Many visitors to the Canarsie Pier may not know that the name of the large island about a mile south of the pier is Canarsie Pol, but a group of kayakers had the opportunity to explore the man-made island last week thanks to a free program offered by Gateway National Recreation Area.
On Friday, July 29th, kayakers made their way from their launch site at Canarsie Beach for the five-mile trek around Canarsie Pol. It was a beautiful day, and the trip was not too strenuous thanks to the calm waters of Jamaica Bay and lack of wind. Along the way, boaters, in 22 colorful kayaks, got a chance to see the beautiful wildlife prevalent along the bay, including osprey, egrets and oystercatchers.
The group made a stop at the beach on the south side of Canarsie Pol (not visible from the pier), where National Park Service (NPS) Ranger John Daskalakis spoke about the history of the island. He explained it was a man-made, uninhabited island formed by dredging the sand from the channel, which was only seven feet deep, to improve navigation. After a brief rest stop and water break, the kayakers made their way around the rest of Canarsie Pol, which spans about 300 acres, and back to Canarsie Beach.
The NPS offers weekly kayaking trips, typically on Wednesdays through Fridays. You can view their calendar at nps.gov/gateway/planyourvisit/calendar.
For those who are not adventurous enough to tackle a five-mile journey, or if you have never tried kayaking before, the NPS offers free clinics for beginners at the following locations, dates and times:
Floyd Bennett Field Seaplane Ramp – Every Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. until September 11th.
Canarsie Pier – Saturdays from 1 to 3:30 p.m., on August 6th, August 20th and September 3rd.
Kayaks, life vests, paddles and instruction will be provided, for ages 6 and up with an adult. Dress to get wet and wear shoes that will not fall off. Bring water and sunscreen. No reservations are required.
Kayaking is a great way to spend a few hours, so get out there and enjoy the waning days of summer!