09 July 2015

Sailing to New York City

New York City

Port Washington:  "The depth should be ok..."
After a splendid spinnaker run (followed by some reluctant motoring) we arrived in Manhasset Bay Port Washington on Saturday 4 July so that we could rest up and time the passage the next day down the East River in to New York Harbor.  We were greeted by very friendly staff and beautiful docks at Brewer Capri Marina, however, we were surprised to see the sparse depths in the channel through the mooring field and especially up to the docks, even though we were directed to their deep slips.  More on this later.

Working on the blog and checking out our NYC plans.
We celebrated Bob's birthday by going to a nearby restaurant.  River Fish had a lovely location and extremely nice waitress but very mediocre food (I'm being generous).  Bob had a salmon burger that he thinks had trace elements of fish DNA but was mostly a large, dry hunk of breadcrumbs.  We ventured out for a walk and stumbled upon a really cool little Mexican place.  We were also treated to about five different fireworks displays around the perimeter of the harbor - happy birthday USA and Bob!
  • River Fish:  thumbs down
  • Mi Ranchito:  thumbs up
Birthday margarita at Mi Ranchito Port Washington NY (Long Island)
Charts were sparsely marked around our marina and when Bob originally made the slip reservations, he was only mildly assured that "the depth should be ok for your draft".  As we checked our depth at the dock, the tide swing and tide timing, we realized that in actuality the depth was not ok.

Depth while docked at low tide = 4.9 feet.  Our draft is almost 6 feet.  <uh oh>  And we needed to leave near low tide the next day.
We were seeing "4.9 feet" on our sounder at low tide.  Argon was still bobbing so she was not sitting on the bottom (or was in very soft mud).  Bob hung a weight on a string over the side and measured about 6.1 feet, therefore, we still had 2 inches to spare.  Looks like we need to adjust the sounder offset.

Thus, instead of departing near low tide late morning on Sunday the 5th as originally planned (to catch a slack tide in Hell Gate that would be reversing in our favor) we decided to depart much earlier at 0430, two hours before high tide thus with about 5 extra feet of depth and then catch the Hell Gate slack just before reversing against us.  It was nerve wracking leaving our shallow slip in the dark until we were clearly in comfortable depths.

Transiting the East River
The East River has quite a harrowing reputation with mariners.  The waters can churn and well up severely and the current is often more than 5 knots.  The Harlem River pours in to a section at the upper east side that is known as Hell Gate and is particularly tricky with swirling eddies.  There can also be an enormous amount of commercial traffic especially large barges that throw up intimidating wakes.  But traveling the East River is also a beautiful way to see New York City.

Sunrise off Argon's stern after we passed under Throgs Neck Bridge at entrance of East River.
As it turned out, leaving near high tide in port Washington was a much better plan.  The East River current only just started turning against us when we were way down near the Brooklyn Bridge.

Queensboro Bridge and a commuter gondola to Roosevelt Island.
United Nations (with security perimeter) and Chrysler building.
Linda's key ER (East River) points from both our south and north passages:
  • The East River is actually not a river but rather a 14 mile long tidal strait.
  • The original name of Hell Gate was Hellegat meaning bright passage.  (huh?)
  • Preparation and timing is everything:  Know your currents, know your distances, calculate needed speed.  Do not just wing it!
  • AIS (Automated Identification System) is fantastic!  Bob got AIS for Linda for her birthday and it was massively reassuring to know the size and speed of many of the on-coming vessels especially given the many turns and short sight horizon. 
Manhattan Bridge in foreground, Brooklyn Bridge right after.

Lower Manhattan.

Lots of fast ferries.  Gotta stay outta their way.
Short video of southerly East River and Hell Gate passage.....

Commercial traffic during both our passages was lighter than we had expected but this certainly made the trip easier.  Note the large rolling wakes this barge is creating against the current as she passes on our port.
Another benefit of our revised plan / timing for this transit is that we arrived in New York Harbor nice and early by about 0800 and were able to take a leisurely sail before heading to our marina.
Light early morning breeze in New York Harbor.

We headed in to Liberty Landing on the west side of the Hudson where we would stay put for four nights.  We topped off the diesel and found ourselves comfortably tied up before 1000 hours - with the entire day still before us!
View of lower Manhattan from Liberty Landing Marina.
Work, Play, and Visits
Bob did lots of Atlas work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as scheduled. (Dan, Bob told me to write this.)  And Linda did some boat chores but also got out and played.
Polishing the deck before setting out to explore the city.

With Bob Dee and Dan at a beer garden in the Financial District.

Watching US women's soccer team trounce Japan in the final World Cup game at the outdoor bar at one of the marina restaurants.
More visiting....
Linda's cousin, Geof, and his son, Anthony, took the ferry over to our marina for a visit and to check out Argon.  Bob taught Anthony some really awful jokes as well as how poop and pee get off the boat.  Anthony was intrigued.
Majorly smart and vivacious 8 year old Anthony.

Linda, Anthony, and Geof.

Bob, Linda, and Geof.

Bob is working, Linda is not.....
So Linda went exploring the World Trade Center neighborhood & museum, the Hudson River Recreation Park, and Greenwich Village.  Lots of walking.

9/11 Memorial endless waterfall in foreground and new transit center (still under construction) in the background.

9/11 Memorial and new One WTC at night.
Small part of the impressive and expansive Hudson River Recreation Park that starts just north of Roosevelt Park.  It has beautiful flowers and trees, playgrounds, water park, basketball & tennis courts, skateboard park, mini golf, lots of benches and shaded tables, etc.  Quite a fantastic stretch.
Washington Park in the Village.

Frappe caffe at Reggio cafe.  So many wonderful looking restaurants in the Village.
After four very full and fun days at Liberty Landing and NYC, it was time to get ready for another East River transit.  We studied the currents and conditions again and set out at 0845 Thursday morning arriving at Hell Gate 10 minutes before slack.  When we emerged from the East River there was scant wind right on our nose so we motored over to City Island, anchored, took the dinghy to shore, and explored a bit.  But then the wind was picking up so we returned to Argon, lifted anchor, and caught a great breeze.  To where, we did not yet know, it was just so fantastic to be sailing again.

And finally we are sailing again - Destination TBD

Destination TBD.

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