And good riddance, Long Island Sound.
Day 9, October 22
In Port Jefferson, on Long Island, we wandered back to the boat after dinner at The Pie of Port Jeff, as the northwest gale was winding down. It was clear, crisp, cold. We got the pups off the boat for their last walk ashore, and talked about plans for the next day. Time to move on.
The weather forecast was good: five to ten knots out of the southwest, one foot seas, and sun in the afternoon. We had hope. Perhaps we could make some progress along our journey, after a maddening first week of just over 100 tough and unpleasant miles in the right direction. We planned an early start, with the East River and Manhattan in our sights. We hoped to make it at least to Liberty Landing in New Jersey right behind the Statue of Liberty, or better yet, Atlantic Highlands, inside Sandy Hook at the top of the Jersey Shore.
I was awake early and checked the weather forecast. It was stable, the same as the night before Southwest at Five to ten. Station reports along Long Island sound unfortunately told a different story. It was still blowing 18 – 20 almost everywhere, and out of the northwest not southwest. Long Island Sound was not going to let us off easily.
We eased out of our slip shortly after sunrise. The harbor was calm, but we could see clearly that out in the sound conditions were still on the rough side. On the way out of the channel between the breakwaters, Bruce was on deck changing the wiper blades. They needed to be swapped but, really? Now? He finished it up in the nick of time.
The sound was indeed uncomfortable. We kept the throttle back and tried to find a comfort level at seven to eight knots. The boat rose and fell in constant motion, sometimes uncomfortably so. Spray doused the windshield at regular intervals. Three sailboats were beating slowly against the weather. We were happy to be on The Dark Side. As we passed different headlands and shoal areas it became sometimes worse, sometimes better, but it wasn’t until we passed Port Washington, with the New York shoreline drawing close aboard to the north, that the sea state began to lie down enough for us to add some throttle and pick up speed.
We took advantage of the relative calm to enjoy an early lunch before getting into the thrill ride of the East River and New York. I cooked up a plate of the nice Polish lady’s pierogis, from the farmers market the day before, for Bruce, and some falafel, hummus, tatziki and tahini sauce for me. Yum! We were fueled up for the run down the East River.
The good news: we were, at last, going to get out of Long Island Sound and put some miles under our keel!
We passed the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point to port, and City Island to starboard. The Throgs Neck Bridge — the official end of Long Island Sound and the official start of the East River — lay ahead in our sights. As it is for every yachtsman traveling under the Throgs Neck Bridge and into the East River for the first time, we were excited. Hell Gate and Manhattan were just ahead.
We had fair current, almost peak. It started out at half a knot, then one knot, then two knots. It was an easy ride, smooth and fast. A few other yachts, both sail and power, were headed both east and west under power. It remained gray out with a threat of drizzle, but otherwise not unpleasant, especially in our warm and dry pilot house.
Hell Gate was a piece of cake. The current was running with us at about five knots. The water was flat and fast, with just one or two minor whirlpools that nudged us left and right. We turned to the south along Manhattan, and the game of dodgeball with the water taxis and ferries began.
It was easy, really. Everyone kept their space and distance. We enjoyed the views. I used to live and work in Manhattan so it was fun to see all the familiar sights pass by from a new perspective. Bruce put Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” on the stereo and we rolled south. It was good fun, and such a relief to be in flat water and making tracks!
Even better, it was just after noon as we rounded the southern tip of Manhattan and the conditions remained favorable for us to push south to Atlantic Highlands, twenty miles away. Lady Liberty stood proud. The Staten Island Ferry charged past us, headed for Manhattan.
We picked our way through the maze of anchored barges, tugs pushing loads, a British aircraft carrier, and the buzz of fast small craft. Soon we were back by ourselves, the chaos back in the distance, enjoying a pleasant ride towards the Jersey Shore. The Verrazano Narrows Bridge loomed ahead, and I could think only of the tens of thousands of runners who would be tackling it in two weeks time for the New York City Marathon. Very exciting.
Our next challenge: picking the weather and negotiating the trip down the Jersey Shore.
Day miles: 78, Day Hours: 7:40
Trip Miles: 198