See these beautiful people? None of them are me. That’s probably because I was back in the shipping container that doubles as an office for the Brooklyn Boathouse taking a Benadryl, or blowing my nose or fumbling with my PFD (extra credit if you know what that is).
I’ve long feared that I might perish by a.) Falling down a flight of subway stairs, b.) Getting hit by a taxi while holding a piece of pizza, or c.) Being imprisoned in a foreign country. Turns out I might’ve met my match in the East River.
I’ve always wanted to kayak. Sure, I’ve done the Bahamas paddle in those big wide sea kayaks, I’ve canoed on an Adirondack lake (okay, sat and smoked in the dark in the middle of it) and I’ve even been whitewater rafting in the Royal Gorge. But I’ve never been in a deck boat. That’s mostly because up until Saturday I was pretty much chicken shit to have my legs trapped in a narrow plastic torpedo. However, gimme time, people, and I always come around.
God, what a gorgeous day to drink river water. Last Saturday, a friend and I headed down to the Brooklyn Boat House (which is really the 2 aforementioned shipping containers down in Brooklyn Bridge park) to take a Level 1 Kayak class taught by Tom Potter, a mellow, water-loving hybrid of every man I’ve met in Colorado and a really nice violin teacher I once had. Pleasant, easygoing and totally in love with kayaking, Tom teaches with Todd, whose glam gear belied the fact that he’d paddled over from Red Hook that morning and regularly circumnavigates Manhattan in a deck boat.
Here’s the deal with these guys: their sport is quickly morphing into a community in Brooklyn and they need volunteers. You can snag a deal on the price of a course (regularly $125) if you agree to volunteer at the boathouse at some point during the summer. If you’re awesome like nearly everyone in my class, you can reasonably assume that by the end of a Level 1 course you will be able to be of some use.
In the morning you learn basic strokes (forward, reverse), practice paddling sideways (you kinda have to see this) and learn to pinwheel. Then there’s lunch on the flawless restored grass at the edge of the water. By then you’re past your fear that at any moment you could tip over (though you totally can) and have accepted that your hips have to pivot in order to do basically anything in a deck boat.”
Want more? Keep reading this post and get other local adventure ideas at Off the Radar.