Category Archives: Maine 2021

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.

Great times at Great Kills!

Great Kills Yacht Club (GKYC) – Staten Island, NY – Friday, 6/4

Today we had lots of work to do but before getting started, Denise went for a short walk around the neighborhood.  The road which GKYC is located on is about a half mile long and houses 2 other yacht clubs and a marina, along with some homes and town homes.  Here are a few pictures from her walk:

We spent the majority of the day working, planning our future stops, and talking with some of the GKYC members, many are in awe of our boat and come by to complement us.  Although it was mostly partly cloudy most of the day, it did not rain. However, around 3:30 pm a large Florida-like thunderstorm blew through the area, but only lasted about 30 minutes. The good news was it washed a lot of the salt off of the boat, and some dirt with it.

Having eaten on board the last two nights, we decided to go out for dinner.  There are several choices in the area, but we stuck with our “usual” spot at Cole’s Dockside.  We usually take advantage of their fixed price menu option as it is always a good value. However, they have now changed their offering time and we were not able to take advantage of it as we arrived too late. This was disappointing as it is usually a good value, and although our food was good, we thought it was not as memorable.

At Coles Dockside

We walked back to the boat after dinner and were amazed at how calm and peaceful it was.  

Calm after the storm

Great Kills Yacht Club – Staten Island, NY – Saturday, 6/5

As usual, Denise was up with the Canadian geese, ducks and other waterfowl squawking since before sunrise.  She was able to get in a run this morning; the first one in a week.  It was tough because of the hills, and the lack of running in the last few days, but at this point all she is interested in is maintaining some level of fitness. Venturing to a new area to run, she discovered two small parks tucked in between a few neighborhoods and adjacent to the GK harbor.

After breakfast we met up with some other loopers Louis & Jody (“Wanderer”), and Pat & Marcia (“Boyle-in-Water-IV”) and walked to “Frank & Sal’s”. This is a favorite ‘must-see’ Italian market with great meats, cheeses, fresh deli salads, bakery and prepared meals.  It is not big, but was enough good things to temp us to put in our basket, including some deli meat, Italian cookies, and crab-stuffed salmon for dinner onboard tonight.

Loopers at GKYC

Since we finally had favorable albeit warm weather, we took advantage and stayed around the yacht club to clean and polish items on the boat. Mark scrubbed the outside while Denise did major chrome and stainless steel polishing.  We socialized with some of the other locals and got visited by Pat & Marcia (“Boyle-in-Water-IV”) who were exploring the harbor in their dinghy.

Marcia & Pat “Boyle-in-Water-IV”

During the day our new friends on “Wanderer” left and other Looper boats came in, including one in a slip next to us.  Jon and DeeDee (“War Eagle”) pulled in and after a quick tie-up, we introduced ourselves.  Here we discovered they were from Orlando, now living in Winter Garden but formerly from Audubon Park.  After more discussion we learned Jon was born and raised in Miami and DeeDee was a 1990 graduate of Bishop Moore High School; Denise’s alma mater. What a small world it truly is.  We left them to settle their boat and did not see them again until much later in the day, and then only briefly. We never got the chance to connect with them much, but hope to see them further up the Hudson River.

That evening we cooked dinner on board (the salmon was delicious) and then walked the docks, talking with a few of the locals on the dock next to ours.  It is always through the locals that we get great ideas of things to do and see in the area, so we always try to engage such folks along the way.

In the evening we first attempted to stream a movie (“The Age of Adeline” – very intriguing) with GKYC’s Wi-Fi, but had to eventually switch to our own hotpot.  One of our disappointments in this visit is that they still have not upgraded their WI-FI, and it has gotten even worse than it was on our last visit. John C has told us they now are working on the infrastructure of the club and it will be better shortly. We are hoping that it will be improved should we return in the fall. The cell coverage is also spotty, but we have been able to make it work when needed and then use it for WI-FI. But this consumes much of our available bandwidth, and it is a frustrating first-world problem.

Sunset over Great Kills

Great Kills Yacht Club – Staten Island, NY – Sunday, 6/6

Today was a very hot day and one full of activity and fun.

We started by walking a mile to the Church of St. Clair for 8:30 am mass. This is a lovely parish in a small but upscale neighborhood, so the walk was pleasant among the tree-lined streets. 

At Church of St. Clare

After mass we continued walking up the street to the little ‘downtown’ area of Great Kills, and to the train station. Our intent was to take the train all the way to the Staten Island (SI) Ferry. However, they were doing scheduled maintenance which we didn’t know about, so we were only able to take it half way. Then they had a “courtesy bus” that took us the rest of the way. This added more time to our trip, but it was still early enough in the day that it was not an issue.  The bus dropped us off at the SI Ferry terminal.  

But before catching the ferry, we walked to the Staten Island September 11 Memorial, located along the waterfront near the terminal. Here there is a sculpture and parkland that pays tribute to those SI residences who lost their lives on 9-11, as well as the victims of the first World Trade Center bombings in 1993.  Part of the memorial also includes a section of the first responders involved in the recovery efforts on 9-11, many of whom became ill from the effects and have subsequently died.  It has two “wings” to represent postcards and with the right angle you can see the Manhattan skyline between them.  You can learn more about this memorial here.

After the memorial, we walked back to the ferry terminal and caught the 11:30 am ferry to Manhattan. It was a nice day to be on the water, and we were not really interested in going into Manhattan, we just wanted to stay on the ferry and ride it back to SI. However, due to security reasons we were forced to get off.

Since we were in Manhattan we figured we would get some lunch before heading back to Staten Island. We really didn’t want to venture too far into the city, (it was already approaching 90°) so we stayed close to the financial district. Unfortunately, since it was Sunday few things were open. However, we managed to find a small sandwich shop and took our lunch to a nearby park to eat it. Called the “Queen Elizabeth II September 11th Garden”, this particular park provided a perfect respite from this hot and noisy day.  It is true that NYC is the city that does not sleep and on this Sunday, there were several construction and road utility works underway right nearby.

After lunch we turned down Wall Street and took it to the water, figuring a walk along the East River may be cooler than along city sidewalks. This was partially true, but eventually we had to move out into the sun.  The pathway was crowded but we didn’t have to take it too far before we ended back at the ferry terminal. We only had a short wait for the next ferry, and grabbed spots on the East River side for our return trip.  The ferry was crowded and we welcomed a spot near the window where we could watch the boats out on the water.  We even got to see quite a display of sailboats enjoying beautiful conditions.

Great day to sail on NY the Hudson

Once back on Staten Island we had to reverse the bus-to-train excursion. It seemed to take much longer than in the morning, but it was probably because we were hot and tired.  Once we finally got back to the GK station we stopped at the Top Tomato grocery store to pick up a few items.  This is a local chain and has some pretty good produce prices, as well as a seafood and meat counter.

Top Tomato

Finally, we arrived back at the boat, stowed our purchases and fixed an ice cold drink.  We had walked the equivalent of 6 miles today and that was over 10,000 steps. 

We went over to visit Marcia & Pat (“Boyle-in-Water-IV”) on their boat to discuss departure plans for tomorrow.  They are also leaving and we wanted to coordinate for picture taking of our mutual boats in front of the Statue of Liberty. We were excited as we have not had an opportunity like this in all the times we have been through NY Harbor on our Island Office.

In the evening, we prepared and ate dinner on the boat, and spent time talking to family members on the phone. Once again we had a fun time at Great Kills Yacht Club, but we would be leaving tomorrow for our adventure up the Hudson River.

Breaking records!

Rock Hall to Staten Island (GKYC)

Great Kills Yacht Club – Staten Island, NY – Wednesday, 6/2

Today was a very very long day, but one full of great accomplishment by the crew of Island Office.  We woke up early and left the dock at Rock Hall Landing Marina at 6:00 am as planned.   It was an overcast sky and was expected to stay that way all day, but little wind was forecasted so we felt good about our plans.

Overcast morning on Chessy

As mentioned in the last post, our goal was to go as far as possible today, with a realistic goal of getting to Atlantic City or even Manasquan, NJ by the end of the day.  But we were going to take it one step at a time, and the first step was to get off the Chesapeake Bay.  We spent 2 hours cruising along, passing a few racing sailboats headed in the opposite direction (was there a regatta in Annapolis this weekend?), and actually being passed by a few sport-fishing boats.  And with little wind, it was very calm on the water.  We also passed by some nice homes, and some mobile homes that have one the best sunset views on the Chessy.

Around 8:00 am we entered the Chesapeake & Delaware (C&D) canal and noticed a few sights along the way:

This narrow canal is pretty much a straight shot, with a few curves and very tall bridges that cross this 12-mile waterway.  There are some beautiful houses on both sides and you pass by Chesapeake City on the eastern (southern) side of the waterway. One of the first “landmarks” spotted just before coming to Chesapeake City is Dann Marine, a barge, tow and marine company that actually has a fascinating history that started in Central Florida, of all places.  You can read all about it here.

Chesapeake City

Along the canal we spotted a few people walking, jogging or bicycling on the pathways that line the canal. But perhaps the most interesting thing we spotted was a lawn being mowed by remote control.

By 9:30 we were exiting the C&D Canal and headed out onto the Delaware River.   There were some small waves coming from the southeast and hitting just right of our bow, so it was a little bouncy, but very tolerable.  The best part was there was an outgoing tide and we picked up an additional 1.5 knots of speed that we rode all the way to the Cape May (CM) Canal.  Along the way we passed several Looper boats that had left either Delaware City or Chesapeake City earlier in the day, and we had been following on our Nebo and Facebook apps.  About half way down the Delaware is the Ship John (“Jack”) Lighthouse; a great aid to measuring progress on this large body of water.

And at 11:30 we entered the Cape May Canal and we were delighted that we had put one large body of water behind us today without incident.

Before continuing on we had to stop for fuel and filled up at the cheapest place we know of in New Jersey: “Miss Chris Marina” up the Spicer Creek Canal.  This is in a shallow creek just before the NJ 109 Bridge that crosses over the CM Canal, and before coming into Cape May Harbor and the Atlantic ICW.  We turned up the creek and negotiated around a bunch of kayakers before pulling in for the fueling.  It seemed like it took forever, but finally we had filled up our fuel tanks and were back on our way.

We entered the Cape May Harbor and cruised through the channel that runs in front of the US Coast Guard station.

It was 12:30 when we exited the inlet and headed out into the Atlantic Ocean.  This is the worst part of the entire trip for Denise, and gives her much anxiety.  This is because she is susceptible to seasickness, there are few “bail out spots” on the NJ shore, and the ICW along this stretch is too shallow for us to navigate. And eventually, all boats must go into the Atlantic at Manasquan, so there is no getting around it.

Looking at the time and finding very favorable sea conditions, we started thinking about going all the way to Staten Island in NY. From past experience we knew it was 2 hours to Great Kills Yacht Club (GKYC) in Staten Island from Manasquan, and we had time and daylight working to our advantage. The only unknown was would the wind still stay calm and the waves stay relatively flat. 

It was a little rolly at first because we were on a NE heading and the waves were slightly abreast of the boat. We passed Atlantic City (our first bail out stop) at 2: 20 pm and were still ok, so we decided to continue on with the day.  Up until now we had hardly seen any other boats, passing only one cruiser and a few sport fishing boats.

Approaching Atlantic City

We had identified Barnegat Inlet as a possible bailout, if needed, but the seas were still tolerable and we still had little wind.  About 10 miles after Atlantic City the coast turns inward and we turned to a more northerly course. Then the ride got a lot smoother and more comfortable, and we decided to push on to GKYC.  We had already been in communication with John C (Harbor Host at GKYC) and knew he had a slip open for us, a day earlier than originally planned.

We continued on past Barnegat Inlet and eventually Manasquan Inlet seeing a few dolphin, fishing boats, whale watching boats, a few cruising boats, and even getting buzzed by a few A10 airplanes that looked like drones.  The sun was getting lower in the sky (and now making it tough to get pictures of the shoreline). However, we could easily pick out the buildings as we passed Asbury Park, Sea Bright, and eventually we could see the lighthouse at Sandy Hook.

A10 planes near Beach Haven, NJ

Usually from around Manasquan we can start to see the NYC skyline, but it was so overcast and hazy we were at Asbury Park before Mark saw the outline of the buildings.  As we rounded Sandy Hook and entered into the Raritan Bay, we could see the fog covering the tall buildings in the city and the famous Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

VZ Bridge and NYC

On our way across this bay we passed fellow Looper boat “Selah Way”, whom we had been in contact with all day via our Looper FB page.  

“Selah Way”

We entered the Great Kills channel and eventually the harbor to find things not much different than they were 2 years ago.  Having a preassigned slip, we knew where to go, and at 6:30 pm Captain Mark successfully steered our boat into its home for the next several days.

We settled the boat and poured ourselves a much-deserved drink.  We had traveled 219 nautical miles in 12.5 hours; this was our longest single-day distance cruising ever!  We were happy to have this part of our trip behind us.

Our arrival prompted people on the dock, and Dave and Amy (“Selah Way”) pulled in shortly behind us. Eventually all the Loopers (“Uncorked”, “River Ranger”, “Agape”, “Conflict of Interest”) who were here came out and we had a very impromptu “Docktails”, along with John C and GKYC member Jimmy, whom we knew from previous visits.

Looper Docktails

Finally around 7:45 we broke up the party and headed back to the boat. We were hungry and desperately wanted showers.  It had been a good day and we felt a great sense of accomplishment, but we were thoroughly exhausted, and after a quick bite to eat we went to bed right away.

Great Kills Yacht Club – Staten Island, NY – Thursday, 6/3

Today was a day of recovery, rest, and work.  We woke to the pitter patter of rain; it had started in the early morning hours. This was just one more factor that de-motivated Denise, and she bailed on her planned run, betting up for a badly needed cup of coffee instead.  Mark slept in later than usual, but he deserved it as he drove most of the way yesterday.

The weather forecast called for rain and windy weather, so we hunkered down and kept close to the boat.  We did work for clients and the business, and Denise published the last blog, and cataloged pictures. We both talked with several family members and a few of the local club members who were out on the docks.

Around noon we watched “Uncorked” leave and saw another boat “Boyle-n-Water IV” come into their spot. Perfect timing as the rain had subsided and now it was just overcast. Another Looper boat came into the slot next to us, but their power requirements were bigger than the yacht club could handle and they ended up moving to the marina next door (Mansion Marina).

In the late afternoon we went for a walk up to the clubhouse and ran into some of the other Loopers.  They were all headed up to the bar and we agreed to join them.  Some of the folks left soon after the first drink, but Pat & Marcia (“Boyle-n-Water IV”), whom we had originally met in Norfolk, and Doug & Vickie (“Conflict of Interest”) stayed for a while.  We spent time talking about our mutual cruising adventures and getting to know each other a little bit.  This yacht club has the friendliest members and this is why we come here. There was one in particular who bought us all a round of drinks; not that they are expensive here. We think they live vicariously through all us Loopers and go out of their way to make us feel welcome.  This is why it is our 5th visit and will most likely stay here on our way home.

We didn’t stay long at the bar, but headed back to the boat to get dinner and finish up posting the last blog update. It had been a low-key day, but one of fun, new friendships and rekindling of old familiar faces.

Re-Planning our way north!

Wormley Creek, VA to Rock Hall, MD

Rock Hall, MD – Tuesday, 6/1

Today was a good day for making progress up the Chesapeake Bay.  We left Wormley Creek Marina at 7:00 am saying goodbye to the nice folks in the marina, the USCG Training Center Yorktown, and the Coleman (Yorktown) bridge which had become our “front room” view for the last 11 days.  We had a plan to get to Herrington Harbour in Maryland; just south of Annapolis.  This would be about 100 miles and a good day on the water. The main reason for stopping here was fuel prices, but also because ever since we stopped here in 2019, we have wanted to stay and enjoy this resort.

We exited the marina channel and headed out onto the York River. There was a little wind, but it was a nice morning and we cruised along fine. Within 30 minutes we were out on the Chesapeake Bay, heading north under pretty good conditions.  The wind was from behind and that made the slight wave action tolerable; if it had been blowing more it would have been quite uncomfortable because we had the current against us. This slowed us down by about a knot or two, but we were still going fast by most cruiser’s standards.

We ran along the western shore where we could see many houses and beach areas, passing the Rappahannock River.  To the east, all we could initially see was water, but eventually the small islands marking this part of the Bay came into view.  There were many sailboats out on the water and a few cruisers making their way north.  We also passed a large southbound motor yacht that was cruising very fast, and when he passed he threw a big wake. Not quite like the container ship on the Cape Fear River last month, but it still rocked the boat a bit.

Eventually we came to the Potomac River marked by the Smith Point Lighthouse.  Here its 8-mile wide mouth feeds into the Chesapeake and stirs the water, creating waves that flow with the current.  Things were a little bit bumpy for a while, but still tolerable.  After we crossed it and passed by Point Lookout, the boat settled down and the ride got more comfortable.  It wasn’t long thereafter that we passed by a restricted zone; part of the bombing targets used by the military from NAS PAX.  This is the Naval Air Station located at the entrance point of the Patuxent River; the river that would have taken us to Solomons, MD, where we intended to stay last weekend.

Just north of the Pax River and Solomons were the high cliffs of Drum Point, followed by the Cove Point Lighthouse, and the Cove Point LNG Facility; all of these have become landmarks for us over the last 6 years.

We continued north until we came to Herring Bay, and turned into the channel for the Herrington Harbour Marina and resort.  We had reservations for the evening here, and they had already charged us for the night. However, it was only 12:30 and we really wanted to get further today if at all possible.  So, once we took on fuel and added water to our tanks, Mark successfully negotiated with the dockmaster and they gave us a full refund.  Had this been a weekend, they would not have done this and we were then free to continue on our travels.

Channel into Herrington Harbour

By 1:00 pm we left Herrington Harbour and set our sights on two possible stops: Rock Hall (just north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on the Eastern shore) about 1.5 hours away; or Chesapeake City on the C&D Canal, about another 3 hours away.  A complicating factor was Mark had to be on a 4:00 conference call with a client and we would ideally like to be stationary for it.  Certainly there were several anchorages that were available, but we needed to have a good cell or Wi-Fi signal for Mark to make his call.  We discussed our options and decided that based on time and how long it would take us to get into a location and settle the boat, the safest and known Wi-Fi option was Rock Hall. Denise called to make sure they could take us for the night, and we made our way there.

Continuing on we passed by the most famous lighthouse on the Chesapeake, the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse. This is just south of Annapolis and is a good landmark.

Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse

East and north of Annapolis, we came into a very busy area where all large traffic (barges, freighters, container ships, etc.) have to pass underneath the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  This is always congested because it is the gateway into Baltimore and two major shipping channels converge. It was even more congested as there were several ships at anchor that we had to negotiate around, all the while dodging the numerous sailboats from Annapolis. Captain Mark comes closer to some of these vessels than Denise would like, but he does try to take the most efficient route around them all.

Once we got through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge we continued on towards the town of Rock Hall, located on the eastern shore, north of Kent Island. There is a huge shoal that extends out from the natural curve of the coastline, but is well marked and has a jetty that keeps things calm once inside the breakwater.

We entered the harbor at Rock Hall and made our way along the channel until we came to Rock Hall Landing Marina, where they put us on an end-tie for the night.  It was 2:45 and that gave us time to settle the boat, check in at the marina office, and give Mark prep time for his call. We had traveled 133 miles in good, but not perfect conditions.

IO at Rock Hall Landing Marina

Mark finished his call and we had a chance to work on a few other items, including a check on the weather forecast and an itinerary for tomorrow. We are hoping to be able to make it to Atlantic City, and possibly Manasquan by the end of the day.  This would make for a long day, but with sunset not until almost 9:00 pm, we felt confident it could be done.

We had a couple of drinks and were too tired to cook on board, so we walked to the only open restaurant near the marina, Waterman’s Crab House.  The other restaurant in the harbor (Harbor Shack) is only open Thursday through Sunday, which is probably why we have never eaten there.  After dinner we readied the boat for an early departure in the morning so we could be off the docks as fast as possible.  Then we turned in for the night.

Rock Hall Landing & Waterman’s Crab House

We like Rock Hall and have spent time here in the past. It has great roads for Denise to get a run in, a nice supermarket and other things to offer. But this visit did not allow for any of this and would only be a quick overnight stay in order to take maximum advantage of the favorable weather tomorrow.  Due to its location, we may very well end up staying here on our return trip in the fall. Here are a couple other pictures of the marina: