boatbasin Facebook Twitter Google+ Email October 26, 20095:36 PM ET Knight Trainees Hide caption The 79th Street boat basin, along the Hudson River in Manhattan, is used by both small sailboats and large houseboats where people live year-round. Previous Next Hide caption There's a seven-year waiting list to rent boat slips but the boat basin also has one pier that the public can use free. Previous Next Hide caption At a time when kayaks are growing more popular, Michael Cumella of Manhattan prefers a scull. Previous Next Hide caption On this mild fall afternoon, he rowed three miles north, reaching as far as 138th Street, and then returning, hugging the shore for most of the way . Previous Next Hide caption To propel a scull, a rider slides back and forth on a seat as he rows, which is much more demanding physically than using oars alone. Previous Next Hide caption Today a visitor from Oregon, Ray Thomas, who likes to row himself, stops to ask Cumella about his scull. Previous Next Hide caption Cumella likes to talk to people about sculling and invites Thomas to go out onto the water himself. Previous Next Hide caption Sculls go faster than kayaks because they're propelled by the user's legs, not just the oars, and Thomas quickly heads upriver, until he's little more than a dot on the water. Previous Next Hide caption After he returns, Thomas, a lawyer, says he wants to write a pamphlet about the legal rights of kayakers and other rowers, who have to share the waters with faster and more aggressive motorboats. Previous Next Hide caption Almost as if to prove Thomas's point, the wake from a distant passing boat begins to head toward the pier. Previous Next Hide caption As the pier begins to move and water washes over the edge, Cumella quickly picks up his oars and scull before they're swept into the river. Previous Next Hide caption Cumella says he often has to contend with much bigger and more aggressive boats while on the water, and he says sometimes they even toy with him by deliberately circling his scull. Previous Next Hide caption Although the public can use the pier for free, Cumella rents a storage unit from the city where he keeps his scull. Previous Next Hide caption Cumella rows from April through November, and he'll soon be putting his scull away for the season. Previous Next Hide caption With all the sites to see in Manhattan, the 79th Street boat basin attracts relatively few visitors, which makes it a peaceful place to spend an afternoon. Previous Next 1 of 15 View slideshow i zarroli Facebook Twitter Google+ Email Marathon ManOctober 26, 2009 Zoo GalleryOctober 26, 2009 We no longer support commenting on NPR.org stories, but you can find us every day on Facebook, Twitter, email, and many other platforms. Learn more or contact us.