Monthly Archives: December 2011

Kayaking Photo Highlights of 2011

By Vladimir Brezina

Looking back over our kayaking adventures of 2011, here’s a calendar of photos from the most memorable trips of each month…


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Winter Sunset at the Reservoir

By Vladimir Brezina

The Central Park Reservoir is just a couple of blocks from my door. Its 1.6-mile perimeter path offers a perfect short walk for that spare hour… I go often, rain or shine, and bring my camera.


Last time, the brilliant yellows, oranges, and reds of Fall were everywhere. But now Winter rules. I got to the Reservoir just in time to see the short day’s setting sun light up the last few scraps of color…

But happily the more subdued palette of Winter offers its own, subtle possibilities…

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Christmas Tree Light, The Old-Fashioned Way

By Vladimir Brezina

At this season, there are Christmas trees everywhere you look in the city, in stores, banks, apartment building lobbies. Most are only superficially decorated, standing under bright lights which reveal all there is to see at one glance, mere abstractions of the idea of the Christmas tree…

To me, a proper Christmas tree should be large, dark, mysterious, and excessive, full of possibilities. No doubt this is some Proustian attempt to recapture the Christmas trees of my childhood. I remember that Christmas trees were so much bigger then, with spreading branches that allowed glimpses into the dark interior where all kinds of ornaments glinted in the soft candlelight. (Many of the ornaments were wrapped candies that I hunted for in the days after Christmas…)

So, now that I have to be my own Santa Claus, a few rules: No artificial trees—it has to be a fragrant, real tree. As large as possible. Richly decorated. And above all, lit not by artificial Christmas lights, but by the unique, unmistakable glow of real candles!

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Happy Winter!

By Vladimir Brezina

This morning at 12:30 a.m. EST, as most of us on the East Coast slumbered, we passed the winter solstice. So from now on, days will be getting longer! On the other hand, winter is here. And it’s predicted to be cold and snowy.

In anticipation, here are some photos from last winter, taken on January 27, 2011, in New York City’s Central Park just after the nor’easter that dumped a record 19 inches of snow there…

More photos from that day are here.

Paddling to Manhattan Island: A Photoessay

By Vladimir Brezina

From no direction is it as obvious that Manhattan is an island as from the south.

Clear across the Upper Bay the ramparts of Manhattan draw the eye.


Sometimes Manhattan is a fantastical mirage that we paddle toward again and again…

… sometimes it shimmers in the sunset and is gone as the last light fades.

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Planning Kayak Trips in New York Harbor: Tide or Current?

By Vladimir Brezina

I’ve paddled in New York Harbor quite a bit, and other kayakers often ask my advice on the timing of their trips through this tidal waterway. They say things like, “We are planning a trip from Pier 40 down to Swinburne Island to see the seals, like you did last year, and we are thinking that January 8 might be a good day to go. High tide at the Battery is at 7:13 a.m. that day. So, when do you think we should leave?” And I have to reply, “I have no idea.”

I have no idea because the time of high tide at the Battery does not immediately tell me much. I think in terms of current, not tide.

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“It’s All About the Joy”

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina

Do you ever have those days where you just don’t feel like finishing what you start? I do, but not usually when it comes to kayaking.

But that’s how I felt on a recent Saturday afternoon. It was a warm autumn day, and we’d planned a fast Manhattan circumnavigation, heading around the island clockwise, rather than the more usual counterclockwise. Starting from Pier 40, a clockwise circumnavigation is usually faster than a counterclockwise one because you can catch faster current in all three main legs of the trip—up the Hudson River (about 11 miles), down the Harlem river (about 8), and down the East River (another 8), leaving you fighting the current only at the very tail end (from the Battery back up to Pier 40).

If the stars align right—and wind and currents fall into place—a reasonably fast paddler can finish a clockwise circumnavigation in under five hours. Racers can do it in three-and-change.

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Ice Skating in Central Park

By Vladimir Brezina

Ice skating on the lakes and ponds of New York City’s Central Park was popular in the 19th century. But that was a more robust time. These days, the ice that forms on these bodies of water is thin and insubstantial…

But there is the Wollman Rink! We walked past it on Saturday as the day was drawing to a close.

The lines were just a bit too long, and we too impatient (and cold!), to actually go skating on this occasion. But the skaters’ movements in the fading light did create some intriguing photos…

We’ll be back another time. At the northern end of Central Park, there is also the Lasker Rink, which is less crowded.

More photos from that day, and other New York Cityscapes, are here.

A Foggy Day in New York Town

By Vladimir Brezina

Here are three images captured by the Statue of Liberty webcams in the foggy weather we’ve been having recently in New York City.

(All three images are from December 5, 2011.)

A Late-Fall Paddle Along the Palisades

By Vladimir Brezina

A week ago, on the last Sunday of November, the weather promised to be clear and mild—perfect for a late-fall paddle. We looked up the current predictions. In the morning, the current was flooding north. So we paddled north—from Pier 40 up the Hudson River along the West Side of Manhattan, under the George Washington Bridge and along the Palisades up to Tonetti Gardens, then returning with the ebb current in the afternoon…

It was a peaceful paddle. There were no exciting conditions, no incidents to report. But it was a beautiful day for a few photos…

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