After our sightseeing in the Chesapeake Bay, we were enthusiastic to resume our travels up the East Coast. The trip from Baltimore, MD to New Baltimore, NY granted us the opportunity to cruise in the North Atlantic Ocean, New York Harbor, and up the Hudson River, tying up at places we had never even heard of until this trip.
We departed from Baltimore, MD on July 19, 2019, and cruised past Fort McHenry, then continued north east to the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, which links the Chesapeake Bay and the Delaware River. Ships coming southbound from the New York City area can
turn into Delaware Bay and head up the Delaware River to Philadelphia, PA or turn into this canal and enter Chesapeake Bay on their way to Baltimore. We stayed that night at Summit North Marina, in Bear DE. There is a sandbar at the entrance to the marina, which meant we had to time our arrival and departure times. Our reward was a quiet, well-protected slip and an excellent meal at Grain H2O restaurant at the top of the hill (aka “Summit”).
We had excellent weather as we left for Cape May, NJ on Saturday, July 20th, with a favorable weather window for cruising Delaware Bay. Again, we used NOAA’s Operational Forecast System for the Delaware Bay and saw only blue and light blue
arrows for wind speed and direction. Lenny also did his best to maximize the tidal currents to assist us on our way. We stopped at Utsch’s Marina, which is home port to many sport fishing vessels, and, on its outer wall, the Cape May Whale Watching and Research Center. Utsch’s was founded over 60 years ago and is still run by the same family. They get the prize for the best welcome bag: A bottle of sweet red wine, with their own private label. Louise reported that it was very good, over ice.
Cape May is at the eastern end of the Cape May Canal, and it was our intention to travel the canal and join up with the New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway, stopping at some of the beach towns along the way north. To get to New York City, you eventually have to venture into the North Atlantic Ocean, beginning at Sandy Hook, NJ. That was our original plan. However, Louise subscribes to several services that provide alerts about hazards that may be encountered in specific areas, such as buoys being out of place, or dredging operations. Mostly, they mean very little to our route planning. However, in this case, the notice that a bridge was stuck in a closed position was invaluable to us, since it would have prevented us from northward progress. We also continued to monitor the weather windows, since we prefer to have a smooth ride as opposed to a bouncy ride. The fair-weather window was wide open for the next day or so!
We left Cape May a day early, and instead of heading east on the Cape May Canal, we took a right turn out of the Marina and motored into the North Atlantic Ocean. There was fog, but the ocean surface itself provided us gentle swells as we made our left turn and
began to follow the coast. Our weather was so great that we re-entered the NJICW at Atlantic City around 11:30 am on Sunday the 21st and proceeded into the worst infestations of biting black flies that we have ever encountered. (Plus, the smell and the crazy boaters…). The weather held and we scrambled to find a decent place to stop for the night. We actually exited one marina because the slip they offered us was impossible for us to maneuver into. Luckily, Louise caught the harbor master at Silver Cloud Harbor Marina, in Forked River, NJ, just before she was leaving for the day. She left a red traffic cone at our berth and the welcome bag in the dock box by the office for us.
At this point, because of the wonderful weather and our trip into the Atlantic Ocean, we shaved 3 days off our schedule. But the weather window was slamming shut, so we stayed those 3 days in Forked River. One of the storms tore down trees and blocked roads
in the area. We had decided that the windshield wipers needed replacing, especially since one was beginning to look like the surrey with the fringe on top. The associated boat yard ordered them on Monday, for delivery and install on Tuesday. With the roads being blocked, the wipers didn’t arrive until Wednesday. With all 4 wipers replaced, we headed out Thursday July 25th to Manasquan, NJ.
We were relieved to enter Hoffman’s Marina, whose owner couldn’t have been more accommodating to Louise’s limited mobility issues. (The steroid injection had helped some, but with the shaky docks and uneven surfaces, better to use the cane and to board on and off the boat at a floating pier.) Larry, the owner, personally guided us to the small floating pier that was adjacent to Waypoint 22, the restaurant that served the marina.
It was tight quarters but, between Larry’s guidance and Lenny’s skill at maneuvering Then Again, we were tied up under some very windy conditions. Later, Larry checked on us at the restaurant and reiterated his offer for anything we might need.
A highlight of our stay was a visit on Saturday, July 27th, by Johanna Einreinhofer (Blumberg) and Chris Leishear, two of Louise’s IBM teammates. Since Louise’s team was remote, she had only met Johanna a couple of times in person and had never met
Chris face to face! But she recognized Chris’ voice as he was looking for our table at the restaurant. He brought along his two daughters, Emma and Maya as well. No boat ride, however, because of everyone’s time constraints. However, being able to meet up is one of the reasons we take our time on the loop.
Monday, July 29, 2019, we ventured again into the Atlantic Ocean, heading to Staten Island, NY. This part of the journey has to be done in open waters, since there is no river or canal to connect New Jersey to Staten Island. You have to sail around Sandy Hook, NJ. We were blessed with another favorable weather window and easily arrived at Great Kills Yacht Club around lunch time. As an aside, we try to be underway before 8 am on any given day, unless the tides or currents would be against us at that time. Our rationale is that if we are delayed, we will still get to our next port of call with day light to spare. Most of the time it means that Beer-Thirty clocks in by 3 pm (or 1500 hours).
Even though we do not belong to a yacht club at home, we were welcomed to stay here because John, one of the members, is also a Gold Looper and a Harbor Host. If you are a Gold Looper, it means you have completed your Great Loop and you can switch out your white burgee for one that has a Gold background. A Harbor Host is someone who volunteers to help other Loopers in a specific area. Some examples of help are: Where to stay; Where to eat; Where to find groceries and a laundromat; What sights to see; What the transportation options are; and many will even receive packages for you at their home.
The official policy of the yacht club is no transients. The unofficial policy is that John acts as the dock master and schedules transients into vacant slips, collecting the money for the slip rental. We were also warmly welcomed into the Clubhouse, with its rock bottom beer and wine prices. John took us to the train station, so that we could catch the Staten Island Ferry. We had reservations for a boat tour that would take us out to the Statute of Liberty and Ellis Island. We actually skipped the Statute of Liberty and headed straight to Ellis Island.
Ellis Island is known as the National Museum of Immigration and opened its doors to welcome immigrants in 1892. New York was a logical place for this portal into the “promised land”, since the majority of immigrants during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s traveled from Europe via the Atlantic Ocean. New York was also the terminus and/or connector point for all the major railroads, so once an immigrant was processed, he or she could easily continue on to their final destination, either with relatives or friends. Because of the Alien Contract Labor Law of 1885, a worker with the promise of a job could not admit that he or she had a job, but had the unenviable task of assuring the inspectors that they would not “become a public charge”, usually by providing the name of a relative who would be taking them in, or, ideally, a pre-paid train ticket.
The museum is located in the original main hall, and there is a series a of rooms that details all the inspections and other steps that needed to be followed prior to clearance. First and second-class passengers were cleared on board their ship and did not have to pass through Ellis Island. This process was reserved for the steerage passengers. These steps included medical inspections, literacy tests, and intelligence tests. Although only 2 percent were turned away, because of the sheer volume of immigrants that could amount to over 1000 per month. Many immigrants spent time in medical facilities on the Island so that doctors had the opportunity to see if their health would improve. Finally, single women could not be released on the streets by themselves; they needed to be escorted by a male relative. Often, couples that planned to marry once they were both in America, would tie the knot on Ellis Island so that the woman was now married and in the company of a male relative.
This was the extent of our sightseeing in the New York City area. We had both been there before and none of the other locales appealed to us. We know that many Loopers spend a considerable time there. However, there is no requirement to stop and see anything on the Loop. It really is an individualized trip.
We passed through New York Harbor and entered the Hudson River on August 1, 2019, pulling into Half Moon Bay Marina located in Croton-On-Hudson, NY. Besides being a laundry stop, it was also a home base to tour Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Home and Presidential Library in Hyde Park, NY and to see the Marc Chagall and Henri Matisse stained glass windows at the Union Church of Pocantico Hills, in Pocantico, NY.
What was very gratifying about our visit to FDR’s home and library was the chronicling of Eleanor Roosevelt’s public activities not only as First Lady, but as an activist in her own right. Many people do not realize that Eleanor took a page from Uncle Teddy Roosevelt’s play book, and used her position of First Lady as a “bully pulpit” to advocate
for expanded roles for women in the workplace, the civil rights of African Americans and Asian Americans, and the rights of World War II refugees. She was an accomplished writer and also served as America’s first Ambassador to the United Nations.
FDR’s library did not gloss over some of his more ill-advised goals, such as expanding the Supreme Court so he could hand pick three judges who would be amenable to many of his New Deal programs. That was a colossal failure! There were also exhibits that focused on the close relationship he had with Winston Churchill during the Second World War, and one that showed the crutches and braces that he had to wear everyday as a result of adult on-set polio. There are almost no pictures of him with his crutches or in a wheelchair. In those days, the press corps did not believe the Presidency would be well served by publicizing his disability. If he were in politics today, we would be inundated with pictures and talking heads who focused only on this aspect of him, and perhaps would have driven him from politics before he could share his brilliant leadership and visionary skills with us.
The Union Church was patronized by the Rockefeller family, and, they gifted the church in the 1950’s and 1960’s with 9 stained glass windows by Post-Impressionist Marc Chagall and a Rose Window by Henri Matisse. We decided to worship there on Sunday, August 4th. It is a very small church and felt like praying inside a jewel box with all the colors and shapes illuminating the sanctuary. Louise managed to get 3 pictures before one of the ushers warned her there was no picture taking. The Chagall windows are a mixture
of Old and New Testament passages, with the largest representing the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:29-37). The Rose Window is the last completed work of Henri Matisse, who died only a few days after completing it in 1954.
The Hudson River Maritime Museum in Kingston, NY was our stop on Monday August 5, 2019. We had intended to stay for 2 days, but on the afternoon of our arrival, we got a call to see if we could arrive at Shady Harbor Marina, in New Baltimore, NY a day early, hopefully to begin our fiberglass repair. (Remember when that guy backed into our boat while we were at the slip in Baltimore? Yes, that damage, which was covered by a temporary patch). So, we left early in the morning on August 6th, without having seen the museum. Never fear, however! We rented a car while we were at Shady Harbor and made a beeline for the museum, which was only an hour’s drive south.
The Museum is small but covers maritime activities in the Hudson River and an overview of the Erie Canal. Of interest is a solar powered boat that was crafted in the associated Boat Building shop. We were not there on a weekend; otherwise we would have walked across the street to tour the Trolley Museum.
Unfortunately, our fiberglass could not be repaired at Shady Harbor, but we used that stop for groceries, laundry and to receive packages. We ate several times at the Boatyard Grille, which shares the premises. It is only about a half an hour south of Albany, NY, and apparently a destination restaurant. We celebrated Louise’s birthday on Sunday August 11, 2019 and made ready to enter the Erie Canal the next day. We had built up this part of the Loop as a highlight and could only hope we had not over-hyped ourselves.
Our Trip So Far
As of Sunday August 11, 2019…
- Days: 422
- Locks Passed Through: 62
- Miles Sailed: 5371
- Engine Hours: 684
- Gallons of Diesel: 2282