NYCkayaker artist's homemade boat

Richard Muller
Fri Nov 17 15:07:05 EST 2006

Unfortunately, the article has already been archived, meaning that you have
to be a TimesSelect subscriber for $60 a year.

No pictures, but here's the text:

She Likes to Show Off New York From the Waterline 
Published: November 8, 2006
It was a brisk Saturday morning at the Columbia University boathouse, near
West 218th Street in Upper Manhattan, and Canada geese soared past the
Henry Hudson Bridge. Just beyond Spuyten Duyvil a tall freighter moved
slowly on the horizon, and on a pier on the Harlem River, Marie Lorenz was
preparing to embark on the latest chapter of her unusual art project. 

For the past two years, Ms. Lorenz, 33, has been taking small wooden boats,
which she made herself, onto the waterways of New York City to explore
places that few people visit. 

In roughly 20 trips she has taken passengers to places like the Gowanus
Canal, the islands of Jamaica Bay and the burned-out ruins of the
Greenpoint Terminal Market. She calls her project the tide and current
taxi, and as part of her work as an artist, she puts photographs and
narratives of the trips on the Web at 

Her goal is to take people to parts of New York that are often overlooked
because of their locations along the water and to see those places from the
water itself. ''I want to get people to look at the city in a different way
and think about their physical surroundings,'' she said. ''You start to
look at the river differently once you've been on it.'' 

With her that Saturday was a reporter and Craig Koon, 41, from Roosevelt
Island. He contacted Ms. Lorenz after learning of her project from friends
and proposed a trip to the northern tip of Manhattan to see the area where
workers more than a century ago widened a small creek into the Harlem River
Shipping Canal. 

They pushed off onto the Harlem River from the metal pier at 9:30 a.m. in a
15-foot boat Ms. Lorenz had made from thin layers of plywood. After
paddling through an adjacent salt marsh and briefly disembarking to examine
a spot where Peter Minuet was said to have bought the island of Manhattan
in 1626, they decided to head south. The idea was to examine the edges of
Harlem and the Bronx, then deliver Mr. Koon to Roosevelt Island. 

Along the way, Ms. Lorenz explained that she had become interested in urban
waterways while attending the Rhode Island School of Design in the early
1990s and traveling on homemade boats through subterranean tunnels created
when parts of the Providence River were covered by roadways. She has
explored local rivers and streams in all the places she has lived since --
Savannah, Ga., New Haven, Conn., and St. Petersburg, Russia. 

Ms. Lorenz's first New York City trip, taking a man from Williamsburg to
Manhattan, ended when their small boat sank in the East River after being
swamped by wakes from larger vessels. The two managed to swim to Roosevelt

Subsequent trips have been more successful. She has gone to a Staten Island
boat graveyard where the hulks of rusting cargo ships are slowly sinking
into New York Harbor and to Coney Island Creek where a mysterious yellow
submarine is half submerged. 

She has made a nighttime trip to North Brother Island, south of the Bronx,
requested by two women who wanted to plant a peach tree as a memorial to
Mary Mallon, better known as Typhoid Mary, who was quarantined there. 

And she has taken off at night from the Huron Street pier in Brooklyn along
with two artists who wanted to secretly attach a 25-foot totem pole to a
piling in the East River. 

Ms. Lorenz, who lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, does not charge her
passengers for rides and works at an art shipping company making packing

As they paddled, Mr. Koon and Ms. Lorenz took in the sights and sounds. A
black cat prowling the riprap of rocks along the river edge near the 207th
Street railyard in Manhattan dipped a paw into the water. Near Sherman
Creek, off East 200th Street, was the Flotilla 51 Boathouse, a ramshackle
collection of wooden docks and passageways topped by a dilapidated
clubhouse. A small blue boat with ''Titanic'' across its stern sat listing
to starboard. 

''If the boat sank and we had to swim for it here, I'd still say thanks for
an amazing trip,'' Mr. Koon said. ''This just isn't a part of the city you
can see any other way.'' 

Farther along, a collection of tarpaper shacks stood next to a row of
chicken coops. A hawk glided overhead. A Coast Guard craft with a machine
gun swept by. As they paddled beneath steel bridges and past decaying
remnants of wooden piers, they fought to steady the small craft against the
wakes of larger vessels, like a Circle Line boat. 

Their most daunting passage came at the mouth to Hell Gate, where the
Harlem and East Rivers meet in choppy, unpredictable waters amid oceangoing
behemoths. After a day of paddling against the tide, it was almost 4:00
p.m. when Ms. Lorenz made for a lighthouse at the northern tip of Roosevelt
Island. They had to paddle swiftly to stay out of the way of a barge, two
tall freighters and several smaller craft. 

A few minutes later they rested on the island's shoreline, and Mr. Koon
called his wife to announce that he had made it back home. 

Ms. Lorenz looked toward the river, where a freighter plowed by. ''The last
few moments were perhaps the hairiest in the history of the tide and
current taxi,'' she said. ''My legs are still shaking.'' 
> > From: "mark handy"  Tue, 14 Nov 2006 
> > 
> >
> > Requires (free) registration. It's about a woman who has built a wide
> ================
> Hi,
> I'm registered with the NYT website, but all that seems to allow me to do
is purchase articles.  
> Is there some way to read it for free I'm missing? 
> Regards,
> TomBk.

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