Block Island was closed for the winter season. Literally it was closed. We were planning to grab a mooring for a few days, but all of the moorings were gone, only small orange floats left behind.
We tried to contact the marina that rented the moorings. No answer on VHF or on the phone. We called another marina and were told that the marina was closed and the moorings were removed, and no private moorings were available. He had space in his marina, if we wished. We decided to anchor out.
We anchored over to the eastern side of Great Salt Pond, with another couple of boats. We had plenty of room, and watched as the sky clouded up; weather was promised to be poor. We felt that we were in a good place for protection, although the forecast called for continued strong NW winds.
Our first night was pretty terrifying. We were watching a movie in the salon about 8 pm. We felt the boat heal over, and rock. It felt like a massive wake had hit us. We went into the pilot house and looked out into the blackness, and felt the wind gusting and causing us to list. We peered into the night and watched an anchor light in front of us. It was moving. The boat ahead of us, had anchored late was dragging her anchor, and she was heading right toward us.
I turned on our Carlisle and Finch spot light, and could see the wind waves with the tops blown off by the gusty wind. We learned later that the wind hit 60 knots. We watched as the sailboat’s anchor light came closer to us. I was afraid he was going to drag right down on top of us. We started our engine and powered up instruments anticipating trying to move as much as our anchor chain would allow, to avoid the dragging sailboat. We watched the radar as the squall appeared as a huge red spot on the radar screen. We tried calling the boat on the VHF. We did not know its name, but received no answer. I sounded our air horn, and shined the powerful beam of light on the boat, hoping to wake the crew. The boat dragged to our port side, and thank fully she went by us without getting too close.
We watched in disbelief as she passed us within about 50 feet, and finally her anchor caught. By now the boat was about 200 meters behind us; safely downwind. We never saw any movement on her decks during the entire ordeal. The wind storm passed and the wind eased, the rain continued, and the night sky was alive with flashes of lightening. We shut down the engine, left the instruments on, the radar on standby. I tried to sleep in the watch berth so I could keep my eyes on the anchorage. I got some sleep, but was far from rested the next day.
Weather forecast was for more NW winds, and the next day abating some, ahead of a truly strong gale. We had about 2 days before the Northerly gale was forecast to hit the area.
It was windy and wet the next day, although we did not experience anything like the first night squall. We spoke to another boat, a sailing cat, who too attempted to contact our drifter. We still could not reach anyone on the boat. The cat was planning to depart tomorrow ahead of the forecasted squall, he too was heading south.
We called the marina to see if they could take us for the night. They reported that they were closed due to an ‘incident’ last night that damaged their docks. We guessed that a boat had messed up the dock last night during our squall.
Luckily our second night was uneventful, and we got some sleep. We decided to take the short weather window to try to get to New York, past Sandy Hook, and into Great Kill Harbour in Staten Island. The planned course was to stay close to Long Island hoping to get shelter in the lee from the westerly winds.
130 miles, was our planned route an overnight run about 26-27 hours. We departed about 1130 am, heading right into the 5-6 wind waves, as the 20-30 knot winds agitated the seas across the Long Island Sound. We knew we had an unpleasant few hours ahead of us as we cleared Block Island, and turned south making the run toward Montauk before, hopefully, getting shelter from Long Island.
And we did. The ride was unpleasant until we passed Montauk, and it got better and better as Long Island sheltered us. We were so happy to have the nice conditions; we kept thinking that they would end soon. But they continued, and we had a great run to New York Harbour entrance. We hit some commercial traffic as we crossed the NY City ship channel. I was on watch, with AIS targets surrounding me, when a pilot vessel contacted me and asked me to pass to his starboard side to behind him as he was waiting for a 300 meter container ship, which was coming up behind me at 17 knots.
I was more than happy to oblique the pilot boat’s instructions. I watched as the container ship came toward us, and slowed to take on the harbor pilot and change his course to enter into New York.
The skyline of NYC is pretty amazing from offshore. I spent the rest of the watch amazed in the beauty of the biggest city in the US, as the sun rose.
We started our course past Sandy Hook and toward Staten Island, entering Great Kills Harbour at 830. It was very nice to get tied up to the tee head at the marina. The marina was primarily local boats, and was well protected from the North-North East, the direction the gale was forecast to blow.
We spent that day on the boat, it was wet and the winds came as promised. But we were happy with the protection.
Finally the following day, the storm passed. We decided to be tourists and see New York City. My first time in New York, Jenny has of course visited NY a number of times in the past. She spent her 40th with here BF’s in NY at the top of the World Trade Center, which of course is gone after 911.
We walked from the marina to the main highway, about 2 miles, where we caught a bus to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. The bus ride was entertaining, as we observed some local characters. We boarded the massive ferry boat in the biggest ferry terminal I have ever seen. We had first class views of NYC, past Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. The ferry ride is free, and took about ½ hour. We walked off the ferry and were downtown NYC.
I really felt like a county boy here. Locals rushed past us, it was Saturday so the rush was pretty non -existent.
We walked for miles, stopping to look up at the skyscrapers. We both looked on solemnly at the Twin Towers monuments, and the new structures. It was very emotional to be standing where the biggest act of terrorism in the world/US had taken place. Everywhere we went in New York we met someone who lost someone in the attacks. It was WOW.
We walked for hours, stopping to take photos, watching people, watching street mimes and entertainers, going past familiar buildings (from TV). We found a great Italian place for lunch in Little Italy, run by a loud Italian guy, who told me to sit with my back to the wall. Just a good practice he advised.
We walked through Broadway and Times Square, just as it was getting twilight, and the lights were coming on. It was a visually overwhelming sensation, lights and music, and throngs of people.
We found our way to the subway station, to try to get back to Staten Island, learned that we good take the tube to the Ferry Terminal, and then the Ferry back to Staten Island, which we did.
Everything felt like a movie scene. All the people like movie characters, the city was really amazing. We reached the ferry in Staten Island and took a train to the village near Great Kills which was about 3 miles from the marina. The last leg of the trip was an Uber to the boat. With sore feet we left the Uber and walked back to Southern Star.
It is really amazing to me to be able to see such an iconic place like NYC and return to your own home at the end of the day.
The next day we learned that our old friends on Shalaylee, a nice 55 Fleming trawler were docking in the same marina. We happily caught up with Sheryl and Lee watched the NE Patriots at a sports bar in Great Kills that Monday night.
We both departed the next day for the rest of our journey. We planned to go offshore to Cape May and up the Delaware River to the C&D canal. Shalaylee stopped at New Jersey for a few days before heading on the Annapolis.