43. Second Verse, Same as the First

Greetings sports fans! We rejoin the action back on the Hudson River, in the sleepy little burg of Coeymans. I returned from a years-long hitch at work to find things just about as I left them. Hudson the sixty-pound swan was still paddling around begging for food and taking people’s thumbs off. Sylphide was still there gently tugging at her moorings, and the now familiar cast of characters were all out in friendly force. I rounded a corner, and was greeted by a chorus of ‘Haaaayy! he’s back!’ which was a wonderful and completely unexpected surprise. After spending most of the summer season there, It had really started to feel like home.

My stay would soon be drawing to a close, though. The fall foliage was in it’s full glory, and cooler evenings saw me lighting up the ol’ propane fireplace to take the edge off. Up on the hill, the storage yard was filling up with dried out boats, all huddled up in shrink wrap. In the water, my friendly dockside neighborhood was turning into a ghost town.

The only other brave inhabitant was my dock neighbor Holly. She’s a new full time liveaboard this year, who was also getting ready for her first trip south.

I spent about a week getting Sylphide and myself ready to start our second annual migration. I voted, got a haircut, and collected all the packages I’d been waiting for. I loaded up my new radar, AIS and chart plotter, as well as my shiny new Nature’s Head, all of which would be installed farther down the road. I stocked up on food and supplies, and secured everything for sea.

The fellas from the service department came down and gave my engine room some preventative love, and returned the fake plastic vomit that I keep on the sole in the salo(o)n. They’d seen it, wondered where the hell the cat was, and tried to clean it up, only to realize how hilarious it was. They borrowed it and pranked some of the other dudes in the shop for a few days. I was proud.

Before I knew it, I found myself topping off the water tanks one last time before they shut ‘er down.

It snowed.

The morning of departure was the coldest one yet. There was sea smoke on the river, and a thick rind of frost on everything else. I had clearly overstayed my welcome. It was time to go.

I let Perkins have a nice long warm up, and with Holly’s help we cast off the stiff and frozen dock lines, said our goodbyes, and I set off over the horizon. The river that greeted me was flat calm, and oily smooth. I set the cruise control at 1,800 RPMs, giving us our usual 7.5 knots, and settled in with a steaming mug of coffee.

I soon found myself passing Shady Harbor Marina. The place was deserted, with only one boat left afloat. There were a few dudes out on the docks, who looked to be working on them. One of the dudes made a big show of staring at me with his arms held wide as I slowly passed by, a good couple hundred feet from the docks.

I didn’t really understand why he was doing that, but fortunately he took the time to explain it to me over channel 16.

‘Vessel passing the Shady Harbor Marina, thank you very much for that nice wake you just left us! Y’know there’s people working on these docks! LEARN WHAT A NO WAKE ZONE IS! YOU’RE A REAL-‘

I found this perplexing. I was the only boat around, so he must have been talking to me, but what he was saying didn’t make much sense. He couldn’t possibly mean my wake… I’ve made bigger wakes in toilets.

If they were, then they were effectively admitting that their facility was dangerously weak, and obviously not up to the task of withstanding a gentle summer’s breeze, let alone the much, much larger wakes from the ships and tugs that pass the place every day.

I decided to thank them for the radio check, and got back to enjoying my coffee and audiobook. I put my feet up and admired the passing scenery.

I made good mileage that first day, thanks to an early start, and currents that were more helpful than not. I made it down to my usual spot just below the Newburgh Beacon Bridge. I’d stayed there twice before. The first time was decent, the second was miserable. The weather this time around looked to favor the decent end of that spectrum, so with fading light, I set the pick.

Most of the evening was calm and quiet. I chatted with my dad and with my old bow bitch Steve, made some dinner, and took in an episode of the Great British Baking Show. I went to bed feeling comfortable and content.

I woke up at 0330 in the morning, being rolled nearly out of my rack. I hoped that it was just the wake from a passing tug, and resolutely kept my eyes shut, but half an hour later, it had only gotten worse. I was tired, and not at all interested in getting out of bed, but it was no use. There was no way I’d be falling back asleep. I put on the kettle, and while it worked up a head of steam, I went down to the engine room to see if Perkins was up for an early start.

I lit up the nav lights, reeled in the anchor, and got underway. Within a mile, the wind died off almost completely, and never really came back. I think it’s just the shape of the mountains around that anchorage that amplify the wind. I’d officially made that mistake twice, and I don’t think I’ll stay there again.

I passed West Point in the dark, and settled in for the long haul down to New York City. I spent the miles listening to Issac’s Storm, the occasional news podcast, and pundits and talking heads yammering on about the election. I passed under the Mario Cuomo bridge, where the day before, an impromptu trump rally had taken place, stopping traffic over the middle of the river. I was glad I missed it.

Somewhere around Midtown Manhattan, a nagging heavy drizzle started, which continued until we reached our destination. We pulled into Liberty Landing marina in Jersey City around mid afternoon. By the time I’d checked in and hooked up to power and water, my 0330 start time had really caught up with me. I retired to the warm and dry cabin, and had a nap.

I ended up staying there for three days. The first two were planned, with gales in the forecast, which came as promised. I thought about making that trip into the city that I’d been hankering, but on further research, just about everything I wanted to do was closed. It didn’t matter, I was perfectly content being a homebody. The third day I decided to stay so that I could sit glued to several screens, chewing my nails down to bloody stumps, watching the election unfold. It was about all the stimulation I needed at that point.

All in all, I was happy for the change in scenery. The migration had begun, and it felt good to be moving again.

6 thoughts on “43. Second Verse, Same as the First

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