Paddling Around New York (County aka Manhattan Island)

Hey, we are the Kayak and Canoe Club of New York…and what could be more about Kayaking and New York then paddling around New York (County) more popularly known as Manhattan Island.

Harlem river -Manhattan during circumnavigationIt’s a 30+ mile paddle but since done right you’re floating with the tides it’s surprisingly easy…if you think spending 8 hours sitting in a kayak is easy.

That being said, this is not a paddle for the inexperienced.

Lower Manhattan from the Ferry terminals at 38th street to South Street Seaport but especially around the tip after North Cove….is just crazy…competing currents, tons of boat traffic, waves coming in off the ocean and bouncing back of the seawalls, no place to get out.

But it’s not class 5 rapids (or even class 3 or 2) either and competent sea or whitewater paddlers should easily be able to do it…

Lower Manhattan is really busy and timing your way around the tip is important.

I’m a big believer in keeping the group tightly together as you will be both more visible and easier to avoid. This means paddling at the rate of the slowest paddlers.

Get some experienced urban paddlers to show you the ropes. 1 rope you need to know is ferries move really fast. Most have bow thrusters and are on tight schedules.

Marine Radios are a good idea as they are how you communicate with boats.

On most of this trip you can’t get out of the water as high bulkheads separate you from the shore. So the group needs the skills for self rescue (and plan your bathroom schedule;-)

East river -we are the Kayak and Canoe Club of New York...and what could be more about Kayaking and New York then paddling around New York (County) more popularly known as Manhattan Island.Check the Staten Island Ferry Schedule and don’t get anywhere near these huge boats. Waiting to cross just after they arrive or leave is a good idea.

Lower Manhattan can have some crazy wave bounce of the seawalls.

You have to follow the currents around the Island, so timing is critical.

How to Paddle Around Manhattan From the Englewood Boat Basin

Start at the Englewood Boat Basin (Exit 1 off the Palisades Interstate Parkway in NJ), leaving about 1 to 1.5 hours after low water at New York (The Battery).

Pro tips: Launch from the end of the small stream at the south end of the boat basin. Landing at higher tide you can just paddle up the stream. In season is you don’t want to pay go north to Undercliff Picnic Area, but this is a muddy launch at low tide. Drop your boats at the beach by the road at the very bottom of the hill, park at the picnic area parking and carry your stuff down.

Go counterclockwise around Manhattan, heading south down the Hudson. You should reach the southern tip of Manhattan Island in about 2.5 to 3 hours, then start heading north up the East River. Note caveats above about getting around lower Manhattan safely. There is a small beach just right underneath the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge where you can take a rest stop, but don’t stay long because you’ll want to catch the raging northward current in the East River.

Beach under Spuyten Duyvel waiting for tide to change to head south
Beach under Spuyten Duyvel waiting for tide to change, needed if you parked south of Englewood.

You should reach Mill Rock (the little island in the middle of the river, directly across from 96th St. in Manhattan ) in about 1.5 to 2 hours. There is a little cove on the north side of Mill Rock where you can beach your boat, or you can paddle a little further up river to Randall’s Island/Ward’s Island and beach there. Wait for about 1to 1.5 hours, then begin north up the Harlem River about 8 hours after low water at the Battery. You will reach Spuyten Duyvel (the confluence with the Hudson River) in about 2 hours. Paddle directly west across the Hudson to the Boat Basin. Total trip time is about 9 hours.

Spuyten Duyvel tide 40 min behind battery

Paddling around Manhattan From Liberty State Park

You have to follow the shifting currents around the Island, so timing is critical.

Start at the Liberty State Park boat launch (Exit 14B off the NJ Turnpike Extension), leaving about 4 hours after low water at New York (The Battery). Go counterclockwise around the Island, heading east across the Harbor and north up the East River. You will reach Mill Rock (the little island in the middle of the river, directly across from 96th St. in Manhattan ) in about 2 to 2.5 hours. There is a little cove on the north side of Mill Rock where you can beach your boat, or you can paddle a little farther north and beach on Randall’s Island. Wait for about 1 or 1.5 hours, then begin north up the Harlem River about 7.5 hours after low water at the Battery. You will reach Spuyten Duyvel (the confluence with the Hudson River) in about 2 hours. There is a little beach on the south side of Spuyten Duyvel, in between the high, arching Henry Hudson Bridge and the low, swivel railroad bridge at the entrance to the Hudson. Wait there for about one-half to 1 hour, then begin south down the Hudson. Depending on the wind, you will reach Liberty State Park in about 3-4 hours. Try to avoid days with strong south winds. Total trip time is 9 – 10 hours.

How to Paddle Around Manhattan From the Englewood Boat Basin and Liberty SP
How to Paddle Around Manhattan From the Englewood Boat Basin and Liberty SP – printable cheat sheet


Moodna April 17, 2021

the teeth on moodna creek

12 paddlers, 1-2 swimmers, warm water for mid April. Just happened to glance at AW’s safety page and see

  • Always Wear Your PFD
  • Research the River You Plan to Paddle
  • Avoid Dams
  • Avoid Drugs

So since it’s come up before say again that the Moonda dams have been run in nearly all levels and both have a kick up at the bottom that prevents the recirc of the traditional low head dam….but both are one flood away from being damaged and dangerous. Though are also far from the most fun things on the Moodna with dozens of interesting lines, small drops, surf spots and surprising remoteness and beauty for exurbia…but they are great photo ops especially for the lazy photog who never ever gets out of his boat just for a better shot.

Second dam looks smaller with a 12′ canoe going down it.

Continue reading “Moodna April 17, 2021”

Message from New President

Hey all.
I know last year was weird year what with covid and pool issues, but I had a great paddling year. Once we worked thru the details, paddling with it’s natural social distancing was a saving grace for me. All the cancelled releases in the spring were a bummer, but most were rescheduled to summer and early fall when paddling is a lot more pleasant. So thanks to the many people i paddled with and the few people i shuttled with.

I know hope everyone had as good a paddling season. I know some of you chose to paddle with your ‘pod’ or not do club trips to control the situation more. Hope we can get you back with the club!

I’m excited to be once again taking the reigns as President of KCCNY.

My goals for the coming year.

More Trips

Making it easier run a KCCNY trip.

To this end, the board has already approved that we will follow our insurance provider’s (the ACA’s) guidelines on helmets and life jackets, so helmets will no longer be required below class 2 (opening up easier river, lake and open water trips though leaders can and should require helmets) and allowing inflatable life jackets for below class 1. Hopefully more of us will post our more recreational trips.

Making it easier  to coordinate.

Accepting ACA online waivers (which will require that use of the same email address for us and the ACA).

Also: We’re working on bringing back training and pool sessions safely in what will hopefully be a post pandemic world.

Continue with a Zoom alternate for meetings even when we can meet in person again.

An additional thanks goes out to the generous charitable contributions of our members that has allowed KCCNY to donate to American Whitewater, the Mongaup EMTs, and the American Rivers this year. I’ve heard back from American Rivers where we are now an official River ambassador and soon to be added to .

Looking forward to seeing you on the river (or on Zoom) soon!

Do as I say, not as I do

Not actually this trip but at least the right river and right time of year.

Last week at the board meeting we discussed paddling within your abilities during the covid situation since you don’t want to force someone to have to get close to rescue you nor do you want to have to end up in a possibly overtaxed local ER.
So when the Lehigh got dumped on I convinced a few unfortunates to join me for the 20 miles from Whitehaven to Glen Onoko. The army core of engineers (ACE) said they’d be releasing 5000 cfs until they got dam back to the maximum they are supposed to keep it at. I’d done 4000 cfs a few years ago and knew to be cautious Continue reading “Do as I say, not as I do”

Bike Shuttling and locking equipment

In this new normal many of us our self-isolating enough that we don’t want to get in a car with others even for a head hanging out the window shuttle…so the obvious solution is a bike (or hike) shuttle.
I’ve also seemed way too many Facebook posts about missing gear – more during this special situation but also during the old normal. So investing in a few locks and using them seems like a pretty good idea.

The basics of bike shuttling are pretty obvious. Drop a bike at one end or a boat at the other.

Less obvious things about bike shuttling.

Continue reading “Bike Shuttling and locking equipment”

Moodna with ice and sun

One of those days you expect to be nice and are pleasantly surprised. It had rained heavily nearly a week ago and then gotten cold, so as the river came down it coated logs and rocks with ice and icicles.  And unlike our friends who went skiing, no crowds on the Moodna.
Sun was out, wind was non existent. Saying the Moodna was at a good level is sort of moot as the Moodna’s fun from very low to crazy high…but at a lower level it was a lot dryer which is certainly nice with 32 degree water.
In the easy class 1-2 warm up we saw a wood duck and a pileated woodpecker. Though a little low the upper section and in fact the whole river had plenty of water 6 days after the last heavy rain. Though it doesn’t have a  gauge, the Moodna holds well and is fun at so many levels. There were a number of holes that looked liked they’d be fun to surf in or be surfed by…and with the water at 32 degrees neither of us were interested in exploring.

Tom Pushing across the ice to get back to the river.
Pushing across ice to get back to river.

I elected to portage around the first dam as I was feeling poor and good about my boat…this dam’s an easy slide down what feels like a cheese grater. Getting out required breaking the ice at river’s edge until I could get my boat parallel and then delicately climbing out onto a shelf of ice. Getting back in required pushing across 10′ of ice.
At lower water there was no eddy at the final drop on the first real rapid, lumber yard.
20191222_0145-pillarsFor the pillars -the hardest rapid – we ran left to right above the entrance rapid and eddied out just above the main drop and boat scouted close enough to be pretty sure the main drop was clean…with the low flow it was a pretty straightforward ferry and line up to get a straight drop clear of the pillars and then hang on thru the drop.
tom running the second damThe pond above the second dam had ice at its edges making both getting out and getting close enough to boat scout difficult…
Most interesting challenge came near the end when I got off line and thought I had a line between one partly submerged boulder and one ice covered boulder. The ice as more like a mushroom cap and the left side of my boat slid down and i found myself stuck between the 2 rocks, cockpit out of the water. Pushing of the ice was way too cold without gloves (I prefer pogies for the solid grip and adjustability)…so in the middle of the rapid, water flowing over the boat I pulled the skirt, pulled out my gloves from the drybag and was then able to lift myself free.
The Moodna holds well and is fun at a wide range of levels. With the exception of the pillars it’s similar in difficulty to the Mongaup. More on the Moodna on AW.


New President Chris Shih

I hope everyone had a great paddling season this year! Last weekend we had our annual KCCNY meeting and dinner, and I continue to be incredibly grateful for our paddling community – it was a pleasure meeting a number of legacy members, and welcoming a few new members to the club as well.
2019_2020 Pool Session Post
Furthermore, I’m excited to be taking the reigns as President of KCCNY.
An additional thanks goes out to the generous charitable contributions of our members that has allowed KCCNY to donate to American Whitewater, the Mongaup EMTs, and the Passaic River Coalition this year.
Looking forward to seeing you on the river (or in the pool) soon!

What I learned the hard way about paddling

Or beginning whitewater paddling…
As far as safety, I don’t need to tell any of you that strainers and cold water are your big enemy, not rocks, flipping or swimming.

  1. Part of pulling off a combat roll is being comfortable under water….and a big part of being comfortable underwater is not freaking out when you’re not getting air. So practice it and see how long you can last.
  2. As for not freaking out when your helmet is bouncing off rocks, well, that takes a certain amount of just getting used to it and believing that the safest place to be is tucked forward.
  3. That being said, Combat rolls are incredibly cool.
  4. Got to keep fed and hydrated because my own judgment is off when I’m not. Note to self…most whitewater paddlers don’t stop and rest and eat as much as I like to so and I need to remember this and bring snacks.
  5. Make sure even the good guys have cleared the hard spot /drop before you go in. If there’s only one line you want it clear. Ask Andy Frey.
  6. Tie stuff down…this means to your boat if you’re in your boat and tying your boat down when you’re not in your boat.
  7. Bracing (and rolling) on the back deck with my head in the water. Thanks Eric Jackson.

Things I didn’t learn the hard way only because Jeff Bowan gave such a great presentation at my first hrckc meeting. Cold water is really dangerous…actually, come to think of it, I did nearly learn that the hard way, but not when I was boating. Diving into Lake Superior on a hot September day when the lake looked like everyone’s vision of the Caribbean  but was probably in the low 40s.
And some things I’ve yet to learn…paddling alone may be dangerous, just as hiking along and mountain biking and swimming alone are. But I like them.
So you may see me on the mighty Hackensack or Delaware alone and holding a beverage…but you won’t see me on something that challenges me alone.
Did I mention how much fun whitewater is?

Do You Have What it Takes?

lead a tripIf you are reading this, then it is probably because you became a member of the KCCNY, presumably for the number of things that the Club has to offer. Maybe you had not paddled at all before taking one of the Club’s beginner classes, or maybe you had paddled a bit and were looking for some instruction on easier rivers. Maybe you were already comfortable with your abilities and progress and were looking for other people to paddle with. Maybe it is because you wanted to go to some pool sessions and work on your roll.
Maybe it is because of the extraordinary number of river trips schedule on the KCCNY site, making it that much easier for all levels of paddlers to be out on a river. Again, these trips do cover a wide range of levels. There are the follow-up instruction trips on easy rivers for those who are fresh out of a beginner class, to the intermediate level river run. There is also a number of more challenging trips on more difficult rivers. Unfortunately, what does not have a wide of range is the small number of people leading these trips! The KCCNY can only maintain the number of choices on the schedule if we have Trip Leaders. As it stands now, this schedule is run by a handful of our members. If you have not volunteered as a Trip Leader then maybe it is because you don’t know if you have what it takes to run a trip. If so, please let me explain.
The fact is we don’t really have Trip Leaders; it is more of being a Trip Coordinator. Even if Andrea isn’t there with her picnic basket of wine, cheese, and crackers, it’s still a lot like planning a picnic. All you need to do is choose a suitable place, announce the trip, and handle the logistics of getting a few people to meet you at the put in. Of course every trip should be made up of a group that is strong enough to fend for themselves, including chasing any swimmers and their gear, but you do not have to be the strongest paddler on the trip to be the Trip Coordinator. Trips where the coordinator is the best or strongest paddler are actually few and far between. If you would be willing to lead a trip, but are not sure that you are ready, or you may have any other concerns than please ask any of us what we think! All you need is to be a competent paddler on at least one river and organize a trip on that river. Example, if you are comfortable paddling the lower, lower Lehigh or the Lackawaxen when someone else is leading the trip, then YOU can probably lead a trip on those rivers!
There is a small amount of paperwork (a couple of short emails, really), and some emails or phone calls with people interested in the trip. One of the big plus’s to volunteering as a Trip Coordinator is that it guarantees that you will be on a river that you presumably wanted to go on, anyway. You can simply find a link to the full details at the top of the trip schedule page or you can go directly to: Responsibilities of Coordinator
Again, whatever your reasons were for joining the KCCNY you had to have figured out the Club had something to offer you that was more valuable than the paltry annual membership dues.
If you love this sport as much as I do and have found a home with the KCCNY then you have to realize it is largely due to the efforts of our volunteers. It is because of the Trip Coordinator that continue to make it possible for you and your fellow paddlers to be out on a river enjoying one of life’s most wonderful experiences.
I will look forward to seeing YOU this season and encourage you to – Step up to the river bank as a Trip Coordinator!
Steve M.