Newark Riverfront Revival!


Come help Newark reclaim its riverfront for recreation and education! Along with other water access allies, we’re answering the call for help to make this a great introduction to the estuary. This is an event HarborLAB volunteers can happily assist but it’s not managed by us.

Here’s our Facebook event for a HarborLAB contingent of volunteers (including a Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance offer for a free ride to Newark from Manhattan):

More here:

We need not bring our boats to this event! The Newark City government will offer 10 of the county’s sit-inside (decked) kayaks for public use for three hours. They need volunteers to welcome the public and help keep the program safe and smooth on the storied Passaic River.

On the water, you should have experience rescuing paddlers in decked kayaks. Here’s a video posted by one of our suppliers (, while some of our volunteers and CUNY faculty board members have received training through the American Canoe Association, nonprofit paddling groups, and outfitters like NY Kayak Co.

On the dock, life guards and first responders are especially valued. Volunteers with experience fitting life vests, giving basic paddling tips, bracing boats for entry and exit, and other forms of assistance would be of great help.

If water quality permits responsible use of sit-on-top kayaks, HarborLAB will gladly return with its own tandem fleet, team, and learning tent soon. We can also bring canoes!

Let’s make friends across state lines and the reaches of the estuary!

Survey: Help the NYC DEP Improve Our Water!


Help the NYC Department of Environmental Protection improve the watershed and estuary by filling out its Strategic Plan Update Survey.

It’s been two years since the NYC DEP released its Strategy 2011-2014 plan and list of 100 initiatives.  The DEP has claimed success on many of these fronts in subsequent progress reports. With your input, the DEP will issue a revised strategic plan. This is your chance to help the DEP prioritize its goals, both for the near term and longer-range strategic shifts.

Those who built our water system thought BIG and they worked for generations unborn. It’s time for us to do the same. HarborLAB will soon be the first group to offer educational boating for the public in our highland reservoirs and estuary reaches. We hope you take the time to let the DEP know what matters to you from this encompassing perspective.

Click here to complete the survey.


Governors Island Paddling with the Downtown Boathouse!


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Did your great experience paddling with HarborLAB in the Governors Island embayment on City of Water Day leave you hungering for more? Are you eager to share that experience with others? Or do you fear you missed out? Well the Downtown Boathouse is offering Governors Island paddling Saturdays through October! Get out there for fun, incomparable views, and the chance to get to know the organization that pioneered so much of NYC’s public paddling movement! We encourage you to volunteer with the Downtown Boathouse and support them as well!

Tel: USA  631 261 1253

Photo for Governors Island Alliance courtesy of Carlo Buscemi Imagery.

Coming August Highlights!


Perseids. Image courtesy of NASA.

HarborLAB is picking up steam this steamy summer! It’s just our first season with a kayak and canoe fleet and we’ve already provided hugely successful public paddling programs and educational enrichment to City of Water Day, the Clearwater Festival, and the Amazing Bronx River Flotilla, in addition to other service activities. We expect to soon have a boat trailer to greatly expand services, and you can help —  please donate by check through our 501c3 fiscal conduit, Earth Day New York, noting HarborLAB in the memo line.

To see a bit of what’s ahead for August, please visit our events list on our Facebook Fan Page:

Water Sampling! Now that our volunteer base has grown, let’s achieve one of our environmental science goals by restarting participation in a harbor-wide water quality program.

Swim Across America kayak support to help the fight against cancer.

Perseids Paddle! Come see shooting stars by kayak on a Manhattan circumnavigation!

Orchard Beach youth paddle and adult tour around City Island!

And more to come!

The HarborLAB East River Ferry!

HarborLAB's morning crew of volunteers and supporters. Photo by Scott Sternbach.

HarborLAB’s morning crew of volunteers and supporters. Photo by Scott Sternbach.

HarborLAB is very grateful to NY Waterway for its exceptional generosity in providing a special City of Water Day ferry for our boats and volunteers to reach Governors Island in time to provide services. Storms threatened to disrupt the day, according to forecasts earlier in the week. Because we were to commence the public kayaking program on Governors Island at 11AM, we didn’t have the scheduling luxury of “playing it by ear.”

NY Waterway is a sponsor of both HarborLAB and the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, which produces City of Water Day. The company also runs special ferries from Manhattan to Governors Island in support of City of Water Day.

When HarborLAB Founder Erik Baard called NY Waterway CEO Arthur Imperatore and Operations Chief Alan Warren to explain our worries, they kindly offered a special East River Ferry to get our volunteers, educational literature, boats, tables, canopy, and other needed items to the island before 10AM. This also saved us the trouble of delivering some items to City of Water Day producer Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance’s offices in Manhattan. HarborLAB extended this offer to Green Shores NYC, LIC Community Boathouse, Newtown Creek Alliance, North Brooklyn Boat Club, and other waterfront and environmental groups. We were happy to bring longtime Friends of Gantry Plaza State Park and Hunters Point Library community leader Mark Christie among our fellow passengers, along with Claudia Coger, President of the Astoria Houses Tenants Association (thanks to NYCHA Community Outreach professional Howard Hemmings).

The ferry captain and crew members were very courteous and kind, and quick!  Our gratitude to them too!


HarborLAB Operations Manager EJ Lee exults in the morning sun and breeze aboard the special East River Ferry provided by NY Waterway. Somewhere Celine Dion is smiling. Photo by Scott Sternbach.


HarborLAB Facilities Manager Patricia Menje Erickson shows her Con Ed pride! Not only is Con Ed a HarborLAB sponsor and a City of Water Day sponsor, but it’s also her employer. Photo by Scott Sternbach.


A beaming Mrs. Coger represents NYCHA residents, specifically the Astoria Houses. We’re very grateful to Howard Hemmings for helping HarborLAB learn directly from the community about needs and goals.



Boats below deck while volunteers enjoyed fresh morning air. Photo by Erik Baard.

Cardboard Kayak Race!

The fierce First Heat. Photo by Scott Sternbach.

The fierce First Heat. Photo by Scott Sternbach.

Contestants awaiting the start signal. Photo by Scott Sternbach.

Contestants awaiting the start signal. Photo by Scott Sternbach.

This year the City of Water Day gathering on Governors Island featured the inaugural cardboard kayak race — a bit of lunacy that drew an enormous flood of spectators to the Pier 101 basin. HarborLAB provided paddles and life vests to the contestants and safety kayaks should anyone have needed rescuing.

Kayak blogger Chris Schiffner captured the fun on video from the viewing area, as did HarborLAB volunteer and CUNY LaGuardia Community College photo student Daniel Callaway. HarborLAB board member Scott Sternbach (CUNY LaGuardia Community College photo director) snapped away from his kayak and HarborLAB volunteer Daisy Hope Benjamin (an ER nurse who added safety to the day) took photos from the dock.

The cardboard bodyboard. HarborLAB volunteer Omar Barrios dubbed this team, "the best bromance ever." Photo by Daisy Hope Benjamin.

The cardboard bodyboard. HarborLAB volunteer Omar Barrios dubbed this team, “the best bromance ever.” Photo by Daisy Hope Benjamin.

The competition was organized into several rounds — or, appropriately for the scorching day, “heats” — past a buoy across the embayment, culminating in a mad dash for the medal. Designs ranged from efficient to fanciful. One North Brooklyn Boat Club entry looked like a Balangay, while another was ready to join the New York Water Taxi fleet. A few sank, though the prize for tenacity had to go to North Brooklyn Boat Club for recovering from a keel-over collision in Heat 2 to complete its buoy circuit. Erik Baard pulled the soggy canopy from their boat and carried it on a HarborLAB safety Ocean Kayak Malibu 2 XL for the duration of the heats. 

In the end, triumph went to Stevens Institute of Technology engineering students whose sleek and sturdy boat reflected weeks of planning. It seemed they could have paddled back to New Jersey in that thing!


Disorderly fun. Photo by Daniel Callaway.

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An early favorite starts to dissolve. Photo by Daisy Hope Benjamin.

All hail the taxi! Photo by Daisy Hope Benjamin.

All hail the taxi! Photo by Scott Sternbach.

A team from Stuyvesant Cove ran a strong second before sinking. They sportingly swam their craft in. Photo by Scott Sternbach.

A team from Stuyvesant Cove ran a strong second before sinking. They sportingly swam their craft in. Photo by Scott Sternbach.

The go-go Greenpointers of the North Brooklyn Boat Club who impressed us all with determination and filled us with envy that they got to take a swim. Photo by Scott Sternbach.

The go-go Greenpointers of the North Brooklyn Boat Club who impressed us all with determination and filled us with envy that they got to take a swim. Photo by Scott Sternbach.

To the victors go the As. Steven's Institute of Technology students with their winning cardboard kayak.

To the victors go the As. Stevens Institute of Technology students with their winning cardboard kayak. Photo by Scott Sternbach.

Arup Sponsorship!

Arup’s Hunter’s Point South waterfront infrastructure and park plan.

HarborLAB is very grateful to include the engineering firm Arup among its sponsors! What great timing, just ahead of City of Water Day!

Arup is HarborLAB’s neighbor in Hunter’s Point South where it’s leading much of the work to develop a middle income community of 5,000 homes. Among the elements included in the Arup design are streets, sewers, habitat restorations, and an 11-acre riverfront park. The NYC Department of Planning mapped in a Second Street boat launch after years of lobbying by HarborLAB’s founder. We hope the generational work of restoring Newtown Creek will be further catalyzed by this largest NYC middle income development in 30 years.

Thank you Arup!

TF Cornerstone Paddles!

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Before we got underway, a THANK YOU to TF Cornerstone! Photo by Scott Sternbach.


HarborLAB is tremendously thankful to TF Cornerstone for its sponsorship of our fleet and programs. TF Cornerstone was our first large sponsor and we wouldn’t have a fleet without this support. THANK YOU, TF Cornerstone!


We’ve had the pleasure of taking its LIC waterfront residents on two special paddles — first a Summer Solstice sunset tour and then a fun Ice Cream Float — a paddle to view the skyline and then pop over to the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory by kayak. We started and ended at neighborhood restaurants, Anable Basin Sailing Bar and Grill and Water’s Edge. The residents were great company, and we were delighted to discover that among them were innovative educators and environmental professionals! We look forward to more adventures launching right from the TF Cornerstone towers’ East River reflections!

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Paddling back after the solstice sunset. Photo by EJ Lee.


Paddling past the soon-to-be-active HarborLAB launch. Photo by EJ Lee.


HarborLAB boats tied up to the Manhattan Avenue launch for an Ice Cream Float. Photo by Erik Baard.


Part of the HarborLAB fleet arrayed. Thank you TF Cornerstone!


Caroline Walker towing boats back to Hallets Cove, Astoria after the Ice Cream Float with TF Cornerstone residents. Thank you Caroline and TF Cornerstone!

City of Water Day Grant!

Wonderful news!

We have received a grant for $500.00 for our participation at the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance’s harbor and water environment celebration:  City of Water Day.

Funds were generously provided by the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program , the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission, and the  The Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance.

HarborLAB will provide the free public kayaking program on Governors Island for City of Water Day, and will be a resource for learning through our education tent thanks in great part to CUNY LaGuardia Community College. This generous grant makes those contributions much less of a strain on our new and growing organization. Administration of this grant is made possible by our 501(c)(3) fiscal conduit, Earth Day New York. We are very grateful to NY-NJ Harbor Estuary Program, the New England Water Pollution Control Commission, and the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance!

Watershed Wonder Tours in the News


Neversink Reservoir. Catskill Watershed Corp.

A great write up on HarborLAB’s coming “Watershed Wonder Tours,” published
by DNAinfo:


The NYC DEP recommends that educators, paddling and ecological
organizations, and community groups focus programs on learning about how
forests clean and protect our water when applying for this grant. Keep in
mind that you can also use this grant to visit other reservoirs, though
Neversink is the only one with a free public fleet. We’re dipping a paddle
in the water in 2013 and really splashing down in 2014. One LIC has written
to that they’ve already applied, and another is interested, but this is for
all of NYC (and our country cousins)!  🙂

Neversink Reservoir. Catskill Watershed Corporation.