Sunday, June 22, 2008

Swim in the Gowanus anyone?

For several years now I have been a member of the canoe club, the Gowanus Canal Dredgers.

I haven't been the most active member but I have been quite a few times and taken lots of photos.

This is a series that I took on 6/8/2008, during one of the Stewardship days where I was supposed to be helping.

It was a hot day, about 95 degrees and humid. The water was actually pretty clear that day. It was high tide and the usual thick oil slick on top of the water was nowhere to be found.

Before anything was happening I thought it would be nice to take the girls out on the canal and let them paddle around a little. I put them in one canoe together and took one canoe to myself. This seemed like a good idea at the time.
I love to take people out on the canal because often they are fearful at first, what will happen if I fall in? I have always said, it's impossible to fall in, it's all flat water, not rapids, and you would have to be a real idiot to fall in.

After people get accustomed to being in the canoe and we start exploring a little they start to understand the beauty of seeing the city from this angle. Right below street level. You can see the remnants of all the various stages of development and construction of the city. Kind of like the rings of a tree.

There we were me in my canoe taking pictures with my trusty old Pentax K100. As I was coming out from under the bridge the current caught my canoe funny and the nose of the canoe started drifting to the right. It was no big deal I just was trying to correct for it but the current kept pulling me to the right and then it was like the current rotated my canoe with me in it right into the canal.

There I was swimming in the canal. Now mind you, this is in fact one of my worst fears, even though I pretend not to think it's possible I definitely never wanted this for myself.

At first I was in shock but then I realized that everything was okay. Thank god the girls were in a different canoe. It really wasn't such a big deal. I even was able to save the canoe because it flipped completely over and was floating on top and I was able to grab the paddle and put it on top of the canoe. As I was there I realized that there was no way to flip the canoe back over and get in, so I started swimming while towing the canoe back to the landing.
I wasn't that close but not that far either. I asked my daughter and her friend to go back to the landing and let them know that I had capsized. Though I knew there was pretty much nothing they could do for me, I thought it was a good idea in case I didn't make it back. I just calmly took my time swimming back to the landing.

And all and all it was pretty easy getting back with canoe and all in tow and put to rest my fear of falling in.
These are the images from the film from that day. The camera, as expected, is junk now and the film is too, kind of, but I thought it was kind of pretty too. It seems to tell the story of life underwater.

My daughter is very taken with these photos and described them as though it looks like you are looking at the canal through a broken window.