Monthly Archives: June 2021

Block Island Bliss!

Montauk, NY to Block Island, RI

Block Island, RI – Thursday, 6/24

Since we did not have a long way to go today, we were in no hurry to head out of Montauk.  Our destination was Block Island, RI (aka BI), just 18 miles away, so Denise went for a run.  First she ran the road to and down Star Island, passing the entrance to Gurney’s Star Island Resort, the Montauk Yacht Club, and the USCG Station Montauk entrance. She then ran down to the harbor, then back around a neighborhood not far from the boat. It was mostly flat and she enjoyed seeing all the sights from the land.

We left Snug Harbor Inn & Marina at 10:30, shoving off from this warm and friendly place.  We enjoyed our time here and we are glad we made the decision to pay for the marina in order to experience this unique place.

We left the harbor with clear skies and a slight wind; it was a really pretty day to be on the water.  As we exited we could see the RVs all parked on the beach at the County RV Beach Park, noting that we must share this with our RV-ing family members as a pretty cool place to spend a night or two.

We cruised northeast (mostly east) finally passing Montauk Point with a very visible radar antennae and then the lighthouse on the point.

Shortly after 11:00 we crossed the state line, entering Rhode Island and saying good bye to the state of New York; where we spent nearly a full month.  Block Island Sound was lovely and we could see the Rhode Island mainland in the distance, and the windmills on the Atlantic Ocean side.  As we got closer to BI, Denise also noticed other “sticks” that were on the BI Sound side and asked Mark what he thought it was.  Soon we could clearly make out the masts of hundreds of sailboats. We were coming to BI at the end of “Race Week” and there were hundreds of sailboats who had just started the day’s race. It was very cool and made for some great pictures.

Captain Mark managed to negotiate around the different class races and got us to the channel and eventually through the inlet.  We entered through the breakwater noticing the USCG Station Block Island to our right, along with an interesting driftwood sculpture.  We entered “New Harbor” and the Great Salt Pond, locating the fairway between all the moorings so we could move to the anchorage area.  We had already identified a spot based on inputs from others, just off Breezy Point and not far from “Dinghy Beach”.

We set our anchor between several other power boats, then ate lunch right away. We wanted to be able to see as much of the island as possible today, so we called for the town launch who immediately came out to take us into New Harbor. Once on land, we found Aldo’s for renting a moped (recommended to us by cruising friends).  They took us on their shuttle to Old Harbor (less than 2 miles away) where we rented mopeds for a 2-hour increment.  Off we went to tour wherever we could on this beautiful island.

First we went to see the South Lighthouse and the Mohegan Bluffs, stopping along the way to see some of the sights and click pictures.

Then we drove back through Old Harbor, took the road that paralleled the ocean, and eventually passed Dinghy Beach and Fred Benson Beach.

We continued all the way to the north end of Block Island where the Lighthouse, Settlers Rock, and the National Refuge were located. Here the beach is incredibly rocky and all vehicles are not allowed past a certain point.  To walk out to the lighthouse was about a half-mile hike and Denise’s right foot was really hurting, so we did not tackle the rock-strewn shore. Plus, it was not open to go to the top, nor was the interpretive trail on Sachem Pond.  So, we just looked around and took a bunch of pictures. It was such a beautiful day and so clear that we could actually see the shoreline of mainland Rhode Island.

Settlers Rock
Block Island National Refuge sign

We then needed to connect with Loopers Laurie & Kevin (“Laurie Jean II”). We had been in communication with this couple through our Looper network (AGLCA.org) as they are currently living (part-time) on BI and are unofficial “Harbor Hosts”.  Since we have never been here, we thought it would be good to have local knowledge, and they are the ones who provided us with the suggestions of where to anchor and where to rent mopeds.

Now it was time for a face-to-face meet up.  We took the scooter to meet Laurie (who works at the BI Rental Car place) and made plans for a meet up after she got off work.  She suggested that in the meantime we take the moped for a quick pass out to the airport.  We did just that and found a really quaint airport that has flights from Block Island to the mainland, as well as parts of Cape Cod.

We then drove all the way back to Old Harbor to return the moped as our time was coming to an end.  We still had to walk back to meet up with Laurie & Kevin; more than a mile away.  But we had we had plenty of time, so we did some souvenir shopping along the tourist traps of Old Harbor.  (Yes, we got another magnet). We then headed back to New Harbor passing a typical B&B/Inn found along the island, the firehouse, and the New Shoreham Police Dept.

The Barington Inn
BI Firehouse
New Shoreham Police Dept.

Just up the road from there we stopped at a place that rents Kayaks and is home of the Block Island Maritime Institute; a marine research facility.  We spoke with one of the workers and he told us about some of the research they do on the fish in the area.  We sat on their Adirondack chairs overlooking New Harbor for a bit of a respite, and then it was time to meet our new friends.

At 5:00 we made our way back to meet Laurie who needed a little more time. So we made plans for a rendezvous on the Adirondacks at the Narragansett Hotel, just up the street.  The chairs overlook the entire New Harbor and is a favorite spot of theirs.  We headed there first, and she and Kevin eventually caught up with us. For a good hour we shared a bottle of wine and great conversation getting to know one another, talking about our mutual Great Loop experiences. 

We then went down the hill to Dead Eye Dicks for dinner.  Because of race week, the place was packed and we were told it would be a 1 to 1.5 hour wait for a table.  We optioned for seats at the bar where we were able to order our meals, and had a great time together. Come to find out we have many Looper friends in common and laughed about how could it be that we had not yet met before, especially since they are (now) from Punta Gorda, FL.

In the meantime the very nice weather turned very cool and the skies went from sunny and beautiful to overcast; rain was coming and we hoped to get back to boat before it hit.  We said good-bye to Laurie & Kevin and thanked them for their great hospitality.  We hope to connect with them again in the winter when they are back in FL, and if we head to the FL West Coast on another Island Office adventure.

We quickly walked back to the launch, arriving just as it started to drizzle, and by the time we got back on the boat, it was raining.  It did stop for a while and we were able to capture a nice sunset, but it continued to rain off and on throughout the night.

Block Island, RI – Friday, 6/25

When Denise woke up it was cold in the boat and she didn’t want to get up.  Finally, she forced herself out of the warm covers and turned on the generator to get the heat going; Mark slept in.  Fixing coffee she observed that she could barely see the other boats in the Great Salt Pond; we were fogged in big time!  The area around BI Sound is known for its vicious weather and fog, but usually the Great Salt Pond is an area of clarity when everywhere else deals with the fog.

We spent the morning working on cataloging pictures over the last 4 days; there were well over 400 of them so this took a long time, and we did not finish before lunch.  In the meantime the fog lifted a bit, but not sufficiently or in time for the last day of sailboat racing; all races were cancelled.  So when we called for the launch to take us in to shore, we had to wait almost 20 minutes as all the sailors were packing it in and trying to get to the ferry or to their stay at local establishments. The single launch was very busy and the second launch doesn’t start running until the weekend.

Finally, the launch came and took us back to the New Harbor waterfront. We walked up the hill to The Oars Restaurant, where Mark had wanted to come since reading about the place. Now, we know why everyone recommends it: it is a very fun place, with lots of outdoor picnic tables, corn row and other games on the lawn and a killer view overlooking the harbor. Inside, the fun continues with thousands of oars that hang from the ceiling and on the walls (and thus their name). There are plain ones and colorful ones, and they come from all over the world.  There are so many all over the place that it makes the entire place a piece of art.

Due to the fog and drizzly weather we did not want to sit outside, and there was a wait for inside tables.  But we secured a spot in the bar area, which proved to be lots of fun.  We had a good lunch and enjoyed watching the sailors from the race teams.  We spent some time talking with one of the race committee members who was from Chicago, and took in the atmosphere of the celebrations, clothing, and stories the sailors shared. This brought back lots of fun memories for Mark and his days of racing J-boats when we lived in Southern California.

After lunch and hanging out in the bar for a while, we took the launch back to the boat.  Mark did some work on the dinghy based on input from Louie, the launch driver, and got it running again.  He took it out for a test drive and all seemed to be working ok, however he has already been in contact with the Yamaha service for it to be looked at when we get back to the mainland.  We need a reliable dinghy engine in Maine and need to ensure we can count on the one we have.

In the afternoon, we finished cataloging the pictures through Montauk and began writing the next blog update.  We talked with family and friends who know they can call us no matter where we are (and in BI the cell coverage is pretty good).  We watched more boats come in for the weekend, including a 3-way raft up that anchored right behind us.  Although it didn’t rain, the moisture in the air was high and fog lingered around the edges of the harbor.

We had been on the fence about leaving; really wanting more time in this very cool place.  Our schedule allowed for it, but the weather was not going to cooperate.  We had a choice: we could leave in the morning, knowing we would most likely face a lot of fog, or stay.  If we stayed we would be here more than 5 days as the wind was going to be strong and 4‘- 6‘ (average) seas were forecasted on BI Sound. Also if we stayed we would need to purchase water for the boat, or pay exorbitant dock fees at a marina.

This was a no-brainer decision.  With radar and AIS, we would rather deal with fog then get beat up in 6’ seas.  Also, with the dinghy engine questionable, and a quick fix on the shower sump pump, Mark thought it would be prudent to bypass Cape Cod (Martha’s Vineyard and Falmouth) and head directly into Fairhaven where we will have access to needed resources to fix both these items correctly.  We went to bed with this decision in place and grateful for finally getting to enjoy a fun time at Block Island.

Here are some other pictures of Block Island:

The End of Long Island!

Sag Harbor, Long Island, NY – Tuesday, 6/22

Greenport to Sag Harbor

Our day started with Denise going for a run in Greenport.  Leaving the marina she headed down the streets she had walked the previous day, but this time she continued further west to the main highway (NY25) and ran briefly down it past the Lin Beach House and on to Kontokosta Winery, where we visited in 2017 when Claire was aboard.

Afterwards she ran back through town and up and down streets along the waterfront. Here she discovered new condos that had since been built, where once there stood a few older homes, as well as some other interesting sites:

Although we didn’t have far to go (less than 10 miles to an anchorage in Sag Harbor) we wanted to arrive early so we could see some of the village, and also before the forecasted thunderstorms arrived.  So, just after 8:30 we left Mitchell Park Marina and headed out of the harbor, passing the ferry terminal and Shelter Island on our port side. 

We entered the Shelter Island Sound and to our right we passed the town of Southold and the Great Hog Neck.  Soon we made our way through Noyack Bay, around the North Haven Peninsula and into Shag Harbor with its beautiful boats and mega yachts in port; the Ft. Lauderdale of New York.  This is the Hamptons, and the playground of the uber-rich.

We anchored Island Office in the Sag Harbor Cove, where there were only three other boats; one of which left shortly after we arrived.  We then launched the dinghy and took into the Village of Sag harbor.  First we walked around docks to look at all the yachts, then we walked around the downtown and found a shop to buy the requisite magnet (have you see our magnet board at home?).  We walked up and down the main streets of the Village, seeing unique shops, restaurants and coffee houses. There is no Kilwin’s or Ben & Jerry’s here.

Yachts in Sag Harbor – see the car on top the yacht on the left

Soon it was lunch time and we found a small lunch spot recommended by “Debbie” in the shop where we bought the magnet. She had recommended one of their sandwiches on focaccia bread, which we did order.  As this is mostly a pizza joint for pickup and delivery, there was no place to sit down, but there were chairs in front of the ice cream place next door. So we sat outside enjoying a delicious lunch that was so filling we each took ½ of the sandwich home for another meal. 

While eating, we enjoyed watching a police officer coordinating the pedestrians in the cross walk, with the continuous stream of cars coming through the traffic circle.  We can only imagine how crazy this place must be in the middle of the summer with cars and crowds.

Directing traffic for Pedestrians
Traffic circle

We could see the storms were coming in and wanted to make it back to the boat before they hit. We headed back to the town dinghy dock and got into “Cubicle” (nickname for our dinghy) and motored our way back to the boat.

Once we got back to the anchorage we saw another Back Cove (“Family Ties”) was now also there, but the first power boat had left.  We barely made it back in the boat before the rains came.  It poured and there was lots of thunder, but we were well protected in this beautiful cove.

During the rest of the afternoon we did office work, emails and talked with family, all-the-while marveling at the beautiful homes and boats that were within site.  The best part was our accommodations were free! 

House behind at anchorage

Mark also noticed an issue with our shower sump pump; it wasn’t working and the shower was now draining to the bilge.  He spent some time working on a temporary fix, and ordered (via Amazon) a replacement motor to be sent to a future destination (Point Independence Yacht Club) after the July 4th weekend.

Mark working on sump pump

Not wanting to cook and still relishing our tasty lunch, we decided to eat the leftover half sandwiches for dinner.  They were just as good as they were at lunch, and we were happy to relive this party in our mouths.

We found Sag Harbor to be a warm and friendly community. While there is some snob appeal in some of its visitors, all the locals we met were incredibly nice and we were very glad we came to see this beautiful place.

Montauk, Long Island, NY – Wednesday, 6/23

Sag Harbor to Montauk

It was the perfect morning to just sit around and enjoy the beauty of the area. The sky was clear and the air was crisp, but not cold.  We hung out for a while taking it all in, then at 9:30 we left to head to “the end” of Long Island, Montauk.

We exited our anchorage at Sag Harbor Cove, went under the Ferry Road Bridge, passed the mega yachts and sailboats in the marina and moorings, and said good bye to Sag Harbor.

We entered Sag Harbor Bay, passing Shelter Island to our port, and eventually Cedar Point and its lighthouse to our starboard.  Here we re-entered Gardiners Bay only this time on the eastern side, almost completing a full circle around Shelter Island in the last few days. We hugged the eastern coast passing a few large sailboats, one at anchor and the other underway.  They were similar vessels and we wondered if the one was waiting on the other for a meet-up.

The channel turned to the east and we rounded Gardiners Island before heading back north-northeast. Around 10:30 we officially entered Block Island (BI) Sound and cruised along the coast of the north fork of Long Island until we came to the breakwater into Montauk Lake. This was originally a freshwater lake, but in 1927 a developer blasted a gap in the shoreline to provide access to Bl Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.  Today, it is a salt water harbor and home to one of the largest fishing fleets on the east coast.  The harbor and lake are actually a few miles north of the Village of Montauk, located on the Atlantic Ocean side of Long Island.

We approached the breakwater as a USCG boat was maneuvering in and out; we think it was on a training exercise or testing out something. As soon as we entered the breakwater, it returned in behind us. The USCG Station Montauk was immediately in front of us on Star Island as we entered the channel.

Topside Bar & Inlet Café

We took to the eastern side of Star Island and Mark found an anchoring spot that was between the mooring field and the shallows of the lake.  We settled the boat at anchor and then Mark called a few places to see where we could land our dinghy. There is no town dock as they don’t really cater to the cruiser (at anchor or moorings). They prefer those who come in to stay at marinas, yacht clubs or resorts with docks, or private moorings. Therefore, there is also not a launch service.  Finally, he was able to secure a spot for a dinghy at one of the marinas that would let us tie up for a few hours for free.  We just wanted to grab some lunch and walk around the small harbor area a bit.  We launched the dinghy, got in and untied from the boat.  As we pulled away from boat, the engine stalled.  We got it restarted, but when we tried to put it into gear it stalled again.  After several attempts and now drifting with the current, we were forced to immediately break out the oars and row back to boat.  Mark worked on it a bit and thought he had it fixed, even taking it on a test drive. So Denise got back into the dinghy and we started out again, but it again failed. Fortunately, this time we were still tied on to boat.

Now we had a dilemma; to come this far and not see Montauk would be a huge disappointment.  We decided to eat lunch on the boat and consider our options.  After several considerations, we decided to bite the bullet and pay for a marina.  We called Snug Harbor Inn & Marina (a place recommended to us by a cruiser on a boat in Greenport).  They could take us for a one-night only stay, so we booked the slip.  And we are so glad we did.

We pulled up the anchor and moved the boat back through the harbor to the other side of Star Island and went down the channel as far as we could until we came to the Inn and Marina where we docked the boat on a side tie.

We checked in with office and got lots of suggestions for places to eat, things to see and transportation options.  

Snug Harbor Marina

We decided to walk the (less than) mile to the village area around the harbor. Along the way we saw several restaurants and all the sport fishing and whale watching charter businesses, as well as the working docks for Gosman’s, a big fish processor.

Next door were the businesses that overlooked the inlet, including a few touristy shops, a restaurant, and the Topside Bar, where we went for a drink.  The Snug Harbor Hotel staff had suggested the place for its view, and today it was a spectacular day and worth the walk.  Here we met Julie, our waitress who was originally from France, but now lives on a houseboat in our marina.  She was very informative about the area, and even told us about the boat next to her in the marina (more on that later).

Working dock at Gosman’s
Gosman’s Dock – shops and restaurant
At Topside Bar

After a few pictures, a magnet purchase and a walk around the fishing docks, we left trying to figure out how we could get to “town”.  It was too far to walk and there were no bikes to rent.  We had also been considering going out to the Montauk Lighthouse, but it was closed until July 3rd, and the museum was only open until 4 pm, so we ruled it out as a place to spend our limited amount of time.  As we were contemplating walking back to the boat, then getting an Uber from there to go into the Village of Montauk, we noticed a city bus at idle.  We talked with the driver and found out that the bus runs between the harbor, the Village and East Hampton on a circular route.  Our timing was perfect and “Sal” the driver encouraged us to hop on; it would only be 10 minutes for us to get to “town”.  But the best part was he gave us the senior discount and it cost us a whopping $1.50 in total for the ride.

Along the way, Sal filled us in on a lot of history around Montauk and about the people.  He really liked to talk and Mark being a great listener got an earful.  But it was fun and we learned a lot.

Mark talking to Sal

Once in the Village, we first walked a few blocks to the beach.  We were fortunate to encounter a Marine Patrol Officer on the boardwalk who took our picture overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.  We went back into the main street of town and did some souvenir shopping (Mark a t-shirt, Denise a throw blanket for the boat), and took a few pictures.

At Montauk Beach

We were ready to head back to the boat and have a more affordable dinner in the harbor, and nearer our boat.  We walked to the bus stop, arriving about 15 minutes before the scheduled departure.  After 40 minutes the bus was still not there, despite one of the locals telling us that it is never more than 20 minutes late. So we called for an Uber who was there in less than 2 minutes and in 10 more minutes we were back at the boat. It was the best $20 we spent as Denise’s foot was hurting from all the walking, she was cold, and she wanted to change into some warmer clothes before dinner.

We then went to the restaurant at the marina next door as suggested by the Snug Harbor staff.  We had a delicious meal of the freshest seafood (Denise got sushi and Mark got Fish n Chips) and we both loved our meal. The food was good, reasonably priced and glad we came back to the harbor area for dinner.

Now to the story about the boat next to (waitress) Julie’s boat: There is a book called “A Speck in the Sea” (that we have both read) that is based on a real story about a Montauk fisherman (John Aldridge).  He fell off the back of his fishing boat in the middle of the night, 40 miles offshore when his childhood friend and first mate (Anthony Sosinski) was asleep. Miraculously he was rescued and lived to tell the tale. Apparently they have been working on getting this made into a movie.  The boat next to Julie’s is Anthony Sosinski’s current home.  You can read more about this story here.

Anthony Sosinski’s boat

And now about Snug Harbor Inn and Marina: this is a local’s marina, but the inn is an old-school motel that is a throwback to the 1960’s.  Family-owned and operated, the place is very customer service focused, very clean, and well-maintained.  It was a great spot for us and we were so glad we salvaged our stay here so we could experience life at “the end” of Long Island.

And with the close of the day, we spent our last night in New York.

“The show” in Greenport!

Greenport, Long Island, NY – Sunday, 6/20

We had gone to be early last night and with the earliest sunrise of the year, we both were wide awake well before we needed to be. After eating breakfast and looking at the planned trip for the day, Mark said “let’s go” and by 7:30 we were on our way.  Our destination was 60+ miles north to Greenport; about a 3 hour cruise.

We left Huntington Yacht Club and made our way through the bay, sound and inlet, and back out onto LI Sound.  At first we saw a few fishing boats, and passed by Eaton’s Neck where the Coast Guard Station and Lighthouse are very visible on the point.

Bu then for miles it seemed like we were the only boat on the entire LI sound. This is due to the fact that we were traversing the widest part of the sound; even though we could still see both coastlines in the distance, any boats that were out there were far off.  The water was mostly calm until we got into the areas where there were counter currents, then it got a bit choppy. However, there was little wind so the waves were tolerable.

Then things got busy.  First we passed by a research vessel, and immediately afterwards a freighter heading out to sea.

Not long afterwards, we came to an area known as Plum Gut, an area marked by Plum Gut lighthouse on our left, and Orient Point Lighthouse on the right.

This is a channel between Plum Island and Orient Point, the last inhabited point on the north fork of Long Island. This is the channel that boaters take if heading to Montauk, Sag Harbor or (like us) towards Greenport, and is known for its rough currents.  We had the current, tide and low wind in our favor and it was still a little choppy, but mainly because of the numerous boats who were churning up the waters as we all negotiated with each other through the pass.

Once through the pass, we turned south into Gardiners Bay and cruised down the coast of Long Beach. We rounded the point at Long Beach Bar Lighthouse (aka “Bug Light”) to our right, and Shelter Island to our left. Here there are some beautiful homes that overlook the bay.

Shortly thereafter we pulled into Mitchell Park Marina in Greenport. It was just after 11:00 am and we found the marina only partially full, although boats were coming in behind us one right after the other. We settled the boat, checked in at the marina office and then went back to the boat to do a few chores, and to watch the show.

There is a saying in boating that goes like this: “you are either watching the show or you are the show”.  Today we watched the show.  As many boats of varying sizes came into the marina we watched them all trying to dock, most with lots of people on board who were clueless what to do. People who have no understanding of how wind and current affects their ability (or lack thereof) to maneuver their boats, makes for cheap entertainment and even some scary moments. At one point the boat pulling into the slip next to us almost hit our boat. Mark had suggested we put out extra fenders and it was a good thing we did.  Needless to say we had several interruptions to our tasks in order to assist others or to protect our own boat. 

Within an hour of our arrival, the marina was packed full of boats. It was Father’s Day, and it seemed that every dad from Connecticut was on his boat and came to Greenport for the afternoon; after all it is only 90 minutes away for many of these go-fast boats.  The town was crowded and there were lots of people around the waterfront park and the streets of this cool village.  All afternoon we watched several large yachts come into port and leave, only to be replaced by others. But, by 5:30 pm most of the boats had left and by 9:00 pm there were only a handful in the marina for an overnight stay.

When not watching the show, we spent our time doing boat chores.  Now with full marina services (electricity and water) we took to cleaning our floating home. Mark washed the salt off the outside of the boat while Denise scrubbed and polished the galley, including all the stainless.  By the time happy hour rolled around, we were deserving of those hard-earned drinks.

For dinner we were hungry for some red-meat and found “Andy’s” where we got French dipped sandwiches that reminded us of the ones back home in the old Park Plaza Gardens.  They were filling and we both took leftovers back to the boat for another meal.

In the evening the town got really quiet as the day trippers were gone and the overnighters hunkered down. The only noise and movement came from the ferries at the terminal right next to the marina.  These boats carry people and cars to and from Shelter Island, or on to the Hamptons on the south fork of Long Island. Many of the “working class” who support the businesses in these parts take this mode of transportation as it is less time consuming and cheaper in the long run than driving on the highways.  By the time they stop at midnight, we were long asleep.

Greenport, Long Island, NY – Monday, 6/21

It had been a restful night sleeping, so when Denise woke up she was full of energy.  She went for a long walk in the morning, in part to burn some calories and to also take pictures without a lot of people blocking the view.  When she left there was a little fog out on the bay, but by the time she returned we were completely fogged in and you could barely even see the bay.  Here are some pictures from her outing:

One reason for coming to Greenport was to be able to do laundry, which was located two blocks from the marina.  We got right on it as soon as possible, but despite having 3 washers all going at the same time, it literally took all morning to get this done.  While Denise was tending to finishing this, Mark worked cleaned the bilge in the engine room, and spent a good bit of time on the phone with clients.

In the afternoon we worked on downloading and cataloging the numerous photos taken over the last few days, and we talked with family and friends on the phone.  We also reviewed the weather and put together an itinerary for the next few days that would include stops in Sag Harbor, Montauk, and Block Island; all 3 places we have wanted to see, but have not been able to during our last trips through LI Sound.

In the evening we went to dinner at Front Street Station as they are known for their fresh seafood. We both got the broiled flounder dinner and it was really very good.  We spoke at length with the manager who gave us some insight into the changes we had seen since being here 4 years ago. He told us the big developers had moved in and are now trying to make this town like a second Sag Harbor.  It has historically been a working class-blue collar community, but that is now changing and pushing out a lot of the people who have lived here their whole lives.  He also spoke of the inability to get help, caused mostly by the Covid epidemic, but also because the workers are leaving to live in more affordable locations.  We were sad to hear this as it is just one more town we have encountered that is losing its authenticity and that which makes it great.  We still think it is a great town and we are glad we have been fortunate to see it.

After dinner we went for a walk downtown and stopped into Ralph’s Italian Ices for a cool after-dinner treat.

We walked back to the boat and settled in for the night, still researching for an affordable location in Massachusetts for the next weekend.  All the marinas are full, or they charge a ridiculous amount for dockage ($4 – $6 per foot). We are not opposed to moorings or anchoring, but we need to find a place where we can walk or get transportation to go to church.  This is our challenge over the next few days.  Meanwhile, we will enjoy our planned destinations and keep an eye on the weather, hoping it holds so we can have good cruising conditions.

Huntington Hospitality!

Huntington Yacht Club, Long Island, NY – Friday, 6/18

As usual, Denise was up early and began the generator to warm up the boat (it was 60°) and to brew coffee.  It was calm in the harbor, other than a few passing fishing boats that periodically created small wakes.

Denise wanted to get up early to jump on getting email done, and to get the last blog update published. We were going only 20+ miles today; our destination was Huntington Yacht Club, near the Village of Huntington.  This would only take us a little over an hour to get there, so we were not in any hurry to leave our mooring.

Finally, at 9:00 we left Port Washington and headed out of Manhasset Bay onto Long Island Sound in near perfect conditions. It was a beautiful day and there was hardly any wind (less than 5 kts), with barely a ripple on the water.  We could even see the NYC skyline as we turned north.  Along the way we got to see the hilly eastern shore of Long Island Sound, and passed a few lighthouses; some on land and some in the water.

Before long we were entering the Huntington Bay Inlet which is wide open and has a power plant on its northern shore which is very visible.  At the eastern end is the Huntington Inlet Light which signifies the start of the “no-wake” zone all the way into the harbor.

The shoreline surrounding the inlet, the bay and eventually the harbor are speckled with enormous and beautiful homes, as well as natural preserve areas. It really was quite beautiful and Denise took way too many pictures of the homes.

At 10:30 we arrived at the Huntington Yacht Club (HYC) and initially pulled up to the fuel dock to fill our water tanks.  We met Dockmaster, Otto and he gave us our mooring assignment, all the required marina information, and a bag of ice for our cooler.  We then headed to mooring ball #42 which was not too far from the docks and just along the edge of the shore. It was a great spot and we got to see all the action: boats coming and going in the harbor, birds on the shore, and Yacht Club activities.

We spent the rest of the morning working, doing emails, and talking with family on the phone.  After lunch we called for the launch so we could get off the boat and investigate the Yacht Club.  We walked around the grounds checked out the pool area, the snack bar at the pool, the clubhouse, and the marina. The wind had picked up considerably, so we were not anxious to go back to the boat, which was rocking around in the waves.  Since it was such a nice day, we just hung around the patio area of the club, with its bright colored umbrellas and comfortable chaise lounges.

Eventually, we had the launch take us back to the boat for the rest of the afternoon and evening. Due to Covid, the club’s restaurant and bar was still closed, but we had already made plans to eat on the boat for dinner anyway. Although working intermittently throughout the day, the reach of the Yacht Club Wi-Fi into the moorings was just too erratic for us to try and stream TV or a movie this evening. Plus Mark was wanting to read his book instead, so that is how we both spent the rest of the evening.

Huntington Yacht Club, Long Island, NY – Saturday, 6/19

Figuring she could use her run as a reconnaissance mission, Denise plotted a course to go into Huntington. But first she had to get the launch to take her (or get Mark up early) to get off the boat. The launch was not available until after 7:00, and she was getting impatient waiting. It was getting hotter each minute, and finally when he did come the temperature was already at 73° – normal by FL standards, but she has not had to run in temps like this for a few weeks.

Heading out of HYC, Denise headed up a big hill and then down a narrow 2-lane road, canopied with beautiful trees, lovely homes, and no sidewalks or shoulder.  About a quarter of a mile down the road, she passed a few businesses, and the neighborhood firehouse, where finally the road widened and there was sidewalk the rest of the way.  She ran past the marinas that lined the edge of the harbor, through a rotary and into the Village of Huntington and some of its many shops and restaurants.  After 2 miles she turned around and headed back; a shorter than desired run, but the heat and the hills were taking its toll. 

When we first decided on Huntington as a venue, we had wanted to go visit Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, which is the former home of Teddy Roosevelt. In addition to his summer home, there is also a museum and trails to hike on the grounds. We also wanted to see one of the Vanderbilt homes, and both of these venues were within 20 minutes of HYC.  So, we tried to rent a car through both Enterprise and Hertz; both of whom had locations less than 15 minutes from the HYC.  However, neither agency had weekend hours and would charge us for a rental from Friday until Monday, even if we only wanted the car for one day. The cost would have been over $250 and we felt like we could pay for a lot of Uber rides for that. What we didn’t know was that Uber would present its own challenges.

Once back on the boat, and breakfast done, we planned a local adventure for the day.  We would go to the Farmers market in town, then go to lunch, explore the Village a bit, go to 5:00 mass, and grab dinner before heading back to the boat.  All that sounded great, except that our plans were thwarted when we learned there were no Uber drivers available in the area.  We attempted to get the staff at HYC to take us via car, but they are not allowed, Otto said he could not spare us the manpower.  He did offer to have the launch take us to the city boat ramp area and we could walk the rest of the way into town.  We asked if there was a place to rent bikes, and then Otto mentioned about the ones you can pick up in one spot and drop off at another spot; like we have seen in many big cities.  As luck would have it there was one spot right near the boat ramp.

Off we went with Luis (launch captain) all the way to the end of the harbor, where he dropped us off at the boat ramp docks.  We then walked a short distance to the ball fields and deli (as directed by Otto) and sure enough, there was the bike stands with a sign to tell you what to do.  But what should have taken us 10 minutes to accomplish, ended up taking well over 30 minutes with all kinds of issues setting up our profiles and choosing bikes that previous renters had not ended their rentals, so it wouldn’t let us rent them.  Finally after a few calls to their customer service line, we were able to get it working and got two bikes so we could ride the rest of the way in town. It was hot and we were ready to get under way.

Our first stop was the town’s farmer’s market, which proved to be a big disappointment.  Although it was near their closing time when we arrived, it was so much smaller than we expected and some of the vendors were some form of franchise (selling pasta, selling dips and sauces, etc.) that we have seen at other farmer’s markets.   

We were done with this within 5 minutes and decided it was time for lunch.  But first we needed to find a place to return the bikes as there was no use in paying for time we were not riding them.  Lucky for us the stand was right near the restaurant we wanted to go to.  Five minutes later and to Mark’s delight we entered “Old Field’s” and placed our orders.  The best part was the beer that was super refreshing on this very hot day, but the food was pretty delicious too.

After lunch we walked around through some of the shops along the two main avenues through town.  In addition to some local places, they have a few of the usual touristy type stores (Ben & Jerry’s, Kerwin’s Chocolates, etc.).  But the one really unique thing we discovered was the bookstore, “Book Revue”.  It is like a Barnes & Nobles, plus a huge selection of used books, and a coffee bar.  We spent over an hour and half looking through books and enjoying the air conditioning; Mark even found a nice comfy chair where he attempted to take a nap.

Realizing we had spent way too much time in the place we knew we had to leave, but we had no other plans until mass at 5:30.  We figured we could go to the public library and hang out there for the next hour or so, before it would be time to walk to church.  Back down Main Street we walked to the public library, only to discover that is was closed due to the newly created National Holiday of Juneteenth.  We found some shade and sat at the park bench near St. John’s Episcopal Church for a bit, but it too got hot.  Across the street was a Panera and we decided it was time for some refreshing drinks and a late afternoon snack.  Off we went for refreshments and a place to relax, while making use of their Wi-Fi to plan our next series of stops on this adventure.

St. John’s Episcopal Church

Finally, it was time for church, so we walked one block further south to the Church of t. Patrick.  Here we found a beautiful church with a huge pipe organ and a warm congregation.

During mass, the expected rain came and we were wondering if we could get a ride back to the yacht club, instead of walking the mile to the town ramp and calling for the launch, as planned.  After mass we approached the priest (Fr. Noel Sixon) to see if he knew of anyone who could give us a ride. He kindly offered to take us and we took him up on the offer.  Along the way back to HYC we learned he is originally from the Philippines and is one of 5 kids. His father died when he was 4 and his mother when he was in seminary.  He was gracious and funny and we really felt so blessed to have encountered this really wonderful man.

Once back at HYC, we made plans to order dinner from the “take out” menu; currently available for pick up only in the clubhouse.  We put in our order and waited in their Regatta Room (the informal lounge and bar area) until it was available and then got the launch to take us back to our boat.  We turned on our generator to charge the batteries, and then ate our delicious dinner. We were tired and retired very early thereafter to a peaceful night.

HYC take out menu
Inside HYC

We really liked this Yacht Club. It is in a beautiful place and we found the staff to be excellent, and the food to be delicious. Our only regret was not being able to stay longer and visit the places we really wanted to see, but as it is on Long Island, we can always come back by car one day.

Tomorrow we will leave for Greenport, near the end of Long Island. We have been there before and after 4 days on moorings we are anxious for a slip on the dock. Here are a few other pictures of the HYCL

HYC Clubhouse Doors
At HYC
HYC patio overlooking harbor

Affordable Accommodations in LI!

Port Washington, Long Island, NY – Wednesday, 6/16

At 8:30 am we left Half Moon Bay Marina at Croton-on-Hudson and headed south down the Hudson River.  For the next 90 minutes we passed by the Palisades on our right, and some boat traffic on our left, including this large mega yacht.

MY “Huntress”

Just before the George Washington Bridge on the Hudson, we turned left, approached the Spuyten-Duyvil Railroad Bridge, and requested an opening.  This bridge spans the Spuyten Duyvil Creek leads to the western entrance of the Harlem River; a body of water dividing Manhattan and the Bronx, in New York City.  This 20-mile short cut prevented us from having to go all the way down the Hudson, around Manhattan and back up the East River. And because Island Office has an air draft of only 14 feet, we can easily get under all the other bridges along this river without issue.  Therefore, it is a big time and fuel saver. We had traveled this river on a Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise when visiting NYC in 2014, so we knew it was doable and not a bad trip. There was no debris in the water and we only saw a handful of other boats, all of which were pleasure craft and most we did not see until we were almost at the end.

Our travels down the Harlem River had us passing under 14 bridges, starting with the Henry Hudson Bridge and ending with the Ward Island Bridge where the Harlem River meets the East River.  Denise was particularly thrilled to go under the Madison Avenue and Willis Avenue bridges as this makes 4 of the 5 bridges we have taken our boat under, and she ran over during the NYC Marathon in 2018.

Shopping Plaza with Costco – Why can’t we just pull up to the dock???

We entered the East River and the area known as “Hell Gate” to a favorable 2.5 knot current and had our boat speed up to 23.5 kts.  This was a nice way to save on fuel and pick up some time as the Harlem River is a no-wake zone the whole way.  Here we encountered a little more boat traffic, including an FDNY boat, a pleasure craft who road in our wake for a while, and one of the infamous NY ferry boats.

We cruised by Rikers Island (NY Prison) and LaGuardia airport to our right, and soon went under the Throgs Neck Bridge and into Long Island Sound.  From a distance we could see the fort at Willets Point, and then the US Merchant Marine Academy.  Soon we passed by Stepping Stones Lighthouse and made a direct course to the buoy that marks the entrance to Manhasset Bay.

Our time on Long Island Sound was short (7 miles), but we encountered a brisk wind out of the west that sprayed salty water on the bow and port side of the boat; a first in over a week. It was a little bouncy, but not too bad and shortly thereafter we picked up a mooring from the Port Washington town moorings.  These are free for the first 24 hours and $25 per day for each day thereafter.  This is a real bargain as nowhere else on Long Island will one encounter such great prices.

Once settled into our spot, we ate lunch and then Mark launched the dinghy.  He was anxious to move and wanted to scope out the town dock.  Meanwhile, Denise worked on the last blog posting, trying desperately to get caught up.  After he returned from his outing he prepared for, and then completed a conference call.

In the meantime we watched the town’s boat launch ferry boaters from their moorings to several destinations on the shore.  We knew there was a large grocery store (Stop&Shop) and after Mark’s call was over we took the launch to the north town dock and go get a rotisserie chicken for dinner.  Only after we got on the launch did we find out that there still is a charge for the launch for the first night, but if you pay the $25/night for the subsequent nights on the mooring, it is free.  If we would have known that we would have taken our own dinghy today. But it is still a reasonable price: we will get two-night’s stay for $45 + tip for the launch driver.

The launch dropped us off at the Port North Pier near the Bay Walk, then we just had to cross the street to the “Stop&Shop”.  Here we picked up a few produce items as well as the chicken, then walked back to the park to catch the launch.

During the afternoon the wind really picked up and we returned to a very bouncy boat.  We spent time reviewing our upcoming itinerary and finalizing a few things.  Mark had been busy making inquiries and researching places where we could affordably tie to a dock for a few nights, as well as securing a place for the upcoming July 4th weekend.  Finally, we received confirmation on a place in the New Bedford/Fairhaven, Massachusetts harbor.  Next was more immediate; we already had Friday & Saturday nights covered with moorings at Huntington Yacht club in Huntington Harbor.  But we wanted to secure the rest of the weekend, and decided to go all the way to Greenport, where we stayed in 2017, for Sunday and Monday. We went ahead and made reservations for those two nights, praying the weather holds for the hours on Sunday to get there on the Long Island Sound.

The wind seemed to subside a bit, but the outgoing tide against the west wind made the slap of the water quite loud on the hull of the boat.  After our dinner, we tried to settle into some reading and stayed up later than we normally would because the din was worse in the stateroom than in the main salon.  Finally, it settled down enough that we could turn in for the night and fell fast asleep. But tonight we got treated to another great sunset!

Port Washington, Long Island, NY – Thursday, 6/17

We had the best of intention this morning: Mark was going to take Denise to town in the dinghy so she could get in a run, then he would go to breakfast at a diner and then take her back to the boat.  But we stayed up way too late last night, and slept in way too late in the morning.  Then the lack of motivation kicked in and the run and dinghy ride was abandoned.

We spent all morning and most of the early afternoon working on publishing the last blog, updating pictures, doing email and other work related items. It really isn’t a bad place to work on our Island Office; the view is outstanding!

Finally, around 2 pm we took the dinghy into the town dock and went for a walk.  We learned that they were having an event called “Port Outdoors”.  This occurs every other Thursday between May and October, and at 4pm they block off a certain section of Main St. for open air dining, sidewalk sales and live entertainment.  We were a bit too early for the festivities and there wasn’t much to do between our arrival and when it was to start. But we walked around to see some of the stores and buildings on Main Street, and getting some exercise in the process.

One of the places we ventured into was “Shields Hardware”. We love going to local hardware stores and this was no exception. We ended up talking with “Bryan” who works there part-time for fun.  He is a retired FDNY out of Brooklyn and still works as a volunteer for the Long Island Fire Department. He retired in 2004 and lost many friends on 911 as well as from post-911 injuries.  He also shared a lot of suggestions for places to eat in town and explained how the Port Outdoors event closed only part of Main Street, alternating sections depending on the week.

We left there and continued walking up the streets of this “downtown”. It really is just a main street, off of which are the cross streets lined with houses. The middle and high school kids had just gotten out of class (yes they go until the end of June here) and many of them were walking home. Some stopped for sweets at Dunkin Donuts, or at Gino’s for a slice of pizza along the way.  It was fun to take in all the sights. 

We were not really hungry, but didn’t really want to head back to the boat yet, so we popped into “Finn MacCool’s”, for a beer. “Bryan” suggested this place for good food and good drinks. We found it to be an “upscale” kind of Irish bar, and very nice indeed.  Like all the restaurants on Main Street, they too set up tables outside as soon as the road was closed at 4:00. But we had arrived prior to this and were comfortably ensconced in our bar stools with the comfort of air conditioning, so we were not going to move.  We ended up eating an early dinner inside as it was too sunny and hot to sit outside.  We split a wedge salad and an order of fish and chips that was very good, and the perfect accompaniment to our ice cold beers.

We left Finn MacCool’s and headed back down Main Street as the festivities were just getting under way.  We browsed through a few sidewalk sales and saw people gathering with their families at restaurant tables and in nearby Blumenfeld Family Park.  The weather was perfect for an evening like this and had we known sooner we would have planned differently.

We took our dinghy back to the boat and spent the rest of the evening watching crazy boaters trying to pick up mooring balls, or just out for a sunset cruise. It was cheap entertainment and fun to watch. It was also calm in the bay and we were also once again treated to a spectacular sunset.

Tomorrow (Friday) we will cruise the 20+ miles north on the Long Island Sound to Huntington Harbor, where we will spend the next two nights.

Half Moon Happy!

Shady Harbor to COH

Half Moon Bay Marina, Croton-on-Hudson, NY – Monday, 6/14

The weather was forecasted to be rainy all day, but that wasn’t going to keep us from leaving today. With Maine as our final destination, we knew it was time to start heading that way again. We left Shady Harbor Marina just before 8:00 am and headed down the Hudson River, for the first time ever.  It started out drizzling, but eventually stopped and we had almost no rain the rest of the way.

Our journey took us passed all the sights we had written about in prior posts, but this time we did not stop, including Kingston. Our goal was to get to Haverstraw Bay and spend the night somewhere there.  It was a bit different seeing some of the sites from a different perspective, especially around West Point and Bear Mountain.  Here the low-lying clouds and slight fog provided a whole different look and feel to this area.

Along the way Denise worked on cataloging pictures and writing part of the blog updates. Periodically, Mark even let her drive.  For most of the day we had the current in our favor and since most of the Hudson is protected, the southern wind was not really an issue. It got a little bumpy around Newburgh where the Hudson opens up for a bit, as it did in Haverstraw Bay.  Here we again stopped at Panco to top off the boat with fuel before settling in on a destination for the night.  We could go back to Shattemuck Yacht Club in Ossining, but we wanted a few more offerings (grocery, restaurant, etc.) than they had to offer.  We had been in touch with Steve, the dockmaster at Half Moon Bay Marina (HMB), and remembering us from prior visits, gave us a favorable rate for a 2-night stay.

So, just after 1:00 pm we pulled into Half Moon Bay and docked on a side-tie slip that was as far in (and protected) as we could go.  This was a good location for us, hoping the breakwater wall and other boats behind would offer protection from the coming west winds.  Steve was there to greet us and help with the tie-up, and when Mark mentioned that Denise wanted to run up to the store, he offered a ride.

Mark settled into some work and Denise went to Apple Farm; a small grocery store with fresh produce, a deli, seafood and meat counter.  It is like a miniaturized version of Whole Foods.  She walked the half-mile back to the boat for exercise, before settling into emails, work and blog updating.

In the afternoon, Looper Herb (“Phantom”) pulled into the marina, and we were surprised. He too is headed to Maine and left Shady Harbor earlier in the day, but had told us he was stopping in Newburgh.  Herb is a Platinum Looper (meaning he has done the Great Loop at least twice) and is known throughout the AGLCA for his “Porchtails” – “docktails” on the back of his boat every afternoon. He always has snacks and stories to tell. As usual, he invited all the Loopers in HMB to his boat, so we obliged, mainly to meet some of the other Loopers we did not know.  There were about 5 boats who were unable to make it to the Pig Roast, and who were trying to decide what to do should Canada not reopen the borders again this year.  This has hampered so many Loopers in the last two years and we feel for these people.

Again it started to drizzle, and realizing we had left the boat hatches open, Mark suggested we leave. We wished all who were leaving the next day a safe journey up the Hudson, and said good-bye to Herb who was headed up Long Island Sound. We may bump into him when we are cruising the Maine coast.

On the way back to the boat, we met Rosie & Clarke Gillespie on “Alegria”; a boat we had passed on the ICW weeks ago. It was fun to meet them (finally) and to learn we shared the same last name.  Due to the rain we did not stay long talking and were hopeful our paths may one-day cross again.  We returned to the boat for a dinner of leftovers and watching TV before calling it a night.

Half Moon Bay Marina, Croton-on-Hudson, NY – Tuesday, 6/15

It was a beautiful morning and the weather begged for being outside, so Denise went for a run along the water. Here there is a path that leads around the condominiums, to Croton Point Park, and back towards a 9-11 memorial in the other direction.  Having run here before, she knew the route and was able to log almost 5 miles on nice flat land.

Once back on the boat, Denise worked on getting a blog post together while Mark did some itinerary planning.  We had already identified certain locations (Sag Harbor & Montauk, NY; Block Island, RI, etc.) we want to go to on our way north, and we were trying to secure a marina or mooring for the July 4th weekend in the southern Massachusetts area.

During the day the wind from the west picked up and the boats in the marina really started to rock.  We were bouncing a good bit most of the afternoon, making it difficult to get any reading or writing done for Denise. At one point she went for walk around the marina and adjacent condominium grounds just to get off the boat.  When she returned, Mark was talking with “Rick” (“RAMA”) who is originally from Rhode Island.  He and his wife Marie are Loopers and he shared his knowledge of Block Island with us.  He has long-time friends who live there and he put us in touch with them so we may have a resource once we get there.

Finally in the evening we decided to go out to dinner and get off the boat.  We decided to try a restaurant that came highly recommended and was about a mile away just north of the marina.  We had to walk first on the pathway Denise had run on in the morning, then take the crosswalk over the freeway and train tracks, then down the street to a small little neighborhood.  Here we found The Tavern at Croton Landing and had a wonderful meal in this small but delightful pub.

On the way back we to the boat, we stopped at Croton Landing Park to enjoy the sunset and view.  There is no doubt the setting sun over the tops of the mountains on a clear day is quite spectacular.  We made it back to the boat just as the sun kissed the earth, ending the day happy that we had stopped here.

Pig Roast Weekend!

Donovan’s Shady Harbor Marina, New Baltimore, NY – Friday, 6/11

The morning had us working feverishly to get our tasks complete so we could have fun the rest of the weekend.  Denise finished up the laundry and catalogued many pictures while Mark worked on a few boat chores. He also was bird-dogging the return of the loaner car so we could jump on it as soon as it became available. Just after lunch he went up to the office to see if it was back, only to discover that it was and that Herb (“Phantom”) had signed it out and taken 2 other Looper couples with him. His reservation was on a previous page in the log and was not initially seen by staff.  Unfortunately, because there were so many in the party, they were able to keep it for longer than the usual 2 hours, which means there would not be time for us to get it, go to Walmart, and then get back in time for the festivities.

Since the loaner car was not available, we took Bob & Diane (“Journey”) up on their offer to use their car.  As it was an SUV, we were able to take new Looper friends Rick & Christie (“Inked Mermaid”) with us.  They too needed provisions and this gave us an opportunity to get to know them a little bit. It took close to 90 minutes for the round trip, plus shopping time, and we got back just in time for quick showers before the evening activities began.

Around 5:00 pm people had started to gather around the picnic tables, with docktails officially beginning at 5:30.  Tonight there were many more people here, so we got to meet even more new Loopers. We visited with everyone for about an hour, but then left as we had made reservations for dinner at the Boathouse, the restaurant at the marina. We knew from previous experience that many locals visit this restaurant on the Friday and Saturday nights, so we made advanced reservations for a party of 6; we had invited Jody & Louis (“Wanderer”), and Marcia & Pat (“Boyle in Water IV”) to join us.

Boathouse Restaurant
Dinner at Boathouse

Together we all had a great time enjoying the comradery of our new Looping friends and had a terrific meal at the restaurant.  The chef (Brian – not the owner), came out to our table and we had a chance to chat with him as well as Kathy (owner Brian’s wife). Of course we also got a serving of Little Beers (an after dinner cordial topped with whipping cream to make it look like a beer). This is a known entity at Shady Harbor and a special treat they give to all Loopers who come to their marina. It was lots of fun and a great way to kick off the weekend.

Little Beers

Donovan’s Shady Harbor Marina, New Baltimore, NY – Saturday, 6/12

All night long it rained and it was threatening to continue. Eventually, there was an opportunity for a break for a few hours, so Denise went for a run in the neighborhood just south of the marina.  The streets in this area are very hilly, and although a small part (1/4 mile) was on a busy two-lane highway, the rest was along streets surrounded by houses with little to no traffic.  The main road paralleled the Hudson River and provided nice scenery and with modern and old homes intermixed, bordered by forested lands filled with wildlife. She even spotted a few deer.

Denise returned a bit late, but in time to see the ending ceremonies for the Blessing of the Fleet; a planned event sponsored by the small Awenke Yacht Club located at Shady Harbor.  After the overall ceremony was concluded, the priest walked up and down all the docks and provided a blessing for each boat. It took a while for him to get to our boat, but eventually he did, and we were presented with a certificate.

During the blessing of the fleet, the weather cleared up and we ended up having a beautiful day. Once this was done, it was near time for the barbeque, which was also sponsored by the Awenke Yacht Club. They provide this barbeque for no charge, but they offer a raffle (prize is LOTS of bottles of alcohol and wine), and a 50-50 drawing, both of which raise money for one of their charities.  We of course had to buy tickets, but it still was cheaper than buying the hamburger, hotdog and steamers we had.

Barbeque and Steamers

The rest of the afternoon was spent socializing with other Loopers. First we went to the rum tasting event. This was another “free” activity and included an opportunity to play one of the many games (bocce ball, corn hole, etc.) in which we did not participate.  We are not fans of rum, so after our tasting we refrained from buying drinks or purchasing a chance on a guitar signed by a country-western singer whom we don’t know (the fundraising component). 

As we were walking back to the boat, we stopped off at the “Twisted Prop Container Bar” where quite a few people had gathered.  We were offered free beers (real ones not the little ones) and had a chance to speak with our friend Michael Hale and his wife Erin.  We met Michael in 2015 in Coinjock when he was crew for Brian Donovan’s boat (“Corporate Approved”). In 2019 when we were here he was the commodore of the Awenke Yacht Club, and offered us the use of his car. We have stayed in touch (via FB), so it was nice to spend some time with him and Erin.  They now live in New Baltimore, in a house just south of the marina and not too far from where Denise ran this morning.

In the evening, there was a big bonfire to chase away the night air. It was cool, but not cool enough for us to break out chairs and sit around it.  However, they were playing the movie “Captain Ron” on the outdoor screen, and that captured us for awhile.  We stood around talking to some Looper friends and then retired to our boat. It was a fun day, but we were tired and ready for some quiet time.

Saturday night bonfire & movie

Donovan’s Shady Harbor Marina, New Baltimore, NY – Sunday, 6/13

We had secure the loaner car early, and headed out to mass at St. Patrick’s in the nearby town of Ravena.  We had attended this church in 2019 with our friends Jackie & Jim (“Donna Pacem”) and looked forward to attending again. The priest is very animated, and gives great homilies.  Despite there being a baptism of a young girl, the mass ended within an hour and we were back at Shady Harbor in time to return the loaner car, and for Denise to help out in the next event.

Denise had worked with Kathy Donovan to help lead the Looper Ladies Networking Event with “bottomless mimosas” and champagne.  This was a sharing of ideas, concerns and overall helpful hints from women to women, who are “Looping”, or who have extensive cruising experience.  Denise had participated in it in 2019 when at that time it was led by Susan Costa (“Lucky Me”). She was unable to attend the Pig Roast this year, but Denise had been in contact with her to glean suggestions and guidance.  It was fun listening to what women have to say about what they have learned, what they can’t live without on their boats, and what their particular challenges and goals are or have been.

Afterwards Denise went back to the boat, ate a quick lunch, and began working on the blog that would end up taking several days to finally publish.

Soon it was afternoon and time for the big event: the pig roast.  Although officially it started at 3:00 pm, the band began playing around 2:00 pm, and people started gathering soon afterwards.  The food started being served around 3:30 after most of the “pot luck” dishes had been assembled.  How the pig roast works is that everyone brings a side dish to share, and a $10 donation per person for the food.  The donations go to support the American Cancer society Hope House in Nearby Albany, NY; a charity near and dear to the Donovan’s heart and for which they give generously. 

The band continued until 6:00 pm and there was a lot of sitting around and talking to others, along with a little alcohol consumption. We got to spend time getting to know our new friends Jayne and Steve (“Sabbatical”) a couple from Gainesville, FL who we met briefly at Great Kills Yacht Club in Staten Island.  It was so fun to hear everyone’s stories of how they came to be either full-time live-a-boards, or just part-time cruisers like us.  Some have sold everything and others (like us) have “dirt homes” to return to when their adventures are over. 

Finally, around 8:00 pm we headed back to the boat and retired for the evening. In the morning we were headed back down the Hudson River (a first for us), hoping to get to Haverstraw Bay and then eventually making our way to Long Island Sound.

We had a lot of fun this weekend, and (as always) enjoyed our time at Shady Harbor. Here are some other pictures that didn’t make it into our narrative:

Kingston Revisited – Itinerary Revised

Ossining to Kingston

Kingston, NY – Wednesday, 6/9

We left Shattemuck Yacht Club and headed north up the Hudson, passing Croton Point and entering Haverstraw Bay, a wide body of water.  To our right was Half Moon Bay Marina were we have stayed twice before, and to our left the town of Haverstraw, with no docking facilities but a reportedly well-protected anchorage. We didn’t go very far before we turned into Panco Fuel Services and filled up on the cheapest diesel we will find in all of NY.

Once we were fueled up, we headed out of Haverstraw Bay, passing the recently decommissioned Nuclear Power Plant at Indian Point.

Indian Point Nuclear Power Facility

From there we headed north along the winding Hudson and eventually coming to Bear Mountain and the Bear Mountain Bridge. This is one of the prettiest areas along the Hudson and there is an anchorage on the western shore at which we have considered staying, but it never seems to work into our schedule.

A short distance further up the Hudson we cruised past the US Military Academy at West Point.  Its massive complex hugs the western shoreline and is visible for miles before you come to it.  The bend in the Hudson took us past their athletic fields on our left and Constitution Island to our right.  During the American Revolution, this island was used by the Army to anchor a chain that was strewn across the Hudson from the shores of West Point, providing a barrier to enemy troops attempting to progress down the Hudson to NYC.  It ended up sinking several boats and contributed to the US winning the war.

West Point

 After West Point we cruised through the mountain region known as Hudson Highlands with mountains and state parks on both sides, as well as a few small towns. However, there is no real place for transient cruisers to stop, so we continued on. This trip we spotted the remains of the old aqueduct that was built to channel fresh drinking water from the upstate reservoirs to the eastern shore residents.  It is right near the trail head to Sugarloaf Mountain and where NYC residents come for weekend hiking adventures.

In this same vicinity we pass by Pollopel Island with the ruins of Bannerman’s Castle.  We have written about this in our previous blogs, and we always look forward to this landmark with its interesting history. You can read about it here.

Bannerman’s Castle on Pollopel Island

After Pollopel Island, the Hudson River widens for a period of time, and the channel took us past the town of Newburgh.  Although there is city marina and several waterfront restaurants, it has never given us a reason to stop; the docks are exposed to river wakes and winds, and there is reportedly a large homeless population that makes it unpleasant for visitors.

Newburgh

We went under the Newburgh bridge and continued north, eventually passing the town of Poughkeepsie and its two bridges; one a pedestrian pathway converted from the old railway.  Poughkeepsie is home of Vassar College where our nephew (Ryan) recently graduated with a degree in economics.  Now he is off to start his career as a business consultant based out of Washington DC. Unfortunately, our schedules could not be timed for us to participate in the graduation activities.

Mid Hudson & Walkway Bridges

We left the town and just before coming up to the Poughkeepsie Yacht Club (where we stayed in 2019), we passed the Hyde Park area. Here from the river you can see the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) and the Vanderbilt estate; both of these we visited in 2015. 

We continued north along the winding Hudson, passing the Esopus Lighthouse.  This is a landmark we knew that told us we didn’t have much further to go before reaching Kingston; our destination for the night. We came to Rondout Creek, identified by its lighthouse at its entrance.  Both of these lights are typical of the unique lighthouses found along the Hudson River.

We entered Rondout Creek and pulled into the designated slip behind the Hudson River Maritime Museum, our dockage for the night.  Here the first-time dockage includes entrance to the museum and is located right in the heart of downtown Kingston. This is a highly desired location and we felt fortunate to be able to get in as we have tried twice in the past and they were already booked. Right next door is the Wooden Boat School where the actively hold classes on building, repairing and restoring old wooden boats.

Shortly after our arrival another boat pulled in behind us. Come to find out first-time Loopers Mike & Karen (“Seven Turns”) were from Sebastian, FL, just a few miles south of where we keep our boat in Merritt Island.  They also are part-time residence of Bryson City, NC where we visited in 2016.   We spent some time chatting and with them off and on over the course of the afternoon.

FL boats at Maritime Museum dock

Mark had a conference call, so Denise went for a walk around the downtown. We have not really explored much beyond a two block radius and wanting some exercise she used this as an opportunity for reconnaissance. She stuck to the main street and walked up the hill where she found a few more restaurants and the Reher Center; an immigrant cultural center. Here she viewed one of their outdoor displays before moving back to the waterfront.

Later that afternoon we got to witness a local crew team put their skulls in the water and race up and down Rondout Creek.  Even though it was their practice workout, it was fun to see the teams working together to make their boats fly across the water.

Rowers on Rondout Creek

In the meantime, Mark had been messaging with our friends Jody & Louis (“Wanderer”) who were at the city docks, and had scheduled a Happy Hour for 5:00. We had a very nice time socializing with them and getting to know them.  We invited them to join us at the Old Savannah Southern Table and Bar for dinner, but they had other plans.  Once they left, we walked down the street to the restaurant and had a simple but delicious meal.  Again here, however, the lack of help was apparent and we waited a long time for everything. Our waitress (who was a long-term employee) explained that they literally are hiring anyone they can find, even without experience because no one wants to work.  She shared that this particular restaurant was one of the best employers, paid well, and they don’t usually hire inexperienced staff.  Ah the sign of the times!

When we returned to the boat we saw the fire department was across the creek.  They were pumping water from the creek, through the fire truck pumps and hoses, and then back into the creek.  We later learned they were testing out equipment and did this in a way to use the water from the creek and replenish it back to its natural source.  It provided our entertainment for the evening, until it got dark and they left.

Testing fire pump

Donovan’s Shady Harbor Marina, New Baltimore, NY – Thursday, 6/10

Kingston to Shady Harbor

There was no hurry to leave this morning as we only had a short distance to go.  Mark thought he would sleep in; that was until at 5:30 am when a women’s crew team started launching their skulls right off the docks near the bow of our boat.  Already up, Denise went for a run and discovered a part of town that included houses (some old and some new) as well as where the park entrance was at the top of the hill in town. Unfortunately, it was closed; an apparent Covid-effected venue.  However, she did see deer near the Catholic Church in town, and discovered a Children’s Home not too far from the boat.

One of the other reasons for staying a little later was to see the Hudson River Maritime Museum. With our dockage came free admittance and they were closed when we arrived.  Since they didn’t open until 11:00, we only had a limited amount of time to spend. However it was just enough time to hit the highlights and to see the importance of this great river in our country’s founding, and in continuous economic development over time.

We left the museum and immediately made the boat ready and left the dock.  It was just before noon and we could see new boats were coming into Rondout Creek and some would most likely want our spot.  The other boats around us had already left, except “Seven Turns” who were staying another night.  As we passed the channel entrance we noticed the pontoon boat that had run aground when we arrived the previous day, was now hard aground as the tide was extremely low. We wondered how long it was going to be like that; probably until the next highest high tide.

Our plan was to head towards an area known as Middle Ground Flats where the Hudson is very narrow and is bordered by two small towns; Athens on the west and Hudson on the East.  We had thought we would stay in Athens anchorage and then use the dinghy to see Hudson as well.  We had also considered going to the town of Catskill; a place we had also considered in 2019. It is home to artist Thomas Cole, an iconic landscape artist, as well as the setting for the story of Rip Van Winkle.

However, once we got underway we started thinking about the weekend activities and decided to go straight to Shady Harbor Marina directly.  We had a few minor boat repairs, and we knew there were a lot of Looper boats behind us heading up for the weekend festivities.  We had lots of laundry to do, and the 2 washers and dryers at the marina would not be available as easily on Friday through Sunday as they would be now.  We also needed to make a grocery store/Wal-Mart run and had hopes of securing the marina loaner vehicle for such an outing. We called ahead to make sure we could arrive a day early, and once confirmed we adjusted our itinerary and headed to Shady Harbor.  Along the way we passed a fuel barge, a tow and many beautiful homes that line the shore of the Hudson River.

Once we had docked and settled the boat, (on “Sin Dock Lane”) we were immediately met by Brian (owner) who greeted us with big bear hugs and lots of smiles. We chatted for a bit with him and then checked into the marina office.  We reserved the loaner car first for Sunday morning to make sure we could go to church, and also requested it for Friday for the shopping adventure. That’s when we learned it was going in for its annual inspection in the morning and most likely would not be available until the afternoon.  We reserved for our 2-hour block on Friday, hoping the inspection would not take as long.  Brian had told us they were expecting 16 Looper boats on Friday and we knew they all would most likely want to use the car too.

Once back at the boat, we got down to our chores for the day.  Denise plowed through several loads of laundry, doing email, and handling office things. Mark had work to do for clients, and had also become friendly with the people in the boat next to us.  Bob and Diane (“Journey”) are Gold Loopers (like us) and they have a dirt home in the Albany area. They offered us the use of their car on Friday, should the loaner car not be available. This is the type kindness we always see when cruising and yet we still get surprised by the generosity of others.

We did take a little time to enjoy some of the fun sights that were new to the marina since 2019. One such addition was the gator (or is it a croc?), carried aboard “Corporate Approved” on their return from FL.  We first saw it in Beaufort, NC when we had pizza together. See here.

Sitting on the Twisted Prop Croc

Another addition is the new “Twisted Prop Container Bar”.  It is still being set up due to shortages of needed components, but it was made “usable” for the weekend events.

As anticipated, at 5:30 the Loopers in the marina began assembling at the picnic tables under the tent at the marina for “docktails”.  Here we got to reconnect with old friends like Dorothy & Terry (“Magic”) whom we met in Atlantic City in 2017, as well as previously-met new friends Ken & Karen (“Island Girl”), Jody & Louis (“Wanderer”), and Marcia & Pat (“Boyle in Water IV”).  We also met many others, collecting a handful more boat cards (business cards for those who cruise) and giving out ours as well.  We stayed until about 7 pm and then headed back to our boat for a dinner of Fajita’s cooked up by Capt. Mark.  It was a great day and we were looking forward to the rest of the weekend.

On the fence in Ossining!

Shattemuck Yacht Club – Ossining, NY – Tuesday, 6/8

Today was a day of indecision; first on how to spend the day, then on where to go to next after Ossining.  We figured this must be what real retirement is like.

Denise went out for a run; the only decisive action at the start of the day.  Her travels took her down the road of the yacht club past the industrial area, near the train station, around a new condominium complex and to the path that runs along the Hudson River.  Here there is a park that is about a half a mile along the waterway, and it includes sculptures and playground areas, as well as plenty of lawn area. The park leads all the way to the edge of the property where there is a water treatment facility and a back gate into Sing Sing prison.

From there she ran back towards the train station and up the ramp to get over the tracks.  This took her to the lower downtown area where there is little to see.  From there she went up the big hill of Maine Street to the real down town and was pleasantly surprised; another town that is part of The Museum in The Streets. There are several streets with restaurants and independently owned stores, a pharmacy, toy store, post office and a small grocery store.  She ran past several old churches, historical buildings (involved in the American Revolution) and past the High School.  Then back down the hill to head back to the boat.

The forecast called for a rainy day beginning around 11:00 am, so we were trying to figure out what to do with the day.  We considered taking a train to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) – just north of us in Hyde Park. But we had already been there in 2015, and with Covid restrictions they have limited access to their bookstore and bakery.  We had already learned that they only had two of their restaurants open, and both were sold out for lunch and dinner.  Given this, we nixed the idea and also nixed going back into NYC (about a 50 minute commute to Grand Central Station on the train).

Meanwhile, we were also trying to decide where to go next.  We had several options on where to spend the next two days, and we spent time more thoroughly researching several destinations. After confirmation of an opening on their docks, we opted to return to Kingston, only this time staying on the waterfront at the Maritime Museum. On our last two visits we stayed at Roundout Marina, but it is away from the downtown. This time we would be staying in the heart of town and will get to explore a different area. We also set our sights on an anchorage for Thursday night, leaving a short travel day on Friday up to Shady Harbor.

When all this was done and finally decided, it was time for lunch and we had not seen one drop of rain. About this time, we lost all power in the boat.  After determining it was just our slip (not the entire dock or marina), Mark switched our power plug to the pedestal to use the 50 amp (we now use the 30 amp mostly) and we were back up and doing ok.

After lunch and getting a few other things done we decided to go up the hill and explore the downtown. We needed milk on the boat and Mark had scoped out the location of the grocery store. On our way out of the marina Mark stopped by to talk with dockmaster DE to tell him about our power issue; he was fine with our switch out and said he would put his electrical guy on it.  Note: we had been forewarned about the inconsistent power issues here as they have some new floating docks and have had some problems.   While Mark was talking with the DE, he offered to give us a lift into downtown (a 2 minutes car ride) and so we took him up on this.

Once downtown, we walked around for a bit but only for Mark to see what was here. We found the small grocery store and once we purchased the milk, we headed back down the hill to the yacht club.

In the meantime the storms were brewing all around us, but we were able to make it back to the boat before the rain came.  And for the next two hours we endured a horrendous thunderstorm with lightening hitting all the mountain areas around us.  At one point there was a loud alarm and then we realized the train had shut down; they must have lost power somewhere along the electrical line.  We used this time to get caught up on reading and Mark even got in a late afternoon nap.

Finally around 5:30 pm the rain started to let up and by 6:00 pm it was barely sprinkling. We ventured out of the yacht club and walked over to The Boathouse restaurant, located at the marina next door. It is a nautical themed restaurant and offers a variety of items on the menu, which are reasonably priced. We both ordered fish-topped salads that were refreshing and large enough that were stuffed when we left.

In the evening we both dove back into reading, at least until our eyes could no longer stay open and then we went to bed.

We really liked our stay here, and despite the fact that the yacht club was not really open for drinks or dining (it is not that kind of club), and the power issues, it was a nice place to stay.  Their Wi-Fi is excellent and the people here were super friendly.  From our boat, we enjoyed watching the coming and going of the trains, and consider their rumble along the tracks as “normal” and part of the Hudson River experience.

Ossining is a very interesting town. Initially built for industry due to waterway access, it is rich in history and has a very diverse multi-cultural population of people whom all seem to get along well together.  Despite the state penitentiary being located here (or maybe in spite of it), it is rated as one of the safest cities in NY.  Many people live here, but work in NYC and commute either by train or by car. And the view of the Hudson River is understandably a huge attraction.  We are glad we came and would suggest it to anyone on their way up the Hudson River.

Glorious Lady Liberty!

SI to Ossining

Shattemuck Yacht Club – Ossining, NY – Monday, 6/7

This morning we said goodbye to the fine people at GKYC and headed out into a very calm Raritan Bay.  We were initially following our new friends Marcia and Pat (“Boyle–in– Water-IV” – aka “BIW”), but they us take the lead out of the bay and into the Hudson River.  We cruised under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, passing Fort Wadsworth on our port side and coming into a busy, but mostly calm NYC Harbor.

Working with “BIW”, we coordinated the taking of pictures of each of our boats in front of the Statue of Liberty. We had also been in touch with one other Looper boat (“God Speed II”) and met up with them right in front of Lady Liberty.  We let them go first and took their picture, then we were next, and finally “BIW” was last.  It only took about 20 minutes for this as there was no pleasure boat traffic and only one tour boat to negotiate around.  Further up the river there are the high-speed ferries between NYC and NJ and these are the ones that really kick up the water. But for today, it was pretty good conditions and they shared a great shot of our boat.

The other boats had different destinations for the day; Liberty Landing in Jersey City.  So we radioed our good-byes and made plans to meet up next weekend at Shady Harbor Marina for the Pig Roast.  And then we headed up the Hudson River.

We rounded the battery and headed north, passing many interesting Manhattan buildings and sights. One of the most oddly shaped and noticeable sights here now is “Little Island Park”; a free public park and outdoor entertaining venue created by Barry Diller and wife Dionne Von Furstenberg. You can read about this interesting park here and here.

Little Island Park

We also get a kick out of the driving range (part of “The Ryder Cup Room at Chelsea Piers Golf Club”) that is right on the river and has netting to capture golf balls, protecting the nearby boats in adjacent marinas. If you are interested in playing you can get more info here.

Golf driving range on Hudson

Further up the Hudson we passed the tall buildings on the upper west side of NYC, a couple of south-bound ships, and then Riverside Park where we could see the dome of Grants tomb and the Clarion Tower of Riverside Church.

Riverside Church & Grants Tomb

Eventually we came to the George Washington (GW) Bridge and the little red lighthouse (officially Jeffrey’s Hook Light), the lighthouse stands on Jeffrey’s Hook, a small point of land that supports the base of the eastern pier of the bridge. You can read the fascinating story about this lighthouse here.

Almost immediately after the GW the Hudson River turns majestic to us. The western shore mountains are green-covered rock formations with high cliffs beautiful scenery.  The eastern shore is marked by a series of small towns and the train that runs all the way into Manhattan.

The waterways are not crowded, although there is still a bit of commercial traffic (barges, etc.), but plenty of space to easily navigate around them.  Here we passed several Looper boats on their way north; there are at least 20 now making their way up the Hudson River.

Not long afterwards we came up to the Cuomo Bridge (formerly the Tappan Zee – which it will always be to us).  Over the years we have watched them build the new one and take down the old one. Now there is only the new one and no evidence of the old.

Tappan Zee/Cuomo Bridge

Just beyond the bridge are the towns of Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow (home of the headless horseman), and then just beyond these is Ossining, and home of the famous Sing Sing prison.  Anyone who has watched an episode of Law & Order, or any NYC-based crime movie knows of this NY State Prison; its where such notables as killer David Berkowitz (“Son of Sam”), and Ethel and Julius Rosenberg (spies) were housed until executed for their crimes. Ossining is also home of Shattemuck Yacht Club, and our dockage for the next two days. They are an MTOA sponsor and offer a second night for free for members, so we decided to take them up on this.

Sing Sing Prison

Initially we pulled into the fuel dock for a pump-out (free here) before being directed to our slip by the DE the dockmaster.  We then settled the boat and checked out our surroundings, including the Yacht Club and facilities. We had a spectacular view of the Hudson River and although exposed to the waves from passing boats, we were far enough away from the channel that it was not bad at all.

View of Hudson River

After lunch we settled into doing some work, updating the last blog post and watching Loopers go by. Many have gone into Croton-on-Hudson, the town just north of us in Haverstraw Bay and where we have stayed in the past.  We wanted to explore a different area this time and chose not to go there.  We also watched the endless parade of trains going by, most of them heading north and increasing in number as the afternoon wore on. We figured they were taking suburbanites home from work in NYC and repositioning for the reverse commute in the morning.

Late in the afternoon it started to rain, and initially it was all around us. We could see the showers off in the distance pouring over Croton-on-Hudson, and the Tappan Zee Bridge area.  Finally it came our way and gave the boat a good washing and a welcome relief as it was very hot today (90°+ again today).  After it cleared up we were going to walk to the Boathouse Restaurant for dinner.  However, Mark had a conference call that ended up lasting longer than planned so we opted for a quick meal on the boat.  Tomorrow we will go exploring, hopefully before the forecasted rains come and help break this heat wave.