Free Clearwater Admission Through HarborLAB!

Clearwater Festival music stage.

Clearwater Festival music stage.


Come kayak, canoe, and volunteer with HarborLAB at the Clearwater Festival this weekend, June 15 and 16! The Clearwater Festival ( is our region’s greatest water ecology and music event. If you help us for four hours, we’ll cover or subsidize your admission for the day! We need volunteers especially for Saturday afternoon, but we appreciate help for all shifts.

Email ASAP to sign up for Saturday, Sunday, or both! Please share this with friends and students!

Here’s the Facebook event:

We need volunteers to help us get waivers signed, fit paddlers for life jackets, and shepherd paddlers within a small, beautiful and protected cove. Our volunteers get free or reduced admission, including camping, for just four hours of service for each day of attendance! We have carpooling from Queens and the train is very convenient.

We owe such gratitude to Pete Seeger and his Clearwater organization for their pioneering work for cleaner waters and ecological education, on the Hudson River and nationally. The Festival is the critical fundraiser for that work.

This is a great chance to meaningfully advance the cause of healthy estuary ecology in all corners of our harbor, from gorgeous preserves to currently toxic channels. See something you love and you want to protect on our harbor? See a pollution problem that must be fixed? Come to the Festival and make your case to the many government agencies, environmental nonprofits, and green businesses who’ll be participating!

Come out for relaxing fun, music, learning, and camaraderie on clean waters!

Watershed Wonder Tours!

Neversink Reservoir. Photo by Catskill Watershed Corporation.

Neversink Reservoir. Photo by Catskill Watershed Corporation.

HarborLAB will launch a second fleet of ten tandem kayaks and five canoes on the Neversink Reservoir at the start of the new school year! Students on our free Watershed Wonder Tours will enjoy unforgettably beautiful experiential and curricular learning about the water that flows out of their faucets. While at the reservoir they’ll also have opportunities to participate in educational hikes through the forests that maintain the purity of our drinking water, and to visit local farms and historic sites.

Few New York City residents realize that their drinking water is delivered largely by gravity from gorgeous, blue mountain lakes via a network of hundreds of miles of tunnels. Watershed Wonder Tours will happily awaken them to this reality and, we hope, a commitment to stewardship. We also look forward to building urban and rural bonds through partnerships with watershed educators that bring kids from both regions onto the water together.

We’re immensely grateful to the Catskill Watershed Corporation for making Watershed Wonder Tours possible through its recently announced education grant. The CWC stated in a press release that its goal is to “heighten awareness and understanding of the New York City water system and its vast Watershed West of the Hudson River.”

The CWC highlighted HarborLAB’s pioneering public program.  “Another grant will support an exciting new venture by the NYC-based HarborLAB to maintain a fleet of kayaks and canoes on the Neversink Reservoir for use by city students and their Watershed peers in conjunction with lessons about water quality and environmental protection.”

Educators and community organizations wishing to schedule Neversink Reservoir Watershed Wonder Tours with us can reduce transportation costs through a Watershed Agricultural Council Bus Tour Grant. Applications are due July 15. 

We’re also deeply grateful to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection for its support of our CWC grant application, its creative engagement with such a novel program, and especially for its environmental education expertise. In 2012 the NYC DEP first allowed kayaking on some of its reservoirs. ReservoirLAB is the first public fleet to be stationed at a reservoir. The concept of introducing the free public paddling model (shaped in NYC primarily by the Downtown Boathouse) to the reservoir system was born in 2011, when HarborLAB Founder Erik Baard toured Catskill Mountain villages as the state’s “Greenest New Yorker.”

Neversink from the air. Photo by

The CWC is a non-profit, local development corporation responsible for several environmental protection, economic development and education programs in the New York City Watershed West of the Hudson River. For more information, go to, or call toll-free 877-928-7433.

Teachers, parents and school administrators will find information on Watershed and environmental education resources and programs at

UNFCU Sponsors Estuary Education Gear!


HarborLAB is thrilled to announce on 2013 World Environment Day, and just in time for World Oceans Day, that the United Nations Federal Credit Union has sponsored our purchase of estuary learning gear! HarborLAB will enhance its paddling programs with handheld and stationary video microscopes, waterproof cameras, waders, seines and traps, organism models, educational guides, and other materials thanks to the United Nations Federal Credit Union. (UNFCU).. City University of New York faculty, who sit on HarborLAB’s Board, will select these purchases along with advisers and Executive Director Erik Baard, who was the UNFCU 2012 World Environment Day keynote speaker.

Celestron handheld video microscope.

Celestron handheld video microscope. An example of the type of gear we will use.

HarborLAB will debut some of this learning gear at the Clearwater Festival, where it will be the sole provider of “walk-up” paddling programs. HarborLAB will make the UNFCU-sponsored items available to the Environmental Science program of CUNY LaGuardia Community College to maximize their educational value throughout the year, and so that CUNY students are best trained to serve with us as estuary and watershed ecology docents and rising leaders.

Long Island City, NY-headquartered UNFCU is a member-owned, not-for-profit cooperative institution that serves the financial needs of the United Nations staff, UN Specialized Agencies, former international civil servants, and their families globally. It has members located in more than 200 countries and territories, and summarizes its mission as “Serving the People Who Serve the World.” Both HarborLAB and UNFCU are members of LIC Partnership.

HarborLAB is deeply grateful that UNFCU’s sponsorship is allowing us to ignite a love of environmental science in the young people we serve. For a glimpse of this kind of gear in action, here’s Erik Baard’s brief video of the New York Restoration Project‘s environmental education program seining in the Harlem River:

UNFCU joins Con Ed and TF Cornerstone as top tier financial sponsors of HarborLAB. Tax deductible donations are made through HarborLAB’s 501(c)(3) fiscal agent, Earth Day New York, to which we’re grateful for this service. HarborLAB is currently seeking a $5,000 sponsor for a Trailex UT-1200-16-04 boat trailer and related insurance to better enable its programs for youth throughout the NYC metropolitan region. Please email with your interest.

“Sun Voyage” Overnight Paddle!

Manhattan sunrise. Wikimedia commons.

Manhattan sunrise. Wikimedia commons.

Support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention by circumnavigating Manhattan with HarborLAB from sunset to sunrise this summer Solstice weekend! We’ll launch at sunset June 22 and return by sunrise June 23. This is a “give what you can” fundraiser and awareness builder. Please be generous — all funds go directly to the Foundation.

For this HarborLAB event to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, make checks or money orders (tax deductible) to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Much like the Foundation’s “Out of the Darkness” walks, the symbolism of HarborLAB’s paddle is that we can help each other through dark times into the sunrise of renewed hope. We take inspiration from the optimistic song from The Beatles, “Here Comes the Sun.”




We’ll launch from Anable Basin Bar and Grill (alcohol is forbidden before and during the paddle), directly into a panorama of the UN, Chrysler Building, Empire State Building, and the colorfully illuminated Bank of America Building. The flood tide current will ferry us, along with our own paddling, past the Blackwell Lighthouse and East River islands into the dark and quiet bends of the Harlem River. At Swindlers Cove we’ll enjoy our first rest stop. We’ll pass Manhattan’s last primeval forest at Inwood, into the broad sweep of the fabled Hudson River facing the majestic Palisades. The ebb current will boost out paddling past another view of the skyline and the exciting USS Intrepid! Along the Hudson waterfront we’ll take another brief rest or two. Then we’ll spy the Statue of Liberty as we round The Battery and catch the new flood tide current up the East River. We might take a last break, and coast into Long Island City again for a celebratory breakfast.

Register by both joining on Facebook, *and* emailing with the subject line “Sun Voyage.” Seating is limited. Participants should be mildly athletic, work well within groups, comfortable on and in the water (we don’t plan to swim, but you should know how), willing to follow our volunteers’ instructions, and prompt. Our boats are tandem sit-on-top Malibu 2 XLs from Ocean Kayak. These are easy and safe to use, but a wet ride. Please avoid cotton and wool, favoring nylon, Lycra, or other such fast-drying material. You might even rent a light wetsuit.

Participants will receive more detailed instructions by email. We strongly encourage participants to ask their friends, relatives, and business associates to also donate to the Foundation.

Suicide claims the lives of veterans who return home with invisible wounds. Suicide claims the lives of LGBT youths who need loving support from their families and an equal welcome in their schools and neighborhoods. Suicide claims the lives of people who see no hope of working their way up from poverty and debt. Suicide claims the lives of those who silently suffer abuse. Suicide claims the lives of those who have much to give, but are strained to breaking by depression.

We can help the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to protect these lives. Where there was despair, there can be flourishing.

June 9: Paddle to Governors Island! Figment Festival and “Rising Tide”

“Head in the Clouds” exhibit of the FIgment Festival ( under construction.

We posted a new trip to our fan page’s “events” calendar:

Paddle down to Governors Island to see the art of waterfront ally Bernard Klevickas and kayaker Harry Spitz and many other artists at two exhibitions. See more about the world-acclaimed Figment Festival below.”Rising Tide” is a sculptural exhibit also on the island with a theme of disruption, inspired by Hurricane Sandy. We attend in honor of the UN World Oceans Day this weekend.

Please join the event on Facebook *and* email us at with the subject line, “Figment.” We will email participants with further safety and coordination details. Please consider how you might support HarborLAB as a volunteer, a donor, or liaison to a sponsor.

We’ll launch from Hunters Point on the ebb and pass under the Williamsburg, Manhattan, and Brooklyn Bridges before landing at Governors Island. We’ll return on the flood, landing back in Queens in time for dinner.

From Governors Island Alliance:

FIGMENT is a free, inclusive, participatory arts event held in multiple cities and drawing tens of thousands of participants each year. Now in its 7th year on Governors Island, FIGMENT NYC removes the barriers of museum and gallery walls and entrance fees, and blurs the lines between those who create and those who enjoy art. At FIGMENT you will find works in every imaginable medium including sculpture, installation, performance, music, workshops, games, social experiments, and heart-stopping technological innovations that change the way we see the world… and visitors are invited to bring something, too! FIGMENT NYC has been named the Best Art Festival in New York by the Village Voice, and BBC Travel writes, “If FIGMENT were a country, it would be the happiest in the world—and I would apply for citizenship immediately.” See you at FIGMENT! What are you bringing?”

“Rising Tide presented by the Sculptors Guild, 11 am to 5 pm. Almost six months after Hurricane Sandy, artists across the region are still putting the pieces of their lives back together, getting into their (in some cases, devastated) studios, and creating new work. This show will acknowledge rising tides of all stripes (political, social, psychological) in the hope of drawing attention to the new forms that result — to the bright and shiny treasures that have now washed ashore.”