As is true of much in life, the anticipation and fear of the unknown of this dreaded entry into New York Harbor was far worse than the actual trip itself.
That said, it WAS stressful.
Funny thing is, it wasn't the big ships that threw us off....it was the sailboat race taking place in the middle of the channel. Sailboats can tack right in front of you and they have the right-of-way so to be in the midst of a swarm of them was like being attacked by no-see-ums flying insects.
We have an electronic gadget called an AIS (automatic identification system) installed. Ships over 300 tons are required to have one and more and more pleasure craft are finding them quite helpful. There are more than 40,000 AIS systems active throughout the world, and Bel Sito has one of them. This is what enables some of you to monitor our progress on Ship Finder or Marine Tracker, although the real deal at the helm is far more reliable.
The AIS sounds an alarm when a 'dangerous target' is within range. That alarm was going off every two seconds this morning until we simply turned off the sound.
Speaking of electronics, the system installed on Bel Sito we figure was state-of-the art in 2008 when the previous owner had it installed. It's a Raymarine rig, that we upgraded with the AIS card before leaving on this trip. Technology years are like dog years - for every one year, multiply by at least seven because it changes so fast. I truly find my new iPad, with the Navionics app installed and GPS enabled, to be much easier to use navigating than the cumbersome Raymarine because with the iPad, I can zoom in and out of the chart with a pinch of the finger. I would not go so far as to say you can do without an installed system, because of accuracy and for sending out an AIS signal, still for most purposes the latest version of iPad with 3G capability does the job. I have the Navionics app installed on my iPad and iPhone and it actually navigated us through a harrowing, fast-moving storm in Florida when the electronics on our speedboat disconnected due to the ferocity of the waves.
This approach to New York, NY is beyond superlative. As many times as I've come into the city by car, train, plane and even cruise liner, absolutely nothing compares to being aboard our own 38' vessel and threading through the shipping lanes while dodging the Staten Island Ferry and Lady Liberty Viewing sight-seeing boats. And, oh the sight of Lady Liberty...how anyone can be opposed to what she stands for brings tears to my eyes...so does seeing in person and up close the re-building of the World Trade Center.
This ranks right up there as one of the most impactful trips of my life time.
All this, plus a friendly marina and welcoming dock hands, a rub-rail on the pier, clean restrooms, a spectacular view of the NY skyline and a WASHER DRYER within walking distance - I am in cruiser heaven.
A greeting by a knowledgable marina dock hand sets the tone of the entire experience. After all, we're basically using a sidewalk by the water when it comes right down to it, but the first impression will stay with us and forever be associated with the business. Liberty Landing Marina gets five stars from Bel Sito's crew.
We're here tonight (Friday) and tomorrow night. Stop by D Dock if you're in the 'hood. There's a Saber 36' for sale in the slip next to us.
Today is a white-knuckle day as we travel 15 miles in some of the most heavily trafficked waters in the world with currents strong enough to push us right into big ships.
Scare, scare, scare.
Then tomorrow it gets even scarier as we get out of New York through a narrow tidal straight with currents flowing 5 knots into Long Island Sound. Skipper G is studying the tide table at the moment.
We hope to see Manhattan daughter Liz and two boat-buddies Jon Vesey and Ada Whitney. Anyone else in the area, come on down to Liberty Landing Marina for a 'Docktail'.
Here's what RWG just wrote to a friend:
There's a slack tide at Hell Gate tomorrow at 11 a.m. then the current will turn against us. So my strategy is an 0800 start from Liberty to catch a favorable current on the East River riding it through Hell Gate before it turns. We'll see. Hell Gate, by the way, is a corruption of the Dutch word "Hellegat" which roughly translated means (are you ready?) "Hell Gate".