Monday, 07 July 2014

After two weeks in Newport we were ready to sail to New York. We had been a bit delayed, because Henrik had ordered a new holding tank by a local blacksmith, who turned out to be a bit unpredictable:

The blacksmith one day spent all day looking for his keys, and another day he had fixed an old bike, he had found in the garbage. In the end, Henrik had to visit him every day to remind him that he should work on our holding tank.

After two weeks it was finally finished, and we untied the mooring lines, but I only managed to say: “Now we're on our way. Cool!” before the boat went thump-thump-thump – and we were stuck!

We had hit ground 20 metres from the pier!

Henrik asked me to put the boat in full back, while he swung the boom
out to one side and crawled on top of it to tip the boat free of the ground – and luckily he succeeded! In these cases we're very grateful for our long keeled boat.

There are two ways to sail the 150 nautical miles from Newport to Manhattan: Either east of Long Island into the Atlantic or via Long Island Sound. We chose the last one, but because I had booked tickets for Swan Lake two days later, we had to sail over night the first day. (That is a part of the compromise: I go sailing, and Henrik goes with me to the ballet!).

In Long Island Sound a police boat stopped us. They wanted to know, if we had cleared in when we arrived in the state of New York, which we hadn't, because our cruising permit said that we only had to check in upon arrival. (Plus we didn't know what state we were in). They wanted us to clear in right away, though, so we did. While we were still sailing with a police boat next to us, the U.S. Coast Guard came roaring towards us. They too wanted us to check in, which we had just done, but they wanted us to call another number. I thought, Henrik was parleying a bit too much with them, but they didn't seem to care, and Henrik called the new number, which turned out to be the same guy, and everyone was seemingly satisfied.

All of this took about 20 minutes while we had a police boat with blue flash and the U.S. Coast Guard in our tails. Seen from the outside we must have looked like we had done something really wrong!

There is a lot of tide and current around Manhattan, so you need to plan your arrival. We anchored just outside the entrance to the East River, so we could sail through the notorious Hell Gate at slack. Hell Gate is the most tidal strait on the East River, and the current can run up to 5-6 knots. We arrived as recommended, and it went so well that we only realised that we had sailed through Hell Gate long after we had passed it! The rest of the trip was an explosion of impressions after our many months without big cities and noise:

We sailed south along the eastern part of Manhattan’s skyscrapers and two storey highways, we sailed by Battery Park and the Financial District on the southern tip of Manhattan with a view of the Statue of Liberty next to Ellis Island, and finally headed north along the Hudson on the western side of Manhattan to our new home for the next four months: A mooring at 79th Street Boat Basin.

Ahead waits four months of big city life!

P.S. At the moment we are keeping an eye out for the Hurricane Arthur, which is on its way up along the American eastern coast.

Signe Storr, freelance journalist and friend of Boatshed