New York City Again – It Never Gets Old!

Was it Plan A, Plan B, or Plan C for our departure from Port Washington???

Monday morning brought a dreary dawn so we decided to skip Plan A and wait to see if the day might improve. By noon it was clear that Plan C was definitely a “go.” We made a quick grocery run and prepared to leave by 1:00 pm.

We have made this particular passage south through the East River twice before, 2013 and 2015, but that doesn’t matter. Traveling past the “Big Apple” on the East River is still one of the most exciting trips you can make by boat. So, although I have plenty of photos from the earlier trips, I simply could not resist taking more photos of my favorite sights and adding something new.

After leaving Port Washington, we always remark about the sweet red lighthouse but never knew its name. Now I do – the “Stepping Stones Lighthouse.” Built in 1876 in the Victorian Second Empire Style, it’s purpose was to warn boats of a shoal and rocks that extend into Long island Sound. Although modernized in 1944 it is now in poor condition and needs to be repaired. I hope that can be done.

Stepping Stones Light house, built in 1876.

The trip from Port Washington to Hell Gate has several notable landmarks, all of which I have photographed before.  And I did it all again…..

First the Throgs Neck Bridge, 50 minutes after departure and then the Whitestone Bridge, 15 minutes later.

Rikers Island on port side and and the floating jail barge, “The Boat” on starboard side.

A bit depressing to use prisons as landmarks on a passage, but there they were.

We certainly timed our passage perfectly for “slack” at Hell Gate, exactly 3:00 pm (1 hour 45 minutes after High tide at the Battery.)  No current to fight against or to assist us. Although a very calm and uneventful trip, we did miss the thrill of riding with a strong current as we have done in the past, reaching 11-12 knots of speed!

Entering Hell Gate ahead. It didn’t live up to its name, which is a good thing!

This little adventure is happening because our friends on Magnolia,who are embarking on a westward trip to the Great Lakes on their Kadie Krogen 42, asked us to join them on the Hudson River section.  When we departed Port Washington, they departed from Staten Island.

AIS positions for Kindred Spirit (upper right) and Magnolia (lower left).

Looking back at Hell Gate – not hellish at all.

I lived on the east side of Manhattan way back in 1978-1979, which adds an another element of thrill to this day. I love seeking out the places I knew.

New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center (know as The New York Hospital in 1979) where my first son was born (the daddy in the previous blog post.)

As we cruise down the East River I am always on the lookout for my first sighting of Rockefeller University, just after the hospital. The Rockefeller University is a center for scientific research, primarily in the biological and medical sciences, and provides doctoral and postdoctoral education. Rockefeller is the oldest biomedical research institute in the United States. I worked part-time in a neurophysiological lab for a short period before Ryan was born, while his father completed his post-doctoral work in microbiology. In the midst of the city concrete, Rockefeller’s campus was a tiny oasis of green.

I was confused as we sailed past – where was Rockefeller?? What is this modern glass structure hanging over the highway?  A little googling told me that the university is expanding in the only way possible – OVER the FDR Highway! “…..will straddle the busy highway and will include adding a two-story building as well as two acres to the 14-acre campus. The university also plans to repair the sea wall along the East River and improve the public esplanade adjacent to the campus.”

This is Rockefeller University today, under construction as it builds out over the FDR Highway.

This was Rockefeller University in 2015 (same as 40 years ago.)

We were fortunate to live in housing provided by Rockefeller University at a nominal rental fee (for NYC). Back in the 1970s our apartment on the 6th floor had a nice view of the East River. Just like on our previous trips, I am a bit disappointed to see the big high rise apartment buildings that now drwarf our building on York Avenue.

63rd and York Avenue, my old apartment. Pretty nice address for a kid in her mid-20s!

We passed under the Roosevelt Island Tramway, an aerial tramway in New York City that spans the East River and connects Roosevelt Island to the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Opened in 1976, the tramway is the first commuter aerial tramway in North America.  The two capsules run back and forth on two parallel tracks. One is just barely visible in the photo.

Sutton Place, a cozy, affluent and green section of the Upper East Side, spans East 59th Street south to East 53rd Street and over to First Avenue. One of NYC’s affluent neighborhoods,  Always searching for some green places tucked among the concrete and brick, I would often stroll through here back in the late 1970s.

The United Nations

Not all city buildings are  constructed as tall rectangular prisms.

The boat traffic on the East River that afternoon was typical, but not awful. The city water vehicles are as unique as the architecture and the street scenes. Our heads twist and turn from one side to the other as they speed by.

There she is – Our first sighting of The Lady.

Magnolia and Kindred Spirit reached the Brooklyn Bridge at the same time!! This is where the fun really began — when you travel with a boating buddy, there are awesome photo opportunities!

Magnolia and the Brooklyn Bridge

Kindred Spirit passes under the Brooklyn Bridge

We both traveled down the west side of Governors Island.

Governors Island is 800 yards from lower Manhattan and 400 yards from Brooklyn, separated by the Buttermilk Channel, which I suppose we were in at that moment. It was the first landing place in “New Netherland” for the settlers  who arrived in 1624 and is considered to be the birthplace of the state of New York.

The southern shoreline of Manhattan, known as “The Battery”

Kindred Spirit on her way to the Statue of Liberty with lower Manhattan in the background.

At 4:00 pm in the afternoon, the sun was behind the Statue of Liberty, but she is beautiful in any light.

Anthony had a dream and a request for a photograph of Magnolia in front of the statue. Although the lighting was poor, I did my best to fulfill that wish (just in case the morning was foggy.)

Magnolia and Lady Liberty

We have passed by Lady Liberty four times, going south and going north, but this is the first time we ever anchored behind Liberty Island. The anchorage is very, very rolly from all the passing ferries and river traffic.

AIS shows our positions in the anchorage, between Liberty State Park in Jersey City, NJ and the Statue of Liberty.

The setting sun and night sky provided a beautiful show for us.

By 8:00 pm Manhattan is glowing in the setting sun.

The Statue of Liberty

No words for this view

She is inspiring even at night, her arm raised high and our flag flying beside her..

 

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PJ to PW and a Family Visit

Another morning of fog, but lighter on this day.

The fog was low and close to the water so we had high hopes that the day would be pretty good.

The sailboats were covered in just a thin wisp of the fog.

WE left at low tide and headed back out to Long Island Sound towards Port Washington. About 36 nautical miles.

All right now! This is what we’re talking about! Some blue sky and nice calm water.

Al is sporting his new sun hat.

Caumsett State Park Historic Preserve

Saturday morning sailing races in in Lloyd Harbor on Oyster Bay, I think)

Uh oh…… A pop-up shower and a very heavy one just before we reached the entrance to Manhassat Bay. We slowed down to give it time to pass. Who wants to pick up a mooring in the pouring rain if you can avoid it?

We have stopped in Port Washington four times in the past on our way south and north. It is one of the best cruising stops around – free town moorings, Stop & Shop and Home Goods across from a nice dinghy dock, a pump out boat, and really good ice cream! Just about perfect.

The town dinghy dock and docks lining the harbor.

The day had turned HOT and HUMID, but we had to stretch our legs which brought us to an ice cream shop – Douglas & James Homemade Ice Cream. Yum.

A lovely triangular flower garden at the edge of the dock, complete with a view of Kindred Spirit.

On the last big trip south, we took a walk along a park that lines the harbor, “Bay Walk Nautical Art Museum” showcasing outdoor art work. On this visit there was only one attraction for me – a family visit!! My son and his family live in Forest Hills just a 30-minute drive to Port Washington. This is the first time our schedules coincided for a visit. Yippee!!

 

Wouldn’t you know that June 3rd would be the Port Washington HarborFest?? I was a little worried about parking since the town dock area closed for tents and activities.

The view from our boat and the street.

Fortunately, Port Washington had created a new little park across from the shopping center. New docks complete with ramps for kayaks.

Bay Walk Park, North – benches, shade, and an outdoor charging station. That was a first! But best of all there was a parking space for out visitors!

It was a chilly day that became much warmer, and we had a great visit. 🙂 It’s best told with photos ——

At the dinghy dock, we took our obligatory group-selfie. Please note that we are all wearing our PFDs. Wanted to set a good example for the little ones.

Off we go out to Kindred Spirit.

Caleb was the first to spot this little sailboat at the dock. It certainly got his attention with the bow graphics. Al and I took note of the damage on the side (from sharks??)

4-year old Caleb and 18-month old Cecily

A trip to the flybridge where Caleb pretend to captain the boat. Ceci’s thoughts? “I can’t believe they are letting my brother drive this thing!”

Papa and Caleb try their hand at pretend fishing, too.

Ceci was confined indoors for safety reasons, but she pretended to be “a lookout.”

Caleb was curious about where the handles on floor, so naturally Papa took him down into the engine room. Caleb later said that was one of his favorite things.

Enjoying the dinghy (“Can we go faster?”) with his buddy, “Fig.”

Ceci could spot a bird in the air or a dog on a boat in an instant. She showed her excitement by physically jumping up and down and pointing. She really would be a good look out.

It was an awesome day, and my heart is still warm from it.

Monday is the day we planned to travel down he East River to meet the Bakers on Magnolia in the Statue of Liberty anchorage. Weather is giving us concerns, so we have back-up plans.

Plan A: East River in the early morning to reach Hell Gate at slack tide.
Plan B: In case of rain and predicted high winds, leave Tuesday morning, Magnolia from Staten Island and Kindred Spirit from Port Washington, and heading all the way to Croton-on-Hudson, by-passing Lady Liberty.
Plan C: If the weather improves on Monday, leave Port Washington after lunch and catch the later slack tide at Hell Gate to anchor behind Liberty Island for the night. Magnolia will catch up with us on Tuesday.

Which plan will it be????

 

 

Let the Season Begin – With a River Trip!

We usually begin the boating season, casually and slowly by getting the boat into the water sometime in May and then taking short little trips of 1-3 days for a couple of weeks to work out the kinks from a long winter spent on the hard. This year was different. Our friends, the Bakers on Magnolia, live-aboard folks, asked us to join them in June as they cruised up the Hudson River to the Great Lakes and back, their own “Mini- Loop.”  We decided that a new direction with good friends would be a lot of fun, so we agreed to meet them at the Statue of Liberty and spend a couple of weeks on the Hudson with them. I guess our version would be a “Micro-Loop” without the loop.

Between the weather, medical appointments, so-so weather and Al’s boat projects, May passed quickly as we found ourselves in the last week of the month and only days to get ready for the Hudson. Memorial Day weekend was the first time Kindred Spirit had a test run, out to Ledge Light and back. After two years on our mooring my docking skills are rusty to non-existent and this time we were backed into the slip. First time this season and I had to do it in reverse of my usual method. Ugh. Backing in is much harder than bow forward. Good news – Nothing was damaged.

Kindred Spirit ready and waiting in her slip.

Newly painted helm door, new box supporting the solar on the flybridge. We also have a new water heater and a new bow thruster, but they aren’t visible from this angle. 😉

Since we will be gone for over three weeks I decided to bring a few herbs along. Al decided they would be safe nestled between he two bikes on the flybridge

The “pet” sea bass at our yacht club hang out on our dock. Al took his first photos of them. Can you see him (or at least his phone?)

Friday, June 1stdawned foggy and dreary, but we left anyway around 8:30 am, with a very good current. Most of the day we traveled at 8.5-9 knots at 1700 rpms which is good for this little trawler.

Off we go into the wild gray yonder.

Light gray sky, dark gray water. But the seas were very calm.

The red marker near Ledge Light was barely visible. (We weren’t that close, I used the zoom.)

And so it went for 52 nautical miles. See how the view changed by 1:00 pm?

Same view of gray, but I do believe things improved slightly by 1:00 pm

Beautiful old boat – what are they doing out on the water on a day like this?? Oh, wait, what are WE doing out on the water on a day like this???  Actually, it was a boring day, but not at all threatening. We just had to keep our watch on the radar and the AIS, and do 360 degree swings with the old eyeballs more frequently than usual.

The fog never totally disappeared but it lightened a bit. By the time we reached Port Jefferson the visibility had increased from 100 yards to 1-2 miles.

Our first view of the Port Jefferson sand dunes with a light blanket of fog. Al has fond memories of  playing on the dunes as a child..

Arriving in Port Jefferson at 3:00, we turned to starboard to find a mooring to borrow for the night. An entire field of mooring balls and every one was empty. I guess the season hasn’t quite begun yet here.

Thank you, Capt Reiter for the use of your mooring. Look at that – “ball wrap” all ready. You know how Al hates that.

As the sun finally came out we had a good view of the back side of the sand dunes over on the eastern side of the Port Jefferson entrance.

It wouldn’t be Port Jeff without ferries and their very large wakes.

In the distance you can see the town of Port Jefferson.

Smoke stacks and a ferry.

We enjoyed a beer before dinner to celebrate the first trip of the season. Hooray!

Wonder what tomorrow will bring? I’m betting on fog and hoping it doesn’t last all day again. We will be heading to Port Washington.

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