Saturday, September 8, 2018

Little Triangle Loop, Week #10, 25-31Aug018, NYC AND CONNECTICUTT

      We are not in much of a hurry to get out of this marina this morning. It is low tide when I get up, and I well remember the problems we had getting in to Cornetta's Marina and Restaurant in Piermont. We are ready and get underway about 10. The tide is about 3/4 way up now. We back out of the slip easily versus the dragging we did going in this past Friday. I had watched other boats going out this morning, and change my route out to parallel the pier, and stay closer than what the charts would imply you should do. The water appears to be 1-2' deeper this way, even given the tide difference. After we clear the end of the dike or "Pier", we slowly pick up to cruising speed. We come to one of New Jersey's State Marinas and I call them on the radio. They do not answer until I get in front of the opening of their bulkhead. The attendant states their depth is only about 2' at the service dock. We proceed farther down the river. We are in front of the NJ Palisades in this section of the Hudson River, but NY City can be seen in the curve beyond them.
Most of the traffic this morning is fisherman and high speed boats headed, I presume, to the city. About 10 miles past the first New Jersey marina, we come to the second one, Edgewood, and they can take us in. We get a pump out and then top the fuel tank off. An hour later we are headed up what is called the "East River" through New York City. The current is falling out of the river and I have to run at 85% power to make 5-7kt, or about half the normal speeds for this given rpm. If we had thought the traffic around the Statue of Liberty was bad, this is twice as bad.
There are more water taxis with more docks to pull up to, the same big sight seeing boats, dinner cruises, and of course the pleasure craft transiting through. We pass one sail boat, and I am thinking that he is going full power to make 1-2 knots against this current. This "River" has a reputation, and passing through it is recommended only on slack tides. It even has an area where the Harlem River breaks off, where the reputation is bad enough that the name is "Hell Gate" for this curvy intersection. It takes over an hour and a half to get to Rikers Island where the current has decreased to about half what it was. The current has not really slowed, the river is just twice as wide here to pass the same volume of water. In another 30 minutes we have passed La Guardia Airport, and are at Worlds Fair Marina. There are actually two docking areas here, and they put transient boaters in the first one which is being rehabilitated. The dock master comes from the other location and gets us checked in.
We are across the Interstate from CITIField where the Mets play. We need to do laundry, so I go to the site of the other marina to check out the laundry. It is 3/4 mile away, with one washer and one dryer. The only consolation is that they are free. Back at the boat, I get our collapsible wagon out, as we decide to postpone dinner and get laundry done first. We do the most critical things, underwear, shorts for me, lightweight shirts for both of us. It is well after dark when we get back to SummerTime. Barbara fixes a quick dinner, and we both retire. The clean clothes can wait to be put away.
       This Sunday we will not get to a church. I had "Googled" "churches near me", and the closest one was nearly a mile away. Walking that will mean more like a mile and a quarter at least. I have learned that "Googles" first distance measurement is "as the crow flies". When you actually ask for the directions, then you learn that there a few twists and turns in the route, making it longer than the search stated. About 12:30 we head over to CITIField to see the NY Mets play the Washington Nationals. We are in our seats well before the 1:10 game start, even though the walk off of the pier is 1/4 mile. Lunch is a ball park hot dog, "Nathans" in this case. The first 6 innings are slow, and then the Nationals, who have been dominated by the Mets up to this moment, wake up. At the end of 9 innings, the Nationals win 15 to 0. We retired to SummerTime to rest for Monday's journey. We have decided we have some time before we have to be back in Hampton. We are going to go into Long Island Sound and do some touring.
       Monday morning we secure everything and head out from Worlds Fair Marina. We follow a tug out of the channel thinking that he will guide us through the rocky areas on the charts. This plan works to just before the last bridge before the sound. The tug is pushing an empty barge, and moves out of the main channel over to an anchorage to tie this barge to another empty one that is staged in the anchorage.
So much for that plan, as the rocky area is just ahead at the beginning of the sound. We proceed on into the sound with the route I had input into  the chart plotter earlier in the morning. We are headed to Norwalk, CT. There is an old town shopping area there as well as an aquarium. There is little wind on the sound, so our ride is smooth. There is no commercial traffic, but a lot of fast pleasure craft and sail boats. There is also a lot of fishermen on the sound trying to catch fish.
We are pretty close to being in the middle of Long Island Sound so there is not a lot sightseeing. You can see both sides, as the sound is narrow in this lower part, but not see the shores good enough to sight see. As we near Norwalk, we start to see some big boats commercial fishing. There are a number of islands off of Norwalk, and the first one has a lighthouse on it. It is easy to tell you have come to the right spot with landmarks like that to navigate to. We follow the channel on up to Norwalk Cove Marina, just inside and off of the mouth of the river. The dock hand meets us and helps us tie up in our assigned slip. It is warm and we visit the marina store as we wait for SummerTime to cool. After dinner, Barbara does the laundry she could not do with the 1 machine restriction at Worlds Fair Marina.
       Tuesday we take advantage of the Marina's shuttle to the business district of South Norwalk (SoNo). The driver drops us at the Post Office, we mail our documents, and then walk the street back to the aquarium. It is a nice aquarium, geared mainly on local salt water life. They do have some harbor seals swimming in a pool, as they are a native species here in the winter.
 I am disappointed to read the seals are only here from September to March. The guide book stated you could see them around the Sheffield Islands so I was planning to see them going out by the Islands leaving Norwalk. This aquarium also has a lot of jellyfish, and many species. I learn more about different species of jellyfish, and their lives, than I ever thought was possible. I thought they were a colony of one cell animals that sting people. They do not have a brain, but they do understand their environment and how to work together to survive in it. The Norwalk aquarium has been studying jellyfish since before the turn of the century, and they actually breed and sell jellys to other aquariums. We leave the aquarium to go get lunch at a Mexican Restaurant across the street. The menu is not the typical taco and burrito fare, and the unique dishes are very tasty. We hurry back to the Aquarium as it has an Imax theatre and entry to one show was part of our admission. We watch a documentary on "Great White Sharks". Why not, we are closer to Amityville than we have ever been before. After the film, we go to the downtown area to check out the shops. We walk on two streets, but do not see anything that interests us. We go to C-town grocery and pick up some items for the coming week. We call the marina for our return shuttle ride.
       On Wednesday morning we have to make a decision. I originally wished to go at least to Mystic Seaport, another day and a half at SummerTime's cruise speed. Thursday is the last day weather wise in the coming week to make the trip from NY harbor to Manasquan, NJ. This stretch has to be done in the Atlantic Ocean, there are no sheltered passages. The forecast is for this coming Friday to the Tuesday after Labor Day to be high winds and some rainy days. If we proceed to Mystic, and the weather stays bad, we could be stuck in Long Island Sound area until another weather window opens up. If we leave today (Wednesday) we can get to Sandy Hook, and be ready to do the Atlantic travel on Thursday in relatively calm conditions. We decide to turn back towards the good weather crossing. We will have to see Mystic by car on another day. We depart Norwalk Cove Marina, and go out between some of the Sheffield Islands. We pass by commercial fishing boats dredging for oysters. Oysters are one of the resources that made Norwalk prominent along the Connecticut coast. This boat has what looks like a small mountain of oysters on the fore deck.
When I ate oysters a lot, I do not think I could have eaten as many in a lifetime as i see on the deck of that one boat. After getting outside the islands, we head SummerTime towards the East River entrance off Long Island Sound. We meet a ship, which surprises me to some extinct. It is a small freighter, probably carrying freight to some smaller New England port from NYC.
I should not be surprised, as the LI Sound is suited for vessels like this to travel in. We get to the East River, pass by La Guardia Airport, and the tide is falling. Today we will be traveling with this strong, swift current. There is a lot less traffic today on this route through the City. The water taxis are all still rushing around, but a lot of the excursion and personal boats are gone.
We hit NY Harbor much quicker than leaving it this past Saturday. As we turn south down the Hudson, a car transport ship pulls away from the dock in NJ. They are easily recognized as they have tall slab sides, and a heavy ramp folded flat against the stern of the ship. It is headed to the open ocean for a crossing. They sit high out of the water all the time, so you do not know if they are empty or loaded. When you see one of these car transporters coming into this country, you know they are most likely loaded. When they are leaving, you do not know if they are empty, as there are some vehicles shipped from the US to other countries.
After this transporter gets under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, he picks up speed. We continue on to the south to Raritan Bay at Sandy Hook. We are plotted into the marina at Atlantic Highlands, NJ. We are careful on entry as the US Navy has a pier extending way out into the bay. We take care not to encroach on their space. Atlantic Highlands told us when we made reservations we would be at a fixed dock. It did not prepare us for what we got. The pier itself is substantial, but the height is way more than we have had in past partially due to the 6' tide range. Also, a lot of piers after Hurricane Sandy were rebuilt higher. Sandy came in on high tides, and the storm surge caused a lot of damage due to boats being above the piers they were moored to. At any rate, there is a ladder there that we use to get off and on SummerTime's deck.
We eat on board, though there is a nice little developed downtown area by the waterfront. After dinner we walk along the wide walkway to the downtown area. There is a new creamery with reviews boasting good their ice cream is. It is bout a 1/2 mile walk, but worth it. I get a mocha with chocolate bits in it on a waffle cone. I do not think the flavor I get is any better than Stewart's Brew Ha Ha, but their homemade waffle cone is very tasty. We walk back to SummerTime on the other side of the street to check out the other restaurants and antique/art/gift/souvenir shops that seem to be in all these little town waterfronts.
       Thursday morning the weather is nice as forecast. We get away from Atlantic Highlands and go the short route to the point at Sandy Hook. We pass by the CG station where there small boats are, and there is one of the bigger 80' boats anchored just a short distance from the station. On the point of land that separates Raritan Bay from the Atlantic Ocean. There are boats next to the breakers on this point fishing as well as people up on the beach casting into the surf.
After we clear the point, I put SummerTime on the initial heading parallel to the beach to get us back to our re-entry point at Manasquan Inlet, NJ. We ride along about 2-3 miles off shore, enough to be in good water depths, but still able to sight see what is on the shore. Off the beaches between Sea Bright and Belmar, NJ, I see a sight I have never seen from one our own boats in all of my years of boating. The small bait fish are all balled up in several groups. At one of the farther groups I see what I am pretty sure is a whale feeding on them. I yell for Barbara to get the camera. She does, and manages to get several pictures as it surfaces while feeding and breathing.
WHALE FEEDING OFF NJ COAST (bottom left in photo)
We do not try to get too close as Federal laws regulate how close one can get to marine mammals, in particular whales. We discuss this sighting, and think it may be either a minke or finback. We saw both on a whale watching trip in Nova Scotia several years prior. We learned on the Nova Scotia trip that photographing whales is very hard. They disappear, you do not know where they are going to come up, when they do surface it is only for seconds, and they are gone again to come up who knows where. The best way to capture one in pictures is to use video. We can not do that today as I did not clear the card on the camera with the video feature. The rest of the outside passage to Manasquan Inlet is kind of anti-climatic. We enter the inlet with several fishing boats and one crew vessel from an offshore dredge. One boat is in a hurry and passes several boats moving slowly in the confined channel of the inlet. When we get the approximately 1 mile in, this bigger boat is waiting like everyone else, but in the middle of the channel. Even the crew boat captain is unsure of how to approach him. While everyone is milling about trying to see what this big boat is going to do next, the railroad bridge closes to boat traffic.  This is a tough inlet to be coming in on a boat. There is a railroad bridge which serves the NYC-NJ commuter trains so that the bridge closes to boat traffic every so often. There is a warning siren, and down it goes.
It is scheduled train service, so boats that transit the inlet daily can make their transits around the train schedules. About a quarter mile after the R/R bridge is a highway bridge which has to be opened for any traffic taller than 30', which is all sail boats and fisherman with tuna towers. We go down the Pleasant Point Canal into Barnegat Bay. We go slow in Barnegat Bay as it is shallow but even at our slow speed we get to the Toms River  Marina well before the closing time. We stop in at the main dock at Lighthouse Point marina for a slip assignment, and then move to the dock they have assigned us to. This is a nice marina with plenty of resident boaters. It reminds me of Brands Marina where we kept SummerTime for 3 years while living in Ohio. We are told that there are restaurants close by, and "Google Maps" shows that there are. One of the regular boaters here comes over as we walk off SummerTime. He introduces himself as Luis, and notes that our boat is from Carolina Beach near where his "new to him" boat came from. He also inquires if we are doing "The Great Loop" as he has another boating friend interested in it. We converse a few minutes, then we walk to Rocco's pizza for dinner, and end up getting a box to bring part of our pizza back to the boat. We also walk to "Sundaes" two doors down and get an ice cream. They have no inside eating area, so we sit outside on a bench and hurry our eating so we can consume our ice cream before it melts.
        Friday finds us doing small things on the boat. I try to arrange a car rental so we can go visit our niece who lives a little over an hour away in western NJ. I have no luck, and am surprised that the  rental car companies locally have no vehicles available. We call our niece and cancel our planned Saturday trip to her home. This also throws a kink in our plans to provision SummerTime. Barbara and I check "Google Maps" for groceries or Convenience stores nearby. There are no grocery stores, but there are other sources for small grocery items nearby. We walk out to Dicky's Dogs for lunch, which is only 450ft away walking per Google. This confirms what I have always thought, that the original directions you get from "Google" are "as the crow flies". We can not walk across the canal to get to Dicky's, so we walk the 1/4 mile around by land. From there we walk on to the other business area farther down the street. There is a Rite-Aid here where we can buy milk and bread. Also there is "Two Sisters" ice cream parlor just past the Rite-Aid. They make their on ice creams, and buy their sherbets and ices. Barbara gets peach ice cream, which totally surprises me. She always gets the strongest chocolate flavor available. But the one sister running the place says it is their last fresh peaches, and it will be the last batch of peach they make for the year. Barbara is persuaded. I sample the cherries in chocolate ice cream, but the chocolate is too strong, overpowering the cherries. I get a chocolate covered cherries in vanilla dipped into a waffle cone. We get our few grocery items at the Rite Aid and walk back to SummerTime. For the rest of the day we pretty much spend our time in the AC of  the boat.

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