Sunday, June 8, 2008

Chesapeake City, MD, to Coeymans, NY

June 1 - I will always picture the Delaware Bay on a map with a HUGE black fly on it. We left this Sunday morning with four boats: Bella Luna and Summertime in the lead, followed by Segue and Wayfarer. Making our way across the C & D Canal (Chesapeake and Delaware Canal) we were anticipating the entrance onto the Delaware Bay and hoping that our calculations about tide and wind would give us an easy day down to Cape May.

Oh, thank God, the seas are calm! Oh, my God, the seas are calm and the flies are OUT!! We killed a ton of flies. We didn't just kill them for fun (well...). They were biting us!! Bringing up blood! We killed so may flies on the bridge it looked like a war zone. Diane on Bella Luna said it was the first time in her life she'd ever had to wash a fly swatter, it was so bloody!!

I was dreading the night at Cape May if this continued. Turns out the flies are only a phenomenon on the Delaware Bay.

So, we went on to our marina in Cape May, the Miss Chris Marina. We'd told Wayfarer's Bill and Jane about the place and they had called for reservations, too. Being a fast vessel with owners who like to "pick it up a little," (smile) Wayfarer got to the marina first. We heard them hailing the marina on channel 16 but couldn't hear the subsequent conversations. Then we heard Wayfarer calling another local marina. What happened??? Well, when we got to Miss Chris we figured out what happened. The slip they had for us was a set of really tall poles along side...and a floating dock at the stern. Miss Chris Marina holds a couple of large whale watcher boats and some fishing boats. Not many transient slips available there. It took us about a half an hour to tie up. Bill and Jane had taken one look at this and moved on! For only one night, we decided to go through with it...I think Wayne likes a challenge every now and then.

We took our bikes and rode over to the little historic town of Cape May and brought back as many groceries as we could carry. The whole Cape May historic area is full of well preserved Victorian era houses. If we weren't looking at a really short weather window for traveling up the Atlantic coast to NYC, we'd have stayed a while. We'll come sea or by land.

Cape May is at the bottom of New Jersey right where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. To travel to New York City (where we'll take the Hudson River on up to the Erie Canal) a boat can either travel "inside" on the ICW or run "outside" in the Atlantic Ocean. With a lot of shoaling on the New Jersey inside route we had decided to do the trip to New York in three sections: Cape May to Atlantic City; Atlantic City to Manasquan Inlet; Manasquan Inlet to New York. The weather has a greater influence on our travel plans when we're going into the ocean versus when we're traveling "inside."

We checked the weather that Sunday evening and talked with another couple, Pat and John Olson on Free Bird, about whether it would be a good day on Monday to go to Atlantic City. Pat and John are finishing their second Loop trip and are headed home to the upper peninsula of Michigan. We knew the weather was supposed to be nasty in the middle of the week, so if we could travel Monday, we would.

Monday, June 2 - We checked the weather, called the Olsons and arranged to meet them at the Cape May Inlet for a trip up to Atlantic City. Free Bird led since they have auto pilot on board. We stayed really close to shore, which isn't risky at all along the New Jersey coast. It's deep and sandy. The trip was easy and we were in Atlantic City by lunch time.

We stopped for fuel at Kammerman's Marina and saw Wayfarer there. Bill and Jane are staying a while with friends in the area and will leave Wayfarer at Kammerman's while they visit.

We stayed the night at the Gardner's Basin Marina, right next to the Atlantic City Aquarium.

Gardner's Basin is like the city marina. The whole little waterfront area around the aquarium is pretty, but seems a little run down. We ate lunch with Pat and John at the Flying Cloud Cafe, right next to the marina on the water. The food was good and we enjoyed catching up with the Olsons after having seen them last in Beaufort, SC.

We also discussed plans for the next day. John and Pat had been to Manasquan Inlet the last trip around and had some concerns about the shoaling there and the current. An option to consider was a 10-hour run to New York City, skipping Manasquan all together. We were game, so it was decided that we would go together the next day to New York.

Tuesday, June 3 - We're usually out and about on the water by 8 or 8:30 AM. This morning we were leaving the Gardner's Basin dock at 5:45 AM. We had 10 hours ahead of us and wanted to get most of the travel in before the weather started changing that afternoon.

Again, we had an easy trip, staying in close to shore most all the way. Ten hours is a long time out there! We each took turns going down for a nap (something we felt comfortable doing with Free Bird leading) and tried to sketch out our trip from New York to the Trent Severn.

There's an optional side trip on the Loop route that goes up the Champlain River to Montreal then back down the Rideau before continuing on over to the Trent Severn. We've heard so much about the Champlain trip and how beautiful it is that we'd decided (somewhere down in Florida) that we would do that, too. Now that we're almost 3700 miles into the trip (!!!) we're changing our minds. The first half of the trip has gone by so quickly...and we feel the need to linger over the remainder. More time in one place. More anchorages. So...we're not going to do the Champlain trip at this time. (Maybe later, again, by boat or by car.) Instead, we're going to mosey up to Lake Ontario and stay a week in Belleville, Ontario, to get the curtains replaced on the bridge. Our friends on the Mystic Bond, Olga and Andre, had recommended a shop there.

Getting back to today's trip, though, the highlight, of course, was entering the New York Harbor that Tuesday afternoon. Here's a picture of Free Bird going in ahead of us...and you can see one of the high-speed ferries in the distance that had just zoomed past.

We were all eyes and ears on this section, trying to keep down the awe factor enough to be aware of what was going on around (often behind) us.

We were anchoring that night in a little park just behind the Statue of Liberty. Coming by the Statue of Liberty is an experience people have raved about...and I'll have to say, it was everything we'd hoped for and more! It was a really special experience for us to think that we've come all the way to the Statue of Liberty by water from Tennessee...and to have this new view of something we've seen in person so many times. It was definitely a highlight of this trip, so far.

The anchorage had one other boat in it so we had no trouble finding space. The holding was good...and that was a good thing because the winds that evening picked up. We got down the dinghy to take Lucy to the shore...and half way over to the dock the dinghy motor quit again. The winds were blowing and we were rowing! We got there OK and I took Lucy for a walk while Wayne tinkered with the motor. (Shades of Solomons Island...) In the meantime, John had seen us leave out and saw that the motor had quit. He got their dinghy down and motored over to tow us back just about the time Wayne got ours going again. John followed with us back to the boat just to make sure we didn't have another rowing session.

Wednesday, June 4 - We were setting our sights for the 79th Street Marina in Manhattan this day. The marina is city owned and they don't take reservations, it's a first-come-first-served deal. I called that morning and they said they did have room for us. There was a fog settled in over the little channel leading from the harbor to the park, but we weren't sure how intense the fog would be in the harbor itself. We lingered until about 9 AM then all three boats started out to make our separate ways. (John and Pat were heading up the Hudson to an anchorage that evening.) It didn't take us long to realize that the fog was dense that we decided to come back and wait another 30 minutes. The Olsons went on, hugging the western shore, and the other boat, Sesame, came back to wait along with us. Finally we decided to ease on out and feel our way up the harbor on the western side. Our radar, both mechanical and human, was "up." We only had a couple of brushes with big boats...they weren't in the shipping channel and neither were we. They definitely had a course in mind, though, and both times it involved them heading straight for us! Fortunately we can speed up when needed...and we did.

79th Street Marina has it's down side. We were positioned on a stationary wooden dock just inside the T-dock. Most of the time we were there two large sailboats were positioned opposite our slip on the outside, providing a wave buffer. But the stationary dock thing: we sometimes had trouble figuring how to get on and off the boat. I nearly always needed help getting Lucy off and onto the boat. And when the sailboats left on Friday we had a rocky, rolly day and night. BUT...all things considered...we were a fifteen minute walk from Zabar's! The subway had stops at 79th and the bus came right by the marina. For three days we felt like we sort of lived in New York! Not for everyone, but for us the marina's benefits far outweighed the problems. Here's what we were looking at daily.

We spent three wonderful, packed full days in New York City. We bought specialty foods at Zabar's, stocked up on some groceries from Fairway and Westside markets, loaded up on bagels from H & H Bagels and ate breakfast at Big Nick's. We even managed to wash a load of clothes each at a local laundromat. For a couple who enjoy people watching, we had front row seats outside the laundromat one afternoon as 4 o'clock activity picked up on the street. The laundromat itself was a new experience for us. Basically it was a wash and fold business so the machines available to the walk-in clients were few and far between, but the staff was very helpful in shifting around their loads so we could get ours done.

On our last day there, Friday, June 6, we had a special outing. Thanks to our friend Jeff Dobson in Knoxville and his (identical twin) brother, Jerry, we were able to see the American Geographical Society's Fliers' and Explorers' Globe at the AGS headquarters down on Wall St. Jerry is the current President of AGS and arranged for us to contact Mary Lynne Bird, the Executive Director, for a special look at the globe since it's not out for public viewing. The Fliers' and Explorers' Globe has been signed over the years by "men and women who have explored certain places on earth for the first time in recorded history, reached new extremes of height or depth, pioneered new means of travel, or set aviation records," according to the AGS website. Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, Sir Edmund Hillary, William Beebe, and the Apollo 13 astronauts are among those having signed the globe. We felt really special to have been able to see the globe. Thank you, Jeff and Jerry!

I had my Sharpie, but couldn't get close enough to leave our signature on the Loop route!

The globe was originally donated to the Society in 1929 by John H. Finley, President of AGS at that time and also Editor-in-Chief of the New York Times. The poem on the back of the globe was written by Finley...and I thought that was interesting.

We left the AGS and started making our way down to the North Cove Marina for a reunion with our friend Beth Doxsee. Beth worked for 13-30 back in the late 70's while I was working at Lawson McGhee Library. We became friends...then she moved back to her home in New York in 1980. I had visited New York and seen Beth once in the early 80's, but we hadn't seen each other since...just kept up by correspondence.

Beth is a captain on the 134 ft. sailing vessel called the Corwith Cramer. The Cramer is one of the sailing ships used by SEA, the Sea Education Association,
"an educational institution dedicated to the study of the ocean environment and its relationship to the Earth and to human affairs." ( The Cramer was in New York for a while and we were lucky enough to pass through during its stay. Beth gave us a tour of the ship...and it was fascinating! It's a gorgeous vessel and it was neat to see the salon and galley for a boat that can accommodate a crew of over thirty people.

Saturday, June 7 - As Alex would say, "Bye-bye, New York!" We couldn't resist running back out that morning while we waited for the water to rise a bit and gather in some more goodies. We pulled out at around 10 AM and started the trip up the Hudson River. We were headed to Haverstraw Bay to anchor out.

As the day wore on, the heat increased! By the time we got to Haverstraw Bay that afternoon we were steaming hot. Being a weekend...and a warm one at that...Haverstraw was packed with boats of all sizes. Fortunately, there's plenty of room so we had no problem getting a spot. Most of the boats cleared out around 5 o'clock, anyway.

Sunday, June 8 - Sunday took us through some of the most beautiful landscape that we've ever seen. And coming from the Tennessee River area, that's saying a lot!

We passed by West Point

(their marina is closed to boats unless you're a general or have "contacts") and many impressive homes. We also passed Pollepel Island and Bannerman's Island Arsenal. The following story about this arsenal is taken from A Personal Travel Guide to the Hudson River
by Lawrence Zeitlin, Cortlandt Manor, NY:

"Pollepel Island, about four miles north of Cold Spring, holds the romantic ruins of
Bannerman's Castle. Bannerman was an arms dealer who bought up all the Union’s
military supplies left after the Civil War and the military surplus of the Spanish American
War. He stored them in a warehouse in New York City and sold them out of a New York
storefront. He published a mail order catalog of the arms holdings and became the Sears
Roebuck of munitions. Most of the world's rebellions from 1880 through 1910 were
fought with Bannerman supplied weapons. Eventually New York's city fathers became
uneasy about having a munitions store in mid-town and convinced Bannerman to move.
He relocated his warehouse to Pollapel Island, figuring that the locals would be more
tolerant of a few hundred tons of explosive in the basement. The warehouse was
constructed to look like a medieval castle, although it was made of conventional brick
and concrete. Bannerman and his family moved there. Unfortunately the area is no
stranger to lightning and the warehouse was destroyed by a series of fires (and
explosions) by the late 60s."

Again, it was a hot, muggy day. Amazing that we could be traveling on the boat and still have places where the air was not moving! Around 3 that afternoon a storm caught up with us and followed us for about half an hour. We got some rain...but the best thing was that it brought cloud cover and a wonderful cool breeze.

That evening we anchored near Kingston, NY, up the Rondout Creek.

Kingston looks like a town worth a second visit. Apparently there's a community of artists there, as was evident from the water.

A nice couple who were moored nearby came over and offered advice on where to take Lucy for a walk...and offered some history on the area. According to them, all the PT boats made during WWII came from Kingston. We'd seen a sign coming in touting the Fleet Obsolete, and I guess they were referring to the PT boats.

Monday, June 9 - Another scorcher day. We considered traveling north until it got cool...but with the current on the Hudson we were only going about 7.5 miles per hour. It might take a while!

We had reservations a the Coeyman's Landing Marina for Tuesday and Wednesday nights...and were planning to tie up to a park dock near there on this Monday evening so we could get into the marina early on Tuesday and get busy cleaning the boat, stocking up on supplies and washing clothes. (Life chores, as Cheryl Travis would say.) Well, the tide was out and the dock was very we ended up just going into the marina a day early. We'll be here until Thursday when we'll leave for parts north....

And, oh yeah. We've decided to go ahead and do the Lake Champlain route. We talked with a local couple who've traveled that area often and they have assured us we can anchor out a lot and spend plenty of time on the trip...and still get to Belleville, Ontario, around July 14. We're excited! Tomorrow we plan to get up as far as Fort Edwards to spend the night. More to come...

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