Joe Potts

Brooklyn (North 7th Street) to Roosevelt Island

Joe and I met at the bank of the East River, and prepared to launch.


There are no pictures of our crossing because my camera was destroyed. I will briefly describe what later came to be called  ‘the series of irreversible events’. We started out across the water even though the wind was pushing us to the Northeast. I thought it might be possible to climb over the wall at the East River Esplanade Park – close to 37th street. But by the time we arrived, small steep waves were lapping up over the sides of the boat. It seemed like the best place to land was the rocky shore at Roosevelt Island. By that time the current was pulling us up level with the island. Joe was bailing the water from the bottom of the boat but the waves started coming over even faster. It became clear to both of us that we would have to swim. From the shore it must have looked like two torsos, sticking up out of the water, paddling frantically. Suddenly the decision was made for us – the boat sort of disappeared out from under our bodies and we were in the water. We tried to hold on the boat and the gear but we were rushing past the island now, not moving any closer. I let go of the line holding the boat and my heart sank as I swam away. We both reached the shore and climbed up the bank just below the 59th Street Bridge. We walked north along the water and we could see the boat floating past, upside down, just yards away.

I decided to swim out and salvage the boat .