Castle and Cadets – 5/30/16

First of All -

  • First day cruising in fresh water since entering Mobile Bay on October 14, 2015
  • First real mountains sighted on the entire trip (the Catskill Mountains)

Namely Speaking-

  • West Point
  • Storm King Mountain
  • Bannerman Castle
  • Middle Hope
  • Danskammer Point
  • Wappinger Creek
  • Poughkeepsie
  • Crum Elbow

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: Power: 38; Sail: Motor sailed with genoa 3 hours
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 5,044
  • Hours Underway: 7 1/2
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.67
  • Wind Speed: 10 ; Wind Direction: S
  • Daily High Temperature: 85
  • Water Temperature: 67

DSCF3709I picked up a little souvenier while we were in New York, a cold. I can’t understand why that would happen. All I did was visit crowded museums, ride crowded subways, and rub shoulders with half the population of New York. It really isn’t fair, since I also had a cold during my time on Chesapeake Bay. I just shook it, and you’d think I’d still have immunity. Those New York germs must just be tougher than most.

It rained last night and we’re a bit slow to get going today. We plan on going just a few miles upriver, in the hope of visiting West Point. IDSCF3719 check the current chart and see that, if we take off right away, we’ll be able to catch the last half hour of the flood. That should allow us to reach West Point before the ebb has much chance to gather strength. The other 2 MacGregors in our little loop flotilla also get going upriver. We’re a little unsure just how to access West Point, and when we draw near to the place things still remain muddled. It’s the Memorial Day holiday, and none of the phone numbers we call provide a live person’s reply. There are places at West Point where we could dock or grab a mooring ball, however, without clear authorization that this is ok we don’t dare try it. Also, we know that, in order to enter West Point we need to go through security and there don’t appear to be any provisions for doing this from the water. It seems that the only way we can visit West Point is to proceed several miles upriver, stop at a pricey marina, and then hire a tour company to take us there. None of us want to step onto the grounds that badly, and so we content ourselves with viewing our military academy from the water while passing by. The view is imposing, which I suppose is part of the idea. It occurs to me that, given Army’s deeply imbedded rivalry with Navy, it’s completely understandable that approaching West Point from the water is to be discouraged.

DSCF3734A short distance above West Point we pass the brooding cliffs of Storm King Mountain and approach little Pollepel,site of the Bannerman Castle. This curious structure was built between 1900 and 1918 by Frank Bannerman, a munitions dealer who made a fortune during World War I. His edifice was designed to resemble a medieval castle. It burned in 1969 and stands today as a haunting ruin, perhaps symbolizing the ultimate folly of the Great War which funded most of its construction.

The next landmark we pass is the town of Newburgh. It’s at this point that the waters of the Hudson become completely fresh. For the pastDSCF3748 7 1/2 months we’ve been cruising in either salt or brackish water. From here on, we’ll be in fresh water. It was probably this characteristic which explains why Newburgh, some 60 miles up the Hudson, was at one time a major seaport and the home of a substantial whaling fleet. The Hudson’s fresh water was lethal to barnacles and other harmful growth which tends to foul the hulls of wooden sailing ships.

Since we have given up hope of visiting West Point, the cell phones and VHF radios support active conversations as we seek to identify a reasonable destination for the day. We end up targeting the Poughkeepsie Yacht Club, which offers dockage at very reasonable rates, as well as mooring balls for even less. DSCF3765Around noon we pick up a following breeze and I’m able to let out the genoa. I use my whisker pole to help keep the sail open in the light wind. The adverse current holds speed back to around 5 mph for much of the way, but as the current begins to weaken and the wind increases, our speed creeps up past 6. We arrive at the Yacht Club shortly after 4pm, and we’re immediately taken by the place. The venerable dockmaster is extremely friendly and helpful. The facilities are neat and well cared for. We are given a tour of the place, and are able to relax in the upstairs air conditioned lounge where they open the bar up for us. Cold beer and ginger ale goes mighty fine on this hot, humid afternoon.

One of the key reasons for staying here is it’s close proximity to the Vanderbilt and Roosevelt mansions. After dinner some of us make plans to go on tour there tomorrow. Meanwhile, Sandy and I go for a nice after dinner walk, finding a delightful trail through the woods. We see a pair of white tailed deer and a young wild turkey. A hiker we encounter on the trail tells us that this trail goes for 20 or more miles in either direction, and groups are actively working to create a walking path all the way between New York City and the Adirondaks. I certainly hope they succeed in this endeavor.

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Up the Hudson, through Washington Irving Country – 5/29/16

First of All -

  • First time under sail on the Hudson
  • First vending machine encountered which dispenses ice cream bars
  • First piece of gear lost due to meddling kids

Namely Speaking-

  • Grant’s Tomb
  • Yonkers
  • Palisades
  • Tappen Zee Bridge
  • Croton Point
  • Haverstraw Bay
  • Tarrytown
  • Sleepy Hollow
  • Verplanck
  • Dunderberg Mtn.
  • Stony Point
  • Peekskill

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: Power: 43; Sail: Motor sailed 1 1/2 hours on jib and main
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 5,006
  • Hours Underway: 8
  • Fuel: 20 gallons, $62; 6 mpg
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.54
  • Wind Speed: 10-12; Wind Direction: S
  • Daily High Temperature: 86
  • Water Temperature: 62

DSCF3672Today we begin our cruise up the storied Hudson. Many locales on this trip have been rich in history, however, the Hudson River stands apart. The history of this region is indeed fascinating, dating back to its discovery by Henry Hudson, the area’s initial colonization by the Dutch, its transfer to England, its role as an invasion corridor during the Colonial and Revolutionary Wars. Beyond mere history, though, the Hudson played a major role in the development of American literature, providing the settings for some of Washington Irving’s most memorable stories, including Rip Van Winkle andThe Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The Hudson also made an impact on American art,DSCF3678 inspiring Nineteenth Century artists to take an interest in painting the striking landscapes which can be seen here. More recently, legendary folksinger Pete Seeger developed a deep love of the Hudson, and he devoted the final decades of his life to raising awareness of the need to preserve, protect, and restore the river and its environment.

We take our time starting our journey up the Hudson, because the ebb current is not to be ignored. As it is, I take off shortly before 10am, and bull our way against the current for the first 2 hours, averaging only between 3 and 4 mph. We cruise by Grant’s Tomb, and then pass under the Washington Bridge. The famed New Jersey Palisades begin here, and we cross over to the New Jersey side where we enjoy a close up view of the landscape. The Palisades consist of columnar basalt, which creates verticle walls of rock which run for several miles along this stretch of river. The area reminds us somewhat of the Oregon side of the Columbia Gorge. Not quite as high and without the waterfalls, but similar nonetheless. Next landmark is the Tappen Zee Bridge. A completely new span is DSCF3684under construction just above the existing bridge, which we suspect will be removed once the new one is completed. Just past the bridge we pass Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow. Folks in the nearby town of North Tarrytown, some years back, changed of their town to Sleepy Hollow. Washington Irving is buried in the cemetery there. Our cruising guide tells us that, according to Washington Irving, the town’s name derives from Dutch farm wives’ complaining references to their husbands tarrying too long at the village tavern there. A few miles above the Tappen Zee we swing in to shore just below Croton Point, pulling in at Westerly Marina’s fuel dock to gas up. Above Croton Point,DSCF3687 the river narrows and begins winding into steep hilly country. Some knobs rise more than 1,000 feet above sea level, including Dunderberg Mountain, legendary dwelling of the Dutch goblin held responsible for summer storms. We bravely anchor almost in the shadow of Dunderberg Mountain, just below Bear Mountain State Park. Railroad tracks run along both sides of the river here, with passenger trains claiming the eastern tracks and freights running on the west side. Traffic is heavy, especially with the passenger trains which seem to pass every 30 minutes or so. Our Macgregor sailor friends on Jill Kristy and Seeker are both here. After dinner we dinghy ashore, landing at Bear Mtn. State Park. We walk up the trail and into the park. There is a museum and zoo here, but they’re closed for the day. We pass an Olympic sized swimming pool which has been built in a narrow ravine. No water in it, but it looks like it’s still capable of being used. A little further up the path we cross under the highway and reach Hessian Lake. Hundreds of people are enjoying their Sunday afternoon here, picnicing, playing soccer and badminton, and tooling around the lake in rental paddle boats. We buy ice cream bars from a vending machine and walk along the lakeshore. We learn that during the Revolutionary War, this area was the scene of fighting, with the British capturing nearby Fort Montgomery in 1777, but being defeated in 1779 at Stony Point. We suffer a bit of a defeat ourselves upon returning to the dinghy. As I’m preparing for the return to our boat I notice that my hand held radio, which I’d left on the floor of the dinghy, was missing. After some inquiries with a family closest to the dinghy, we learn that one of their boys, around 12 years old, was messing with things in the dinghy and managed to drop the radio into the water. It took courage on his part to admit his misdeed, however that doesn’t help the radio to reappear. An unfortunate situation all around.

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Cycling Through Central Park – 5/28/16

First of All -

  • First time ever bicycling through Central Park

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: 0 – Layover Day
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 4,963
  • Hours Underway: NA
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.64
  • Wind Speed: 12; Wind Direction: E
  • Daily High Temperature: 88
  • Water Temperature: 62

DSCF3661This will be our last full day in New York City, and it promises to be another warm one. I haul the folding bikes out from the king berth and set them up on the dock. We walk them down the dock and up the ramp which leads to the marina gate. We merge with the walking, skating, and biking traffic on the waterfront path and head for the underpass which gives us access to the City’s streets. We cross 5 blocks before entering Central Park. This famous park is criss crossed with paths, however, most are off limites to bikes. Only the main road system, which is fully closed to general automobile traffic, is instead traveled by pedestrians, joggers, pedal cabs,DSCF3663 bicycles and horse drawn carriages. They’ve designated portions of the road for pedestrians, and even segregate the bicycle portion for fast and slow bicycles. Where walking paths cross the main road, pedestrians are granted the right of way. Vendors line the road and major paths, selling bottled water, soda, hot dogs, cookies, ice cream, pretzels and other treats. We take a break and sit on a shady bench for a drink, and are entertained by a lady who’s playing classical violin. People are out in the thousands, some taking it easy, some vigorously working out. It gets uncomfortably warm by midday, when we leave the park and head for some place with air conditioning and decent food. We find a spot on 42nd Street which fills the bill. Then it’s back to the boat for some necessary chores. I bike back into town to pick up some groceries. By the time I return Sandy has pulled a laundry together. We take showers while the laundry is going. Then it’s time to stow the bikes, put groceries and fresh clothing away, and get dinner going. I check tomorrow’s tide and current, and am disappointed to see that the flood won’t start until around 11:30am. I’d really like to get an early start, but ebb on the lower Hudson can run more than 2.5 mph, and I don’t relish fighting against a strong current. I think we’ll take off a little before 10 am, when the current is starting to weaken. The afternoon flood will help us along the way. I might change that approach if it looks like I can get some help from the wind. We’ll just have to see what tomorrow will bring.

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A Day of Emotion, From Sadness to Joy – 5/27/16

First of All -

  • First time riding the subway while on the cruise
  • First ever visit to the 9/11 Memorial
  • First time ordering New York style pizza
  • First time ever attending a Broadway musical
  • First fatal plane crash near the boat

Namely Speaking-

  • Stephen Sondheim Theatre

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: 0 – Layover Day
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 4,963
  • Hours Underway: NA
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.63
  • Wind Speed: light; Wind Direction: S
  • Daily High Temperature: 87
  • Water Temperature: 62

DSCF3636It’s time to brave the subways of New York. We walk up to the 72nd Street station and buy senior discounted round trip passes, which are good for 2 trips. We catch the red 3 train, which is an express that only stops at the major stations. It’s not too crowded and we’re able to find seats in the car. These trains rumble along at remarkable speeds, I’m guessing up to 40 mph in places. In a short span of time we arrive at the 42nd Street station, Times Square. We get off there so we can try and purchase tickets to a Broadway show. We ask directions and find our way through the throng to the TCKTS kiosk, where we’ve been told you can buy discounted tickets for unsold seatsDSCF3641 on the day of the show. We’re disappointed to learn, however, that the kiosk doesn’t start selling tickets until 3:30 in the afternoon. We go to a ticket sales office and inquire about tickets to Beautiful, the Carole King musical which Greg recommended to us. Seats are available in three locations. I opt for seats in the orchestra section, over to the side, after being told that it’s a small theater and we should be able to see and hear very well there. I’m handed a receipt for the purchase, but we must return in the afternoon either here or at the theater to pick up the actual tickets. We then navigate back to a subway station and, after talking with a helpful policeman, determine that we need to catch the blue C train to the 9/11 Memorial. We get there right at noon. I call Richard on the cell. He and Jill, along with Lee and his girlfriend (sorry, forgot name) are in the 9/11 Memorial museum. Richard speaks in hushed somber tones, conveying the emotion of where they are. We agree to meet for lunch after they emerge from the memorial. While we wait we walk around the two square shaped pools which demark the locations of the foundations of the original Twin World Trade Center Towers. It’s hot in the full sun and we gravitate toward patches of shade, thrown by the many young trees planted in the surrounding square. At the railings to the two pools we gaze downward, into deep vertical depressions. The names of those who died here are engraved around the perimeter. Water cascades over the lip and into shallow pools where the basements of the Towers once were. Water then flows toward the center before completely disappearing into a smaller central DSCF3639square shaped opening. The design is profound and moving. Our friends emerge from the Memorial Museum somber and subdued, commenting on the powerful emotions evoked by what they’ve seen there. Richard observes that they were down there (the actual museum is all below ground, adjacent to the original Twin Tower foundations and extending beneath the reflecting pools) in the midst of large groups of people, but a hushed quiet prevailed, much like one might experience during a memorial service in a great cathedral. We break this mood by walking over to a nearby Irish pub where we grab lunch. Even this place is marked by the events of 9/11, with the darkened walls covered with insignia patches from police and fire departments from every corner of the US.

After lunch our friends take off for the subway station, for the return trip to their boats, which are berthed at Half Moon Bay Marina, aboutDSCF3644 30 miles up the Hudson. We walk over and get into line to enter the Memorial museum. We’re a bit apprehensive about going in and down, knowing the story and anticipating the emotional impact which our visit will undoubtedly create in us. Nevertheless, we’re drawn to the place. It’s almost like we’re attending a funeral for a dear friend. We know it will be sad, even to the point of bringing tears to our eyes, and yet we go out of respect for the families, for those who were lost and for those who served so heroicly that day. We walk down long ramps which gradually lead us to the foundation level of the Twin Towers. We peer over railings and gaze downward at people walking around at the foundation level. Tortured, twisted pieces of metal are fastened to the walls, providing mute testamony to the violence of that day. Once we reach the bottom of the ramps we slowly walk around, reading plaques, looking at photographs and salvaged artifacts, listening to recordings of actual radio calls as well as first hand witness recollections of what they experienced that day. Perhaps the most graphic and moving exhibit there is the tortured wreckage of Ladder 3, Captain “Paddy” Brown’s truck. Greg had told us about Paddy Brown, who was a legend in the fire department well before 9/11. On that morning, because the first plane crashed into the North Tower right at the time of the change in shift, both the overnight and daytime firefighter crews were at the station. Eleven men, led by Paddy Brown, boarded that truck and rode to the scene. They entered the North Tower, directing evacuees out, and climbing upward, to and beyond the 35th floor before the building collapsed, claiming all 11 along with 800 other victims. The museum building itself is filled with stories. We find ourselves hurrying through, like children nervously walking through some dark and frightening place, while at the same time being captured by some intimate object with a moving tale to tell. Again, the hush of the place in the midst of so DSCF3647many visitors is palpable. 9/11 was such a tragic day, vivid in our personal memories, and we naturally try to put it into a safe place in the back of our minds. However, a visit to this place brings it all back, with all the ache and pain. It’s necessary to remember and somehow be changed by the events of that day.

We really need a lift, and once again head for a subway station. This time we catch the yellow R train up to Times Square, emerging into the midst of all the craziness that goes with the flashing lights, deafening noise, and throngs of people. We find our way back to the ticket sales building and pick up our show tickets. We have a comfortrable amount of time to find a place for dinner, selecting an inviting pizza place a block off of 42nd Street. The pizza is excellent. We still have time to spend, and we linger briefly at Times Square to listen to a band which is playing lively music. The musicians and singers are all in Navy uniforms, and they’re really great. We move down the street and find a restaurant where we can order coffee and dessert while we wait for our show time. It’s quite an elegant place, so we’reDSCF3649 glad that they have an outside seating area. The desserts, a sampler of great ice creams along with an assortment of petit forts are delicious, and put us in the mood to go to our show. This show, Beautiful, is based on the remarkable career of singer/songwriter Carole King. It’s filled with music from our era, the late 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s. I know I’ve always enjoyed Carole King’s music, however, I’ve either forgotten or never really knew just how many great, memorable songs she and her husband Gerry Goffin created. In addition to the outstanding music and beautifully performed acting, the show is a visual delight with great sets and stage craftsmanship. We’re delighted and enriched by our experience attending a Broadway show.

With one last subway ride on the red 1 train we arrive at 79th Street and walk down toward the marina. As we near the Boat Basin Cafe where we’ll walk down toward the docks we see flashing red and blue police lights, along with a line of flares. TV camera trucks are all over the place. I see a TV cameraman trotting back toward his truck and I ask what’s going on. He says a plane has crashed into the Hudson, right out in front of the marina. We’re temporarily prevented from going to the entrance gate to the marina by a policeman. We learn that a World War II era plane went down in the river. The pilot apparently didn’t survive, and his body is being brought up on a stretcher. A sad and somber conclusion to a day which began in that mood.

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Day at the Museum II plus an Escorted Tour of Manhatten – 5/26/16

First of All -

  • First visit to an historical society research library
  • First time cruising through the streets of Manhatten by car

Namely Speaking-

  • Central Park
  • Times Square
  • Washington Square
  • Greenwich Village
  • Strawberry Fields

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: 0 – Layover Day
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 4,963
  • Hours Underway: NA
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.63
  • Wind Speed: light ; Wind Direction: E
  • Daily High Temperature: 87
  • Water Temperature: 62

DSCF3565It’s easy to wake up here. By 6am the boat wakes start rolling in and we begin jerking around in our slip. It’s clear out and the sun is already warming the air, perfect conditions for coffee in the cockpit. As we’re starting to walk up the dock to start our second day in New York I meet up with a marina employee and casually ask if the toilet is fixed yet. He says yes, explaining that all it needed was to be plunged. I shake my head in exasperation over the lazy guy in the office yesterday, who didn’t find plunging toilets to be in his job description. My new dockhand friend simply rolls his eyes, saying that’s the way it is around here. At least the toilet is working now.

We walk back up W 79th Street toward Central Park, watching for signs to the New York Historical Society. We ask for directions a couple of times and finally get aDSCF3575 bead on the place with help from a school bus driver who’s parked at the curb. It’s located directly across from the 77th Street entrance to the Museum of Natural History. This place is a major museum in its own right, but we’re not there to see another museum. Sandy is hoping to find some leads for her family research on the Mead branch of her forebears, which she’s traced back to Revolutionary War times. We have to go through a couple layers of security to reach the research library, and she’s able to locate a few sources, but not that much. We suspect there’s a lot more here, but it’s hard to figure out just how to look, without a major commitment of time. We’re hoping that when we get closer to the areas where her ancestors lived we’ll do better. We go down to the museum cafe and enjoy a gourmet lunch before going across the street for a second day in the American Museum of Natural History. We start off by navigating our way over to the planetarium, where a program narrated by Neil de Grasse Tyson and titled Dark Universe is playing. The DSCF3579planetarium is located in a remarkable structure – a perfect sphere suspended by enormous cylindrical beams in the middle of a huge room. We enter through a portal and take seats beneath the soaring dome overhead. The program is outstanding and the technology of projection and motion spectacular, however, I still manage to nod off a couple of times. Relaxing seats, a darkened space, right after lunch – planetariums do this to me every time. I revive by the conclusion and we start exploring the seemingly endless galleries, dioramas, exhibits, artifact cases and video presentations which are the hallmark of this world class museum. The Hall of African Mammals, the Hall of Birds, American Indians, exhibits on peoples from all over the world, it’s all here. We take a break in mid afternoon for coffee in the food court and then seek out the butterfly exhibit before finishing up in, where else, the dinosaur hall. Actually there are two, covering the two major groups of dinosaurs, and they are spectacular. Everybody loves to see these amazing beasts, and it’s fascinating to learn just how much has been learned through the most recent discoveries. It’s also fun to read about the early days of fossil hunting, when the major museums were in serious competition with each other to claim the newest discoveries.

Shortly before 5pm I get a call from my fellow MacGregor owner Greg, who we’ve arranged to meet up with. He and his wife JoscelynDSCF3588 are right on schedule, so we exit the museum and take a seat out front, watching for them. Greg is another of these folks I’ve exchanged emails with for several years, based on our common interests in boating in general, and MacGregor sailing in particular. He lives in Queens and we’re very eager to finally meet face to face. I see them walking up and we both immediately wave, then warmly greet each other. We walk a few blocks over with conversation freely flowing, and finally step into a small restaurant. It’s an interesting place which features a combination of Spanish and Chinese food. Our waiter is oriental and we can hardly communicate with him. Nevertheless, our small table is soon covered with tasty food, and the conversation continues. After dinner we walk over to Greg’s car, which is parked in front of a nearby fire station. He’s a retired New York fireman, and he has a sign on his dashboard which gives him special parking privileges. Very handy in a city like this. We climb in and he proceeds to take us on a driving tour of Manhatten. The windows are down and I’m snapping pictures left and right while he points out the sights. We go around Central Park, then down 5th Avenue, through Times Square, and down toward Ground Zero and the new Freedom Tower. Each time we drive past a fire station we hear stories of personal friends lost on 9/11. Greg was off duty that day, otherwise he would have likely been among the hundreds of New York firemen who were up in those towers when they collapsed. It’s clear that even now the events of that fateful day are deeply painful for him. In addition to the major sights he points out some less obvious places, such as the Muslim center which Malcom X attended and the apartment doorway which John Lennon stepped out of on the day he was killed. The park space across the street is known as Strawberry Fields. The time flies, and we drive back uptown through streets lit up as bright as day. Greg navigates over to 79th Street and is able to drop us off just above the marina. We bid each other farewell, hoping that we’ll be able to meet up again some day.

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Waterfront Tour and Quick Preview of the Natural History Museum – 5/25/16

First of All -

  • First close up look at the Brooklyn Bridge and the Lower Manhatten waterfront
  • First peek at Central Park
  • First visit to the American Museum of Natural History

Namely Speaking-

  • East River
  • Hoboken

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: Power: 13; Sail: 0
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 4,963
  • Hours Underway: 2 1/2
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.71
  • Wind Speed: 10-12; Wind Direction: E
  • Daily High Temperature: 87
  • Water Temperature: 62

DSCF3533I wave to Rich and Jill as they pull out at 6:30am, bound for the Half Moon Bay Marina, about 30 miles up the Hudson. We hang out at anchor for a few hours, catching up on a few things before taking off for the West 79th Street Marina. I take a bit of a detour though, heading across the Hudson and into the lower East River, so we can get a close up look at the Brooklyn Bridge. The water is unbelievably choppy, with ferry, barge and large boat traffic churning things up. The poor water simply doesn’t know what to do and so it just piles up into crazy peaks and troughs. We bounce through it all, snapping pictures as we go. The air is warm, and the day beautiful. I pick my spot and make a dash past the busy Staten Island Ferry Terminal, and then we cruise close in, along the shore of Lower Manhatten. People areDSCF3538 out in the thousands along the shore, jogging, biking, fishing, and simply enjoying the warm sunshine. It actually starts getting hot by the time we get a few miles upriver and close to our marina. I phone the dockmaster, and she says she’ll meet us at our slip. She will be on channel 9, VHF. As I head in I radio her, but get no reply. Turns out she could hear me but her radio wouldn’t transmit. They put is in an outside slip and I unsuccessfully request a more protected inside slip. After checking in at the office we give the restroom (singular) a look, and it’s out of order. The dockmaster says we can use the restrooms up the hill at the restaurant. We ask when it will be fixed and we’re told that it’s been reported, but no clue on when it will get repaired. Oh well, at least they do have a shower and free laundry, assuming they work. We grab lunch at the waterfront restaurant and make plans to walk over to Central Park and check out the American Museum of Natural History. Before going, I return to the boat to grab my camera and, while there, I see a remarkable boat parade out on the river. Police boats, fire boats, Coast Guard, Canadian Navy, US Navy frigates and aircraft carrier, all cruising past us and up the river. I’m told that it’s Fleet Week, and the boats are headed up the river to render a salute in front of Grant’s Tomb. It’s been traditional, but not done for several years.

DSCF3542It’s an easy walk up to Central Park. We mark the location of the subway station, since we’ll be taking the subway down to Lower Manhatten in the next day or two. We find our way in to the Museum, which is an incredible place. This was the setting used in the Adam Sandler/Robin Williams film Night at the Museum. When paying for our admission we quickly realize that there’s no way we can really see this place in just a short afternoon. We buy tickets for 3 special exhibits, and plan to return to view the regular exhibits on another day. We watch a 3D film on the National Parks, then go through a special exhibit on the relationship between dinosaurs and birds, and finish up with a special exhibit on microbes. Included in the microbe exhibit is a live presentation by a guy who talks about microbe diversity on and in our bodies, with special focus on microbes in our belly buttons. No kidding. It’s quite remarkable, and he captivates his audience with his high energy performance. We chat afterwards and he ends up giving us a pair of special employee passes, which will readmit us on another day and allow us to see all the special exhibits we want. We also get from him directions to the nearby restaurant district, where we find a nice Italian restaurant which offers great food and excellent service. Leaving the restaurant we walk the streets of the city, finding not one but two grocery stores within reasonable walking distance to our marina. We check them both out and, in the first one this interesting character strikes up conversation with us over, of all things, apples. Turns out he really just wants to talk, and talk he does. We learn his whole life story. He’s a singer, and he really does know music and lots of the great performers from the 50’s, 60’s and70’s. He once dated Angelie Jolie’s mother, and he pulls up a photo on his smart phone to prove it. It’s really difficult to pull away from him, as I suspect he could have held court in front of the apple counter for hours longer, given the chance. We walk back to the river and stroll up the waterfront path, enjoying the scene and dodging the high speed bicyclists. Back at the marina I talk with the marina attendant who lets us in through the locked gate. Restroom still isn’t fixed and no clue when it will be. I intend to keep on asking. Maybe in New York squeaky wheels will eventually get greased.

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Cruising into New York Harbor – 5/24/16

First of All -

  • First day cruising in New York waters
  • Firsts: Under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge; approaching the Statue of Liberty by water; viewing the New York skyline at sunset

Namely Speaking-

  • Shrewsbury River
  • Sandy Hook
  • Raritan Bay
  • Coney Island
  • Great Kills Harbor
  • Verrazano Narrows
  • Kill Van Kull
  • Brooklyn
  • Manhatten

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: Power: 49; Sail: 0
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 4,950
  • Hours Underway: 8
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.57
  • Wind Speed: 5-10; Wind Direction: NNW
  • Daily High Temperature: 79
  • Water Temperature: 61

DSCF3435We’re up by 5am and off the anchor by 5:30, wanting to catch the early slack at Manasquan Inlet and gain the benefit of flood current when we enter New York Harbor. However, this plan immediately unravels. Before we can reach the open Atlantic we must pass the Route 35 bascule bridge. As we draw near I call on the radio, repeatedly, but receive no reply. Finally someone comes back with the unwelcome news that this bridge doesn’t begin its openings until 7am. I scan my cruising guides and fail to see any mention of this wrinkle in their schedule. There’s nothing to do but hold back, circling, for more than an hour waiting for our opening. SinceDSCF3442 the Jill Kristy doesn’t have a mast, Richard and Jill are free to proceed under the lowered bridge. They will push on ahead of us and we’ll meet up with them inside New York Harbor. Finally 7am arrives and the bridge opens, but just beyond there’s a railroad bascule bridge. Most railroad bridges we’ve encountered on the trip are in the open position, however, this one serves passenger commuter trains and it’s frequently closed for train traffic. That’s the case when we approach, and we have to wait 10 minutes for the passenger train to cross. The bridge opening is very narrow, and the lift part of the bridge rises to an angle over the water, leaving a very skinny amount of water for our passage. Compounding things is the strong current which flows through this tight gap. I hug the north side and we pass through without incident. We finally have a clear path through the inlet and onto the open Atlantic. The air is nearly calm, with a glassy sea surface and gentle 3 foot swells rolling beneath us from the southeast. We set course to the north, running about 1/2 mile off shore, up toward the New Jersey Highlands and the start of Sandy Hook. It’s still overcast, with occasional rain showers. We encounter very little in the way of boat traffic. Richard calls me every hour or so with reports of conditions 6 or 7 miles ahead of us. As we near the tip of Sandy Hook I DSCF3448scan ahead to check currents at the Verrazano Narrows, and I see that by 12:30 the ebb will begin, and the current will reach speeds of 2.5 to 3 knots in very little time. Oh, how I wish I had that lost hour back. I increase our speed so we can reach the Narrows close to the time of slack. The seas get a bit choppy as we pass Sandy Hook and enter the Lower Bay. We cross over a couple of shallow areas while trying to maintain a straight line course to the bridge, which we’ve been able to see for much of the day’s run. It’s now growing in size as we get clDSCF3482oser. I do regular shoulder checks, to make sure that no large ships are bearing down on us from behind. The sky is brightening, and occasional sun beams are breaking through. I take down the cockpit surround so we can enjoy an unimpeded view of this great harbor and City which we’re entering. This is the same scene (minus the buildings, bridges, and ships) which greeted Henry Hudson on his voyage of discovery. It’s also the same view which countless thousands of immigrants experienced on their way to a new life. Off to our right we see the amusement attractions of Coney Island. Shortly after passing beneath the towering Verrazano NarrowsDSCF3456 Bridge we catch our first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty, with her unmistakable tourquoise patina. The skyscrapers of Lower Manhatten dominate the skyline, and the new 9/11 building towers above them all. In the distance, to the right of Manhatten we view the supports and cables of the famed Brooklyn Bridge. The scene at Liberty Island is quite frenzied, with tour boats circling around, sight seeing helicopters buzzing overhead, and tourists crawling all over the island. We approach in our little boat, taking pictures and marveling at the scene. We spot Richard and Jill’s boat, riding at anchor behind the Statue, so we cruise over to visit. We take pictures of each other’s boats with the Statue for a backdrop, proving that we’re actually here. Then it’s time to move into a protected anchorage on the New Jersey side, adjacent to New Jersey’s Liberty State Park. It’s a great anchorage, protected from everything except the occasional boat wake from the passenger ferry and boats coming from the nearby launch ramp. After dinner Jill, Sandy and I row ashore in our dinghy and go for a delightful evening walk along the waterfront promenade. We pass locals who are out jogging, skateboarding, walking like us, and fishing. One guy hooks into a big bluefish, but loses it close to shore. We walk a couple of miles up the shoreline and hardly notice how far we’ve gone. The view of the city skyline and great conversation make us unaware of how far we’ve gone. We end our walk in front of the magnificent Central Railroad of New Jersey terminal building, which stands directly across from Ellis Island. Approximately 2/3’s of the immigrants who were processed at Ellis Island went to their ultimate destinations in America on trains which departed this station. We enjoy a beautiful sunset on our return walk. The glow of the setting sun reflects off the skyscrapers and warms the bricks of the Ellis Island buildings in rich red tones, seeming to say “Welcome to New York”.

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Sunshine and Warmth at last – 5/23/16

First of All -

  • First opening bridges encountered on the New Jersey ICW
  • First sunshine and warmth experienced in nearly forever
  • First clear water seen since Florida

Namely Speaking-

  • Metedeconk Neck
  • Mantoloking
  • Point Pleasant Canal
  • Manasquan River

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: Power: 29; Sail: 0
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 4,901
  • Hours Underway: 5
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.27
  • Wind Speed: 10; Wind Direction: N
  • Daily High Temperature: 76
  • Water Temperature: 61

DSCF3429Dawn brings a sight we’ve seen very little of in recent weeks, a glimpse of sunshine. Like a glowing ember the sun climbs above the horizon before slipping behind a thin cloud cover. However, for a change the clouds grow patchy and then fade from view. I remove the side curtains, lower the bimini, and motor the boat in sunshine. The air is chilly at first, but gradually warms and, by the time we complete our crossing of Barnegat Bay, it’s actually feeling comfortable outside. It’s May 23, and maybe seasonable spring temperatures will finally start taking hold. At the north end of Barnegat Bay I approach our first opening bridge on the New Jersey ICW. There are actually several opening bridges south of Atlantic City but, because one was broken, we avoided them by going outside. It’s a bascule bridge, and it opens on request, resulting in little delay. A little further along, as we approach the south end of the Point Pleasant Canal I see our secondDSCF3431 opening bridge, this time a lift bridge. The bridge tender tells me I’ll have to slow up a bit, since he has some vehicles working on the bridge which will have to be cleared away before he will open. A substantial current is running through the canal and, fortunately, it’s against us, making it easy for me to hold my position until the bridge can open. Rich is not impeded by the bridge, since he’s running his boat without a mast. He passes me by and goes on through the canal. After 15 minutes we get our opening and proceed against the strong current of the canal. I see numerous fisherman along the side of the canal and fishing must be good, since I see one guy posing for pictures with a flopping striper, while another guy a little further on is playing a nice sized fish on his line. Toward the north end of the canal I approach the third bridge, a lift bridge like the one at the start of the canal. I don’t even have to request an opening. The bridge tender heard me ask for the opening at the start of the canal and is obviously watching for me since, as I round a corner I see the bridge already elevated. Once clear of the bridge I enter the Manasquan River. A short way to the west I see Rich’s boat sitting at anchor above a small island. It’s a nice spot, and Rich and Jill decide to spend the night there. We drop anchor near them and eat lunch. Rich rows over in his dinghy and we talk over plans for tomorrow. We’re amazed at the clarity of the water here. Rich was able to see a striped bass cruising around near his anchor. We’re going to grab a slip at a nearby marina, and we’ll rendezvous bright and early in the morning, so we can pass through Manasquan Inlet at slack tide. We’re hoping that conditions will be suitable for a run outside, past Sandy Hook and on to New York Harbor. It’s hard to conceive that, just 26 miles away from this rural setting lies one of the world’s great metropolises. We’re certainly in for some cultural shock in the very near future.

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View from the Top – 5/22/16

First of All -

  • First lighthouse tower climbed

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: 0 – Layover Day
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 4,872
  • Hours Underway: NA
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.7
  • Wind Speed: 12; Wind Direction: NE
  • Daily High Temperature: 60
  • Water Temperature: 57

DSCF3419The weather forecast for today is playing out just as predicted yesterday. Windy overnight and still breezy in the morning, but at least the rain has let up. I carefully study my weather information sources and develop a feel for what’s in store over the next few days. This gives me an idea of what makes sense regarding our movement up to New York Harbor. The wind this morning would make for a bouncy ride up to Manasquan Inlet. Tomorrow will be better suited for that passage, but conditions outside don’t favor trying to go up to Sandy Hook. Wednesday looks to be the earliest day for decent conditions outside. I dinghy over to the Jill Kristy andDSCF3418 discuss these observations with Richard. He’s interpreting things the same way. We decide to stay here today and go up to Manasquan tomorrow. We’ll likely lay over there on Tuesday, and if Wednesday’s forecast holds up, we will go outside, round Sandy Hook, and enter New York Harbor. Based on our research, we decide to try anchoring out Wednesday night right in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, and then head for the 79th Street Marina on the New York Side of the Hudson. Marinas in New York are expensive, up to $7/foot, with electricity and wifi on top of that. The 79th Street Marina is only $3.50/foot. It’s just a few blocks from Central Park, is close to many museums, and is just a couple blocks away from a subway station which will quickly take us anywhere we want to go.

With plans set, I return to the boat and pass the time reading, while waiting for the morning wind to die down. After lunch I pick up Richard and Jill in the dinghy and we head over to town. We walk over to the Barnegut Lighthouse and climb the 216 spiraling steps to its top. The view from up there is outstanding. To the south we can see close to a dozen water tank towers, which serve the many communities located on this barrier island. Looking down on Barnegat Inlet we see perhaps a hundred fishermen standing on top of the jetty, hopefully casting for stripers and blue fish. The view northward gives us a preview of the waters we’ll cruise tomorrow, while to the west we look out at the two little specks which are our two boats. The walk down goes quicker than the climb up. We walk through the small visitor center near the base of the lighthouse, which contains nice exhibits about the area. After a quick stop at the little deli and the ice cream shop we return to the boats. I drop Richard off at his boat and pick Sandy up. Jill, Sandy and I make the short run over to the beach which runs for a mile or more. We enjoy walking along the hard packed sand, looking for shells and chatting with the shore fishermen who are casting from the beach. I’m seeing a whole lot of casting, but no fish. I think it’s another situation of “you should have been here yesterday.”

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Shallow, Crooked Route up the New Jersey ICW – 5/21/16

First of All -

  • First Coast Guard radio call heard regarding a whale caught in a fishing net
  • First Coast Guard call heard regarding a boat passenger having a heart attack
  • First time transporting 4 people to shore in our dinghy

Namely Speaking-

  • Hither Channel
  • Marshelder Islands
  • Manahawkin Bay
  • Surf City (As in “I’m Goin to…”)
  • Barnegat Light

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: Power: 29; Sail: Motor sailed 1 hour
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 4,872
  • Hours Underway: 4 1/4
  • Fuel: 14.2; $38; 6.5 mpg
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.71
  • Wind Speed: 15; Wind Direction: N
  • Daily High Temperature: 64
  • Water Temperature: 57

DSCF3404On cold, gray, dreary days like this, there’s not much to occupy one’s interest while running the boat except monitoring depth and course. Sometimes the VHF radio offers interesting diversions. Fishermen chatting back and forth, tow boats out rescuing disabled boats, slow cruisers like us yelling at “go fast” boats who consider us to be speed bumps and derive pleasure in throwing big wakes our way, but the Coast Guard can usually be counted on to transmit interesting stuff. This morning they do not disappoint. First item of interest was a conversation with a boat who is reporting on a whale caught in a fishing net. This is a serious concern, since it’s most likely a North Atlantic right whale, a species whose numbers are down to just a few hundred. We can only hear one side of this conversation, and don’t hear how things turn out. That’s also the case with the boat the Coast Guard is talking with, regarding a person on board who’s having a heart attack. The transmission doesn’t go on very long, and we can only hope that the outcome was positive.

We don’t plan to go far today. With stormy weather due to hit by afternoon, we’re headed for a secure anchorage near Barnegat Inlet. ItDSCF3409 appears to be only 14 miles away, however the twisty nature of the New Jersey ICW, plus the big detour we must make to get across the shallow bay, it turns out to be twice that far. We make the turn toward Barnegat and encounter a steady stream of fishing boats, all headed out. We bounce across their wakes, wondering what’s going on. Perhaps it’s a fishing tournament, or maybe they’re evacuating the harbor. After we get in, we learn that the striped bass are here, in big numbers, and on Saturdays during striper season virtually everyone goes out, regardless of weather. We stop at a fuel dock on our way in, and then motor across the bay to the anchorage knowns as Meyers Hole. Most of the good anchoring area is taken up by mooring balls, all empty, but we’re able to find good spots in 6 feet of water. We’re close to low tide, so we should be fine here for the night. We discuss going ashore in the dinghy but before we can get going it starts to rain. Plan B calls for cozying up and taking afternoon naps. The rain eases up around 4:30, so we all get into our dinghy and motor ashore. We walk over to the restaurant, which is practically the only place in town that’s open, and enjoy a good meal. Afterwards, we walk over to the lighthouse, which is around 150 years old. The rain has finally quit, so we have a dry trip back out to our boats. We’re now tucked into the cabin, with the wind piping up and starting to sing in the rigging. Despite the wind, the boat is sitting comfortably in our snug little harbor.

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