Algonquin Tour Shorts, Raw Footage

HarborLAB was privileged to host an Algonquin Tour of the Newtown Creek. Our lecturer was Prof. Evan Pritchard of Marist College, a scholar of Mi’kmaq heritage and founder of the Center for Algonquin Culture. He is the author of several books about the First Nations of North America, especially our region. We were honored to include Dorothty Morehead, Interim Chair of the Newtown Creek Alliance, Matt Malina, Founder of NYCH2O, and urban ecology blogger Patrick Coll among our participants.

This is the first Native American tour of the Newtown Creek, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-designated Superfund site because of the industrial toxins in its sediments. This video was shot by Prof. Scott Sternbach, acclaimed nature photographer, director of CUNY LaGuardia Community College’s photography and video department and Chair of HarborLAB.

These are just shorts taken from our event, and the audio will be enhanced, especially for the beginning section. Full raw footage will be made available to academics and a we’ll release a polished final cut video for the public. Prof.Pritchard offers blessings for the boats by burning sage and discusses diverse topics, including the lands and peoples of the Newtown Creek, how tulip tree canoes (moo xool) were communally shared, and evidence for extensive maritime trade within the Americas before European contact.

We are very grateful to the NYC DEP for its permission to land at the Newtown Creek Nature Walk steps.

 

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!

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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.

TF Cornerstone Paddles!

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

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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!

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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.

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

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

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

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

Crow’s Nest Becomes Osprey’s Nest!

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New osprey nest atop the “SS Meow Man” in the Arthur Kill. Photo by Scott Sternbach.

A favorite destination for HarborLAB volunteers is the Graveyard of Ships in the Arthur Kill, a strait slicing Staten Island from New Jersey. This is where vessels from New York Harbor’s past eras were scuttled and slowly stripped, or left to decay. “Junkyard” might be a more accurate term than graveyard, but in the presence of these ghostly hulks we understand the drift toward reverence. One particularly alluring old ferry was rechristened by a graffiti artist as the SS Meow Man.

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The anthropomorphic stoner feline that serves as an ersatz prow maiden aboard the “SS Meow Man.” Photo by Erik Baard.

The SS Meow Man’s most exciting attraction was its rickety crow’s nest, a viewing basket innovated by Arctic explorer William Scoresby  Sr. of Great Britain in 1807. Well, that crow’s nest has become an osprey‘s nest! Scott Sternbach, a HarborLAB board member and director of the photography program at CUNY LaGuardia Community College, documented this new home for our region’s indigenous “fish hawk” when he paddled out a few days ago. Apart from bald eagles, you won’t find a more dynamic avian predator on our waters. Osprey, however, are more common and apt to quickly occupy platforms set up in Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and other natural conservation areas.

While we’ll miss climbing to the rusting, swaying, guano-covered highpoint of the Arthur Kill, we welcome such exciting new life in the “graveyard!”

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Osprey, or “fish hawk,” calling while in flight. Photo by Scott Sternbach.

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Matthew McGregor-Mento atop the crow’s nest several years ago on an outing with the LIC-based artists’ collective, Flux Factory. Photo by Erik Baard.

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Matthew McGregor-Mento in a MetroBoat (brainchild of Erik Baard, produced by Folbot) at the stern of the “SS Meow Man.” Crow’s nest center, top. Photo by Erik Baard.

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View from the crow’s nest, before osprey residence. Photo by Erik Baard.