Paddling Against Cancer

Swim Across America fundraising swim to fight cancer. Long Island Sound at Larchmont. Photo By Jeff Lim.

Swim Across America fundraising swim to fight cancer. Long Island Sound at Larchmont. Photo By Jeff Lim.

Swim Across America fundraising swim to fight cancer. Long Island Sound at Larchmont. Photo By Jeff Lim.

Swim Across America fundraising swim to fight cancer. Long Island Sound at Larchmont. Photo By Jeff Lim.

HarborLAB volunteers summarize our mission as, “Paddling for social and environmental good.” Aiding research to end cancer certainly qualifies. We’re also very mindful of that fact that many cancers have environmental triggers. This weekend our volunteers served as safety escorts for swimmers participating in the Swim Across America fundraiser in the Long Island Sound at Larchmont. We were joined again by Wolchok Lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Wolchok’s focus is on an innovative ways to employ the body’s own immune systen against cancer. Each year we provide boats and gear to the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center so that researchers and staff can directly support the event that supports their vital work.

Want to join us in paddling against cancer? You have two chances coming up on August 8!

Paddle for a Cure in Beacon, NY (Hudson Valley).

Cove to Sound Swim, Swim Across America in Glen Cove (Long Island Sound)

Student Paddle to the Graveyard of Ships!

Photo by Scott Sternbach --

Photo by Scott Sternbach —

Photo by Scott Sternbach --

Photo by Scott Sternbach —

HarborLAB brought CUNY LaGuardia Community College photography students to New York City’s own Graveyard of Ships, a place where lore grows with rust and spiderwebs. Officially the yard of the Don John Iron Iron and Metal Scrap Facility (formerly Witte Marine Scrap Yard), this collection of late 19th-through-20th century working harbor boats has become a habitat (above for nesting birds, including osprey, and all manner of fish below), place of reflection, and industrial history museum. For more information, enjoy Forgotten New York’s masterful write up.

Our group launch from the Carteret Waterfront Park on the New Jersey shore of the Arthur Kill. The ships are mostly clustered along Staten Island, south of Fresh Kills. The students learned about urban ecology and gained some unique pieces for their portfolios, which we hope will advance their studies and careers.

Many thanks to HarborLAB volunteers Patricia Menje Erickson. Alex Sramek, Kamala Redd, and Ray Tan for assisting the class and bringing in extra help. Student photos will be uploaded to a gallery soon. Below is a gallery of photos by Scott Sternbach, director of the CUNY LaGuardia Communty College photography department and Chair of the HarborLAB board.

July is Still Exploding with FUN!


We have an exciting July still to come, even after the fireworks have faded from our retinas and ears! Below is an image capture of our latest update to volunteers and supporters.

Keep up with the fun by “liking” us on Facebook and following our events:

To really be part of the adventure and learning, join HarborLAB as a volunteer! Email with your interests and abilities to hop aboard! Below you’ll see some of our volunteer crews.

July Events and Join a Crew!

HarborLAB’s View of the July 4th Fireworks



HarborLAB volunteers and those who committed to future volunteering for youth and environmental programs enjoyed a fantastic view of the 2015 Macy’s July 4 fireworks show over the East River. We had a group of 24 paddlers, which was almost the entire waterborne population of the Newtown Creek during the display. Many thanks to the US Coast Guard and New York Police Department’s Harbor Unit, and to the New York City Water Trail Association and HarborLAB volunteers who coordinated with those agencies. Together we turned the Newtown Creek into a safe viewing zone for kayakers and canoeists! The HarborLAB crew worked incredibly well together for a smooth, peaceful, exciting, safe, and fun night.

2015 Clearwater Festival Memories.


HarborLAB volunteer and educator Kamala Redd takes a new friend afloat.

HarborLAB volunteers enjoyed another year of service to Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival! We brought our canoes and kayaks to Croton Point Park to get hundreds of people onto the waterway that beloved and departed Pete and Toshi Seeger worked so hard to restore as a gift to the generations. The Clearwater Sloop organization deserves our full support as the quest to return life to our world’s waters continues in the face of new challenges, like coral bleaching, fertilizer runoff dead zones, and ocean acidification.

Students were at the center of our mission at Clearwater, starting with a core group of CUNY LaGuardia Community College students in our crew, under the direction of Scott Sternbach, Chair of HarborLAB and director of the college’s photography department. We were especially happy to share the Working Waterfront with Rocking the Boat and the New York Harbor School, and to get to know folks from a new Clearwater partner, L.L. Bean. A highlight for us was to turn over all of boats at once to the Harbor School kids for some boisterous fun afloat. Hey, they’re very serious budding mariners, but they’re also kids! 🙂

We debuted our distinctive orange HarborLAB volunteer t-shirts and inaugurated a camping program that will manage overnight stays at the Clearwater Festival, City of Water Day, Neversink Reservoir, and beyond. One key need for this new program is to enable people to enjoy volunteering with our second boat fleet’s upstate drinking water source eco-education program at the Neversink Reservoir, with the NYC Department of Environmental Protection and the Catskill Watershed Corporation. Our camping managers are Jeff Lim and Ray Tan, who cooked up amazing meals (with vegan options) for all volunteers for just a $2 suggested donation per meal!

As always, Patricia Menje Erickson did amazing work setting up and transporting materials to the festival, and packing it all away again. Many thanks to her and her crews! We’re also deeply grateful to Stan Dickstein and Eric Russel, who were Clearwater’s Working Waterfront ringmasters, from paperwork to paddling. We also thank Will Solomon of the Clearwater organization for smoothing the way for participation with improved policies and procedures.

This was a terrific chance to meet environmental agencies and educators, and potential sponsors, and to draw influential people’s attention to our work on the Newtown Creek. A huge thanks to all volunteers who helped!!!


HaborLAB was dwarfed by the tall ships.