Instruction for Inclusion!

Saturday night pool party? Well, close!  🙂

Community organizations, please contact us at edu@harborlab.org to arrange for your mature teens and adults to learn basic kayaking safety and paddle strokes so that by spring they can join us on longer and more adventurous tours! Our fun outings are based around exploration and service learning, to inspire environmental stewardship and further study. This is also a great way for parents to gain confidence through skills that allow them to help introduce their children to boating, even if (or perhaps especially if) they were deprived of such experiences when they themselves were younger.

Both the pool instruction and youth programs are FREE.

If you’re a kayaking instructor certified by the American Canoe Association, Red Cross, or British Canoe Union and interested in joining the teaching staff, or an experienced kayaker interested in assisting, please email us at volunteer@harborlab.org.

Great thanks to program leaders Steven “Chuubie” Chu, Dee Dee Maucher, and Scott Wolpow; sponsor TF Cornerstone; LIC YMCA for pool use; and Prime Paddlesports for making this program possible!

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A Pyranha in the Pod!

Pyranha Speeder kayak. Photo by Robert Zaleski for Canoe & Kayak.

Pyranha Speeder kayak. Photo by Robert Zaleski for Canoe & Kayak.

HarborLAB grew its kayak fleet over the weekend, thanks to the generous support of TF Cornerstone and the Hunters Point, LIC community! At a deep discount from our friends at the Manhattan Kayak Company, we’ve added three Jackson Kayak Rivieras, one Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145, and one Piranha Speeder. The boats were gently used, especially the Piranha, which is like new. Our volunteers will use them as guide boats for tours, runabouts for Newtown Creek monitoring, and to provide safety patrolling at our popular Gantry Plaza State Park community paddles. Now our ten signature green tandem Ocean Kayak Malibu II XL boats, proudly carrying the TF Cornerstone logo, can be fully devoted to public paddlers!

Our new hot pink Pyranha will also play a special role in HarborLAB’s environmental mission as the flagship (“flagyak?”) boat for our participation in the Hudson River Watertrail Association’s annual Paddle for a Cure to benefit the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation. As the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences explains, breast cancer is often linked to environmental factors. In May, HarborLAB named and beautifully flagged one of its educational canoes in honor of a founder of the modern environmental movement, author and marine biologist Rachel Carson. Carson died of breast cancer shortly after the publication of her landmark book, “Silent Spring.” The Silent Spring Institute promotes research into environmental risk factors in often-preventable cancers, like breast cancer. Its affiliated social and biological scientists also research how environmental injustice might contribute to the development of “cancer clusters” in marginalized communities. HarborLAB looks forward to learning how we might augment the Silent Spring Institute’s work in New York City.

Many thanks to the volunteers who helped make our pod bigger! Bob Din, for helping us strengthen our relationship with TF Cornerstone; Roy Harp, for scoping out and selecting the boats; Emmanuel Steier, Joe Block, Patricia Erickson, Erik Baard, and Alessandro Byther for helping with the pickup; and Davis Janowski for helping with the pickup and deepening our relationship with Manhattan Kayak Company. We’re thrilled and grateful that American Canoe Association certified instructor, Julieta Gismondi-Grecco of Manhattan Kayak Company, has offered to provide safety training to our new volunteers!

 

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Dock Update: Yes we Can(dock)!

Candock floating a car. Yeah, it can handle our kayaks.  :)

Candock floating a car. Yeah, it can handle our kayaks. 🙂

Our plans for purchasing a used dock from the Yonkers Paddling and Rowing Club chanced on a sprinkling of Murphy’s Law: donations to our 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor (Earth Day New York) were returned because of an address change. During that delay while they were being mailed again, the old dock was sold instead to the LIC Community Boathouse (a group founded earlier by Erik Baard, HarborLAB’s founder). May it be used safely and happily by adults recreating there.

HarborLAB will instead purchase a modern, modular Candock with a recent sponsorship from TF Cornerstone, which is developing part of the LIC waterfront. Thank you TF Cornerstone! We look forward to launching exciting educational tours, filled with residents and especially CUNY students, from our Hunters Point South district dock in May.

Volunteers who became among the first to grow HarborLAB previously assembled this kind of modular dock at Governors Island two years ago, in preparation for City of Water Day. It’s durable, easy to assemble, and safe. Our plan is to start small, at 8′ by 14’3″, with an additional stabilizing perimeter. This is adequate for our relatively small throughput of paddlers (typically groups of fewer than 20, with only three people on a dock at once) and we can add modules as HarborLAB grows!

A Candock module.

A Candock module.

Skyline Unwind, 9/20

 

Photo by David Kistner of Green Apple Cleaners.

LIC East River waterfront towers, including TF Cornerstone and Rockrose developments. TF Cornerstone is a Founding Sponsor of HarborLAB and Rockrose is also a sponsor. Photo by David Kistner, CEO of HarborLAB sponsor Green Apple Cleaners.

Unwind from the week with a mellow skyline viewing paddle on our tandem kayak fleet. This paddle is for those who are interested in volunteering for HarborLAB and would like to get to know our volunteers, other potential volunteers, and about out programs.

In short, the theme of this and a few other upcoming paddles is:

RSVP both on Facebook and by emailing volunteer@harborlab.org under the subject “SKYLINE UNWIND 9/20” with a list of your skills (not only nautical or outdoorsy!). We also value educators, artists, bookkeepers and CPAs, lawyers, programmers, writers, mechanics, woodworkers, nurses, linguists, graphic designers, gardeners, and more!

If you can, fill, and sign this ADULT waiver ahead of time:

https://harborlab.org/waivers/

We’ll meet at Natural Frontier Market (12-01 Jackson Ave Queens, NY 11101) at 6PM (triangle table) and walk over to our launch (https://harborlab.org/location-and-directions/) for a short paddle to enjoy the skyline. We’ll go against a middling East River current (between 1-1.7 knots) and see how far we can get by hugging the Brooklyn waterfront. No pressure because there’s no destination. Then we’ll drift back, chatting and enjoying the view and catching the sunset as we return.

Please wear nylons and other quick drying materials, and bring a change of clothing.

Natural Frontier Market has snacks, drinks, sunblock, and other necessities, including a nice bathroom (there’s no bathroom at the launch). Please support this local business and its neighboring LIC restaurants, museums, and galleries.

East River sunset. Photo by Ray Tan.

East River sunset. Photo by Ray Tan.

City of Water Day Memories

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Volunteer Co-Manager Caroline Walker takes two kids out in the embayment while the rest of their family shared another boat. Photo by Scott Sternbach.

HarborLAB was honored to serve at the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance‘s request as the public kayaking program at the Governors Island center of City of Water Day, the largest annual harbor festival in our region. We enjoyably and safely shared a very busy little dock with New York Outrigger and East River C.R.E.W. (Community Education and Recreation on the Water) rowers. We set 146 members of the public afloat within the protected Pier 101 embayment between 11am and 4pm, despite the happy interruptions of arriving groups of kayakers, stand-up paddle boarders, and canoeists, and a wildly popular and zany cardboard kayak race.

We couldn’t have achieved these good things for the community without the support of our sponsors and allies. At this event we were proud to fly sustainably produced banners that included both our logo  and those of TF Cornerstone, Con Ed, and the United Nations Federal Credit Union.

HarborLAB was represented by two dozen volunteers, students, and supporters. CUNY students, especially LaGuardia Community College, were especially helpful in our estuary and watershed education tent. They also documented the day’s attractions. Our dock was staffed throughout by Daisy Hope Benjamin, an emergency room nurse with child and adult life saving certifications, as an added level of safety. She was also just great company on the dock! The day’s on-water safety and event production, under which we served, was directed for MWA by Ray Fusco, whose professionalism and kindness made this hard work for public benefit a pleasure.

Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance officials described our program variously as “brilliant,” “great,” and “amazing.” Our success follows similar raves at the Clearwater Festival. Though this is our first season, our core volunteers have years of service on the harbor under their belts, or life vests. Founder Erik Baard has a special tie to City of Water Day — he started the Five Borough Harbor Ramble (the first event through which paddlers and rowers touched all boroughs), which MWA aided greatly (special thanks to Carter Craft!). When the MWA asked to adopt the Ramble as its fully-owned signature annual event, Erik joyfully agreed. Since then the MWA has rebranded the event using the title of its excellent documentary, and profoundly grown City of Water Day as no other organization could.

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Volunteer Co-Manager Danushi Fernando stepped down from the desk to communicate a message to the dock crew while new volunteer (met that day) and teacher Kamala Redd hams it up with her niece. 🙂

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The day started in Sunnyside, Queens, where our boats are temporarily stored at the private office of Community Board 2 Environmental Chair Dorothy Morehead. Our great innovation of the morning was to heat seal sustainably printed decals to our boats using a blowdryer. Thanks to a Harbor Estuary Program grant for City of Water Day, we rented a box truck to carry boats — we URGENTLY need a trailer (sponsor our purchase of this 16-boat trailer!) and often shuttle boats bit by bit in a HarborLAB Facilities Manager Pat Erickson’s van, but our volunteers had enough work ahead of them. A huge help came from NY Waterway, which sent a special East River Ferry to Hunters Point for HarborLAB to get boats, gear, and volunteers to Governors Island ahead of the crowds.

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Operation Manager EJ Lee on decal duty.

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ER Nurse Daisy Benjamin brings fantastic precision to her work.

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Facilities Manager Patricia Erickson with six of our ten Ocean Kayak Malibu 2 XL tandem sit-on-top kayaks.

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

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On the island, gear was transported to Pier 101 by Ray Fusco’s van. Volunteer Emanuel “Manny” Steier had a creative solution for moving the boats!

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Volunteer Zamira Kamal takes a quick, well-deserved break. Photo by Ana Espinal.

HarborLAB volunteers operated two tents, one of which we brought to the island aboard the ferry. The first held waivers and great safety and stewardship information from  the American Canoe Association (HarborLAB is a Paddle America Club). The second, red canopy was our estuary and watershed education desk. At that table we highlighted CUNY LaGuardia Community College research and provided literature from the Harbor Estuary Program, NY State DEC, NYC DEP, ACA, and other great environmental groups and agencies.

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Volunteer Co-Manager Danushi Fernando and Facilities Manager Patricia Erickson staff the HarborLAB waiver and American Canoe Association information table. Photo by Ana Espinal.

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Photo by Ana Espinal.

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Operations Manager EJ Lee at the education table. Photo by Ana Espinal.

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Teacher David Perrin flanked by EJ Lee and Vernon ShengWuey Ong at the education table.

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HarborLAB’s education table. Photo by Ana Espinal.

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Photo by Ana Espinal.

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Down on the ramp, dock, and water our volunteers had a blast despite the pressures of managing crowds and coordinating safe sharing of the embayment. It helped that NY Outrigger and East River C.R.E.W. are both friendly, community-spirited, and highly competent groups. Working shoulder-to-shoulder with them was a privilege.

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A beautiful East River C.R.E.W. boat captained by Mary Nell Hawk.

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Volunteers Omar Barrios, Daisy Benjamin, and Danushi Fernando sharing a laugh on the dock.

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Steve Sanford on safety patrol in the MetroBoat, HarborLAB Founder Erik Baard’s mass transit and estuary “brain child” with Folbot (http://folbot.wordpress.com/tag/metroboat/).

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HarborLAB Board Member Scott Sternbach, CUNY LaGuardia Community College photo director, on safety patrol in his own boat. Photo by Ana Espinal.

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Erik Baard managed kayak group arrivals during program hours to keep the dock from getting dangerously crowded. Here he holds HarborLAB boats out on the water while LIC Community Boathouse (also founded by Erik Baard), Yonkers Paddling and Rowing Club, and Sebago Canoe Club boats arrived in one flotilla.

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“Boat Hill” fills in as paddling groups arrive.

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CUNY students and HarborLAB volunteers George Blandino-Ripley and Ana Espinal.

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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.

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Part of the afternoon HarborLAB crew. Yes, a bunch of us pulled double shifts!

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Even a hose shower was a blessing.

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Students and volunteers enjoyed exploring the island, which is rich in art. Photo by Daniel Cassady.

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At least half of us camped over on the island.

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Sunrise over Brooklyn. Time to go home.

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Daniel Cassady and the rest of the crew carried boats down for an early launch.

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!

Memorial Day Volunteer Paddling Orientation.

HarborLAB paddling past the skyline in a panorama by Manny Steier.

HarborLAB paddling past the skyline in a panorama by Manny Steier.

HarborLAB had a fantastic volunteer and CUNY student paddling orientation on Memorial Day, which included launch site evaluations. We have much work to do and are grateful to those who’ve already helped us achieve so much. The kayaks are great, and the weather was perfect for a little Roosevelt Island circumnavigation. Rounding the Four Freedoms monument seemed to be a fitting commemoration of the honored fallen, who committed themselves to our freedoms of speech and worship, and to freeing us from want and fear.

HarborLAB is especially grateful to TF Cornerstone (growing neighborhood development in background) for being its first top-tier sponsor!


HarborLAB is especially grateful to TF Cornerstone (growing neighborhood development in background) for being its first top-tier sponsor! Photo by EJ Lee.

Photo by EJ Lee.

Photo by EJ Lee

We’re busy scheduling service days throughout the region. Stay tuned for summer programming for the general public!