Port Washington, NY to Jersey City, NJ / Great Kills, NY //
As architects and sailors (is it official yet?), motoring along the East River on our own vessel and seeing the skyline of this magnificent city hover above us was simply... Nirvana — aside from the intense 40 knot winds we experienced going under the Brooklyn Bridge, that is. We had timed our departure from Port Washington carefully, making sure the tide was going with us once we entered the East River around 7:30 AM of Saturday, November 3. Indeed, when passing Roosevelt Island on our port side, our chartplotter showed us 10 knots of speed on the screen. That is double the speed we are used to aboard Sparidae... we were racing (that's 11.5 mph, FYI!).
We were expecting some strong gusts during our travel (a gale warning was issued for 11:00 AM). However, if you know what tall buildings so close to each other do best in a city like New York is to funnel the wind at gnarly speeds. And so came the wind gusts out onto the river as we neared Lower Manhattan underneath the Brooklyn Bridge. We experienced some pretty rugged conditions. The convergence of the Hudson and East Rivers, morning ferry commuter traffic, and perhaps even the reverberation of the underground subway lines, also made for some pretty confused waters. In some instances it felt as if we weren't making any progress forward. We noticed another sailboat beginning to get thrashed behind our stern. Somehow, it was comforting to know we weren't the only idiots out there trying to get through in those conditions. We eventually made it around The Battery, said hello to Lady Liberty in the distance, and motored on to our destination at Liberty Landing Marina in New Jersey.
As we pulled into the dock, the winds were gusting between 20-25 knots. We had a hard time maneuvering Sparidae onto our slip which was next to another sailboat. Pretty tight quarters. Unfortunately, as Tom was throwing the stern dock line toward me, the wind abruptly blew Sparidae's stern toward the other boat beyond. The dock line never made it to my hands because the wind pushed Sparidae away and towards the other boat in the slip. Instead it fell in the water and got wrapped up in the propeller which was in reverse. Inevitably, that meant that someone was going for a dive to unfurl the line out, and check for any damage to the prop or shaft.
Since Tom is the only one carrying a wet suit onboard, it was his unfortunate turn to get to know the mucky waters of Jersey City. He was able to successfully remove the dock line and found no damage. After getting settled and warmed up with some hot tea, we started making contact with some of our friends in the big city. We walked for about 20 minutes to reach the New Jersey PATH line which took us right into Manhattan. To our delight, it led us right to the fairly new World Trade Center's station designed by Santiago Calatrava. It felt like the perfect gateway into the city. We met our friends Brett and Ama in Tribeca in the late afternoon for dinner and drinks, and walked about on our own afterwards for some celebratory cocktails — it was finally downing on us we had made some headway since leaving Newport.
Come Sunday we continued monitoring the weather knowing we had a couple of stormy days ahead: a lot of rain and a lot more wind. We knew we also couldn’t keep up living the high life at the marina, so we moved on to an anchorage area in Great Kills on Staten Island, recommended by our friends Dan and Allyson. Moving a bit south would also allow us to better position ourselves for a passage down the New Jersey coast come Wednesday’s weather window. Anchoring that evening was a good opportunity to test the new 100’ of chain we had gotten for the anchor rode as we were anticipating strong winds going into Monday. Nevertheless, we ended up having a sleepless night given the winds were much stronger than forecasted. Tom went on deck a couple of times to let out more chain as we seemed to have dragged a bit. We both took shifts through the night in monitoring the outside conditions along with our position. Nothing like the incident at Cuttyhunk though.
Given the not pleasant weather, on Monday morning we checked in with the local marinas to see if it would be possible to dock for Monday and Tuesday evenings. The winds were not letting down and we really wanted to sleep. The only person to answer our call was John from the Great Kills Yacht Club who graciously waited for us to come in and helped us with the lines. Under pretty windy and rainy conditions, Tom pulled about 100’ of chain out of the stark black muddy waters of Staten Island and motored us over to the yacht club. Making up for the docking mishap back in Jersey City, Tom fearlessly maneuvered Sparidae onto 25 knot winds right into our slip (the kind with wooden pilings on the opposite side of the dock) bringing his sailing skills one level up. Soon after, we got a hold of our other friends Chi and Mike, as well as Rob, who were all by happenstance traveling into NYC all the way from Singapore and New Jersey, respectively. Given such a coincidence, meeting up was in order.
Chi and Mike graciously met us in Staten Island in the afternoon (literally after just landing from Singapore). We grabbed some drinks at a random Polish bar, and then proceeded to complete an unplanned tour through 3 of the 5 boroughs that make NYC. Chi and Mike dropped us off at 86th Street Station in Brooklyn after crossing over the Verrazano Bridge. From there we took the subway towards Clinton Hill to visit Brett and Ama and their kids --we couldn't get enough of hanging out with Río and Lucía. Also we had found a replacement cover for the GPS (the one we lost on Cuttyhunk) on eBay which we had sent to them, so we picked it up. Score. We later Uber pooled (is that an appropriate verb?) to the East Village to meet Rob and his gang for a scrumptious Puerto Rican dinner at Casa Adela. We rounded up our tour full circle by taking the Staten Island Ferry (which was free and ran all night!) back. The next morning, we took our time to clean up the boat and chill, do weather checks, and chart our course for our upcoming passage (and first overnight!) to Cape May, NJ.