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.