Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Big Apple

Tonight Sabine is docked in Albany, NY. Her masts were taken down yesterday, and we are in the midst of a crew change. Legendary yacht rigger Charlie and my father-in-law Craig were with us for the lower part of the Hudson River. They’ve vamoosed, and my nieces and nephews Maggie, Krys and Hali will join us tomorrow. Much has happened, and I cannot believe it’s only Wednesday, but first let’s back up to last weekend in NYC.

New Rochelle came and went. We had a few drinks in the restaurant at the marina while I battled land-sickness. I don’t get seasick. I get land-sick. It’s the feeling of vertigo I get when sitting still on land. My inner ear had become accustomed to the constant motion under my body, that once it stopped when I was ashore I felt queasy. The table, though still, seemed to sway right before my eyes. Normally I experience land-sickness when in the shower at home after a trip, or back at my desk on Monday morning. This was a new record for onset of land sickness.

We woke the morning of July 4th and left New Rochelle. Not much to report on in that town. Not a heck of a lot to see there. We went to a movie and walked around a bit. In all, meh. Soon after leaving the dock we were under the Throg’s Neck Bridge, which connects the mainland to Long Island. Then the Whitestone Bridge was next. I lied down on the cabin top to capture Sabine’s mast as it passed under each bridge. After the Whitestone we were officially in Hell’s Gate and into the East River.

Hell’s Gate is the eastern entry into Long Island Sound. It is a narrow opening into a relatively narrow body of water, and again we had to hit the tide just right. Had we caught it on an incoming tide, we would have been battling the force of the tide jamming its way into a narrow opening. The result would be even more force to fight against. However, catching it on an outbound tide meant that we could use the power of the water to our favor.

The City came into view. At first the taller buildings appeared like apparitions in the early morning summery smog. They came into focus as we continued west. We passed Riker’s Island and marveled at how damn big that place is. So big that it continues on a gigantic prison ship anchored across the river. We passed Laguardia Airport, and watched the planes cross directly over us as they approached for a landing.

Soon the river turned south, and Manhattan was on our right, Queens and Brooklyn on the left. The buildings towered above, the Chrysler Building gleamed in the morning sun. Todd beamed from behind the wheel, while Heidi and I snapped hundreds of photos. To the south the Statue of Liberty was a speck on the horizon. Click went the shutter.

We rounded the southern tip of Manhattan and the water opened to where the Hudson and East Rivers meet. Sails were unfurled, diesel shut off, and we glided toward the Statue of Liberty. I smiled at the look of amazement in Todd’s eyes. “We’re here! We’re really here!” he shook his head in awe.

The statue loomed above us. The ‘restricted’ buoys were mere feet from our hull. We were still on the correct side of them, but as close as we could get without passing over them. We tacked back and forth just to fully appreciate where we were and the day we were there, and how we all got there. Then headed north past Ellis Island, and then turned west into Liberty Landing Marina in Jersey City, where Sabine would be tied for the next week. Once we got her settled in, we marveled at the proximity of the city and scurried down the dock to take the water taxi across the Hudson.

We bee-lined for Times Square and stopped to soak in the sounds, sights, signs and scents. We window shopped. We ate gigantic sandwiches at Roxy’s Deli. Then we hopped on a tour bus and rode around the city to kill time until the fireworks over the Hudson. The temperature in the city was in the high 90s and we felt sticky, but it didn’t matter. We were doing what we do best: exploring.

Sunset found us at Riverside Park. We secured a spot along the railing and settled in to watch the show. If you haven’t seen the 4th of July fireworks in New York City, you MUST put it on your bucket list. Macy’s ponies up for the show, and places 5 barges in the river. Then the fireworks display is delivered from the 5 barges simultaneously so that they show is spread for, seemingly, miles up the river. It lasted for a half hour, and toward the end the sulfur smell carried north to where we were standing. I inhaled it deeply, as it is one of my favorite summertime scents.

At the end of the night we packed into a PATH train bound for Jersey. We made our way back to Sabine, knowing that, sadly, we’d have to leave her the next day. But Sean, Heidi and I would head into the city on Monday morning to get one more fix before leaving.

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