Little trawler Clare and the big city

The East River and New York Harbor was wet and exciting!

We left Long Island Sound on Tuesday, June 18th, and headed for the big city, going south through the East River, which links the Sound and NY Harbor. It is technically a waterway, not a river, and is 16 miles long. It is a tidal estuary with significant current, so Dean timed our passage for best current support and within a good weather window – or at least he tried ;-).

The river is rich in history and sights, and continues to be a bustling working river. There are several islands within the river, including Rikers Island, North and South Brothers, and Roosevelt Island.

Rikers Island is a large island filled with buildings, and is the site for New York’s correctional and institutional facilities and reportedly houses 15,000 prisoners at a cost of $209,000/year per prisoner. Yikes. La Guardia airport is nearby, and the planes were lining up and flying in and out in a steady stream over our heads.

North and South Brother’s Islands are smaller and are currently bird sanctuaries, but in the past have been used for a hospital and quarantine facility, housing the infamous “Typhoid Mary” for over two decades until her death in 1938.

Roosevelt Island is a long (2 miles) yet narrow (800 yards) island across from the United Nations building, and was also used in the past for hospitals and quarantine facilities. It is currently residential.

Roosevelt Island tram zipping over us

River life was full of working vessels including barges, tugboats, and ferries of all kinds. Dean was on high alert watching for boat traffic, managing the current shifts and the chaos of boat waves, all in the pouring rain with limited visibility. Picture taking was limited due to weather and waves as well!

State Island ferry
Working barges hustling up, down, through the river and harbor nonstop
These fast commuter and tourist ferries zipped everywhere
Most unusual tug boat!

We also passed under 8 bridges while heading down river, including Throg’s Neck, Bronx-Whitestone, Hell Gate, Robert F. Kennedy, Queensboro, Williamsburg, Manhattan, and Brooklyn bridges. Amazing engineering and incredible amounts of traffic moving.

Throg’s Neck bridge, our first bridge of the day

Hell Gate is a narrow point of the river which narrows, turns and has fast current. It has a history of shipwrecks and needing to be blasted to widen for safe passages. The bridge is a railroad bridge. We were able to cruise through uneventfully.

Hell Gate bridge

New York Harbor is at the junction of the East River (coming from Long Island Sound), the Hudson River (heading north) and the Atlantic Ocean, and is one of the largest natural harbors in the world. And it was busy with boats coming from all directions! We were in awe of the skyscrapers and buildings and, especially, the Statue of Liberty herself. Again, Dean did an amazing job keeping us safe in the windy gusts, pouring rain, and waves from all directions that had us pitching and rolling.

Thse larger ferry boats were everywhere,
crisscrossing the harbor in all directions.
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to be free…”

We were able to tuck into a little cove behind the Liberty Park, which is directly behind Lady Liberty on the NJ side. It was small and thankfully peaceful and calm after our adventure. There were ~ 8 other boats tucked in there, including 3 other Loopers. One Looper motorboat, “Stinkpot” was from Portland, Maine and Dean quickly connected and invited us over to their boat for cocktails and to share looping plans. They are younger they we are, doing the full GL, and doing gigs as they travel with Dave’s folk music. You can hear his music and their story here. He writes and produces songs literally “on the water” as he and Stacy travel along.

The second Ellis Island immigration station
The NYC skyline, limited by the low cloud over as we passed through

The One World Trade Center was an impressive and sobering site as we passed through. We kept trying to imagine what 9/11 looked like from the water view. We couldn’t see the full building, which was disappointing. It is the tallest building the United States and the Western Hemisphere, 6th tallest in the world. The total height of the building, including the spire, is 1776 feet.  Its height in feet is a deliberate reference to the year when the United States Declaration of Independence was signed. Impressive, even when hidden in the low clouds.


Now we are heading north up the Hudson River. The view gradually changed from dense buildings to rolling hills and the Palisades cliffs carved into the hills. We will settle the boat into Half Moon Bay Marina in Croton-On-Hudson, NY while we head home for the weekend to celebrate the long and wonderful life of our dear friend, Marian Thornton. Stories and memories will be shared by all.

Categories: Uncategorized


  1. Hells Gate looks cool! Great to read a story, parts of which were so similar to our own! So much wake. So many boats! Great pictures. Thanks for the shout out. 😉


  2. It is almost as if we are there with you , seeing it through your eyes . Thank you for including us .

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Karen and Dean – Just now getting a chance to catch up on your adventure. So very interesting and fun to “experience” it a bit through your blog. Happy belated birthday to you, Karen. We miss you both at Bethany!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What an adventure in and around the waters in NYC. I can only imagine the skill that Dean needed to successfully navigate the currents, traffic, and weather.


    • Thanks, Tom! Trawler Clare is blessed with a cautious and competent captain; the first mate is holding her own and learning lots! We are almost to the top of the Hudson River – updated blog to follow. Am reading Fresh Wind and wish I was there to hear the discussions.


      • hi Karen , we were staying in Rhine cliff on the Hudson in May for tricia’s daughter’s graduation from Marist College. we had never been on the Hudson and loved watching the boats and tugs. Also the hotel was right on the train tracks, which Mike loved ( train lover, he is).
        Love reading about your trip!! Safe travels, Love and hugs, Christine

        Thanks Christine! It’s a fun area and I keep thinking of my dad and Kev ~ they would love the trains as well and we are getting used to them. A friend has a daughter at Marist ~ looks like a beautiful campus! Xo


      • Thanks Christine! It’s a fun area and I keep thinking of my dad and Kev ~ they would love the trains as well and we are getting used to them. A friend has a daughter at Marist ~ looks like a beautiful campus! Xo


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