Join the Cardboard Kayak Race!

Calling all educators, campers, and community groups to join us and the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance on July 12 for the 2014 Cardboard Kayak Race! Everyone comes by boat to Governors Island for City of Water Day, but only the most creative and humorous mariners make their own zany boats right at the festival. Let your team of kids be among them!

HarborLAB will be providing public paddling programs at City of Water Day and safety support for the cardboard kayak race, as we did last year. We would be happy to help teams of junior high, high school, and college students practice their paddling in the weeks before competing in this unique design-build-paddle event! We and the MWA can also connect you with swim instruction organizations.

For information and registration, please click HERE. To partner with HarborLAB, email




Clearwater Festival and City of Water Day!



Wonderful news! Thanks to our volunteers’ fantastic service last year, the two largest annual water ecology festivals in the metropolitan area have asked HarborLAB back to provide their public programs in 2014! Join us in Croton Point State Park in the Hudson River Valley for the Clearwater Festival on June 21 and June 22 and on Governors Island in the center of our harbor for City of Water Day on July 12!

Labor and Liberty Paddle!

Liberty, Ellis, and the harbor. National Parks Service.


FLOAT PLAN CHANGE: Storm possibility, so we will likely alter our plans to launch from the Hudson River, to avoid a cross-harbor paddle with such uncertainty.)

Our culture has long wrestled with deep philosophical questions about the relationship between labor and liberty, none of which will be answered by this paddle tour. But we hope you end the day with wonderful memories and a greater appreciation for harbor history, estuary tidal forces, and urban planning ideas.

We’d be grateful for donations or a sponsor for this paddle, to support our growing  and needed educational and youth programs. Email if you’d like to join us, with the subject line “Labor and Liberty.” Also join our Facebook event for this paddle.

We’ll launch from LIC (Hunters Point South), land at Governors Island for a tidal break, cross the harbor at near slack to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (respecting security zones), and land at the Porte Liberte canal village in Jersey City for lunch. Then we’ll paddle straight back to LIC, perhaps resting in DUMBO.

What development lessons does Porte Liberte hold, in terms of “dos and don’ts,” for NYC inlets, creeks, and canals?

This is a very demanding paddle and crosses larger vessel traffic and waters with a long, exposed fetch. Please be very mindful of this and take safety instructions, to be sent to participants, to heart.

We use the traditional tidal current benchmark of The Battery for our planning. This is for a holistic view of water movement throughout the harbor.

Tides for New York (The Battery) starting with September 1, 2013.

Day        High      Tide  Height   Sunrise    Moon  Time      % Moon
           /Low      Time    Feet    Sunset                    Visible

Su   1      Low  12:09 AM     0.8   6:23 AM    Rise  2:42 AM      19
     1     High   6:12 AM     4.3   7:28 PM     Set  5:04 PM
     1      Low  12:09 PM     0.9
     1     High   6:28 PM     4.8

10am: Gather at Natural Frontier Market (12-01 Jackson Ave , LIC, NY 11101).

1130am: Launch from LIC.

1PM: Land at Governors Island (we’re likely to land earlier).

1:30pm: Launch from Governors Island.

3PMpm: Land at Porte Liberte.

430PM: Launch from Porte Liberte

7pm: Land in LIC.

Screen shot 2013-08-25 at 2.12.33 AM

Porte Liberte. Google satellite image.

Teachers’ Oyster Seed Paddle!

Oyster seed. Photo by Solar One, another participant in the estuary-wide seeding effort.

Oyster seed. Photo by Solar One, another participant in the estuary-wide seeding effort.

August 26.

HarborLAB will take teachers from the Hunters Point Community Middle School on a paddle from LIC to Governors Island (no landing) to pick up oyster seeds from the New York Harbor School. This is a great chance for the school to learn about NY Harbor School‘s innovative curriculum. We’ll then paddle to back to Hunters Point and beyond to Socrates Sculpture Park, where the oyster seed platform will anchor.
Here’s our Facebook event page:
Please also email with the subject line “Oyster Paddle” if you’d like to paddle and help.
It’s exciting for HarborLAB to play a small role in seeding great maritime education programs in western Queens!  HarborLAB and NY Harbor School are unrelated organizations with shared goals. HarborLAB Founder Erik Baard invited NY Harbor School Founder Murray Fisher to Long Island City six or seven years ago to meet with a landlord and others about encouraging the establishment of a middle school that might graduate students into the NY Harbor School. Erik also lobbied then-City Council Member Eric Gioia for an estuary-themed middle school. Flash forward some years and Hunter’s Point Community Middle School Principal Sarah Goodman independently had such visions. Ms. Goodman grew up learning about marine ecology and stewardship in New England.

HarborLAB looks forward to being the Hunter’s Point Middle School’s on-water partner, perhaps in concert with CUNY LaGuardia Community College and other community environmental groups and agencies to which we introduced Ms. Goodman. While the nearby waters of Anable Basin, site of great contamination by Standard Oil generations ago, are likely unsuitable for children (especially in sit-on-top kayaks), HarborLAB will arrange educational field trips and will continue to advocate for paddling in Gantry Plaza State Park.  We also strongly advocate for an Anable basin cleanup, and have lobbied for this with state officials and local developers.