Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Another bite at the apple

We are under way northbound in the Hudson River, bound for an anchorage in Poughkeepsie. Tomorrow begins our family visit, so today's my last chance to type until after the holiday. It's a short cruise today, just under four hours, and I've already frittered away half of it, so this will likely post after we are settled.

We had great conditions all the way to Port Jefferson on Saturday, dropping the hook once again at the northeast end of the harbor (map) with no plans to go ashore. The very same group of families that had been picnicking and playing on the beach two weeks earlier were in the same spot, and once again they loaded back into their boats before sunset and headed home, leaving us alone with just one other cruising boat in the anchorage.

Manhattan and the GWB over a very placid Hudson just before sunset, from our anchorage.

Sunday morning we weighed anchor early to have a favorable tide, and had a very nice cruise in calm conditions to Port Washington. We did scoop two more balloons out of the water, one mylar and one traditional. We saw more than that, but too far from our course to divert. As usual, I had to weave through groups of fisherman off the various points. We had the hook down in our usual spot in Manhasset Bay (map) before 1:30, owing to the early start and favorable tide. This arrival engendered a bit less PTSD than the last one.

Such an early arrival to Manhasset Bay meant we really could have just kept going all the way to New York City, catching a mostly fair tide the whole way. But Port Washington has the last decent, convenient grocery store for a long while, and we also needed to stop to lower the mast for the transit through the Harlem River. This is a very comfortable harbor for us, one of the things that made it an ideal place to have my emergency.

Sunset from our anchorage in Port Jefferson.

In addition to the grocery run, Louise had boxed up a score (really) of finished quilts, in three enormous boxes, that needed to go out to her charities by way of UPS. We knew there was a UPS store a few blocks from the dock, so we hoped to get that done as well. Unfortunately, they're closed on Sunday, and Monday morning was forecast to be rainy, but we left the dink in the water overnight just in case. We figured we'd have to trundle them over from the dock on our little two-wheel luggage "schlepper," if not here then in Manhattan, and I lamented that we did not have one of those little folding wagons that many cruisers use when there is no dock cart.

At dinner time we splashed the dink and headed ashore to our regular casual pizza joint, a few doors down from the grocery store. Louise had a couple of things she wanted to look for in Home Goods, right between the two, and we stopped in after dinner. In some sort of message from the universe, or what our good friends over at Technomadia would call nomadic serendipity, Home Goods had three of the folding wagons, complete with off-road wheels. They were a bit more than I had planned to pay, but the timing was right and we grabbed one, which we then had to put in our grocery cart while we wandered around Stop & Shop.

Pulling a boatload of quilts in our new little blue folding wagon.

The folding cart meant we could load up on more provisions than we had planned to haul in our backpacks alone, including a 15-pack of local beer that we both enjoy. We had to control our urge to overstock, because there is a chance we will be entering Canada next month, and there is a limit on alcohol as well as unpackaged fresh foods.

After returning to Vector I spent some time getting ready to lower the mast in the morning, wanting to do as much prep as I could before the rain. That meant bolting up the winch, leashing the mast, and removing both bolts, both cotters, and one retaining pin. Everything else needed to wait until the dinghy was stowed.

The mast-moving arrangement all rigged out before lowering.

In the morning we got a brief reprieve from the forecast rain, and we headed back ashore with the cart and the three giant boxes and hoofed it down to UPS. If not for the impending rain, we would have stopped at Target and West Marine across the street. I'd ordered some life vests for pickup at the latter, but they are still on backorder and now I will have to change to another store.

We made it back to Vector just as the first sprinkles were starting, and got the tender aboard before it started in earnest. We waited until a mid-day lull before finishing with the mast. We weighed anchor just before 1pm, as the rain was starting back up, for a fair tide all the way to the Hudson. On a weekday the water was blissfully free of other pleasure boats.

The colorful patio and deck at the Inwood Bar and Grill.

On a boat, just as in an airplane, you really ought to have a checklist for everything. We have one for starting a voyage, ending a voyage, rigging for offshore passage, rigging for night running, changing the compass source, bunkering, and a few others. I neglected to make one for lowering and raising the mast, which heretofore we'd only done twice, for the NY canals and the Illinois Waterway as we completed our "loop" in 2019. When we dropped the mast on the eastbound leg of this trip, I remarked that we needed one when I neglected to re-position the VHF antennas before raising the mast, and I had to monkey-climb to put them up after the fact.

And thus it was that Louise noticed an hour into the trip that the radar was spinning merrily away in the vertical plane, rather uselessly. Fortunately, it did not hit anything, but I don't know how bad for the gearbox it is to run it at that angle. It's working normally now. Suffice it to say we now have a checklist, and switching the radar display to "chart" from "radar" is on the list well ahead of lowering the mast. I had set it to "transmit" by force of habit from literally thousands of voyage starts. Having it boot up in chart mode will dissuade me from doing that.

The view upriver from our aft deck in NYC. Palisades to the left, Yonkers to the right, with the Evelyn Cutler anchored in between. We just sat enjoying this sky.

Much, much worse than the spinning radar was the fact that, in our zeal to safely and properly lower the mast, raise the thus-horizontal VHF antennas to vertical, and level the sat compass from its otherwise useless vertical aspect all before the rain increased, we somehow neglected to lower the twin SSB antennas, which are actually the tallest things on the boat. We were halfway up the Harlem River before we found a bridge low enough for them to clang against every girder. The sound was rather unnerving, but coincided with a train crossing the bridge, and so our realization of what had happened was not immediate.

Fortunately they are long and flexible enough to have escaped mostly unscathed, and Louise scrambled upstairs to drop them before the next low bridge. Any time you start to think you know what you're doing out here, the sea or the river will find a way to humble you. We have to lower the mast again in Troy before entering the Erie Canal, so I will get a chance to try out my shiny new checklist, which I wrote up that very evening.

Approaching the new Tappan Zee bridge, fully complete this time. On our last trips we had to take the main span due to construction equipment; this time we set a more direct course and passed through the next span west.

Aside from the antenna incident, we had a nice cruise, with favorable current the whole way from anchor up to anchor down. (Downhill both ways, if you will.) It was rainy and the city skyline was largely unseen, but there was no traffic, and we shot through the Spuyten Duyvil railroad bridge just before it closed. We headed generally toward the spot we had vacated two weeks prior, skirting around an anchored tow, and dropped the hook (map) for one last evening in the Big Apple.

We tendered ashore at the Dyckman landing, paid the dock-and-dine rate, and wandered over to the Tryon Public House for dinner. Unlike our last visit, the place was far too noisy to have any sort of conversation, and we gave up and walked over to the Inwood Bar & Grill instead. They seated us on their vibrant and colorful back deck, and while it was loud here, it was tolerable. We found the place packed for 2-for-1 Monday, and, as is so often the case, we were the only non-locals in the joint.

Passing Indian Point nuclear station on our way into Peekskill.

Knowing we had an early start in the morning we hoisted the tender as soon as we returned, and then enjoyed one of our most pleasant evenings of this trip on our aft deck under a gorgeous sky. We weighed anchor yesterday morning at the turn of the tide, for a fair tide all the way to Peekskill.  This is a new stop for us, where we dropped the hook as far into Peekskill Bay as depth would allow (map), which is to say, not very far.

Waterfront art. Her chin alone completely obscures Vector in the distance.

Stopping just as the tide ran out meant we had the hook down just after lunch time. After taking care of a few odds and ends aboard, I splashed the tender and headed ashore to explore, tying up at the boat ramp. There's a $25 fee to launch a boat, but the attendant gave no indication I needed to pay just to tie up, which I did on the outside of the ramp dock to stay out of the way.

I had a very nice walk around town. The waterfront includes some public art and memorials, the Metro North train station, a taco joint, an Italian place, a commercial bakery with a retail counter, and a brew pub. Downtown is a half mile up a good size hill, so not a dinner option for us, but I wandered around the historic district for a half hour or so. Beside the train, an extensive county bus system has numerous stops in town; they are running a fare-free promotion until Labor Day.

I passed this classic diner downtown.

We returned ashore together at dinner time and walked over to Taormina for a nice Italian dinner. A sure sign that we have left New York City's gravitational zone is that food and beverage prices here are lower by a factor of two; I had the four-course prix fixe for $26 that even included a glass of wine. Definitely worth a repeat visit if we stop here again.

These whimsical stick figures with school crossing heads were marking the crosswalk from the civic center to its parking garage.

Update: We are anchored in the Hudson River at Poughkeepsie, just outside the cable area and in between the bridges (map). We have 200' of chain out in 60' of water. We had the hook down early, around 2:45, but it was such a gorgeous day that we sat out on the aft deck, while it was still facing upriver and out of the sun, and enjoyed watching all the goings-on at the waterfront park, beer in hand. It's just past slack now and we are starting to turn around.

When you live or work near a nuclear plant, these signs are part of your daily landscape.

There is a courtesy dock at the park, and we've splashed the tender with the intent to go to dinner ashore. There is a sign on the dock, not quite readable from here with binoculars, that might limit the time there, but with the river empty we're not concerned. There is a small handful of restaurants here at the waterfront end of town.

Poughkeepsie waterfront park from our deck. Walkway over the Hudson at left, dock and taco joint in the historic ice house center, playground with concrete whale sculpture at right. As close as we could get owing to the cable area.

On our first trip up the Hudson some eight years ago, we docked at a restaurant across the river, which is now long-since closed and the dock gone. I walked across the historic rail bridge, now a pedestrian and bike trail known as the Walkway over the Hudson, which is just upriver of us. But this is our first time on the east bank in Poughkeepsie proper.

Tomorrow we commence our visit with family, on the occasion of our nephew's graduation from high school. They've planned a nice party for him, and we'll get to see family from other parts of the state driving out for the occasion. We are very much looking forward to seeing everyone and catching up. I expect we will also eat too much food.

Passing West Point this morning.

We'll be back under way on Independence Day. I still need to consult the Local Notices to Mariners to see where any fireworks security zones may be. If some fireworks are convenient, we might stop and take them in, but I confess I am not in a very patriotic spirit at the moment. My next post will be from underway upriver after the holiday.


  1. Enjoyed reading your blog. Good writing style along with useful information. 👌

  2. Let me know if you'd like to meet up near Rochester!

    1. I'm afraid we won't be going that far west, Nic. We're too tall to take the Erie all the way to Buffalo, so we turn right at Three Rivers Junction and take the Oswego Canal into the lake. The last time we did that, we were headed for the Mississippi, so we stopped in Rochester on our way to the Welland Canal. This year we'll take the Seaway to the Atlantic, so we'll be headed NE from Oswego, and that's as close as we'll come. LMK if your travels take you further east.

  3. We have a folding wagon similar to yours that we got at Academy & absolutely love it. We use it all the time. I know you will find lots of use for yours. The invention of the wheel was fantastic! I know you will find lots of use for yours.
    Sean, don't look at this next reply....
    Louise, you could stash more fabric in it!!! :)

  4. The anonymous comment above was from me. I don't know why it showed up that way & didn't notice it when I posted. Seems like I'm back as before with my name. Sorry about that!


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