What a difference a day makes. Yesterday Long Island Sound was choppy with strong winds. Today Long Island Sound was like an ice skating rink. The winds were calm. The water was glassy. It was a perfect day to cruise to New York.
We left Mamaroneck around 9:30 so that we would arrive at Hell’s Gate around 11. The current would be going with us at that point, but it wouldn’t yet be at its peak. That’s what we wanted.
Since it was a beautiful Sunday on the water there were many pleasure and fishing boats out. Not surprisingly many of them were headed for the East River with us. But we had no issues, and so passed under the Throgs Neck Bridge around 10:40.
The current was quite mild at the Throgs Neck, around 0.5 kts. But as we got closer to Hell’s Gate, the current started to pick up, first to about a knot, then about 2 kts. When we actually reached Hell’s Gate we had about 3.5 kts behind us. But that was what we expected.
The water through this section of the East River was something to see. With the current running that strong, the water was boiling and swirling. Add to that the wakes of power boats doing 20 kts, ferries and jet skis and you get a huge washing machine on full agitation.
A word about the jet skis. We had about 5 or 6 guys on jet skis criss-crossing behind us, then beside us and of course in front of us for most of the transit through Hell’s Gate. What surprised us was not that somebody would want to jet ski through all that turbulent water, but that anyone would want basically to take a bath in the East River. It’s much cleaner than it used to be, but It’s still the East River.
As we were approaching the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges the Coast Guard, of all people, hailed us on the radio. Jim answered immediately, but the CG’s message was garbled. Jim asked them to repeat and then they just said, “Disregard”. Okay, we didn’t know why they called us, but we’d rather have them ignore us than the opposite. Not 30 seconds later, the CG hailed us again. Jim and I started looking all over for a CG boat, thinking we were going to be boarded or that we had violated some security zone we didn’t know about. No, neither of those was it. The CG asked us if we saw the power boat behind us flying a Canadian flag and if we could tell them the boat’s name! Doesn’t the CG have AIS??? Well apparently not. We were well aware of the power boat because it was big, followed us through Hell’s Gate and seemed to want to pass us on the starboard side. We did have AIS and so did the Canadian boat, so we knew the boat’s name. Before Jim could answer, the captain of that vessel, who apparently was listening in on our conversation with the CG, identified himself. They then switched to a cell phone conversation, so we couldn’t eavesdrop. We assume that it was some sort of customs issue.
With our CG issue behind us, we proceeded into the main harbor, which as always was a maze of ferries and other boats. Jim guided us through the mess into the channel for Liberty Landing Marina, our destination for the night. We turned down the fairrway that led to our slip only to find that it was directly across from us as a broadside tie. This section of the marina was basically in the shape of a “U” and we were going to tie up at the bottom of the “U”. That meant we had to turn so that we were parallel to the bulkhead and then slide in sideways. It was tricky, but Jim got us in without any problems or drama. We were tied up just after noon.
We grabbed lunch and washed Curiosity down. Boat chores (laundry, vacuuming, cleaning the swim platform, etc.) occupied most of the afternoon. We got some down time in before dinner and took a walk around Liberty Park, which is adjacent to the marina. We forgot to take the camera on the walk and neither of us had a phone with us (how can that be?!) so we have no pictures. But the park is quite nice. It runs along the New Jersey side of the harbor and is anchored by the Central Railroad of New Jersey building, which is a beautiful red brick structure that dates to the 1800s. This station played an important role in processing immigrants to the US. They would arrive at Ellis Island and then board a ferry over to the Central Railroad building where they would board a train that would take them to various destinations in the US. As far as we can tell, the building is no longer used as the trains that stopped there are no longer operational. Much damage from Hurricane Sandy is still visible around the building and is in the process of being removed.
The park also contains New Jersey’s 9/11 memorial. It’s two large walls that run perpendicular to Lower Manhattan. If you stand between the walls and look toward New York you’ll face the spot where the twin towers once stood. Not surprisingly, there were quite a few people wandering about the memorial.
As we headed away from the memorial and the Central Railroad building, we saw what looked like a walkway to Ellis Island. We had always thought that the only access to Ellis Island was by ferry. Well, we were mostly right. The walkway does allow access to Ellis Island, but only for authorized vehicles.
We headed back to Curiosity for dinner on board. Tomorrow is our run to Atlantic City, some 90 miles south. That’s a 9-10 hour day, so it was an early evening. We planned to be up by 4:45 to get ready for our departure around 5:30, depending on how much daylight we had.