Sunday, August 10, 2014

East Egg

We are anchored in Manhasset Bay, on Long Island (map), just east of the stately waterfront homes of Great Neck.  Across the bay from us on Cow Neck are a line of marinas, yacht clubs, and moorings in the hamlet of Port Washington, part of the town of North Hempstead (political boundaries in New York are byzantine).  If you read The Great Gatsby, Cow Neck is East Egg, and Great Neck is West Egg.

We had not really planned this stop -- we ended up here because we needed to pump out our waste tank. After combing the web, consulting our guides, and making myriad phone calls Friday trying to find a marina along our route with an accessible, working pumpout, it turned out that our simplest option was to press on a bit further than planned and anchor here, where the town operates a pumpout boat.

We're glad we did.  It's a lovely spot, and having the boat come first thing in the morning was easy, painless, and inexpensive.  Once we had the hook set and took stock of our surroundings, we learned there was a free dinghy dock over in Port Washington within an easy walk of a large grocery store, and there were several restaurant options as well.  We splashed the tender yesterday morning after taking care of business, and went to town to re-provision.  Yesterday evening we returned for a nice dinner at a local Italian place.

Friday's cruise from Yonkers was great.  I had some apprehension about the entrance at Spuyten Duyvil, but we made it through without incident.  The railroad bridge was already open, having opened for another boat ten minutes before us, and we blasted in through the north opening rather than our planned southern approach just to shave a minute or two off the whole process -- in this kind of cross-current, he who hesitates is lost.

Once past the railroad bridge it was smooth sailing the rest of the way, and we both ended up sitting up on the flybridge for the length of the Harlem River just so we could take in all the sights.  While Manhattan's Hudson and East River waterfronts are the glitzy face of the city, the Harlem is more the industrial underbelly.  I was impressed, though, by how much it has been cleaned up.

The Harlem River today, looking south.  That's a boathouse for human-powered boats on the right, with the series of high arch bridges downriver.

In my youth, the river was foul and both banks were a wasteland reminiscent of a war zone.  Graffitti covered everything the eye could see in an unbroken tableau from one end of the river to the other.  Today the graffiti is all but gone, and the banks have been redeveloped into parkland and shopping centers.  Kayakers were out enjoying the river, something unimaginable back then.

The elegant University Heights swing bridge in our wake (clearance 25' MHW).

It is a part of the city that few recreational boaters ever see.  There are no tourists here, and even most New Yorkers know little of the Harlem River or the Spuyten Duyvil.  We enjoyed it immensely.

The High Bridge Water Tower, in High Bridge Park.

My carefully planned timing turned out to be perfect.  After the tricky entrance, we then had just enough current against us the whole way to make all the other potential trouble spots into non-issues.  The lowest of the bridges was a good two to three feet above our antennas, and even meeting the giant Circle Line tour coming the other way was no problem.  The tour was packed, incidentally, and a fair number of guests waved to us as we passed.

Looking back at the High Bridge, being renovated.  Original 1848 stone arches to either side of the 1928 steel arch (which replaced more stone arches, to facilitate river traffic).  The bridge carried the original Croton Aqueduct over the Harlem River.

For our readers who are Yankee fans.  Best shot I could get of New Yankee Stadium (the old one was still in use when I left the area; I went to many Yankee and Giants games there).

Decorative lighthouse only -- not to be used for navigation.

The NYPD has not only a fleet of boats, but also its own boatyard, complete with two Marine Tavelifts.

We arrived at Hell Gate right at slack, which meant we had the current behind us from that point on.  By the time we were approaching the Whitestone Bridge we were doing eight knots at just 1500 RPM.  I had set our end point at General Anchorage 7, just west of Little Neck, but with the extra speed it was a slam-dunk to continue on to Manhasset Bay, making maximum advantage of the favorable tide.

Manhattan skyline framed by the Triborough Bridge.

As the Hell Gate and Triborough bridges recede, the skyline rises above them.

LaGuardia Airport.

Just part of NYC's massive jail complex on Rikers Island.

When the island is full, here is a jail barge.  Note the exercise "yard" at upper left, shrouded in concertina wire.

One for my family: Hunts Point Market, where I worked in my youth.

Whitestone Bridge, with Throgs Neck Bridge beyond it.  New York may hold the record for the number of miles of wire rope used in suspension bridges.

Fort Schuyler defended the north side of Throgs Neck ...

... while Fort Totten defended the south.

The US Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point.

The Stepping Stones Lighthouse marks the beginning of Long Island Sound.

The weather was perfect yesterday, and, it being the weekend, the bay quickly filled up with boaters out enjoying the season.  I'm glad we caught the pumpout boat first thing, when he was not busy.  By mid-afternoon, a dozen or more small boats were rafted in the shallows over by Plum Point, with what looked to be a hundred young men and women having the sort of party you see on spring break videos.  They had their music cranked up so loud we could hear it below decks, and we're over a half mile away.  Several other boaters called the North Hempstead marine patrol to complain, but there is no noise ordinance here until 11pm.  By then, the raft-up had dispersed.

There are more boats out on the water here than we've seen any place else to date, with the possible exception of Fort Lauderdale (and even that I am not sure of).  As usual in these kinds of places, the radio was busy with distress calls of one sort or another all day.  We were happy to just be sitting it out at anchor.

We could easily stay here another day, and I am guessing this afternoon will again be a hotbed of activity.  But the favorable tide gets later each day, and we want to be in Southold a couple of days early to get settled in before our friends arrive to meet us, so we will weigh anchor at noon to ride the outgoing tide all the way to Port Jefferson, our next and final stop before Southold.  With any luck, Long Island Sound will not be nearly the zoo it has been here in the bay.


  1. Sean
    From one who has only seen those views from the land -

  2. Love the scenery thanks for posting. It makes us want to visit again.


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