At 7:35 am on September 28th, teams of rowers will set out along the East River. No, this isn’t a mass exodus, nor is it an attempt to avoid morning traffic. It’s part of Rocking Manhattan, a 9-hour journey to circumnavigate Manhattan island in rowboats.
Rocking Manhattan is a 30-mile rowing event, providing participants with a rare perspective of New York City and a shared experience with a committed group of fellow New Yorkers (with a few Californians and Rhode Islanders mixed in). Formed into teams of between 4 and 12 people, they circle Manhattan Island along its three rivers—north up the East, west across the Harlem, and south down the Hudson.
Each team is charged with raising at least $25,000 to support Rocking the Boat’s programs for youth in the South Bronx. Most raise significantly more towards the goal of $400,000, or 13% of Rocking the Boat’s annual budget.
Event participants include rowers, coxswains, and powerboat drivers. Event beneficiaries are the roughly 4,000 members of the Hunts Point community who take part in Rocking the Boat’s youth development and public programs.
Groups of relatives, friends, and co-workers form the always creatively named teams rowing around Manhattan Island in Rocking Manhattan, including Flotsam and Jetsam, Dismasted, Knots Unlimited, Shore Thing, Going Full Circle, Rabble Rowsers, Either Oar, Sirens and Argonauts, Ebb and Flow, Rock Lobster. Some have been involved since the first circumnavigation in 2009, others are rowing for the very first time. Some started as members of other teams and have now taken the plunge to captain their own team. Rocking the Boat Board members are leading six of this year’s nine teams. Rocking the Boat’s Founder an Executive Director, Adam Green, always rows one or two of the three legs.
Graduates of Rocking the Boat’s after school youth development program serve as coxswains, steering the boats and keeping their rowers synchronized and motivated. They are members of Rocking the Boat’s Alumni Rowing Team, which trains all summer for the event.
A dear friend of Downtown’s Alies Van Den Berg, will be rowing two legs. We felt that this was something everyone can get out to support.
Members of the tight-knit sailing community in Barnegat Bay, NJ fill a vital role driving safety boats that accompany the rowing gigs throughout the day, providing support as needed from filling empty water bottles to giving weary rowers a short tow.
Starting and ending at One°15 Brooklyn Marina in Brooklyn Bridge Park, the route includes a breakfast stop at Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City and a lunch stop at Muscota Marsh in Inwood and brings rowers under bridges, past landmarks, and adjacent to ferries, cruise ships, and coast guard vessels.
A celebration dinner and award presentation (for generating the most dollars, not rowing the fastest) takes place in Brooklyn once everyone returns to the dock.
Outside of a few smallish corporate sponsorships, this is a peer-to-peer fundraiser. Everyone involved has an individual fundraising page complete with progress thermometer. They post photos, write brief stories about their connection to the organization, and then proceed to hit up their networks for donations!
Rocking the Boat posts updates on social media and engages sponsors like Hydroflask for water bottles and Hornblower (the operator of NYC Ferry and Hornblower Cruises) for dry bags.
Rocking the Boat brings tremendous positive impact to the high-need youth of Hunts Point by sustaining a hub of crucial resources and opportunities that help students overcome the circumstantial disadvantages that threaten to stifle their full potential. Activities centered on small boats and local waters are the unique vehicles Rocking the Boat uses to affect profound changes in the lives of young people and the vitality of their community. Wooden boatbuilding, sailing, and environmental research and restoration captivate and challenge young people, expose them to new experiences, and show them they are capable of doing things they never imagined, or only dreamed of. In doing so they develop the technical, social and emotional skills to replicate the successes they have in the shop and on the water in their personal, academic, and professional lives.
The event is a circumnavigation of Manhattan Island over the course of nine hours. The boats, the rowers, the hydration and snacks, and the accumulated enthusiasm of over 100 volunteers are all in place…the only element we cannot plan for (other than the weather!) is a cheering section. Downtown has assembled the following list of locations and estimated times (+/- 10 minutes) for anyone who wants to have a one-of-a-kind New York experience coming out and cheering on the rowers.
Schedule – Enjoy a one-of-a-kind New York experience come on out to cheer on the rowers at any of these viewing areas along the New York Waterway.
Leg 1: East River
Empire Ferry Fulton Ferry Park (base of Brooklyn Bridge): 7:35 a.m.
Main Street Park (base of the Manhattan Bridge): 7:40 a.m.
Gantry Plaza State Park (Hunters Point): 8:10 a.m.
Queensboro Bridge: 8:20 a.m.
Queens Bridge Park (Long Island City): 8:20 a.m.
Roosevelt Island Bridge: 8:40 a.m.
Leg 2: Hell Gate and Harlem River
Carl Schurz Park: 10 a.m.
Thomas Jefferson Park: 10:15 a.m.
The High Bridge: 11:15 a.m.
Sherman Creek Park: 11:40 a.m.
Leg 3: Hudson River
George Washington Bridge / The Little Red Lighthouse: 2:15 p.m.
Riverside Park promenade at 116th Street: 3:15 p.m.
Riverside Park Boat Basin at 79th Street: 3:45 p.m.
Pier 40: 4:15 p.m.
Pier 25: 4:30 p.m.
Rockefeller Park 4:35 p.m.
Robert F. Wagner Park: 4:45 p.m.