On to the Big Apple
27 September 2011 | New York New York
To everyone who's done it going down the East River past Manhattan is No Big Deal. But to me it was huge. Strange waters and routes, Hell Gate Rapids that need to be traversed during slack tide. But I'm a little ahead of myself. The first day out of CT was a great day to sail. We were on a broad reach and loving life. We found our first night anchorage at Oyster Bay easily enough but were surprised to find another sailboat there grounded in the channel leading into the anchorage. He was blocking the entrance pretty much so we decided to just set anchor outside the cove and we did just fine. The next day was a short day to City Island just outside the city in Long Island Sound. We took a mooring ball at Harlem Yacht Club and took the water taxi in for lunch. Who would have thunk that there would be a Yacht Club named Harlem. Coming from the West Coast the term seemed oxymoronic, but there it was. We took a long walk down the main boulevard that paralleled the waterfront to a fish house and had a wonderful lunch. From our table we looked down upon a parking lot to another restaurant. In drives a classic 60's Cadillac convertible resplendent in chrome everything. Wheels, mirrors, hood ornament, bumpers, external horns,...you name it and it was chromed and shiny. It turns out the driver was a pimp paying a visit on his stable. It was sooooooo New York and we watched it unfold before our eyes. There was nothing hard edged or abusive about his dealings with his "professionals". In fact quite the opposite. They seemed to enjoy him and everyone was laughing and smiling. They had a camper backed up to a fence and several chairs and tables set up, it was quite relaxed. He sent a couple of the girls over to the other restaurant and it became obvious that there was quite the revolving door there. It was humorously entertaining to watch and for a hick like me a real eye opener. Everything seemed quite normal and low key actually. By the way he wasn't wearing a blue fur trimmed hat with a big feather and gold chains with oversized medallions. He had on jeans and a casual print shirt. I am so bummed we had forgot to bring the camera. I hope I haven't offended anyone with this post and I know there is nothing funny about that business.
The next morning was the Big Day....Manhattan and the East River. We left about 0830 to hit Hell Gate at slack tide. It was quiet on the river which was a surprise, but Irene had left a lot of junk in the river, the worst being big logs. We were on our toes the whole way and it was electrifying to be running down a river paralleling Manhattan skyscrapers. The Empire State Building was amazing from that perspective. Hell Gate was a roller coaster at slack tide, I can only imagine what it would have been during high flow. Reikers Island was chilling. They have two floating cell blocks in the river that are five stories high and ghostly. No sign of life from the outside. We were close enough to throw a baseball to it and not one guard in sight. Scary!
The closer we got to Wall Street and the mouth of the river the busier things got. By the time we reached the mouth of the river there was traffic all around us and helicopters flying constantly in and out of the Wall Street heliport....it was crazy. We set our sights across the Hudson River to a marina with fuel. It was a little tricky getting in and staying out of traffic but once tied up it went smoothly.
Our next stop was Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Well we didn't actually stop in terms of tying up to a dock or anything, but we stopped the engines and drifted along under the gaze of the Lady. It was spectacular, awe inspiring, and a huge benchmark in our Adventure. We had talked about it for months and felt like we had passed some sort of eligibility test. We sailed away from our Symbol of Freedom feeling like we were free to sail anywhere our dear home could take us.....then we saw the ships.
Hundreds of huge cargo ships waiting at anchor, staging to get into the harbor to get their freight unloaded. One would break away from the pack and start moving and it was up to us to stay out of the way. Whoa!, we didn't see this coming. It was stop, turn, go, reverse, and wind our way through the steel floating jungle. Fortunately they moved very slowly at first and belched a lot of smoke indicating they were starting to move and we were able to find the spaces between the trees. Welcome to New York harbor, maybe the busiest harbor in the world.
Once we got past the dragons it was pretty easy sailing out to the mouth of the harbor. We continued on to Sandy Hook New Jersey where we anchored for the night. Our New England journey was over and we were on our way south.