Friday, November 18, 2016


It's the time of year when my kayaks sits in the garage a lot more than on the water. I don't know why, but the end of daylight savings time always catches me by surprise as the grey skies of November are quickly dimmed and overpowered after the sun is slammed into the horizon. The sunset that months ago yielded a long summer glow has now turned into short-lived firework that disappears into the blackness.

I'm not ready for the dark and find myself gazing at the water with every bridge across wishing to make kayaking could be part of my commute like Zach Schwitzky and Jessica Blat. These two urban boaters have decided not to wait till their next day-off to get some time on the water by having a kayak be their transit option.
"It's probably the most relaxing part of my day," Schwitzky told ABC News.

Living in Hoboken, New Jersey, Schwitzky paddles across the Hudson River to Manhattan in around 20 minutes and escapes the use of the bus, ferry and train.

Photo by Ashley Middleton
"There's not a lot of places in New York City where you can truly be by yourself and not hear anything, not feel there's people around," Schwitzky told CNN, in a recent interview, "The mornings are beautiful, especially at this time of year. If I leave early enough it's foggy and sort of looks like Gotham. You've got the sun rising and the city appearing in the fog. It's the perfect way to start the day."

Across the country in Seattle, Jessica Blat, commutes on the water, about three-quarters of a nautical mile a few days a week during the warmer months in her Oru foldable kayak that weighs 26 pounds
She takes a Car2Go or a bus to Terry Pettus Park in Eastlake. She unfolds her kayak, a process that takes 10 minutes, and paddles to Lake Union Park, about three blocks from her office.
“I find it really nice to come to work after I paddle. There’s no one on the lake in the mornings,” she Tole the Seattle Times. “It’s really calm and beautiful watching the sea planes take off. Everyone optimizes for a different thing, of course, when they are commuting. Most people I talk to are super jealous and wish they could do a kayak commute."

"It really is hassle-free. When I used to pull the kayak to the office, I'd get some looks from people wondering what a guy was doing pulling a 12'+ boat through the streets of Manhattan," The entrepreneur now stores his canoe at the Marina.
"Generally I don't get wet, so I can make do with the same clothes [to wear to work]. Some days I'll bring a change of clothes in the waterproof bag that straps to the back of the kayak. Outside of ice in the river, I'll make the commute, a bit of rain or wind doesn't stop me," said Schwitzky. "It's great to be outdoors, we say half-jokingly it's sort of New York City's version of nature, peace and quiet. Then as sort of a cherry on top, there's no carbon footprint."

It's also a way to score a little more time on the water as we approach the winter months. As musician Henry Rollins said, "I have come to regard November as the older, harder man's October. I appreciate the early darkness and cooler temperatures. It puts my mind in a different place than October. It is a month for a quieter, slightly more subdued celebration of summer's death as winter tightens its grip."

Green Friday
The California state parks department and two San Francisco environmental groups, Save the Redwoods League and the California State Parks Foundation, will provide 13,000 free vehicle day-use passes that the public can use on Friday, Nov. 25. The passes will cover day-use admission and parking fees without charge to 116 of California’s 280 state parks. For a full list of the participating state parks and to reserve and print out passes, go to
Last year, six states besides California also held free Black Friday programs for their state parks systems: Colorado, Arizona, Oregon, Minnesota, Missouri and Delaware.
Backers of the California program are hoping visitors post images on social media with the hashtag #GreenFriday or #CAStateParks.