Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New York Harbor, Hell Gate, and Our First Mooring Ball

We cruised into New York Harbor on Sunday. What a thrill to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island as many immigrants did (including Norm’s grandmother). We also cruised up the Hudson River for a while and took in the sights on Manhattan's west side. The traffic was heavy with commercial boats, ferrys and sailors (those sailors!). Anyway, we manuevered through the maze and made it to the entrance to the East River. We worked our way up, taking in Manhattan's East side to........................... HELL GATE!!!!!

Hell Gate is an area known for treacherous currents. In a slow boat like ours, the currents can actually push the boat around, even backwards if traversing that stretch at the wrong time. Jim timed the tides perfectly so that we had a few knots of current pushing us through. As Norm said, “It was a non-event”. Perfect.

Jim and Robin are staying at City Island on the west part of Long Island Sound for 5 days to spend time with her parents. We will meander slowly up the coast and they will catch up with us later. (Testing out our wings a bit.)

We spent last night on a City Island Yacht Club mooring ball. It was the first time we’d touched a mooring ball. Norm snagged it on the first try! OK, he got an assist from the Yacht Club tender, but only because our boat hook was too short! We’ll be investing in a super-size boat hook to guarantee future success (and because we noticed that Robin and Jim have one about as tall as a giraffe).

Prior to grabbing the mooring ball, we had actually anchored on the other side of the island. We felt pretty good that we didn’t panic while anchoring with lighting flashing and thunder booming in close proximity. We had just settled in on the back porch with a cocktail when a Tow Boat U.S. boat pulled up to give us some “local knowledge” that if the wind shifted our boat would swing into rocks that weren’t shown on the chart. YIKES! We swung into action, after finishing our cocktails and waiting for the squall of wind and a few clouds to blow over, hauled anchor and headed to the moorings. Good judgment, eh? We learned that even when an anchorage is listed in the cruise guide as a good anchorage, it pays to get local knowledge before anchoring. As Norm always said on the Great Circle Route, "local knowledge is the best chart".