Here are maps of Misty Pearl’s stops along way, right down to our actual slips. (Except for Beaufort, N.C., where D Dock is too new for Google Maps.) Pressing one of the little red balloon-looking thingys on the first map will load up our blog posts related to that spot on The Down East Circle. The second map will do the same for our Great Loop posts.
Today was one of the hottest October 2s on record in this area. But since October 2 usually is cold, it turned out sort of comfortable up on the flybridge when we took off for our last stretch of the Down East Circle.
The Throgs Neck Bridge marked the entrance to the East River.
Two things. First, Throgs Neck just sounds cool. Throgs Neck. Second, the East River has no source, because it’s a tidal estuary and not a river at all. Although it acts like a river.
Among the sights along the river that’s not a river is Rikers Island, home of the notorious New York City prison.
Lots of famous folk served time or awaited trial here. Son of Sam. That crazy dude who shot John Lennon. Plaxico Burress. Lil Wayne, before he got the man crush on Lane Kiffin and then started polluting Neyland Stadium with that stupid third-down pump-up song that NEVER worked.
Just past Rikers is North Brother Island, where Typhoid Mary was quarantined before she was released and started infecting other people and then was quarantined again and died here.
Know why typhoid isn’t a thing in the U.S. any more? Vaccines.
Where the East River which isn’t a river meets the Harlem River which also isn’t a river, the two non-rivers collide at a point called Hell Gate. This is at least the third Hell or Hell’s Gate we’ve encountered. This one might’ve been the most aggressive, as we hit almost 14 knots even at reduced rpms, and the rapids were worthy of rafting.
At the end of Roosevelt Island sits the ruins of another abandoned hospital, this one for smallpox patients. Know why smallpox isn’t a thing in the U.S. any more? Vaccines.
There’s other stuff on Roosevelt Island, and a bridge to get people there. The cable car, however, would be way more fun than taking an Uber.
Back when the U.S. had the respect of allies and the moral authority to effect positive change, the United Nations complex was an important place in the world.
Now it’s about as useless as a smallpox hospital, except if people stop vaccinating their kids the hospital may become important again.
Dana’s favorite buildings along the shoreline are part of a new apartment development.
That’s it. We crossed our wake for the second time. One of eight boats to finish the Down East Circle this year.
Then past the 9/11 memorial and into Liberty Landing.
Hell of a view from the pilothouse tonight.
Tomorrow we’re making the short trip backwards to Port Washington, leaving Misty Pearl, renting a van, and driving south. We moved aboard on March 12, 2018, but we bought her in 2017. That’s 216 blog posts since The start of it all. Nearly nine thousand miles. Hundreds of locks. Hundreds of stops.
The point is, we’ve not spent more than a few days sleeping on a stable bed in a loooong time. No time for stuff like dentists and doctors and vets and daily pickleball. Important stuff.
Now that we’ve closed the two loops we started, Misty Pearl is going into hibernation. We’ll pick her up again next April or May—after the snow and ice melts—and spend at least the summer cruising somewhere. Maybe we’ll go north again. Maybe we’ll go south again.
We’ll keep the website activated and add new maps and pins as we go, but 123,945 words are enough. (Yes, WordPress keeps a word count.) If anyone cares to keep up, we’ll try to post more photos on Instagram when we start cruising again. We’re @douganddanaandaboat there as well.
All we know is that exploring by boat now is in our blood. Sort of like the late great Chris LeDoux with his horse. “As long as there’s a sunset, we’ll keep riding for the brand. You just can’t see us from the road.”
After quite a few unexpectedly glorious days, it was about time for some gloom, and we got it. Toss in a few drizzles as well. But we have places to be.
The ferries across the Sound come and go every hour and their path is directly across the path we needed to take out of the marina. The one this morning was the P.T. Barnum.
There may be a sucker born every minute, but we’re smart enough to time our departure. This time we left in front of the ferry, however, rather than waiting. Brent would’ve been proud.
As a bonus, the Sound was smooth all the way to City Island. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to see. Hey look! It’s Stamford, Connecticut!
And Oyster Bay. Teddy Roosevelt’s house is back up in there somewhere but we couldn’t see it.
The sun started creeping out just as we passed Execution Rocks Lighthouse.
We looked it up. Maybe early Americans executed some prisoners by chaining them to the rocks at low tide. Maybe the British chained up some revolutionaries. Maybe a serial killer dumped bodies there. Maybe none of that happened. There isn’t a consensus. At one point it was a B & B but that seems to have gone by the wayside.
Just before City Island—our destination—sits Hart Island, former site of a Civil War prison.
Those poor brave Sons of the South. New York is nice to visit but we wouldn’t want to live here.
The clouds were gone by the time we tied up at Minneford. Bronx, New York.
Yup, we’re in Bronx, New York.
Up here, even the wildlife are pushy. When Doug was hosing off the salt, a goose stopped by and demanded a fresh-water shower.
The photo sucks because it came from about fifteen minutes of shaky phone video we took, but the dude kept swimming back and forth and fluffing his wings in the spray. Doug was afraid to stop but then we got hungry.
One more highlight. From the boat we can see the New Rochelle skyline.
New Rochelle is famous for being the home of Rob and Laura Petrie and their zany neighbors Jerry and Millie. And their not-funny-at-all son Ritchie, who was the complete weak link in an otherwise all-star cast.
Tomorrow a short trip down the East River to the Hudson to close the Down East Circle.
Yesterday morning we remembered that Newport is a really cool town, but we can’t loiter anyplace else and still get to Port Washington by the 3rd so we left. During the night Zuiderdam replaced the Sapphire Princess. The same clowns were buzzing around in the tenders but we snuck past them before they could jack with us. How do you say “Ha ha” in Dutch?
At some point we passed a fort. Doug looked it up, made no notes, forgot what he found, and now we can’t identify it again without more of a commitment than we can muster.
Between Newport and New London, we encountered Judith Light. Not the Judith Light who played the mom who hired Allyssa Milano’s dad in the quite mediocre show Who’s the Boss?, of course, but the one out on Point Judith.
Just off Fishers Island sits the Latimer Reef Light. And sat scores of fishing boats and sailboats that we had to dodge, although only one showed up in the photo.
Right about then, we heard the Mayday call about a man overboard. For the next hour or so we were riveted by the drama. After a bunch of well-intentioned radio misdirection, we learned that a dive boat reported that two divers had gone down, but only one had surfaced. While the Coast Guard dithered through what seemed to us like incredibly inappropriate red-tape given the need for immediate action, very competent dudes on fishing boats took charge of calculating drift in the strong current and setting up a search grid. Very impressive. Just as we reached a UConn satellite campus, the diver washed up on the rocks back on Fishers Island, apparently safe.
Relieved, we turned up the Thames River for New London. Wait a second. We get that someone with naming rights pined away for Mother England. That’s fine. But if it’s New London, shouldn’t it be New Thames? Or leave the “New” off altogether. All we ask for is a little consistency.
Actually we also ask for floating docks. New London is a huge boating town, but the wonders of floating docks seem lost on them. Lots of pilings though.
New London is in Connecticut. Connecticut is the last new state we’ll see by boat this go round. Unless we go to the west coast at some distant point in time, the next new state probably will be Wisconsin if we cruise up to Lake Superior, and right now we have no plans to cruise up to Lake Superior. The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald and all. So mostly we’re done with new states, but we’ve been to twenty-three of them—plus D.C. and five Canadian provinces—which we think is pretty solid.
Anyway, we turned to port at the sunk and abandoned sailboat.
The great family folks at Burr’s weren’t sure where to put us, but we finally slid in along the inside of the fuel dock.
New London is supposed to be a neat town to explore. The Coast Guard Academy is here. We love the Coast Guard, although they didn’t show too well in the missing diver incident. But no time to tour the Academy. Or to visit Defender Marine, where one can purchase almost anything boat related. There’s also a submarine base around here. By the time we deployed the fender boards and set lines for the tide swing and walked Oscar and ate dinner, we didn’t have the oomph even to call an Uber.
We’d wanted to stop at some other towns—like Mystic—but all those weather delays finally became an issue. So today was just a long slog through Long Island Sound. Everybody look what’s going down. At least it was a decent day to travel.
Now we’re back in New York.
Port Jefferson to be precise. We’re in a nice spot near the action.
Which is a good thing, because Oscar is all about being near the action.
Next stop, City Island. Then Liberty Landing. The East River hopefully will be our last challenging stretch, but we’re excited about passing under the Brooklyn Bridge and seeing some other new New York stuff.
We wanted to leave yesterday, but Buzzards Bay still was rolling five-footers so we didn’t. But because today was our kind of nice, we left one busy harbor and headed for another.
Mostly it was just easy cruising under a clear blue sky.
About halfway we passed a yellow marker unlike any we’ve seen before.
That’s because we’ve never plowed through a sailboat race before, at least as far as we know. A bit later we saw the pack off in the distance, however, so it’s not like we caused problems or anything.
We’ve now been cruising basically nonstop for nineteen months. One might expect us to have learned—after all this time—to anticipate things we need to photograph. Nope. We tend to wish long after the fact that we’d been more prepared. Like today. As we were admiring the mansions along the coast approaching Newport, we remembered that the one where Robert Redford (but not Leo DiCaprio) wooed Daisy and then got shot in his own swimming pool—even though Daisy was driving the car that fateful night—was along there somewhere (and not in West Egg). The place is called Rosecliff, and it’s visible from the water.
As Google Maps sadly shows, Rosecliff was out of sight before we thought to take a picture. Fortunately, just as we rounded the corner we managed to catch one side of The Breakers, which is the famous Vanderbilt home where no classic movies were filmed. It’s obviously not as cool as Gatsby’s house, but it’s something.
On the outskirts of town we passed one of those old replica sailing ships. A lot of the towns along the New England coast seem to have one of them hanging around for tours and such. Generally they’re pretty cool. As for this one, we suspect the rigid inflatable dinghy hanging off the stern probably isn’t historically justifiable.
Because of the mansions and the America’s Cup and the golf and the tennis and the shops and stuff, Newport is quite the tourist attraction. Which means cruise ships like the Sapphire Princess stop here to clog up the works.
Which means Doug’s gotta bust out the drone.
But hey, we learned something new about cruise ships today. We of course were aware that they anchor pretty far from shore, and that they use tenders to ferry passengers back and forth. What we didn’t know is that piloting the tenders requires no boating expertise or boating etiquette. The only employment criterion is that the applicant must be a complete jackass. One guy cut us off at a blind corner. One guy stopped in front of us when we were thirty feet from docking. The no-wake zone doesn’t apply to them. And on and on.
Yeah you, meathead sticking out of number 18, we’re talking to you and the rest of your ilk.
Okay, that’s out of our system now. We don’t let things like annoying cruise ship employees ruin the rest of our day, particularly when it’s one of the last warm days we’ll see up here. Dana patronized the shops. Doug flew the drone around the harbor.
Dana and Oscar napped on the bow. We’ve been here before by car so didn’t see a reason to get overly adventurous. Good dinner. Sunset.
Not too many of these days left before we put Misty Pearl up for the winter. We’d better enjoy them while we can.
Yesterday the nice weather continued (after overnight showers), so we took off along the western shore of Cape Cod Bay with blue skies and flybridge-quality warmth.
Initially we’d planned to swing by some of the towns on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard, but we’ll try to catch them next summer. For now, we’re just trying to finish the Down East Circle. Which meant cutting through the Cape Cod Canal. Starting at the rather industrial north end.
Along the canal we passed a mural depicting a solitary sailboat—with full sails—gliding along peacefully. Quite picturesque.
Except this is a commercial canal. Sailing strictly is prohibited. Hmmmm.
Student drivers, however, are allowed in the canal. Which is a good thing since the Massachusetts Maritime Academy uses it for training. Ranger is one of the school’s training boat. We assume there was a competent instructor aboard, but we still gave them a wide berth just like you do when passing a slow car with the telltale Driver’s Ed signs on it.
The existence of the canal was a bit of a surprise when we first learned of it, because we always assumed that Cape Cod was, well, a cape. Capes usually are connected to land. When the canal was completed in 1916, however, Cape Cod became an island. As clearly depicted by our course to New Bedford, since we stayed aboard and afloat the entire time.
In case anyone wants to see what transiting the canal looks like when the water is bouncy, here’s the time-lapse.
We’ve been though lots of scenic canals. This ain’t exactly one of them, but at least it was easy.
New Bedford sits a mile or so up the Acushnet River. The Port is home to some five hundred commercial fishing boats and generates over $10 billion a year in revenue. They’re not going to let stinking hurricanes come in and ruin all that, so they built doors to keep them out. Literally.
Here’s what the hurricane gate looks like from inside, via drone.
Obviously they won’t stop the wind, but it’d take a pretty massive surge to drive water over the wall. All we could think about was some poor slob traveling at trawler speed minutes ahead of the storm but arriving just after the doors closed.
Thankfully the doors were open for us. Despite some wind issues we made it to Pope’s Island and hid Misty Pearl amongst a bunch of other white boats.
Now some more about New Bedford. Portugal dedicated a statue of Prince Henry the Navigator here.
Which is sweet and all, but also puzzling. Prince Henry did develop some sailing techniques that still are used today and he did do some epic exploring, but he never made it to New England. The plaque lists a bunch of Portuguese settlers so that’s probably the explanation, tenuous though it may be.
What is very clear, however, is that New Bedford has a long history with boats.
And whaling. Although Herman Melville wasn’t from New Bedford, Moby Dick brought attention to what was the whaling capital of the U.S., if not the world. And the place still is all about whaling in one form or another.
A dead whale or a stove boat? Wow that seems unnecessarily dramatic. How about you don’t kill the whale AND your boat stays intact? That’s a pretty obvious win-win, at least nowadays.
We visited the whaling museum but in that same vein found it more than a little disturbing as well.
We get that customers wanted whale oil and venders from New Bedford needed to make money, but they’re a little too proud of their role during the age of slaughter for our taste.
What New Bedford should be proud of is the oldest continuously-operating elevator in the country. The town still pays an operator to take people up and down in the ordinary course of business at City Hall.
It has seats and a 360° view of the inside of the building. Doug rode up with a clerk and down with a mailman, who said it takes about twenty trips a day to deliver all the mail.
Our last scary hurdle is Buzzards Bay, which apparently is under a perpetual Small Craft Advisory because of waves. We plan to tackle it tomorrow on our way back to the Guilded Age of Jay Gatsby, or at least whatever’s left of it in Newport.