Staten Island, NY (Saturday, 5/25):
They say the worst thing cruising is having a schedule, and now we had a destination where we had to be by a certain date. So looking at a small weather window to get up the New Jersey coast, and knowing we needed to leave time up the Hudson River for bad weather, we left Cape May early in the morning. The wind was going to calm down throughout the day so we took a chance and headed offshore through the inlet.
Immediately coming out of the inlet, the wind tore loose our brand new AGLCA burgee and the new clips Mark had just installed. We were happy we only ‘tried them out’ on the one burgee first. We will take the other set back to West Marine for a full refund.
Once out of the inlet we expected the waves to settle down a bit, but they did not. The seas were confused with the wind shift and the chop made things very miserable; we did not see ourselves spending 6 hours bouncing in 2 foot seas with an occasional 4-footer. We adjusted course and headed into Absecon Inlet at Atlantic City. Once through the inlet we entered into the ICW and headed north.
We have done this part of New Jersey before and knew of the shallow spots. We also had a rising tide, making it favorable for us to get through the shallower areas without too much trouble. But it was a holiday weekend and there were tons of fishing boats, who love to hang out in the middle of the channel that required us to slow down.
We continued up the ICW for several hours, slowing when we had to pass fishing boats or slow trawlers. By the time we got up to Barnegat Bay there were so many boats on the water that the waves from their wakes were almost as big as those offshore. It was a crazy, but we were still able to cruise along at 20 knots most of the time. Periodically the temperature sensor would go off and Mark would check the engine temperature, only to find it in normal range.
As we were approaching Manasquan we had to go through the Point Pleasant Canal. Here the current was now against us and there were many small boats that were heading in an opposite direction causing the wave action to be like a washing machine. It was a challenge to navigate the very narrow channel but Captain Mark did a fabulous job and before long we were in the Manasquan River.
We were not anxious to stop here as the weather forecast for the coming days would have us sit a few days, so we decided that we would go out the inlet and “poke our nose” out and see how it was. If it was too rough we would turn around and find dockage for the night, but if tolerable we would continue offshore for the last 20+ miles. Exiting the inlet was quite bouncy but once out of the swells of an incoming tide, we settled into a fairly comfortable ride. The seas and wind were mostly from behind so the boat did not get tossed around. We knew we could make it around Sandy Hook and into Raritan Bay within 90 minutes so we continued on.
We cruised up the New Jersey shore passing Asbury Park and other familiar sites, including the NYC skyline. It still is amazing that you can see this more than 20 miles offshore.
We crossed Raritan Bay without issue and entered Great Kills Harbor and the Great Kills Yacht Club (GKYC) marina to a warm welcome by John Calascibetta, AGLCA Harbor Host and now our good friend. He assisted us with the tie-up along with Loopers Mike & Kathleen (“Apres Sail”) whom we then met. We were glad we made the decision to continue on offshore and get that last large passage behind us, even though it was a very long and tedious day.
But it was worth it as the GKYC threw us a party! Hahahahaha!
Not really, it was “Opening Day” of the season for the yacht club and they had a huge barbecue. It is a free event and we were invited by John C. to attend. We had not yet had showers, but went to enjoy the friendship of many members, including John C, his wife Juliette and others who made us feel really welcome. We also got to see John Scarcella, who is a Gold Looper and whom we met during our Great Loop adventure in 2015.
We stayed for a few free beers, food and dessert, and then went back to the boat for showers and then turned in for the night.
Staten Island, NY (Sunday, 5/26):
The sun woke us up early but we were still tired from yesterday. Nevertheless, we got up and walked to St. Clare’s Catholic Church for the 8:30 am mass, a church we had visited before. This church is beautiful and is a neighborhood gem, just under a mile and up the hill from the GKYC.
After mass we headed back towards the marina, passing the local fire station but took a detour to go to Frank & Sal’s; a local Italian market that has lots of fresh meats, cheeses, a bakery and many imported goods. It has a small produce section as well. So we picked up a few things for our lunches and walked back to the boat.
Pictures from the local fire station:
Mark was anxious to get all the salt off the boat from yesterday, so he proceeded to give the boat a good washing. Periodically he would be interrupted by one of the locals who wanted to know about our good-looking boat. Meanwhile Denise was doing research on future destinations and cataloging photos from the day before.
After lunch the Harbor had their annual “Blessing of the Fleet” which included a boat parade and the ceremonial water salute by the USCG. We got to see all of this off the end of the dock at GKYC.
Later that day San & Lisa (“Panacea”) came into GKYC, despite the high winds. We helped them tie up to the dock and socialized with them a bit. We spent the rest of the day hanging around the boat. We talked with family, worked on the blog updates and communicated with friends on “Dona Pacem” and “Balahula” who were both still in Cape May.
We also became enthralled with a family of swans we had been watching since we arrived. Initially we had only seen the parents, but today we got to see the whole clan; mom, dad and their 5 cygnets. They were just learning to venture out with mom close at hand. The dad made his way to near our dock and even right after the swim platform. It was such a delight to see nature in its full glory.
We were not up for going out for dinner so we ate some leftovers from the freezer and Mark convinced Denise to begin watching the “Game of Thrones” as he wanted to watch it all over again. So now we had something to keep us occupied as there are 10 years’ worth of this show. Maybe by the time we get home in November we will be finished with it.
New York, NY (Monday, Memorial Day 5/27):
Today was a very fun day and we crossed a few things off our list of “must do in NYC” activities that we have never done. The plan was to make it a “free” day, where the only thing we spent money on was food and transportation (subway/Metro fares).
We started early taking an Uber to the Staten Island Ferry dock. The Staten Island ferry is free and a “must do” item (√) and takes you to the eastern end of NYC, not far from the Financial District.
Here Mark had found a diner for us to have a big breakfast, NYC-style at Squires Diner.
From here we walked a few blocks north and picked up the staircase to walk up to the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. We spent the next hour or so walking across the Brooklyn Bridge (√) and taking in all the sights. It was a beautiful sunny day and many people were out walking the bridge or on their boats in the waters below.
From the bridge we walked a few blocks in Brooklyn (another area we wish to explore more someday) and picked up the subway to take us back to Manhattan.
Next on the list was Chelsea Market (√). Had we not had a big breakfast, we would have found a place to eat here as there are lots of options. We walked around through some of the shops, and eventually Mark got a rest break while Denise did some browsing.
From there we went a few blocks north and picked up the High Line (√). This is a pedestrian walk that was converted as such from the old raised railway line. It is nicely landscaped and has art sculptures periodically scattered throughout. We even saw a multi-language replica of Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture; the original we saw at the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine.
The benefit of the High Line is that you can walk North and South through a large part of Manhattan without having to cross at street intersections. Normally this would have been a huge time saver, but with the warm and sunny weather, the High Line was packed with people. We did take it for a long while, getting off near a subway station and taking it uptown towards the piers where the US Navy boats were supposed to be for Fleet Week. However, Mark had miscalculated and we were much farther north than we needed to be. As a reprieve from our tired feet we found Frank Mac’s Pub where we had a beer and ate a late lunch.
Once refueled and ready to go, we headed back south to the Hudson River and the piers to see the boats in for Fleet Week. We passed by the USS Intrepid and a Sub that are permanently docked here, and then on to see the USS New York. We considered getting in the long line for the free viewing, but when we learned that closed-toe shoes were required to board the boat, we nixed the idea. We could still go to the pier, but decided to spend our now dwindling time in NYC to do other things.
We then took a subway (actually two – had to change lines) to get us to Grand Central Station (√). Denise had never been here and was so amazed at the scale of the place. First of all, the main terminal is much larger (HUGE) than is revealed in any movie or tv shot. But, it also consists of several levels below the main terminal, including a large “food court” type of area. Here there are several bars, restaurants, and various other places where you can buy ice cream, smoothies, donuts, and health food. Off the main terminal are side corridors to take you to the various train and subway tracks, all of which are well laid out and easy to follow on a map, as well as stores to shop. The Apple Store here is like none other.
But the architecture and details are what makes this place so special. From the large chandeliers, to the rosettes in the stone, to the painted ceiling; it is a work of art into itself and is a national treasure. Everyone should see this very special place.
Finally, we were spent and done with NYC. We took a subway back to the ferry terminal and took the ferry back to Staten Island. But we had to get back to GKYC and opted for the “local” approach: we took a train from the Ferry terminal. It actually took about the same amount of time as the Uber, but only cost $2.60 each instead of $36. However, we still had to walk the mile back down the hill to GKYC. When all was said and done, we had walked over 10 miles today.
When we arrived back at the boat we saw that our friends on Dona Pacem had come up from Cape May and were in the slip right next to us. We had a chance to say hello, discuss plans for the upcoming days and then we got onboard Island Office in for the evening. We were spent but had time for a quick snack and an episode of “Game of Thrones” before sleep took over.
Staten Island, NY (Tuesday, 5/28):
The morning was spent with Denise did some itinerary planning for the rest of the Hudson River, and Mark doing some work for a client. We had made plans for a lunch date with our New Jersey Looper friends Evelyn & Clark (“Sunset Delight”) who came by around noon to pick us up. We went to a place near GKYC called Andrew’s Diner and had a great lunch with plenty of leftovers to take back to the boat. After lunch, they came to the boat as we wanted to get their knowledge about Lake Champlain and the canals to the St. Lawrence River. They were full of great insight and hints and we really appreciated the time they spent with us.
When we had returned to the boat, we noticed that Panacea had left and Balahula had come into end dock where Panacea had been. They had met Evelyn & Clark from their mutual time together at Faro Blanco Marina in Marathon, FL over the winter, so it was fun to see them reconnect. Aw the cruising/Looper life!
Shortly after they left, the rain started, but only lightly and intermittently. The weather forecast called for severe thunderstorms later in the evening and we did not want to get caught in it by trying to go out for dinner. So, we ordered a pizza for delivery and had it delivered right before the hard rain set in. And when it did start it was horrendous. We had huge gusts of wind and drenching rain, followed by hail. Then we heard the weather alert alarms: we were under a tornado warnings. At one point Denise wondered if we shouldn’t leave the boat to the safety of the GKYC clubhouse, but it was too dangerous to go outside. Additionally, Mark was on the phone with tech support for a software company; his computer had taken a crash while in the process of updating software and it was not looking good – so we really couldn’t go anywhere anyway.
Eventually the most sever of the weather passed, Mark was able to restore his computer to a workable unit and we settled into another episode or two of “Game of Thrones” for the night. However, it continued to rain off and on all night.
Staten Island, NY (Wednesday, 5/29):
When we woke up in the morning it did rain initially, but stopped early on. However, it remained overcast and foggy making it an ugly-looking day.
We also realized that sometime during the early morning hours the power had gone out at GKYC. We turned on the generator right away. We were worried that the items in the freezer and fridge may have been compromised but learned it had not been off long before we discovered it, so all was ok. And the power did come back on before we had a chance to finish breakfast. We also learned that during the storm last night three funnel clouds were reported near the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, just a few miles from us. This is very scary when you are on a boat and we felt very lucky to have had no storm related issues.
As previously scheduled last Friday, “Gary” the Cummins Engine repair guy showed up at 8:00. He went to work troubleshooting and trying to determine the source of our temperature sensor issues with Mark watching everything he did. He was able to determine that the source of the problem was related to the connector the sensor plugs into and not the new sensor. Gary replaced the connector and reassembled with the sensor that Zimmerman Marine had replaced. He ran tests on this and also did an “in-warranty” upgrade to clamps on the fuel line holders, preventing a future issue from developing there. Denise helped out by turning on and off the engine as requested, while the guys were in the engine room. It was a group effort.
Once all the testing and monitoring was satisfactory, we took the boat out for a sea trial. We untied from the dock and headed out onto Raritan Bay which was awash with choppy waves due to the wind. Mark opened the throttle to its maximum (2900 RPM) and had us slamming the waves, which was not fun for Denise. Gary hung out in the back of the boat watching all his monitoring equipment and holding on tightly. The entire time the temperature did exactly as it was supposed to and indicated the problem had been fixed. We were delighted he had actually found a problem and now it had been solved.
Once back at GKYC, we said goodbye to Gary and had lunch. We felt pretty good about the repair and made plans for leaving and heading up the Hudson River. We made plans for the weekend, including marina reservations at Half-moon Bay on the Hudson River, and a tentative schedule for follow-on days all the way to New Baltimore, NY.
Once again the evening weather forecast was for heavy rain and thunderstorms. We had made plans for dinner with Barbara and Joe (“Balahula”), and two other Looper couples to go to Coles – a restaurant we had eaten at several other times and was about a ¼ mile from GKYC. As the afternoon wore on the other two couples ended up cancelling for different reasons, and we opted to go early in order to prevent getting caught in the now approaching thunderstorms. All throughout dinner it rained and stormed, but we were safely enjoying good food and good company. We stretched out our time to as long as possible and finally when it let up we walked back to the boat, dodging the raindrops and the puddles pouring water down the street storm drains.
Once back on the boat we queued up another two episodes of “Game of Thrones” and watched while cataloging pictures and working on this blog.
Croton-on-Hudson, NY (Thursday, 5/30):
Woke up to a very cool morning with temperatures in the mid 50’s. It was so calm in the harbor, and we looked for our swan family who were out again with the cygnets.
Denise wanted to go for a run, but her right foot was bothering her from the walking in NYC and decided that rest is what it required. We watched as the boat “At Ease” left the mooring field in the harbor early, but we were not in a hurry and wanted to wait as late as possible to time the outgoing current of the Hudson.
In the meantime fog rolled in and so we waited a little longer for some of it to burn off. After waiting a bit and none of it did, we finally left GKYC with the radar on. It was foggy, but not near as bad as we have seen in Maine. Before leaving we received a warm send off from our friends Joe & Barbara (“Balahula”) and Jim & a “virtual” Jackie (“Dona Pacem”).
Once out on Raritan Bay we were blocked by Staten Island so there was little waves and we were able to shoot across it in no time. Before long we went under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, passing Fort Wadsworth and entering New York Harbor. Denise commented to Mark that it was just a short 6 months ago that she ran on the top of the bridge during the start of the NYC Marathon, albeit in much sunnier conditions.
The New York Harbor was full of barges either underway or at anchor, and for the first time the cloud ceiling was so low we could barely see the top of the skyscrapers. However, with such weather there were hardly any pleasure craft out to negotiate around, just the usual ferries and tows.
We turned around the battery area and made our way north up the Hudson River, taking in all the sights along the way. Included in this was some of the most interesting of architecture:
Briefly the fog burned off and we got to see some interesting sites along the Hudson River, as well as the beautiful places that is so underrated and unknown by so many.
We passed under the George Washington Bridge and made our way north, leaving behind the state of New Jersey which had been along the port side of us.
We came up the Tappan Zee Bridge (I-275) and had to slow down considerably as they were still working on this project. Four years ago when we came through this way they were just starting construction on the new bridge; now they were taking down the old one. Your federal tax dollars at work!
We passed this work boat (the “Jeanne II”) as we left the Tappan Zee in our wake:
Just after the bridge we passed several Looper boats of whom we had heard about, including “At Ease”. We knew they were most likely headed to the same place as us and thought we could connect with them after we arrived. All of this took place as we passed Tarrytown and the community of Sleepy Hollow (made famous from the writings by Washington Irving).
And even though it was a bit foggy and we were far away, there was no mistaking Sing-Sing, the NY state penitentiary made famous in movies and tv that we cruised by shortly thereafter. Soon we approached Croton Point and contacted Dockmaster Steve at Half Moon Bay. He was excited that we were the first of many boats that would be coming in and met us at the dock to assist with tie up.
The marina sits behind a break wall of sorts, blocking some of the boat wakes, but not all. So on a really windy day or if there is a lot of boat traffic, we were still going to rock. We were put into a slip that faced this wall and allowed the bow to take the brunt of the motion.
After settling the boat and getting all the marina information, we went for a walk. We wanted to check out a new market that had opened called “Apple Farm”. It is a regional chain grocery store with a big fresh produce section, a meat and deli counter and a seafood counter. It is not large, but was perfect for the few items we needed to round out our lunches and dinner.
We also walked to the other shopping plaza to check out the Italian market “A&S fine foods” where we purchased a salad to have for dinner and a couple of meatballs for a later meal. Here we were disappointed to see that the barbeque joint we really liked had closed and the unit was up for rent.
We returned to the boat in time for Mark to get in a few phone calls and for us to purchase our plane tickets home in June. Mark also purchased a new notebook computer for delivery when we are home in June. After 7 years it was time for him to get a new one and not have to deal with a potential disaster again.
Once again afternoon & evening thunderstorms were forecasted and they arrived as schedule at 5 pm. We had already made plans to eat on board, finishing off the leftover pizza and new salad from the Italian market. And while cataloging pictures and completing a write-up of notes for other Loopers, we watched another two episodes of “Game of Thrones”.
Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office.