🎶“…”Rolling, rolling, rolling on the river…” 🎶
On June 16, 2019, we officially started heading north on the Hudson River, and almost immediately started noticing other Looper boats cruising by us with their white AGLCA burgees. Most are traveling at a faster pace than us, since they are hoping to make the full 6000 mile loop in +/- a year. As we are doing the loop in segments, and planning to do the offshoot “Triangle Loop” into Canada, we are moving at a different pace, to a different beat so to speak. It’s kind of nice not to be hustling along, and we are taking to heart the advice given to us by Dean’s dad, Dean, to not have a schedule! Our timing can be so impacted by weather or lock closures, which are happening currently due to the high waters from the rains. It’s great not to rush but to enjoy as it comes.
As we moved away from the city, the views began to change fairly quickly. Along the length of the River, trains zip along on both sides. Commuter trains on the east bank, freight trains on the west river bank. Transporting goods is a major commerce of the area, either by freighter or barge or train, and we are getting so accustomed to hearing a train close by throughout the day and night, speeding by and sounding their whistles.
The buildings became fewer and the trees and mountains became more prevalent. The banks here are muddy and lush, with thick invasive vines growing up and over the trees, making the forests very dense. Bird life increased dramatically and seeing herons, ospreys, and eagles is a daily treat. No more Canadian geese, thankfully, but quite a few ducks and ducklings as well as swans and their babies (cygnets).
Our first stop about 25 miles above NYC was Croton-On-Hudson, where we anchored off of a lovely state park that was essentially empty – and unfortunately labeled with lots of “do not…boat/swim/fish/dock” signs, but we found a place to land the dinghy and had a great hike through their nature preserve.
We had our first swim in the murky river waters, which barely feels like saltwater and MUCH warmer than our Maine dunks.
Next day we cruised across the river to Haverstraw, in another quiet inlet behind yet another empty but beautiful state park. Again, no easy access for boaters, but we had a lovely kayak paddle to explore the area. Another struggling but quaint small town.
Hopped back across the river again to Half Moon Bay marina, where we planned to leave the boat for several days to head back to Maine and Massachusetts to attend a Celebration of Life service for our dear octogenarian friend, Marian Thornton. “Half Moon” was the name of the ship in which Henry Hudson charted the river that now bears his name.
The winds were gusting when we entered this big marina within a wooden breakwater. Initially, when Dean went to back us into our slip, the thruster failed so we went back out into the river. I drove the boat, while Dean problem-solved the situation down in the engine hold. Replaced a fuse, then back we went! Perfect docking by captain Deano, and we arrived with enough time to “catch the lines” of another fellow Looper’s boat as they also entered in the gusty wind. Boaters tend to be friendly and helpful people, thankfully.
Secured the boat (a long process to get it to Dean’s safety standards), rented a car, and drove 5+ hours home to Maine. Loads of laundry, a short night’s sleep in a non-rocking bed (and no trains!), then up early to drive to our hometown of Concord MA. Lovely service filled with music, anecdotes, and laughter in honor of a great woman, Marian Francis Thornton, who touched many people, influenced a town with her conservation efforts, and lead by example with her zest for life. The luncheon BBQ afterwards in a field she helped preserve was filled with family and friends from 3-4 generations and the stories continued. Afterwards, we drove back to Croton-on-Hudson to our little floating home in time for dinner at a local Indian restaurant and a walk along the river’s edge. A worthwhile whirlwind trip.
On Sunday, we toured West Point military academy which was amazing. So much history, beautiful majestic architecture, and grandeur. Our tour guide had a PhD in history and was a civilian professor at West Point, so his information was rich. The discipline of the cadets and the Patriotic focus was profound and touching, and gave us hope.
One interesting story was about “The Great Chain” at West Point. West Point was considered the “key to the continent” by General George Washington, with forts, redoubts, and artillery batteries layered on both sides of the river during the American Revolutionary War. A length of chain (each two foot link weighing more than one hundred pounds) was laid 550 yards across the river, floated across on logs and weighing a total of 65 tons. First installed in 1776, the chain had to be removed each winter and reinstalled each spring. It was no longer installed by 1782 when the war was thought to be ending. The troups nicknamed it “Washington’s watch chain.”
We also visited Croton dam that afternoon, a marvel of engineering. Built in 1891-early 1900s, it has a base of 280+ feet, and 18 feet wide at its top edge. As always, great to get off the boat and hike. We were also able to restock at a local grocery store.
On Monday morning, June 24th, we got back on the River to continue our route northward. The land got more beautiful on both sides, with remnants of castles on the shores, and the almost continual train traffic on both shores. The river continued to amaze us with the working traffic passing us in both directions, sometimes thru narrow areas with shallows on both sides.
We passed a variety of lighthouses as well, which are very different from the Maine lighthouses with which we are most familiar, but beautiful in their own way. Not as tall nor perched on high cliffs, but short and stout, on a ? man made islands or on a low point of land. Some marked creeks, shoals, or channels.
And the river has become filled with one of my favorite birds, herons. They gracefully travel up and down the river.
The weather has pleasantly changed from cold and wet to sunny, hot, and humid. We appreciate the opportunity to dry out!
Monday afternoon we found a gem of a spot – Norrie state park marina, a small marina within the Mills-Norrie state park. Very basic but had just the necessities we needed, including a resident eagle, osprey, snapping turtle, and beaver.
A large structure dominated the far eastern side of the river, and we learned it was a Bruderhuf, a community of Mennonites who bought a multimillion dollar monastery several years ago for a private school for their children. Impressive architecture- think Hogwarts – and I realized the community is connected to the Rifton company that makes wonderful mobility equipment for kids with special needs and who is also one of sponsors for our pediatric therapy conferences each year.
Great hiking trails which we happily accessed until rain once again threatened. Had hoped to bike the next morning but rain prevented our further exploration, so we headed out again into the River, again heading north.
On Tuesday night after a 40 nm (nautical mile) day, we turned into Rondout Creek toward the historical town of Kingston. Once considered the “first capital of New York,” it has a rich history of commerce including brick manufacturing (reportedly making 90% of the bricks used for building NYC) and steamship building. The town has a thriving waterfront tourist industry with several popular restaurants, but once you step outside of the downtown (or ride your bike, as we did), you can see quickly that the town is struggling economically.
We docked at the Hudson River Maritime museum for the night. The museum was filled with interesting artifacts about the boating trade, steamships and canal boats, the building of the Erie Canal, ice boating, and harvesting ice blocks in the winter. Fascinating. The night wasn’t quiet, between the noisy highway bridge overhead and the train whistling by, but the town was a very pleasant stop.
Onward we continued north on the final miles of the Hudson River, with a goal of being in Waterford NY by Friday to pick up Sue and Al Reetz on Saturday to start the Erie Canal together. We were eager for a quiet anchorage and found a lovely spot off the main passage on the backside of Haughtalin Island, near Athens NY. There were 3 other Looper boats traveling together already there but there was plenty of anchoring space to enjoy some solitude. Quiet evening (we are now very accustomed to nearby trains) and we were treated to an evening show of two fox pups and their parent frolicking at the edge of the river, darting around tree stumps and wrestling like puppies in the mud. Kept us entertained for more than an hour, but I wasn’t close enough to capture a good photo, sadly.
Thursday morning dawned bright but with a low fog bank, until the rising sun burnt the fog off. Another day in the 80s but with a little breeze. We both had lovely kayak paddle explorations and a quick swim/dunk before again cruising north to Castleton Boat club where we were able to pump out the head (the toilet holding tank – necessity), fill the water tanks, do laundry at the local laundromat, and secure a mooring on the far side of the river. Peaceful and quiet except for the usual trains speeding > 80 mph through these little river towns, motorboats that don’t honor the “no wake” signs, and the squawking of the herons as they pass through.
Friday was our last day technically on the Hudson River as we travel from Castleton to Waterford, which starts the Erie Canal. We will go through our first lock in Troy! We are eager for the experience as we have many more locks to travel through on this journey. Stay tuned!
By the grace of God we go,
~Karen and Dean
Hi Guys. Just getting caught up on your travels. Katie and I are sooooo jealous of you two. I am glad to hear that your travels are going smooth and the weather is behaving. We just had some major storms come through, giving me an opportunity to catch up. Great pictures and write-ups. Keep up the good work, and have fun. Tim & Katie
You would love this trip! Lots of boats similar to yours doing the Loop. Have a good summer!
You would love this trip! Lots of boats similar to yours doing the Loop. Have a good summer!