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’s 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.

What did Delaware?

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We unthreaded the Tidewater Marina needle at 7:30 in an effort to run the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal before the afternoon storms arrived.  The sun was out when we left and the water was calm.  The bridge at Chesapeake City told us we were on the home stretch to our third state.  Along the way we encountered only one interesting boat.

003a0499We also encountered a railroad bridge that lifts for boat traffic.   Bizarre.

A Looper boat merged in front of us but skipped Delaware City.  Too bad for those folks.  Delaware City is dang cool, which is good since we will be here a few days until Dana takes Shannon down to Baltimore for her flight to Los Angeles for her summer job on Catalina Island.

We hosted John and Marilyn (Blue Goose) and Bert (Tyro) for a great evening of Loop talk.  Bert is traveling alone on a boat the size of our old Supra ski boat.  Pretty impressive.

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Good morning Baltimore

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While in Rock Hall, Maryland, we encountered a local lady who saw us lugging groceries back to the boat.  She offered us a ride in her Gem car, which—wait for it—was named Pearl.  That’s kind of like encountering the ghost of Hank Williams at crossroads in Alabama or some such thing.  Crazy.

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A heron next to us watched us leave Rock Hall Landing at 8:30 for the short hop across the Bay to Baltimore.   img_3516

It’s been a steel-gray couple of days since we left St. Michaels.  The color sky that reminds us wistful old salts of our youthful winters spent cod fishing in the Bering Sea.  Oh wait, that was a TV show, not us.  Mostly us old salts had to listen to the young salts wistfully recall two days earlier when they could lay in the sun instead of snoozing while wrapped up like mummies.  When the cruise isn’t exciting enough, however, just make lemonade.  Which in our case meant busting out the drone for the first time while underway.  A few things to note:

  • Return to Home doesn’t work.  Ok we knew that one.
  • The distance shown on the controller is distance from the launch GPS coordinates, not the controller’s current location.  That was an unexpected surprise.
  • The path map also is useless.  Can’t follow it back to the boat if the boat moves a mile or two.
  • The boat engine noise drowns out the drone motor noise.  So you can’t use the sound to help locate it.
  • Against steel-gray it’s impossible to tell what direction a black dot is moving, assuming you even can find said black dot.
  • Doug’s eyesight is horrible.

Because of all that, when the low battery beep starts—and you have lost sight of the drone from the boat and the boat from the drone—massive panic ensues.  All hands on deck.  Mayday.  $1,000 overboard.  Fortunately young eyes and a solid piece of luck allowed a deck landing just as the battery died.  Dana says we never can do that again.  We’ll see.

 

We also encountered our first Traffic Separation Scheme crossing the Bay into Baltimore.  Fortunately there wasn’t much commercial traffic as the hazy skyline came into focus.

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003a0446We visited Fort McHenry a couple of years ago.  There was a huge exhibit of iconic moments involving the American flag.  One of us pointed out to the guides that in fact the “Miracle on Ice” photo of Jim Craig wrapped in the flag was taken after the U.S. beat the commies in a semifinal game, not the gold medal game.  They didn’t seem to care that their exhibit was flawed.  We aren’t gong back.

The saddest part of our trip so far is losing Mallory, who took a train back to her summer job in Washington.  She was with us the first 227.8 nm of our adventure.  Having both girls with us reinforced how much we miss them when they are gone.

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The weather appears to be a problem so we may be stuck in Baltimore longer than ideal, but at least Shannon is still with us.