In her previous guest post for Sandeman’s Yachting Chronicles, owner of the Henk Tingen 46ft yawl ENDEAVOR, Candy Masters, took us to Norway via Cape Horn. This time we’re closer to home, but on a no less exciting adventure, sailing through the Big Apple, seeing it like nobody normally does. Over to Candy…
WHAT IF WE DON’T STOP?
For many people, a visit to New York City is a once in a lifetime experience but there is no doubt it can also be an assault on the senses: remarkable sights, sounds, smells, music, Broadway, architecture, history and nearly an infinite selection of restaurants, cafes, street vendors and shops vying for your custom and where even walking on the sidewalk is an experience unlike anywhere else.
David said he didn’t want to go… crime, crowds and a preconceived notion of what it would be like had made his mind up. But I had sailed to (and through) other large cities before and knew from experience that many cities look their very best from the deck of a small boat. Still wanting to convince him that sailing down the East River was an idea worth considering I suggested, “Well, what if we don’t stop?” I could tell his arguments all fell away at that moment and a vision of the Statue of Liberty standing proudly in the Harbor popped into my head.
For various reasons we found ourselves heading south from Cape Cod just after Christmas and considering the choices: going offshore three hundred and some miles from Buzzards Bay to Delaware Bay or coastal cruising down Long Island Sound. The weather forecast dictated that a sense of prudence would see us heading west down the funnel that starts at Block Island, where we were anchored. A doozy of an ice storm was expected on the evening of January 1st so it was vital that we make it to a sheltered anchorage by then. Great Kills on Staten Island is a land locked anchorage, perfect! We just had to get there, a distance of about 160 miles, more or less.
Now of course the tides and currents must be considered and the daylight hours are very short at this time of year so having just a few days to cover the distance we checked the tides for Hell’s Gate in the narrows between Randall’s Island and Long Island where the “East River” begins: HW slack 6:50 AM. Hmmm, at least there won’t be a lot of other traffic on the river at that time, we assured ourselves.
The long (overnight) passage under power was cold but calm and the lights twinkled along both shores as we navigated from one navigation aid to the next. A bit of excitement on my watch when one buoy failed to make an appearance on schedule but eventually the missing aid was discovered in the nick of time with its light not functioning, a note was made in the log and we carried on. The next day we reported the extinguished mark to the proper authorities and made our way into the lovely large anchorage at Manhasset Bay. After anchoring and tidying the deck we ate a fried egg sandwich each and both took a long uninterrupted sleep with the alarm set for 4:30 AM. A little after midnight I heard fireworks on shore and woke up to glance at my watch… Sleepily I kissed my sweetie and whispered “Happy New Year” before rolling over and going back to sleep.
Rising in the dark has never been my favorite thing but we were both bright eyed and excited while dressing warmly and wolfing down a bowl of oatmeal before reporting on-deck for our last leg en route to Great Kills. A deep navy blue sky with no hint of dawn stretched into the infinity of Space. Nothing quite so crisp and crystal clear as a cloudless winter sky, the moon having set long since, had left the stars and planets competing with the tiny red lights on the bridges, radio masts and other tall objects, for our attention which naturally had to be focused on steering and navigation. Our ears strained for odd or unfamiliar sounds over the thrum of the diesel engine and hot coffee from lidded cups was a comfort in the cold morning air.
The first two bridges were left behind above our straight wake as the sky pinked-up ever so slowly. It was still quite twilighty as Hell’s Gate was negotiated, the swirling water looking quite oily and black below the night sky. Another bridge was ticked off the list and now we were right next to Manhattan, the Big Apple, “Noo Yoke Sitty.” FDR Drive was as quiet as a churchyard, we couldn’t hear any horns or car alarms, and with the tide behind us we slowed our engine and glided along, speaking in whispers. A lone pedestrian leaned on a railing above watching our progress, I waved and he waved back, connecting across the water with a simple form of communication as old as the human race itself. David and I felt like we were tiptoeing past an immense sleeping giant and adjusted the throttle back to cruising speed.
“My breath caught in my throat as I paused on the deck in my picture taking…”
Ahead the beautiful arches of the classic silhouettes of the Manhattan Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge came into view as we rounded a bend in the river. My breath caught in my throat as I paused on the deck in my picture taking (the light levels finally allowing a few dim snaps of the scenery.) There, framed between the supports of the last bridge was Lady Liberty herself. She was bright turquoise and catching the first early lumens of sunrise. I found it hard to see or speak as tears sprung into my eyes. The Statue has welcomed travelers to NYC since the 1880s but this morning she was for us alone as the waters of the Hudson were virtually empty and we turned towards the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge, the last soaring span we would pass under on that momentous day.
ENDEAVOR is an auxiliary sailing yawl of 1950s vintage and turns heads wherever she goes. Regretfully, I am offering her for sale to some lucky new owners. You can see her in Ipswich, England, by making an appointment through Sandeman Yacht Company, purveyors of many beautiful classic vessels.
Full particulars for ENDEAVOR can be found here