A post on a Facebook group for Hudson River paddlers caught my attention: a woman, Margo Pellegrino, set out from Newark for Chicago. After a layover at Pier 66 in Manhattan, she’d be heading north, and: would anyone care to join her?
Kayak Cowgirl here, free time on hand, paddling out of the Inwood Canoe Club.
I left around 0730; Margo had launched from Pier 66 about an hour earlier, against what was some pretty fierce ebb tide. To her immense credit she’d gotten nearly to Mitsuwa, the Japanese supermarket in Fort Lee, by the time I met up with her, just north of the ferryboat Binghamton.
Along the way I stopped to say howdy to the crew of the USCG Ridley, a cutter that appeared to be tending a buoy. I didn’t have my radio with me so I paddled close and hollered, but was waved off by someone in the conning booth. I suppose they don’t like unknown vessels pulling up to close, but the crew seemed friendly enough.
It was a good thing Margo came up the NJ side of the river, because guess what? Fleet Week, the annual gathering of military vessels in NYC, started up, meaning there was a 500 yard security zone in midtown. If she’d stayed in NYC she would have had to go to the middle of the river, where the current is strongest, to avoid the zone.
We paddled for a bit – hard, against the current, though it was weakening. We waited for a tug pulling two barges to pass and then crossed the river, ferrying a bit, then continued north along the Manhattan side. Shortly after passing under the GWB, the current eased up, and we ran into a fellow paddler from the Inwood Canoe Club, Mac Levine, resident paddleboarder out for her morning routine.
We stopped at the Inwood Canoe Club so Margo could take a short break and view the grounds. We got out at the club’s new dock – built by club members over the past month or so, and only floated into service two days earlier – and took a look around. Margo’s paddling an outrigger canoe, and the club’s heritage includes canoe and kayak racing. We talked a little shop, but just a little.
Margo is heading to Chicago, heading up the Hudson, planning to paddle via the Erie Canal to the Great Lakes and on over to the windy city. Previous expeditions include Miami to Maine and Seattle to San Diego.
You can follow Margot on Twitter @slowpaddler.