We want more than anything to go back to serving our community in the best way we know: by connecting local residents and visitors to their local waters and their rich history and ecology as well as the joy of being out on them in a human-powered boat.

But because safety is our top priority, we have have come up with the following protocols to keep NBBC trip leaders and trip leaders in training on the water while we hope that the pandemic soon ends. The trip leaders and assistants will stay in training and make sure they are aware of current conditions on the East River and Newtown Creek. We all hope to one day soon bring NBBC members and the wider community back on the water once more.

See the bottom of this post for some pictures from the first trips of the season.

Pandemic Social Distance and Sanitization Protocols

For Qualified Paddlers

At this time only Official Paddlers who are active members of the boathouse and their guest member (1 per official paddler) are qualified to paddle using North Brooklyn Community Boathouse equipment. All guest members must be Advanced Paddlers (canoe and kayak qualifications are on the website), and everyone must sign a waiver.

The North Brooklyn Community Boathouse does not and cannot ensure that paddlers using the facility will be protected from exposure to the COVID-19 virus. All paddlers and anyone using the facility acknowledge and accept that this already risky activity now carries another layer of danger and that NBCB cannot be responsible for your safety.

  • Paddle in groups of six or less.
  • Wear masks on shore (wherever you are launching/landing) at all times.
  • Maintain social distance (6 feet) at all times except in an emergency.
  • Wash hands with soap & water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer, before opening containers.
  • First person in the container should wipe down all high use touchpoints (locks, container handles, etc.) with sanitizing wipes or cleaner (as available).
  • Only one person should be in a container at a time unless two are needed to pull out or return a boat.
  • Use the trip log to document your trip; include time out, time back, and the names of participating paddlers.
  • On return, wash hands with soap for 20 seconds and/or use hand sanitizer
  • Hose down and scrub with soap/disinfectant all hard-surface equipment (boats, paddles, radios, spray skirts pumps etc.).
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: PFD’s and kayak skirts ARE NOT TO BE SHARED. Members who do not own a PFD and/or a skirt shall be allowed to “adopt” one from the club, take home and maintain properly. You must, of course, return any “adopted” equipment when asked. (follow directions posted in the container when adopting PFD and/or skirt)
    Last one out of the container should wipe down all high-use touchpoints (locks, container handles, etc.) using sanitizing wipes or a cleaner (as available)
  • After returning equipment to the containers, everyone must leave the boatyard. There can be no gatherings (not required to launch or land) in the boatyard.

All other boathouse policies and protocols still apply. Failure to comply with the above may result in loss of paddling privileges. We will continue to review the government regulations and recommendations and look forward to opening our facilities to all as soon as we can!

In the meantime, life on the river continues. The cormorants have returned, and their young are almost fledged. The ferry traffic is much reduced. We love the waters and the people of New York City and can’t wait to bring them together again.

NEW PANDEMIC PROTOCOLS FOR PADDLING

To date, NBCB has been following the New York State on PAUSE directives and our facilities have been closed with paddling not allowed.  Recently, the State directives expanded to include marinas and boatyards where they follow strict distancing and disinfection protocols as well as the operation of “boats or other watercraft.”
 
While NBCB’s mission remains dedicated to enabling safe and responsible paddling and environmental stewardship of our waterways for everyone, current distancing protocols make it impossible to involve anyone who isn’t a fully independent paddler in our on-water activities.  Thus, we cannot safely offer paddling at this time to the public, nor to Members who are not certified as Club “Official Paddlers” with the rescue certifications that designation includes.

When our season begins (when East River water temperature reaches 60 degrees) Official Paddlers will be allowed, while following safe distancing and equipment disinfection protocols, to paddle in groups of no more than 6 approved paddlers.  All other NBCB Safety Protocols apply.  Paddlers should be aware that some research shows the presence of the coronavirus in fecal matter, which suggests that exposure to CSOs might be particularly dangerous at this time.
 
Distancing guidelines and disinfection processes will be posted on our facilities and must be strictly followed.  Paddlers who do not follow these protocols risk losing paddling privileges. 
 
We look forward to the reopening of the City, and resumption of our regular programming including public paddling and member trips.  Until this becomes possible, we think it’s important that our volunteers (and that is one of the requirements of OP status) who work to run and organize trips for members and the public, are able to maintain their safety/rescue skills and stay active on the water.  In the meantime, the organization will continue to offer online programs, such as our Book Club and Nautical Crafts. We hope to expand these virtual gatherings in the near future.
 
We promise to update this policy as the pandemic and our ability to offer safe recreation and access to the open space of the waterways evolves. 

Your Community Boathouse In This Time of Pandemic

North Brooklyn Community Boathouse (aka North Brooklyn Boat Club) is, first and foremost, a community and we hope that all of you are safe and sound and have what you need to get through this difficult and uncharted stretch ahead.   We also support and are immensely grateful for the healthcare workers and others providing essential services during this time.  

For now – and we will re-assess as the situation evolves (including a follow-up announcement in the first week of May before the usual season start) – we are following CDC guidelines and statewide directives and cancelling all in-person programs and activities, including any paddling.  Some programs and gatherings will continue (and we hope more will develop) in virtual/remote modes and they will be announced through email and social media channels. 

There is information on our website about ways in which NBCB members and others in our community can find – and participate in delivering – support during the pandemic. 

Stay tuned, stay safe and we hope to see you all on the other side of this and on the water!