Tag Archives: kayak

Free Public Paddling! Viaje en kayaks y canoes gratis!

No experience needed!  ¡No se necesita experiencia!

Public Paddles are the heart of North Brooklyn Community Boathouse, a chance to show the community that the waters belong to all of us and to help our friends and neighbors find the same joy in paddling that we all know.

Trips are 30 minutes long. led by trained Trip Leaders and are either in big canoes (up to 12 paddlers!) or sit-on-top kayaks which seat 1 or 2 people.  For kayaks, there is a minimum height requirement of 4’10” in order to ensure the kayak will remain balanced. There is no size requirement for canoes. 

Only unvaccinated adults must wear masks (both in the boatyard and on water).

¡La temporada 2021 arranca con un Pádel Público! Los Public Paddles son el corazón del North Brooklyn Community Boathouse, una oportunidad para mostrarle a la comunidad que las aguas nos pertenecen a todos y ayudar a nuestros amigos y vecinos a encontrar la misma alegría en el remo que todos conocemos.

Los viajes duran 30 minutos y utilizarán kayaks con capacidad para uno o dos personas. Hay un requisito de altura mínima de 4’10 ” para garantizar que el kayak se mantenga equilibrado.  Sin minimos de talla para las canoes.  

Las mascaras son necesarias si no esta vacunado.

Public Paddle, June 1, 2019

We are also looking for volunteers! If you’re interested please email nbbckayaks@gmail.com and let us know if you can pitch in.

Para ser voluntario, por favor envíe un correo electrónico: nbbckayaks@gmail.com

No experience is necessary. We are looking for help with:

  • Setting up the event
  • Waivers, PFDs, and dock help
  • Greeting the public
  • End of event packing up

Hope to see you there!

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

NBCB sincerely thanks the Greenpoint Community Environment Fund and the Office of the New York State Attorney General and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for financial support for our Public Paddle series.


Time and Tide Wait for No One

But at least we know their schedule!

All of NBBC’s East River trips, whether by canoe or kayak, have to take into account the tidal currents of the Hudson River estuary. Indeed, the East River, our home waters, is not really a river at all. It’s a tidal strait where the water of the Atlantic Ocean cycles around Long Island, ebbing and flooding in a complex interplay of forces.

An hour past low water at the Battery, from Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book. H/T: New York City Water Trail Association

So the NBBC trip leaders plan each trip carefully, taking advantage of the period of slack currents to ride the ebb tide one direction and the flood tide the other. To help our trip leaders and keep our members and friends informed, NBBC has added a tide widget to the website’s sidebar:

This widget shows the tides, but it does not show the currents. That information is available from NOAA. And on our Paddle page, you can find a slack chart as both a JPEG and a PDF, showing the predicted moments when the tidal current reverses direction at Thirty-First St. in the East River:

Tidal Currents, 2017, off 31st St.

Tide and current shape the estuary now as they have done for centuries and centuries . . .

Flow on, river! flow with the flood-tide, and ebb with the ebb-tide!
Frolic on, crested and scallop-edg’d waves!
Gorgeous clouds of the sunset! drench with your splendor me, or the men and women generations after me!
Cross from shore to shore, countless crowds of passengers!
Stand up, tall masts of Mannahatta! stand up, beautiful hills of Brooklyn!
Throb, baffled and curious brain! throw out questions and answers!
Suspend here and everywhere, eternal float of solution!

–Walt Whitman, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”
Bushwick Inlet trip, May 27, 2017
And, of course, when the currents won’t cooperate, we always have Newtown Creek!

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!


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.


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!

Tony Pignatello

NBBC mourns the passing of one of the legends of NYC paddling, Tony Pignatello, former Commodore of the Sebago Canoe Club.
Sunset from a kayak, 2015
“For all the river took away from us, it returned the greatest of gifts — a clean and unassailable purpose to existence. We lived to go another mile, to try to encounter it fully so memory would register it deeply, and to stay around long enough for the next mile and a reward of repose at the end of the day.”
–William Least Heat-Moon, River Horse
Kayaks on the dock at the Lake Sebago cabin