First visits to: Marine Parkway/Gil Hodges Bridge; Cross Bay Veteran’s Memorial Bridge (aka Broad Channel Bridge); South Channel Subway Bridge; Grassy Point Subway Bridge; Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge; Old Mill Creek Bridge; Hendrix Creek Bridge; Fresh Creek Bridge; Paerdegat Basin Bridge
We couldn’t have said a more beautiful goodbye to summer than we did on Friday, September 21 when — thanks to Commodore Tony Pignatello and our new friends from Sebago Canoe Club — we did a circumnavigation of Jamaica Bay and logged nine more bridges.
We launched from Jacob Riis Park, at the foot of the Marine Parkway/Gil Hodges Bridge.
Our paddling companions for the day were Leona S (second from left, between me and Rosalba), Larry, Walter (incoming Commodore-elect of Sebago Canoe Club), Tony P (outgoing Commodore of Sebago Canoe Club), Vivian, and Carlos N. The day was a perfect 75 degrees with a light breeze, though the breeze was in our face most of the day.
The Cross Bay Veteran’s Memorial Bridge (aka Broad Channel Bridge) was our next destination:
As we approached the South Channel Subway Bridge, we watched A trains cross the bridge while overhead planes approached for landing at JFK Airport:
We stopped for lunch at a little beach just alongside the bridge, then it was under the bridge and away. The South Channel Subway Bridge actually has two parts. Here’s Tony getting a photo of Part Two:
From here we had a rather long and challenging paddle past the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge as the current and wind kept trying to turn us to starboard (right) which would have ended us up on a runway at JFK. But this part was also the most rewarding — we saw many egrets, herons, ospreys and other waterbirds, while fish jumped from the water — sometimes entire schools all at once.
Our next bridge was the Grassy Point Subway Bridge:
We stopped again to rest on another small beach before passing under the Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge. When we arrived, we found coconuts on the beach . . . had we paddled all the way to the tropics? No, it was the remnants of a Hindu religious ceremony.
Under the bridge and on to the next one . . .
We were well into the afternoon now, with about 3/4 of the mileage covered, but three of the last four bridges — all part of the Belt Parkway — were up on creeks that feed into the bay. The first was Old Mill Creek Bridge:
With arms, shoulders and camera batteries starting to give out, the rest of the group waited while Carlos accompanied Rosalba and I up to the bridge and back, which took nearly an hour, running against current and wind.
The Hendrix Creek Bridge was not so far from the bay, but we decided just to get close enough for a photograph and keep going. Unfortunately, that was when my phone/camera battery died. Tony took this photo for us:
Thankfully, Fresh Creek Bridge was an easy shot from the bay. Tony again did photography duty and we carried on.
Our last bridge was the Paerdegat Basin Bridge. At first I didn’t recognize it, because the last time I saw it, on August 30, there was still a construction crane on it. Right now there are two bridges there — the old one, and a new one which is still under construction. The crane was gone. Until the other side of the new bridge is open the old bridge will serve westbound traffic. Once the new westbound section of the bridge is complete, the plan is that the old bridge will be demolished.
Paerdegat Basin is the home of the Sebago Canoe Club and we were tired but happy when we reached its dock. We want to again thank both Commodores and the members of the club who shared their knowledge of Jamaica Bay, their time and even their club equipment to help us accomplish this part of our goal. Also thanks to John Daskalakis at Jacob Riis Park, part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, who lent us two Zest sit-atop double kayaks.