Brian Ton

From Row to the Narrows

This Labor Day, a crew of nine departed Pier 40 on the King Tide bound for The Narrows. Starting at 8:30 AM and arriving at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge at around 11:15, we caught the ebb, making for a speedy and surprisingly easygoing journey. Oddly, boat traffic in Upper New York Bay was relatively light, though it may have only felt that way because we made sure to steer clear of shipping channels when possible. Hugging the Brooklyn coastline from Red Hook to Fort Hamilton, we took in great views of Sunset Park’s industrial waterfront, the Brooklyn Army Terminal, the lower reaches of the Upper New York Bay, and Fort Wadsworth from perspectives that can only be experienced on the water.

Passing the Verrazano on the Staten Island side, we circled Hoffman Island, a man-made island originally used to quarantine immigrants now re-purposed as a bird sanctuary. We then beached at the Fort Wadsworth campgrounds around noon to take a two hour lunch break (involving a 20 minute walk to a deli since everything else was closed).

The only tricky part of the whole journey was the launch from the campgrounds. After doing the default backing-out launch, large waves quickly broadsided us back onto the beach. At Marcel’s suggestion, we launched bow first. The increased power from rowing forward away from the beach (as opposed to backwatering out) did the trick, and we were on our way.

Thanks to the prevailing SW winds, the full flood tide, and a fully re-energized crew, we arrived back at Pier 40 around 4:45 to a barbecue manned by Frank and Dave Clayton. In all, the trip was roughly 22 miles, only 8 miles short of the route of our annual fundraiser held last month, the Row Around Manhattan. All in all, it was a fun row, and definitely worth waking up at 5:30 AM for.

Click on the thumbnail below for more photos:

Row to the Narrows

Don’t miss the movies:

Community Rowers Try Out the New Gunning Dory

Paul Caviano

From New Dory

The Gold Rush at play, crewed (left to right) by Hoy, Felecia, Linda, Kate, and Paul. Photo by Marcel.

On Tuesday, August 25th, the community rowers had a special treat – trying out the newest addition to the VCB fleet. The just-completed gunning dory #2 had only been out for some shakedown runs in the embayment, and had also gone on a visit to the Monmouth Boat Club for a special event. While not officially named yet, “Gold Rush” is an early nomination that has attracted some interest, so we’ll use that name for now.

Coxswained by Marcel, a mixed group of experienced rowers and first-timers took a few loops initial loops around the embayment. Even the veterans were in learning-mode though – getting a feel for the new boat’s layout, equipment, and handling. After about 15 minutes of on-the-water coaching from Marcel – basic rowing tutorial for the newbies and steering oar pointers (no rudder or yoke on the Gold Rush!) for the more experienced hands, the crew was soon comfortably driving the boat around the moorings. We then decided to head south against a moderate flood, venturing to Pier 26. Besides seeing how the boat behaved in less-protected waters, we also came across and rescued a soccer ball that was drifting along untended, and added it to the VCB collection of useful flotsam pulled from the Hudson.

So, what did the crew think about Gold Rush? Here are a few comments:
· Noticeably lighter, quicker to pick up momentum. A practiced crew should find this to be a very fast boat.

· Very clean and uncluttered inside – seems more roomy without floorboards.

· The seats seemed a bit closer together than those of a gig – this puts a premium on staying in cadence to avoid bumping. They also were a bit slippery, given the fresh coat of varnish. A piece of foam padding might be useful to stay anchored.

· The steering oar takes getting used to. Used only as a rudder, it seemed slow to turn the boat. Used as an oar to actively push the stern in the desired direction, altering course was much quicker.

· The gated oar locks are a nice change from thole pins and rings – once set-up they are stable, quiet, and fuss-free.

We hope others will give the boat a try at their earliest opportunity.