The Great Loopers Chapter 7. The Good Stuff

Almost all Loopers want to see New York City, and who can blame them. Pictures of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty will be prominently displayed in their scrapbooks and on Facebook. It’s a big deal, a highlight of the whole trip, but most Loopers don’t live in the northeast. The XO and I, however, do. We don’t want to see New York City yet again. Not if we don’t have to. Been there a million times. The XO lived there for almost twenty years. So after transiting the Hell Gate, we decided to take a pass on the NYC experience, and headed north up the Harlem River. We met the Hudson River three nautical miles north of all the hubbub. For those of similar thinking, the Harlem River is a very cool alternative. Scenic in a different and unique way. The transit is free of charge, but beware, there are many bridges crossing this waterway, all of them are potentially capable of opening, but they are old and some may have mechanical issues. So if you need more than 24 feet of air draft, the New York City Department of Transportation will not guarantee that they can open any of the bridges for you.

Some Harlem River bridges.
Yankee Stadium and graffiti.
Harlem River scene.

The Hudson River is tidal, and it’s flowing against us. We’re wasting fuel and slowing down a little too much, so we stop in Yonkers at their free municipal dock to wait two hours for the fair current. While there we discovered two things:
(1) we need to build a fender board. This will help us protect our boat from smashing against any dock with rough edges like this one.
(2) The Yonkers Municipal Dock is padlocked! Yup, you can’t leave the dock to spend money at all the nearby bistros and stores unless you can squirm on your back under a one foot tear in the chain link gate. I’m just thankful that I still have the agility to do so. We used a towel so we wouldn’t get our clothes dirty.
In the cruising guide, I read a review from a couple who called everybody they could to get the dock unlocked. The police, the DPW, the Mayors office, and nobody could come up with a key. Jeez! They just wanted to eat at the restaurant which is right there on the other side of the locked gate!

A tug joined us at the Yonkers Municipal Dock. The locked gate is on the end of that gangway, right below the restaurants veranda.

From the Logbook on July 7th 2017 written by the XO.
10:56 AM Stopped at the Yonkers Municipal Dock to wait for the tide.
1:02 PM Took off from the dock just ahead of the flood (tide).
1:20 PM First hail on AIS by Buchannon 12, an 89 foot tug.
“Hey Ginger Lee, is that you on my bow?”
“Nope” I see a little Sea Ray looking thing scooting by the tow about a mile behind us.

AIS is a wonderful thing. It allows any boat, which is so equipped, to “see” each other. Yup, from up to 24 miles away, boats can identify each other by name, type, length, beam, draft, hailing port, and sometimes destination. It also tells us their speed and if they are coming towards us or going away from us. Up until this point nobody has ever hailed us before, so we had no idea if our AIS unit was transmitting correctly. A tug boat called us on the radio by name to ask if we were cutting across his bow, a dangerous thing to do. It’s pretty cool to know we are “seen.” We were able to call the tug captain–by name as well–and say it was not us.

A Tug pushing barge. Why is it called a TOW?

On this day, at about one o’clock in the afternoon, the Hudson River became a kindly old man. His fair current cradled us and gently guided us along all the way to Nyack, New York.
“Come with Grampaw. I’ll show you the way. Not too fast though. You wouldn’t want to miss anything.
Old Man Hudson is a wide waterway, wide enough for all vessels large and small to coexist peacefully. At least it seemed that way. Has the world suddenly changed? I don’t think so. It’s me. I am changing. Every day, every minute, every second, I am becoming the person I need to be to survive in this environment. This is the challenge: to be willing to let things change me without betraying my self identity, or any of my traits that I am pleased with. Don’t wanna mess with the good stuff. But sometimes we look for one thing, and end up finding another, and our feelings change, and the story of our lives change as well. It’s all part of life. We all have to write our own story. Might as well make it a good one.

They’re building a new bridge next to the aging Tappan Zee bridge. This picture was taken from our mooring at the Nyack Boat Club.
Picked up this cart in downtown Nyack. It proved to be indispensable.
Nyack was so nice we stayed three days. Note indispenable cart filled with laundry.

From the log book on July 18th 2017. Written by the XO.

12:30 PM To Stoney Point
2:37 PM At Stoney Point. I miscalculated the tide/current. It was a little slow. I will do better next time.

At anchor. Stoney Point, New York. It was a wicked hot day.

On a hot and humid summer day we tucked Ginger Lee behind Stoney Point and dropped anchor. I could stay here forever.

The Stony point wreck.
Some type of abandoned structure.

From the log book on July 19th 2017. Written by the XO.

10:37 AM After a quick (hasty?) decision to move up to Iona Island, we pulled the anchor, only to have the winch stop pulling. We headed downstream a bit to the Panco fuel dock. filled, then came back to stoney point.
11:50 AM Dropped the little Danforth to let Rick fix the winch.

After a nice night anchored in Stony Point, we thought we’d move a few miles north to Iona Island, a scenic bird sanctuary just below the Bear Mountain bridge, While raising the anchor, our windlass broke just after the anchor pulled free of the bottom, so the XO pulled Mr. Mantus the rest of the way up by hand. Then we decided two things:
(1) As long as we’re floating free we might as well visit the nearby fuel dock.
(2) After we fill our tanks we should return to the Stony Point anchorage, drop our spare anchor rig, and diagnose the windlass problem.

I’ve taken that old windlass apart more than a few times, the design is fairly simple. The biggest problem was the heat. Working on that thing midday in the summer sun was brutal. I was broiling out there. I had to do it in ten minute shifts. I eventually found the broken part, called The Good Automatic Windlass Company in New Jersey, and ordered a new one. As luck would have it, a good friend lives very near here, and with his permission, I had the new part Fedexed to his house.
The next day we toured a historic Revolutionary War fort on Stony Point, then the XO rode her bike to pick up the new windlass part.

This is the new windlass part. Many thanks to our good friend Blair Buscareno.

From the log book on July 20th 2017. Written by the XO.
3:40 PM The winch is fixed. Leaving Stony Point anchorage.
About 5:00 PM Anchored. Very narrow band of just-right-water. It went from 100′ to 3′ in a blink. Now in about 15′-17′ northside of Iona Island, south of the Bear Mountain Bridge. Blair Buscareno visited.

It’s not often we hit bottom. It’s my fault. I was at the helm circling very slowly around the north side of Iona Island looking for a place to drop Mr. Mantus. The sweet spot is anywhere from seven to twenty feet deep. Okay. So I have one eye on the depth sounder which is reading an incredible 165 feet. I proceeded slowly: 134 feet, 105 feet, then suddenly 3 feet. “What!” I quickly pulled both engines into neutral. Then the depth sounder did this: – – – which is what it looks like when there is either over 200 feet of water under the transducer, or none. Ginger Lee stopped moving. Crap! I put it in reverse and goosed it. Much mud swirled and roiled and we were soon floating once again. As the log book stated, we found the sweet spot 15 to 17 feet deep and dropped anchor. We were out of danger, but I was feeling a bit dumb and inadequate, and as usual, I pushed those feelings back hard as I could, deep into the recesses of my brain, like I was afraid of my own thoughts. Why? So I can be hard on the outside, and gooey on the inside? I really need to work on that. I need to believe in what I feel, and own it. It’s harder than it sounds. There is nothing safe about putting your heart on the line. It’s the scariest thing you can do.

Our freind Blair Buscareno.

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