Posts Tagged ‘jamaica bay’

This past Sunday, Karen and I joined a group of volunteers on a marsh restoration project in Jamaica Bay, organized by the American Littoral Society and other environmental groups. About 85 percent of the wetlands in Jamaica Bay have disappeared, resulting in lost habitat for fish, birds, and other wildlife. In addition, wetlands provide natural flood control, which the community of Broad Channel, Queens, could have benefitted from during Hurricane Sandy. For more on the project, click here.

Sunday was cold, windy, and rainy, but we decided to go anyway, knowing we would regret missing the opportunity to be part of the first ever community-led restoration project on national land (Jamaica Bay is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area). To get to Rulers Bar Hassock, where the Spartina marsh grass was waiting to be planted, we had to take a boat from Broad Channel to a float moored just off the island. We then pulled the float as close to Rulers Bar as we could get it and waded through ankle-deep water and mud to the island:

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Here we are on the island, dressed for foul weather:

rulers bar-3Rulers Bar is eight acres of sand that gets covered twice a day by the high tide. The Spartina plugs get planted two feet apart and a few inches deep. It’s amazing that the tide doesn’t wash them away. The plugs along the fence are still in trays, and plugs planted the day before are arranged across the sand in rows:

rulers bar-4There’s a lot more island to cover:

rulers bar-2

Rulers Bar HassockIf I remember correctly, the plan is to plant 88,000 plugs, with a goal of 85 percent survival to next year. More than 10,300 plugs were planted last weekend.

The proces is quite simple: make holes in the sand, remove plugs from the tray, place one in each hole, cover with sand and pat it down. The tool for making the holes is a dibble. Here Karen gets her dibble on:

rulers bar-6What is the collective noun for a group of volunteers? An army? A horde? A scattering? Anyway, the turnout on Sunday was quite large, especially given the weather:

rulers bar-7There are three more days of planting. To join the fun (and do some good) click any of these links:

May 25th, 11 am – 3 pm

May 26th, 12 pm – 4 pm

June 2nd, 10:30 pm – 2:30 pm


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Puffin was finally launched on Saturday. She went in much later than usual due in part to the damage sustained by Sea Travelers Marina during last March’s intense storm. About a month ago I took the shrink-wrap off and waxed the hull, and yesterday Karen and I spent a couple of hours washing the boat.

Today, with a stiff breeze blowing from the east, we headed out with our friends Jon and Elisa. The blue line shows where we went—around Floyd Bennett Field, past Dead Horse Bay, and into Gerritsen Creek where we dropped the hook for some lunch.

Waves were about 1 1/2 to 2 feet, which doesn’t sound like much but makes for a bumpy ride when going into them. It was windy but flat inside Gerritsen Creek. Jon went for a swim in the 66-degree water, but the rest of us stayed on the boat.

The trip back to the marina was pretty smooth, but it was still blowing, and I wondered how the docking would go.

It didn’t go well. I tried pulling into the slip the way I usually do, but the wind caught the stern and spun the boat. I didn’t want to bump onto the corner of the slip, so I tried reversing out and turning around. The wind wouldn’t let me turn the boat around, so I ended up reversing back past the slip for a second try. It didn’t go much better than the first, but fortunately a spectator came by and grabbed the bow. I jumped onto the dock, and the two of us were able to  walk the boat into the slip.

We were not the only ones to have trouble. The boat that went in ahead of us also had to make two attempts. I’m not sure what I would have done if I’d been alone.

Other than that, it was a fine (belated) start to the boating season.

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We survived our night at the Alpine Boat Basin. In fact, once it was nearly high tide and I realized our lines were set well, and when it became obvious that the predicted horrible thunderstorm was only going to bring a lot of rain and no thunder, we ended up having one of the best nights. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to get a lot of sleep, as I watched the tide come in and the planks to Puffin‘s starboard were submerged, but my fears were unfounded.


Alpine does have this going for it: at $1/foot it is the cheapest place to stay along the whole Hudson River (except for Waterford, which is free).

Heading down the Hudson we met the North River, one of the Department of Environmental Protection‘s sludge vessels:


This was an appropriate end to our river cruise, as the Hudson River was once called the North River (and still is by today’s commercial captains).

We then took the Buttermilk Channel around Governors Island and went over to see if Carolina was around on PortSide NewYork‘s headquarters, the Mary A. Whalen:

whalen_smShe wasn’t.

Entering the home stretch in Jamaica Bay, we spotted Frogma out for a paddle:


In all the time we’ve been boating in Jamaica Bay, this was the first time we met on the water. There she goes, off toward the Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge:


All in all, it was an amazing trip. Karen and I both feel a much stronger connection to the river. It is one thing to drive up the Thruway or take the train to Albany; it is altogether a different thing to spend a week on the water, rarely going more than 8 m.p.h., spending almost no time on land, and not straying more than a mile from the river’s shores.

Top 2 photos by Brian; the other 3 by Karen

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It’s been an awfully long, wet spring. Today was the first time this season that we took Puffin out into Jamaica Bay. It was a quick jaunt over to Rockaway, then east under the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge (non-movable), where we got this view of the A train heading to Manhattan over this non-DOT swing bridge.


Later, while we were docked at the Wharf, our favorite Jamaica Bay restaurant (because it has a dock), we saw the swing bridge open to allow a Sheepshead Bay party boat to pass through.

Here’s Puffin in her usual spot at the Wharf’s dock:


We made a nighttime crossing of Jamaica Bay back to our marina and closed up the boat just as a few raindrops started to fall. A perfect day.

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