Wednesday (9/8) – Great Kills Yacht Club, Staten Island, NY
We left Essex, CT and headed down the Connecticut River at 6:30 am in order to get as far down the Long Island Sound as possible, before the expected south east winds kicked in. Our hope was to be able to get all the way to Staten Island today, but we knew if it got too rough we could bail out at Port Washington for a free overnight.
Thirty minutes later we past the Old Lyme Bridge, then, the Lynde Point Light, and the Saybrook Breakwater Lighthouse. It was a beautiful morning on Long Island Sound, and we were hopeful it would last as long as possible.
We ran down the Connecticut side of the Sound for a while, and there was some chop, but not too uncomfortable. After the first hour we noticed the waves were developing a “freshening”, indicating that the wind was picking up and decided to take our chances running on the Long Island side of the Sound for more protection. However, instead of crossing it directly, we made our way on a more diagonal track to meet the encroaching coastline, as the Sound narrows as we headed south. This had us in the middle of the Sound for about 2 hours of our journey, passing only a barge or two, and a few fishing boats. While the waves did not really settle down, they also did not get worse, and for this Denise was grateful. By the time we got to Execution Rocks Light, we knew we could make it to Great Kills Yacht Club (GKYC) where we had already secured our dockage for 4 nights to wait out weather.
By the time we got to the Port Washington area, the waves were pretty flat and we easily cruised around SUNY Maritime, LaGuardia airport, and Riker’s Island Prison.
From there we took turned into the East River, this time hugging the eastern shore of Roosevelt Island in order to avoid the NY Ferries on the western side. We were fighting a current against us, but it wasn’t as strong as it could have been. However, it did have us longing for the 3 knots in our favor we had when heading home in 2019.
Before we knew it we were in NY Harbor with the Manhattan skyline behind us; a sight we never get tired of seeing from the water.
Captain Mark maneuvered through the numerous ships anchored or under way in NY Harbor, and of course the Staten Island Ferries that zoom by at rapid speed. We crossed under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and turned right into Raritan Bay. Here we expected really rough water as the forecast called for 3 foot waves and chop. Fortunately, we had arrived early enough in the day that we did not face this and made our way into Great Kills Harbor and the GKYC without issue. By 12:30 pm had traveled 108 miles, and had the boat tied up to the dock. We were greeted with hugs by our friend John Calascibetta (aka “John C”) – our Looper Harbor Host, and another friend (Tony) whom we are always happy to see. After socializing for a bit, Mark washed the salt off the boat, while Denise cleaned up the inside.
In the afternoon the winds did pick up as expected, with some strong gusts. Unlike in past visits, this time the assigned slip was on the t-head at the end of the dock, with our bow facing out towards the harbor entrance. As the wind blew in from Raritan Bay it really rocked our boat and slapped the water against the boat hull. Despite this, we stayed on board for the rest of the day as we both had lots of work to do. We also planned a tentative itinerary for the next week that would take us down the NJ coast, and hopefully up the Delaware River in calm seas.
With bad weather forecasted for the evening, we decided not to go out to eat even though there are a plethora of choices (albeit mostly Italian). But we didn’t feel like cooking either. Instead, we ordered a take-out dinner (salads with protein) from Marina Café; one of the local restaurants up the street from GKYC. The food was good and we were happy to stay hunkered down for the rest of the night.
Comments Off on Straight line through Long Island Sound!
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.