Paddling to Manhattan Island: A Photoessay

By Vladimir Brezina
Posted on December 20, 2011

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

………with a prehistoric massiveness.








Sometimes Manhattan is a fantastical mirage

that we paddle toward again and again


and night

in all kinds of weather

Sometimes it’s a solid presence in front of us

that honest effort will by degrees brings close

Sometimes it shimmers in the sunset

and is gone as the last light fades

(More photos from some of these trips are here, here, here, and here.)

17 responses to “Paddling to Manhattan Island: A Photoessay

  1. Johna Till Johnson

    I love the Stonehenge juxtaposition…. Makes you think about New York’s ultimate place in history!

    And you’ve captured how Manhattan always looks so deceptively close from the boat…. even when it’s still a couple hours away.


  2. WOW!!!!!!!!!!!! I simply love this, gosh to be paddling the deep sea, u guys are so adventurous and these pics are awesome :-)


  3. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Near and Far, Take Two | Wind Against Current

  4. Like being there… exciting. Brave.


  5. I’m assuming you definitely have to watch out for other traffic on the waters around Manhattan. Where do you launch from? What is the safest way to do a first time paddle in these waters?


    • Yes, you most definitely have to watch for traffic!

      We launch from Pier 40 on the west side of Manhattan—or rather we did, until Sandy… And many other kayakers do. The Hudson along the west side of Manhattan is full of kayakers in the summer.

      However, it’s not the safest place to paddle, especially alone for the first time in these waters. There are plenty of safe-enough spots everywhere in the harbor—it’s a big harbor—but you need experience to know where they are, and how to get from one to the next through the marine traffic. So the best thing is to go with someone who knows the harbor, the traffic, and the tidal currents, well.

      Other than that, there are some quieter parts of the harbor, at some distance from Manhattan however, that are more suitable for a first-time paddle: Jamaica Bay, many parts of Raritan Bay, the Hudson River north of the George Washington Bridge, the bays off the upper East River… (Some of these still haven’t recovered from Sandy, though.)


  6. A very different kind of “kayak photography””
    Love the mixture of nature and the city horizon…


  7. Well done! Your captioned photos speaks to the human factor, imitating nature and the connections between the two..


  8. I am relatively new to paddling around the city. Having been born here 57 years ago I never thought to kayak the water. Your posts have been very helpful in getting me oriented. I’ve also learned of Kingsborough community college as a launch point as well as Brooklyn bridge park. Thanks for all the information you provided here.


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