Recently in Port of New York Category

I've had a couple great trips out to Governors Island with friends and family this summer and hope to go a few more times before the season ends. I fished with my daughter off the eastern shore, listened to poetry and music produced by Patti Smith and her daughter, and really inspected Fort Jay closely for the first time. I haven't biked out there this year but hope to. I wouldn't mind seeing Lupe Fiasco's beach show, either, but damn -- for $40?

In case you missed it, The New Yorker had a big old piece on the Island by Nick Paumgarten. There's video from one of the magazine's blogs, too:

Earlier this summer I noticed that real progress is being made on the Harbor School's new home in an old, historic Coast Guard hospital. The LA Times had a sprawling piece on the school -- a NYC public high school rooted in studying the city's waterways -- a couple weeks back. It's well worth a read.

What is it that drives so many tourists, once they've paid the exorbitant costs to get to New York and house themselves, to go to dinner at the Olive Garden? It's something I'll never understand.

pioneer.JPGI had a similar thought the other day as we were waiting to board the Pioneer, the South Street Seaport Museum's 1885 steel-hull schooner. I've blogged about the Pioneer elsewhere and even wrote about it for my first post here last fall; I won't go into  too many details again.

But let me just say that on our sunny afternoon public sail we had only 6 passengers on the boat. (It holds  only 40 passengers max.) Meanwhile, a group of day campers in screaming loud tie-dye swarmed on board the obnoxious Shark one pier over, and right next to us hundreds of European tourists (and the few midwesterners who are braving the city this summer) waddled on board the Zephyr as if it were Noah's Ark. I don't know how many passengers the Shark holds, but the Zephyr can take up to 600!

zephyr.circleline.JPGWhy would anyone choose to restrict themselves to a narrow seat, crammed in with a million other people, only to float around so removed from the water that you feel like you're merely watching this all pass by on TV? Is this part of reality culture, that we want our real experiences to feel as if they're on screen?

I'll take a splash of the water over the side and help hoist my own sails anytime.

To find out more about sailing on the Pioneer click here.

p.s. Eliasson's waterfalls? Completely underwhelming. How can they not be stacked up against the Brooklyn Bridge or the skyline itself?

On the Water

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I was out of town for most of this summer, and one of the things I missed most were our regular sails on the Seaport Museum's schooner Pioneer, one of downtown's best kept secrets. (I've publicized it in the past on another site.)

Last Friday night made up for lost summer days, though. We had the perfect September weather for being out on the water from 7 to 9 -- watching the sun go down, the lights come on. We had great wind out to the Statue of Liberty and, as usual, I couldn't help but think about generations of immigrants pulling into port or Verrazzano sailing through the narrows and pronouncing the whole to be a "beautiful lake." From the middle of the harbor it certainly appears you're surrounded by a ring of land.

Sailing off Manhattan seems a quaint reminder of the city's maritime origins; when you're on the water after dark and encounter another schooner or sailboat, though, creeping up on you in the dark, you can't help but feel like you're part of a secret society -- the ones who still know Melville's magnetic pull and respond with the appropriate sign and password. 

pioneer2.jpgOne bittersweet aspect of the evening: it was our first time to sail on the Pioneer since the passing of Captain Don Taube over the summer. He was a neighborhood fixture at the Seaport on and off for almost 40 years -- one of the last of the old salts, someone you might encounter in a Joseph Mitchell sketch. Close to 200 people showed up a couple weeks ago on board the Museum's tall ship Peking to tell stories about him -- many of which are collected here.

I don't (yet) know much about sailing -- I go out as a passenger, not a sailor -- but I have learned this summer the appropriate farewell to a fallen shipmate: "Fair winds and following seas."

For information on joining the Pioneer's outstanding volunteer crew click here.

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