Our Sunrise and the Here Comes the Sun Voyage.


Ocean Kayak Malibu 2 XL in Sunrise colors.

The northern spring. This is a time of beautiful new beginnings for all life in our region. With our fledgling venture, we HarborLAB volunteers renew our happy labors and commitment to creating good, positive gifts for our estuary, and for the communities through which it flows. Emphasizing this spirit of continual rebirth, HarborLAB’s fleet of Ocean Kayak Malibu 2 XL and Jackson Kayak Riviera boats will be colored with the smooth red-to-yellow transition of a sunrise.

Our fleet colors, which are great for safety, also speak to our commitment to an annual fundraising paddle for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, called the “Here Comes the Sun Voyage.” We’ll also have a shoreline fundraising party and ceremony. Date and destination details to come. This year we’ll raise awareness about depression, while in future years we’ll emphasize communities in particular need: LGTB and urban minority youth, Native Americans, and veterans chief among them.

We’ll launch into the sunset and paddle through the night, returning with the sunrise. Our model is the AFSP tradition of “Out of the Darkness Walks.” Other third party events for the AFSP, on bikes and horses, carry the “Here Comes the Sun” name. We believe in this poignant metaphor of being there for each other through the darkness of depression and loss. We also know that participants will never forget how gorgeous our waterways are at night. But we happily emphasize the sun in naming our voyage, and honor the hopeful song.

As western Queens resident and NYC City Council attorney Deirdre Feerick remarked, the ocean “still has a majestic awe, and it is the best place to remind oneself that the sun will set and will rise, and the world is too big and wonderful for small minded people to conquer.”

If you’d like to help produce the Here Comes the Sun Voyage as a volunteer (for the party or paddle) or sponsor please email baard@harborlab.org.

Green (and Purple) Thumbs Needed!


Steve Sanford and David Halloran enjoy a mulberry break at Randall’s Island Park during a 2010 Manhattan circumnavigation.

We were happy to discover that indigenous red mulberries are salt tolerant and Cornell University recommends them for erosion control! That means we might be able to stabilize and beautify our shoreline with this fruitful friend. Kayakers in New York City and New Jersey have happily noted mulberries thrivinge on shorelines. Three local spots for shoreline mulberries are at Hallets Cove, Dutch Kills (by Borden Ave.) and Randalls Island.

We’d love for green thumbs to volunteer with us to plant these and other indigenous and naturalized plants and trees at our boat launch. We’d also love to plant edibles in raised beds and planter gardens. Vines might be especially great for trellised or gabled shade areas. Please email volunteer@harborlab.org with your interest. We’ll present proposals to our launch’s generous land owner, Schuman Properties, by May.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forester Garrett Koplun gave great feedback earlier, and followed up yesterday:

“Hello Erik,
Below is the full list of native and naturalized species common to Maritime Shrublands listed by the New York Natural Heritage Program draft edition of Ecological Communities of New York State.  I believe maritime shrubland would be the closest ecosystem community related to your particular site:
Maritime shrubland: “a shrubland community that occurs on dry seaside bluffs and headlands that are exposed to offshore winds and salt spray”
Trees and shrubs
– Serviceberry Amelanchier canadensis
– Bayberry Myrica pensylvanica
– Black cherry Prunus serotina
– Arrowwood Viburnum dentatum
– Shining sumac Rhus copallinum
– Beach plum Prunus maritima
– Sand rose Rosa rugosa
– Wild rose Rosa virginiana
– Eastern red cedar Juniperus virginiana
– American holly Ilex opaca
– Black oak Quercus velutina
– Sassafras Sassafras albidum
– Flat-topped goldenrod Euthamia graminifolia
– Wild indigo Baptisia tinctoria
– White-topped aster Aster paternus
– Little bluestem Schizachyrium scoparium
We hope you join us in this great project!

Ocean Cleaning Array

One signature issue for HarborLAB is the plague of plastics in our oceans. We’re going to conduct shoreline cleanups, and are proudly sponsored by Sims Metal Management, which also recycles plastic. We’re also dedicated to exciting young people about environmental science. Here’s a creative concept from 19-year old Boyan Slat, featured on Inhabitat: an Ocean Cleanup Array.

Here’s Slat’s website.

Green Shores NYC Meeting Tonight!


** We would love for a HarborLAB volunteer to attend. Sorry for the short notice! **


Citylights Building
4-74 48th Avenue
Third Floor Activity Room
Hunters Point, Queens

This month we are again being hosted by member organization Friends of Gantry.
Join us and learn how you can get involved in caring for the Western Queens waterfront.

All are welcome!

Questions? Email: mail@greenshoresnyc.org

Our Postcard!



HarborLAB printed its first postcards with Greg Barber’s Eco Friendly Printer just in time for last weekend’s Paddlesport and Going Green in Queens events. We’re grateful to Greg Barber and Anthony Rios for the great design work and quick turnaround! The cards are made with 100% recycled paper and nontoxic toner.

We’re also thankful to Green Apple Cleaners, a HarborLAB sponsor, and Green Drinks NYC for introducing us to this great green print shop!

If you’d like to distribute the cards, please email volunteer@harborlab.org.


HarborLAB Joins the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance!

HarborLAB is thrilled to be registered with the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, our region’s greatest network of waterborne companies, government agencies, community groups, nonprofit organizations, and nautical individuals. HarborLAB is proud to be a small bridge between between harbor users as well, with industry sponsors NY Waterway and Sims Metal Management, which has materials barged past our launch. We strongly believe communication and cooperation begins with the MWA and continues with mindful program planning and marine radio use on the water.

We encourage you to  participate in MWA events, especially its coming Waterfront Conference on April 9 and City of Water Day festival on July 20.





Natural shoreline strengthening?


HarborLAB is exploring ways to strengthen its shoreline without adding or rebuilding bulkheads. We found this great link on shoreline stabilization techniques from the NYS State Department of Environmental Conservation.

We consulted with NY DEC Forester Garrett Koplun about what species might make this feasible. Here’s what he wrote:

“You’re likely to want to include species of the Maritime shrubland community. Ideally low growing, densely rooting shrubs and trees that can both strengthen the soil and withstand harsh winds. And of course as you mentioned, salt tolerant & drought tolerant species. Some of what I’ve seen growing well (naturally and restored) around NYC coastal areas are:

– black cherry
– hackberry
– E. Red bud
– Willow Oak
– Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis)
– Juniper (Eastern Red Cedar)
– Pitch pine


– bayberry
– shining sumac
– American holly
– beach plum

– sand-rose (Rosa rugosa)
– Virginia creeper

Some of this is edible. Not sure how palatable though.

Hope it helps,


It does and we hope sharing this helps others! One note is that we have seen many mulberry trees thrive in harsh conditions.

The Jenni “Appleseed” Jenkins

A second canoe will be named the Jenni “Appleseed” Jenkins. We’re arranging this with CUNY, and reaching out to her family. Jenni was HarborLAB Founder Erik Baard’s videographer when he kayaked the creek with Bill McKibbon a few years ago, and landed at Solar One. She co-wrote an absolutely brilliant film, “Plastic Bag,” which HarborLAB will show at a fundraiser and other events. Jenni loved Newtown Pippins to boot! She was killed by a car at just 26 years old.

The Bernie Ente

Green heron on the Newtown Creek, by Bernie Ente.

Our first canoe to launch this spring will be named The Bernie Ente. We’re pleased and moved that Joanna Ente embraced this tribute.

To learn more about this unforgettable Newtown Creek and harbor photographer and advocate, please read some of these remembrances:

Nature Calendar


Newtown Pentacle


Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance


Paddlesport 2013!


Paddlesport is the largest annual East Coast paddling industry expo and 2013 was a huge success!  We’re grateful to Jersey Paddler for organizing it, and for its $300 gift certificate to equip HarborLAB. Congratulations to Jersey Paddler owner John Durrua on another triumph.
It was so great to share the day with HarborLAB volunteers, Patricia Menje EricksonDanushi Fernando, and Wesley Miller. Also to see great paddling friends like our logo illustrator, Tracy Coon, and her fellow Qajak USA paddlers Peter RileyValerie Riley.

Also thrilled to see the great organizer of this hugely successful event, John Durrua, and Graeme Birchall, HarborLAB volunteer Paul Baker, veteran paddler (in both senses) Bill Leonhardt, and HRWA’s Carl Steiniger. And many more. What a day! We bought great books, life jackets, a boat, and other needed and fun items. Can’t wait to see Paul afloat in his new yak!