Small Boat, Big City: Kayaking New York Harbor


I think of Eric Stiller paddling here, pushing for Australia, and break into a grin. My arms and shoulders know that I have exploded my kayaking limit, and that I’ll have to leave that adventure to Bill with future record-breaking breakfasts of bacon for fuel.

But we have made it to Liberty, and that is enough. We have done it in the teeth of barges and cruise ships, despite coast guard cutters and police boats and forest fire air.

And as I search for a turreted building five avenues deep within the city, I am aware of one thing.

That, if my nautical mom were still alive, she would be watching from her terrace, scanning the river to pick out our plastic flecks of blue and orange and green. She would be watching as we floated our slow way home along the coast of Manhattan and slipped into our pier.

And that is what we do: bumping the plastic Amaruks against the dock, hauling ourselves out, and stumbling as we try to get used to land.

Stand up paddle boarding is an alternative to renting a kayak.
People can also rent paddle boards to explore the water of New York. Photo by Flickr/Dan Nguyen

We’ve been paddling the Hudson, we keep telling ourselves, and already this seems strange as we get beat out for a taxi on 23rd Street and get on a bus. We are debating our New York dinner, but Adam has solved it.

“Anyone,” he says, “for local fish?”

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Author Bio: Peter Mandel is an author of picture books for kids, including Jackhammer Sam (Macmillan) and Zoo Ah-Choooo (Holiday House).