Sunday Boatbuilding Update

The canoe crew were able to work outside once again on Sunday afternoon. There was a brisk wind but warm sunshine. We worked on the inside of our boat, completing the fiberglass-cedar-fiberglass sandwich that makes strip canoes light and strong. Here is our gang, plus Frank showboating with a metal plate, and the wetted out interior.
No canoe building on Wednesday; we will be back at work next Sunday, November 26

Icebreaker 2017

Two and a half VCB High School crews, chaperoned by Leo Au-Yeung traveled by bus to Boston’s Fort Point Channel to compete in Hull Lifesaving Museum’s Icebreaker, a youth race with over 240 rowers from all over New England. 
VCB fielded one “first fours” crew of five (experienced rowers of four oared boats)  – Kenny Lin, Kevin Liu, Angela Peng, Puneet Johal with coxswain Melina Tsai. Two more VCB high school rowers, Nafel Kahn & Inhyuk Jun, joined three Rhode Island rowers to form a “second fours” crew (less experienced rowers)
Both VCB crews came in second place in their respective categories. Crews  were  divided into categories according to experience/skill level and type of boat: Novice, Second and First  crews of four-oared and six-oared boats.
The crews enjoyed Breakfast and Lunch served in the Barking Crab, which was closed to the public just for the race.
The course for the heats was challenging for VCB’s First Fours.  The tide was rising, so course went out towards the direction of Boston Harbor instead of inland. Lots of twists and turns as crews navigated twice around the course. 
The race culminated in the Nautical Mile: boats rowed or were towed a mile out into the harbor (VCB got towed). When the race started, the entire fleet of more than ten boats participating in the nautical mile sprint rowed their hearts out towards the finish line at the entrance to Fort Point Channel.
Special thanks to Leo Au-Yeung, High School Rowing Coordinator, for organizing and chaperoning.
Thanks to Eric Cerny for helping to fund the VCB crews

Rowing In The Collective Unconscious

I must go down to the sea again, for the call of the running tide 

Is a wild call and a clear call the cannot be denied.

John Masefield


I have been around boats my whole life, which is unremarkable except that I lived for five decades on Barrow Street in the heart of the West Village. My father kept two boats in the Bronx on City Island – a sailboat, the Martini, that capsized in the Great South Bay with both of my parents aboard  before I was born. My mother’s foot went through a porthole, slicing her Achilles tendon and she almost bled to death. The scar on her ankle prompted frequent retelling of the almost tragic event.

My father also kept a cabin cruiser on City Island named the Sark – the first two letters of my name and the last two letters of my brother’s name, Mark. I have memories of family voyages to Martha’s Vineyard, fishing trips, and adventures on the Sark. She sank at the dock and Gus, the old salt who worked at the marina, helped my father hire a diver to remove her registration numbers.

Both of my parents came from old money but left it behind to settle into the Bohemian literary scene at the White Horse Tavern and Chumley’s. There, I drank Coke with extra maraschino cherries and played behind the bar and in the kitchen, while my father played chess and drank. He died there in a fight over a chess game on the eve of my eighth birthday. His mother died a few days later and I have been estranged from his family ever since. I do know that his family made their fortune in the pharmaceutical industry selling Mother Winslow’s Soothing Syrup, opium tonic for babies.

I have spent most of my life in psychoanalysis, coming to terms with a childhood rich with risky adventuring on Fire Island and Washington Square thanks to my parents’ laissez-faire  style.  My brother was not so lucky. He ran away to sea before graduating from high school and eventually became a charter boat captain. We shared many adventures on the high seas before he died of a drug overdose at the age of 64. Alcohol served to assuage the boredom of long voyages between Sag Harbor and the West Indies. On my last voyage with my brother, sailing from Corsica to Gibraltar, the first leg of a transatlantic voyage, I suffered from sea sickness for the first time in my life which turned out to be pregnancy. I did make it to Gibraltar but had to jump ship. I flew home and gave up my life of adventure, risk, and danger to raise my daughter.

Psychoanalysts and interpreters of dreams say that the sea symbolizes the unconscious. According to my psychoanalytic ancestor Carl Jung, the sea is a symbol of the collective unconscious, shared universally by all human beings. I have grown up to be a psychoanalyst by trade but I still enjoy less risky adventures in row boats around New York Harbor. My deep lifelong love of the sea and the boats that carry me there serve to preserve my connection to my father and to my brother and something deep and primitive in myself.

The waters of New York Harbor can be treacherous for mariners who are unprepared to engage and work with the wild forces of nature—winds, tides, and currents. In psychoanalysis, I launch into the waters of the unconscious, mine and my patient’s, and together we row around seeking to engage the forces of human nature—sex, power, fear, envy, hate, and most of all, love.

Sunday, 11/12 Boatbuilding Update


Lorne Swarthout

On Sunday the canoe builders moved outside to take advantage of the mid-November microclimate on the south side of Pier 40. We scraped and filed and sanded on the inside of the hull, removing excess glue and smoothing the planks. The sun felt wonderful on our backs.
Next boatbuilding sessions will be Wednesday and Sunday, 12-4

VCB Youth Race 2017

Crews from four high school rowing teams competed in the tenth annual VCB Youth Race at Pier 40 on Saturday. Crews came from near and far: Sound School from New Haven, Benjamen Banneker High School from Clinton Hill Brooklyn, Harbor School from Governors Island, and VCB’s own Stuyvesant High School/VCB Rowing. 

Sound School won in both the Women’s and Mixed Crew divisions but it was a grand day for everyone who rowed and volunteered.


Youth Race 2017 Results


Phil’s 2017 Race Report:

The VCB Youth Race was won by the Sound School’s “Wallaby Way” team (19:20) over Harbor School’s “Shark Attack” team (21:00), Sound School’s “Pink Unicorns” (22:10) took 3rd Place and Stuyvesant’s “Team W” (22:21) came in 4th , Another Sound School team “Ho Ho Ho Your Boat” (22:56) finished 5th. Continue reading »