2010-07-23 / Community

Sebago Canoe Club Welcomes Large Crowd Of Visitors To Jamaica Bay

By Vivian Rattay Carter

Participants were welcomed at the club entrance with clear instructions from Rockaway member Jake Monahan. Photos by John Harris and Vivian Carter Participants were welcomed at the club entrance with clear instructions from Rockaway member Jake Monahan. Photos by John Harris and Vivian Carter They came to Jamaica Bay from far and wide. They came hauling boats of all kinds – kayaks, canoes, sailboats and rowboats – from handmade, skincovered Greenland kayaks to a wickertrimmed Adirondack touring canoe. Some drove from upstate New York. Others arrived from New Jersey. Members of the Village Boathouse camped with the raccoons at Floyd Bennett Field, and rowed into Canarsie in style, sporting a pirate’s flag on their craft. The Long Island City Boathouse came through the front gate with a trailer loaded with kayaks. One couple arrived via public transportation, toting two compact folding kayaks.

No matter how they arrived, everyone enjoyed the fun, food and activities at the inaugural All-Club Invitational hosted by Sebago Canoe Club at its Canarsie facility this past Saturday. The event was the brainchild of Phil Giller, Sebago’s past commodore, who obtained grants to fund it from New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission and the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program. Sebago T-shirts and hats sold briskly throughout the day, helping to further defray some of the costs of the event.

Rick Horan, president of Rockaway’s Gateway Bike & Boathouse (far left), shares an anecdote with (right to left): Sebago’s rowing committee chair, Joe Romano, Eric (The Chanteyman) Russell of Sebago, and Rob Buchanan of Village Community Boathouse.  Rick Horan, president of Rockaway’s Gateway Bike & Boathouse (far left), shares an anecdote with (right to left): Sebago’s rowing committee chair, Joe Romano, Eric (The Chanteyman) Russell of Sebago, and Rob Buchanan of Village Community Boathouse. Sebago’s partners included Gateway National Recreation Area and the New York City Water Trail Association. Sebago’s dock is a designated launching landing location on the trail.

Over 100 visitors, plus more than 60 club members, participated in a variety of excursions to explore the bay. The goal was to host the largest gathering of human-powered boaters on Jamaica Bay in history. Each trip was led by members of Sebago and selected local experts, including Don Riepe of Broad Channel, Jamaica Bay Guardian, who pointed out ospreys, oystercatchers and herons as one group paddled along the marshes of Canarsie Pol. Sebago member Tom Potter, who is also spearheading the development of human-powered boating at the new Brooklyn Bridge Park, guided a group of beginners around the Pol in the opposite direction. The most advanced paddlers circumnavigated clockwise around the western portion of the bay, passing the North Channel Bridge in Howard Beach and continuing along the eastern fringes of Broad Channel.

U.S. Park Ranger John Daskalakis helped coordinate the three Gateway landing sites for the day, at Floyd Bennett Field and Canarsie Pier. U.S. Park Ranger John Daskalakis helped coordinate the three Gateway landing sites for the day, at Floyd Bennett Field and Canarsie Pier. As evening set in and the boat washing racks were called into service, Sebago grill-master Fran Pignatello and her crew kept the burgers and dogs flying onto the plates for hungry boaters. The event concluded with the recycling of beer and soda cans by club members. Even the water bottles— made of recyclable and compostable cornstarch donated by Green Planet of Chicago, Illinois, were eco-friendly.
Somehow, Sebago’s dock masters Chris Russo and Lori Prendergast (right to left) kept everyone moving, while publicity director Vivian Carter of Belle Harbor snapped photos of the action with her camera. Somehow, Sebago’s dock masters Chris Russo and Lori Prendergast (right to left) kept everyone moving, while publicity director Vivian Carter of Belle Harbor snapped photos of the action with her camera.
Sebago is a safety-conscious place. The club safety boat, being piloted by Sebago sailing chair Jim Luton, with Far Rockaway member Tony Berkel and Chris Bickford aboard. Sebago is a safety-conscious place. The club safety boat, being piloted by Sebago sailing chair Jim Luton, with Far Rockaway member Tony Berkel and Chris Bickford aboard.
Ahoy! The Village Community Boathouse arrives in their vessel, known as a Whitehall “gig.” The group, from the West Side of Manhattan, camped out and braved foodstealing raccoons and mosquitoes in the urban “outback” at Floyd Bennett Field. Ahoy! The Village Community Boathouse arrives in their vessel, known as a Whitehall “gig.” The group, from the West Side of Manhattan, camped out and braved foodstealing raccoons and mosquitoes in the urban “outback” at Floyd Bennett Field.
Jamaica Bay Guardian Don Riepe of Broad Channel paddles off with a group of birders. Jamaica Bay Guardian Don Riepe of Broad Channel paddles off with a group of birders.
Commissioner of Parks for the Borough of Queens, Dottie Lewandowski, prepares to launch in a sailboat. Commissioner of Parks for the Borough of Queens, Dottie Lewandowski, prepares to launch in a sailboat.

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