15 July – Destination New York City


July 25th, 2018


North Atlantic 2017 – 2019, USA

Written by

Richard Farrington

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By Richard. Posted on July 25th, 2018 in North Atlantic 2017 – 2019, USA.

40:49.9N 073:43.8W


The bucolic south bank of the Delaware River…

The southbound transit of the Delaware River requires some careful calculations based on tidal streams and wind.  The weather forecast was for very little wind for much of the day, so we set off late morning into the last of the flood tide.  We stayed as close to the western shore as we could and found that we could get out of the tide so long as we stayed in less than 7m of water.  At some stage in the past, engineers built a training wall in the river to control the flow and probably help with the continual dredging challenges.  At high water the wall is submerged, but it’s well marked.  Once we got south of the nuclear power station at Salem, New Jersey we caught the first of the ebb tide and headed towards Cape May and the Atlantic.


The strategic-industrial north bank of the Delaware River

The Delaware River is broad but quite shallow, so we could not stray far from the dredged channel.  This became a problem as the wind got up mid-afternoon and eventually we found ourselves motoring into a 20-knot headwind.  By early evening the tide was against us too, so we cut across the shoal patches just north of Cape May, rounding it close enough to read the newspapers of the people sat on the beach. Our speed over the ground slowed to under three knots for about half and hour, and by the time we had cleared the land and made a couple of miles offshore, the wind had died.  We motored on…

We passed Atlantic City during the Middle Watch (2359-0400).  Apparently it’s known as the ‘poor man’s Vegas’ and the lights were certainly bright.  One tall building, perhaps 30 storeys high, was effectively a vast advertising hoarding and I could read about ‘Happy Hour at the Pool with Artisan Cocktails’ (whatever they might be) without binoculars from eight miles away.  My limited experience of Americans is that many of them go to bed quite early, so who was the target audience at two o’clock in the morning?

Sunrise brought another beautiful day with light winds, calm seas and a mix of early-rising sports fishermen and dredgers along a wonderful, uninterrupted New Jersey sandy shoreline. We got our first glimpse of the New York skyline mid-morning on Friday 13th July.  We rounded Sandy Hook Point after lunch and turned south west into the bay there, heading for the town of Atlantic Highlands.  The hill here reaches dizzying 220 feet above sea level and is the highest point of land on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States between Key West and Maine.  A significant feature in a relatively featureless coastline – from sea, only the manmade structures provide easily identifiable landmarks for navigation.  Small wonder that the coast is littered with wrecks and lighthouses.


A section of the beach at Sandy Hook

Atlantic Highlands is a commuter town for affluent New Yorkers as well as a holiday destination on the New Jersey shore.  The Sandy Hook peninsula consists of some lovely beaches and is pretty much unspoilt.  We took fuel at the marina and then went to anchor before proceeding ashore to buy provisions for our ‘New York Entry’ the following day with our eldest daughter Anna and her boyfriend Matt, who live in Manhattan.  They joined us for supper ashore later in the evening.

We had an early start on Saturday morning, once again driven by the tides, specifically in the East River which separates Manhattan from Brooklyn and Long Island.  Technically this is not a river at all as it is all seawater, has a mouth at each end and the tide flows both ways along its length, but I’m not going to argue.  We passed under the Verrazano Bridge, one of the longest suspension bridges in the world, just after sunrise and entered New York harbour in perfect weather conditions – apart from the usual lack of wind!  The Pilot Books talk about the chaotic volumes of traffic, but at that time on a Saturday morning we had the place pretty much to ourselves.


Approaching the Battery, New York Harbour

By the time we passed the Statue of Liberty, reached the Battery (the southern end of Manhattan) and entered the East River at just after 7am, the tide was running with us and we screamed under a series of bridges, passing the magnificent skyline to port, the slightly more industrial Brooklyn shore to starboard, making up to 12 knots over the ground.  At Hell Gate, where whirlpools form and seduce the unwary mariner (well, those who have not negotiated the Alderney Race, anyway) we eased ourselves to starboard and headed towards the more placid waters of Long Island Sound.  The views back towards the City were glorious – not the ones you see in the tourist brochures.  The industrial ‘support area’ of the Big Apple soon gives way to a more suburban hinterland, with small towns clustered around harbours, pleasure boats in abundance and a steady increase in the size of the family home.


Guess who?


Manhattan from the East River

By the time you reach Manhasset Bay, size becomes ‘Oh My God Ossumm’ in anyone’s book.  Apparently this is ‘Great Gatsby’ country and the estates of some of the most glittering names in New York and corporate America are here: JP Morgan, Vanderbilt and their friends. F Scott Fitzgerald lived on the opposite shore, but I’m sure he gained inspiration from looking across at how the other half live(d).


How the Other Half live…

We reached the mooring field off Port Washington at lunchtime and spent a wonderfully lazy afternoon recovering from the early start and watching a fleet of Sonar One design (think Island Sailing Club, Cowes) rounding a racing mark a couple of hundred yards astern.  Later, we went ashore in the free water taxi and trundled a mile and a half up the hill to the Long Island Railroad station to take a train into Manhattan.

The rail journey takes about 45 minutes, so our mooring equated roughly to living in Wimbledon and getting the District Line into the West End.  The price difference was eye-watering: a berth in a marina in New York Harbour would have cost us $400 per night (sic) without power or water; our mooring was just $25 per night, including the water taxi.  Billy Bargain!


The Big Apple from Long Island Sound

Anna and Matt took us to a Korean Barbecue for dinner.  A first for both of us, we really enjoyed the bustle, the table with a BBQ pit and chimney in the middle, the eclectic selection of Korean pickles and ‘bits’n’pieces’ that came as standard, plus some very tasty meats.  The place was buzzing with people from every race and language, so not a place for a romantic dinner or a vegetarian, but the epitome of Modern Multicultural New York City.  What a great first day!