Trip 15: Hudson River, Manhattan-Piermont-Ellis Island

By Vladimir Brezina

The (old) Tappan Zee bridge

Saturday, 1 April 2000

Launched at Dyckman St. around 6:30 a.m. Half-hour after sunrise; sun lighting up Palisades. Sunny all day, with some high clouds. Air and water warming up now, but both still cold enough for drysuit. Paddled north with flood current, crossing over to west side of the river, past Alpine, Italian Gardens, up to Piermont Pier.

Turned around with the current and paddled back south along the Palisades. Wind now picking up from the south. Lunch, around 11:30 a.m., just south of Englewood. Then continued south along the New Jersey shore. South wind 10-15 knots, whitecaps in main channel.

Opposite the last few miles of Manhattan, great view, but many delays for ferries.  At least four or five ferry landing points; NY Waterways ferries and Ellis Island/Liberty boats very active, though still few other boats. Ellis Island around 2 p.m. Still significant wind from the south.

Met two kayakers from the Boathouse, going to the Statue. Current, at least around the back of Ellis Island, already turning against me, so went with the wind back along the New Jersey Shore to the level of the Holland Tunnel ventilator. Then crossed over to the Manhattan side. Waves in the main channel fun: already longer, 2-3 ft, some breaking.

Whole scene in this section of the river always exhilarating, full of energy: great views of the skyscrapers of downtown Manhattan and opening south into the harbor; waves and wind; boats of all kinds criss-crossing the river.

Took out at the public dock on Pier 24. Paddling time around 8 hours; 36 nm.

(Note: Once again, this is an unusual route, one that most Manhattan-area kayakers would not have thought of paddling. Usually on the Hudson one either goes North (towards the Tappan Zee, now Mario Cuomo) or South (toward the Statue of Liberty). Doing both on the same trip is distinctively “Vlad”. 

Also, once again he is making excellent time. Covering 36 nm in 8 hours is an average of 4.5 knots, or 5.2 miles per hour—significantly more than a typical paddler. A good bit of this is his conscious decision to paddle with the current, which can be up to 2 knots in the Hudson.)

8 responses to “Trip 15: Hudson River, Manhattan-Piermont-Ellis Island

  1. So good to be travelling again with Vlad, Johna. Sending you warmest wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Johna Till Johnson

      “Traveling again with Vlad”– yes, that’s exactly how I feel. In a strange way, closer to him than when we were together, because I have the space and time to imagine how he might have felt when he experienced this. As opposed to being distracted by, well, the eminent distraction that was HIM :-)

      I would still prefer to have the actual Vlad, but this is a pretty ok consolation prize!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I can imagine what he meant by being exhilarated by the scene around downtown. When I was back in NY the week before last, I spent a great afternoon sitting by the marina at Brookfield Place (I still want to call it the World Financial Center) chatting with a friend. Then we walked down through Battery Park to the SI ferry, and after she left I prowled the streets with my camera. Invigorating! And so many interesting juxtapositions od old and new in the architecture.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Johna Till Johnson

      Exactly! And particularly in the water–the Battery is overwhelming in terms of sensory stimuli. The noise of the wind and the waves, the constant comings and goings of the ferries, the physical “bounciness” of the water…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Your caption about the old Tappan Zee Bridge made me aware that the bridge has been replaced with a new one. Then I saw that the new one got named after Mario Cuomo. I remember the excitement when the original bridge opened, and I thought about all the decades it lasted. It bothered me that the traditional name should get replaced by that of a politician. Turns out I’m hardly the only person who feels that way:

    The part of me that’s still a New Yorker signed the online petition.

    Liked by 1 person

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