Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Plumb Beach: Brooklyn's Windsurfing & Kiteboarding Paradise

Plumb Beach is to Brooklyn what Essaouira is to Morocco: an internationally recognized windsurfing spot. But let's not forget that we're in Brooklyn, where our beloved Plumb Beach has been referred to as "that parking lot on the Belt Parkway, just east of Exit 9 Knapp Street."

Once you cross the other side of that parking lot, you'll find a small, , clean khaki-color sand beach with grasses and flowers peaking through the sand. Plumb Beach is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. Its also ground zero for an armada of windsurfers and kiteboarders, who take advantage of the strong breezes in the Rockaway Inlet, not to mention the easy launch access (easily accessible off the Belt Pkway, parking, short walk to the beach). When winds are between 11 and 16 knots, experienced windsurfers and kiteboarders fly on the waters at incredible speed. We don't windsurf of kiteboard, but we love watching them, particularly the kiteboarders.

And because we figure you want to know, "Is it really clean to go in those waters?" We've never heard of anyone getting sick from swimming, sailing, diving, windsurfing -- you get the picture -- from being in the water.

Plum Beach, wasn't always Plumb Beach. It was Plumb Island -- an island where people lived in bungalows. That all changed in 1940 when Robert Moses filled in the island to connect it to the rest of Brooklyn in order to build the Belt Parkway (Moses really loved highways). Today Gateway National Recreation Area manages the beach area but the parking lot is still owned by New York City. In addition to being a great spot to launch a windsurfer or kayak, Plumb Beach is great for sunbathing, running and checking out the Herons, Egrets, horseshoe crabs and other wildlife. It also has an amazing view of the Rockaway Inlet and Breezy Point.

The New York Times recently published a story about Plumb Beach (they spelled it Plum. Who is corrrect?) being transformed into a "performance art-bar." Clever idea, considering seamen's affinity for rum.

Thank You for our First Successful Month!

We have hoisted "L" signal flag up today, which means: you should stop, I have something important to communicate.

We've been on-line for just over a month, and from the initial reaction and traffic, we believe Sail Brooklyn is off to a successful start. And we have you to thank for that fact.

Our little corner of the Information Superhighway has attracted readers as far as Hawaii, Peru, Chile, Hong Kong and Italy, just to name a few places that are not within the continental United States. We're also pleased as can be that we're attracting attention from across the U.S.

Closer to home, Wall Street has been coming to Brooklyn. We've been visited by Bear Sterns, J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs. We're also attracting some attention from Madison Avenue, with some regular visits from Foote, Cone & Belding. And of course, we're getting regular visits from our Kings County-based readers.

We'll keep posting, if you keep reading.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Leilani: The Prettiest Girl at the Dance

Among Brooklyn's sailing set, its well known the prettiest girl at the dance is Leilani, a 50-foot Lawley yawl, built in 1903. She is owned by Brian and Florence Kearney and hails out of Miramar Yacht Club in Brooklyn.

Established in Massachusetts in 1866, George Lawley & Son was known as one of the finest yacht builders in the country and rivaled famed Herreshoff as the preeminent boat builder of the day. Lawley produced more than 1,100 yachts and 1,890 tenders (this doesn't include military contracts) until it closed operations in 1945. Among Lawley's boats were the America's Cup contenders: Mayflower, Puritan, Jubilee, Vanite, Yankee and Whirlwind.

Originally named Janet, Leilani was purchased in 1939 by the Frank family, who owned her for 50 years. In 1989, the Kearney's acquired her and spent more than 18 months repairing and restoring her hull. Today, Leilani stands out on her mooring in Sheepshead Bay among the many fiberglass boats. A real throwback to the days when the Lipton's and Vanderbilt's raced their custom sailboats around the marks. On the water, her graceful lines, make her a true delight to watch. And she does move. Leilani has taken home some silver in her day, including the Mayor's Cup, which is takes place off Manhattan. We love the grace, craftsmanship and powerful sail plan of classic racing yachts. Leilani has all three and some other indescribable mystique that attracts you to her.

As we went by to take some photos of Brooklyn's treasured yacht (we are sorry, our photos do not do Leilani justice), we couldn't help notice the "for sale" hanging from her mizzen mast. If we had the money, we'd make an offer and happily be the next caretaker of this amazing vessel. Until that day happens, we'll continue to admire her for the floating treasure she is.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Rain. What Rain?

Its nice to see that this weekend's rain and gloomy weather didn't keep everyone onshore this weekend. (We took the opportunity to watch two Brooklyn-centric movies: The Squid and the Whale and Dave Chappelle's Block Party. Both of which we highly recommend.)

This sailor took this weekend as an opportunity to rig up his little dinghy and take it out for sea trials in the waters of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.

What is not obvious from the shot is how easily and inexpensively a person can sail in New York City.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Weekend Activities in Brooklyn

A sampling of weekend activities accessible to land-lubbers and swabbies alike.

Saturday, June 24th:
Onshore: This weekend is the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. We're assuming this is a sufficient amount of information on the topic.

Offshore: Miramar Yacht Club hosts its annual "Coney Island Run." A parade of boats sail off the shore of Coney Island Beach and past the fishing pier. Contact MYC for more information.

Sunday, June 24th:
Onshore: While hip-hop may have originated in the Bronx, its certainly acquired a lot of flavor from Brooklyn. Celebrating BK's contribution to this American art form, the 2nd Annual Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival, presented by Brooklyn Bodega, is a free, all-day concert at the Tobacco Warehouse in Empire-Fulton Ferry Park in DUMBO. The featured artist is one of our favorites: the "original, Asiatic, acrobatic," Big Daddy Kane.

Offshore: The 15th Annual Blessing of the Fleet. Originating hundreds of years ago in predominantly Catholic fishing villages in southern Europe, the Blessing of the Fleet was conducted to ensure a safe and prosperous season for each boat. In Brooklyn, the annual Blessing of the Fleet takes place in Sheepshead Bay. Boats from all the area yacht clubs parade though Sheepshead Bay and get blessed by the various clergy for a safe sailing season. This year's Blessing of the Fleet is hosted by Excelsior Yacht Club, on Shore Parkway in Brooklyn. For further information, contact the EYC.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Brooklyn Lighthouse to Open for Tours

The Daily News broke the story that the 116-year old Norton's Point Lighthouse, located in Brooklyn's Seagate neighborhood, may open up for tours. Let's hope this really happens.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Top-Siders Hit the Runways. Seriously.

Sperry Top-Siders, introduced in 1935 by Paul Sperry - and what we wore 25 years ago because they were the only boat shoes around - have resurfaced, oddly enough as a fashion trend.

The July issue of Details say that the boat shoe is the latest trend among urban hipsters. Trendy, expensive and not very nautically-minded brands like Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors, join re-worked versions of the classic leather Top-Sider mocs in green, navy and yellow. Sperry is also offering plaid versions of the classic Stripper Slip-On, and at $40, we can see why the young, trendy and broke love them.

One of the most unique takes on the nautical trend is by California-Based design house Modern Amusement. The company has incorporated its signature crow into their "Original Top-Sider," which is manufactured by Sperry. As you know, style don't come cheap. A pair will set you back $130.

There's Sharks in them thar Waters


That's the typical reaction we get at the mere mention that a shark was spotted off the Brooklyn coastline. And while we're not spotting them every weekend, we know they are out there.

On Saturday, we were on the race committee boat helping run the Sherman Leonard Regatta for Miramar Yacht Club. After the starting gun, the winds were light and we decided to toss a line out in an attempt to catch a meal. Shortly afterward, something caught out line. We figured maybe a bass. When we reeled in the line, we knew it wasn't a bass, but what was it exactly? Some type of Brooklyn sea ray? A skate fish? Can somebody please tell us?

We cast another line out. It wasn't long before something caught the line. Just as the fish was almost at the surface, we knew we had caught a little shark. Before we reeled it in, the shark twisted itself into the fishing line (we let it run a bit so it would unravel itself). When we got the mini-shark into the net, it did the same thing and twisted itself into the green netting. It took a while to unravel the beast from the net, but we got it out and tossed it back.

If we're asked again, we now have gathered the evidence to prove there are indeed sharks in them thar waters.

Monday, June 19, 2006

A Dolphin's View of Coney Island

Today's picture shows the teaming masses on Coney Island Beach. The Coney Island Cyclone, the Wonder Wheel and the Astrotower, all part of Astroland Amusement Park are all in the background.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Regatta that Wasn't

On Saturday, June 17th, Brooklyn's Miramar Yacht Club held the Sherman Leonard Regatta, however neither Mother Nature nor Neptune cooperated with the flotilla.

About 15 boats, representing MYC, Sheepshead Bay Yacht Club, Rockaway Point Yacht Club and Deep Creek Yacht Club made up the fleet.

At 1:00 the fleet took off on the 11-mile race. The wind was light, it read 6 knots on the Race Committee Boat, but it felt much lighter. More than two and a half hours later, the fleet had yet to reach the first mark. The wind had completely died. Shortly thereafter, three blasts of the horn came from the RC boat, followed by the flag that signals "abandonment" of the race. The fleet was grateful.

The race will be rescheduled in July. For details, contact the Miramar Yacht Club Race Committee.

We're curious who took honors in Sunday's Dad's Day Regatta, organized by RPYC.

100th Running of the Newport to Bermuda Race Underway

On Saturday, 264 boats, comprising 16 divisions left Newport, Rhode Island in the 100th running of the Newport-Bermuda Race. The 636-mile race to Bermuda, co-organized by the Crusing Club of America and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club is the East-Coast's premier distance race that tests even the most skilled sailors seaworthiness (try saying that three times).

The race's official Web site includes written updates from competitors such as Gary Jobson.

By the time of this posting, the majority of the fleet had already reached the Gulf Stream.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Photo of the Day

This is a picture of Miramar Yacht Club's flagpole on Saturday, June 17, 2006.
Flags are up for the Sherman Leonard Regatta (the two little flags to the left are "R" and "D" flags which signify "Race Day")

More photos like this can be seen at Sail Brooklyn's Flickr Page.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Summer Sailstice This Weekend in the BK

This weekend marks the made-up, but real "global celebration of sailing on the solstice," aka Summer Sailstice.

In Brooklyn, our pals at Deep Creek Yacht Club, which hails out of Gateway Marina, at the end of Flatbush Avenue, are hosting a raft-up in Dead Horse Bay on Saturday, June 17th. The event coincides with the Summer Solstice and its just a good excuse to get out of the concrete jungle and onto the water.

Sailboat Racing off Coney Island this Weekend

Miramar Yacht Club continues to host more sailboat racing this season. On Saturday, June 17th MYC sponsors the Sherman Leonard Regatta. Saturday's racing is handicap racing, featuring all types and sizes of sailcraft including boats as large as 50-feet. Brooklyn's yaching set will duke it out in the waters of the Rockaway Inlet to win the silver. The first gun is at 12:55 p.m. We hope the weather cooperates.

A $20 racing fee covers Miramar members for three Miramar-sponsored regattas: Sherman Leonard Regatta; Kossman Regatta; Lobel Regatta.

For Miramar Members, call or stop by the club and ensure you have added your name to the racing list. Non-members are welcome in the regatta, please contact MYC's race committee for details. The skipper's meeting is at 11:00 a.m. at the MYC dayroom.

If you can't make it out on a boat, you can see the action from Coney Island.

For further information, contact Miramar Yacht Club.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A Moment of Silence

Yesterday, in our local waters, the Rockaway Inlet, just off of Breezy Point, Queens, a fishing boat with four people aboard capsized. Three of the four were rescued. Unfortunately, the fourth person's body has not been found. According to news reports, that person was not able to swim

The boat hit some choppy waters off Breezy point. The rough water, came into the boat, causing it to capsize.

The full details are were covered in today's edition of the New York Times.

I hate to sound like a nagging old lady, but please remember, safety first.

We send our condolences to the family of the missing boater.

Monday, June 12, 2006

America's Cup at Rockefeller Center

We know that Rockefeller Center isn't in Brooklyn, but we still had to give this a bit of attention.

From June 15th through July 2nd, USA 49, one of Larry Ellison's ACC Class boats will be on display in the heart of Rockefeller Center. The exhibit is a first for Rock Center and a first for the America's Cup as well.

If you've never seen one of these boats in person, its worth a look. We're quite amused with all of the product tie-ins (of course the sponsors need to get their money's worth), most notably the "BMW M6 with carbon fibre rooftop that both demonstrates the BMW lightweight design competence and represents the BMW Technology transfer into the BMW ORACLE Racing Design Team."

Its not as though rich sailors were waiting for BMW to shepherd carbon fiber technology to sailing.

You Sank My Battleship!!!

Tillerman, a self-described grandfather who sails Lasers. He also has one of the best sailing blogs around at Proper Course.

On Sunday, Tillerman posted a story about the Australian Battle Group, which he described as "society of Aussies who "build and sail 1/144 scale Radio-Controlled Model Warships from WWI and WWII which are armed with CO2 powered cannon and armoured in thin balsa. These vessels engage each other in combat on ponds across Australia, endeavoring to punch holes in each others hull with their cannon until one of the vessels sinks or flees."

It just blew our minds over here at Sail Brooklyn, that we had to give it more props. We'd love to see this in the BK.

Kudos to the Tillerman for bringing this to our attention

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Yacht Clubs of Brooklyn: Miramar Yacht Club

Founded in 1944, with roots dating back to the early 1930s, Miramar Yacht Club, has been a fixture in Sheepshead Bay for more than 60 years.

The club overlooks Sheepshead Bay and known as a sailing club, however it does have fishing boats, rowing skulls, kayaks and other watercraft.
Miramar YC is home to more than 70 sailboats, including Ensign Fleet #21, which was established in 1964.
For sailors looking to explore New York harbor, its a great location that is only a few hours sail from ports in New Jersey, Staten Island and Manhattan. If its Long Island you're looking to see, you can sail to Montauk from Sheepshead Bay in about 24 on the Atlantic, or head up the East River into Long Island Sound.

For sailboat racers, the club has a burgeoning racing scene. Miramar Yacht Club hosts informal "beer can" racing on most Wednesday evenings, which are usually followed by a $5 dinner (beer is a few dollars extra). In addition to holding trophy races for the Pearson Ensign fleet and handicap trophy races for the larger boats. The club is also the host of the second annual Brooklyn Cup Regatta. Last year's inaugural running of the Cup had boats representing clubs from across the tri-state area.

MYC offers its members 7 day-a-week launch service, a three-ton hoist (for dry sailing or a haul-out), dinghy-dock storage, a large patio right on the water, gas grills, WiFi and an in-ground pool. The club is 45 minutes from Manhattan by subway.

The members, which are eclectic and diverse as the Borough, are experienced yachtsmen and women that have crossed the Atlantic Ocean, participated in the Olympic Games and sailed from ports across the globe.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Mega Yacht Fair Game for Looters in Atlantic

According to and article published today in The New York Times, the massive VO-70 Movistar, a boat which was abandoned in the Atlantic Ocean while racing around the world in the Volvo Ocean Race, is now fair game for salvagers. Millions of dollars of sailing gear is there for the asking

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Sailboat Racing off Coney Island this Saturday

Miramar Yacht Club kicks off its 2006 sailboat racing season this Saturday, June 10th by hosting the Sherman Leonard Regatta. Saturday's racing is strictly one-design with boats from Ensign Fleet 21 fighting it out to take home the silver. The first gun is at 12:55 p.m. Lets hope the weather cooperates.

One-design racing means all of the boats are exactly the same, with class-regulations governing how many and what type of sails are used. Because all the boats are similar, the racing tends to be more tactical and closer. Sheepshead Bay's one-design fleet sails the Pearson Ensign, a full-keeled daysailor that was designed by Carl Alberg in 1962.

A $20 racing fee covers Miramar Ensign Fleet 21 members for three Miramar-sponsored regattas: Sherman Leonard Regatta; Kossman Regatta; Lobel Regatta.

For Miramar Members, call or stop by the club and ensure you have added your name to the racing list. Non-members are welcome in the regatta, please contact MYC's race committee for details. The skipper's meeting is at 11:00 a.m. at the MYC dayroom.

For further information, contact Miramar Yacht Club.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Sunken Treasure off City Island

One thing during our recent visit to City Island, struck us as being particularly peculiar: the amount of sunken, sinking and abandoned boats.

Captain A.G., our City Island guide for the day, told us in advance about a sunken sailboat occupying a slip at the Island Boat Club. We expected to see one boat, not an abandoned flotilla of miscellaneous vessels inhabiting Davey Jones' locker.

We were told the sunken sailboat at the Island Boat Club had sat in her slip for about a year without a visit from her owner. During the recent storms the sailboat started to take on a bit of water. The boat's owner was apparently current with their bill, because the yard manager noticed the sailboat sitting low, and pumped her out. After another rain, the same thing happened, only the boat took on so much water that she sank. The boat looked like a ghost under the water. It was also obviously neglected and beaten down: pretty ghetto.

To my surprise, that was not the only sunken boat we saw. At the mooring, right off the bow of the Cape Dory we sailed that day, a boat was peeking her green stern above the water. The rest of the boat, ninety percent of it, was below water. Other than that, it remains a mystery.

As we sailed back to A.G.'s mooring, we did see more abandonment on the water. A white 40-foot sailboat, with classic, graceful overhangs, is now filthy with a beard of weeds growing on her hull, abandoned at her mooring , open to the elements, with her mast sitting on her deck. We also saw a Catalina 22, which also appeared to be abandoned at her mooring. She was sitting low in the water and her companionway was open. Obviously she was filled with water.

Maritime "law of finds" states that if find a wreck, you're welcome to salvage it. The law of finds pertains to abandoned shipwrecks, but for unabandoned wrecks -- those whose owners still claim ownership -- the "law of salvage" does not apply.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Brooklyn Sails in the Bronx

Today, we headed up to the Bronx to see what's happening in City Island. City Island was one of the leading yachting and shipbuilding centers in the Northeast in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. Following World War II, City Island was home to the shipbuilders that assembled a number of 12-meter sloops that successfully defended the America's Cup, including Independence, Enterprise, and Courageous, Ted Turner's boat.

While there are no longer shipyards assembling the most up-to-date racing yachts, City Island is home to a very, very active sailing scene, home to some of America's oldest yacht clubs such as Stuyvesant Yacht Club, City Island Yacht Club, and Harlem Yacht Club. The island is home to an active racing scene and a great spot to begin a cruise around Long Island Sound or to Block Island.

We were invited by Captain A.G. to help get his boat, a Cape Dory Typhoon, in working order for its inaugural 2006 sail.

A.G. keeps his boat at The Island Boat Club, a small club with minimal facilities, a few dozen slips -- primarily for fishing boats -- and mooring field in a very sheltered part of the island. The club does not have tender service, so A.G. rows his dinghy out to mooring field.

After we got the boat rigged up, we headed out for a sail. The wind was light, but strong enough to keep the boat moving. It started to build a bit as we stayed out on the water. And even with the overcast sky, we did see quite a few sailboats on the water.

The views from Eastchester Bay are amazing and an interesting combination of urban, nautical and preserved wetlands. The Throgs Neck Bridge is clearly visible as is the skyline of Manhattan. Because of its proximity to Manhattan and Long Island Sound, there are quite a few boats on the water. However, that doesn't diminish from the "out of New York" experience that sailing out of City Island provides. Even if you can't make it for a sail, we strongly recommend a visit to one of New York City's most nautical neighborhoods.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Rain Rain Go Away

After raining more than two inches on Thursday, an additional two inches on Friday, Mother Nature continued her uncooperative ways, bringing close to another inch of unwanted rain to Brooklyn on Saturday.

The Sunday forcast calls for a 20-percent chance of rain.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Weekend on the Waterfront

The Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club kicks off its 2006 season on Saturday. The Dredgers, who have led literally thousands of canoe trips down the Gowanus Canal, also lead walking and bicycle tours around undeveloped parts of the waterfront.

The Sebago Canoe Club is hosting an open house on Saturday June 3, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Located in Canarsie along the Paerdegat Basin, across from Jamaica Bay, the club is home to many kayakers, canoists, sailors and rowers.

Transportation Alternatives sponsors the 2nd Annual Tour de Brooklyn on Sunday, June 4th. Starting from the Herbert Von King Park (aka Tompkins Park) in Bed-Stuy at 8:00 a.m., the 18 mile tour takes a scenic tour of the waterfront from Greenpoint through DUMBO and Red Hook. Its a slow, family ride, so if you want to race this isn't for you.

And in Coney Island, there are a few events taking place this weekend.

On Friday, June 2 at 10 p.m., Burlesque at the Beach at Sideshows by the Seashore

On Saturday, June 3rd, at 8 p.m., Spike Lee's He Got Game is playing at the Coney Island Museum as part of Coney Island's Saturday Night Film Series. Tickets are $5 and the popcorn is free.