For many people, the sight of a kayak, sailboat, or a rowboat on the Hudson River is surprising, even though Hudson County and New York City are homes to several marinas, docks, and water enthusiasts.
“It’s not that widely known that you can sail on the Hudson River,” said James Dette, director and senior advisor for Weehawken Rowing, a rowing club that has been in existence since 2000. “A lot of that is because it’s not promoted. It’s not promoted on either side of the river. It’s only promoted by private groups that get out there and demand public access and get it. Otherwise, most cities and towns [along the river] aren’t big promoters of Hudson River sailing.”
For those who may be curious about rowing the Hudson, Wee Row – as the club is affectionately called – offers regular outings on Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout the late spring, summer and early fall, weather permitting.
These outings offer participants, who may be more accustomed to visiting New York by ferry or car, a unique passage into the city. Once in Manhattan, rowers are free to spend some time sightseeing, eating, or shopping before heading back home to Weehawken.
Rowers are most able to take advantage of such opportunities during the summer months when daylight hours are long.
‘Rowing is very easy. All you have to do is show up.’ – James Dette
The group will hold its first row of the 2013 season this Wednesday, June 12.
No experience necessary
Wee Row grew out of the New York-based Floating the Apple club, by rowers who had previously been active in the latter organization who wanted to launch a sister group west of the Hudson River. Weehawken Rowing eventually became its own independent rowing club in 2006.
With the help of Floating the Apple, NY Waterways, Roseland Properties, and the Town of Weehawken, Wee Row now has two boats, a shipping container, and pier from which to launch its outings.
The club’s stated mission, according to Dette, is to help restore, encourage, and perpetuate safe and universal access onto the public waterways. Wee Row’s primary purpose is to reintroduce the public, especially young people, to New York Harbor’s urban waterway through rowing and sailing.
The uninitiated may be surprised to learn that a one-way trip to New York by rowboat takes only 20 minutes.
To participate in a Wee Row outing, participants must sign up on the club’s web site (www.weerow.org). Each trip requires four rowers and one coxswain, or cox, who “is trained to give orders and keep the boat going in the direction you want it to go in,” according to Dette. In addition to the coxswain and the four rowers, each of the club’s two boats can also carry three non-rowers.
Surprisingly, Dette insisted that one need not be an experienced rower to navigate the Hudson during a Wee Row trip. Novices are not only allowed to participate, but, he said, are encouraged to do so.
“Rowing is very easy,” said Dette. “All you have to do is show up.”
Ideally, it is nice to have two experienced rowers in a boat with two beginners, although that is not essential, Dette added.
“But if you have any inclination, it does not take long to catch on,” said Dette.
To learn more about Weehawken Rowing or to sign up for an upcoming outing across the Hudson River, visit the club’s web site at www.weerow.org. The group asks for a $5 donation per rower.
Wee Row launches its boats, or gigs, from a site at the end of Pershing Road. The site is south of the old ferry terminal and north of Arthur’s Landing.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at email@example.com.