Author Archives: M. H.

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.

A Communal Season: NBBC’s 2019 Public Paddles at MASE Park

In 2019, NBBC furthered our mission by making our Public Paddle series even more public. For the first time, we launched all of our Public Paddles from MASE Park. Going into the season — our first in exile from our boatyard as we await construction of a permanent community boathouse — we were all nervous about what the season would bring and whether we could continue to reach our community and help our neighbors see that the waters of NYC don’t belong only to those who use them for industry or who are wealthy enough to afford their own boats. But thanks to the generous support of the NYC Parks Department, we brought more people than ever before out on Newtown Creek in our fleet of grant-funded Langley canoes!

Public Paddle, May 11, 2019

From MASE Park, the northern end of Greenpoint’s main street, we were able to make our presence known to people who would not have found us in the boatyard. Our Public Paddles became more public than ever, and soon our volunteers had the set-up and breakdown mastered.

Volunteers ready for the Public Paddle, May 25, 2019

Thanks to Parks and GCEF, we created community events throughout the paddling season, providing food, fellowship, and adventure and talking about the living history and ecology of Newtown Creek and the entire estuary. Plus, we were able to provide a little instruction on paddling canoes!

Learning the moves! Public Paddle, June 1, 2019

The waters are cooling now, and the days are growing short. The 2019 paddling season is just about over. But NBBC is looking forward to 2020 and to continuing our mission: bringing the people of North Brooklyn and NYC in general out on their home waters and sharing with them the gift of connecting with those waters and reclaiming them for ourselves and for the future.

Public Paddle, June 1, 2019

Plus, it’s just fun!

NBBC wants to thank GCEF and Parks for all they have done for our mission — and we hope to see you all on the water in 2020!

NBBC at the Lost Islands of New York Concert

On October 19, 2019, NBBC took its fleet of Clipper Canoes and a few other boats and formed a large portion of the audience at the Tideland Institute‘s Lost Islands of New York Concert in Newtown Creek’s Turning Basin, once the site of Mussel Island. From aboard the Shoofly Pie, the Wollesonics played to a crowd in canoes and rowboats on a perfect fall afternoon.

With the canoe crowd around the Shoofly Pie, the Tideland Institute’s Lost Islands of New York concert, October 19, 2019

We paddled in a mix of NBBC members and folks from the North Brooklyn community and beyond, joining others who had paddled from Plank Road and the Newtown Creek Nature Walk and Long Island City Community Boathouse for a concert like none other, an event accessible to those ready to reclaim the public waters and show up to evoke an island that was destroyed to make way for industry.

Atop the Shoofly Pie, the Tideland Institute’s Lost Islands of New York concert, October 19, 2019

Gathering where Mussel Island once broke up the creek, we posited a different history, where the waters of New York were not used by the few for their own benefit but honored and celebrated by everyone as a precious thing that belongs to no one — and so belongs to all of us.

Plus, the band rocked out.

Also see this article from Gothamist about the show, and more great pictures.