Category Archives: Kayaking

Travel Theme: Arches

By Vladimir Brezina

Here are just a few of the many arches we pass under when we paddle around New York Harbor—

Gowanus Canal
Hell Gate Bridge
Three mid-Harlem bridges
Bayonne Bridge

A contribution to Ailsa’s travel-themed photo challenge, Arches.

Travel Theme: Numbers

By Vladimir Brezina

Sometimes, kayak navigation is just a matter of following the numbers—

Paddling by numbers 1
Paddling by numbers 2
Paddling by numbers 3
Paddling by numbers 4
Paddling by numbers 5

A contribution to Ailsa’s travel-themed photo challenge, Numbers.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime

By Vladimir Brezina

We love to kayak around NYC at night!

(For one thing, we paddle faster at night…)

Night falls as we paddle down the East River
Manhattan shines forth
George Washington Bridge nocturne
Midtown Manhattan illuminations
Paddling down the East River at 3 AM

A contribution to this week’s Photo Challenge, Nighttime.

Travel Theme: Strong

By Vladimir Brezina

You don’t need a lot of strength to travel long distances by kayak. You just need a lot of endurance.

But you do need need to be strong at a few critical moments.

Such as when taking apart your stuck two-piece paddle after the trip—

Strength needed

A contribution to Ailsa’s travel-themed photo challenge, Strong.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Endurance

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Endurance.

Long-distance kayaking is all about endurance. We can paddle past sunset

Past sunset

into the night

Into the night

and when the next day dawns

Dawn

we are still there, paddling.

Still paddling

We can paddle forever.

But we can’t stay awake forever. Sooner or later, that nap on the beach becomes impossible to resist…

Nap on the beach

From the 2014 Everglades Challenge. Story and more photos are here.

Another response to Endurance is here.

9/11, Once Again

By Vladimir Brezina

The Twin Towers, as they were.

All of these photos were taken in 2000 or earlier.

It’s hard to believe it’s already been 13 years…

A Kayayer’s Guide to Hitchhikers

By Johna Till Johnson and Vladimir Brezina

HitchhikerKayaking is often a solitary sport. Although paddlers sometimes go out in pairs and groups, the quintessential kayaker is a bit of a loner. Many of us make long trips alone, and prize the time we spend by ourselves.

But sometimes we inadvertently end up with fellow travelers. When Vlad and I were training for the Everglades Challenge, we found ourselves navigating the Florida Bay in pitch darkness—when all of a sudden, a fish jumped out of the water and into my lap. A few months later, one of our fellow Everglades Challengers, Clewless, topped that one when a shark jumped into his boat—during the race!  There’s also the recent story of a 6-foot alligator jumping into a canoe. And of course many stories of cute, or sometimes not so cute, seals and sea lions hopping onto kayaks to hitch a ride.

The typical hitchhiker is less threatening. While weaving through the mangrove tunnel of the ironically named Broad Creek during the Everglades Challenge, a tree crab landed on the nose of my boat. Tree crabs are small—an inch or two—with shiny, mottled brown or green shells. This one was content to be my mascot for several minutes—until he started to crawl slowly towards the cockpit.

I debated knocking him off with the paddle—but that seemed unfair, and might have hurt him. So I gently nosed up to a mangrove root—and he hopped off.

He wasn’t the only crab who hitched a ride, though. Returning from a recent trip to Sandy Hook, I felt something skittering around in my cockpit. When I stripped off the spray skirt I saw a small gray sea crab, about the size of a quarter. I tried to pick him up, but he was too quick for me—and I didn’t want to risk crushing him. So we made the trip home from Sandy Hook together, with him occasionally reminding me of his presence with a tiny “nip”.  (Every time he nipped I yelped, which amused Vlad.)

When I got back to Pier 40 I rinsed him out of the boat with sea water—I don’t know whether he survived in the Hudson, but I like to think he did.

But the best hitchhiker story of all is one that happened to Vlad.

I’ll let him tell it.

Vlad writes:

Once upon a time, when I was just a little kayaker, I went for a paddle with my friends Kathy and John. Like me, they were big-city paddlers, with a folding kayak in their closet. Theirs was a formidable double Klepper, whose parts came in three heavy-duty canvas bags.

We got to the river, assembled our boats, and cruised with the current for a few miles to our destination—a grassy meadow where we planned to have a picnic lunch before packing the boats up again and taking a train back to the city.

Everything worked out as planned. As usual, Kathy had brought a lovely lunch, which she laid out on the grass. And in preparation for taking the Klepper apart, John carefully laid out its three bags.

As he did so, out of the largest bag there stalked a huge brown cockroach. He stood at the mouth of the bag, surveying the meadow around, antennae twitching. Obviously, he’d been living in the bag back in John and Kathy’s closet, and we’d brought him along for the ride!

We just stood there. He descended regally from the bag and was soon lost from sight in the tall grass.

We didn’t think much about it. We had our lunch, then started disassembling the boats.

An hour or two later—we were feeling drowsy in the post-prandial sunshine—we were almost done. John had packed most of the Klepper’s parts in the bags; he was about to add the last parts and close up the bags.

And what did we then see come out of the tall grass, heading straight towards the bags? A huge brown cockroach!

This time we made a move. All three of us tried to block him, like football players. But he zig-zagged nimbly between our feet and took a leap into the open bag.

The bag was already carefully packed with parts—we couldn’t face taking them all out again.

And so the smart old cockroach rode back to the city, back to his closet, doubtless to tell his young cousins about his lovely Sunday excursion to the country…