Category Archives: Voyages

Adventures on the water

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.

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”