Tom McNichol has been boating on the Charles about four days a week for 12 years, picking up trash on his refurbished fishing boat as founder of the Charles River Clean Up Boat. But on Wednesday morning, he had a rather unusual call to make as he approached the Zakim Bridge.
“We are filming the Charles to put it on Google Earth,” he told the bridge operator in Tower A. “What we’d like to do is go through the bridge, make a quick swing around and then come right back. Can you accommodate us?”
The operator could: A few moments later, the commuter rail bridge ahead went up and McNichol steered his boat and cargo through.
The camera had a decidedly low-tech carrier: Part-time conservancy employee Evan Bradley, a 22-year-old graduate of Northeastern University who sat on a black trunk at the front of McNichol’s boat through the trip, with the Trekker hoisted on his back.
A camel named Raffia carried it through desert and sand dunes through the desert near Abu Dhabi, and it’s ziplined solo through the Amazon forest.
In the days before, he had carried the Trekker and travelled on the back bed of a maintenance vehicle along the paths by the Charles. Earlier in the day, he had boated upstream, allowing the Trekker to take in the woody banks near the Watertown Dam. Boat was easier than the cart, Bradley said: “At least I don’t have to dodge trees.”
“It’s certainly been drawing attention,” said Bradley, after students in a passing Duck Boat stared and waved. “People are used to seeing the cars all over for Google Street View but this is a bit of an anomaly for sure.”