Sunday, July 18, 2010

Newburgh, Catskill and Hudson—Oh My!

The spot where we anchored was just south of Newburgh, NY. On the shore there was a water pump house built in 1917 that pumps river water into pipes that carry it all the way to NYC. I always marvel at how water arrives to cities from far flung places. (For example, Boston’s water comes from the Quabbin Reservoir, which is in the dead center of Massachusetts. So, there are pipes that traverse half the state of Massachusetts to bring that water to Boston.)

We parked ourselves on a dock at a marina in Newburgh. Todd took a taxi to get more supplies from the supermarket, I walked the dogs, Charlie and Craig got showers at the marina. Not a hell of a lot to see in Newburgh, and thus started the trend of these not at all picturesque towns on a very pretty river. It made me not want to get off the boat and explore at all.

We continued north until we passed Catskill and anchored in a spot just north of another bridge. It was another sweltering day, so the bathing suits came on and we dinghied ashore to swim from an island camp ground on the east side of the river. Nemo explored the island by land while Griffen explored from the water. We swam and splashed, then made our way back to the boat.

We learned that a marina in Catskill was the best place to get the masts taken off in preparation of the eventual trip through the locks and into Champlain. We arranged for that all to happen the next day. Then Todd and I jumped into the dinghy and headed a few minutes north in search of ice cream in Hudson.

We tied up to the Hudson Power Boaters Association dock and walked into town. We passed a housing project, where families beat the heat by sitting out on their stoops. Then we passed a run down street of row houses that I am sure were once fabulous and could be once more if someone could be bothered to spruce them up. Then we turned down a street with boarded up windows, and a feeling of desperate sadness, until we found our way into a rundown convenience store. We didn’t speak very much on that walk.

We returned to the boat where we grilled up some dinner and lounged on the boat with books and laptops. Todd sat in the air chair, which is a canvas chair that hooks to a halyard (rope that raises sail) on the main mast. The chair dangled unnaturally way off the starboard side of the boat. Sabine tipped over, and I heard our things falling off of the tables and counters below.

“Todd, knock it off. You’re making everything fall down below,” I groused at him. He swung back to the center of the boat, but she remained tipped over to the right. The four of us silently exchanged glances. I don’t remember who said it, but out came “Holy shit. We’re aground.”

We looked at the waterline on shore and saw that the outbound tide had dropped the water level about 5 feet. Sabine’s hull sunk into the mud. Todd promptly detached the air chair and clipped that halyard to the dinghy in hopes that he could pull her out. Instead she righted for a moment and simply flopped onto her port side. We flopped her back onto starboard and knew we’d have to wait until the tide would come back in so we could free her.

Todd checked the tide schedule on the iPad and learned that the tide would be inbound somewhere around midnight. Meanwhile, it was still outbound. Less water to support Sabine would mean that she’d lie on her side even more. Eventually she rolled over to a 35 degree angle. To get anywhere inside the boat, we walked on the walls. My stomach lurched and my hands shook a bit. “What if we’ll be stuck here for days?” and “What if this damages her hull?” bounced around in my head. Todd and Charlie didn’t seem that concerned, however I was pretty scared.

“Hey, look!” Todd joked. “I’m in the matrix.” He stood with his feet against the panel that contains the fridge.  His upright body was at a diagonal compared to the rest of the interior of the boat. I handed Charlie my camera and then the evening disintegrated into laughing our asses off at the odd angles at which we stood. Charlie took the pictures with the camera lined up so it looked like we were standing at 45 degree angles from the floor.

There was nothing left to do but wait for the tide to come back in. I tried to sleep, but my bed was near vertical at that point. I was too tired to read, and too exhausted to brace myself against a wall. I moved over to the bunk in the main salon and tried to make myself a nest in there where I eventually dozed off.

Then with a jolt Sabine was upright. The tide had come in to the point where the water slipped between the hull and the mud and she sprang back into her rightful position. I jumped behind the wheel, Todd at the anchor windlass, Charlie and Craig analyzing the channel markers and depth sounder to see where we could reset the anchor in deeper water. The tide would turn outbound again in the morning, and we would find ourselves in the same exact position once again if we didn’t move.

The anchor was reset and the sound of exhausted snoring filled the boat.

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