Tag Archives: New York Harbor

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.

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…

Tugboat Races, Take Three

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Johna Till Johnson

Tugboat Races 2014

Photogenic tug

The day wasn’t looking good.

This was the third year we’d planned to go to the Great North River Tugboat Race & Competition, but the day didn’t start well. It dawned dark and gloomy, with the threat of rain—the kind of day on which, despite your best intentions, you struggle to get out of bed.

Worse, Vlad, who’d been under the weather for a few days, couldn’t go.

So even though we’d already purchased tickets, I wasn’t enthusiastic about attending the race.  I had so many chores to do… not to mention work… and steaming coffee and a comfortable couch beckoned.

At the last minute, though, I threw my maritime radio and camera into a backpack, poured some coffee into a thermos, and set off downtown.

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Travel Theme: Orange, Take Two

By Vladimir Brezina

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

As we travel around New York Harbor in our kayaks, we see quite a bit of orange. Orange is, of course, the premier color for high visibility, and many warning signs, buoys, floating booms, parts of barges and ships, are bright orange.

But there is just one large boat in the harbor—actually, a whole fleet of them—that, from bow to stern, top to bottom, is entirely orange: the Staten Island Ferry.

White seems to be the most common color for ferries everywhere, and most other ferries in New York Harbor are white. Originally, the Staten Island Ferries were white, too. But in 1926 the color was changed, indeed to make the ferries more visible in fog and snow, to reddish-maroon, and then later to the present “municipal orange.” Today, the orange Staten Island Ferries are iconic—almost as iconic as the Statue of Liberty.

Staten Island Ferry 1
Staten Island Ferry 2

After a couple of close encounters, Johna is especially wary of the Staten Island Ferry. It’s hard to avoid it. We have to cross its path, sometimes twice, on almost every trip through the harbor. It moves fast and it always seems to be where we don’t want it to be.

And so, we are always scanning the water for that big orange boat.

Sometimes, we come upon it docked, with passengers still getting on, so we know we have at least a few minutes to sneak past and get safely out of its way before it departs.

Staten Island Ferry 3
Staten Island Ferry 4

Sometimes it’s too late—we have to wait. But it gives us a chance to admire the beast close up.

Staten Island Ferry 5
Staten Island Ferry 6
Staten Island Ferry 7

And sometimes, we have to rub our eyes and look again. A Staten Island Ferry coming down the East River? “A planet might as well leave its orbit.”

Staten Island Ferry 8
Staten Island Ferry 9

Fortunately, Johna has not developed a fear of other kinds of oranges

A Late-Summer Staten Island Circumnavigation

By Vladimir Brezina

Staten Island circumnavigation 83

High on our list of paddling priorities for this summer has been the Staten Island circumnavigation.

It’s a trip that has everything—the busy New York Harbor and the open water of the Lower Bay, islands and lighthouses, surf on sandy beaches, grassy creeks and salt marshes, wildlife, heavy industry, decayed piers, shipwrecks, huge container ports, container ships, barges, and tugs of all shapes and sizes, imposing bridges, and finally the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline glowing in the sunset or, after it, sparkling with a myriad lights…

And all this in just twelve hours of paddling!

We used to do a Staten Island circumnavigation often, but suddenly we realized we hadn’t done one for two years—since Hurricane Sandy, in fact. We wondered how Sandy might have changed the familiar landmarks…

And the long days of summer were drawing to an end.

So on Saturday we went. Here are some photos.

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A Picture-Perfect Ederle Swim

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina

Ederle Swim 2014 39

Maybe the magic was in the pasta.

This year, Vlad and I signed up to provide kayak support for the Ederle Swim, a 17.5-mile open-water swim from Manhattan to Sandy Hook, New Jersey. Vlad has done it several times, but this was my first time accompanying swimmers to Sandy Hook (though we’ve paddled there many times).

We’d each been assigned a swimmer, and the day before the swim, the organizers, NYC Swim, sent us the swimmers’ email addresses. So I reached out to “my” swimmer, Andrea Varalli, mentioned that I’d done the paddle many times, and offered what advice I could, including the detailed blogs Vlad has posted on Wind Against Current about his previous Ederle Swims (here, here, here, and here).

Next thing I knew, Vlad and I agreed to meet Andrea and his support team for dinner at a “real Italian restaurant” (as Andrea called it), Piacere. (Pleasure, in Italian.) We had guessed (correctly as it turned out) that Andrea was “real Italian”—not merely of Italian descent. So the “real Italian” restaurant was sure to be a treat!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Fray

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Fray.

Rival tugboats enter the fray in NYC’s Great North River Tugboat Race & Competition.

They engage in single combat…

Meagan Ann vs. Buchanan 1
Gage Paul Thornton vs. Vulcan III

… as well as a general melee

Four against one: the Millers surround Gage Paul Thornton!
A Miller melee

More photos from the 2012 and 2013 Races are here and here. And the 2014 Race is coming up in just one week, on Sunday, August 31st. We’ll be there!