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Meet Piermont's 'Captain Paradise'

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  • The 'Recreation Sports Notebook' is published each Friday. Please send items of interest to marcmaturo@aol.com.

Piermont native Bill Herguth, also generally known as Captain Paradise, operates one of the best-kept secret outfits in the area.

Paradise Boats, located near the heart of Piermont at 15 Paradise Avenue, adjacent to Kane Park, offers anyone with a bit of salt in their blood adventures on the Hudson in a kayak, a canoe, or a venerable rowboat.

Either with a guide, going solo, or in tandem, visitors can travel through a 1,000-acre salt marsh, or swan about in the Hudson River.

“We have guys and gals who take people out,” notes Captain Paradise, who looks like an old salt himself and, indeed, has been licensed by the Coast Guard for 12 years.

“To take people out in a canoe, and be a guide, you need to have a Coast Guard license,” he confirms.

The Captain said there are about eight miles of creeks—“At least eight miles that are navigable,” he notes—in the 1,000-acre paradise.

“The beauty of it, a lot of people don’t know about it, but it’s a wonderful place to escape without going to Central Park,” he continued, with a captain’s glint.

From the dock at Paradise Boats to the Hudson takes about 20 minutes, and slower than that in a rowboat. The water is so shallow at most tides that only kayaks and canoes can reach the river.

Herguth observes that it is a great place for beginners, and that once you reach the river near the Piermont Pier you can see two miles across the river, and 10 miles “up and down the river. It’s a really cool place.”

A sixth generation Piermonter on his grandmother’s side, The Captain, he says about himself, unabashedly, “has not lost anyone (on the river).”

The brother of two gals who formed a song and dance tandem in the 1950’s, The Paradise Sisters (Barbara now resides in North Carolina; Nancy died in 1958), The Captain said he is very fussy about anyone going out on the river, and has a keen wit about his concerns.

“Sometimes we get fearless people, you know, a lot of guys 45-50 (years old) who want to take their girlfriend across the river, and get stuck—we bring them back,” promises The Captain. “I try to dissuade them: When I find the weakest link in the chain, you work on them, the most apprehensive ones.”

When unable to make a personal rescue, The Captain can always count on the well-respected and reliable Piermont Underwater Rescue unit to come to the—What else?—rescue.

“But it’s usually not our people,” The Captain proudly boasts. “There’s 185 miles on this side of the river; no need to go across, unless the love of your life is over there! Once we had someone call … because they were tired!”

The Captain said that water temperature controls when he officially opens the season—“You need to be at 50 degrees because it takes about 20 minutes to be saved before hyperthermia sets in. The water rescue team is the best in the world; these guys can get them in 20 minutes, almost like clockwork.”

Paradise Boats also features The Captain’s special, an engagement boat.

“We’ve had three so far,” The Captain notes. “It’s just a regular rowboat, but it’s a good-luck boat—I hope.”

Visit www.paradisecanoeandkayak.com for more information. 

Hours: Open on weekends and holidays from 9am - 5pm; July and August, open Wed - Sun and holidays 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.; by appointment Monday and Tuesday; September and October, open weekends and holidays 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Fees: The first hour is the highest variable, said The Captain. Canoe rental is $18 the first hour, $12 the second hour, $6 for the third and fourth hours, and no cost after that; single kayaks rent for $20 the first hour, and then the same as a canoe; a tandem kayak goes for $24 the first hour, then follows the same formula.

Handle with care

The oppressive heat will come and go, challenging inveterate runners until the fall offers a welcome respite.

Caused by a number of things, heat exhaustion can very quickly lead to death if not treated.

“I tell everyone to run before the sun rises, and as the sun sets when it gets this hot. Just use common sense; stay hydrated, drink a gallon of water every day,” offers St. Thomas Aquinas College cross country coach Lou Maturo.

Maturo learned how to cope with high temperatures while running through the dry heat in Tucson at the University of Arizona, but warns that high humidity in the East can make training even trickier.

Maturo warns that heat exhaustion can even occur while walking, and it can come upon you very quickly.

“Stay hydrated, keep those fluids in your body,” repeats Maturo, who said he never avoided a training run because of the heat. “Wear thin, light clothing … will help you cool down.”

The signs of heat exhaustion are dizziness, extreme thirst, headache and fatigue. As the condition progresses, there may also be bouts of delirium or hallucination.

Put your best foot forward

With warm weather finally at hand, it’s more likely that area hiking paths will be put to use—for walking, biking, cross-country skiing practice, whatever. Here are some you might find interesting:

  • Tallman Mountain State Park, Sparkill: Featuring 687 acres, wooded areas meet up with the Piermont Marsh, and there are various views of the marsh, and the Hudson River from different points in the park, which operates as a day-use area. There is an old-fashioned running track, tennis courts, a playfield, and picnic areas.
  • Hook Mountain State Park: Part of the Palisades Interstate Park system, Hook Mountain attracts biking enthusiasts, competitive and recreational road runners, bird watchers (especially hawks), and, of course, seasoned and neophyte hikers. The bike path winds along the Hudson River, offering wonderful views, following the river’s edge from Haverstraw Beach State to Nyack Beach State Park in Upper Nyack.
  • Rockland Lake State Park: Located at 299 Rockland Lake Road in Valley Cottage, the park offers swimming pools for adults and children, picnic tables and grills, and a three-mile fitness trail around the lake. A car-top boat launch and boat rentals are also available; anglers can fish for bass, perch, and norlunge.
  • Piermont Pier: This is a one-mile extension across the Hudson River, offering marvelous views, and excellent fishing. It is a magnet for bikers, walkers, and joggers, who often can be found cooling down at the end of the pier.
  • Joseph B. Clarke Rail Trail: The trail travels between Greenbush Road and Oak Tree Road, traversing neighborhoods, the village of Sparkill, and forested areas. There are bridges over, and viaducts under, busy highways and roads, with some street-level crossings that behoove everyone to be alert. Northeast of Sparkill village the trail links up with the Old Erie Path along Piermont Avenue.
  • High Tor State Park: Located at 415 South Mountain Road in New City, this is another day-use facility, offering picnicking, swimming and hiking, and spectacular views of the Hudson River. The Long Path passes through the park just before the trail heads inland to the Catskills.
  • Congers Lake: A new lakeside trail and boardwalk can be entered on Lake Road, just before the intersection of Route 303. The path, nearly two miles, goes through Congers Lake Memorial Park, with a 10-foot-wide elevated promenade that runs along part of the lake. There is a small parking lot across from the Congers Fire Department.
  • Other nearby trails and paths are available at Bear Mountain State Park, which features famed Hessian Lake; Harriman State Park, which is the second-largest park in the system, with 31 lakes and reservoirs and 200 miles of hiking trails; Anthony Wayne Recreation Area, a wooded and scenic area within Harriman State Park; and Lake Tiorati Beach, also within Harriman State Park, offering swimming, fishing, boating, and picnicking.

Here and there

  • Jo Anne Pedersen, Clarkstown’s venerable superintendent of recreation and parks, is especially thrilled to be introducing the town’s first Swim Across America event on Sunday, Aug. 14. The event starts at 7 a.m. at Germonds Pool. Pedersen, serving in her  31st year with the department, notes that participants will be joining with the Long Island Sound Swim Across America events to help fight cancer. Proceeds will benefit United Hospice of Rockland, and research programs at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York Presbyterian Babies Hospital, and the Cancer Support Team. For further details access the SAA Long Island website: www.swimacrossamerica.org/long_island.
  • Registration is under way for the Pearl River Elks’ Father’s Day 4-miler, scheduled on June 19. The annual race is held on a course beginning and ending at the Pearl River Elks Lodge at 2041 Elks Drive. For information call 845-623-2041, or email cliffordjt@hotmail.com
  • Who’s the boss? You? Or your dog? New City Library presents Man and His Dog on Wednesday, June 22 at 7:30 p.m. Brett Shelby discusses some of the basics needed to reach a peaceful coexistence.
  • Baseball fans in general, and Mets fans in particular, can join author Dana BrandLast Days at Shea: Delight and Despair in the Life of a Mets fan—on Thursday, June 16 at 7 p.m. at Tappan Library. Pre-registration at www.taplib.org, or call 845-359-3877.

The 24th Women’s Distance Festival (WDF), an exclusive “woman’s only” event in the county, is set for Saturday, July 9 at Rockland Lake State Park. The fun event features a 5k run and walk, and starts at 8 a.m. Sponsored by the Rockland Road Runners, all proceeds are earmarked for The Rockland Family Shelter, a not-for-profit agency dedicated to ending domestic violence and sexual assault. Contact race director Larry Wolf at 845-634-1800, or larrywolf@optonline.net; or call Lea Carnevali, RFS at 845-634-

Donna Schmidt June 10, 2011 at 03:35 PM
Great article Marc, I love Captain Paradise's 'slogan" on his website.........If You Fall in, Nothing Will Eat You!
Marc Maturo June 10, 2011 at 05:57 PM
I love the epigram, too! Actually went into the drink years and years ago, without The Captain, of course, and lived to tell the tale. Next time -- if there is a next time -- I will venture into the marsh and beyond, but only with The Captain in tow! Thanks for the plaudits, too; they are always better than brickbats.
William Herguth June 11, 2011 at 07:04 PM
Who needs a day at the spa when you can swan about in the Sparkill Creek and the Hudson River via Paradise Boats? Kayaking through the creek is pure peace; you won't believe you're only 12 miles north of Manhattan. Captain Bill keeps the rates low and his enthusiasm high for his beloved paradise.
toolfan June 12, 2013 at 02:57 PM
I tried calling the 'Captain', he's very rude.

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