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Manhattan Nonprofit Lets People Row On The East River

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A Manhattan nonprofit teaches people how to row in the East River and gives them a unique perspective of the East River. NY1's Valarie D'Elia filed the following report.

Wooden rowboats might seem out of place at a busy intersection along the FDR Drive at 96th Street, but six months after Hurricane Sandy flooded their container, it is a welcome sight.

For the past five seasons, the location has been the nondescript home for East River C.R.E.W., short for Community, Recreation and Education on the Water, a nonprofit that offers New Yorkers the opportunity to get a perspective of the East River few rarely see.

"A Whitehall gig is a New York City-designed boat from the 19th century, and they were the harbor taxis," says Mary Nell Hawk of the East River C.R.E.W. "The boat is designed for this kind of water. It's designed for stability, maneuverability and speed."

You don't have to know how to swim to sign up. You can be a boating novice. But you do need to climb up and down a ladder, have some arm strength and have the ability to follow directions.

"Each boat has a coxswain who is known and trained by us, who's very skilled on the water," Hawk says.

The trips take passengers out to Millrock Rookery, a small island between Manhattan and Queens in the shadow of the RFK Bridge, and north to Ward's Island, where the East and Harlem Rivers converge.

All along, they attract attention. Call it a rowing respite from the urban chaos.

"It was fun, the rowing and stuff," said one participant. "I don't know how to row, but I was OK."

East River Crew meets every Tuesday at 5 p.m. through the summer. All you have to do is show up. Kids and donations are welcome.

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As is common practice in the travel industry, Travel With Val often receives complimentary travel or reduced "media" rates at hotels, resorts and attractions, including those that may be featured in these reports. Such consideration is not taken in exchange for any express or implied promise or understanding of any nature, particularly regarding the content of these reports. These reports only feature travel providers personally recommended by Valarie D’Elia in the exercise of her independent editorial judgment, and do not represent the endorsement of Time Warner Cable or any third party. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP