37. The Hudson

After two beautiful nights basking in the glow of Lady Liberty, it was time to move along. The longer I stayed staring at the city, the more I wanted to go in and visit. It’s odd enough for me to have such an urge, since we have such a mixed history, but the draw was definitely there. With pandemic and civil unrest still happening though, I decided it would be best not to visit this time around.

So, the anchor was up and we were on our way by about 9:30 AM. We fell in line behind another northbound trawler that I didn’t recognize, but they soon split off toward the east before I could get a picture. We did a slow pass in front of Lady Liberty and Ellis Island, and we rubbernecked the giant yacht that had been anchored nearby.

Traffic in the river continued to be very quiet all day, which was beyond wonderful. Once clear of the big yacht, we shot across the river toward the Manhattan shoreline, which we hugged. The scenery there is really fantastic. The scale of the city is just so impressive, and it’s an odd feeling to be so close to this vibrant and bustling megalopolis, and not be caught up in the sounds and smells and commotion. It’s like tip toeing past a dragon that’s fast asleep on it’s hoard of gold doubloons.

My inner boat nerd is always interested to pass the piers along Manhattan’s west side, where all of my favorite old ocean liners used to hang out. You can still see faded and broken old signs from ‘Cunard Line,’ ‘French Line’ and ‘United States Lines,’ If I’d been born a hundred years earlier, I might have worked here.

Liner Row in the ’60s

We continued to hug the Manhattan shoreline, past what is decidedly not a frying pan, despite it’s claims to the contrary. It looked a lot more like a lightship to me, but who am I to say? Maybe we’re all just frying pans, trying to convince ourselves and each other that we’re not.

Ceci n’est pas une
poêle à frire

We passed the USS Intrepid museum slow and close. I’ve never actually been there, but I really need to go sometime soon. There’s so much stuff there that I’d love to see. You can see the new enclosure for the Space Shuttle Enterprise on Intrepid’s flight deck, and a British Airways Concorde on the barge next door.

Before long we passed under the absolutely massive George Washington Bridge, with it’s 604 foot tall towers, which is always a hell of a thing to see. I much prefer driving under this one at 7 knots, with my feet up on the dash, and plenty of time to look around. Making the trip over in a land yacht tends to be a much more harrowing and expensive experience.

Above the GW bridge, the city skyline gets a lot shorter, and the horizon is dominated by natural features instead. The New Jersey Palisades climb up to nearly 550 feet at their tallest, and look like a temperate version of ‘The Wall’ from Game of Thrones. I wandered over toward the Jersey side of the river for this stretch, mostly for the scenery, but also to reduce the odds of meeting any deep draft commercial traffic.

The next point of interest came in the form of the shiny new Governor Mario Cuomo Bridge. It had still been under construction on my way south, but is now complete. It was also a much more pleasant and pretty day this time. It’s a fine looking bridge, especially compared to the ol’ Tappan Zee it replaced. I’ve been under this one twice now, and still haven’t crossed over it yet.

A few hours of quiet and pleasant steaming brought us to the World’s End, a narrow ‘S’ shaped gorge in the river. It’s the deepest point in the river, at over 200 feet. Steep banks and sheer cliffs rise high on either side of the river, making for some really incredible scenery. Perched on a bluff in the middle of the gorge is West Point Military Academy, with it’s severe ‘castle fortress’ looking campus.

I also passed this fine looking Pilgrim 40, living her best life anchored all on her own in a picture postcard perfect spot.

A wild Pilgrim 40 in it’s natural habitat.

We found ourselves anchoring a short time later, at the same place we’d anchored on the way south. It had been a good spot, with lovely scenery, no traffic, and good holding. I was happy to use it again.

This time was a different story, though. The wind had been forecast out of the Southwest, and with a mountain to the southwest of us, I figured we’d have plenty of shelter. I was wrong. What actually happened was quite the opposite. The tall banks on either side of the river effectively funneled the wind directly at me. I didn’t have an anemometer, but I’m pretty confident that there were regular gusts over 40 miles per hour that night. The seas were also a lot more than I’d have expected or hoped for, and it made for a very pitchy and rolly night. I was glad I’d put out a hurricane appropriate 10:1 scope of anchor chain, but I still didn’t sleep well that night.

To add to the excitement, my dumb ass decided to spill water all over my laptop for the first time ever. It dutifully shut down, and refused to start again. I took advantage of the howling wind tunnel, and set the machine up to dry out, which eventually worked, though a few of my keys still don’t work quite right.

I went to bed early in a bit of a mood, so I was up early the next morning. The wind had died down some, and the fitful sleep had helped my mood a little, but I was keen to up anchor and get the hell out of there as soon as possible. It was as well that I’d gotten an early start, since my summer destination was about 65 miles away, which is a long day for Sylphide. Thankfully we caught a fair current up the river, though the rest of the weather was pretty crummy that morning. It was gray and windy, and it rained like hell for hours and hours. It was the sort of day that I’d normally spend moored up somewhere cozy and safe, but this time I was glad to be moving.

The weather eventually let up, and it turned into a really lovely afternoon. The sun came out, and the temperature soared. The rest of the trip was quiet, smooth, and uneventful.

I don’t remember what this light is called, so we’ll call it Doug.

My original plan was to get all the way to Oneida Lake this time around. It would have been the most convenient place to visit family and friends, and also an ideal home base from which to finish the downsizing process, and get my house sold. This year though, the NY State Canals wouldn’t be open on time, so I decided to pick a home for myself on the Hudson instead, since that was about as close to home as I’d get. Coeymans Landing had been my home back in the fall, and it had been a good choice, so I decided to go back. The mailbox was set up by 1900 that night, and we were home.

I’m not sure what the summer’s cruising will be. Maybe a Hudson trip, maybe a Champlain canal or Mohawk River trip? Who knows. For now, It’s time to go back to work, so I can save up some ducats for a new radar. And a new dinghy. And a canvas cover for the back porch. And for the windows. And maybe some weather cloths. And an air conditioner. Maybe two air conditioners. And a partridge in a pear tree.

2 Responses

  1. Found your blog from Trawler Forum. Enjoying reading about your experiences.
    Trying to image the details of a Kingston Aluminum Yacht 44′ Custom just to help me relate to your experiences. I wonder if you would have been more worried grounding a fiberglass boat in the NJ ICW? Manly wondering about speed, 1 or 2 engines. propeller protection and living quarters stuff like that. Would be interested in some more photos of the boat.

    Also a couple of times when you talked about traffic conditions I went to my calendar to figure out what day of the week it had been. Wondering how much difference weekend vs weekday make in terms of traffic.

    Looking forward to your continued adventures.

    1. Hi Chris! There are a bunch of pictures back in my second post ‘Meet Sylphide.’ She’s got a single Perkins 4.236 diesel, and cruises at about 7-7.5 knots. She’s got a keel that’s deep enough to protect the running gear, which has certainly been a boon. I don’t know that fiberglass vs aluminum would have been a huge difference in a grounding, but so far the metal option has served me well.

      Traffic is definitely quieter during the week, and holiday weekends are certainly something to plan for.

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