By Vladimir Brezina
Block Island lies in the middle of Block Island Sound, about ten miles south of the main Rhode Island coast. It’s a fairly large island, beautiful in the coastal New England manner, with long sandy beaches, grassy dunes and bluffs, beach roses and beach peas, warm turquoise waters. (This is in the summer, of course… although in winter, when the tourists and the summer residents leave, the windswept, largely treeless island no doubt has its own bleak beauty too.) There are some paddling possibilities on the island itself.
But, to my mind, the main point of Block Island is to paddle out to it and back again.
A distinct step up from the open-water paddles across New York Harbor’s Lower Bay or across Long Island Sound, which are still fairly sheltered, the Block Island paddle offers true open-ocean experience. The open water of Block Island Sound is exposed from all directions, but particularly from the south—any conditions out on the open Atlantic will be felt, with little attenuation, in the Sound. There is nowhere to hide from them. On the other hand, the paddle is not so long, and many days in the summer are predictably benign. So this paddle will test mainly your navigational skills and your critical judgement about weather and tidal currents—but, if that judgement should fail, also your rough-water paddling skills…
By Johna Till Johnson
(Photos by Vladimir Brezina)
Since we posted our Red Hook adventure a couple of weeks ago, readers have been asking for more. So here’s a real adventure, which until now, for reasons that will become obvious, we’ve been a bit reluctant to post in full…
We’ve drawn upon the initial couple of hours of this story for a previous post. But at the point where that post left off, the adventure was just beginning!
Two further comments: First, we regret that photos are a little thin in this post. During most of these events, photography would have been difficult, or inadvisable.
And second, this is an example of people going “above and beyond” to be human, even when it could potentially threaten them professionally. So to protect the well-intentioned—and much-appreciated—innocent, all names, dates, and other identifying details have been modified or obscured.
This happened sometime last spring…
Posted in Kayaking, New York City
Tagged Brooklyn, Hypothermia, Kayaking, Marine Mammals, New York City, New York Harbor, Police, Porpoise, Seal, Tidal Current, Verrazano Narrows Bridge, Wind
By Vladimir Brezina
The Manhattan circumnavigation is a classic New York City kayak trip. Hundreds of paddlers do it every year. For a 30-mile trip, it’s surprisingly easy, largely because the strong tidal currents that swirl around Manhattan do much of the work.
To use the currents instead of fighting them, though, it’s important to time the trip right. The key is the correct timing of the passage through Hell Gate. When going around Manhattan counterclockwise (the more usual direction), you want to reach Hell Gate at, or before, the turn of the current from flood to ebb, so as to ride the flood current up the East River, and then the ebb current up the Harlem River.
But what if, for whatever reason, you are late, and find yourself facing a growing ebb current while still in the East River short of Hell Gate? The contrary current slows you down, building more strongly all the while… And the ebb current in the East River can build up to 5 knots or more—faster than most paddlers can paddle.
It might seem that the whole trip might have to be aborted…
Not quite. It turns out there’s a way to paddle through Hell Gate against the current, and even use the contrary current to advantage.
Here’s how we do it.