Wednesday, July 4, 2018

That all ... are created equal

We are anchored in a familiar spot, adjacent to Ellis Island with its famous Immigant Inspection Station (map). We had a very short cruise here this morning from our overnight anchorage last night in Gravesend Bay, just north of Coney Island (map).

Passing Lady Liberty this morning in overcast and light haze.

This is actually a terrible anchorage. It's tight -- we're hemmed in by a wreck, a dangerous rock, the security zone for Ellis Island, and the deepwater river channel. It's noisy -- loud music emanates from the floating clubhouse of the Manhattan Yacht club just a few boatlengths away. And, worst of all, it is subject to enormous wakes from passing high-speed ferries, an endless parade of Statue of Liberty tour boats, and the occasional yahoo in a go-fast pleasure boat.

Yacht club next door. This party ended at 5pm.

All of that said, the view of the downtown Manhattan skyline is unparalleled. And, more importantly, today it is a great spot to take in the Independence Day fireworks. For sure we will see the impressive display from Jersey City, within whose borders we are situated (as is most of Ellis Island). We think we'll also be able to see some if not all of the Macy's display on the East River, the largest in the country, over the intervening Manhattan skyline. And we might even see some of the Staten Island display which is off the ballpark near the ferry terminal.

Our view of the lower Manhattan skyline.

Perhaps more entertaining than the fireworks will be the other boaters who will show up later today with varying degrees of seamanship, anchoring skills, and ground tackle. It's a busy day on the water and we've already enjoyed sitting on deck, beer in hand, taking it all in. The ferries are on holiday schedule and so their enormous wakes are less frequent.

Shortly after I last posted here, we arrived at Atlantic City, pushed our way upcurrent to the basin, and tied up at the Farley State Marina, attached to and run by the Golden Nugget Casino. This is where we land the tender when we anchor nearby, so we were already familiar with the docks; we were on the outside face dock which has no utilities.

The marina from our table at The Deck. Vector is center-frame at the end of the fairway.

After going in to the office to get the gate code and "check in" I asked if we could buy some water for our tank and drag a hose across the dock to the nearest pedestal. They told us to take what we needed and so we started filling the tank as soon as I returned to the boat. A group of marina tenants, likely seasonal, has set up an easy-up across the dock with a bunch of chairs underneath, and I had to run the gauntlet in both directions.

Entitled yachties blocking the dock.

The aisleway had become even narrower an hour later when we walked to dinner; these clueless idiots barely uncrossed their legs to let us through, which we had to do single-file. I regret I was not pushing a dock cart full of trash.

Golden Nugget is owned by Landry's, just like its sisters we visited in Lake Charles and Biloxi, and thus is chock-full of Landry's branded restaurants. Our favorite here is the Chart House, which overlooks the marina and has a killer happy hour menu. Unfortunately, they are dark Mondays.

Dinner at The Deck

Instead we ate at The Deck, which is the outdoor restaurant adjacent to the marina. It has all the hallmarks of a marina restaurant, where yachtsmen tell lies about fishing exploits, but it has a nice selection of draft beer and decent sandwiches. They often have live music, and Monday is Reggae night. Mid-meal security came along and slapped wrist bands on us; apparently once the music starts the venue is adults-only. We finished our meal before the band started.

Reggae band. We could not even stay for one song.

Louise wrapped up with the water tanks while I did a whirlwind power walk through the casino, refreshing my memory about the other dining venues, in the event we end up making a stop at the anchorage on our return voyage. Sadly, the Starbucks-knockoff coffee shop did not have bagels, or I would have picked up a couple for the morning.

We dropped lines at 8pm and again fought our way upcurrent to get back out the inlet. Sort of like the old joke about walking to school uphill both ways. Louise turned in for the night as soon as I made the turn northward to New York, and not five minutes later we were enveloped in fog. I cranked up the gain on the radar and set the alarm bands in a cone right ahead of the boat. It was a long watch, as I needed to maintain a close lookout throughout the night.

Sunset over Atlantic City behind us. This haze turned to outright fog within another couple of miles.

I did get a brief respite. We were traveling just a couple of miles offshore, and I could see a bunch of tugs and maybe a dredge on the AIS offshore of Barnegat. I decided not to cut between them and the inlet, instead turning northeast to get another three miles offshore. Not only did I clear around the workboats, I also drove right out of the fogbank, and had nearly two hours of clear skies before the fog again encircled us.

We had the current with us the entire trip, which normally is a good thing but in this case had me dropping the RPM all the way down to 1300 to avoid an untimely early arrival in the harbor. Fortunately, seas were incredibly calm, and so we did not need any more speed than that for the stabilizers. I came back on watch in the morning just as we arrived at the Sandy Hook Channel, and we increased RPM back to 1500 for the rest of the trip.

Entering New York Harbor this holiday morning. Lots of targets.

Louise had fog her whole watch as well, and it was still with us in the morning, but visibility was acceptable for navigating in to the harbor. New York Traffic was taking visibility reports and all the skippers were keeping each other apprised on channel 13. We dropped the hook at our familiar spot in Gravesend Bay a few minutes before 10am, just shy of five full days since weighing anchor in Palm Beach.

That same view on the radar scope.

This was, bar none, our longest passage ever, and I think that's true for Vector herself as well. By the numbers, our passage comprised:

  • 965 nautical miles traveled
  • 407 gallons of diesel fuel consumed
  • 119.4 hours of elapsed time, including a 3-hour dinner stop in Atlantic City
  • 116.4 hours of time under way (and engine hours)

Some would argue that the stop in Atlantic City made this two passages, rather than a single longer passage, and for the purists that think that way, so be it. It was still our longest passage, even if you knock 14 hours and 86 nautical miles off the totals.

Our view out the window after passing the barge anchorage. Manhattan to the right, Liberty on the left.

Arriving, as we did, to New York Harbor before ten in the morning and on a flood tide, it was tempting to just continue upriver to our intended destination of the anchorage off 79th street. But we did not want to miss the fireworks, as long as we were in the right place at the right time anyway. And the reason we did not just come straight here is, well, what I already wrote about this anchorage.

Fog encroaches on The Narrows, from Gravesend. Ship Athiri is anchored and lightering.

In any case we had a mostly quiet day and overnight in Gravesend Bay. Wakes from large ships and even some ferries do make it back in there and occasionally we would get a series of mighty rolls. There is a nice view of the Verrazano-Narrows bridge from there, and in the other direction can be seen the top of the amusements at Coney Island.

It cleared up by evening and we had a nice sunset over the Verrazano bridge.

As I am wrapping up my writing, a trio of helicopters has been hovering above us for more than two hours, creating quite the racket. I thought at first that it was just news B-roll of Liberty Island for the inevitable monotonous Independence Day coverage. My friend Charles texted me from Florida to let me know there was a climber on Lady Liberty and the police were trying to get her down. If you've been watching the news coverage, it's possible you've seen Vector (and please let us know in the comments).

The Manhattan Yacht Club's Arabella, next to us on a mooring. Loading for a fireworks cruise up the East River.

The Statue Cruises boats have all been leaving the Jersey City docks empty and coming back from the island loaded. As we passed the island this morning we felt a little sorry for the throngs of tourists waiting in possibly the longest lines of the season to get into the statue; now we feel even more sorry knowing that many spent their entire day only to be thwarted when police closed the statue and evacuated the island. We know how they feel.

I have to confess there is something else I felt as we passed the statue this morning, especially today, on the 242nd birthday of these United States: an incredible sadness. I remember my first visit to the island, growing up here, and seeing the bronze plaque containing Emma Lazarus' sonnet. When my ancestors passed through this island right next to us, "economic refugee" was not an unacceptable reason to immigrate.

Ellis Island Immigrant Inspection Station.

And so I will leave you today with the entire text of the sonnet by Emma Lazarus, on that plaque within the base of the Statue of Liberty, above which a police drama now unfolds:
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. 
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"


  1. I have an early quick job in the city Friday. I would love to see Louise and meet Sean. Btw, my college newspaper was The Vector, "with magnitude and direction"
    Call or text 973-270-4936

  2. I've been following Louise's quilting blog for a while. Never thought to read this one. Interesting for a landlover. (Hey, I once got seasick on an aircraft carrier!) I had the same feelings about the takeover of the Statue of Liberty but more so the total disregard of our history of accepting folks who need to leave their homelands to make a journey to what really is the unknown.


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