Kayaking is Back, though the dock’s still at large News

| 02 Jun 2015 | 11:12

While the mystery of the missing boat dock is still unsolved, free kayaking has returned to the Hudson River.

Manhattan Community Boathouse kicked off its summer season over Memorial Day weekend -- a season that almost didn’t happen after someone apparently stole the group’s two-ton plastic floating dock from Pier 96, off of W. 55th Street.

The plastic dock, filled with water and anchored to the riverbank, disappeared in October, so far without a trace. Kaitlin Petersen, president of the boathouse, has spent the months since appealing for the return of the dock, and launching a crowdfunding campaign to raise the $30,000 needed to replace the dock and ensure that it isn’t stolen again.

For a time this spring, it looked like the entire program, which is run by volunteers, would be in jeopardy; the crowdfunding campaign had raised just $6,000 and the dock thieves remained at large.

But interest in the lost dock, including a story earlier this year in The West Side Spirit, raised awareness of the group’s problem. And last month, TF Cornerstone, a developer with a real estate project nearby, came up with the money to pay for a replacement. Working with the Hudson River Park Trust and West Side Councilmember Helen Rosenthal, the group received the money in time to commission the new dock and have it in place for Memorial Day.

Petersen, a magazine editor who spends nearly all of her free time on the dock, said the experience has, among other things, taught her how tough it is to raise money, even if it’s for a worthy cause. “It’s weird to go to all of your friends and say I really need you to give me money,” she said.

The money raised in the online campaign will go towards insuring the dock, on the remote chance that someone snags it again.

As for the culprits, Petersen said it’s as much a mystery today as the day the dock disappeared. Not only was it secured by ropes and an anchor, but the dock consists of a series of a drums, each of them filled with water and completely sealed, making it enormously heavy.

“We have no idea who took it or where it went or what happened to it,” she said. “We’re just excited to be back in the park.”