Steen Rally

Follow us on our sailing adventure from France to Australia

30 December 2015 | Sydney
29 July 2015 | Sydney
15 January 2015 | Sydney
22 December 2014 | Sydney
21 November 2014 | Cairns, Australia
02 November 2014 | Cairns, Australia
21 October 2014 | Port Vila, Vanuatu
01 October 2014 | Fiji
20 September 2014 | Fiji
08 September 2014 | Fiji
24 July 2014 | Neiafu, Tonga
06 July 2014 | Tahaa. French Polynesia
23 June 2014 | Moorea
23 June 2014 | Moorea
15 June 2014 | Papeete, Tahiti
14 May 2014 | Marquesas, French Polynesia

New York Part 2 - "My New York" by Terry

25 February 2013 | Puerto Aventuras, Mexico
New York, September 2012

When we held our family meeting to decide which destinations to sail to, New York was a unanimous choice (well at least for 75% of us and majority rules right?) Having spent close to a month in the Big Apple, it’s been interesting to compare everyone’s experience, and as I alluded in a previous post there are thousands of ways to enjoy the city. In fact, we have had problems agreeing on what we want to do together, as everyone has different tastes and we don't all want to do the same things: I like shops and museums, Anne wants to ride her bike, Terry wants to stay away from crowds (good luck there!), and Marc prefers walking around different neighbourhood. I’ve asked Terry and the kids to reflect on their New York stay and would they be so kind as to share some of their thoughts for the blog. Reflect they did, commit to paper they didn’t. Not to worry, I like the idea of playing reporter occasionally, so while the stories in the following “My New York” series are theirs, the writing is mine. I hope you enjoy.

My New York by Terry.

As you know I hate cities and crowds. My last visit to New York goes back to 50 years ago when I used to fly with Qantas. We’d stay in some fairly upmarket hotels for 2 or 3 days (put up by the airlines), walk around Times Square and Radio City, and generally hang out. It sounds exciting, but really it wasn’t: without enough money to go out anywhere, all I recall is going there in winter, dodging the fumes coming out from the underground, staying away from the subway, queuing in restaurants with people who think nothing of waiting 1h for an expensive dinner. People pushing and shoving didn’t help either. Also, you have to remember that the city wasn’t that safe back then, Harlem was a no-go area and the West Side not trendy.

So when everyone was excited to go to New York, I wasn’t holding my breath for it. Sailing there was easy enough, except for the rude tug boat operators. I am probably the only one who didn’t think the waterfront was riveting. Sure, the skyline is impressive, but to me that’s just a big city (OK, the biggest city!) with an absolutely derelict waterfront, looking like it’s been neglected for a hundred years. Yes, there are a couple of nice parks along the Hudson River, but also an awful lot of exposed piles from old wharves, and sad vacant blocks. All an incredible waste of real estate space if you ask me!

The marina is a sight to behold: In July, we spent some of the period anchored in the Hudson River just up from the 79th St boat basin (marina) and some at the marina itself. While the anchorage is a bargain, the marina itself isn’t. Though it’s the cheapest in New York, it is rough, in total disrepair, timber beams falling off, cleats torn out and so on. We have to be on the outside against a fixed pier with partially broken timber wall and the waves off the river traffic are large. We started with 8 large fenders all on the one side and this was not enough, I was quickly off buying more of the large round type to help protect the boat. They have some floating fingers inside of the wall we have to use, mainly for mono hulls and power boats and it is not unusual to see some these boats rolling at least 40+ degrees.

Having said that, we are in a very handy location, walking distance to Central park and just a few hundred meters from the subway. And that’s part of the pleasant surprise about New York this time around. It’s still an overcrowded and overpriced place, don’t get me wrong. But once we established that I would not go into any shops or line up for dinner, things became interesting.

I never thought I’d say this, but New York is certainly much safer and cleaner than I remembered. And so easy to get around too! After years of experience in the Paris metro, the NY subway is a piece of cake (just don’t get your Downtown and Uptown mixed up!). We’ve all bought weekly passes which allow us to travel all over the city (including the 5 boroughs). So while Voahangy and the kids toil with school or go shopping, I walk for miles thru Manhattan: I know every corner of Central Park, Battery Park, Riverside Park… and probably a dozen bars where I while away the hours waiting for the others.

The museum scene doesn’t compare with Washington DC, principally because it was free back there, so at $20 per person you have to be really keen. The Intrepid marine museum made the cut though. Voahangy thought she’d do us a favour dragging us to the Museum of Modern Art on a Friday night (free admission time then), and that was a total fiasco: thousands of tourists and locals came too, you couldn’t get close to the more famous pieces, we lost Julie for a while, Marc walked out in frustration and took the subway home, followed by me not long after.

We tried the music scene, first in July, with Voahangy booking us for a rock concert to see Seal and a girl called Macy Gray. I’d heard of neither, and while Seal was OK, Macy Gray was a total failure, completely stoned on stage. Can’t believe we paid to watch! We tried our luck again in September, attending Amateur Night at the Harlem’s Apollo theatre. That was a fun talent show, much better than our previous experience.

I refused to join the girls shopping expedition, but I admit to spending time in a couple of places. West Marine on 37th St, more out of necessity than anything else (looking for those extra fenders!), and even then I could have ordered online as the city store had less to offer than the Fort Lauderdale one. Bookshop Barnes and Nobles on Broadway, has become my home away from home and a favourite meeting point.

Favourite eating place: Does the boat count? Anything decent cost at least $30 a head plus drinks, so with 6 of us, it’s not something we can afford daily. Sure we’ve tried things from the street vendors (kebabs, egg & cheese rolls, hot dogs…) and the restaurant mentioned in the guide book, but frankly with the best delis and food shops only a few blocks from the boat, I much prefer spending the money on a decent steak and have a BBQ on-board!

Am I glad we went? Sure (didn’t have a choice anyway), as I said, it’s still overcrowded and expensive, but certainly changed for the better and visiting with the family made it much more enjoyable. I don’t think I’ll be back anytime soon though: assuming we went back by boat, the 79th street basin is now out of commission, having been wiped out by superstorm Sandy in October. I hate to think how much flying in and staying in a hotel would cost, and even if we could afford it I can think of quieter places I’d rather be. I know I’m going to take some flak for saying that, but I’ve been there, done that, don’t need to come back again!

New York, Septembre 2012

Lorsque notre famille s’est réunie pour décider quelles destinations choisir pour cette croisière, New York a fait l'unanimité (enfin presque, 75% des voix, c’est ça la démocratie non ?). Apres un mois passe dans la Grosse Pomme, c’est fascinant d’observer les expériences de chacun, et comme j’en parlais dans un billet précèdent, il y a des milliers de façons d’apprécier cette ville. En fait, il nous a été difficile d’organiser des sorties ensemble, car nous avons tous des gouts et des intérêts différents et personne n’a envie de faire la même chose que l’autre : j’aime les musées et le shopping, Anne veut faire du vélo, Terry veut rester loin de la foule (pas de chance, ce n’est pas l’endroit !) et Marc préfère flâner dans les différents quartiers. J’ai demande a Terry et aux enfants de se souvenir de leur séjour a New York, et d’être assez gentils de partager leur expérience sur ce blog. Ils y ont pensé certes, mais consigne quoique ce soit par écrit, c’est zéro. Pas de soucis, par chance j’aime jouer la reporter de temps en temps. Alors si les histoires dans la série suivante « Le New York de… » leur appartiennent, la rédaction c’est tout moi. Bonne lecture.

Le New York de Terry.
Tout le monde le sait, je déteste les villes et la foule. Ma dernière visite à New York était il y a 50 ans, quand je travaillais pour Qantas. Loges par la compagnie aérienne, dans des hôtels hauts de gamme pendant 2 ou 3 jours, on passait notre temps à se balader autour de Times Square et Radio City. Ça parait excitant mais franchement, ça ne l’était pas tant que ça : trop fauche pour sortir, tout ce dont je me souviens c’est d’y être en plein hiver, esquiver les fumées sortant des caniveaux, éviter le Subway, faire la queue dans des restaus ou les gens n’hésitent pas à attendre plus d’une heure pour un repas hors de prix. Se faire bousculer par la foule omniprésente n’avait rien d’agréable non plus. Rappelez-vous aussi qu’a l’époque la ville n’était pas sure du tout, Harlem était un ghetto et le West Side pas vraiment un quartier branche.

Alors que Voahangy et les enfants avaient hâte de découvrir New York, je ne me suis fait aucune illusion. On y est arrivés sans problèmes, à part les pilotes de remorqueurs, grossiers comme pas deux. Je suis sans doute le seul à bord qui n’était pas impressionne par la vue. Bien sur la silhouette des immeubles est impressionnante, mais en ce qui me concerne c’est une grande ville (ok, la plus grande ville), dont les quais complètement dilapides semblent avoir été abandonnés depuis une centaine d’années. Certes il y a pas mal d’espaces verts aménagés le long de l’Hudson River, mais tout autant de pilonnes rouilles exposes à mi-hauteur, des pontons délabrés vestiges d’une époque où NYC était le port le plus actif du monde. Et des terrains vagues. Au prix du mètre carre à Manhattan, c’est un gâchis total si vous voulez mon avis !

Quant à la marina, c’est quelque chose d’autre : en Juillet, nous avons passé une semaine au mouillage dans l’Hudson River, au nord du bassin d’amarrage de la 79eme rue (nom officiel de la marina), et une autre semaine à la marina elle-même. Si le mouillage est une occasion, la marina n’est pas donnée. C’est peut-être l’amarrage le moins cher de New York, mais les installations sont sommaires, mal entretenues, les poutres sont effondrées, les taquets à moitié arraches, etc…Nous sommes à l’extérieur du mur, contre un ponton fixe dont les poutres sont presque détruites et les vagues causées par le trafic sont assez larges. On a commencé avec 8 pare-battages du même cote, et ça n’a pas suffit, il a fallu en acheter d’autres plus robustes pour protéger le bateau. Il y a bien des pontons flottants à l’intérieur du mur, mais ils sont réservés aux monocoques et aux vedettes, et il n’est pas rare de voir ces bateaux se balancer à plus de 40 degrés.

Ceci dit, l’emplacement est idéal, a 2 pas de Central Park et une centaine de mètres du Subway. Et voilà la bonne surprise au sujet de New York cette fois. Ne nous trompons pas, c’est un endroit surpeuplé et hors de prix. Mais une fois les règles bien établies (moi refusant de faire les boutiques ou la queue pour diner), le séjour est devenu intéressant.

Qui l’aurait cru, New York est certainement plus sure et plus propre que dans le passe. Et s’y déplacer est tellement facile ! Grace à mon expérience dans le métro parisien, le Subway newyorkais c’est du gâteau (du moment qu’on ne mélange pas les directions Downtown et Uptown !) On a acheté des forfaits à la semaine pour chacun, ce qui nous permet de nous déplacer dans toute la ville (y compris les 5 « boroughs »). Donc pendant que Voahangy et les enfants font l’école ou les boutiques, je me ballade dans Manhattan : Central Park, Battery Park, Riverside Park…loin des gaz d’échappement, ces oasis de verdure n’ont désormais aucun secret pour moi. De même pour la douzaine de bars ou je passe mon temps à attendre les autres.

Moi qui aime les musées, j’ai trouvé NYC décevant compare à Washington DC, principalement parce que la bas les visites étaient gratuites. Ici à 20$ par personne, il faut faire le tri sélectif. L’Intrepid Sea-Air-Space museum est pratiquement le seul qui ait retenu mon attention (avec la navette spatiale perchée sur un porte-avion dans l’Hudson River !). Voahangy avait trouvé un soi-disant bon plan, en nous emmenant tous au MoMA (Musée d’Art moderne) un vendredi soir, quand l’entrée est gratuite. Quel fiasco : des milliers de touristes et locaux connaissent le tuyau aussi, donc foule assurée, impossible de s’approcher des œuvres les plus célèbres, on a perdu Julie pendant un moment, Marc en a eu marre et a repris le Subway pour rentrer au bateau, suivi par moi-même quelques minutes plus tard.

On a essayé la scène musicale. D’abord en Juillet, Voahangy nous ayant acheté des billets pour un concert de rock avec Seal et une chanteuse appelée Macy Gray en premier acte. Jamais entendu parler d’eux, Seal était correct, Macy Gray par contre nulle, complètement défoncée sur scène. Quand je pense qu’on a payé pour voir ça ! On a retente notre chance en Septembre avec Amateur Night au légendaire théâtre Apollo à Harlem. Là c’était un « talent show », spectacle très sympa et drôle avec des artistes bourres de talent.

J’ai refusé de suivre les filles dans leur shopping, mais je dois admettre avoir 2 boutiques à mon actif. West Marine, sur la 37eme rue, par nécessité plus qu’autre chose puisqu’il fallait bien trouver ces pare-battages supplémentaires. Grande chaine de magasins d’accastillage, j’aurais pu me contenter de commander en ligne, car la succursale New Yorkaise n’avait pas grand choix comparée a Fort Lauderdale. Dans un autre registre, la librairie Barnes & Nobles sur Broadway, est devenue mon quartier général et point de rencontre préfère de tous.

Mon restau favori : je peux dire le bateau ? Le moindre repas décent coute $30 par personne sans compter les boissons, alors quand on est 6 comme nous, on ne peut pas sortir tous les jours. Bien sûr on a goute a tout ce que les rues ont à offrir : kebabs, pains à l’œuf et au bacon, hot dogs… et essaye quelques restaus branches mentionnes dans le guide (les filles ont une liste), mais honnêtement avec toutes ces delis et épiceries à chaque coin de rue, je préfère acheter une bonne viande et nous faire un bon BBQ a bord !

Content d’être venu ? Bien sûr (pas vraiment le choix !), et même si c’est toujours surpeuplé et hors de prix, New York a changé pour le mieux et y revenir avec la famille a rendu cette visite encore plus agréable. Malgré ça, je ne pense pas y retourner : même si on revenait en bateau, le bassin d’amarrage de la 79eme rue est maintenant hors service, suite au passage de la tempête Sandy en octobre. Quant à y revenir en avion, je n’ose même pas imaginer le cout des vols et chambres d’hôtel. Et en admettant qu’on en ait les moyens, il y a bien d’autres endroits plus calmes ou je préfèrerait aller. Je sais que je vais me faire allumer pour le dire, mais maintenant que l’expérience est terminée, nul besoin de revenir !
Vessel Name: VOAHANGY
Vessel Make/Model: Lagoon 560
Hailing Port: Sydney
Crew: Terry, Voahangy, Marc, Anne Steen
Terry, 71, skipper, ex-pilot, surfer, aerobatics champion, can fix anything, never sea sick, loves a beer, hates the cold, is happiest anchored off a deserted beach. [...]
VOAHANGY's Photos - Main
84 Photos
Created 20 November 2014
2 glorious months, cruising various parts of Fiji. So many different experiences in one country: lush rainforests, colourful indian towns, blue lagoons, traditional villages, great fishing, fancy resorts... And the best part was sharing the cruising with family and friends. Can't beat Fiji with company! Here is a collection of our favourite moments (and there are a few!!!)
1 Photo | 8 Sub-Albums
Created 12 October 2014
Some of the whales actions we witnessed in Tonga, to read with the Whales action post by Anne!
7 Photos
Created 1 October 2014
Whale watching, snorkelling, bonfires, making new friends...One of the most remote and austere destination, far away from big tourism, with friendly people holding on to their traditions. Weather a bit chilly, but who cares???
46 Photos
Created 10 September 2014
49 Photos
Created 25 July 2014
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38 Photos
Created 30 June 2014
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Created 30 June 2014
72 Photos
Created 28 June 2014
55 Photos
Created 23 June 2014
27 Photos
Created 15 May 2014
37 Photos
Created 11 May 2014
40 Photos
Created 30 March 2014
1 Photo | 3 Sub-Albums
Created 15 March 2014
The time finally came to leave...a month of celebrations and sadness!
30 Photos
Created 5 March 2014
Another holiday within the holiday! Spent 13 fantastic days in Whistler, British Columbia joined by Aussie friends David and Denise. First time on skis for them, perfecting camps for Marc and Anne, loads of fun for everyone.
70 Photos
Created 8 February 2014
Nothing like having family and friends coming for a visit in the sun. Lots of eating, drinking, swimming, laughing...showing everyone our small paradise.
99 Photos
Created 30 January 2014
End of school year in Puerto, many get togethers before flying off to Paris for a family Christmas.
25 Photos
Created 23 January 2014
Day of the Dead festival, a friend visiting from Australia, Anne participating in her first martial arts tournament,...As usual a lot of eating and socialising!
40 Photos
Created 2 December 2013
68 Photos
Created 6 November 2013
Having visitors means putting on our tour guide hat "Voahangy & Co in Mexico", much exploring and eating: ruins, cenotes, beaches, villages, markets,... . I shared Mexican cooking lessons and was repaid with Dutch baking classes from our French guest. We ate a lot of cakes this month! So much sugar, no candies needed for Halloween this year, just parties...
74 Photos
Created 1 November 2013
This is the slowest month of the year in Mexico: hurricane threats, hot and humid weather, torrential rains drive the tourists away and confine the rest of us indoors. It poured for 22 days non stop! We still managed a dive (in the rain) for Father's Day, a day of all you can eat and drink at the local resort for Terry's birthday, and as usual lots of cooking and eating. Just on cue, the weather cleared at the end of the month for the arrival of Marie Suzanne, a French girlfriend. So lots of touring and catching up. Celebrated Mexican Independence Day all month long (it seems), eating black beans and pork verde!
47 Photos
Created 10 October 2013
No excursions this month. Just hanging around Puerto Aventuras, school, friends, ...Sat thru a couple of storms, torrential rains, big winds...Nowhere to go so more time spent in the galley and writing about it!!!
33 Photos
Created 12 September 2013
Holiday month for everyone: visitors from the USA, kids in and out, parties, US National Day celebration, French National Day celebration, Tulum for a night (bliss...) The start of a new food blog meant a month spent in the galley experimenting. Not much in terms of local food, mostly home cooked French. Chocolate cake anyone?
41 Photos
Created 24 August 2013
Holiday Seasons with old and new friends, provisioning and preparing to leave the USA...
54 Photos
Created 16 July 2013
End of school year performances, lots of baking/cooking for school festivities, Marc hospitalised, first tropical storms testing our nerves, road trip to Belize... Eat ceviche, my latest food addiction!!!
15 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 8 July 2013
Lots on! An interesting road trip to the Chiapas region, wonderful ruins of Palenque, green and lush Tabasco, Anne's birthday, Cozumel by boat, Kids sports graduation...Eat chilaquiles, breakfast with a difference.
26 Photos | 3 Sub-Albums
Created 2 July 2013
Settling down and mixing with the locals: kids are off to school, birthday parties, more of Tulum, unexpected reunion with fellow cruisers. Eat: black bean soup!
30 Photos
Created 2 July 2013
Not much tourism this month. We finally made the decision to stay for the rest of the year. So it's head down with school, get together with cruising friends ( they're passing thru while we stay behind) and switching to "landlubber's" mode. Resolved to eat at home more often, back to healthier diet.
19 Photos
Created 13 June 2013
Exploring the Yucatan peninsula by car, to Uxmal ruins and Merida. More of Tulum. Marc's Birthday. Try Flyboarding. Join in the local community of Puerto Aventuras. Xel-Ha. Discover Playa del Carmen. Eat nachos.
27 Photos | 2 Sub-Albums
Created 13 June 2013
Landfall in Isla Mujeres, find our way around our new home in Puerto Aventuras, excursion to Coba ruins, discover Tulum, swim with dolphins, eat tacos...
31 Photos | 2 Sub-Albums
Created 13 June 2013
Our last few weeks (even months) have been spent in Puerto Aventuras, Mexico. Not much cruising for us, more like enjoying company of new friends, safety of a protected harbor, and relaxing for a while, knowing we don't have to go anywhere for a while...
25 Photos
Created 2 April 2013
2 weeks in an island where time has stood still for 50 years! Road trip La havana - Vinales- Cienfuegos - Trinidad - La Havana. Cruise down the west coast, beautiful beaches, good fishing, diving,... Warm waters at last!!!!
3 Sub-Albums
Created 5 February 2013
To be enjoyed while reading the post!
43 Photos
Created 31 December 2012
Exploring Charleston and Savannah
1 Photo | 2 Sub-Albums
Created 27 December 2012
2 weeks shore leave, driving to Shenandoah National Park: lots of hiking, eating "country style" food, looking for bears, avoiding bears...Long drive across to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, to visit the Wrights brothers memorial and Cape Hatteras.
28 Photos
Created 25 December 2012
Caught up with friends, left the boat on display at the 2012 Boat Show, toured historic downtown and US Naval Academy, watched a football game...welcome to the US sailing capital!
51 Photos
Created 25 December 2012
Unforgetable summer cruising around Block island, Nantucket, and Martha's Vineyard.
1 Photo | 3 Sub-Albums
Created 16 December 2012
46 Photos
Created 17 October 2012
A leisurely cruise from New York to Newport. Quite anchorages, fresh ocean breeze, ...a million miles away from Big City living!
37 Photos
Created 5 September 2012
July and September in the Big Apple. Cruise, Eat, Shop, Walk,...Look at some of our best memories (work in progress, I am still sorting thru thousands fo photos!)
1 Photo | 4 Sub-Albums
Created 3 September 2012
Museums, memorials, parks, bike trails...the most photogenic city.
85 Photos
Created 15 August 2012
First voyage in July, on our way to Washington DC. Passing thru quaint and historical towns, sampling crabs and oysters in hot summer nights... Returned in September, enjoying all Annapolis has to offer (well, nearly), and the spectacle of autumn foliage.
20 Photos
Created 15 August 2012
Where there are some seriously clever people!
22 Photos
Created 15 August 2012
29 Photos
Created 20 July 2012
Shore leave: Make believe, dreams come true, thrills, fast food...Anything goes here!!!
42 Photos
Created 20 July 2012
Welcome to America! Our port of entry, last moments with friends, base for a mini-refit, and our first taste of the USA...
18 Photos
Created 30 June 2012
59 Photos
Created 31 May 2012
17 Photos
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33 Photos
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52 Photos
Created 25 April 2012
19 Photos
Created 14 April 2012
30 Photos
Created 14 April 2012
28 Photos
Created 30 March 2012
28 Photos
Created 5 March 2012
40 Photos
Created 12 February 2012
36 Photos
Created 12 February 2012
25 Photos
Created 28 January 2012
49 Photos
Created 8 January 2012
37 Photos
Created 4 January 2012
40 Photos
Created 28 December 2011
What happens during a transat?
40 Photos
Created 14 December 2011
44 Photos
Created 19 November 2011
22 Photos
Created 19 November 2011
40 Photos
Created 19 November 2011
13 Photos
Created 19 November 2011
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Created 19 November 2011
30 Photos
Created 17 November 2011
21 Photos
Created 30 October 2011
18 Photos
Created 22 October 2011
24 Photos
Created 1 October 2011
21 Photos
Created 8 September 2011


Who: Terry, Voahangy, Marc, Anne Steen
Port: Sydney