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North Brooklyn Boat Club Kicks Off Season With Open Paddle

Now that spring has finally arrived, bringing with it sunny skies and smooth waters, the North Brooklyn Boat Club is inviting New York City residents to boat with them once more.

On Saturday, the club hosted its first open paddle of the season, inviting anyone with an interest in kayaking or canoeing on the Newtown Creek a chance to get out on the water for free. These public-paddling events will be held every two weeks throughout the season, which ends around mid-October.

Around two dozen people had shown up for the event by mid-afternoon on Saturday – including a couple of families with small children. Guided by boat club members, they traveled from the organization’s headquarters at the Broadway Stages Boathouse at 49 Ash Street to the mouth of the Newton Creek, where it collides with the East River.

“This is an opportunity to get to know that we’re here,” club member Kena Hazelwood-Carter told the Gazette, showing off a shiny new paddle carved from an old carriage house by another member, Fung Lim. “And how amazing it is to have a paddle in your hands.”

First-time boaters had only to sign a release and buckle-up a life vest before they could head out on the (slightly smelly) water. The club also offered hot dogs and popcorn prepared over a grill.

Several canoers were there for the first time, wanting to take advantage of a free opportunity to view New York from a different vantage point.

“It seemed like a unique opportunity,” said Max Elder, who encouraged a group of his friends to come with him. “It’s free and being able to get on the river is rare.”

The boat club’s next big event is the “Open House and Season Kickoff Celebration,” which will take place on May 18th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be a brunch in the boatyard, a camping cook-off with camp stoves and grill, and various educational activities designed to teach people about things like composting and nautical crafts.

Educating people is a large part of what the boat club does. Throughout the year, new and old members get together to learn how to make paddles, build boats and garden, among other environmental-related activities.

“Everything we do is about passing on knowledge,” Hazelwood-Carter said.

Member Fung Lim has been making boats for over 20 years and can craft a paddle in just three or four days. He often teachers other members how to get started on their own projects and will be relaying some of that knowledge to people who stop by the open house later this month.

“That will be a fun day he said,” he said. “It has an educational shift – we’re trying to show as many facets of the group as we can.”

Want to join the club’s 250 members? Sign up to be a member for $40 a year at http://northbrooklynboatclub.org/.

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