Paddling Across the Sound — to Help Save It
By Howard Husock
The North Shore of Long Island looks so tantalizingly large from the coast of Rye — so close we can see the fireworks from Glen Cove and Oyster Bay on the Fourth of July. So close that it seems like it would be a short kayak or stand-up paddle board journey across the waters, were it not for the barges, tugboats, and other commercial traffic that normally makes the trip perilous.
All that was different right after dawn on Saturday, August 3, as a 99-strong flotilla of kayaks and paddleboards gathered on the beach at Shenorock Shore Club under the auspices of Save the Sound — the leading organization working to restore the health of the water stretching from the East River to Montauk. The group had cleared the way — alerting the Coast Guard, which limited commercial traffic, and providing “safety boats” to help anyone who faltered on the nearly five-mile trip to a beach at Glen Cove.
It was the fourth annual Paddle-Across-the Sound, Save the Sound fundraiser and originated from Rye for the first time. A combination of paddler fees and support from the Friends of the Rye Nature Center, Trader Joe’s, and DeCicco & Sons’ markets raised just under $15,000. According to STS director of engagement Joseph Dimaggio, the funds will help the group organize clean-ups of the beaches and estuaries along the New York and Connecticut coasts. (Some towns require permits and insurance for volunteer activities.)
This year’s small armada of Sound-farers was the largest in the event’s history —and the longest distance, too. Previous crossings from New Rochelle were shorter, but, according to Dimaggio, Rye was chosen this year because of the enthusiasm of Shenorock to serve as host.
Conditions were optimal. Cool and sunny to start, calm waters, with forecasted thunderstorms holding off. Marine police did their part, intercepting speedboats before they could interfere with the mass crossing. The group drew from across Westchester and lower Fairfield. Rye was well-represented with a contingent that included Christine Siller, executive director of Friends of Rye Nature Center, Jana Seitz, president of the Friends of Read, as well as this writer and his wife, Robin. We two led what the British would call the “super-adult” contingent — the senior citizen crew, of whom we were not the only ones.
Best of all, everyone who set out made it across to Glen Cove, except one silver-haired paddler who went a good distance before circling back. Upon reaching the other side, the group considered claiming Long Island for Westchester — but quickly thought better of it. The beach at Glen Cove was nowhere as nice as our own Rye Town Park sands.
Shenorock hosted breakfast for all upon return and SOS was ready with Paddle-Across-The Sound baseball caps as mementos.
It’s not too late to match the contributions of those who paddled, through the SOS website, ctenvrionment.org/save-the-sound. Rye should cheer on the group in the hopes that there will come a time when Blind Brook will be clean, its shellfish edible, and the water of our beaches always clear.