For the past five summers, the HCCB, which is a volunteer run, nonprofit organization, with the help of the Downtown Boathouse, which provides the kayaks and life vests, has sponsored a free kayaking program from Frank Sinatra Park, providing guests an opportunity to kayak during the season.
The current HCCB president David Downs, who was elected in March, will help organize this year's program.
Downs is following in the footsteps of HCCB founder/ former president Sandy Sobanski, a Hoboken resident and skilled kayaker. For years, Sobanski ran the summer program with the help of her team of volunteers, ensuring that guests safely launch and guide the kayaks in the designated zones.
Last summer, the free days of kayaking attracted approximately 1500 people to the Hudson River.
The first scheduled kayaking day was scheduled for Sunday, July 6 and they will schedule more free days when they can, said Downs.
"We are doing it date by date," said Downs, "Hopefully, there will be one in August and one in September."
Due to ongoing construction at Pier C, the kayaking program will not be held at Frank Sinatra Park this summer. Instead, the free kayaking days will be held at Maxwell Place Park beach, which is located near Hudson & 11 streets in uptown Hoboken.
Downs, who has been kayaking for six years, says that it is a fairly easy sport to learn and an opportunity for people with little or no experience to get on the river.
"It is an opportunity for people to come and try kayaking," said Downs, who said that there will be skilled volunteers on hand to provide tips for new paddlers.
He said that they are limited with the amount of free days that they can offer this summer because as of now, the HCCB doesn't have boats of their own and must borrow kayaks from the Downtown Boathouse in Manhattan.
Ultimately, the HCCB hopes to have its own community boathouse in Hoboken. Until then, residents will have to make do with the free days that are offered each season.
So far, the response from the public has been good. Downs says that people like the recreational activity of paddling.
"It doesn't require a huge amount of skill," said Downs. "People can pick up a paddle and go."
Last year, Downs worked with Sobanski on grant applications, and recently, the HCCB received two grants that will go towards future plans to build a community boathouse in Hoboken.
"We are trying to work with the city to get the boathouse up and running," said Downs.
According to Downs, HCCB hopes to eventually build a full-time boathouse which will be modeled after the Downtown Boathouse, which is run on a volunteer basis.
Ideally, the HCCB would like the planned future boathouse to be built on the waterfront near 1600 Park (near the Hudson Tea Building), in the Hoboken Cove Park.
"It would allow people to store their kayaks there," said Downs about the future boathouse. "It is our mission to get the boathouse up and running, because it is really hard to store your boat in a five-floor walkup."
According to Downs, while the schematic plans have been submitted, an official design has not been approved.
Additionally, the city council and residents would have to weigh in on the open public park space before building could begin.
"To date, we have one grant that was awarded from the Hudson County Open Space Trust Fund in the amount of $100, 000," said Downs. "It will go towards the new boathouse."
He said that the other grant awarded was from the Green Acres fund for development of the waterfront, plus additional private donations.
Combined, the HCCB has approximately half a million from a variety of sources, he said.
"Obviously, I think our goals are pretty transparent," said Downs. "We are trying to give people something to do on weekends and to give people something to do on the Hudson River."
FREE KAYAKING DAYS
The free kayaking days are sponsored by the HCCB and the Downtown Boathouse. There are no public restrooms onsite, so locals are asked to dress appropriately before arriving. Locals should wear clothes that can get wet and sneakers or boat shoes. A towel, sunscreen, and water are recommended. Please do not bring valuables as there is no place to store them and volunteers can not watch belongings. All participants will be asked to sign a waiver and children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or an adult.
Kayaks, paddles, life jackets, and trained kayakers will be onsite to provide instruction.
Each participant will be allowed to paddle for 20 to 30 minutes depending on the lines. No reservations are required. For more information, e-mail: email@example.com.
For information about future free kayaking days, visit: www.hobokencoveboathouse.org.
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