Monday, March 11, 2013

Good Fortune of the Sea

Almost every weekend for the past two months, members of the Inwood Canoe Club, including yours truly, have met at the boathouse to make repairs and prepare for the winter season. Members who don't work regular 9-5s have also met during the week to do what they can. This is all in addition to the initial cleanup and makeshift repairs completed in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy.

A lot of what we've focused on is rebuilding the retaining wall on northern shoreline Without it, there is a real danger that it would erode away, making our boathouse inaccessible by land. Sandy washed away hundreds of cubic feet of dirt and rock, and what we've done is use 8x8 timbers layered together to form a new wall. It's almost done, and we're already making plans to turn it into usable deck space for entertaining guests.

There's plenty of work to do inside as well. We've added new racks, and are repainting our offices and changing rooms now that they've dried out.

As much work as this is, we only recently realized how fortunate we are among Manhattan boathouses. Most other boathouses are located in a stretch of shoreline managed by the Hudson River Park Trust, and for a number of reasons they've been mostly inaccessible - only key custodians have access. That means most paddlers have been unable to paddle on the river, unless they were able to move their boats someplace else - Yonkers offered storage space along with a brief exception to their membership policy. 

That means that those few of us who have paddled this winter out of Inwood are among a fortunate few. Most city paddlers haven't beee able to get out. Some of the people I respect and look up to have been landlocked.

That's something. It shows the impact of the storm, the politics of water access, and the value of having dedicated club members (whether volunteers or paid membership) to come together and keep things running.

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