Monday, September 30, 2013

Long Island - heading east to the Hamptons

Finally our part arrived, Mark fitted it and we were ready to head off, we had decided that we had become so sick of motoring that we would only move on if we could sail.  So we left Port Washington for Huntington, we left with sails up but by the time we were out of the Bay and in Long Island Sound the winds were light and we were motor sailing! So much for no motoring!  But it was great to see so many other sail boats, it was the weekend and there was racing and cruising boats heading in all directions.

This was a short hop 17  miles to Huntington, we never went into the main harbour but anchored off a sandy beach, it actually looked quite appealing, the water was looking slightly less like a muddy river.

Beach at Huntington

Next day we were off again and yes there was more motoring! It seemed that we just had the main sail up for show! But we preserved and at any opportunity tried to sail.  Next stop was Port Jefferson.  Being a Sunday it was busy with boats in and out of the harbour plus the ferry which sends a huge wash down the entire harbour every hour!

Port Jefferson ferry

The shelter is good in the harbour as you can tuck round behind a sand bar, which was good because as we anchored the wind started to pick up from the north and blow directly into the harbour.  There was quite a bit of swell wrapping round the sand bar which made for a bumpy night.

Next day and we moved to try to get close to the town but the harbour is full of moorings and we did not want to pick up a mooring at it would have cost us over $75 for the night.  We managed to sneak in a little further but we still had a lengthy dingy ride into town, we were also not impressed by the $10 fee to park your dingy, not very welcoming.

Busy Port Jefferson harbour

The town is just a few streets mainly for the tourists with restaurants, cafes, some tourist shops including a really good Tea Shop.  There was a small deli to pick up a few essentials and then we found a coffee shop and took advantage of their internet.

The next day was a windy one and we sat at anchor and were unable to get off the boat, these days are always frustrating!

At least we were treated to a lovely sunset
When we could final leave we had another long day, the morning was filled with motoring frustration but thankfully the wind picked and and we had a fantastic sail most of the afternoon and into the evening.  We were now at the east end of Long Ilsnad and rounded into the forks, The scenery here is very pretty, it is lush and green with little rocky out crops and various small island.  First stop was Sag Harbour, this is part of Southampton ( the Hamptons) and we where told it would be full of Superyachts.  There were a few large powerboats in the marina but not quite what you find in some of the luxury resorts in the Med – Palma and Porto Cervo. 

Anchorage at Sag Harbour - you can see a few of the larger powerboats in the marina

Sag Harbour marina - on a very grey day!

The village is small, there are quite a few antique shops, cafes and restaurants.  What is nice about this location is the have not been able to knock down the original properties so often the shops are in the front room of what was originally a house.  The Sag harbour coffee house was pretty good to kill an hour but not much else to see.

Next day we moved from Sag Harbour on the south fork to Greenport on the north fork, only around 15 miles.  Greenport had a bit more going on than Sag Harbour, here rather than the antique shops there were Art Galleries along with the cafes and restaurants that make up this small touristy resort.  Greenport did have more for the locals and here was a nice farmers market on the Saturday. 

Sandy spit on entrance into Greenport

Sun setting from the anchorage tucked in behind the seawall - still pretty rolly

View to Shelter Island from anchorage

Port Washington - More New York

Port Washington has various marinas and lots of moored boats but we were also lucky that there is lots of space to anchor so we dropped anchor and spent a few days getting back to all the normal boat jobs and the inevitable things that have gone wrong with Magnum.  One of these jobs was Mark servicing the Auto Pilot that had decided to back up! 

It was quite funny being in a new very yachty place for the weekend, we had a huge number of local boats sail way too close, why? because they want to have a better look at Magnum!

The main reason our stay was to be so long in Port Washington was Harriet and Abbie were coming to visit for the week, so we had arranged a berth at Brewers Capri marina.  The staff here were really friendly and because the economy is having a hit on their business we got a really good deal.  The girls were keen to see New York and from here we could catch the bus to the train station and then the Long Island Railway into the city. So we repeated the tourist trail with visits to Time Square, Central Park, Macys, Chelsea Market, Grand Central Station, Staten Island Ferry and anywhere the girls fancied visiting.

Mark, Abbie and Harriet in Times Square

Mark and girls on the bridge in Central Perk from the Elf snowball fight!

Enjoying a sit down at Chelsea Market

A busy Times Square

Grand Central Station
We also had a hire car for the day and headed out to see some of Long Island, the girls were as impressed as us with the beautiful houses that are everywhere on Long Island.  We were lucky that the sun was still shining and we had a picnic at Huntington Beach.

Enjoying a picnic
We were keen to move on once the girls had left but unfortunately we had a another boat problem and were awaiting a part.  The bolt that holds the engine and the saildrive together had snapped so they were no longer held in place, Mark managed to put a very temporary fix in place so we could leave the marina but we then sat at anchor and waited for the part for almost a week.  During this time we did get a few more maintenance jobs done on the boat, Mark spent an entire day removing the pegs holding the teak deck together, drilled them out where necessary and then replaced with new pegs.  A soul destroying job as a small area takes such a long time to complete.

If you look closely you can see the pegs poking our on the starboard side of the deck
We were also able to get off the boat and use the bikes to visit Sandy Point Preserve.  This was previously the Guggenhiem Estate and was donated initially to the Navy in the 1940s but Nassau County bought this from the them in the 1960s and additional land was donated by the Guggenhiems in the 1970s. There are 3 mansions within the 200+ acre estate although we only visited the grounds, only 1 of the mansions is open to the public although they are no longer occupied.  The grounds are very pretty and they are along the shoreline of Long Island, a spectacular place to live, in an equally spectacular property.

One amazing house

Mark enjoying the sunshine

Pretty gardens

Amazing house number 2

Monday, September 23, 2013

East River and Hells Gate - Riding the Rapids

To reach Long Island sound from New York we had return south along the Hudson River which was great at 6am as there is little river traffic so you get to have another great view of Manhattan.

Daybreak as we leave the mooring buoys

Rounding Manhattan island

We then round the end of Manhattan island and head north up East River which run up the other side of Manhattan under the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges with some cool views through to the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building. 

Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge in the distance

Passing under the Brooklyn Bridge

Looking back at at the Manhattan Bridge
Skyline from East River including the Empire State Building 

Empire State from East River

Chrysler Building glinting in the sunshine

We passed close to Governors Island and then on past Roosevelt Island where the channel starts to narrow, we were saw a crazy guy in a rowing boat! It was one of the boats that they use to cross the oceans but the tide rips through this area so he was pretty brave.

Roosevelt island had apartments and what look like some offices, there is both a bridge and/cable car which connect it to Manhattan.

Bridge from Manhattan to Roosevelt Island

We then pass through "Hells Gate" this is where the tide runs the strongest and it is critical to get the tides right, so you are running with the tide but not at full flood. We could instantly see why, the water was bubbling up in front of us and once we hit it, we were riding the rapids, Mark fought we the tide to keep us central in the channel and avoid getting swept into the shallower water. We have passed through some challenging tidal gates but this was quite spectacular.

Tide ripping past the buoy

There goes the tide behind us!

We were glass to make it out into the Long Island Sound and it wasn't many miles before we arrived at Manhasset Bay. The shore to the Bay is lined with magnificent houses, it was the location which inspired the Bay in the Great Gatsby.

If you look closely you can see some of the amazing properties lining the shore

Port Washington is the major town in the/Bay and would be our home for the next few weeks. Although there are 100's of mooring buoys in the Bay there was also plenty of space for us to anchor.

Lots of moored boats in Port Washington

The sun starting to set in Port Washington

Thursday, September 5, 2013

New York - On Top of the City

Cycling in New York is scary! We only had to cycle from the hire shop to Central Park which was only a few blocks away but still quite an experience when you have not cycled on busy roads for the last couple of years! Seeing Central Park on bikes is great, you get to see so much more, but it is quite odd cycling along with the rickshaws, cars and horse and carriage.  We enjoyed another trip to the boating lake to see 2 fantastic statues, one of Hans Christian Anderson and the other of Alice and Wonderland.

Amanda being read a story

Alice in Wonderland
Next stop was the Jackie Onassis reservoir which covers 106 acres which did originally provide water for the city and was named after Jackie Onassis as she used to run around it, as do many others on a daily basis.  The Belvedere Castle provides some good views over the Park although we did not venture inside the castle.

Belvedere Castle

View from Castle

View over the reservoir 
At the northern end of the park there are various wooded areas and it is worth taking some time of the bike to explore a little as it is much quieter at this end of the Park.

Amanda and here lovely little bike

It really can be quiet in Central Park
Our afternoon was spent in Times Square queuing for tickets for a show that evening, as Mark is not a big fan of musicals we decided on a play, Perfect Crime has been running in NY for 26 years and the lead female character has played the role for all but 4 shows!  It was easy to get tickets for this show as not hugely popular and managed to save a little on the standard price by buying in this way.  The theatre was small and we were in the second row, so great seats.  The play was entertaining, a little funny, quite odd but it did keep us guessing. We finished the night off with a visit to the busy night time Times Square.

Waiting for the queueing to begin in Times Square
Next day and on route to Empire State Building by 8am, although we had booked tickets online we wanted to ensure we did all we could to miss the crowds.  The excitement builds even as you enter the building.

Entrance to Empire State Building
Luckily there was no queue for ticket pickup and just a couple of people ahead of us through the security.  It is like a maze to make it up to the top and I can only imagine how busy it can get.  The views from the 86th floor were amazing, we were lucky that it was not too busy and we could get close to the edge to make the most of the experience.  We also purchased an audio tour which we would very rarely do but worth it as it was actually very informative.  Every direction of the view was amazing and each time you looked you saw something new, from the significant sights like the World Trade Centre, the Chrysler Building, Central Park to the roof top gardens and the grid layout of the streets lined with taxis it was spectacular.  We had also spent the extra to visit the 102nd Floor, which is a small enclosed viewing platform 200ft higher which does mean you can see more but not sure it is worth the extra money but still a great view.

FlatIron Building  - was the original skyscraper in NY

Central Manhattan with Lower Manhattan in the distance

Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge

Chrysler Building - once the tallest building in NY

Mark engrossed in his audio tour

Spot Macys

Amanda hanging on the edge on 86th floor

Amanda admiring the view from 102nd floor

Even higher up!

Saying goodbye to the Empire State
Next day and we make our way to Lower Manhattan, we pick up our pre-booked tickets for the 911 Memorial  - not really worth pre-booking if you need to pick these up as you join the same queue as people without pre-booked tickets.  The surrounding area is still very much a building site, the 1 World Trade Centre which stands 1776 feet tall (the tallest building in US) looks complete and the 2 commemorative pools are complete but due to surrounding development you are still required to go through security to enter the area.  The pools stand on the footprints of the original Twin Towers and bronze surround are engraved with the names for the 2983 victims.  Whilst picking up the tickets there were various photos from the scene of the attacks which were very moving but with the volume of people and the noise close to the reflection pools some of the ambience was lost although saying that you still can’t help think back to that awful day.

Reflection Pool

1 World Trade Centre

Wow it is tall!

We were then onto the Staten Ferry for a free view of the Statue of Liberty, funny that this is actually a public ferry but there were lots of tourists doing the same as us rather than paying for a specific boat trip. The Battery Park is also  a nice place to watch the world go by and the mayhem of all the boat trips.

Mark with Manhattan in the distance

Ellis Island

Statue of Liberty and queues of visitors

Windswept Amanda on the ferry
We had enjoyed our stay at 79th yacht basin as such a great location but shame that it is quite so dilapidated, each day when we would leave our dingy in the marina we would run the gauntlet of the rickety hurricane damaged pontoons and be relieved to make it onto dry land. As the tides turns there is debris everywhere both in the marina and floating up and down the river, quite scary when you see a full size railway sleeper floating towards the boat! Even getting in the dingy to go ashore with the super strong tide running in the river.

Magnum on her mooring in the Hudson river

Look at the debris floating in the water in the marina 

See on the right a pontoon complete destroyed and no longer in use

Same destroyed pontoon - marina waiting for hurricane repair funds

Leaving the Hudson River at day break.