Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Commuting by Kayak

I ran from Beczak’s office to its marsh this morning to catch a glimpse of phenomenon I’d just heard about but never witnessed … a kayak commuter. And right in front of me, a yellow kayak pulled out of the choppy Hudson onto Beczak’s beach. A lean man unfolded out of the boat, took apart his paddle and placed it into a bag, hoisted his kayak onto his shoulder, carried it to nearby fence, and locked it up.

It was the practiced movements of any commuter.

I was amazed and a little jealous. I had driven to work that morning: he had an adventure. Who was this man?

Richard Scott, from Chestnut Ridge, NY—originally from England—and a software engineer at Aureon Labs in Yonkers.

“I've been commuting this way about 3 months. Today is crossing #45! I first had the idea earlier this summer during a walk at lunchtime when I saw the Yonkers Paddling and Rowing Club (YRPC) boathouse and the marina across the river in Alpine, NJ,” says Scott.

By car, Richard Scott’s 45-minute commute would take him across the Tappan Zee Bridge. In his preferred way, he drives 18 miles to the Alpine Boat Basin, in Alpine, NJ, where his kayak is chained to a tree in an undisclosed location. The second leg of the journey is a one-mile paddle across the river to Yonkers, NY. Leg three: stashing his gear and changing his clothes at YRPC and walking up the street to his workplace.

“I had no place to store my kayak on this side—getting permission from Cliff Schneider, the Executive Director of Beczak, to tie up here,” he said, motioning to the fence, “made all the difference.

“I soon realized that the crossing was feasible, in fact it is easy, and, I think, relatively safe. I don't understand why there isn't a small flotilla of kayakers crossing every day. What I have been most worried about is that someone may think of a reason why I am not allowed to do this, or may try to make it difficult,” Scott continued.

“It is a joy to cross this way—the river is incredibly beautiful in all weather conditions.”