I have fallen behind on updating the blog, so thought I’d better get to it! We have been moving along at a good pace, and have caught up with many other Loopers, despite our many delays with boat repairs.
The Friday after Memorial weekend, we had a diesel mechanic install the re-built fuel pump and injectors for the main engine. We did a quick sea trial with the mechanic, only to find that one of the injectors was not working correctly. We quickly turned back into the marina, and despite the late hour were able to get in touch with Geoff Hoffman, who drove over, picked it up, re-built it and tested it, and drove it back so it could be installed that evening. Such service!
After that all was good. We left Summit North Marina on Saturday morning for a short stint to Delaware City, finally completing the 14-mile C&D Canal (in 8 days). We arrived at the marina (one long dock in another canal) to find several other Looper’s. We commiserated with them, explored the town, and enjoyed crab balls and split a seafood potpie at Crabby Dick’s.
That evening we had a debriefing session with the Harbormaster for our trip through Delaware Bay to Cape May, NJ. Because of the tide and currents, we left Sunday morning at 6:00 a.m., and made good time traversing the length of the bay. The winds were light, perfect for crossing big water. Ships passed by in the nearby shipping channel, and lighthouse markers warned of hazards along the way.
Jim periodically goes down below to check the Racor filters while we are underway, and once we had to shut down because the pressure gauge was in the red, indicating restriction of the fuel system. We made it to the Cape May Canal, having to wait to enter for an outbound ferry. Once in the canal, we made our way a few miles in to Utcher’s Marina.
We decided that our restriction problem had to be a little electric pump, so Jim got some fuel lines and fittings so that we could by-pass the pump. We managed to do this rather quickly, and ran the engine to test it. Our 50-mile cruise and engine work done, we enjoyed a docktail party with about 20 others doing the loop. Then we were off to the Lobster House for seafood take-out.
Many of us were planning to go on the outside, into the Atlantic for the next stint, but due to changes in wind direction, and our lack of confidence in our fuel system, we decided to take the inside, the New Jersey ICW. We traveled the entire NJ ICW with 2 other Looper’s, “Estrellita” and “Fruitcakes”. It was reassuring to be traveling with a couple other boats, and enjoyed getting to know them along the way.
The NJ ICW is very shallow, not really maintained, albeit to reposition markers as necessary. The southern portion reminded us of Georgia, very flat, winding its way through marshes and sand bars. Wading in the shallows were men with rakes, collecting oysters on the bottom. The Jersey shore is densely populated, most communities having large ferris wheels that loomed amid the crowded buildings. We rode under many bridges, several which had to be opened as our height of 15′ was too tall for clearance.
We made our way around Atlantic City to an anchorage right near the ocean inlet. It was wavy, with current and a lot of traffic, and wasn’t our favorite spot, the lights of Harrah’s and the Golden Nugget our view that evening. We saw “Nightcap II” and dropped the hook nearby.
Tuesday morning we pulled up anchor about 8:00 a.m. on the rising tide so we’d have the current in our favor. Again we encountered many shallow areas, and spots where the actual markers didn’t match the GPS. Unfortunately, “Estrellita” ran aground, as they missed one of the red markers in a confusing spot. They had to wait several hours for high tide in order to get off the bottom, and back into the channel.
We slowly went on, stopping in Long Beach where we got pumped out and filled up with diesel for only $3.55/gal. It looked like a really fun area to stop and explore, but it was early and we had plans to stay at the last marina on the ICW with our traveling companions. So we kept moving. As we got further along, the channel became wider and easier to navigate, although the sky suddenly looked threatening.
After only light rain, we went through another canal with very swift current, and made our way to Hoffman’s Marina in Brielle, NJ, the last stop before the Manasquan Inlet. We had a meeting with our fellow Looper’s, and planned our trip into the Atlantic and to New York City.
On Wednesday, June 4th, we shoved off about 8:30, having to wait for a NJ Transit train to pass so they could open the bridge. We made it through the inlet and a couple miles out into the Atlantic. We had no issues, with very flat seas, although there was quite a bit of debris, crab pots, and fishermen to avoid.
We decided to part company by Sandy Hook, they heading on through NYC, and us to Staten Island where we could get a mooring ball in a cove near Great Kills. The marina that had the mooring balls was completely destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, the office was a tent in the parking lot, and they had no restrooms or showers. Plus they wanted $45 each night to tie to a mooring.
Arthur, a gentlemen from the Great Kills Yacht Club nearby owned a mooring, and offered it to us for free. So that’s what we did. The people at the GKYC were so accommodating, friendly, and helpful! Beers were $2 (unheard of for anywhere in NY), and we were so entertained by listening to the accents and stories around the bar.
We got a lot of helpful information from John, the harbor mate, about boating thru NYC harbor, and about transportation to the city. On Friday, June 6th, after mechanic Santiago spent 4 hours getting our generator to work, we walked to the bus stop nearby, and rode into NYC.
What a blast! The bus took us right by the 911 site, with its new sculpture being erected out of the rubble, and up to mid-Manhattan where we got off at 34th Street. From there we walked all over – to Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, Times Square, the Empire State Building, and all the way to Central Park. Once there, to rest our tired feet, we hired a young man on a pedi-cab to pedal us around the park so we could see more of the sites.
I had no idea it was so big, green, quiet, and beautiful! The energy of the city invigorated us, but with achy feet and smiles, we found our way to a bus stop, and hopped on, depositing our 24 quarters each for our ride back to Staten Island.
Saturday, the 7th of June, we departed Staten Island in light winds and sunshine. Slowly we made our way past the rock pile, which before Sandy held a lighthouse for 90 years, and into New York harbor. Carefully, making our way through the heavy traffic in the harbor (ships, ferries, water taxis, barges, excursion boats, travelers, pleasure boaters, fishing boats, and even a kayak), we cruised by the Statue of Liberty, then Ellis Island, then Manhattan, Yonkers, and up the Hudson River.
It was good to leave the hustle and bustle of New York City behind, and comforting to be in more familiar territory on a river. The Hudson is very picturesque with steep green bluffs on its banks, very deep water and huge spanning bridges. Our first stop on the Hudson was in the town of Harmon at Half Moon Bay Marina. It reminded us so much of our own Lake Pepin, where our marina is located back home.
Once again we reconnected with several loopers, and shared stories with some of the locals enjoying the weekend on their boats. Jim got a ride on a Donzi from owner Dominic, zipped up to an easy 70 mph in a few seconds.
We showered up on Sunday morning, then walked to a fantastic farmer’s market, where I got fresh eggs, rib-eye steaks, strawberries, potatoes, bread, asparagus, pickles, cookies, spinach and mushrooms. Afterward, a marina worker gave us rides, first to the local laundromat (expensive at $4 per wash), then to the grocery store to re-stock. It was an all-day affair, hauling our stuff down the docks, and stowing everything.
Monday morning we got a late start after sauna, showers, breakfast, and pump-out. It was foggy and cloudy, and we bucked the strong current as we slowly headed north.
The surroundings became more mountainous, trains traversing both sides of the river. We cruised near the ruins of Bannermann’s Castle on Pollepel Island, then past the formidable West Point Military Academy on the western shore. At points fog hampered our visibility, and light drizzle fell. We found some mooring balls in Chelsea, but our displacement was too much for their anchor weights. The harbor master came out in a little boat, and directed us to drop the hook at the southern end of his mooring field, which we did.
Barge wakes caused a little rocking, but we slept soundly. The Hudson still has tidal current, so we swung 180 degrees with the changing of the tide. The train whistles were loud, but did not disturb us much out on the water. I made pesto chicken Florentine for dinner, and we watched “America’s Got Talent”.
This morning we got underway about 10:00 a.m., making good time as the tidal current was in our favor for most of the day. We passed the town of Hyde Park, home to the Roosevelt’s and Vanderbilt’s. Unique lighthouses appeared alongside the channel, the Catskill Mountains hovered in the distance, and beautiful homes dotted the bluffs along the river.
We dropped the hook again just outside the channel. Jim tightened some bolts to keep the generator from rattling, and removed an air pump which is serving no purpose. Tomorrow we will go to Troy, through our first NY lock, and turn left into the Erie Canal. We will be on the NY Canal System, partway through the Erie, then up the Oswego until we hit Lake Ontario. This is another unique stretch that we are really looking forward to. Since we’re in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s neck of the woods, I will leave you with one of his famous quotes, “There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.”
Hope all is well with everyone following us on the blog! A-RIVER-DERCI!