Hudson River, NYC, Long Island – bridges, birds, castles, skyscrapers, whirlpools and more!!

Waterford NY is next to Troy NY, and the place where the Erie Canal joins the Hudson River but also the Champlain Canal. A busy intersection of waterways.

Once we waved off Clare and Sue after our marvelous time together, the remaining crew of Dean and I headed south onto the Hudson Canal, chugging off to meet our next crew, John Karp, in Croton-on-the-Hudson, just north of NYC.

The Hudson River is quite broad and open, especially compared to the controlled waters we’ve been on with the Erie Canal. Troy is a busy city on the River and we felt as if we suddenly went from quiet/rural to busy city and industrialized areas. We went through our last lock, the Federal Lock #1, after 2 years of seemingly continual locks. This means the waters are now tidal and salty, with current and more impact from the winds. Weaning us back into open waters with some gentle rocking and rolling to ready us for the coast of Maine.

Our final lock, the Federal Lock #1 – we now entered salty tidal waters and current!

And we are fully back into train country, with commuter trains running along the edge of the Hudson River on one side, commercial trains on the opposite side. Lots of people and goods being moved back and forth from NYC and beyond.

We traveled around 30 miles, past large mansions and quaint little camps, gradually with more woods surrounding us as we left being the cities of Troy and Albany. Many eagle and heron sightings along the way. After a long hot day, we anchored in Schodock creek, behind Haughtalin Island. It was sheltered, quiet, and out of the main channel. Herons flew by us and fished in the mud flats alongside us. Beautiful sunset on the longest day of the year, and we appreciated an outside “sprinkle shower” to rinse off the stickiness from the sunscreen and sweat. Still not in swimmable waters but edging closer. Quiet night except for the occasional train and some foxes yipping. Thankful to be anchoring again!

Mud flat fishing by a heron

The light houses on the Hudson River are so different from our Maine/coastal New England versions.

The Rondout lighthouse, heading into Kingston NY
Saugherties light house
Bannerman Castle, which once stored goods from the Spanish American war, including black powder as well as war weapons and explosives. Also scattered about were invaluable relics such as the chain placed across the river at West Point during the Revolution, a table owned by General Washington, and arctic equipment Admiral Perry used on his trip to the North Pole. It is now in a trust and available for tours and farm-to-table dining!

On 6/21, we got an early start as we now had to work against the tide and rising wind to make our mileage. We also planned ahead for the coming rain and our need to get closer to NYC to meet oncoming crew and friend, John Karp. It was a long day of motoring into the wind and current, with more rolling chop than we’ve seen in awhile, but we appreciated the broader waters, the passing barges with their Hudson River style tug boats, and also the unique light houses – all so different in appearance and somewhat in function than our coastal tugs and lighthouses.

Powerful tugs with tall towers to see above/beyond the large barges they are pushing. Such work horses!

We arrived at the Kingston Town Dock mid afternoon, on a scorching 90+ degree day. This dock is up Roundout creek and alongside the Hudson River Museum, which we enjoyed in 2019. The town is being rejuvenated with restaurants and businesses and is host to many boats. We hiked around the town exploring for a bit, then had a cool chopped salad outside an Italian restaurant with lots of ice water- so hot and humid. Thankfully, we were able to have a “sprinkle shower” aboard our boat at the end of the day and used our humble AC (since we were hooked to shore power) to dry out our boat and get the temperatures manageable for sleeping. Aggressive but short thunderstorms rolled through in the night and then the rain settled in.

6/22 was a rainy day which brought out a different kind of beauty on the Hudson River. We opted to make more mileage south as our upper deck is fairly well enclosed with canvas and screens so we can stay dry while driving. A short day, with few other boats out except the occasional barge or freighter. Our destination was Norrie Marina at the state park in Straatsburgh NY, where we also visited and enjoyed in 2019. Thankfully they had one transient spot available for us as this is a small marina and popular with the locals. Beautiful woods along the River, hiking and biking trails, and a full campground attached. A resident eagle (which we didn’t spy), herons, and swooping swallows. And a mulberry bush!

I love a poised heron!
Soaking up the sun, drying out his mud

Dean busily did boat jobs (taking the extra fenders in – no more locks, engine cleaning and maintenance, checking out the dinghy motor) while I did a teletherapy visit and some menu planning and grocery lists. When the rain slowed down in the late afternoon we took a lovely walk along the camp roads as the clouds slowly receded and the sun got a chance to emerge. Kale and cabbage slaw salad with ingredients from the Waterford farmer’s market and cauliflower curry leftovers. Watched the sun set and the swallows swooping. Peaceful and beautiful here.

The Mount – striking!

High on a hill overlooking the Hudson River is this amazing building, The Mount, which stands out amidst the rain and low clouds and glows in the morning sunshine. On our previous trek through in 2019, we researched this site and learned about its usage as a religious Bruderhof school and community, and its affiliation with Rifton, a major manufacturer of pediatric adaptive equipment. They are a major force in mobility and functional movement for folks with disabilities, and a huge supporter of pediatric therapists. Wonder if they accept old pediatric therapists and their husbands for their community living? 🙂

Super quiet and beautiful night with clear and cool skies greeting us on Wednesday, 6/23. We need to wait for the current to change as we had a long trip of ~ 40 miles ahead of us and wanted the boost from the current rather than working against it. Enjoyed watching the swallows and looking for herons and eagles while sipping our morning coffee/tea. The marina started coming to life with boaters launching at the ramp and others uncovering their boats and heading out for the day. We took a hike along the trails of the Mills-Norrie State Park that is adjoined to the Norrie Point marina, and explored some beautiful woods and marshes. The fresh smells in the woods after a day of rain were lovely.

Morning river mist quickly burnt off as the sun rose
Beautiful trails throughout the woods around the marina in the Mills-Norrie state park

The River was more active in the sunshine with day boaters and a few transients like us. We passed a mega yacht, named Huntress, which is available for charter for only a mere $800,000 a week. Yikes. We are certainly a little boat in the big yachting world, but we love our Clare.

Our favorite portion of the Hudson is the area around West Point. Large hills and cliffs on both sides and the River narrows down, feeling like you are being enveloped in the beauty. I couldn’t capture it sufficiently with a camera.

West Point NY

West Point is always impressive and we remembered our tour there 2 years ago. For excitement, we were “escorted” by a series of helicopters apparently in training, who had a repetitive flight course down the River overhead then veering off into a valley between the hills just before the Bear Mountain Bridge. Some pilots were obviously more experienced than others, driving low and turning off later.

One of our many helicopter “escorts”

This was a 50 mile day, long for us in our slow trawler and partially against the current. But beautiful! We arrived at Half-Moon Bay Marina in Croton-On-Hudson late in the day, once again hot, sweaty, and needing to get out of the sun. We enjoyed this marina in 2019 when we had to leave the boat for a few days to attend a dear friend’s celebration of life. A wooden man-made breakwater separates us from the busy river, and it is next to a beautiful state park and a river walk. There is a train station/depot less than 1/4 mile inland, so we had the sounds of trains in the background. Sprinkle showers, early dinner, a sunset walk, then we tumbled into bed. The strawberry moon rose over the shore and lit up the water throughout the night.

Rose on 6/24 to another stunningly beautiful day, and filled the day with morning teletherapy, boat chores and cleaning, a quick 5 mile trip across the river to Panco Petroleum to refill our fuel tanks with hopefully enough fuel to get us to Maine, hold pumpout, then a walk to the nearby Apple Farm store. This was probably the best store I’ve found with our travels to restock our boat with the fresh foods, including finding cashew milk “cheese” and super fresh produce. I was able to pile all our goods into our little rolling cart and my backpack, and Dean met me for the walk home, so we were able to squeeze in a little sorbet and get it home before it (and us) melted.

John Karp and Heidi Bishop had a longggggg trip down from Maine, including a stop to plant a car in Mystic CT, before arriving at dinner time. Heidi did a heroic deed in helping John to get here so he could enjoy traveling through NYC with us, which he had hoped to do with us in 2019 but health concerns kept him closer to home (and his medical team). We are so thankful he is healthy and strong after his heart transplant (September 2019) and back on the boat (as well as biking, working, running, etc). Thankful. Donate life – be a donor.

Heidi left quietly in the middle of the night to get beyond the NYC morning traffic (told you she was heroic). On 6/25 we arose to an overcast morning which was perfect for a morning walk on the river walk, where we saw a bunch of turkey vultures alongside herons and cormorants, cleaning up the beach from dead fish. John, in his usual style, met a new friend who just happened to be a bird rescue person so we learned all the benefits of turkey vultures, plus now he has the friend and her husband joining them in Maine soon for cocktails. Classic John! Swimming and fishing along the Hudson River is still discouraged, as the waters remain fairly polluted. I worry for the poor shore birds.

We waited for the current to be shifting then headed off from the marina toward NYC as the clouds cleared. Again marveled at the engineering feats with the large bridge expanses.

The Tappan Zee Bridge was demolished in 2017 and there is now the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge as one example.

One special bridge, eagerly anticipated, was the George Washington Bridge. John Karp’s dad was a self proclaimed (according to son John) “Hudson River rat.” His ashes were scattered after his death in 1984 under the GWB at the Little Red Lighthouse, a historic lighthouse that stood guard in Sandy Hook NJ for years before being “retired” and relocated under the GWB. There is a wonderful children’s book written about it. John had been waiting years to cruise by it and honor his dad with a toast. A special memory and man honored. John had so many wonderful stories to share about his dad.

The toast!

NYC got larger and busier with the hustle and bustle of boats, barges, patrols, helicopters, planes, ferry boats and more. And the sky scrapers get larger and more amazing as we got closer, especially the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center.

Empire State Building from the Hudson River

John generously encouraged us to dock at Liberty Landing, a beautiful and expansive marina on the NJ side of the river, alongside Ellis Island and facing the NY skyline. Dean slid us stern first (starboard, John, 😉) into this narrow little dock at the base of the marina center/restaurant. It was peaceful compared to the crazy river rocking and rolling and much appreciated. We signed in, secured the boat, then went in search of the ferry. Unfortunately, we arrived too late in the day to get the tours of Ellis Island or the WTC, so we first walked down to the old NJ railroad station at the point, which now houses an “Empty Sky” memorial to 9/11. Two weddings were taking place in the area, which later filled the two restaurants at the marina (and kept the music and the partying until 2 am!). Did we mention it was hot and steamy?

John and Dean with metal salvaged as a memorial from 9-11

The ferry to NYC runs straight from the marina, so we went to NYC and walked around the WTC but most of the area was barricaded off (and heavily patrolled by security, including an onsite bomb squad). Worth the efforts, just wish we could have toured the museum. Next time.

Playing tourist, WTC in our background

Captain Dean had us up early – although John got up even earlier for his morning run – so that we could view the Statue of Liberty and still catch the current to go up the 16 mile East River and through Hell Gate more easily.

The old NJ train station with the ferry docks
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to be free…”

The East River is actually an estuary waterway, not truly a river, and connects Upper New York Bay on its south end to Long Island Sound on its north end. It separates the borough of Queens on Long Island from the Bronx on the North American mainland, and also divides Manhattan from Queens and Brooklyn, which is also on Long Island. Fascinating views on both sides, including Rikers Island, a 400+ acre island that houses NY’s largest correctional and mental institutions – a long and sordid history.

Hell Gate was originally named Hellegut (“hell channel”) by Dutch explorers because the early explorers found navigation hazardous in this New World place of rocks and converging tide-driven currents (from the Long Island Sound, Harlem River strait, and Upper Bay of New York Harbor). The Anglicized name stuck. The area develops tidal whirlpools which can make navigation tricky so timing your passage through at slack tide is helpful. Dean timed it perfectly and we had a smooth passage through. Thankful for strong engines!

Brooklyn Bridge with the WTC beyond it, shrouded in low clouds.

Cruising under the Brooklyn Bridge was also neat, as we’ve been reading The Great Bridge by David McCollough, about the history and construction of this bridge. Maybe its because I am again cruising with two mechanical engineers, but these feats of construction, particularly that they were completed in the late 1800s, are amazing, especially how they have held up over 150 years of high traffic and weather.

The beautiful NYC skyline from the boat

The East River opens up into Long Island Sound which brought us into our largest body of water in 2 years. We happily cruised a total of 50 miles up to Port Jefferson NY on Long Island, secured a mooring in this busy port, and went into town for an exploration and a walk. Continues to be hot and humid, and all roads out of town seem to be uphill…We ended up having an early dinner at an outdoor cafe with a good breeze then back to the boat to the evening entertainment of watching boats arriving and ferry boats coming and going. The wind was up so we were all dancing on our moorings in the gusts, but overall we had a quiet night.

Sunday 6/27 was another early up and out to travel before with wind and waves built up on Long Island Sound. Thankful that John is an early riser! Started out overcast but then changed to partly cloudy. Another 50 mile day of beautiful cruising to bring us to a gem on Long Island, Mattituck inlet with the small hamlet of Mattituck. The inlet is several miles long, winding past long sandy beaches, marshes, houses, and a few small marinas. Best of all (to me) were the dozen osprey nests along the way, each one with at least one osprey present. Also saw cormorants, ducks, geese (of course), and Great egrets. We anchored at the end of the inlet, next to Strong’s Boat Club, and alongside some quaint fishing houses, a real mix of affluent and working class.

Osprey, maybe juveniles?

Thankfully we got to this beautiful anchorage early as boats started streaming in mid afternoon, and we had a nice anchoring spot that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. Afternoon activities included a walk/run (John), and first of the season kayak explorations (Dean and K) and swims for all! So great to be in a body of water that is swimmable, salty, and relatively warm – refreshing but not breath-taking. A quiet evening with enough breeze to cool us down and a beautiful sunset.

Captain had us up at sunrise to again catch the current and to cross the LI Sound before the waves and wind built up. Perfect opportunity for more bird sightings once the muddy anchor was cleared. Skies were clear, winds were light, and the chop remained low – a very pleasant passage. We traveled about 40 miles to Fisher’s Island, off New London CT. The current boost got us here by 11 am.

Green heron, spied by Dean!
Great egret

We’ve greatly enjoyed our travels, especially sharing them with John with his love and knowledge of New York. He’s great crew and company, and we appreciate Heidi’s part in getting him onboard as well as his recovery that allowed him to participate fully. Thankful.

Thanks for joining us for this latest leg of our adventures on trawler Clare. We appreciate the connection with family and friends while we are away from home. Stay well!

By the grace of God we go,

~ Karen and Dean

Categories: 2021, East River, Hudson River, Long Island, New York, Uncategorized


  1. Wow, you two are so brave with this undertaking. I appreciate some of the magnitude of your trip via your wonderfully detailed blog. Thanks for sharing and have fun along your journey.


  2. Great travel update. Thanks for the interesting history lessons and travel summaries.


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