5/30 – 6/5/2016 Summary: We awoke the morning of May 30th anchored at Coney Island and were anxious to see NYC, but decided the best, and cheapest, plan would be to move up the Hudson River about 40 miles to Hudson-on-Croton, then take the train back to the city. As soon as the fog lifted, we pulled anchor and were off to Half Moon Bay Marina where our friends Kit and Pam were staying. Moving up the Hudson was truly amazing as we passed the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the NYC skyline.
The next morning it was up early to catch the train to the city with the idea we would “do the city” in just one day since we had both been there before, but not together. And we did! We walked a good part of Central Park, toured the Fashion Institute of Technology, the NY Fire Department Museum, went to the top of One World Trade Center for an amazing 360 degree view of the city, and toured the 9/11 Memorial and Museum – all by foot! (Here is a list of 100 things to do in NY we found after our visit.)
The next day we got a slow start, but still made it 34 miles to Shadows Marina in Poughkeepsie, arriving at slack tide to make Paula’s pull-in to the dock a piece of cake. Speaking of cake, one of the reasons we stopped in Poughkeepsie was to tour the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) along with FDR’s estate and the Vanderbilt Mansion (they called it a “cottage,”), all very enjoyable. On the scooter, we were able to do all 3 in 1 day.
Our next stop was a small working marina in Catskill where painted cats were the art along the streets, so we added cats to the list we have encountered. We were greeted by Slade and Susan Cargill who we met in Longboat Key, FL. We enjoyed a meal together and they took us to Walmart to provision. (Walmart has become our favorite place to shop – sad, we know.)
Albany was our next port of call where Kathy Johnson would join us to do the Erie Canal. Paula had a tight pull-in to a face dock, but had the “audience” cheering by the time we were tied up. In the morning we picked Kathy up at the airport, went directly to church with plans to do some sightseeing in the afternoon. But the weather did not cooperate and the rain drove us back to the boat. After a boat orientation for Kathy, we did some planning for the next section of our adventure – the Erie Canal, just 8 miles up the Hudson River.
This is where you stop unless you want all the details of our travels, and this one has lots of details. If you have followed our blog awhile, you have read this is really our way of journaling our trip, so there is often much more detail than the average person would be interested. So if you are above average, read on! If not, thanks for stopping by.
Details – We awoke during the night to rain and then there was light fog in the morning over Coney Island. We took some time for planning our trip up the Hudson and sightseeing in NYC. Due to the busyness of the NYC Harbor, the recommended way to see the city (from least desirable to best choice) was to 1) stay at a marina in NYC (expensive), 2) stay at a marina on the Jersey side and take the transit over to the city (less expensive), or 3) stay at a marina north of the city and take a train back to the city (cheapest). We decided to motor north to Half Moon Bay Marina in Hudson-on-Croton, 40 miles up the Hudson, where our friends Kit and Pam were staying.
By 10:30 the fog lifted so we pulled anchor and made our way through the Lower NY Bay and under the Verrazano Bridge between Brooklyn and Staten Island that divides the Lower and Upper bays. Rounding the SW tip of Long Island on our starboard, the skyline of Manhattan came into view. What an amazing sight – on Memorial Day! Soon the Statue of Liberty was visible. We were a bit sorry we hadn’t continued on the previous night to anchor at the base of it as we had dreamed of even before we started this trip, but reminded ourselves of how ready we were to drop anchor as soon as we were out of the fog.
The harbor was much less intimidating, traffic-wise, than either of us had anticipated. Once we figured out where the ferryboats were zipping across the bay from terminal to terminal and wove our way around big container ships anchored in the middle of the harbor, there was very little other recreational traffic to avoid. Perhaps it was because the weather was still really not enticing or because it was Memorial Day, but it seemed the traffic was pretty light.
We continued past the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and directly over the spot Capt. Sullenberger put US Airways flight 1549 in the Hudson on 01-15-09, marveling at how God protected that flight, putting them directly between a ferry terminal and the NY Fire Department terminal with rescuers able to reach them quickly. (Thanks Tambra for quickly giving us the lat/longs so we could mark it on our charts!)
We continued north, passing the NJ shore into NY on the port, the Bronx and George Washington Bridge (and the Martha Washington lower level) and Yonkers on the starboard. Before we wanted, NYC was behind us. The view from the water had been so much more exciting than we had anticipated – a scene we will never forget.
The hustle and bustle of the city gave way to a calm, wide Hudson (about 2 miles across above the Tappan Zee Bridge) and the beautiful, rocky Palisades Cliffs on the port. At 4:35 in the afternoon, we rounded the point into the peaceful Half Moon Bay, greeted by Kit dinghying out to meet us. By the time we followed him in, he and Pam were waiting at the slip to help us tie up. The wonderful day was completed enjoying pizza and ice cream with them a short walk from the marina. We returned in time to watch the sunset over the Hudson.
We left the boat at 7:00 the next morning to do a “marathon day” in NYC. We walked a little over a mile to the train and caught the 40-minute commuter to Grand Central Station. Both of us had been to NYC before, Paula many times over the years (one overnight almost every month for the 11 years she flew corporate plus many layovers with America West/US Airways/American), so we didn’t approach NYC like most tourists would, visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Museum of Modern Art, or the Empire State Building, etc. Most of those had already been done over the years. Instead, we did it “Vail” style – mainly outdoors with a lot of walking.
Arriving at Grand Central Station, we proceeded from mid-Manhattan through the Rockefeller Plaza (where New Yorkers ice skate in winter and watch the giant Christmas tree lighting), past Rockefeller Center (where the filming of Good Morning America had just wrapped up) to Central Park. Central Park, 2.5 miles long and .5 wide, was so much more than we had envisioned. There were 843 acres of wooded and landscaped grounds with garden, lakes, ice-skating rinks, a 1908 hand-crafted carousel, and many sports fields. We haggled for a bicycle, but could not get the price down to our liking and decided to walk. We walked about three-quarters of the way up the park past many landmarks like the carousel and Belvedere Castle before arriving at the Reservoir (40’ deep with a billion gallons of water which from the mid-1860s to 1993 served as a temporary water supply to the city) where we walked around the 1.58-mile track which encircled it. It offered magnificent views of the Manhattan skyline (yes, we bought a selfie stick). As we continued back down the west side of the park, we passed Strawberry Fields, a memorial to John Lennon.
Next up was FIT, the Fashion Institute of Technology where the son of a friend had graduated. The museum exhibit, the fashion of uniforms, was small but right down Paula’s alley, including corporate, military, and airline uniforms. Then it was over to the NYC Fire Museum. Displayed were early fire trucks (one hand-pumper wagon required 48 men to operate) and a special tribute room to the heroic efforts during 9/11. The only acknowledgement to the US Airways Hudson River crash was one small photo showing the plane, partially submerged, surrounded by rescue boats.
The final long walk was down to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Paula had waited to visit this with Tom, not doing it previously on any layover. A limited number of tickets were free after 5:00 PM (normally $24), and Paula had managed to snag 2 online earlier in the day for us. Before reaching the memorial, we rode the elevator to the top of One World Trade Center (formerly Freedom Tower) which opened in 2014, now the tallest building in the western hemisphere (1,776’). Riding up the elevator, a 3-sided surround-screen showed a time-lapse re-creation of the development of NYC from the 1500s up through the building of the tower. Then exiting on the 104th floor toward a 100’ long screen, a video collage of scenes from the city was played. The final image was a panorama of the NYC skyline, at which time the screen lifted so you were looking at the real thing. Well-done! Then, with their special iPad which displayed what was being viewed below and a short video of the history of particular buildings by clicking on it, we walked around looking down on a 360° view of the entire city (twice). It was amazing (though the visibility could have been better). Too quickly, we had to leave to make the 5:30 entrance to the 9/11 Museum.
If you have been to the National September 11 Memorial, you will recall “Reflecting Absence,” 2 beautiful reflecting pools embedded in the footprint of the fallen twin towers. Each pool is almost 1 acre and is fed by a 30’ waterfall with the water disappearing into an abyss. Bronze panels surround the pools engraved with the names of the 2,983 individuals who died in the terrorist attacks at the Twin Towers, Pentagon, and the Feb 1993 World Trade Center bombing – a sobering sight.
Next to the pools was the entrance to the National September 11 Memorial Museum. The underground 110,000 square-foot museum included a 70’ descent alongside the Survivor’s Stairs used by many fleeing the disaster. Below ground were exhibits and photos telling the story of that dreadful day, the American flag which originally hung on the façade of a building across from the World Trade Center site and toured all 50 states afterward (with each state adding a repair patch piece), the slurry wall which retained the water of the Hudson River and Last Column. We were a bit disappointed in the museum. Though the design was somewhat dictated by the layout of the tower footprints, there was no flow through the museum (visitors were just dumped into a big space and had to keep retracing steps to go to off-shooting exhibit areas). Also, the signage was unnecessarily small, causing crowding and waiting to view each exhibit.
A subway ride back to Grand Central station and the train back to Croton-on-Hudson completed our marathon day in NYC. We arrived back at the boat around 9:00 PM. Tom’s phone said we had walked 21 miles. It was almost truly a marathon and our feet told us so!
The next day was June 1 and we got off to a slow start after our tiring day, not sure whether to stay another day to find some help for our erratic tachometers or continue on. We decided to leave and had an easy but slow day with an ebbing current which slowed us to between 5.3 to 6.1 knots. We couldn’t use the autopilot due to floating debris, including some telephone pole-sized logs, wondering if the whole Hudson was going to be like that. We passed the Hudson Highlands and the fortress-looking West Point as well as Newburgh. We docked at the unfinished Shadows Marina in Poughkeepsie, extremely grateful to have arrived at the facing dock at slack tide. Later that evening the current was ripping by!
We quickly found the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge, now a most unusual walkway. The 1.25 mile span 167’ above the Hudson originally linked NY and New England to PA and the West carrying trains until the 1970s. A program revitalizing the riverfront created a 30’ wide linear “park” which opened in September 2009 just in time for the Henry Hudson quadricentennial. We enjoyed the magnificent views along with many others just before dusk on the walkway! The lights on the bridge created a beautiful reflection on the river at night.
We rocked and rolled a little on the face dock overnight but awoke to a beautiful day forecasted to be in the mid-70s. By mid-morning we were on Elsie (our scooter, technically named “LC” to go along with the naming convention of “LT” (Life’s TraVails) and “LL” (Life’s Life, our dinghy)) on our way to the FDR Estates and Presidential Library in Hyde Park, about 5 miles north. It was fun to be back on the scooter since we hadn’t ridden it any distance since before we left Norfolk.
We took the 1-hour tour of the beautiful FDR Springfield Estate, built of gorgeous local fieldstone. Then we toured the Presidential Library, the only one to have been created while a president was still sitting in office. The story goes that FDR asked his mother, Sara, for a plot on the estate to build a library. She refused, so he broke ground a little later while she was on a 3-month vacation in France, knowing that by the time she got home, she would be OK with it. The greeter at the Presidential library told us the average touring time was 90 minutes. Not being history aficionados, we didn’t think it would take us that long. But…it was so well-done, had we had more time, we would actually probably have increased the average!
But our stomachs told us it was time to scooter down the road for an already late lunch at the “good CIA,” the Culinary Institute of America. Though reservations were recommended at 4 of their 5 restaurants, the Apple Pie Bakery Café required no reservation. Though service was pretty quick through the line, it is anything but “fast food.” Paula’s seared beef tenderloin and roasted vegetables with a red wine demi glacé served with pommes frites (that’s French fries to you non-French types) and Tom’s Salmon Tartine (chilled smoked salmon with onion cream cheese, cherry tomatoes, pickled onion, and capers garnished with citrus salt and dill frond on a plain mini bagel) were both extraordinary! We wished we could have stayed 3 days just to eat the delicious creations of their labor.
Then we made a quick trip to the Vanderbilt Mansion, the “cottage” of Frederick and Louise Vanderbilt where we learned about life in the Gilded Age. Built in neoclassical style with Beaux-Arts ornamentation, it incorporated the latest innovations: electricity, central heating and indoor plumbing. The smallest of their many homes, it was used as their spring and fall country estate. The views overlooking the Hudson were magnificent and they loved to walk their formal gardens twice a day. We left after we toured only the downstairs (but it was free with our “old geezer” National Park pass so we had nothing to lose) to arrive back at the CIA campus in time for their last tour of the day.
The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) was founded in 1946 in New Haven, CT to provide culinary career training for WWII veterans. It grew rapidly to its current enrollment of 2,800 students and in 1972 moved to its beautiful campus in Hyde Park to a former Jesuit novitiate St. Andrew-on-Hudson. Most students choose to specialize in either the culinary arts or baking and pastry arts. Our tour, led by one of their last-semester students, included views into some of their 41 kitchens as well as classrooms where courses were in progress. Students bustled through the halls. The most magnificent thing we saw was a cake, 100% edible made by one of their 24-year-old students whose unique approach combined her love of sugar and baking with a deep reverence for the natural world, particularly flowers. The cake looked like a geode, and the hand-painted edible sugar flowers looked totally real. She had already won numerous international competitions with her amazing works of art.
On June 3rd we left Poughkeepsie (regretfully, as another day there would have been fun) on a rising tide for a 7.0 – 8.4 knot speed and Paula designated the run between Poughkeepsie and Catskills “Coolest Lighthouse Day,” passing 2 really neat ones. (Tom stood by his “coolest lighthouse” as the one in the Chesapeake from the previous blog.)
A few years prior, we had attended a DeFever Rendevous where DeFever owners get together for fun and education. We had been to a travelogue on the Hudson River Valley presented by Slade and Susan Cargill at which Susan said, “If we see a DeFever pass by and don’t get a call, we are offended.” So, we had emailed them earlier in the week that we were coming.
About 15 minutes after arriving at Riverview Marine Services (basically a working boatyard with a few slips for transients), Slade and Susan arrived. We drove to a wonderful NY diner (restaurant with 100+ menu choices) and had a lovely time telling boat stories. They recently sold their DeFever for a smaller boat at their condo in Longboat Key, FL. After provisioning at Walmart, they returned us to our boat and visited briefly.
We had a rare lovely evening feeling like we weren’t pushing, pushing, pushing to get something done (though the steps-away laundry facilities were welcomed). But we did swap out lots of charts for the upcoming Erie Canal, Lake Ontario, Trent-Severn portion and do some planning for that.
June 4th began overcast but quickly cleared into blue and pretty clouds. Paula went out for a run through downtown Catskill. It was a small town (maybe 1/2 mile long) with old buildings and houses, some nicely renovated standing next to almost dilapidated ones. It seemed to be a town in slow renewal, as Slade and Susan had told us the day before. The residents were friendly with greetings of “Good morning” or “Have a nice day.” One shop owner told her he loved her. Hmmm… Then Tom got an overdue haircut.
Another town with sculpture art! We didn’t know so many of these existed. This one was…cats. (Catskills. Get it? Paula wasn’t so fast.)
It was really nice to take the morning without pushing on. The current would increase northward with a rising tide about 11:30 and we took advantage to catch up some things. The beautiful river valley personality changed a bit, narrowing down and more attention had to be paid to following the channel. More recreational boaters were out enjoying all it had to offer – ski boats, stand-up paddleboarders, sun-seekers. We passed another lighthouse Paula said was the best yet! (Can’t she make up her mind?)
When we arrived at the Albany Yacht Club at 2:00, we found out one of the boats the lockmaster had expected to leave had not and the only place he had was a 55’ space between 2 boats on a face dock – essentially that meant parallel parking our 44′ boat. He asked us if we were experienced and Paula immediately said, “No,” so he suggested we pull up to the fuel dock and take a look at it. She eased it to the fuel dock (receiving “When are you going to start teaching?” from a guy on a nearby boat with 3 others) and we got off to take a look. Again, we had timed the arrival for slack tide and decided we really had no choice but to squeeze it in. Back on the boat, we pulled around the corner to the inner parallel dock. Two guys on the “let’s watch this show” boat set out their lounge chairs on their bow. Geez. Slowly, Paula eased it head on to the dock, listening to advice from the dockmaster but determining her own course of action and speed, then began spinning it until Tom could throw a bow line to the dockmaster. Then it was a stern line to another waiting hand and the minimal current did the rest. Paula knew God did it. The guy from the other boat said later, “Just remember, I was the first to tell you I had confidence in you.” OK, another docking arrangement box checked.
It was a “relaxing” afternoon as Tom sealed the bimini for a 4th time trying to get rid of that last tiny leak in preparation for the forecast 0.9” of rain, taped the V-berth porthole leak (a stopgap prevention), and fixed the V-berth shower sump pump. Paula kept herself busy as we prepped the boat for our first guest. Just before bed, we were treated to fireworks from the bow.
We awoke to the predicted rain but it soon diminished. As soon as we could pick up a rental car, we headed to the Albany airport to meet hiking friend Kathy Johnson from Phoenix, our first guest to spend more than a day with us on the boat. From there it was straight to church, the small City Church Albany which met in the Madison Theater downtown. We heard an awesome testimony of a changed life and of the hope that can be had in Jesus Christ. The rest of the afternoon was spent provisioning the boat for what we hoped would last us 2 months – through the Erie and Oswego Canals, Lake Ontario, Trent-Severn, Georgian Bay, Lake Michigan to Chicago – as we had heard Canada was more expensive with fewer food choices. By buying ahead, we hoped we would only have to buy fresh goods over the next months.
Because of the pouring rain, we skipped sightseeing in Albany (other than a view of “The Egg” from afar) and spent the evening blowing up and covering exercise balls with fishnet which would serve as our bumper balls through the dirty canal locks, after which we could throw them away. We looked forward to entering the Erie Canal the next day.