By WILLIAM SHANNON
Like life and so many aspects of it, the Roeliff Jansen Kill can change pretty quickly. Due to several new downed-tree blockages in the upper section of the stream, the canoe and kayak race scheduled for this Sunday will now begin at Bingham Mills in Livingston.
It will now be an approximately 7-mile adventure for the racers, filled with patches of whitewater, peaceful sections and a few shallow stretches. Competitors may start any time between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. from downhill of 206 Mill Road (make sure to enter Bingham Mills Road from the Route 9 side). Competitors should arrange a drop-off there.
The start point of the race is on private property, which the owners have graciously agreed to grant access to for Sunday. Racers must be respectful of the property and the neighbors.
Paddlers will enter the stream at the bottom of the Bingham Mills waterfalls, and will start in the middle of a fast-moving stretch.
Within seconds of starting, paddlers will round a bend in the stream that was narrowed sometime in the 1900s with a large concrete wall to extend the faster-moving water for a hydroelectric plant that operated at Bingham Mills.
Downstream though, due to the dry spring we’re having, canoers may have to get out at some spots to walk their vessels through shallow stretches of gentle rapids. There will be one logjam to portage around. A sign will show the best spot to portage.
In a recreational kayak, I paddled Bingham Mills to the river Monday and scraped rocks pretty regularly but never had to get out—aside from the logjam. But some rain this week would certainly help.
All signs are pointing to a good turnout for the race, which is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.
Anyone who has not RSVP’d but would like to compete Sunday, May 17, may register on the morning of the race. The suggested donation is $20 per kayaker or $30 for a two-person team. Alternatively, some racers are seeking sponsors to donate their chosen amount per stream mile. The sponsor sheet, which can also be used to submit a general sponsorship of the race in the form of a donation to the American Cancer Society, may be printed off from www.roejancreekboatclub.org.
Racers and members of the public will be welcomed at the Roe Jan Creek Boat Club following the race (non-racers should bring a covered dish—the club will offer sandwiches, burgers and hot dogs).
Leading up to Sunday, rain dances and prayers for downpours will be appreciated by all who are planning to brave the Roe Jan.