By Vladimir Brezina
Every winter, Swinburne Island in New York Harbor is home to a healthy population of seals. And every winter, we paddle out to see them.
But so far this year, our seal-watching trips have all gone awry in one way or another. Last time, we ended up having quite a different kind of adventure in Red Hook, Brooklyn…
So, on Saturday, Johna and I made a determined effort to paddle out to Swinburne Island. Here are a few photos.
We leave from Pier 40 on the West Side of Manhattan. Across the river, the towers of Jersey City.
Every time I paddle past the site of the World Trade Center, I can't help but take a few photos. The new towers rise higher and higher...
We paddle across the Bay Ridge Flats toward the Verrazano Narrows (photo by Johna).
It's a silvery gray day, with shafts of sunlight breaking through at intervals. The sea feels empty and lonely.
We pass under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
... and creep quietly up on Swinburne Island.
As we approach the island, we scan for seals...
Seal off the port bow!
The seal takes one look at us and dives.
The seals are unusually skittish this time, and keep their distance.
Seal with the Statue of Liberty! Admittedly, the Statue is 8 miles away; even the bridge is 2 miles away...
(As we were leaving Swinburne Island, the American Princess motored up to the island, apparently also on a seal-watching trip… But we prefer to seal-watch our way!)
We paddle back.
But first, a cup of tea!
We paddle back across the Upper Bay
... in the hazy sunshine.
Finally, as the day comes to a close, we make the final crossing to the Battery
... through, all of a sudden, rather heavy traffic (and with a Coast Guard escort, which it didn't seem quite advisable to photograph...).
More photos are here.