Saturday was hot and sunny—perfect for paddling 28 nautical miles around the gleaming isle of Manhattan with 157 other kayakers. The event’s officially called “The Yonkers Paddling and Rowing Club Annual Manhattan Circumnavigation.” But it’s really one big 10-hour party.
8:12 a.m. Tubby Hook/Dyckman Street: Waiting to launch into the Hudson’s ebb
7:52 a.m. Our friend Jorge gets his boat and cameras ready
Planning is key—not just because it’s hard to get 160 kayaks unloaded, cars parked and people accounted for (which YPRC did brilliantly, by the way). No, navigating the enormous tidal estuary surrounding Manhattan requires planning your trip according to the tidal currents in the Hudson, East and Harlem rivers. Or rather, the lag and lockstep of those currents. Get it right and you’re on a watery “people mover” that transports you around like paddle-wielding royalty.
8:26 a.m. Alex soon to be paddle-wielding royalty
The New York City Watertrail Association explains:
In most places in the world, tidal currents flood (come in) until high tide and then ebb (go out) until low tide. Not so in New York Harbor. Depending on the location, the average tidal current lag—the gap between high or low water and the beginning of the flood or ebb—can be as much as two hours and 45 minutes. Touring NYC by water? Beyond Bright Idea: Download and assemble your own New York Harbor Tide Wheel!
9:30 a.m. Flying with the mares’ tales under the GW Bridge, Riverside Church fast approaching
9:32 a.m. One geek at 5 knots
10:07 a.m. Paddling past gleaming cruise ships, Concorde, Space Shuttle and Empire State Building (midtown)
10:19 a.m. Some of the 160 kayakers behind us
10:25 a.m. Overheard on the marine radio: “Landmarks? That’s Manhattan on your left. New Jersey on your right.”
10:47 Jorge on first break at Pier 40 (Houston Street). Background: new “Freedom Tower” (World Trade Center) and southern tip of Manhattan
10:56 a.m. Michele? Is that you? This trip is like standing in the produce aisle at your local grocery: Sooner or later you’ll see everyone you know
11:21 a.m. Passing the World Trade Center, soon to cross the Battery
11:31 a.m. New York Harbor, one of the busiest waterways in the world. Lady Liberty and Staten Island ferry on the horizon
11:50 a.m. Brooklyn Bridge and plenty of traffic. Bouncy!
11:50 a.m. Speed boats, NY Water Taxi, helicopters, Circle Line tour boat, even a hydroplane: every wake hits the sea wall and comes right back at you!
12:29 p.m. Flying up the East River on the flood. Empire State and Chrysler buildings (midtown) now seen from the other side of the island
12:47 Feelin’ groovy under the 59th Street Bridge (and tram to Roosevelt Island).
1:49 p.m. 160 kayaks arrive at Hallets Cove for lunch and to wait for slack tide at Hell Gate
2:20 p.m. We pretty much take over Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City
Farmers market flowers wilt in the heat
2:46 p.m. Long time no see! Jean and Hen meet again
3:30 p.m. Crowd scene at slack tide. Massive relaunch to get through the otherwise unnavigable Hell Gate
4:21 p.m. Alex and Jorge on the Harlem River. MetroNorth bridge ahead
5:49 p.m. Razor wire and subway car gleaming in the late afternoon sun
6:01 p.m. Spuyten Duyvil ahead, the Hudson just beyond
6:08 Two geeks approach the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge, a railroad swing bridge. Almost home!
Thanks again to YPRC for organizing the trip. And to Ailsa’s brilliant timing on this week’s travel theme, gleaming. 🙂
More photos below: Click for full frame slideshow
Phil of YPRC, a heroic event organizer
Ferrying across the Hudson in 10+-kt wind
Linda and Pete from YPRC and Lake Sebago ACA camp
Alex on the Hudson
Greenland boat and Euro paddle?
Jean at Pier 40 and NY Kayak, the Tiderace’s hometown
Jorge at Pier 40
Checking the itinerary
Michele at Pier 40
Waiting for the Staten Island ferry to clear
Staten Island ferry terminal
Jorge and the Circle Line
East River and Long Island City
59th Street Bridge
Invasion of the kayaks at Hallets Cove
Socrates Sculpture Park
Marie relaunches for Hell Gate
Nice to see someone else has wierd tides as well. We are just on our way back from a circumnavigation as well, Wardang Island in South Australia. Tides were over 10hours apart coming off of a dodge tide where they dont move much for 24 hours. Didnt have your sort of paddler or spectator numbers though, only 3 of us and we saw no one else anywhere for 2 days.
Oooh, sounds fantastic! We’re looking up Wardang Island now… Have you created a post about it yet? We are looking forward!!! J&A
Hopefully some photos coming soon. Seascapes were great, but sometimes hard to capture their beauty from a kayak.
What a fun memory to make 🙂
Absolutely stunning! I’ve never been one for city breaks, but you’ve changed my opinion.
Hmm… here’s an idea: Come and join us next year!! Evidently, there were plenty of out-of-towners (in a very broad sense!). Seems we all made the local news, too: http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2015/08/22/hudson-river-kayak/
This is my dream trip. It looks like so much fun. I am officially “okayed” to start paddling, so I might do a short one in the Hudson with MKC. Do you have any thoughts about Labor Day Weekend?
Magnificent! We’d L❤️VE to be part of this adventure.