Rangers at Fort Totten teach canoeing on bay

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Queens residents hoping to cool off amid the summer’s third heat wave took to the water at Little Neck Bay as Fort Totten’s Urban Park Rangers gave them an advanced lesson in canoeing last weekend.

Paddlers from northeast Queens, most of whom had previous canoeing experience, took an hourlong boat trip Saturday around the fort’s peninsula, beginning at its docks and culminating at its water battery.

“It’s nice because it’s out in open waters,” said Sgt. Eric Hardy, one of the fort’s rangers. “We have jetties to protect us from the winds and currents.”

The fort, which is along the Cross Island Parkway off Totten Avenue in Bay Terrace, hosts the free canoe classes every Friday at 11 a.m. Each trip can accommodate between 14 and 18 people.

Attendees should show up at the front gate to take part in the class. Saturday’s event was one of its only advanced classes offered at the fort.

“Last year, we came here to canoe, but they didn’t offer advanced classes,” said Chunghee Suh of Flushing, who brought her two children with her. “So, we wanted to make it this year.”

Ed Fischer of Kew Gardens Hills said he has been canoeing for four years, but last weekend’s class was for a higher paddling level.

“This is the first time the tour has gone this far,” said Fischer, who occasionally canoes with the rangers. “This is for people with more advanced skills.”

The canoeists took out seven boats during the class, which was held as city temperatures soared as high as 93 degrees. But the small group was first instructed on the basics of canoeing, including the duties of the front passenger, known as the accelerator, and the back passenger, known as the navigator.

To register for future classes, visit the fort’s website at The class is offered for ages 12 and up.

The urban park rangers lead regular tours of the Civil War-era fort as well as surrounding wildlife.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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