Thursday, September 21, 2006

Red Hook - Ole Kayak Valet - 9/23/06

Valentino St. Pier in Red Hook, from my June Red Hook Rambles gallery.

That was a really nice day. Too windy to be on the water, but the perfect spring/early Summer day for wandering about in a really interesting old Brooklyn waterfront neighborhood.

If my folks weren't visiting this weekend, I might very well have ended up volunteering for an interesting event run by an interesting organization on the 23rd. It sounds like great fun for both seasoned kayakers and the merely kayak-curious alike - it's the first ever Ole Kayak Valet. Yep, if you're a fairly good kayaker with your own kayak & access to a launch site in the NYC area, check out the provided tide charts & rules of the road (I liked that touch, that's a pretty busy area & us tiny-boat types need to be aware of those rules if we're going to share the river with the big guys without coming to grief) & if the currents work out well, you can paddle to the Valentino Pier & drop off your kayak with some responsible folks who'll keep an eye on it while you go do a little exploring, armed with a claim check that will get you a discount on Steve's Key Lime Pie...and some other things too but I loooove key lime pie...


key lime pie...yummy...

*snaps out of creamy lime reverie* Oops. Sorry. Anyhow, that's for the kayakers - btw they'd appreciate an RSVP at

For the kayak-curious, the Red Hook Boaters will be offering free paddling, and there will be information there.

Red Hook is a really interesting place to go poke around anyways - this just sounds like a fun addition to a day.

PortSideNY itself is an organization that's working to create a viable interface between the working maritime operations already located there & the "landside" residents. Red Hook, after years of being cut off from the rest of Brooklyn by the Bronx-Queens Expressway, is suddenly becoming the next hot neighborhood - with a Fairway already there, an Ikea in the works & some doubtless magnificent condos being built in some old warehouses there, all served by New York Water Taxi, the gentrification process is well underway. There was a really interesting New York Times article earlier this year talking about the concerns of the folks who earn their livelihoods working on the Red Hook waterfront, notably the Erie Basin - they are quite concerned that the new neighbors might find that the charm of tugboat whistles might wear thin quickly. Sort of like city folks buying themselves a piece of land in the country, then discovering that when the wind blows from a certain quarter, having a chicken farm as your nearest neighbor suddenly becomes less quaint, I guess. And I don't think the condos or co-ops in question are low-income housing either...the new residents are going to have some bucks to throw at anything they find disturbs their harborside idyll.

Anyhow, this sounds like an effort to try to build some bridges that will hopefully help preserve the working maritime character of the neighborhood.

I'm all for that.

BTW the woman who first sent out the Kayak Valet notification turns out to be a noted professional writer & photographer who's spent a lot of time in and around New York Harbor. Did you like my Tugboat Challenge pictures? Well, you will love taking a look around HER website! I first got the info through my schooner circles & knowing absolutely nothing, went charging in offering all my favorite kayaking outfits that might be able to help her. I'd also forgotten that my friend Tim has also been quite involved in bringing kayaking to Red Hook. Boy did I feel silly when I figured all that out. Oh well. She was quite nice about it & so was Tim.

Anyways, still sort of wish I could volunteer. Maybe next year. And hey, maybe I'll drag my folks there on Saturday - you don't have to be a paddler to enjoy the view from the Valentino Street Pier!

Well, must get some sleep now. My folks get in tomorrow, and I'm also having a rough spot at work - we've been down one staff member since April, and now we have another one leaving at the end of this week, and it seems like my already small & hard-working division is being downsized by attrition.

We were down by 2 before, and we did manage to carry everything - but I was quite frayed at some points, and that was all working under the assumption that the vacancies would eventually be filled (although it took months) -

I don't seem to be bearing up quite as well under the idea that here's a bunch of extra work for keeps.

In fact I feel a bit like I've run into a brick wall, a very solid & immovable one.

dang I want to go paddling. No time. Access tricky.


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