Tag Archives: Manhattan

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”

Your insular city of the Manhattoes, belted round by wharves as Indian isles by coral reefs . . .

Manhattan Circ, October 1-2, 2016: Water break under the George Washington Bridge

Manhattan Circ, October 1-2, 2016: Water break under the George Washington Bridge


It has been many years since Herman Melville wrote those words at the beginning of Moby-Dick, but Manhattan and its wharves endure, and wanderlust and adventure still call to those who ply its waters. Once again, NBBC responded, and on Saturday, October 1, at 10 PM, a crew of twenty paddlers embarked on on the club’s annual circumnavigation of Manhattan.
Manhattan Circ, October 1-2, 2016: Peter Jay Sharpe boat house, Harlem River

Manhattan Circ, October 1-2, 2016: Peter Jay Sharpe boat house, Harlem River


We followed the tidal currents counterclockwise around the island, launching in a headwind and drizzle in the East River. That same wind was waiting for us eight hours later when we came around the Battery and once again entered home waters, cruising up the East River as dawn, hidden behind high clouds, brought the city back to life around us.
Manhattan Circ, October 1-2, 2016: East River, early morning

Manhattan Circ, October 1-2, 2016: East River, early morning


We had seen the city in a way many people never get to: fog lights lighting up the low clouds over the bulking cliffs of Upper Manhattan, cruise ships making way up the Hudson to bring their loads of tourists to Manhattan at dawn, the fearless and proprietary rats of Riverside Park at 4 AM . . .
Manhattan Circ, October 1-2, 2016: In the Hudson

Manhattan Circ, October 1-2, 2016: In the Hudson


But what felt most true was that these sights were not foreign, not alien, but part and parcel of our life in our city. That as strange as the night might have looked, however much we might have confused those who saw us passing under the twenty bridges or landing on the city’s forgotten wharves, we were at home, a part of the life of the city.
Manhattan Circ, October 1-2, 2016: Fog lights on the GWB

Manhattan Circ, October 1-2, 2016: Fog lights on the GWB


Though, real talk: those bagels were pretty important when we got back.
Manhattan Circ, October 1-2, 2016: Breakfast!

Manhattan Circ, October 1-2, 2016: Breakfast!


What are you doing next fall? Why not join in?
Manhattan Circ, October 1-2, 2016: The crew assembles!

Manhattan Circ, October 1-2, 2016: The crew!