The Hamptons. Montauk. Sag Harbor. These are places associated with Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, not Dukes of Hazzard. But we’re not ashamed of who we are, so Tumbleweed pulled in to Sag Harbor proudly flying a Tennessee Orange Vol Navy flag, much like the Clampetts when they loaded up the truck and they moved to Beverly. Hills, that is. Swimming pools. Movie stars.
Sag Harbor is another cute town with shops and restaurants, but everything in all of them is priced outrageously.
$31 for chips and salsa at the taco joint? Can’t get much more outrageous than that. Chips and salsa should be bottomless and free and also should be accompanied by Chuy’s jalapeño cilantro dip. In fact, it’s downright un-American for Mexican restaurants to charge for chips. But that doesn’t make the town less cute.
Cavaniola’s is a wine shop. By itself that’s not very noteworthy, but before becoming a place where one might purchase a bottle of wine for roughly twenty times what that same bottle goes for at the Total Wines & More near the corner of Scottsdale Road and Shea Boulevard, it barracked British troops during the Revolutionary War. Presumably—as the oldest structure in Sag Harbor—“Umbrella House” as it’s known locally, served some other purposes between then and now although we don’t know what they were.
In order to be close to town, we docked at the Sag Harbor Yacht Club, which has exactly nothing in common with the Schenectady Yacht Club except that both are in New York. The clubhouse was so swanky we didn’t dare go in except to take a photo.
Just across from the marina is a house owned by an Angry Young Man from Allentown who became a Big Shot. That’s right, Billy Joel fans, we were close enough to steal his patio furniture if we were that kind of people and had room on the boat to hide it once we got it over the railing.
The yacht club’s strict “no drone” policy—which we know about only because an employee yelled at Doug—seems silly since the park is about a hundred yards away and provides a perfect place to take off and land.
Just before untying yesterday, we noticed a huge American flag being hoisted by fire trucks. Turns out we caught the annual ride through New York by the Red Knights International Firefighters Motorcycle Club. Now that’s way cool.
Unfortunately they ran over our dog, but we wanted a family photo so we just picked him up and went with it.
Despite the lolling tongue Oscar isn’t really deceased, of course, and although we’d like to say playing dead is one of his party tricks, the fact is he’s just weird.
Then out north through Gardiners Stinking Bay again, but this time it wasn’t quite as bad. Plum Gut? Well timed. No problemo. Straight across the Sound to Old Saybrook. Which is in Connecticut. Here’s a map.
Hey that’s the Saybrook Breakwater Light!
This lighthouse is notable for having its likeness on Connecticut’s environmental license plates. It’s also notable because the navigation section of the Coast Guard 50-Ton Master’s exam uses Long Island Sound paper charts and about 50% of the test questions involved Saybrook Breakwater Light as a reference point, so Doug viewed it as an old friend.
After docking, we shuttled into town and wound up at The Rabbit Hole in time to watch the Cardinals back into a win over the Vikings. Our kind of place. Nobody gave us Clampetts a second look, even after we hijacked the virtual jukebox with an eclectic playlist that ranged from Meatloaf to the Showband of the Southwest. Now that’s a hell of a wide range.
Although today was a sad day because the girls left us, we still got a good sunrise sort of across the Connecticut River. We don’t have too many of these left before we flee the approaching winter. Luckily they’re starting to happen later in the morning, which increases the chances we’ll get to enjoy them.
Shannon and Mallory scootered to town for breakfast this morning, seemingly with no concern that their aging parents were walking. But it’s all about the kids, right?
We don’t mind though, because any time we get with them is well worth the walk. But then they left us.
After we stopped grieving we took the scooters around Old Saybrook ourselves, winding up at Fort Saybrook Park.
Fort Saybrook played an instrumental role in the Pequot Wars, which were triggered by the native Pequot Indians having the temerity to object to English settlers setting up shop in the area the Pequots considered home. Apparently nobody told them, however, that attacking people who have harnessed the combined power of lead and gunpowder—when you haven’t—potentially will lead to extinction. Which it did. If any Pequots had survived perhaps they’d be honored that history named the wars after them, but since they didn’t we kind of assume the name “Pequot Wars” really is intended to make sure everyone knows it all was their fault. We do suspect that any surviving Pequots might’ve found it funny that after the pretty park with the informational signs was finished, archeologists determined that in fact Fort Saybrook was about a thousand yards away, at a site now occupied by a nice family in a nondescript white house.
Then back to the marina, which is attached to the hotel which two weeks ago was a filming location for Next Stop, Christmas. Next Stop, Christmas is a Hallmark movie that we’re guessing involves either a lovelorn man who doesn’t believe in the magic of Christmas or a lovelorn woman who does. Either way, now we have to lay in a goodly supply of tissue paper and watch it.
The point is, even with the girls leaving us we’ve really enjoyed Old Saybrook, what with no pesky Pequots and all. Actually these all have been great stops around Long Island Sound. We’re looking forward to getting to Mystic tomorrow.
If there’s an unexpectedly unpleasant vibe to this post, it’s because we wrote much of it while enduring an unexpectedly unpleasant seven hours between Port Jefferson and Sag Harbor. Lots of pitching and bouncing around. Spray over the pilothouse. Yuck. Sometimes our free weather forecasting apps aren’t worth what we didn’t pay for them.
Fortunately, between that time the sun came up the morning we left Atlantic City and today’s ugliness, we enjoyed a pretty good run. Dave and Becky. Mike and Lucy. Mostly good weather. Then best of all, Monday evening the girls arrived. As per usual, in our excitement we failed to take any immediate photos. Oh well, we have them for a few days.
The Empty Sky memorial finally opened, showing us where we’d see the World Trade towers if they still were there. Pretty cool stuff.
Tuesday morning the sun popped up over our last view from Liberty Landing. Yup, that’s kind of awesome.
After some buffoonery at the fuel dock that set us back thirty minutes, we headed out for the obligatory swing around the Statue of Liberty. We’re dang near to needing a tour boat license, but it’s another view that doesn’t get old.
Then up the East River. Past all the stuff we’ve discussed in prior posts. The Brooklyn Bridge. The UN. Typhoid Mary’s island. About the only thing we haven’t done yet is emulate Kramer, who started swimming in the East River after finding the pool unsatisfactory.* We’ve now been through New York so many times that we’re thinking of joining a stick ball team or a street gang. We still, however, find the prisons fascinating.
And not just the kid prisons.
Back past Throgs Neck, which sounds every bit as cool as the other times. Just on the other side of the Throgs Neck Bridge, we passed an odd-looking thing that was vaguely military and vaguely commercial.
Turns out it’s a boat that’s chasing Gene. Actually it’s a shadow boat for Gene Machine, a superyacht that claims to be seeking “genes to combat global warming and clean up the oceans and the air.” Hence this boat being named Gene Chaser.
Anyway, Tuesday on Long Island Sound was everything today wasn’t. Calm. Blue. The girls sat up on the bow, inviting the healthy tan that precedes wrinkles and skin cancer.
Despite Shannon having lived in Arizona, Florida, and Hawaii, however, we’re not sure she understands how tanning works.
Port Jefferson was known for shipbuilding in the nineteenth century, which explains the statue of four dudes carrying a boat skeleton. We’ve seen dozens of boat-related statues and monuments in our travels. This one is high on the list.
Port Jeff, as the locals call it, is another one of those cute little towns we like with shops and restaurants and boats.
For us, however, this stop wasn’t about shops or restaurants, but about finally meeting up with Exhale.
Tumbleweed is NPY 49 hull six. As we noted back in our first post after buying her, her original owners were Rick and Mary, whose company we enjoyed several times when we were looping in Misty Pearl and they were looping in what then was Exhale. The new Exhale is NPY hull 11. Exhale is North Pacific’s gorgeous Euro style, however, which means the hull is about the only thing our two boats have in common. That, and dogs. Both boats have a dog, although theirs is white and named Maddie Sue. We’ve been looking forward to seeing Rick and Mary and Exhale and Maddie Sue for months.
Obviously we welcomed Rick and Mary back aboard their old boat.
We did this for a couple of reasons. First, of course, we wanted to catch up and thank them for the help they’ve given us. Second, they know the boat inside and out, and dialed in most of the systems we’re still figuring out. So it seemed like a great time to take advantage of Rick’s knowledge. And his willingness to roll around on the floor.
Good meals, good stories, good times. As an added bonus, nobody got arrested after Rick and Mary snuck over the fence at the Port Jefferson Yacht Club, which is good because we could’ve been fingered as accessories.**
Initially we’d planned to dock at Danfords, but Exhale was at the Yacht Club, so when we were almost there and Danfords said their dock power was out we figured we’d go to the yacht club so we could get a cool photo with the boats next to each other but the yacht club said there wasn’t room so we ended up on the town dock on the other side of the ferry landing. The point being, it was tough to get a photo with both boats in it but if one knows where to look we technically pulled it off.
This morning, Exhale took off a half hour before us, heading to the Baltimore boat show where basically she’ll be working as a supermodel advertising boats for North Pacific. We pulled out as soon as the ferry gave us an opening.
Just about the time we untied our lines, Mary texted that the Sound was rougher than expected, which would’ve been true even if we’d expected to be miserable. The girls stayed in their cabin. Oscar whined and cried. Dana ran around cleaning up stuff that crashed or spilled.
Half way to Sag Harbor, we realized that Plum Gut is another of those places where people die if they don’t time the passage. And we hadn’t timed the passage. Coastal Boating Magazine ranks Plum Gut as one of the top five most “challenging cruising waters in the Northeastern U.S.” Excellent way to end a rough day.
We rather assumed that once we passed Orient Point Light and entered Gardiner’s Bay, things would calm down for the last ten miles. Hey we made it to the lighthouse! Yippee!
The waves did subside. For a hot minute. Then they decided we were a bit too presumptuous and started slamming us on the beam. Which—being from a new direction and all—caused stuff that miraculously had survived the pitching to succumb to the rolling. Just excellent.
But as often is the case on these rough days, we survived. We’re happily tied up in Sag Harbor.
Here for a couple of days or until we screw up enough courage to face the Sound again, whichever comes last.
*“You’re swimming in the East River? The most heavily trafficked, overly contaminated waterway on the eastern seaboard?”
**In fairness, any place with security so lax that people in their fifties and sixties with neither lock-picking skills nor bolt-cutters can breach it easily deserves whatever happens.
Thanks to crappy weather and other travel-related whims, we found ourselves in New York City—well, technically in Jersey City across the Hudson but with a great view of New York City—during the twentieth anniversary of one of the most tragic days in American history. Which meant, among other things, that we got to see the epic twin towers of light.
Thursday we dealt with rain most of the day, which wasn’t at all epic. Mostly it kept us inside, although we did peek out periodically just to see the skyline again.
Mike and Lucy showed up Thursday evening, with the plan to head up the Hudson on Friday. But Friday we faced 25-knot wind gusts. And Liberty Landing parked a huge Burger on a t-head right in front of us, shrinking our exit margin of error to about two feet. The last thing we need is the Gordons going back to Scottsdale and reporting to all our mutual friends that we not only sank our boat but also took down the Burger and a sailboat as well. So we didn’t leave until Saturday, which turned out to be September 11. And turned out to be a gorgeous day that even a passel of kayakers in our way couldn’t dampen.
Before heading up to Croton-On-Hudson, of course, we needed to swing by the touristy-things.
That’s either an awesome photo Dana took of our guests on Tumbleweed’s bow as we passed the Statue of Liberty or a Walmart photo that they superimposed on a stock background, the latter being something we wouldn’t put past them.
After the statue, we figured we’d take a quick look up the East River, under the Brooklyn Bridge, then turn around. We figured wrong, because another passel of vessels were in our way, but this time they all had blue lights and guns. We might get away with running over a kayaker or two, but not NYPD boats.
The Coast Guard announced without explanation that the waters around lower Manhattan were closed to marine traffic, so no need to hang around down there despite the impending hoopla.
Hey, this is new! An FBI dive team. To us it looked more like an FBI stand around team, but they stopped their boat above the Holland Tunnel so maybe they knew something we didn’t.
Hey, this is even more new! Marine One, carrying President Biden and being circled by V-22 Ospreys, passed overhead. Now that’s cool.
We’ve now been up and down the Hudson a few times. Not surprisingly, however, an area that’s home to a zillion people always seems to be tearing something down or putting new stuff up. Or maybe we’re just not very observant. Either way, we’ve never noticed this odd statue in Hoboken before. We tried to research it but couldn’t find any information and then gave up looking.
Little Island in Chelsea we did know about, because Dana had read up on it in a ULI magazine. Stirworld describes it thusly: “As a 2.4-acre public park and performance venue, the development near the city’s Lower West Side is settled atop sculptural, tulip-shaped concrete pots that sprout from the water and form an undulating landscape populated by hundreds of native species of trees and plants.” They look more like mushrooms to us, but we guess we can give them tulips as well.
On the way up, the GW Bridge was sporting a big flag. New Jersey wasted no time in taking it down, however, since when we came back 24 hours later it was gone.
Oscar enjoyed the flybridge on what turned out to be an easy trip up to Half Moon Bay.
One night was enough for a good sunset after dinner at the new Greek place that won’t be in business long if it keeps serving portions that are roughly five times the size of what a normal person might eat in two meals. Plus, we were ecstatic to learn that the mean people in the condos must have moved or passed away, because now the association welcomes pets on the path along the marina.
Yesterday was windier and choppier and some stuff sloshed around, but we made it back to Liberty Landing in time for an excellent dinner. Today we lose the Gordons, who turned out to be great guests.
Most exciting is that Mallory and Shannon are on a plane, heading for Liberty Landing. We haven’t seen them in nearly five months. They’re not that interested in us, of course, but they’ll travel across the country in a New York minute to cuddle with the Black Dog Bikinis logo model.
We’ll take what we can get.
*Last night the Codenames battle came down to a final opportunity for the Gordons. All Lucy needed to do was give Mike an appropriate clue and they’d take home the non-existent virtual championship trophy. In a last-ditch bit of gamesmanship, we warned Lucy that we’d call her out in the title of this post if she failed. Actually her clue was quite clever, but alas, too clever for Mike. So Lucy gets the post title, but Mike gets the Footnote of Shame.
Farley’s basically told us that we had to get out of Atlantic City no later than Tuesday morning because of a huge boat show.Whether we die or not really was of no concern.They even threw out Arctic Pride II, which made an early exit on Monday.
Stealth was going around to the outside of the fuel dock to make room for the gobs of new fishing boats that are looking for a home. Farley’s didn’t give us that option.
The good news is that Tuesday looked to be a one-day-only opening for safe travel, before the spin-off from Hurricane Larry and Tropical Depression Mindy rolled up the coast.The problem for us was that the run to New York is between ten and twelve hours, depending on where we stop. And leaving Atlantic City requires timing the Absecon Inlet.And high tide on Tuesday morning was about 8:30.Which meant even if we went to Great Kills, we’d arrive close to dark, in the wind, with no dock help.Which wasn’t an awesome plan.
Low tide, however, was at 3.In the morning.There are many reasons why leaving a marina at 3 a.m. is awful.Start with the fact that sleeping is the only reasonable thing to do at 3 a.m. and go from there.But screw it.We can catch the inlet at slack and make it to Jersey City by early afternoon.The ocean by moonlight is beautiful, right?
Up at 2:30, off the dock at 2:45.The one benefit to the garish Golden Nugget casino lights shining like a thousand suns is that at 2:45 the marina was as bright as a young Einstein.
Once out of the marina, of course, the lights faded.Just our luck to hit a new moon.Zero light. Black. As black as the souls of the people who flew into the World Trade Center almost exactly twenty years ago. Lots of stars, but since God invented electronic charts we didn’t need to use our celestial navigation skills. Which is fortunate, because we have none. Just spin up the radar, put some George Jones on the stereo, and head north.*
Oscar was more than a bit befuddled by the early departure, but he’s a good soldier so he sucked it up and immediately went back to sleep on his cat bed in the pilothouse.
Unfortunately for him, he slept through the sunrise. The only good thing about traveling at night is watching the sun come up. Tuesday morning we got a good one, even if we did have to share it with a fishing boat.
Shortly after sunrise we passed the Barnegat Inlet, which is notable only because of our self-imposed obligation to take yet another photo of Old Barney.
About 9, the reasonable people who appropriately used the night for sleeping started showing up, although jamming in with dozens of other people aboard Norma K III does raise some questions as to the definition of reasonable.
By the time we reached Sandy Hook, even the beach-goers were out in force. And yes—despite what certain criminally-insane politicians and talk-show hosts might claim—these are real people. No hoax.
On every other trip up the Jersey coast, we’ve hooked around Sandy Hook and collapsed with exhaustion. Since it was only noon, this time we forged ahead. We don’t know the technical entrance to New York Harbor, but for us it’s the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. We also are obliged to photograph the bridge every time through, but this time we went crazy and took the picture from the back side.
The fort, by the way, is Fort Wadsworth. It’s been around in one form or another since 1663 but never saw military action. Now Coast Guard Sector New York and some other outfits use part of it, but mostly nowadays Fort Wadsworth is known for being where the New York City Marathon starts. As an aside, two of us believe that people who run 26.2 miles without being chased by a mugger are even less reasonable than people who get up at 2:30 to boat in the dark.
And finally, we rounded the bend and started up the Hudson River, past lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty for the sixth time. Yup, we’re still taking pictures. Yup, they all look the same.
Thanks to adverse current, we cruised the last ten miles to Liberty Landing at about five knots, but on balance the twelve-hour trip couldn’t have gone better. We found exactly one wave bigger than two-feet, although it happened to hit us just as Doug was dozing off on the couch. Dana had a nice long nap and shower while underway, however, which is all that matters.
Dang good thing we didn’t need fuel when we pulled in to the marina. Bella Vita monopolized the fuel dock all day and into the night. Thirty-thousand gallons takes a long time to pump. She’s a 200-footer. These boats are of a size not seen since Fort Lauderdale.
We’ll have more about New York after our friends Mike and Lucy arrive for the weekend, but the highlight so far by far was catching up with Dave and Becky. Doug and Dave worked together thirty years ago in Phoenix, and shared more than one life-threatening situation created entirely by their own poor judgment. We’re hoping next spring they’ll cruise with us a bit when we pass back out of Long Island Sound.
Today so far isn’t a highlight. It’s raining.
*Nobody does lovin’ and hurtin’ and cheatin’ and drinkin’ like The Possum. The first concert Mallory and Shannon attended was Ol’ George, with a special appearance by Jesse Colter as a tribute to the recently departed Waylon Jennings. Although the girls were too young to remember it now, we’re pretty sure that exposing them at a tender age to old-school lovin’ and hurtin’ and cheatin’ and drinkin’ songs (1) was an act of stellar parenting and (2) helped them become the wonderful and successful people they are today.
We’re alive, although now the ocean conditions have pinned us in Atlantic City. So far Atlantic City this time isn’t as bad as that time with the AC/DC tribute band, but still.
Being stuck somewhere for several days stinks for multiple reasons, not the least of which is the guilty feeling if you don’t finally fix those niggling problems that that you sort of resolved with duct tape but not really. Before we unstuck from Cape May we did some of that, which required a walk downtown to the local hardware store.
Swains’s says it’s been in Cape May since 1896, which is a long time. It’s crazy to think that even before the invention of horseless carriages and aeroplanes, the Helpful Hardware FolksTM at Swain’s were directing people with pesky leaks in their anchor locker to the aisle with Flex SealTM.
Another way to pass time is to look at other boats. For example, a line of commercial fishing boats lines the east entrance into Schellenger Creek. Lots of fishing boats up and down the coast, which is a good thing, because someone needs to supply all the seafood we buy at the Costco on Hayden Road.
When we arrived on Monday they put us next to T/T Double Barrel.
This may look like a typical center console of the type found in every marina, but the T/T means it’s a tender and the 1200 horsepower means it goes fast enough to be unsafe. The mothership pulled in a bit later. Double Barrel is a Viking 82 Sportsfish that cost about $10 million new. You’ve really got to be into hobby fishing to pay that kind of money. We’re not into fishing, but even we know you can buy a heck of a lot of fish at Costco for $10 million. It’s a pretty boat, however, with pleasing colors and a huge deck.
Here’s the thing though. No matter how big your deck is, there’s always some dude with a bigger one. Eileen’s Way showed up on Tuesday. At 120 feet, she’s the second-largest boat Ocean Alexander has built. A guy with a deck that big doesn’t need to compensate with a sports car.
Cape May is on the tip of New Jersey, with the Delaware Bay on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. The middle mostly is a swamp. And yet inexplicably a zillion tour boats zoomed past South Jersey Marina every day. We don’t get it, unless they go out into the swamp looking for Jimmy Hoffa’s body.
There are pontoon boats, which at least are more seaworthy than those round things found in South Carolina. There’s also a tiny cruise boat. She might’ve been born just plain white trash but Fancy is her name.
Then at night, there are big boats, lined with people who mistakenly believe they can sing along with the loud music on the DJ’s short playlist, probably because when they were little their parents said “you have a beautiful singing voice” even though their pet cats kept running away.
The point is, we have no idea where they go. We also have no idea why New Jersey passed a law requiring all boats carrying tourists to blast “YMCA” multiple times each trip while all the decent people in town are trying to watch Suits or football on TV. We’re pretty confident, however, that idiot Chris Christie somehow is responsible.
Back to Painkiller, who until Friday was docked beside us in Cape May but then moved to the bad part of town when her slip owner returned. She looks a lot like Misty Pearl, undoubtedly because they’re both Selene 43s.
Fine looking boats those Selenes. Dave and Pam are great folks who grew up in Phoenix, which gives us lots to talk about. Their broker wanted them to look at Misty Pearl when we had her for sale but they weren’t quite ready to buy.
Saturday morning we finally shook lose the Cape May shackles and headed north. Nice day to cruise on the Atlantic Ocean. Finally.
Still a little chill in the air, which may explain why more boats are heading south than are heading north. But our air conditioners probably were glad for the vacation. We were glad to be moving. The plan was to stay only one night, since Sunday looked like a decent day for the long run from Atlantic City to Staten Island.
This is our fourth trip up or down the Jersey coast. Not much has changed over time. Except Wildwood recently repainted its water tower, which now stands out from the rickety roller-coasters that look more dangerous than the Atlantic Ocean.
The fishing boats were out en masse, apparently because there was exactly one spot in the entire ocean where fish were biting.
A couple of hours in, the skies turned blue and the water was comfortable, allowing us to slide up to Atlantic City nice and easy. Perfect timing of the Absecon Inlet meant no worries for the mile or so where we always worry.
Although Farley State Marina is not necessarily one of our favorite stops, it does generally deliver something interesting. This time, it’s the two 150-foot superyachts along E Dock. The one closest to the just-short-of-decent dockside restaurant with the red roof is Arctic Pride II. The other is Stealth. These both are the kind of boats that carry crew members who bicker and backstab and fornicate, which we know only because we may have watched a couple or fifty episodes of Below Deck. For the low price of $160,000, plus tips and expenses, Stealth can be enjoyed by mere mortals. For a week.
From our back porch, essentially we only see a white fiberglass wall that blocks out the sun.
It could be worse, of course. If our slip was forty feet in either direction, every time we walk off the boat, Arctic Pride II’s enormous deck would be staring us in the face, making a mockery of our tiny one.
Last night we enjoyed dockside chatting with Painkiller.
Dana and Dave diligently dithered, not about alliteration but about the sea conditions. They were back at it this morning. Ultimately Doug went back to bed because the trajectory of their discussion was against traveling. Good call. Twenty to 25-knot winds. Physics tells us that 20-knot winds with a 60-mile fetch can create eight-foot waves. The ashen-faced folks who came in during the day seemed to be cursing God for their ordeal.
Because we’re stuck again, of course, more guilt-driven chores awaited. Doug’s theory is that it’s a huge lazarette, and given enough time and adequate lighting he can retrieve anything he’s thrown down there. Dana’s philosophy is “a place for everything, and everything in its place.” So Doug spent the day organizing the lazarette. He would’ve skipped the work and popped into the Golden Nugget, but we never want to see Dana react the way David reacted when Linda lost the nest egg in Las Vegas.*
Tomorrow? Not leaving. Tuesday? We can hope.
*Also shame on anyone who hasn’t see Lost in America.