We’ve got ripplin’ water to wake us

After the thoroughly enjoyable dinner with Tom and Susan last evening, we checked the conditions again.  Sunny and warm.  A good tide and current window if we left at about 8:30, so not too early.  Wait, wind at 20 knots gusting to 30 knots?  That’s nots for us.

We awoke to the sound of wind and waves, confirming that it would be a scary day to travel.  Doug returned to sleep.  At about 8, however, Subject to Change met Dana on the dock.  They had talked to a friend up the Hudson, they said.  The wind was bad at Half Moon Bay but no place else, they said.  No wind at Kingston, they said.  We are going and you should join us, they said.   Twenty minutes later we were on our way out of Half Moon Bay.

We thought Half Moon was the shape of the harbor.  Turns out Half Moon was Henry Hudson’s boat when he explored the Hudson River in search of a northwest passage to Asia.  Of course, it probably wasn’t called the Hudson until later.  It seems unlikely that Hank would be exploring a river someone already had named after him, but who knows for sure?

Half Moon Bay really was blowing, but things calmed down pretty quickly.  We fired up some NGDB and urged High Cotton to leave as well.  Spread the love, right?  Things started off great.  We were congratulating ourselves on a shrewd decision as we reached West Point again, this time by water.

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And that’s about where it turned to crap.  Just past the place where we took the scenic photo in yesterday’s post, the wind whipped the river to an angry froth.  Subject to Change registered gusts of 38 knots.  It felt like 60.  We passed through what the Waterway Guide said was the prettiest stretch of river in the country.  We didn’t notice.

003a1010After about 2 hours of terror, things calmed down a bit.  The CIA main building appeared right where it was supposed to be.  Still impressive.

003a1021The Esopus Meadows Light may be the coolest lighthouse we have seen so far.  And it’s fairly important.  It sits right in the middle of the river.  Going upstream, immediately to the right the channel is about 80 feet deep.  Immediately to the left, the water is about 1 foot deep.  That’s a big deal when Misty Pearl has a 5-foot draft.  We guessed correctly and made our way to the Kingston City Marina.


When we landed, Kingston seemed like an artsy town with a cool vibe.  The museum already was closed but looked interesting.  After dinner with Second Wave, Subject to Change, Hign Cotton, and Nautical Dreamer, however, the vibe seemed to have changed to ghetto.  We may sleep with the flare gun out tonight.

And it’s one, two, three, what are we fighting for? or Go Army Beat Navy

img_3667As a Tennessean and a Texan, we never thought we would admit it but part of New York State is awesome.  At least in June.  Except for ticks.

Off we went in our rental car to explore Hudson Valley areas not visible from a boat.  Much of the scenery along back roads in upstate New York looks a lot like scenery along back roads in east Tennessee.  Right down to painted barns, tractor warnings, farms, country churches, deer processors, and taxidermists.  It’s not exactly the same, of course, because the people in these parts talk kinda funny.  There also is a notable lack of kudzu.  img_3670

We stopped along the Bear Mountain Parkway to photograph a shallow and narrow pass that we will confront tomorrow by water.  Hopefully it will feel as peaceful as it looked from above.

Last year we visited Lubec, Maine, to watch the first sunrise in the United States.  Campobello Island was close by so we hopped into Canada to see Franklin Roosevelt’s summer home.  Public Service  Announcement no. 1:  Even though the U.S. Park Service jointly manages Campobello, your U.S. phone provider will start hammering you well before you get to the bridge.  Make sure to have an international plan or shut off your phones.

img_3657Springwood, where FDR was born, raised, lived during his presidency, and is buried, is up the road a short piece from the marina here.  PSA no. 2:  If you use Google Maps, don’t sucker for directions to “FDR Historical Site Viewpoint.”  And if you do, when your spouse says “Are you sure we’re supposed to cross the river” don’t confidently say “Yes.”  Because you will end up on the wrong side of  the Hudson miles from Hyde Park, at a private road with big No Tresspassing signs posted by someone who probably is pretty angry with Google Maps.  Fortunately Dana wasn’t in a finger-pointing mood.

img_3659A little known fact about FDR is that he was a huge fan of fairy tales, to the extent that he designed his gardener’s quarters to look just like the cottage where the Big Bad Wolf ate Little Red Riding Hood’s poor near-sighted granny.  Ok we made that up, but it certainly looks looks like it could be true.

The roses in the private garden—where the former President is buried—were in full bloom.  Unfortunately an endless stream of elementary school kids on field trips literally prevented us from stopping to smell them.  That is a true story.  In any event, we learned that for us at least, two FDR home tours is exactly one FDR home tour too many.

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If there existed a list of bizarre things we have done that turned out great, visiting the CIA would be near the top.  Not the CIA that gave us the Iran-Contra scandal, of course, but the one that gave us Anthony Bourdain (RIP) and other great chefs.  That would be the Culinary Institute of America.  Our lunch was fantastic.  They don’t accept tips.  The massive grounds were pristine.  The views were better than FDR’s.  Everyone was running around in white chef aprons.  There were funny signs at the crosswalks.  What more could one want?

img_3666Actually, we wanted one more thing.  We wanted to buy some local wine, so we drove over to Millbrook Vineyards and Winery.  More beautiful grounds.   Despite the sign with the tick warning we walked the boys past ponds and vineyards before buying a few bottles.  We are partial to the softer California grape so the bouquet may be a little too robust for our liking, but we will see.  (That is the last quote from The Parent Trap you will read on this blog.  Promise.)

The New York State Thruway was not closed, man, so we drove the 90 minutes to what used to be Max Yasgur’s dairy farm.  That trip was, well, a real trip.  Walking where Arlo Guthrie, Jimi Hendrix, Country Joe McDonald, The Band, Janis Joplin, and others performed at one iconic event was way cool, even without the free love.

img_3678The Woodstock museum alone made the visit worthwhile.  Dana bought her first souvenir shirt.  We seriously contemplated going back from Albany to a Steve Earle-Dwight Yoakum-Lucinda Williams concert on Friday but concluded we could not possibly stay awake long enough to drive home afterwards.

img_3692After seeing an iconic memorial to the anti-war movement of the 1960s, we turned to one of the iconic symbols of the American war machine on a visit to the United States Military Academy at West Point.  What a juxtaposition.

The Naval Academy in Annapolis is austere and cold.  Very intimidating, but not particularly beautiful.  West Point is just as impressive, but also with million dollar views.

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We walked where George Custer, Jefferson Davis, George Patton, Dwight Eisenhower, and William Tecumseh Sherman—later known to history as the Bastard Who Burned Atlanta—once walked.  Way cool.  PSA no. 3:  General William T. Sherman should not be confused with Colonel Sherman Tecumseh Potter, who took command of the 4077th MASH unit (much to the lasting dismay of Frank Burns) after the departure of Henry Blake (RIP).  And his orchestra.

img_3701When they were kindergartners, Mallory and her friend Elizabeth Fountain were Ironbirds together.  In theory it was a t-ball team but in reality it was a stare-at-clouds-and-search-for-ladybugs team.  A couple of years later the Fountains moved to New Jersey, reasonably close to Croton-On-Hudson.  Tom and Susan made the trip to visit us and Misty Pearl tonight.  It was great to catch up with them.

img_3687Really about the only negative thing about the stay at Half Moon Bay is that we had to carry the boys up to the road each time they walked.  Apparently the condo complex owns what grandly is named Riverwalk but really is just a poor-quality asphalt path with a construction cone in a pothole.

img_3686These people suck.  They also clearly have chosen to spend eternity with Satan and his dog-hating minions.

Tomorrow we are cruising up the Hudson to Kingston.  The map doesn’t suggest that there is too much to see from the water other than West Point, but maybe we will spot an eagle or something.  Dana will have the camera ready just in case.

PSA no. 4:  Poughkeepsie is just as fun to say as Yonkers.

Start spreading the news

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img_3625An action-packed day yesterday means an action-packed blog post today.  We started pretty sedately, however, with a chance to sleep in.  Until six.  Dana spotted a Black-Crowned Night Heron on the dock beside us and Doug spotted a regular old deer in the Great Kills Yacht Club garden.  Despite the fence we swear it wasn’t in a zoo.

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Then off to the north.  The plan to leave at 11 looked sketchy as we bucked current through the Verrazano Narrows and into the main channel.  Back when Don Vito Corleone unsuccessfully tried to bring the Five Families together for the common good of organized crime, New York City was a different place.  At least it looks different from the water.  For one thing, there are a lot more boats.  Everywhere.  Huge boats.  F5D39425-814A-43A2-9D28-56B4706127F2The purple areas that make the approach look like the Arizona state flag are Traffic Separation Schemes—think superhighways for  commercial vessels—each wider than Manhattan.  And the unofficial but practical Rule of Gross Tonnage says we need to stay away from those commercial vessels no matter what.  They go faster than we do, and as sluggish as Misty Pearl may be she is as nimble as a flea compared to 200-meter behemoths.

img_3601Knowing that photo documentation would be critical to the mission, our team photographer got the bow assignment.

003a0630As we approached the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Coney Island passed off to the right.  Coney Island is famous for hot dogs and as the home turf of the Warriors, who Luther falsely accused of killing Cyrus and who then bravely fought their way back to their beach until the Gramarcy Riffs finally realized it was Luther all along.

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We were lucky enough to be going past Manhattan on the day of a jet ski parade, which frankly seems like a really dumb idea for a parade.  There indeed were lots of jet skis but not many more than a busy day on Lake Pleasant.  The bigger issues were ferries, and tour boats, and tugs with barges, and sailboats, and power boats, and more tour boats.  Sully was a hero for landing a US Airway jet on the river and saving all the passengers, but what truly is amazing is that he didn’t wipe out 100,000 bug-eyed tourists.

003a0681We were traveling with Second Wave so that we both could get the obligatory photo in front of the Statue of Liberty.   Rumor has it that if a Looper boat fails in this regard, AGLCA repossesses the burgee and strikes your membership.  Getting a clean shot, however, is not that easy given the traffic, currents, and every other stooge looking for a good view.
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The black line shows what we were supposed to do to get up the Hudson.  The yellow line shows what we actually did in order to photograph Second Wave.  Second Wave did the same, which yielded the photo above for which Karen gets the credit.

As cool as Manhattan was, we were glad to be moving on.  Karen and Dana’s assurance that the afternoon current would be favorable proved spot-on as we started picking up speed at the George Washington Bridge.

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The George Washington Bridge is famous for Bridgegate, but yesterday traffic seemed to be flowing nicely as we came up alongside Hoboken on our left.

003a0927The north end of the Harlem River is just beyond the bridge.  The Harlem River is famous for making Manhattan an island.  We were surprised at just how big the island is.  The Natives who struck the deal to sell it must really have wanted those beads and trinkets.003a0912

Pretty quickly the scenery changed dramatically.   Huge building gave way to huge cliffs and shorelines.  And trains.  Lots of trains.

We continued on north past Yonkers.  Yonkers is famous for being a fun word to say.

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Just north of the Tappan Zee bridge is the place where Ethel and Julius Rosenberg lived and died.  The name Sing Sing comes from Sinck Sinck, the tribe that sold the land.   Hopefully the Sinck Sinck were a tad shrewder or less desperate for crap than the Manhattan sellers.003a0948

Second Wave led us into Half Moon Bay on the eastern shore of the Hudson, roughly 46 nm from Great Kills.  Bucket List helped with our lines, and we all took off together for dinner.  We plan to stay here for a few days to clean up Misty Pearl—this is the last time we wash salt off her until November—and explore Croton-On-Hudson and surrounding area.

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Yeah youuu, shook us all night long

Another hardship the Pilgrims avoided was listening to an AC/DC tribute band at the end of their dock.  It wouldn’t have been too bad if we were 30 years younger.  And liked non-country music.  And didn’t have to wade through an ear-splitting mosh pit to walk the boys.  And didn’t need to go to sleep at 9:30 in anticipation of a dawn departure.  And were 200 miles farther from the stage.

Actually we might not have slept much anyway.  There just aren’t many places along the Jersey shore that can accommodate looping trawlers.  The general feeling of the group last night was that we could (1) try to enter Manasquan Inlet, face the railroad bridge in strong current, and likely perish, or (2) push through a long day to Great Kills, face afternoon winds and waves, and likely perish.  Listening to Highway to Hell multiple times on what might be our last night on earth was not at all comforting.
img_3579The Great Kills group left at 5:30, but we opted for Manasquan and left at 7 after enjoying a gorgeous sunrise.  At 8:01, Dana called the dockmaster at Hoffman’s to beg for a slip assignment east of the bridge.  He told us they assign slips as boats arrive based on current and wind, and could not promise we would avoid the bridge.

img_3580After throwing up in our mouths a little, we called Jerry Taylor—who with his equally-experienced wife is delivering a 49 Kadey Krogan while leading the Great Kills group—to seek advice.  Jerry said go, so we ramped up to 2100 rpm and made a run for Staten Island, N.Y., fully regretting the decision to leave late.  We had been traveling with Second Wave and Karen snapped a photo of us as we zoomed by at about a 1/2 knot speed differential.  Second Wave later decided to take advantage of the good conditions and press ahead as well, as did everyone else.

003a0592On a road trip to N.Y. in about 1987, Doug stopped at Old Barney.   It looks just about the same today.  Just north of Old Barney we hit a bump in the road.  And by that we mean we hit something submerged in the water and it went “bump.”  Sort of a chilling sound and feel when 3 miles off the coast.  We stopped and checked things out as best as possible.  No bilge pumps running, no water rushing in, rudder seemed to work, engine seemed fine.  So off we went again.  The gods of fortune smiled upon us as the anticipated 3-foot waves never materialized.  Conditions were far more benign than Wahweap on a busy day.

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From about 15 miles away we could see the Manhattan skyline and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.  We rounded Sandy Hook and beelined for Great Kills Harbor.  The dudes gave us horrible instructions and told us to dock stern-first in a slip that was “very wide.”  And by that they meant “very narrow.”  After a couple of aborted efforts that saw us nearly ground on the img_3587adjacent shoal, we put the bow in.  As Dirty Harry observed, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”  We later noted that nobody else in the entire marina backed in.  Not even the little maneuverable boats.

Dana and Karen plotted the trip up the Hudson River to Half Moon Bay tomorrow.  There is a decent chance we will take more and better N.Y.C. photos on the way by.

In your honor, a royal flush

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Just like Captain Christopher Jones, Myles Standish, and the plucky band of Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower, the Belknaps from Arizona aboard the Misty Pearl left the relative safety of a harbor and set forth across the mighty Atlantic Ocean, albeit in the opposite direction.  The Puritans of course had the benefit of celestial navigation skills, faded hand-crafted charts showing exactly where sea monsters guard the edges of the world, citrus to fight scurvy, and livestock to provide meat for a year.  We were saddled with Global Positioning System satellites, Garmin chartplotters, iPad Navionics for added redundancy, not enough lime slices for our Coronas, and two dogs too small to feed us for a week.  So because of our limitations we turned north from Cape May and headed to Atlantic City after topping off the tanks with $1,900 worth of diesel fuel.  Hopefully that fuel will get us through the Canada stretch of our trip, which we note the Mayflower folks didn’t even attempt.  (They would have been amazed to see their boat carried by Big Chute.)

About two hours into the day, we passed a large pod of dolphins traveling the other way, apparently unconcerned about the risk of sneaky shark fishermen trying to pass them off as tournament trophies.  We couldn’t mobilize the camera quickly enough but trust us they were cool.  After some rough stuff at the mouth of the Cape May Inlet, we settled in to quartering seas off the starboard bow with fairly soft eight-second rollers.  Nice.  A second dolphin pod gave Dana another chance.  It’s a steep learning curve.

Off our port side we watched the southern Jersey shore roll by.   From three miles away we thought we could see a bloated Chris Christie sunning himself on a wide empty beach, but maybe it was just a dark shadow cast by a buffoon-shaped cloud.  Simg_3574oon Atlantic City appeared on the horizon like a giant cash-sucking Stonehenge.  The modern-day druids already were taking our money and we hadn’t even arrived.

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A sharp turn at the out-of-place and somewhat phallic lighthouse and a short pass down Absecon Inlet later, we docked at the Golden Nugget.  Doug ducked in to lose a few poker hands, mostly so that the title of this post—which Mallory and Shannon immediately will recognize as a line from The Parent Trap—will be relevant.  Dana walked the dogs and ran (for fun, not from muggers).

We met up with Blue Goose, Tyro, Second Wave, and Blue Moon to discuss the weather and various options for traveling further north tomorrow.   Right now it’s looking iffy.  We don’t do iffy.

Is shark hunting even legal?

A little panic hit us when we learned that every fishing boat around the southern tip of New Jersey will be starting a shark tournament tomorrow.  Slips were unavailable or at a premium, and after the Hatteras sank last night the possibility that we would anchor out was exactly nil.   Fortunately Dana persuaded the guy at Canyon Club Marina to let us in, so off we went.

Up the Chesapeake Bay there were so many places to visit that the Looper crowd somewhat dispersed.  As the path narrows—everyone goes up the Hudson River for example—we are seeing more boats with the AGLCA burgee.  On the way to Cape May at times we were pretty tight with Spiritus, Ocean Star, Tiki Queen, and several others.

The wind and Doug’s language worsened as we worked our way through the narrow Cape May Canal.  The dockmaster was frazzled because of all the boats coming in with what seemed to be an understaffed dock.  He watched us only for a moment before deciding to put us in a bigger slip, likely in an effort to protect his dock and the other boats.

img_3569Cape May is known for grand Victorian homes, an aquarium, beaches, and the lighthouse, among other things.  We saw none of them.  People often ask what we do all day, clearly implying that we do nothing all day.  Today went like this:  Up at 5:30.  Walk dogs and check everything (strainers, bilges, oil levels, coolant levels, electronics, etc.)  Final check of a half-dozen weather, current, and tide resources.  Get off the dock without issue.  Stressfully navigate the Delaware Bay.  img_3570Get docked with only a few issues.  Tie up, get shore power, wash off the salt water.  Complete the daily log.  Walk the dogs.  Install new drink refrigerator to replace ice maker.  Walk to the Lobster House, a Looper requisite.  Walk the dogs.  Take showers.  Deal with the four old sailors flirting with Dana.  Plan the route to Atlantic City.  Check a half-dozen weather, current, and tide resources.   (The Coast Guard installation played reveille at sundown, bringing back good and bad memories of the Navy Yard.)  Collapse at 9:00 (Looper midnight.)  One final dog walk.  Today there was no time to explore Cape May.

 

And that’s why we stay in marinas

Nobody where we come from thinks about visiting Delaware City.  Which is a shame, because Delaware City—and Delaware City Marina—are way cool.  Coming in, Tim the dockmaster barks specific instructions that prove to be pretty critical as you enter a chute of current that requires crab angling down to the linear dock.

After docking bow first, these dudes push the bow out where it catches the current which flips the boat the other direction.  We would have filmed it but didn’t know it was coming.

img_3565Delaware City only has a few restaurants, but makes up for it by the high percentage of Loopers filling those restaurants.   We met up with a bunch of neat folks we may buddy with from time to time.  The main street—maybe the only street—is Clinton.  Somebody is quite proud of the trademark for the sports bar.

Greg the marina mechanic was able to fix a troubling water leak that required tools and expertise that we don’t possess.  So long to the periodic buzz of the water pump caused by dropping pressure.

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The worst thing about Delaware City was losing Shannon.  We had her for 305 nm before she headed to Catalina Island for her summer job.  We now are back to four.  Hopefully both girls will rejoin us in August if not before.

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Tim not only directs marina traffic, he also provides invaluable weather briefings at precisely 5:01 every afternoon.  The Delaware Bay notoriously is fickle, particularly at the approach to Cape May, our next destination.  Tonight he gave everyone the green light for an early morning departure.

The big excitement tonight was when a 58-foot Hatteras went down just around the corner from where were were eating at the marina picnic tables.  Police, fire, a Coast Guard helicopter, and hopeful salvors all convened in a frenzy.
img_3566The boat had anchored out, the anchor slipped in the current, and they bashed into a rock jetty.  Fortunately the six people aboard were rescued from the water.  This rescue boat seems to have rescued  only the life raft, but they still are heroes.

If all goes well, tomorrow night we will be in the land of Frankie Valli, mobsters, and real housewives.