Cruising on Island Time

America's Great Loop here we come

Kingston to Morton Bay

Posted on August 4, 2018

Mon, Jul 23. Departed the Portsmouth Harbor Marina in the morning even though it was calling for rain. Turned out to be beautiful and we were on our way to the historic Rideau Canal and another new adventure. The Rideau is in its original condition from when it was built in the early 1800’s and is a World Heritage site. The lock operators open, close and operate the locks by hand cranks. Most of the lock attendants are University students that operate the locks in summer. They are all friendly, professional and very helpful.

This would be our first Canadian locks which are older, smaller and more crowded. The route to Ottawa on the Rideau is 125 miles long and we will be transiting 49 locks over the course of the next week with the first flight only 5 miles out from Kingston. A flight is multiple locks lined together and our first flight would be 4 locks in a row taking us up 45’ in elevation. We would also be buying our seasonal lockage and mooring pass which is unlimited passage and mooring (free walls) at the first lock. We had to purchase a lockage decal for both the Tiara and the dinghy and a mooring pass just for the Tiara. It isn’t cheap but it does give you access to the free walls and many have electric / shore power.

Loopers advise to travel during the weekday as weekends are very busy on the water and in the locks and July is a big vacation / holiday month for Canadians. When we arrived to the first lock, there were already 5 boats in front of us on the blue line and 2 pulled up behind us. There is a blue line and a gray line. If you are tied to the blue line, it lets the lockmaster know that you plan on locking through. If you are on the gray line, it means you are staying put for a few hours or for the night. If you arrive late in the day when the lock is about to close, the lockmaster may allow you to overnight on the blue line if the gray line is full but you have to be prepared to move when the locks open in the morning.

The lockmaster came down to tell us that he would take the first 5 boats and then the last 3. They usually put boats on either side of the wall and cram us in the lock but since we had the dinghy hip-tied, they would not be able to put someone next to us. Did I mention crammed? The first group got in the lock and as soon as they were in the second chamber, we were brought in so only had to wait about 20 minutes. The first flight of 4 locks took us about 90 minutes and it was hot & muggy. So much for rainy or overcast. One funny tidbit was that we had read or heard that in CA you were required to wear your life vest so Bob and I showed up wearing ours. Of course no one else had theirs on so we looked like a couple of rubes so quickly disposed of them.

The canal is supposed to be dredged to a minimum of 5’ but lack of rain can lower this and we saw some skinny water on our first day. We completed 7 locks our first day, which is too much as you are exhausted at the end of the day. But the anchorage we selected for our first stop was spectacular. Most of the boats locking through were planning to stay on the free walls but we opted for a secluded cove called Morton Bay. The entrance to this bay was real narrow as you navigated through the granite boulders but then it opened up. There were a couple of boats rafted off when we entered but they soon left and we had this beautiful spot to ourselves. Loons, Ospreys, high rock cliffs, a few homes and little fish that nibbled at your fingers and toes while swimming. After the long hot day, we so enjoyed diving into the clear cool water. Not as clear as Lake Ontario but still clear. A peaceful and serene evening with grilled salmon for dinner. Life is good!

 

Tue, Jul 24. Took our coffees on the dinghy for a morning cruise to explore the cove which is quite long. We were treated to a mother loon fishing and feeding her one offspring. We cut the engine and sat and watched her with the binoculars for quite some time. We are so enthralled with the loons and their calls since neither of us were ever exposed t0 them in NYC or FL. Got back to the boat and got ready to get underway. Pulled up anchor and it was loaded with mud and weeds which took us 15 minutes to clean off before we could get going. Left our secluded spot and continued on Rideau and to our next flight of 4 locks known as Jones Falls. When we arrived there were 3 houseboats waiting and no room on the blue line so we hung back but then were waved in. Once again, they packed us in and in order to fit as many boats as possible, we had to tie the dinghy off the back but horizontal against the swim platform. Made it through all 4 locks with no problems and enjoyed talking to all the other boats in the lock for the next 90 minutes. They were all amazed that first we had boated up from FL and second that we tow a dinghy that has a 90 hp engine. The big houseboat next to us only had a 50 hp engine so they wanted to know how fast our dinghy could run. We do not know wide open throttle speed but had it up to 30 mph.

We decided ahead of time that we didn’t want to do as many locks as the day before so after our flight of 4, we found our next secluded anchorage off of Birmingham Island. There were a few small boats fishing from time to time but no boats anchored anywhere to be seen. Another beautiful protected cove with more loons to entertain us. It did rain most of the afternoon and evening so we just hung out and relaxed.

Wed to Fri, Jul 25 – 27. Departed our cove with plans to travel to Portland where our friends Dick & Sandi from St. Petersburg on Amazing Grace were docked for some service work. We met Dick & Sandi last year at the AGLCA rendezvous in New Bern, NC and have visited them at their home in St. Pete. We spent 3 delightful days with them at Len’s Cove Marina sharing meals and playing games. Bob and Dick would play Chess; Sandi and I would play Mah Jongg which she had taught me to play when we were staying at their home. We all hopped in the dinghy one afternoon and crossed the bay to explore and swim. The small town of Portland had one restaurant (which we ate at several times), a liquor store, post office and small grocery store all within a 10 minute walk.

 


Sat, Jul 28. Said farewell to Dick & Sandi and departed Portland. The next lock was Smith Falls and 20 miles away. On our way to Smith Falls, Bob and I decided that while Ottawa was a great city that everyone said was a must, we weren’t sure we wanted to travel up another 32 locks, spend a few days there then turn around and transit 49 locks back to Kingston. So decided that Smith Falls, at the halfway mark would be our turn around lock. We docked at the free wall and while we were on our way walking to provision at the Walmart, we met this lovely Canadian couple, Paul & Louise, from Ottawa. They were on their way home and had just bought a 32 Sea Ray in the 1000 Islands and were bringing it home. We all hit it off straight away and ended up doing our shopping with them (they had a cart with wheels and carried our case of water!) so invited them back to the boat for docktails. Paul is a policeman in Ottawa and Louise a law clerk so we all had lots in common and enjoyed a great evening together and hope they will visit someday in Florida.

 


Sun, Jul 29. Departed Smith Falls and made our way back to Big Rideau Lake and took a mooring ball at Colonel By Island which is owned by Parks Canada. We spent a lovely and lazy afternoon and night on a mooring with some swimming and exploring via dinghy. The mooring balls here do not have floating pennants (lines) to grab and attach to your boat so are a bit more challenging to grab. There is a ring on the ball so it is best to approach the mooring ball from your stern / swim platform and thread a line through the ring then walk it up to the bow and tie off. Bob and I nailed it on the first pass and were quite proud. Some of the other boaters weren’t quite as lucky and it was more of a challenge for them to get moored up.

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Mon, Jul 30. Destination today would be Jones Falls which would take us through 4 locks but stop before the flight of 4 locks at Jones Falls. It is really interesting transiting the locks. Usually you talk to other boaters in the lock and also people that are on the lock walls that are watching the process. Of course, most of the boaters were from Canada so they were quite interested in that we were from Florida and wanted to hear all about the Great Loop. We stopped at the free wall on upper Jones Falls and friends Dick and Sandi were down through the locks and docked at Hotel Kenny. We met them for dinner at the hotel and enjoyed a delicious dinner. Since we had caught up with them while they were locking through, we took some photos of their boat in the process.

 


Tues, Jul 31. We transited the flight of 4 locks at Jones Falls and had delightful conversations with Michel & Clare from Montreal on “Festina Lente” whom we had met locking on the previous day. They are planning to do the Loop next year and had recently attended an AGLCA rendezvous. Our destination today would be a short run to the anchorage at Morton Bay. We had enjoyed this cove so much on the way up so invited Dick & Sandi to join us there. We both dropped our anchors and enjoyed a spectacular day swimming, exploring, playing games, and grilling out. At evenings end, we did have some unusual excitement when we noticed heavy black smoke coming from the shore. Bob and Dick took the dinghy over to see what was happening and discovered that a boat was on fire which ultimately burned to the waterline and sank. At one point the boat started drifting in our direction, and Sandi and I started the engines on our boat to pull up anchor and move the boat but it drifted back to shore. The boys came back to retrieve Sandi and I so we could watch the fire boats try to put the fire out. Exciting evening and exciting week. Stay tuned

 

Cape Vincent to Kingston

Posted on July 23, 2018

Tue, Jul 17. Departed Cape Vincent, NY and travelled up the Saint Lawrence River / Seaway to Clayton, NY. Many Loopers have commented on what a great little town it is and it did not disappoint. We opted to stay 2 nights at the marina to explore the town and area. Had lunch at the Wood Boat Brewery and toured the Wood Boat Museum. The water in the St. Lawrence is so clear which would seem unlikely with all the freighters passing by and all the boat traffic. Walked around the town and shops and later had dinner at O’Brien’s. Not very Irish, but good food. After 3 months on the boat, Bob has embraced this lifestyle and is now a “Rasta”.

 

 

Wed, Jul 18. We signed up for the Boldt Castle / 1000 Islands tour via the Clayton Islands tour company and it was really worthwhile. The tour boat took us through both the Canadian & US side of the 1000 Islands. Incredibly beautiful. We had read about navigating through all these islands (large granite rocks with houses on them) and decided it best to tour it with experienced local captains. Boldt Castle is not to be missed. Building of the castle started in 1899 until 1904. George Boldt built it for his beloved wife Louise and planned to give it to her on Valentine’s Day but tragically Louise died 2 months before at age 42. George never set foot on the grounds again and let it fall into disrepair. The 1000 Islands Bridge Authority bought it and has been restoring it to its original condition since 1920. Spectacular buildings and grounds.

Clayton was hosting a Charity Poker Run for the weekend and our marina was about to be invaded with 90 loud speed boats some of which had already arrived and were taking practice runs. Fun to watch but the deafening noise .

 

 

Thur/ Fri, Jul 19-20. Departed Clayton Marina and headed to an anchorage in one of the 1000 Islands – Picton Island. Beautiful quiet setting so we decided to stay 2 nights. Swam, relaxed, toured the 1000 Islands via both our dinghy and the Tiara. We took the Tiara back up to the Boldt Castle area and toured the many islands. The boat traffic on the St. Lawrence and in the American Narrows was very busy (the racers kept whizzing by us at 50 mph or so) in the seaway.and it was Friday so we headed back to our quiet spot. At our anchorage and nearby we were treated to Loons & Swans.

 

 

Sat/ Sun, Jul 21-22. Departed Picton Island and made our way to Kingston, Ontario, CA where we would clear customs and start our visit through Canada. Tried getting into two marinas that were closer into the downtown area but they were completely full. Landed a slip at Portsmouth Olympic Harbor Marina which is about 1.5 miles from the downtown area and next door to the closed Kingston Penitentiary (now a museum). Kingston was the original capital of Canada. During the war of 1812, the capital was moved to Ottawa for fear the Americans would invade and the Rideau Canal was built for travel between the two cities.

In the afternoon, we took an Uber to Grecos Restaurant and Wine Bar and ate at the bar as there was an hour wait for a table. Trip Advisor had it listed as one of the Top Ten restaurants in the area and it didn’t disappoint. Excellent food and service. Johnathan, the son-in-law to the owner, was as congenial as they come. Even treated us to a delicious dessert on the house as a “Welcome to Canada” offering. Afterwards, we walked around the bustling downtown area full of restaurants and shops.

On Sunday, we took an Uber into town and had lunch at Dianne’s Seafood House down by Confederation Park. Food and service excellent and enjoyed talking to Chris the bartender as we dined at the bar. Afterwards, we walked to the grocery store and hailed an Uber back to the boat. Tomorrow we start our adventure on the historic Rideau Canal and make our way through 45 locks to Ottawa.

 

Lake Oneida to Cape Vincent

Posted on July 19, 2018

Tue, Jul 10. Departed early to cross Lake Oneida before the winds picked up (tends to in afternoons) and the lake was glass. Lake Oneida is 20 miles long and 8 miles wide and is the largest lake “within” NY. If the wind is blowing hard, boaters generally wait it out for the weather window.

We were swarmed with small insects for the first hour which was annoying. We later had to wash off at least 1,000 bugs! During the crossing, Bob decided to jump in and check our propellers. Since we had hit a few logs along the trip, we wanted to make sure we did not have dinged or damaged props. The water was refreshing and not terribly clear but mission accomplished and all was well with our props. We also calibrated our auto pilot (which requires spinning the boat) and bleeding the air out of our steering system. A couple of boats (one we knew; one we didn’t) hailed us on the VHF to make sure we were alright. Boaters are generally great people.

Arrived at Winter Harbor Marina in Brewerton, NY late morning. This is more boat yard than marina and operates year round. They offer indoor heated storage for boats during the winter and many of these boats undertake quite a few projects while wintering here from October to May. Lovely grounds with two large storage sheds and the owner’s beautiful home right on the Oneida River. We had made arrangements to have the oil changed on the Tiara and replace the bilge pump on the dinghy. Docked behind and in front of us were Sea Trolley & Still Waters. It’s really fun to keep meeting up with the Loopers we have met along the way.

In the afternoon, we toured the area via our dinghy and stopped at two river front restaurants (Waterfront Tavern & Wild Horse Bar & Grill) for drinks and appetizers.

Wed, Jul 11. The marina has two courtesy cars for the marina guests to use and we hopped in one in the morning and went to grocery store to load up. While I was gone having a much needed pedicure, the mechanic came and did the oil change. Since we had hauled the dinghy out to repair the bilge pump and pressure wash the bottom, we didn’t have it to go cruising in afternoon but took the car and went back to the Wild Horse Bar as they had a Wednesday afternoon special of $5.00 drinks and $5.00 for a dozen steamed clams. Bob and I each had 2 dozen clams. Its funny having the walls of the bar covered with big game instead of big fish.

 

 

Thur/ Fri, Jul 12 -13. While waiting for the dinghy repairs to complete, took the car and went back up to buy a few more items. Had dinner with Rob & Lee from Sea Trolley at Copper Top which was excellent. Finally repairs were completed for both boats in afternoon and we took off for Phoenix, NY. One more lock on the Erie then turned north on the Oswego Canal which is still part of the NY Canal System. The village of Phoenix is home of the famous Bridge House Brats (google if you get a chance). The Brats are the kids that work the docks and park area in the summer and will run and get you anything you want. Kids range from 7 to 18 years old and on Friday and Monday nights folks from town and incoming boaters are treated to a free concert. Menus are provided from several local restaurants and the kids go and fetch your meals. We happened to be there on a Friday night and were treated to a 60’s band. The program was started 20 years ago and it keeps the kids off the streets. Tips appreciated. The friendliest town ever!

Sat/ Sun, Jul 14-15. We departed first thing in morning and transited 7 Locks on the Oswego Canal. This area was prettier than the eastern Erie with beautiful houses, hills, trees and wide open areas. Arrived in Oswego which is at the base of Lake Ontario. Took the dinghy out for a ride out to the lake and met up with Loopers Sea Trolley and Mikey Likes it for docktails. There was a fishing tournament going on and the fisherman were giving away fresh caught salmon so we happily took a large bag (3 dinners) of it. After docktails, Bob and I went over to Alex’s Restaurant on the Water and enjoyed an appetizer for dinner.

 

Sun/ Mon, Jul 15 – 16. We said goodbye to our Looper friends as we would be headed in a different direction. We headed across Lake Ontario to Sackets Harbor and they headed to Kingston, ON. The lake crossing was flat calm and beautiful and the first time we have hit clear water on this trip. Sackets Harbor is a historical town which played a significant role in the War of 1812. Just outside the marina is the Sackets Battlefield Park and we happened to be there on a Sunday afternoon and enjoyed a free Blue Grass concert and the beautiful grounds. Walked about town a bit then Bob went to retrieve the dinghy and met me at a restaurant on the water for a drink. Enjoyed a dinghy cruise around the area, brought home a wedge salad to go with the fresh grilled salmon and enjoyed dinner aboard. They have some interesting insects here. Photo is of a Mag Fly which, according to the research gentleman we spoke to, live their lives in water, come out to spawn then die. We had quite a few of these pretty little guys on the boat and they just stayed put until the end.

Mon / Tue, Jul 16- 17. Departed in morning and decided to jump in the water just outside the harbor entrance. First time we had enjoyed the water since leaving FL. Checked the props again (for weeds mainly) and were on our way to Cape Vincent. Arrived at the free dock that is an environmental research site operated by State of NY. They allow boaters to dock there for free up to 48 hours. Pretty park grounds and convenient walk into the small town. Town folks would come down to the marina basin and go swimming right next to our boat which we would never consider in FL. Water is crystal clear and so we took the dinghy out and went swimming again in the afternoon. A bit chillier this time but so refreshing in the heat. Lake Ontario is the smallest of the 5 great lakes but the deepest. It is 175 miles long and 46 miles wide. Again one of the times where you need to monitor the weather before heading out. Thus far we have had good weather and crossings. It is fun to sit on the boat and watch the freighters, tugs and barges pass by routinely. Well that wraps up another great week on our great adventure. Stayed tuned for more.

 

 

Schenectady to Lake Oneida

Posted on July 10, 2018

Wed, July 4th – Happy Independence Day! Pretty much stayed “in” the boat in the A/C all day to avoid the heat. However, we were rewarded with a wonderful concert and fireworks display while sitting on the back of our boat at the marina. Front row seats to an Eagles Tribute Band (okay the back of the stage) and the best fireworks display either of us have ever seen. It went on and on and was spectacular with patriotic music blaring during the fireworks. Everyone remarked how we had the best seat in the house and had to agree. There were a couple of other Looper boats tied up in front of us and I ended up watching the fireworks from their boat’s flybridge. Loopers Tim & Trisha on vessel Patricia Anne.

Thur / Fri, Jul 5 – 6th. We rented a car on Thurs afternoon and did some re-provisioning. (The usual – groceries, wine & West Marine). On Friday, we decided to take a drive and tour Saratoga Springs. Toured the museum which centers around the history of the town, the mineral springs, the casino (which was illegal but the police looked the other way) and of course the current draw to tourism – the horse races. The town really grew up around the springs which were purported (back then) to be healing springs and people came from all over to bathe and drink from them. Beautiful homes and a population that soars in the summer and around the horses.

Sat, Jul 7th. At last relief from the oppressive heat. Woke up Saturday morning and it had finally cooled down with a morning temp of 58 degrees. Got underway early and not sure how far we would travel but ready to travel. As we pulled out of the marina, Loopers Tike Queen (Karen & Leland) were coming from the east. We both entered Lock 8 together but they were not able to exit. They were having problems with their transmissions and were stuck in neutral so they were stuck in the lock. They were able to get going again later but that wasn’t the last of their problems as they ended up getting towed to a boat yard on Monday after lock 22.

We kept going and stopped right after Lock 15 on the “Free Wall”. Along the Erie Canal and in many places in Canada and on the inland rivers, there are walls to tie up on either side of the locks. Many let you tie up for the night and many don’t have electric or water but its free. The lock 15 wall did have one electric box and we were the only one there for the night. Saw our first commercial traffic as we were tied to this wall; a tug pushing a barge and a passenger cruise vessel (Blount Small Ship which was on a 2 week cruise from Chicago to New York City). The tug captain sped by us and waked us really bad which threw us into the wall.

Another cool night so we opened up the hatches and enjoyed sleeping in the 58 degree weather. In the morning, the fog was really heavy but lifted fairly quickly and we were on our way.

 

Sun, Jul 8. Transited Locks 16 thru 18 with a stop in Ilion, NY. The marina is really an RV park with a concrete wall to tie up. The Remington Gun factory is nearby and open for tours but we didn’t get out to explore. Lock 17 is the town of Little Falls and the lock there is the highest of the Erie with an elevation of 40′. The town looked quaint and probably should have stayed there instead but since Bob was working to complete a report, the lesser distractions at Ilion were probably better.

Mon, Jul 9. Destination Sylvan Beach on Lake Oneida and 4 more Locks on the Erie. Ended up locking through with Loopers on The Journey whom we had met at Mohawk Harbor. Lock 19 was a bit of a challenge in that they were only opening one side of the lock door so we had to scramble to tow the dinghy behind the boat until we got in the lock (we were too wide with it hip-tied) then scramble to hip-tie it before grabbing the lock lines to prepare for the locking process. The lockmaster wasn’t impressed when I told him what we were planning as his response was “Whatever”. That got a laugh from all of us that heard him on the radio.

Locks 21 & 22 are now dropping you down on the westbound. Going down is easier than going up as it is less turbulent. Upon exiting Lock 22, our friends on Tiki Queen were once again without transmissions and getting hooked up to Tow Boat US and a tow to Brewerton. They waved at all the Loopers at Mariners Landing (there were 4 of us) as they went by “parade style”. Had docktails with the gang of 4 boats in the screened in Tiki hutch then went on a dinghy exploration ride out into Lake Oneida.

So we have concluded our historic trip down the eastern Erie Canal (128 miles & 22 Locks) and will next venture into the Oswego Canal then up to Lake Ontario and Canada. Tomorrow we cross Lake Oneida to Brewerton. Stayed tuned.

 

Poughkeepsie to Schenectady

Posted on July 4, 2018

Wed / Thur, Jun 27-28. Departed Poughkeepsie Yacht Club and headed the short distance (10 miles) to Kingston, NY arriving there late morning. Took a slip at the City Marina which is right downtown. Several good restaurants and the Hudson River Maritime Museum within a 2 minute to 5 minute walk. There were several Looper boats here (Sea Trolley, Mikey Likes it, & Hardwork) and we gathered for “docktails” at the picnic table next to the slips. The first night we dined at Mariner’s Club and second night at Old Savannah Club. Both very good.

In the morning and in the rain, Bob and I took a long tender ride up the river to where it ends at Eddyville Falls which is half water fall – half spillway. Later in the day, we toured the Maritime Museum which was centered around the Hudson River’s history, river boats and commerce. We truly have enjoyed going to all these museums and learning about the area’s history.

Fri / Sun/Mon, Jun 29 – Jul 1. Our Looper convoy was headed to Shady Harbor Marina in New Baltimore, NY and since we didn’t have our next destination planned decided to join the gang and arrived in the afternoon. Beautiful marina right on the Hudson with a great restaurant, Boat House Grill, on property.  It is amazing to sit on your boat and watch a huge cargo freighter or barge pass close by. First night, we dined in the bar area and watched a Yankee’s / Red Sox’s game. Second night, we dined with 3 other Looper boats (Texas Two Step, Sea Trolley, & Mikey Likes it).

They are having a heat wave with alerts here and so we have spent much time in the comfort of our air conditioned cabin on the boat. The heat index is 107 degrees and if the water looked more inviting we would be in it. I don’t ever remember being in such hot weather. Dined on the boat but met with the Looper gang at 7:00pm under the trees.

Originally, our plans were to take the Lake Champlain route instead of turning left or west after the Troy Federal Lock just past Albany, NY. However, since we have no ties to the Champlain route and are enjoying our Looper friends, we decided that we would alter our plans and take the Erie Canal route.

So Monday morning all the boats headed out and we met up in Waterford, NY at the free town dock. Before arriving in Waterford, we had to pass through our second lock of the trip. The Troy Federal Lock is a huge lock (just under 500′ long) as it transits both commercial and recreational traffic. Since it was originally built for commerce, the pipes to tie on to are 75′ apart and is challenging for the recreational boater. We had to tie our bow line and stern line to the same pipe and as the water rises or falls in the lock, you need to adjust accordingly. And of course, our additional challenge is the dinghy which we hip-tied. All went smoothly and soon we joined our friends at Waterford. Would have loved to provide a photo but our hands were occupied with locking through.

Monday night 6 Looper boats (12 of us) met for dinner at McGreivey’s restaurant and pub for dinner. In addition to Sea Trolley, Mikey Likes it, and Texas 2 Step, we were joined by Tiki Queen and gold loopers Still Waters. Great food in a place you wouldn’t expect (as some of these towns look pretty depressed) and the company fun. Bob snuck over to the bar to watch the Yankee’s game for a bit and met Ed who works on the Erie Locks we were to transit on Tuesday.

Tues, Jul 3. The historic Erie Canal! Or our first locks on our way west. Waterford is next to Lock #2 of the Erie so our entire group departed first thing in the morning to try and beat the oppressive heat. We were to transit Locks 2 – 7 today with each lock taking about 30 minutes or more. Locks 2 – 5 are called the “Flight of Five” and they are only about a 1/4 mile apart and take you up to 181′ in elevation (about 35′ per lock) going west. The first few, while you are getting routine down are a bit tense and the heat and diesel fumes don’t help. But we got our routine down and Ed (who works the Locks ) was on top of Lock 3 and took some photos of us. You can see in the photo how far down we are when entering the lock and how high we come up.
Arrived in Schenectady, NY at Mohawk Harbor Marina and will enjoy the 4th of July festivities and a few days here. More about the 4th and our continuing adventure next week.

 

 

 

Cape May to Poughkeepsie

Posted on June 28, 2018

Sun/ Mon, June 17-18. Departed Cape May at 6:00am and the ocean was glass the entire run to NY. Arrived to Great Kills Yacht Club in Staten Island, NY around 1:00. There are only two places on the Loop that you head out in the ocean and you have to wait for your weather opportunity; Cape May, NJ to New York and Mobile, AL to Tarpon Springs, FL. The run to New York in the ocean is about 120 miles in one shot but if the weather gets bad there are a few safe inlets to enter (Atlantic City, Barnegat, Manasquan) if you want to break it up.

The highlight of the trip was when a 8’ thresher shark kept jumping out of the water. It must have jumped a dozen times at least. Since it was a Sunday, Father’s Day and a beautiful day it was rather crazy transiting the harbor to the entrance to the Great Kills Yacht Club. Boats coming at you from every direction. Made it in safely and were greeted by the Great Kills Harbor Host, John, to direct us into our slip. We were surrounded by 4 other Looper boats and expect we will see them all along the way.

On Monday, we took an Uber to the train station, the train to the Staten Island Ferry and the ferry over to Battery Park where we offloaded and walked to the 911 Memorial Museum. Very impressive and very somber museum. We opted for the foundation membership which included a self-guided audio tour narrated by Robert De Niro with commentary by many others who were involved that tragic day. If you haven’t been to the museum, you should go next time in NY. Spent a few hours there, had lunch in the city then back via walk, ferry, train, and Uber.

Tuesday, June 19th – Croton on the Hudson. Departed early and headed up New York Harbor past the Statute of Liberty, Ellis Island, & Manhattan and up the Hudson to Half Moon Bay Marina in Croton-on-Hudson. We had passed Liberty Island while on the ferry yesterday and other times on other harbor cruise boats, but it is pretty cool passing it on your own boat. Dodging all the ferries, ships, tugs, and barges kept us on our toes until we got to the George Washington Bridge. Cruising the Hudson is so beautiful with high rock cliffs on either side and past The Palisades on the NJ side which became a world heritage site in 1983. The word Palisades means defensive wall or fence and there is much history surrounding these beautiful cliffs.

Wed – Sat, Jun 20-23rd. Decided to fly home to check on things and surprise my mom so we rented a car and Bob drove me to LaGuardia on Wednesday. Bob utilized his time by driving by his old neighborhood, grammar school and house, seeing a Yankees game, Board meetings for 2 days (National Scholastic Chess Foundation), and driving around beautiful upstate NY. I had a delightful time seeing my mom and brother, friends, and the house. Bob picked me up on Saturday and we had lunch at a diner that he use to frequent when living in NY, toured the Croton Dam in the afternoon and in evening met two of his fellow NSCF board members at a great Indian restaurant for dinner.

Sunday, Jun 24th. Bob suggested we take a scenic drive so we headed to the US Military Academy at West Point. Went south to cross the Tappan Zee Bridge and north to the Academy’s visitor’s center which we toured. The view of the Hudson from the visitor’s center high on the cliff is spectacular and the history impressive with so many of our nation’s great leaders having graduated from West Point. On the way back to the marina, we crossed over the Bear Mountain Bridge and toured the lush and hilly back roads.

Monday, June 25th. Continued our cruise north up the beautiful Hudson to a mooring ball at the Poughkeepsie Yacht Club. The wind was blowing briskly from the north so it was a bit bumpy. Along the way we were boarded by the NY Police Marine Unit for a safety check. All good and we were on our way but it was challenging during the stop to keep the boat pointed into the wind and not running over the towing line of the tender. Arrived at the Yacht Club in the afternoon and enjoyed a nice evening on the mooring watching the geese, herons and a magnificent bald eagle. One of the yacht club members, called a steward, generally is around to greet visitors but he was out with health reasons so we didn’t get to enjoy the camaraderie of the members.

 


Tuesday, June 26th. Had lunch reservations at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) in Hyde Park and grabbed an Uber to get there. The meal was delicious. Bob had the lamb chops and I decided to have the duck. Best duck I’ve ever had and served very different than anything I’ve ever had. It was sliced thin like tenderloin and almost tasted like it. Should have taken a photo of our plates as the meals were plated beautifully and not with your everyday compliments. The CIA has several restaurants on property (American bistro, French, Italian and a bakery) and are worked by the students with chef professors directing them. The grounds were beautiful and overlooked the Hudson River. Highly recommend.

After the CIA, we took an Uber to the Vanderbilt Mansion for a tour of the property. Frederick & Louise Vanderbilt bought the property in late 1800’s for $120,000 (700+ acres) then spent about $2 million on renovations and furnishings. ($1.4 million in furnishings from Europe). They were seasonal residents and only lived there Fall thru Spring. Since they had no children of their own, they willed the property to their favorite niece when they passed but she didn’t want it as it was during the Depression and she didn’t want the expense of another mansion. She sold it for $200,000 to a local who loved the property. It was later donated to the State in 1940 for a tax write off and has been a National Historic Landmark since then. After touring the 54 room mansion, we walked the 2.3 miles back to the marina as there were no Uber cars available and spotted a deer in the woods right before arriving at the marina. Spent another delighted afternoon/ evening watching the traffic on the Hudson, the birds and our friend the Eagle.
That wraps up another great week on our great adventure. Stay tuned for more.

 

Solomon’s Island to Cape May

Posted on June 19, 2018

Sun/ Mon, June 11/12 – Solomon’s Island, MD. Started the day with a power walk along the boardwalk which was scenic and gave me a chance to check out the restaurants, shops, and art galleries. The morning was chilly and there was a man that was swimming off the beach in the Patuxent River at the start of the boardwalk. By the time I returned to this spot he was in the middle of the river which is 1 mile across. Crazy because had a boat come flying by they would not have seen him. Ended the day with dinner at Kingfisher’s via our dinghy.

Tues/ Thurs, June 12/14 – Annapolis, MD. Took a mooring ball for 2 nights and thoroughly enjoyed Annapolis. One of the highlights of our trip thus far. The tour of the U.S. Naval Academy was impressive. The grounds, the history and the information about the screening / application process was all very interesting. Only those candidates who excel in academics, physical fitness and leadership are accepted to the academy which is about 1,200 per year out of about 17,000 applications. We also toured the Maritime Museum and learned about oystering then and now.

Pusser’s Landing was our favorite happy hour stop (twice) for the 1/2 price oysters, appetizers, and drinks. Good wine and pain killers. The highlight of the stop in Annapolis was the Wednesday night sailboat races. The sailboats come racing into the harbor, through the mooring field and sometimes are just a couple of feet away. These sailors are really skilled. Bob and I just sat there mesmerized. Priceless. Would highly recommend Annapolis if you haven’t been. Beautiful harbor, great restaurants and pubs, water taxi’s, harbor sailing cruises, the yacht with the helicopter taking off and landing, etc.

Thurs/ Fri, June 14/15 – Baltimore, MD. Took a slip at the City’s Inner Harbour Marina. We had hoped to walk to the stadium and watch the Orioles play the Marlins but it was to be the following night and we weren’t staying. While the Inner Harbor is pretty, we decided to tour the area via our dinghy instead of walking downtown. Lots of chain restaurants and stores with a big city feel. Sirens wailing at all hours. There was a nice restaurant on property, Rusty Scupper, and we enjoyed the happy hour specials and drinks. More oysters and a couple of salads and good wine. We did have a local guy wash and wax our boat which really needed it. So again we contributed to the local economy.

Fri/ Sat, June 15/16- Cape May, NJ. We departed Baltimore early and intended to go to either Chesapeake City, MD or Delaware City, DE depending on the weather. Most Loopers stop at one of these spots before crossing the Delaware River & Bay to Cape May. The winds had kicked up in the last few days and it was bumpy. The Tiara handles it fine but the tender under tow does not. We were making good time and decided to keep going to Cape May, NJ as the winds and tides were in our favor and we wanted to catch the weather window on the weekend to head to NY. Loopers are cautioned about making the crossing with opposing winds and currents or strong winds. The crossing was great and we docked at Canyon Club Resort Marina in late afternoon.

Sat / Sun, June 16/ 17. Took our coffees and cruised in our tender around Cape May and out to the ocean. We hadn’t been in the ocean since leaving Fort Lauderdale. The ocean was flat calm as predicted and we are hoping tomorrow will be more of the same on our way to New York Harbor. In the afternoon, the boats that had been out fishing all day (and some all night) came back and most were loaded up with fish. One particular boat had 5 tuna’s that weighed between 80 – 100 pounds. Another fisherman had a huge cooler filled with tile fish. Of course these guys have to go about 120 miles offshore to the Canyons but obviously well worth the trip.

I was pleasantly surprised when while talking to our boat neighbor that lives here in Cape May, Bob asked him where the West Marine store was located. It really was within walking distance but this stranger gave Bob the keys to his Lexus (a really nice one) since he wasn’t going to be needing it for a couple of hours. Bob said “but I don’t even know your name” and he responded “Jay”. So off we went in this really nice car to West Marine and the grocery store. Unbelievable how gracious and generous other boaters and Loopers are! And all the people here at the marina have been so nice.

So its been another great week of action packed adventure. Too little time, too many places to see and not enough blog space to share all of it. Stay tuned.