Category Archives: Kayaking

I Did It!

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina

On the beach after the race

This was the fifth year that Vlad and I raced in the Blackburn Challenge, the 20-mile circumnavigation of Cape Ann, Massachusetts. The race is named for Howard Blackburn, a 19th-century mariner of uncommon grit. (You can read about him here.) Any human-powered watercraft can participate, and there is usually a wide range, from paddleboards to rowing shells, dories, and dragonboats—plus several flavors of kayaks.

Thus far, I’d placed every time, helped out by the relative smallness of the field of women sea kayakers—there are typically only half a dozen or so in my class.

After collecting two third-place and two second-place finishes, I yearned for a first. Last year I missed it by a mere six minutes. And I just knew I’d gotten faster this year. I’d trained hard—though not as consistently as I’d liked—and still had some stamina left over from completing the Everglades Challenge earlier this year.

So I was pretty sure that this would be my year.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Containers

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Containers.

The key to efficient expedition kayaking is the successful management of containers. It’s taken us a while to learn that lesson…

How will all this stuff fit into those two little kayaks??

How will it all fit?(2014 Everglades Challenge)

It’s a matter of the right containers

Camp in the woods(2011 Hudson River paddle from Albany to NYC)

to be able to find things when we need them

Found it!(2012 Long Island circumnavigation)

and quickly set up camp before the evening mosquitoes swarm

Setting up camp(2012 Long Island circumnavigation)

or make dinner on a dark beach before the tide comes flooding in…

Dinner on the beach(2014 Everglades Challenge)

Cardboard Kayak Race, Redux

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina

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Last year, I wrote about the first annual Cardboard Kayak Race, held on City of Water Day at Governors Island.  This year, I was in it!

No, it’s not what you’re thinking. We didn’t build a boat out of cardboard and then race it. But others did! And I was part of a fleet of “safety kayaks” whose job it was to rescue paddlers whose cardboard boats sank (and fish out the sodden detritus).

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Relic

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Relic.

Kayaking around New York Harbor, we pass many relics of its maritime past—

Binghamton

Binghamton 1
Binghamton 2

Major General William H. Hart

Major General William H. Hart

— the Yellow Submarine, Quester I

Yellow Submarine 1
Yellow Submarine 2

— and, of course, the celebrated Graveyard of Ships

Graveyard of Ships 1
Graveyard of Ships 2

Kayaks Under the Keel

By Vladimir Brezina

Sea kayaking, most of the time, is about wide open waters… But, paradoxically, kayakers also can’t resist exploring tight spaces. They poke the nose of their boat into every sea cave they come across, for instance.

Urban paddling is a bit different. Instead of sea caves, we have low bridges, tunnels, passages under piers.

And now and again, we even get the chance to paddle under another boat…

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… to create our own sea-cave experience

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My Kayak Photography

By Vladimir Brezina

Vlad in action

Vlad in action (photo by Johna)

I am often asked how I take my kayaking photos. What camera do I use? Am I not worried that water will damage it? And how do I manage to keep those pesky water drops off the lens?

So, here’s a brief answer.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrasts, Take Two

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Contrasts.

Spot the kayak in these photos—

At the bottom of the food chain 1
At the bottom of the food chain 2
At the bottom of the food chain 3
At the bottom of the food chain 4
At the bottom of the food chain 5

The first set of Contrasts was here.

Where Are the Whales?

By Vladimir Brezina

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Last Sunday, the current was predicted to ebb through the morning, then flood in the afternoon. Perfect for a paddle south, through New York Harbor out to sea!

But then where, exactly? Round Staten Island? Or to Sandy Hook? But we’d been there just two weeks before

This summer, we’ve been hearing a lot about whales. By all accounts, whales have been positively frolicking about, just outside the harbor. A whale-watching boat, the American Princess, has reported sightings almost every day. And many of these sightings, of feeding humpbacks as well as pods of bottlenose dolphins, have been off the Rockaways, just a mile or two from shore.

So that’s where we decided to paddle on Sunday.

In the event, we didn’t see any whales. (The American Princess didn’t either, that day.) Perhaps fortunately, neither did we see any of the great white sharks that (we read later) were present in that same area at the same time…

But it was a great ocean paddle nevertheless. Here are a few photos—

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Paddling Cape Ann

By Vladimir Brezina

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Summer’s here—it’s high time to make our summer paddling plans!

And, as in the last four years, those plans absolutely have to include the Blackburn Challenge—our favorite open-water boat race. It’s 20 miles around Cape Ann, Massachusetts. All manner of human-powered boats take part—canoes, rowboats, dories, kayaks, surfskis, outrigger canoes, dragon boats, stand-up paddle boards—making for a fun day out on the water and afterward on the beach.

Last year, we raced in the Blackburn Challenge, then spent another two days paddling leisurely around Cape Ann.

In eager anticipation of this year’s trip, we’ve been looking over the photos from last year…

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Travel Theme: Fresh

By Vladimir Brezina

Ailsa’s travel-themed photo challenge this week is Fresh.

Yesterday I saw that the ground under the mulberry tree on the corner is littered with fallen mulberries. It’s that time of the year!

And that means that, on our next Manhattan circumnavigation, at a certain spot we know, we’ll be able to pick fresh ripe mulberries right from our kayaks!

Mulberries!
Right from our kayaks
These are red
And some are already ripe