Author Archives: M. H.

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.

NBBC on Jimmy Kimmel Live: A Tour of Newtown Creek with Jimmy Kimmel and Bill Murray

We took Jimmy Kimmel and Bill Murray on a canoe tour of Newtown Creek and told them — and audiences all over the world — about the joys and challenges of our home waters.

Check out the video here, and come join us in spring 2020 for another season on the waters of New York City, waters that belong to all of us. We can’t wait to see you for another year of

COMMUNITY • ADVOCACY • ADVENTURE • PADDLING


(Hate Youtube and Google? In the United States you can watch directly on ABC’s site right here.)

Love those boats? So do we! They were purchased with GCEF grant funds and form the keystone of our public and educational programming. Check out the story of the Clipper Langley Canoes here.

And to see more of the Langleys in action on the creek, check out this article about our attendance at the Tideland Institute‘s Lost Islands of New York concert on Newtown Creek, featuring the Wollesonics. It features some great pictures of our fleet.

The Opposite of a Bridge Too Far: Manhattan Circumnavigation!

On September 29, once more nine NBBCers retraced one of our favorite routes: all the way around your insular city of the Manhattoes, girdled round by wharves like Indian isles by coral reefs!

We want to express our special thanks to Manhattan Community Boathouse for their warm welcome and hospitality. Or rather, we were warm, and they had Ice Pops and an outdoor shower!

Count the bridges and you’ll find that though we crossed under them not over them, they have connected us to our city in ways that many people never get to find.

You can also relive the trip here!

Next time, come join us!


(See more NBBC trips in our Paddle Gallery.)

How many dawns, chill from his rippling rest
The seagull’s wings shall dip and pivot him,
Shedding white rings of tumult, building high
Over the chained bay waters Liberty—

Then, with inviolate curve, forsake our eyes
As apparitional as sails that cross
Some page of figures to be filed away;
—Till elevators drop us from our day . . .

I think of cinemas, panoramic sleights
With multitudes bent toward some flashing scene
Never disclosed, but hastened to again,
Foretold to other eyes on the same screen;

And Thee, across the harbor, silver-paced
As though the sun took step of thee, yet left
Some motion ever unspent in thy stride,—
Implicitly thy freedom staying thee!

Out of some subway scuttle, cell or loft
A bedlamite speeds to thy parapets,
Tilting there momently, shrill shirt ballooning,
A jest falls from the speechless caravan.

Down Wall, from girder into street noon leaks,
A rip-tooth of the sky’s acetylene;
All afternoon the cloud-flown derricks turn . . .
Thy cables breathe the North Atlantic still.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

O harp and altar, of the fury fused,
(How could mere toil align thy choiring strings!)
Terrific threshold of the prophet’s pledge,
Prayer of pariah, and the lover’s cry,—

Again the traffic lights that skim thy swift
Unfractioned idiom, immaculate sigh of stars,
Beading thy path—condense eternity:
And we have seen night lifted in thine arms.

Under thy shadow by the piers I waited;
Only in darkness is thy shadow clear.
The City’s fiery parcels all undone,
Already snow submerges an iron year . . .

O Sleepless as the river under thee,
Vaulting the sea, the prairies’ dreaming sod,
Unto us lowliest sometime sweep, descend
And of the curveship lend a myth to God.

–Hart Crane, “To Brooklyn Bridge”