Monarch's Big Year

31 July 2020 | Waterford Harbor Floating Dock, Waterford, NY
30 July 2020 | Waterford Harbor Floating Dock, Waterford, NY
29 July 2020 | Catskill NY
28 July 2020 | Catskill NY
27 July 2020 | Kingston NY
26 July 2020 | Newburgh NY
25 July 2020 | Bear Mountain State Park, NY
24 July 2020 | Croton-on-Hudson, NY
23 July 2020 | Croton-on-Hudson
22 July 2020 | Atlantic Highlands NJ
21 July 2020 | Atlantic Highlands NJ
20 July 2020 | Atlantic City NJ
19 July 2020 | Woodland Beach Delaware
18 July 2020 | Sassafras River, MD
16 July 2020 | Selby Bay, Edgewater MD
30 June 2020 | Edgewater MD
17 April 2020 | Carolina Beach, NC Mile 295.1
16 April 2020 | Carolina Beach, NC Mile 295.1
15 April 2020 | Calabash River Anchorage Mile 341.9
14 April 2020 | Calabash River Anchorage Mile 341.9

Waterford

31 July 2020 | Waterford Harbor Floating Dock, Waterford, NY
Mike
July 31, 2020 Friday

I took a row in the morning up the Mohawk River along Peebles Island Park on one side and a couple of factories on the other side. The water was clear and I saw a 3’ snapping turtle swim by. I also saw an eagle and a blue heron. I went until I could see the dams and the current picked up against me. The morning was cool and clear but that was set to change as the weather headed for the nineties again this afternoon.

When I returned, we decided on a treat, breakfast out, so we walked to a small local diner named Don & Paul’s. The meal was good and a welcome change from the usual oatmeal, Sharon had eggs and toast and I did the same but with home fries and sausage links added for good measure.

I was working to reconnect our VHF radio to a spare antenna on the back railing when I found it was no longer working. We had to take an expensive Lyft ride to West Marine in Lanthum to get a new antenna and while we were there, we picked up a chart pack for the Hudson River and the NY Canals. It was not the detailed set just for the Erie Canal but it was the only thing we could find so we will make do.

By mid-afternoon when we returned to the boat, the temperature outside was well into the nineties and we decided to hide out in the air conditioning until five when we rode our bikes across the Hudson River to a Hannaford grocery store. On our return we got engaged with a couple walking the waterfront and we learned about the local area and their suggestions for stops along the canal including hiking the gorges where the local rivers drop down into the Mohawk River, Watkins Glen being one of the most famous. We exchanged contact information and made plans to catch up again on our return in September.

Demasting Part 2, now a Canal Boat

30 July 2020 | Waterford Harbor Floating Dock, Waterford, NY
Mike
July 30, 2020 Thursday Waterford Harbor Floating Dock

Before eight we were up and had moved the boat to the slip where the ancient crane stood that the marina crew would use to take our mast down and then we went to look for the crew.

By eight-thirty we had the two marina workers and the owner at the boat ready to take down the mast. The owner shimmied up the mast and attached a new looking choker to the mast above the first spreaders and then he slid back down to the deck to supervise the lift. Except with some challenges getting the pin out of the headstay, the release of the stays went without trouble and soon they had the mast in the air using the ancient stiff leg derrick they had for a crane. The crane looked like it was bought used back in the thirties and while not filling me with confidence it did the job without difficulty. The owner did have to show one of the crew how to switch the drive to lower the boom but it was early in the morning after all.

We were going to stick around until they had lowered the mast but Sean the owner agreed to take care of a few items for me on the mast to protect it so we passed the crew a tip and they released our dock lines and we headed out onto the Hudson River with the mast still in the air. I should mention there were some reviews online reporting the marina had dropped their masts so those reviews would explain why we were a bit nervous but they did a great job.

We rode the tide up the Hudson River all the way to the first lock at Troy, New York. We had to keep reminding ourselves we had no mast and therefor no wind instrument, no horn, no radar, and we didn’t have to worry about bridge clearances anymore. We also found we were rocked a lot more by the wake of passing power boats.

This section of the river does not have the views of the mountains and is much narrower; we saw no commercial shipping and only a few power boats passed us. The amount of development is much less along the river front until you get to Albany which has a lot of commercial docks for ocean going ships and tugs. We stopped at the Albany Yacht Club for fuel, a pump out and ice which went very well. The fuel dock was getting very little business due to Covid so we didn’t feel any pressure to rush our stop as we often do on busy fuel docks.

The waterfront in Albany has a lot of potential for leisure focused development but like many cities in America they built a highway along the river with lots of overpasses that visually cut off the waterfront. The only public amenity on the waterfront we noticed was a boat ramp which seemed like a real shame for the seat of such a powerful state capital.

An hour beyond Albany we came to the first dam on the Hudson. After 150 miles we were still at sea level with the same five-foot tide as there was at the river mouth. Now we had to enter our first lock and finally get above sea level. The lock was a large massive structure and after a wait of fifteen minutes while they emptied the lock, we were instructed by radio to enter the opening gates. The lock master was very helpful and talkative and seemed glad to have a customer come along. We attached a line to a pipe that ran up and down the wall and prepared for our lift.

The gates closed with a tremendous boom as the last of the incoming tide pushed them shut and after a long pause the water started to fill the lock. We had prepared ourselves with gloves which we needed to push Monarch off the concrete walls as she tried to swing in the current. When the filling was complete and the exit gate started opening, I took the helm and motored out into the now calm river with no current to deal with. Dark storm clouds had been building for a while and we watched them carefully for signs of lightning.

We soon came to the intersection of the Hudson and the Mohawk River and we turned left in a rain shower and entered the Erie Canal, and after waiting for the rain to letup, we proceeded under the railroad bridge to the free dock in the town of Waterford. There were a dozen other boats tied on the floating dock as well as the concrete wall section. The town had done a nice job making it a pleasant park space.

The visitors center had a sign “closed until three-thirty” so we walked up and visited the series of four locks we would be taking to rise up to continue on the Erie Canal and we talked with one of the lock keepers. Lock one we had already done and was 15’ of rise, lock two through six were all together at Waterford and will raise us - Lock 2- 34’, 3-34’, 4-35’, 5-33’, and 6-33’ - to 184’ above sea level.

The visitors center opened back up but because the canal had been closed, they for some reason forgot to order the chart books for the canal that we wanted to guide us. Well we will just have to manage without a good set of charts and rely on our increasingly temperamental chart plotter. We paid a ten-dollar fee for electricity and for a key to the showers.

Demasting Part 1

29 July 2020 | Catskill NY
Mike
July 29, 2020 Wednesday

We spent the morning taking the head and main sails off, removing the battens, flaking the sails on the dock, rolling the sails up and putting them in their respective bags and then finding room to store them in the vee berth. We got an early start to avoid the heat of the day.

Sharon took a folding bike to the grocery store while I removed the backstays and pulled all the retaining pins on the standing rigging turn buckles. I pulled all of the halyards out of the line brakes and secured the lines to the mast. I took the rolling furler apart to access the headstay turnbuckle. Last I took down the boom. It was afternoon by the time we finished and we were both hot and tired and looking forward to a swim in the pool.

Sean, the marina manager/owner, came down to make sure everything looked ready for pulling the mast in the morning. Around two Sharon and I went to the pool and spent the afternoon reading and swimming.

Hop-O-Nose Marina

28 July 2020 | Catskill NY
Mike
July 28, 2020 Tuesday

After pulling anchor we headed north into a cloudy day that promised to have a little less killer heat than the last several days. The scenery continued to be grand and you could see why the famous Hudson School of Art was so inspired to paint landscapes. The few structures on the river banks ranged from huge mansions spaced about a quarter mile apart to little river fishing camps and the occasional rock quarry and factory.

We were against the current of a knot or two most of the morning and afternoon until we turned into the Catskill River to wind our way up to the Hop-O-Nose marina. After securing the lines and getting the air conditioning running as it was hot again being off the big river, we went to visit the swimming pool. Lounging in the swimming pool made us wonder why we didn’t do this more often as we soaked away the heat from our bodies.

After our time in the pool we took a stroll into the town of Catskill to check out the old buildings and get an ice cream cone. The historic section of town has a lot of character with many brick buildings topped by ornate metal eaves. Numerous storefronts are vacant not likely helped by construction of the Walmart a mile away. I believe we will see a lot more vacant storefronts as we travel the Erie Canal through areas where industry long moved away and tourism hasn’t required all the remaining real-estate.

While Sharon cooked dinner I disconnected the electrical cables that run to the mast in preparation for taking the mast down on Thursday. Tomorrow we take the sails and boom off and Thursday we take down the mast. (I checked out the antique crane they use to take the mast down and it did not instill confidence so fingers crossed)

Roundout Creek

27 July 2020 | Kingston NY
Mike
July 27, 2020 Monday

In the morning we moved down the dock with the current to the pump out station and took care of that. We left the dock and headed into the current to travel thirty miles upriver to anchor below the Roundout Creek Lighthouse and outside of the channel that leads to Kingston. The heat advisory continued and by noon the high temperatures were taking a toll on us. The scenery continued to be lovely with periodic homes sitting above the river and little hamlets along the river banks. Occasionally we saw power plants and other industrial sites but over all it was a very pleasant stretch of the river.

Around two thirty we anchored and tried to stay cool. The town of Kingston sounds like a nice place to visit but taking the dingy into the dock and hiking up the hill was more than we wanted in this heat. The anchorage is in a large area and several sailboats glided around us as we enjoyed the building southern breeze. We had a light dinner as we watched thunderstorms travel by to the north of us and then called it an early night. Tomorrow promises more heat and humidity.

Newburgh

26 July 2020 | Newburgh NY
Mike
July 26, 2020 Sunday

We arranged to meet one of our nieces, Erin, and her boyfriend, in Newburgh about ten miles up the river in the mid-afternoon so we called and made a reservation at Riverfront Marina, to make it convenient to visit her. The weather continued hot and sunny and we had discussed going to shore and exploring Bear Mountain State Park but we now had other plans and the heat made the hike less appealing.

I did a morning row and talked to a fisherman on the shore. He was a local history buff and told me about the amazing revolutionary war historical events that took place nearby. The Hudson was ground zero for the British attempts to divide and conquer their troubled colony.

We pulled anchor around eleven and headed north against the wind and current so we didn’t make much speed. But these ten miles of the river have spectacular scenery and the slow speed allowed more time to enjoy it. With steep mountains on both sides plunging down into the river it appeared to me that during the ice age massive ice flows cut through this valley leaving cliffs and talus banks that support very little vegetation. Sections appear more like the tree lined canyons out in the western states.

We passed West Point Army Academy on the western bank where massive masonry buildings climb the hillside high above the river. The river takes some windy tight turns as it passes the Academy and the wind suddenly picked up speed as it funneled through the tight valley as did the river current. The beauty of this section of the river was almost too much to take in visually on this bright sunny day after having passed the gentle hills to the south covered in deep green forests.

We reached the marina at Newburgh around one-thirty and tied up to the dock in the blistering heat and it felt great to plug in the power and get the air conditioning turned on. The marina was a large one of floating docks and we were the only sailboat there. They placed us on the outside face of the last dock where the wake of passing boats kicked us around in the strong river current. I carefully placed the fenders to protect our hull from the unprotected docks and fortunately the wind had shifted to the west which pushed Monarch safely away from the rough dock face. There were lots of people in the marina and along the shore in a party mood with lots of music and very few people wearing masks outdoors.

We met up with Erin and Chris and had a filling lunch at a waterfront rib house, sitting at a table adjoining the open deck. It was fun to see their enthusiasm and energy level as they told us of their careers and plans to build a dream home and settle down. They are doing great and seem to enjoy their life in this area of New York State.

After lunch we walked up hill in the heat to the Newburgh Brewing Company. The hostess explained a dozen rules to manage the threat of a virus transmission during our visit and led us upstairs to the warm, high-ceiling room with all of its windows open to the subtle breeze. The precautions of this restaurant were in stark contrast to the rib house where we had just eaten.

Around six we said good bye to Erin and Chris, with no hugs or handshakes, as we wished them good luck with all their plans. We look forward to seeing them master life’s challenges as they move ahead with all enthusiasm.

After marina showers, Sharon wanted to have a treat we don’t get very often, gelato. We picked up a couple of small cups of the cold frozen treat from a local Italian café, Café Pitti, and enjoyed the it on a waterfront picnic table as we people watched the happy throng enjoying the summer heat along the Hudson River.

We returned to the boat but it was not to be peaceful as a party was in full swing just down the dock from us. A dozen adults (ranging in age from early 20s to late 70s) and one young girl, were celebrating something! One of the revelers, a woman with a beautiful voice was singing along to Spanish and English salsa and disco numbers, karaoke style. We sat in the cockpit to enjoy the music and dancing for a bit before heading below to savor the air-conditioning and slightly lower sound volume.

After watching a movie, we went to bed with the strong pulsing of the Latin beat, but now no singing, persistently coming through the hull of the boat into the wee hours of the morning reminding us of our days living in Puerto Rico.
Vessel Name: Monarch
Vessel Make/Model: Hunter Legend 40 1988
Hailing Port: Mayo Maryland
Crew: Mike & Sharon Crothers
About: We left our jobs and have headed out to explore, starting with the East Coast of the US in our sailboat.
Extra: We are looking forward to exploring towns we have never been to or seeing familiar places in new ways, having conversations with strangers and making new friends, seeing natural and man-made beauty, history, and life.
Monarch's Photos - Main
20 Photos
Created 15 January 2015
Coast of Maine, Islands, Towns, Acadia, Bar Harbor
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Leaving, Galesville, Wye River, St. Michaels, Solomons Island, Reedville, VA, Put-In Creek off Mobjack, Norfolk, Dismal Swamp
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Created 1 May 2014