The Urban Boater

“This photo was taken on a lake in the Adirondack Mountains. As I was loading my boat with provisions for a week-long stay park rangers, fellow campers and lots of kayakers stopped by to admire it. Everyone was impressed with its durable construction and ample floor space. They all were completely amazed when I told them that inflation time is less than 10 minutes and when I am back home the boat is stored in bag no larger than laundry bag and the rest of hardware slips under my bed. I think I may have made a sale or two for you guys.” — Joe

Do you live in an urban environment and long to go boating? You can head out of town…but you’ll find many local, urban boating opportunities if you look around a bit.

Wilderness a few hours north of  NYC

Head due north out of New York City and in just a few hours you’ve traded The Big Apple’s sizzling hot concrete canyons (and eight million New Yorkers) for the cool, green, silent splendor of deep wilderness punctuated with countless brooks, streams, rivers, and over 3,000 clear mountain lakes.

Sunset on Forked Lake

That’s what New Yorker, Joe Guimento, does. Joe works at a community garden in The Bronx but takes time out in the summer for a week of boating, camping, and relaxing in New York State’s Adirondack Park.

The Adirondack Region is the biggest natural wilderness area east of the Mississippi. With over six million acres, it’s larger than the entire state of Vermont, its neighbor to the east. And it’s a boater’s paradise.

Primitive camping accessible only by boat

The Adirondacks Region has many conventional campgrounds for tents and RV’s. But Joe favors primitive camping in state-sanctioned sites with no stores, services, electricity, or much of anything besides the natural setting. His camping and boating area-of-choice is Forked Lake just southwest of Long Lake.

Joe Guimento (back) and Mike Pagan on their way to a wilderness campsite accessible only by boat.

“I camp at primitive campsites that are accessible only by boat,” says Joe. That means he has to bring in everything he’ll need during his stay. “I just check in, pile all the supplies in the Sea Eagle SE9, boat to the site, and set up camp,” says Joe.

A boat on the subway

It’s a long stretch between Adirondack boating vacations but Joe and his partner, Mike Pagan, have found a way to get back to nature by boating right in their own urban neighborhood.

Joe says, “We go boating on Long Island Sound where there are a bunch of uninhabited islands.” They boat down from Yonkers, explore a bit, land, pack up the boat, and take the subway home. “The Sea Eagle deflates and packs in a small bag,” says Joe, “so it’s easy to carry it on the subway.”

On other local outings, Joe and Mike boat across the Hudson River to explore the Palisades in New Jersey. “It’s crowded in New York, even the beaches,” says Joe. “It’s great to go boating and get away from it all. It’s very relaxing.”

Kayak on the shelf, outboard in the kitchen

How do you store a full-size boat in a one-bedroom NYC apartment? Joe stores two in his — a 22-lb. Sea Eagle 330 sport kayak, and a larger Sea Eagle SE9 motor mount boat. They deflate and pack in small bags. “I have a shelf above the doorway where I store the boats,” says Joe.

He has a small outboard motor for the SE9 and keeps it in a corner of the kitchen — after draining the gasoline, of course.

So next time you’re in The Big Apple, keep an eye open for Joe. He’s the guy on the subway with a boat in a bag.

9 thoughts on “The Urban Boater

  1. Great post! It reminds me that I just have to get out there and do it. I recently got a Sea Eagle kayak, and it sits in my car, just in case. I might run into you out on Long Island Sound some day.

  2. I was looking to purchase a Sport-runabout, But was looking for laws for owning a boat like these.
    Can you go on the long island sound with this do i need a license.
    Any information will help.

    • Any boat that has a motor regardless of motor size must be registered with DMV and clearly display the DMV registration number along with the DMV registration sticker on each side of the boat. Since the boats are inflatable we affixed the number and registration sticker to plastic boards that we clipped to the side ropes of the boat. You also need to have an anchor, horn or whistle, distress flag and if operating at night appropriate lights. DMV has a booklet with rules and regulations you need to follow. We have been stopped several times, it seems New Rochelle police like to stop inflatables when ever they see them. But don’t let this deter you, cruising around the sound is definitely worth it.

    • Ariel, I live 2 miles from the sound (Bpt. CT) and have owned 3 Sea Eagles with the hopes that family would get interested (no luck). But between the sound and the rivers, my Sea Eagle stays in the trunk of my car and I kayak as long as the temperature is above 50 degrees. The sound is great, but it does require careful checking of tides and especially winds. It’s worth it. Travel along the shoreline is wonderful. I did purchase an anchor however for the “just in case” sudden gust or change in wind direction. I always carry a whistle, flashing LED, cell phone in waterproof case). But the sound is beautiful. Try it.

  3. Good work, Joe! I, too, live in NYC but take my Sea Eagle out when I can. I’ve had it as far afield as a solo river run just outside of Glacier National Park in Montana, but trips closer to home have been just as great. A couple of summers ago I bungeed my 330 to a sturdy little folding cart, walked to the subway, rode up to the Bronx River (the only true river–i.e., not a tidal inlet, etc.–in NYC), inflated the kayak, paddled down the Bronx River, through the Bronx Botanical Gardens (portage past the falls at the old mill) and the Bronx Zoo (pulled out to rest a moment and found myself facing a dozen bison–luckily there was a fence between, and luckily I didn’t pull out in the middle of the big cats paddock…) until finally pulling out in a riverside park, deflating, strapping all back on the unfolded carton and subwaying home. Urban adventure at its best!


  4. Last year I lived in Erie, PA, and I worked ten minutes away from Presque Isle peninsula, which juts out into Lake Erie. In the summer, I kept my Sea Eagle kayak in the trunk of my car, and drove over to the peninsula after work to do some kayaking on the waterways there. Perfect work de-stress routine!

  5. Great pictures, Joe …
    During the summer I’m at a trailer park in the northern Poconos where there are lots of lakes that I’d like to explore. I have an SE9 and noticed in one of your pictures that you have an outboard engine on your boat. Would you kindly tell me its make and horsepower?

    Happy boating!

    Pat Hehir

    • Pat,
      I have not looked at this blog article for long time. I apologize for not replying sooner. The SE9 will hold up to a 4 hp engine. The engine on my boat is a Yamaha 2.5 hp which easily drives the boat fully loaded with camping gear and two people.

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