Early departure from Port Jefferson on 7/21, cruising along the final portions of Long Island Sound with a group of sailboats following behind, to Port Washington, our last stop before NYC. We arrived as the wind and waves began to whip up, just before a large rain, thunder and lightening storm. Thankful for the Port Washington free mooring from the local marina for 24 hours. We were here in 2019, with Ethan and Lia after their adventuresome traverse of the East River in their Rebaldo 15-16’ boat. Great stop just before a long day through the city.
We watched in fascination other boats rapidly returning in the storm, including two paddle boarders who got rescued by a motorboat but had to leave their boards adrift. It was quite exciting while lightning flashed and thunder boomed close by! Thankful, as always, for our secure and dry little trawler.
Met some new Monk friends! Another Monk 36’ boat, Soul Mate II, was anchored, then moored, nearby and Howard and Stephanie Conant invited us over for drinks after the storm. They are brand new owners of a newer-than-us sister boat, built in Nova Scotia while ours was built in Taiwan. They are from Washington state and are new to cruising the east coast, although they are very seasoned sailors. Always fun to swap stories, plans, and suggestions with other Monk owners.
While in Port Washington, we did not head to land – too hot, too far given risk of more storms nearby. Missed out on the ice cream! Cooled down with a boat shower (think sprinkle-soap up-quick rinse) but the night was warm/hot and muggy. Thankfully, no new storms.
Feel the heat!
Up and off early on Friday 7/22 to catch favorable current on the East River. The East River, with Hell’s Gate, can get pretty crazy with current and standing waves, so we hoped to get through with a mellow current and before all the crazy boat traffic – water taxis, tourists, ferries, as well as planes and overhead trolleys. You can read about our 2019 and 2021 trips through the area with lots of details and history, including some wonderful pics of Lady Liberty.
The skyline ahead of us
Trash. Continuous floating and submerged trash was evident from the western end of Long Island Sound, through NYC, and into the Hudson River. Sad sight but also dangerous as trash could be sucked into our cooling system and wreck havoc. So many floating plastic bottles, mylar balloons, soda cans, and pieces of paper and very little wildlife.
The city’s trash is largely exported out of the five boroughs via large “trash barges”: About a quarter goes to waste-to-energy facilities, and the rest is sent to landfills in central New York State, Pennsylvania, Virginia and South Carolina. We can imagine the amount of trash/garbage that such a densely populated city generates.
An empty trash barge, heading in to be filled.
This trip, we branched off the East River relatively early, taking the Harlem River north through Harlem, and missing the congestion and craziness of NYC Harbor, as well as missing, unfortunately, the Statue of Liberty. It also saved us about 15miles and 2 hours of travel.
The Harlem River is an “engineered river,” as it was rerouted in the late 1800s around a portion on NYC (Marble Hill) and connected with a creek, all in order to use the river for shipping.
Architectural details of the Brooklyn Bridge
The Harlem River was pleasant and interesting! Little to no boat traffic, and there wasn’t any tour boats or water taxis zipping at us from all angles. A mix of old and new construction, and traffic, trains, and subways running alongside us. Many many bridges through Harlem and Upper Manhattan, before the final railroad swing bridge brought us to the Hudson River, just below Yonkers. We passed Yankee Stadium!
Many variations of bridges criss crossing the Harlem River. We fit under all but the last, larger/taller boats have to call 4 hours ahead to get the bridges raised. I imagine that wrecks havoc on the traffic!
One of several homeless encampments along the river.
City cruising-interesting, but not our favorite
The final bridge to the Hudson River was a swing railroad bridge.
Easy cruising up the Hudson River, greatly appreciating the open spaces and cliffs, especially on the west side. Slower than usual travel as we were against the current on the Hudson River. Super hot so we sought out what little shade we could find on the boat, made sure we drank loads of water, and looked forward to a swim at day’s end, at Croton-on-Hudson.
Tappan Zee Bridge, officially the Gov. Cuomo Bridge
On 7/22, we anchored off of Croton-on-Hudson just off the Hudson River, by a beautiful park. A fair amount of day boats anchored nearby, all enjoying like us the opportunity to cool off in the (warm) water. The afternoon brewed another storm after the 90+ degree day, and it whipped the Hudson into a white capped, 2-4 foot wave beast. By sunset, the storm had passed, the waves had calmed, and most of the boats returned to their origin. It was another sticky night, but far from miserable.
Up and moving by 7:30 on 7/23 to catch the current as we crossed to the western side of the Hudson to fuel up at Panco in Stony Point. Diesel was a mere $5.79 per gallon…hoping the prices continue to gradual drop while we travel. Back to the eastern shore to Half Moon Bay Marina in Croton, a familiar stop for us. Greeted by Steve, the dock master, and Dean aptly backed our boat in stern first into a dock space just behind the breakwater. Super hot 96 degrees but we needed to reprovision the boat with fresh foods as we are now 8 days out. We watered up, donned our backpacks and dragged out the foldable cart to walk the 3/4 mile each way to a wonderful food store, Apple Farms. So cool in there that the cashier was wearing a down jacket! We devoured an 8 pack of non-dairy sandwich bars on the way home, because, well, they would’ve melted on the walk home. Right?
Being at a dock at a marina means we have power/electricity, so we are able to run our boat air conditioner to dry out and cool down a few degrees. Don’t use it often, but when we do it’s a huge blessing. Dean spent the afternoon scrubbing the boat with the fresh water, and I did several loads of boat “bucket” laundry that dried rapidly in the hot sunshine. We can see over to the little bay that we anchored at last night, and are amazed that probably 100 boats are now anchored there enjoying the water with floats, swimming, rafting, barbecuing, music and more. Perfect day on the water when its this crazy hot!! And, because we hoofed it to the grocery store, we had grilled GF/DF veggie pizza tonight! Much cooler to grill than to cook on the stove. Peaceful evening watching the sunset over the breakwater and all kinds of boats coming and going.
Steamy summer night
Rounding the point toward West Point
Early start on 7/25 with no wind, clear skies and the sun starting to scorch. A few more boats passing by in either direction as we traveled further up the Hudson River, passing many landmarks such as Roosevelt’s mansion (where we visited by bike several years ago), Vanderbilt’s mansion, Marist college (shoutout to Tobi and daughter), the Culinary Institute of America, Broderhof Community’s private school, and Bannerman Castle. We also cruised through the gorge or gap with deep water around West Point Military Academy (shout out to the Webbers!), where we toured in 2019. Impressive structures on the side of the hill/cliffs.
One of the many impressive structures at West Point
Camouflage works well – look carefully
Trains at one point go UNDER West Point before coming out just before this gymnasium
We ended another hot, steamy day of cruising at a familiar stop at Norrie Point marina, attached to the Mills Norrie state park in Staatsburg, NY. This is a relatively unknown gem. It is a small, rustic marina with mostly small seasonal boats and a few transient spots. Nothing fancy but has great trails, wildlife (resident beaver, eagle, and snapping turtles) as well as swallows swooping in and out from under the wharfs.
A huge squall passed through late afternoon, with white caps on the Hudson, rain, and wind gusts up to 60 mph. We were well positioned and stabilized, but we did rock and roll, as did the other small boats and the floating docks. Quite the storm and we were surprised that no boats broke free or sustained damage. Afternoon storms seem to be the pattern with the ultra hot days.
Squall passing through at Norrie Point Marina
Nice quiet night, and awoke 7/25 to cloudy skies, slightly cooler temps, and scattered rain showers. We opted to spend an extra day here due to the predicted rain and storms, and spent the morning doing projects and catching up with family. In the early afternoon, we took a 3+ mile hike around the trails, ending with a portion of trail along the water’s edge. Chatted with the park ranger and two men, also on a transient boat, who are docked just off our stern. Loved watching the eagle soar high above us.
We are again getting used to being in train country, with frequent trains (freight and passenger) on each bank of the Hudson, thundering through and blaring their warning horns. Occasionally hear one or two during the night, but most activity lessens after 11pm it seems. Accommodating to the rhythms of the river.
Tuesday 7/26 started off COOL, with temps in the 60s rather than the high 80s we’ve had for mornings over the past week. Clear and glorious, and it was wonderful to wake up without sweating.
We have been watching the large freighters passing north and south (upriver and downriver), and our state marina is on Norrie Point, where the pilot boats are based out of. Fascinating to watch them exchange pilots at this point. The small pilot boat runs up next to the huge freighter, and one pilot climbs the side of the freighter to board the ship, and eventually the relieved pilot climbs off the ship onto the pilot boat.
“Vessel voyages with the Hudson River Pilots begin at the Yonkers Pilot Station for a 56 mile transit in the lower half of the Hudson, passing under 6 bridges, twisting through the sharp turns at the US Military Academy at West Point and, after an approximately a 5.5 hour trip, ending at the second pilot station at Norrie Point. After a second pilot exchange, the upper part of the Hudson River involves a 54 mile run to the Port of Albany. This transit can take from six to seven and a half hours, depending on the vessel as the navigable channel north of Kingston, NY narrows to a width of 400 feet. Total transit time from Yonkers to Albany will be 11- 13 hours.” https://hudsonriverpilots.com
The lighthouses on the Hudson are so different than our east coast versions!
Lovely cruise north on the Hudson River with little wind or boat traffic except for a few freighters, barges, and tugs. Train tracks both sides, but few trains. Occasional mansions high up on the hills overlooking the River, but mostly more humble houses and towns. The River narrows in sections, winding around shallows and mud flats, but well marked via the navigational aids. We enjoyed a very pleasant 35 nm, appreciating the temps in the lower 80s and didn’t quite feel as scorched as we’ve been over the past week. Music, exercise, and an audio book kept us entertained along with searching for wildlife. Spotted a few herons, an eagle, and quite a few osprey in their nests with little ones. Sadly, no great photos.
We anchored in a new spot this trip, bypassing Kingston NY where we have stopped other times to anchor behind a low island, Coxsackie. It is uninhabited and surely floods in high waters, but has good shelter and good holding. We were greeted immediately by two herons squawking by and deer on the shore. Kayak around the area then a skinny dip/chunky dunk to cool off. The water flows nicely here, but is very cloudy and silty. Quiet night.
Wednesday, 7/27, was our final day on the Hudson River. We love cruising the Hudson – so beautiful and changes as you go along with many views. Today we saw a lot of birds before we got into the city areas of Albany and Troy, including close encounters with herons while morning kayaking, and eagles.
Heron, feeding at the mud flats
Most amazingly, we saw an EAGLE SWIMMING from the river to the shore. It had a butterfly style stroke as it calmly worked its way toward shore. We read that eagles often swim, especially after they’ve dove for a fish and either it’s too heavy to fly with or they’ve gotten their wings too wet to fly. It was a sight!
A swimming eagle!
We also saw this activity. We asked our marine biologist expert friends, Drs. Mael and Heather Glon, and they said this was “electrofishing” for some kind of wildlife research. Stun the fish then scoop them in the net. Would love to know what specifically they were researching!
Went through our first lock of the year, the Federal Lock #1 in Troy. Always exciting and a good practice run of sorts before we head into the many locks on the Erie Canal. This lock transitions us from mildly salty water to fully “fresh” water, and we no longer have current from tides (but we do have current from the rivers within the Erie Canal). Fascinating, yes?
Manning the spring line on our first 16’ lock up- Troy Federal Lock. Here we go!
Arrived in Waterford NY, at the start of the Erie Canal by mid afternoon and were pleased there were options for docking along “the wall” – it sometimes is very crowded and busy, especially when they have festivals going on. Free docking with a small charge for power and shower access. So many wonderful memories of our other times in Waterford in 2019, 2021 with Gage, Kate, Sue, Al, and Clare, as well as making a Monk and beyond friend here, Steve Dettman. Lots of people walking the dock and park area, fishing from the canal walls, but we missed the fresh mulberries this year.
Loaded up our roller cart with laundry and walked into the nearby town to really do laundry – a real treat! Then walked back into town for an outdoor dinner at McGrievy’s which was also a treat! Home to chat with some dock neighbors from TX, FL, and around the world before a long hot shower (also a treat)!
Thankful for each leg of this journey, and for all of you following along with us. Thanks for reading! Please continue to pray for my sister, Donna’s, health.
By the grace of God we go,
~ Karen and Dean
You never fail to captivate me
with your adventures, stories and pictures! Swimming eagles?! Who knew?
Continued safe journeying and joy!