NYCkayaker boathouses on the Hudson river in NYC

David Gottlieb
Thu Nov 2 11:58:54 EST 2006

There is no need for a permit system.

A simple sign up sheet at the NYC public launch sites, such as they have at
hiking trails and at free boat put-ins all across the Adirondacks, would
give the city a more accurate count of the number of paddlers using the
waterways. This would eliminate the need for a cumbersome permit system
which most paddlers will not take the time to get. Signs alerting the public
to dangers of paddling without proper gear, skills, clothing, etc could be
put next to the put-ins.

Whether the permit system in NYC Parks was started as a way to regulate
paddlers or not isn't important. It has regulated paddlers by not allowing
the paddling community easy access. The point being that since the Hudson
River and the other waterways surrounding NYC are considered navigable by
New York State and not surrounded entirely by private land (such as a
private lake) then boats are allowed to use these waterways by law. Denying
access makes it hard to enjoy our rights as citizens to responsibly use the


On 11/2/06 9:24 AM, "ralph diaz" <> wrote:

> Interesting discussion thusfar and most of it with valid points.  Just some
> clarification on things:
> This was started not as a way to regulate paddlers.  It had other purposes.
> First, NYC Parks wanted to reduce its liability regarding paddlers launching
> from its designated sites.  Paddlers are supposed to get a permit and the
> application form comes with a short document that exposes the paddler to a
> reminder of safety precautions about weather, traffic, cold water exposure
> etc.  Second, NYC Parks also wanted to have an idea of how many people were
> paddling in the city.  That is why I and others such as Tim Gamble at the
> DTBH strongly urged people to get permits.  I don't think in any given year
> we ever got more than 100 or so to get permits.  Now if there had been a
> thousand paddlers or 2,000 per year (figures that begin to scratch the
> surface of paddlers in the city), then NYC Parks would have taken notice in
> terms of numbers of launch sites and other park systems such as Hudson River
> Park Trust would have taken notice.  To jiggle a saying "We don't reap what
> we don't sew."
> Several other things about NYC Parks and the permit system.  I was on the
> scene just a few years after it started.  Given the difficulty of launching
> unguided amateurs into the more turblent and traffic filled waters of the
> East River and lower Hudson (south of Riverside Park), no launch sites were
> ever located there.  They were in waters that more resembled conditions in
> Rockland County where one paddler on this list freely launches.  Frankly it
> was not anticipated that the level of skills would grow so fast as they have
> done through the DTBH and companies such as Manhattan Kayak and NY Kayak
> that have made paddling by large numbers of kayakers reasonably safe in
> those trickier waters of the harbor.
> NYC Parks early on anticipated the storage issue.  I remember going around
> with officials looking for potential places and having some pointed out in
> the Orchard Beach area and in Northern Manhattan.  None were that large
> (building space is at a premium even for NYC Parks).  And none were in lower
> Manhattan, obviously.
> The Hudson River Park Trust and the Hudson River Park Conservancy that
> preceded it had nothing to do with the creation of any of the paddling
> establishments that sprang up.  All are grassroots affairs or humbly begun
> businesses started by enthusiasts who had a similar desire to see people
> enjoy their rights to their waters only differing in whether for profit or
> not for profit.  All of these establishments are untidy in the Trust's eyes
> and suffer from "not made here" in the sense that the Trust did not put them
> in place from some grand scheme of things.  So, the Trust is always going to
> be of a frame of mind that it wants to either do away with them (now don't
> be shooked; the Trust doesn't like anything funky and paddling is funky) or
> wants to regulate them into something that is anathema to the free spirited
> souls usually drawn to paddling.  The Trust is not a friend, so don't expect
> much from it that you can't wrestle from it through sheer weight of numbers
> of paddlers and their supporters.
> In the records of Manhattan Kayak, NY Kayak,  Outriggers Group, etc. but
> most importantly the DTBH are names and names of people who support paddling
> because they are either deeply involved in it or have taken a lesson or two
> or gone out with the free program at the DTBH operations.  While people do
> change addresses etc.  I am sure that there are probably 40,000 names that
> can be pulled up of which some 25,000 are NY State residents and about
> 20,000 residents of the five boroughs.  That is voting power that would
> impress the Trust, which afterall is a NY State/NY City governmental agency.
> I know a whole lot of the people who have piped up on the issue, Bonnie,
> Mike Pidel, Joy, Jeff Hoyer, Eric Baard, Nancy, etc.  You are really all on
> the same page.  You want access and, part of that is storage.  That is now a
> challenge that while large is not as threatening as the one Bonnie mentioned
> that led to the creation of The Human Powered Boating Group (HPBG).
> Remember the threat back then was to the very use of the harbor waters of
> the Hudson south of Riverside Park, all of the East River and Upper Bay
> bordered by Brooklyn, Staten Island, the Battery and New Jersey. The HPBG
> joined together all commercial paddling operations that used the harbor (not
> just Manhattan Kayak and NY Kayak but also Atlantic Kayak Tours and other
> upstate outfitters), DTBH, the Barge paddlers,  outriggers, surf skiers,
> Floating The Apple.  You name it . . . if it held an oar or paddle it became
> part of the group.  As Bonnie noted, the shipping commercial interests and
> the Coast Guard stood up and took notice.  Efforts to effectively regulate
> us out of existence in NY harbor waters was stopped.  We came to an modus
> operandi with the ferries, got law enforcement to help stop the rising
> harrassment of paddlers  by renegade jet skiers and did pioneering work on
> effective lighting for night paddling.
> It cost not a dime to unite.  All it took was to see the common interest
> being threatened and presenting a strong, reasoned front.  A threat is
> exactly what is happening with the Trust and paddling.  Jim Wetteroth (DTBH)
> was one of the principal people behind the creation of HPBG and Bonnie
> (Manhattan Kayak, Barge) played an important role is the gains we made as
> did Randy Henriksen (NY Kayak) as well as Michael Glass (surf skiis).
> Others are still around.  Get together to make sure there is a pie that can
> then be divided.
> ralph diaz
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