Hackensack River Canoe & Kayak Club

paddling for over a third of a century

Piermont Marsh and Hudson River
by Bob Rancan

June 5, 2004

Finally got it right! I planned a club paddle on the Hudson River for June 5th. When I plan a small stream trip I have two concerns: finding enough water to float a canoe or kayak and making sure real heavy weather isn't on the way. For a Hudson trip around the New York/New Jersey border, add to the list the exact time the tides will be right, wind speed and direction and any kind of foul weather.

When I checked the forecast in the middle of the week Saturday looked perfect: low 70s, sunny, light winds from the north. I knew high tide would be reached just after noon so things looked promising. However, by Friday night the forecast called for temperatures in the low 60s and 80% chance of rain and winds of 15 to 20 mph.

But, if you watch the weather you don't go…that's about as plain as I can put it. In the morning the sky was gray and there were a few raindrops and a slight breeze. At the rendezvous five other paddlers showed up. We left a car at Alpine Boat Basin and headed to Piermont, NY. The idea was that if conditions weren't right, we'd explore Piermont Marsh and head back in.

It turned out that conditions were perfect. We put in about a half-hour before high tide hit Tarrytown. Rain started to fall as soon as we put in. Once the raingear came out the rain ceased for the day. The Marsh was fully flooded so we explored the channels back to the edge of Tallman State Park. As we reemerged into the open river, the outgoing tide and wind from the northeast drew us down to the NJ border. Richard Whitby's GPS unit had us moving along at 4 to 4.5 mph. There was no broiling sun and few wakes because when the weather is not so nice the speedboats and personal watercraft stay on their trailers.

In the Marsh, we got a quick look at a marsh wren and were surrounded by swallows (mostly barn swallows). Looking straight up at the Palisades can cause neck cramps but seeing red tail hawks stalled in the wind makes it all worthwhile. Along the river, a scarlet tanager stood out among a tangle of leaves and stayed still for everyone to get a look.

It was a fine trip and thanks to the PIPC's Eric Nelson (a HRCKC founder) for the tour of the Blackledge/Kearny House at Alpine Boat Basin. And thanks to Robyn Lowenthal, Phil Brown, Richard Whitby, Kevin Foster and Gary Walling for having the same attitude towards weather forecasters as I do.