Tag Archives: New York Harbor

Solo Trip to the Yellow Submarine

Sky of blue and sea of green….

By Johna Till Johnson

It’s May 26, 2020, and the world has changed. So I got to wondering what I was up to last year at this time. By good fortune, I have the photographic record: A solo kayak trip to the yellow submarine in Brooklyn, almost a year ago to the day.

I hadn’t been for almost four years; the last trip was with Vlad in October 2015. (Many links to the history of the yellow submarine appear there.)

The 2019 trip marked a milestone for me, though I didn’t really think of it at the time; I’d begun to embrace my new identity as a solo expedition paddler. It’s a longer, more ambitious trip when launching from Pier 84, the home of Manhattan Kayak Company, than it was from New York Kayak at Pier 40. And of course, it’s always more ambitious to go solo.

The rural-industrial mix of Coney Island Creek

I remember meeting up with a young father and his seven (!) children on the beach at Kaiser Park;  we chatted for a while and I praised his parenting skills… it’s not easy to manage a brood that size, with the smallest in diapers and the oldest burly pre-teens.

Then I continued on down Coney Island Creek; for whatever reason, Vlad and I had never previously explored its full length. It’s a strange combination of bucolic and industrial: Lush greenery sliced through with a subway track, and blocky apartments looming in the background.

The current had turned against me, so it was time to go. The sun was low in the sky as I crossed the anchorage, and the dramatic skylines of Manhattan and Jersey City hove into view.

It seems so long ago now… another world!

Manhattan and Jersey City skylines… seems so long ago and far away

Close

By Vladimir Brezina

When kayaking in New York Harbor, you can’t avoid getting close—

Close 1Close 2Close 3Close 4Close 5Close 6

A contribution to Ailsa’s travel-themed photo challenge, Close.

New Jersey Weird and Wonderful

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina

This trip dates from last fall, but took us this long to post in part because we wanted to include a lot of detail to guide paddlers who might want to go to these places, which are very accessible to NYC paddlers of all skill levels. 

So each photo is numbered, and the third image down is a map showing where each photo was taken, so you can associate the photo with the location. The  body of the post includes only a small selection of the photos; for the rest, see the slideshow at the bottom.

And don’t miss the special bonus: A link to a GoPro video from the trip, at the very end of the post!

New Jersey Weird and Wonderful 47

47. Beautiful day at the Sims Scrap Metal Yard

The currents weren’t really right for any of our usual trips, ebbing most of the day, and turning back to flood around 4:30 PM. So a long trip to points south would mean returning close to midnight, which neither of us wanted to do.

But it was an effervescent fall day, with a gusty breeze, blue skies, and sunlight sparkling over the waves. We wanted to do something a little out of the ordinary, for us, at least.

“Why not visit Port Liberté, and meander down the Jersey side of the harbor?” Vlad suggested.

New Jersey Weird and Wonderful 15

15. Port Liberté

What a splendid idea! Port Liberté is one of the many weird and wonderful things on the New Jersey side. Vlad calls it “the would-be Venice of New Jersey,” and it truly is: According to Wikipedia, it was designed in the 1980s as a waterfront community patterned after a similar one in Saint-Tropez, France, complete with canals lined with docks and waterfront walkways.

The idea is, to my mind at least, flawless: Imagine living right on the waterfront, with your own personal dock, just a few minutes by ferry or private boat from Manhattan! Unfortunately, though, the market crash of the late 80s ended the development plans, and what remains, though beautiful, is just a wistful indication of what might have been.

We’d last been to Port Liberté several years ago—maybe as far back as 2011. So it was time for another look. Then we’d continue down the Jersey side of the harbor, our moods and the currents permitting, until it was time to turn back. Come to think of it, despite our many years of paddling in the harbor, neither Vlad nor I had ever really properly explored all the ins and outs of the Jersey side.

Continue reading

Balance

By Vladimir Brezina

Balance 1Balance is easier with some support…

Balance 2

A contribution to Ailsa’s travel-themed photo challenge, Balance.

Come One, Come All… to the Ghostship Ball!

By Vladimir Brezina and Johna Till Johnson

Vlad & Johna (photo by Larson Harley)We are getting our presentation ready!

It’s billed as “True Tales of Mystery, Majesty, and Mishap Mere Inches from the Water”. We think we can supply all of that…

Ghostship Ball

… and if the prospect of hearing us share our kayaking adventure stories isn’t enough, come for the live music, acrobats, and a growing roster of additional entertainment.

Hope to see you there!

Half-Light

By Vladimir Brezina

Half-Light 1

From the molten dyes of the water
Bring the burnished nature of fire
… Rain flakes of gold on the water

—Ezra Pound, The Alchemist

Half-Light 2Half-Light 3

A contribution to this week’s Photo Challenge, Half-Light.

Alphabet

By Vladimir Brezina

We’re only up to “C”! A long way to go still on our circumnavigation of Manhattan…

AlphabetThe Columbia “C”

A contribution to this week’s Photo Challenge, Alphabet.