Saturday, November 14, 2009

City moving quickly to use its new Coney land

The city is moving quickly to bring rides and other amusements this summer to seven acres of beach-front land that it bought on Thursday from landowner Joe Sitt — issuing a request for proposals from theme park operators this morning.

Mayor Bloomberg only announced the $95.6-million land buy on Thursday, but as he spoke, city printing presses were already churning out the official request for proposals, which seeks amusements on the three plots between the Cyclone rollercoaster and Keyspan Park that the city bought from Sitt.

The goal of having interim amusements that draw people to Coney Island in large numbers is one that eluded Sitt for several summers, an indication of why the city is moving so quickly to bring in outside bidders.

“We’re on a tight timeframe,” said one city source. “We know that.”

How tight? Economic Development Corporation officials will fly to Las Vegas next week to pitch their proposal at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions exposition. And on Nov. 24, the same group will host would-be operators at an information session in Manhattan.

In both forums, EDC officials will no doubt herald the city’s land purchase as evidence that years of neglect at Coney Island are over. Mayor Bloomberg’s vision calls for a Coney Island amusement area reborn as a 24-7-365 destination featuring new hotels, restaurants, shopping, indoor attractions and, most important, a 12-acre open-air amusement park along the Boardwalk.

Most of the land in Coney Island has long been zoned for amusements, but not the kind that could generate enough income to make Coney Island thrive, said Sitt.

“It sounds strange, but the zoning didn’t allow some things like a restaurant or a hotel, or even allow for the new, high-tech rides,” he said.

This summer, the City Council rezoned a wide swath of the area to encourage a wider array of amusements and attractions, including those restaurants and retail, and also allow for the development of 4,500 units of housing to the north and west of the amusement zone.

Sitt could have taken advantage of that zoning, but Bloomberg made it clear that he wanted control of the neighborhood, even telling The Brooklyn Paper that he would deny Sitt the infrastructure improvements he’d need to build anything in Coney Island.

Such hardball forced Sitt’s hand. Indeed, at the press conference, Sitt likened the hard-bargaining Deputy Mayor Robert Lieber to the fictional gangster Luca Brasi from “The Godfather.” As the press laughed, Sitt apologized, but Lieber mumbled, “I take it as a compliment.”

Despite the “compliment” and Sitt’s talk of the “tough” negotiations, he did end up selling a little more than half of his Coney Island land for nearly $100 million — land that cost him significantly less when he started acquiring it in 2005.

And he now intends to profit richly from the land he still owns — mostly along Surf Avenue. He says he’ll build hotels, indoor amusements, restaurants and retail — though it all must wait until the city brings in modern electrical capacity and makes other infrastructure improvements that the mayor is now happy to provide.

But first, the interim uses. The request for proposals is fairly vague, saying only that the city wants amusements and “an enhanced visitor experience in keeping with Coney Island’s tradition of public access.”

The document also said that the winning bidder would likely have “a plan for the installation of a diverse mix of state-of-the-art rides and attractions, including thrill rides, adult rides, and family rides.”

Would-be bidders will have to present that plan in less than a month. Bids are due on Dec. 11.

The Brooklyn Paper

Rare giant of the ocean caught on film

An underwater camera crew filming for the BBC has recorded a smalleye stingray swimming off the coast of Mozambique.
The smalleye stingray is the largest of all 70 species of stingray, attaining widths of more than 2m.
The elusive creature, first discovered in 1908, has only ever been seen alive off Tofo in southern Mozambique.
Rare sight
Stingrays are cartilaginous fish that are related to sharks.
They occur is marine, freshwater and estuarine habitats and vary in size from the dwarf whipray (Himantura walga), which measures just 24cm wide, to the smooth or short-tail stingray (Dasyatis brevicaudata) which can grow over 2m wide.
However, the smalleye stingray (D. microps) is the largest of all, able to grow to a width of 2.2m.
Specimens have been caught in waters around Australia, Thailand, Malaysia and The Philippines, as well as in various places in the Indian Ocean, including with the Ganges River estuary.
But live smalleye stingrays have only been recorded off Tofo, a beach in southern Mozambique that lies 425km north of South Africa and 820km west of the southern tip of Madagascar.
Several live sightings have been made by resident biologists Dr Andrea Marshall and Dr Simon Pierce of the Manta Ray and Whale Shark Research Centre based at Tofo Beach.
Film of a live specimen was recorded by an underwater film crew working for independent production company Big Wave productions, which was making a documentary about manta rays with Dr Marshall.
The footage was shot as part of the programme "Andrea: Queen of the Mantas" for the BBC documentary series Natural World, which will be broadcast on BBC Two at 2000GMT on Wednesday 11 November.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bermuda Round the Sound Swim 2009

The morning air smelled like warm honey as over 260 swimmers prepared for the Round the Sound swim in Bermuda. Swimmers competed in distances ranging from 10k to 800 yards in scenic Hamilton Sound. On-island swimmers competed with people from all over the world, including Duncan Taylor, newly appointed governor of the Cayman Islands, who competed in the 4k. His wife Marie Beatrice Taylor swam the 800yd. Swapnali Yadav, a ten-year-old girl from Mumbai, India finished the 10k to the cheers of her family and onlookers. Canada, Dubai, England, and the US all had swimmers competing in temperate 78F water. John Legge, a local from Southampton, took first place in the10k swim. The Governor of Bermuda came out to hand out awards to the top finishers. Aqua Moon Adventures, Dolphin Swim Team of Bermuda and Bermuda Open Water Swimmers organized the event. For more info, go to

Monday, September 28, 2009

Wild wild ocean....

The ocean finally feels like fall. Huge waves, big gusting wind, dramatic sun peeking in and out of the clouds, and flocks of migrating terns swooping and diving in formation. A stellar swim day! Except for the sand between my teeth....

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Somewhere in the Sky

Wax drips down the
On a wooden table
As I sit in an old
Near the open window
Of my third floor

I feel the slight cool
eastern wind

I watch reflections of
dim lights on
Harbor waves

I dream of seabirds
flying to a place
in the sky
High above the clouds

Where it is bright

Very bright...

-John DaPrato

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Parks Goes After the Middle Aged Russian Ladies....

Move over, Clementine Lee, the Parks Department has a new Public Enemy #1: The older Russian women enjoying a swim at Brighton Beach—and yesterday a few of them were handed $250 tickets for cooling off in the water. A tipster writes in: "I guess there's a sign somewhere on the boardwalk that says swimming is not allowed 6 p.m. to 10 a.m., but I never noticed it. It's hot, it's August, and some people have to work during official swim hours."

Allegedly when the lifeguards went off duty, they simply left, not alerting anyone to get out of the water. (Sigh, lifeguards.) But maybe it was a part of a sting operation, because shortly after, around 6:30 p.m., "some jerks drive up on their mini John Deeres and start yelling. They are wearing green golf shirts with Parks Security on the back ... [they] are not being very communicative, or at all polite. They call in reinforcements—white shirts with Parks Enforcement on the back. They start writing tickets to a bunch of middle aged Russian ladies trying to get a little swim after work. Some of the ladies run home, and the jerks on the John Deeres chase them to the boardwalk."

After demanding I.D. from the women, who were wearing bathing caps and suits, "they make cracks about the potential illegal immigration status that will be uncovered when they take the swimmers to jail. When an onlooker objects and points to the other hundreds of swimmers down the beach the two uniformed guys stalk off."

We have contacted the Parks Department, as well as the outlaw swimmers, and will update with any quotes when we get them.

By Jen Carlson

it's those darn tropical storms again

Beach Status for Brooklyn and Rockaway Beaches


Monday, August 24, 2009

Sometimes I feel like kicking sand...

Brooklyn developer Joe Sitt/Thor Equities has shut down Dreamland amusement park....some say illegally....the ink is barely dry on Bloomberg's dismal redevelopment plan (think less amusement park, more condos--inc. 27 story towers on the boardwalk) and he's making good on his boast
"I'm the guy who controls this - it's my sandbox," said Joe Sitt
I hope he pisses off Bloomberg enough to rethink eminent domain.

Joey Sitt Enjoys Playing with Bulldozers in His Coney Island Sandbox. Art by Tiny Tim

Friday, August 21, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mermaid Fever

Dozens of mermaid sightings in the past few months have been flooding city official offices in the Kiryat Yam municipality, near Haifa, Israel, Sky News reports, and they are willing to pay for proof.
The Kiryat Yam town council is offering $1 million to anyone who can prove the mermaid exists, the story said, drawing crowds of people with cameras to the shore every evening at sunset. "People say it is half girl, half fish, jumping like a dolphin. It does all kinds of tricks then disappears," Council spokesman Natti Zilberman told Sky News.
Zilberman denies that the reward is a publicity stunt, but he told Sky News that he is hopes proof of the mermaid will bring in more tourists to the area.

Race results are up!


Place Name Age Sex Club Time
1 Pedder, Margie 29 F METR 27:07
2 Stovickova, Magdalena 34 F GBM 27:10
3 Wassner, Rebecca 33 F ADMS 27:11
4 Chesson, Win 26 M TNYA 27:19
5 Shtab, Steven 48 M METR 27:35
6 Davies, Rondi 39 F TNYA 27:38
7 Vuckovic, Vuk 23 M - - - 27:41
8 Lester, Jessica 19 F AQFT 27:56
9 Taylor, Amy 30 F AQFT 28:01
10 McPherson, Kelly 31 F REDT 29:03
11 Barra, David 44 M ADMS 29:11

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sunday is Grimaldo's Mile Celebration Day

Marty Markowitz has declared Sunday Grimaldo's Mile Celebration Day! Well, that was awfully swell of our borough president to give us some props.

It's not too late to register!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sesame Jellyfish recipe

1/2 lb Prepared shredded jellyfish
2 tsp Light soy sauce
3 tbl Sesame oil
2 tsp White rice vinegar
2 tsp Sugar
3 tbl White sesame seeds, toasted

Method :
RINSE THE JELLYFISH WELL in cold running water and drain. Put it in a stainless steel bowl and cover with boiling water. Let the jellyfish sit in the water for about 15 minutes or until it is tender. Drain and continue to soak at least 6 times in several changes of cold water. Drain thoroughly and blot dry with paper towels and set aside. Mix soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar and sugar in a small bowl. Toss the jellyfish well in this sauce and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Just before serving, garnish with the sesame seeds.
Serves 4 as part of a Chinese meal or 2 as a single dish.

Go Marcy Go!

Marcy's about 9 hours in to her double crossing attempt....and should be approaching France soon.
Swim bitch swim!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Mike did it!

Official congratulations are in order for Michael Tzchantz-Hahn, who made it in under 12 hours....very impressive Mike!
We are all so happy for you!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Mike's crossing the Channel, and he's close to France!

Hi All,

So, here he goes....! Mike jumps into the water off of the Dover shore & heads for France at 10:00 p.m. PST (6 a.m. his time). If you're interested in seeing his progress, there's a way of tracking him.

Otherwise, I'll write again tomorrow with the news & as much information as I may have.

Woo hoo!


My best information on tracking him ---
Tracker 1 is on Gallivant -- orange

> If you go to and click on the link satellite
> tracker link to map page
> you get a goggle map page with the real time tracking

> The positions are sent from the boats to the tracking page as they happen at
> 10 minute intervals through out the swim.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

days of winter

Sometimes I miss having the beach to ourselves....

and the parking lot....

and the shivering in Mike's van.....


Found this video La Jolla Swim Cove Club's site, during Catalina Dreaming's relay in 2008....

Thursday, July 16, 2009

'tis the season

Well, it's that time of year when friends, loved ones, and extended swim family begin the annual migration to Dover for their Channel attempts. I want to wish everyone good weather, good stomachs, good shoulders, and good luck! There are so many of my swim family going this year, it's like the Brighton invasion! Anyway, best of luck to you all. I'll put up Abe's posts here, and here's a link to Marcy's great blog:
Keep you posted!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Suddenly sushi

It was an odd start to the morning Saturday in La Jolla, Calif.

First, residents were jostled out of bed at 7.34 a.m. by a 4.0 magnitude earthquake that was centered 19 miles out in the ocean.
“I was having coffee up on the balcony and I felt it shaking,” Kate Lutkemeier said.
She wasn’t the only one.
“I heard my doors and windows rattling, thinking that somebody was trying to get in my front door actually,” La Jolla resident Mary Skeen said.
The quake was felt all over the county, which isn’t uncommon in San Diego -- but what happened just minutes later was a little fishy.

“We just got here about 15 minutes ago and Lilly, what did you see on the beach?” John Feher asked his little daughter.
“Squid, squid, squid, squid, squid.” she replied.
Dozens of dazed Humboldt squid, which were roughly three- to four-feet long and weighed close to 40 pounds, were found flapping around on La Jolla Shores beach.
“It’s like their equilibrium is all messed up and they don’t know what they’re doing and they can’t back out there,” said beachgoer Bill Baumann. “It was like they got -- I don’t know -- all shook up.”
It didn’t take long for the seagulls to swoop in and start feeding on the squid, so beachgoers ran to the rescue and tried frantically to save them by throwing them back in the water. That proved to be a difficult task for several reasons: they were extremely heavy, very slippery, and when the good Samaritans did manage to get them back them in water, the squid didn’t know which way to go and kept washing back up on shore.
“Some people were saying it was the earthquake this morning that caused them to get disoriented, but who knows? Feher said.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Swimming Around Manhattan

Good luck everyone!   Swimmers should be in the water right about now, probably just passing under the Brooklyn Bridge.  Looks like a great day for a circumnavigation!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hurry up and register already!

It's our first 5k and it promises to be a goodie!  Not only will the water be nice and cold, and jelly free (?) but the NY Aquarium is letting us throw a big ol' bash after the race.  Come listen to the band and party with the seals!  I can't wait to try my first Coney Island Lager...and no, we're not allowed to get the walrus drunk.  There's a one mile too, for the sprinters among us.....

Friday, May 8, 2009

NY Times article about Grimaldo and CIBBOWS


On a Beach in Brooklyn, a Chair Sits Empty        By JAKE MOONEY

Published: May 8, 2009

EVEN in the best of conditions, swimming long distances in unfamiliar water is an exercise in mild disorientation. Add waves, strong currents and the chilly seas that persist into the spring, and the voices in your head that say you’re crazy grow even louder.

Patricia Sener

Grimaldo Medrano in 2007.

The City

A partial antidote, Gilles Chalandon was saying the other day, is to have landmarks on the shore. Mr. Chalandon, a 52-year-old native Frenchman who once placed third in the annual 28.5-mile swim around Manhattan Island, was standing in the sand on Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, facing the ocean, when he pointed out a few such markers.

To the west, about a mile away, was the long pier at Coney Island. To the east was a big white building marking the end of Brighton Beach. A third landmark, somewhere in between, had emerged over the years, but it was nowhere to be seen on this overcast Saturday morning. It was the chair of Grimaldo Medrano, a veteran lifeguard who became one of the distance swimmers’ best friends on land.

The chair will return by Memorial Day, when the swim season officially begins. But Mr. Medrano will not; he died on March 31, of lymphoma, at the age of 34. The news came as a shock to some swimmers who knew him, because Mr. Medrano, a cheerful presence on the beach in warm months for that past decade and a half, had told few people he was sick.

Now, those who knew Mr. Medrano face their first long summer without him.

“I’m seeing parts of Coney die,” Patricia Sener, a swimmer and a friend of Mr. Medrano’s, said last week. “And now at the beach, that’s going to be irrevocably different. It already feels different.”

Ms. Sener met Mr. Medrano 16 years ago, when she was 29 and he was 18. As a teenager, he had moved from his native Panama to Brownsville, Brooklyn, then attended Thomas Jefferson High School, where he was on the swim team. The two later trained together, and eventually he got a job as a lifeguard at Brighton Beach.

By around 2002, Ms. Sener had helped found a nonprofit group called the Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers, Cibbows for short, and Mr. Medrano proved an important ally. Lifeguards tend to frown on people swimming outside the designated areas, which is exactly what open water swimmers do. Mr. Medrano helped convince his fellow lifeguards that the Cibbows people could be trusted.

They would meet near his chair before and after swims, and sometimes after his shift, Mr. Medrano would join them for a beer at Ruby’s Bar, on the Coney Island boardwalk. In 2005, when the group organized a race from Coney to Brighton, the name seemed natural: Grimaldo’s Mile.

The race is an annual event now, and the name will remain as a memorial. But even then the tribute seemed appropriate. Mr. Medrano could appear languid on the beach, but was alert to swimmers in trouble.

“He had a remarkable gift,” said Sondra Vitols, another Cibbows co-founder, “for being able to relate to an emotionally handicapped Russian teenager, to an investment banker showing up from Manhattan, to a Puerto Rican woman just learning how to swim.”

On Saturday, a handful of Cibbows members — including Mr. Chalandon, who sells reproductions of antiques; Rachel Golub, a 32-year-old violinist; and Cristian Vergara, a 50-year-old accountant — were warming up in a van next to the beach, shivering after a long morning’s swim in 52-degree water.

Jonathan Farber, a 42-year-old landscape architect, was explaining how Mr. Medrano made people feel at ease.

Somebody in the back of the van said, “There’s a lot of kooks on this beach, and they all crowded around Grimaldo’s chair.”

Grimaldo Medrano was, of course, more than a lifeguard — he was a son, a brother and a godfather. Speaking by phone last week, his cousin Jonelle Pinckney said he had worked full time as a social worker, first in public schools and then at the city’s Administration for Children’s Services.

Through it all, Ms. Pinckney said, whenever he had a free day, he would slip into his orange uniform and head to the beach.

“That was his peace,” she said. “He’ll come home and you’ll just see the orange. That’s all that you’ll see coming towards you, and you know Grimaldo’s coming home.”

She had that in mind the morning she dressed for his funeral.

“I was like, ‘I’m not wearing black,’ ” Ms. Pinckney said. Instead, she said: “I wore orange. I wore the lifeguard color orange to the funeral.”

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Grimaldo's gone....I can't wrap my head around it yet....

Our beloved beach lifeguard and my dear friend Grimaldo Medrano passed away on Tuesday, after losing the battle to cancer. Grimi was a rare spirit, laid-back and smiling, and always loving and giving. He made me laugh like no other. He touched so many people, from all different walks of life. The beach will never be the same for me, but I am comforted in the knowledge that so many of my friends and fellow swimmers will carry a piece of him in their hearts forever, and thus will continue to be with us.

And for those who swim in Grimaldo’s Mile this year, be sure to flash a smile towards the heavens for him…

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Cookiecutter shark is not as cute as it sounds....

Mike Spalding was about 11 miles into his  nighttime Alenuihaha Channel crossing when the attempt was cut short by a bite from a cookiecutter shark.  This shark, only about 20" tops,  is known for taking deep round  bites out of seals, dolphins, tuna.  It mistook Mike for a tasty snack. He thinks perhaps the lights from his support boats attracted other snacks, and he just got in the way.  He made the record books, but not in the way he intended--he's the first living human to have been bitten by this shark.  

Photo: Maui News

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Mermaid tail for amputee

Nadya Vessey's legs were amputated below the knee when she was a young child.  A curious boy once asked her why, and she replied that it's because she was a mermaid.  The idea stuck with her, and she eventually contacted a famous special effects company if they might make her a prosthetic, realistic mermaid's tail.  To her surprise, they said yes.  Weta, the company who did work for "Lord of the Rings" and "The Chronicles of Narnia" made her a custom, fully functional mermaid's tail, complete with an attached suit.  It's wonderful to hear about companies that take the time/effort to make people's dreams come true.....especially mermaid dreams.....


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Exito! (Success!)

Cristian and Rachel crossed the Strait of Magellan on Wednesday, along with Scott Lautman and Mark (wetsuit) Lautman.  Cristian and Rachel swam into a flock of penguins, which disappeared underwater in one quick dive.  Rachel was followed by a small black and white dolpin (Tonina), presumably curios about why she was kicking so hard.  Scott finished first in 1:18, next was Mark.  Cristian got stuck in a very weird wall of current but managed to break free and swim to shore.  Rachel swam through a small whirlpool at the very end of her swim, and was swimming against the current until our shouts penetrated her frozen brain and she sprinted to shore.  Rachel came in at 1:53, Cristian just a few minutes earlier.  The press frantically ran up and down the shore to try to catch the finish of each swimmer, all of whom landed in different parts of the beach.  Rachel did a happy dance in her bright blue bikini when she finished, much to the amusement of the Naval officers who had lent their support for the swim, and had some doubts about our posses' abilities.  Everyone looked pretty darn good afterwards considering the 40F water temperature.

Maximum shivering ensued.

Shivering escalated during (very) wet and wild zodiac ride back to the Naval ship.

We are all on our way home, tired, happy, content, and thankful for all the good wishes~

Being old, fat, anorexic, or wearing a bikini in cold water does not necessarily properly prepare you for this swim.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Plane crash lands in Hudson

Just to let everyone know, we did not get a chance to show off our cold water swimming skills yesterday in the Hudson--our flights to Santiago left out of JFK.  We arrived safe and sound in Santiago--and off to Puntas Arenas tomorrow.  
(AP photo/Janis Krums)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mike's pix

Add Video

Strait of Magellan

Did you know there is a penguin that brays like a donkey?  They breed around the Strait of Magellan, and are common in that part of the world.

Which is where I'm headed, with Cristian and Rachael, to photograph their Strait of Magellan attempt.  I will try to do daily updates, so check back for progress reports....


photo: Wikipedia

Monday, January 12, 2009

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sad times for Coney Island--here come the bulldozers

I don't know if it'll do any good, but I signed this petition......

I also like these ideas to protest in a grass roots of which is to call 311 and complain about tearing down Coney!

Does anyone know whatever happened to the astroland rocket?

Photos via Lola Starr...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Coney 1.04.09

                   MORE VIDEOS 1.4.09
   Air Temp  28F
   Water Temp 40-41F
   Coochie Temp -2F

Monday, January 5, 2009


For those of you who don't know, some of the more die-hard have been quietly training year-round for one of the ultimate swim challenges--the Straits of Magellan.  At last, the dates have been set, and it's this month!  On January 20th, Rachel and Cristian (as well as Scott Lautman and his bro) will be attempting a swim that has been only accomplished by five people.   It's a big F'n deal.  So I want everyone to be sending them warm strong positive energy during that week!  Rachael's been keeping a blog, so check it, yo.