Wednesday, November 15th, 2017 starts with cool temperatures, but clear skies, so the bridge will be considerably warmer for this trip than yesterday. Our re-verified reports still call for northeast winds at 8-10 knots and seas at 2-3 feet with 5-6 second periods, so we shove off at 10:10 am for the short 31 nautical mile trip to Great Kills Yacht Club in Staten Island. Tracy has kept in contact with John Caliscibetta for three weeks now as we’ve planned this stop for a while. John is an America’s Great Loop Cruiser’s Association Harbor Host and a Gold Looper. AGLCA Harbor Hosts are volunteers to the association who devote their time, hospitality, experience and knowledge to passing AGLCA Loopers. These are members who volunteer to assist Loopers when they enter the Harbor Hosts’ home waters. (Most will recommend services, share local knowledge and navigational tips, and often provide transportation for re-provisioning.- tc) John is our first contact with a Harbor Host and so far he’s been extremely helpful even though we’ve only met on the phone.
Today’s run will take us past some of the most densely populated scenery and some of the busiest waters even for mid-November in the northeast. So even though we have a short run, we want to get going and budget extra time for any event that might delay us. We will be running the entire East River passing such icons as Riker’s Island, LaGuardia International Airport, the United Nations Building, all of Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and Hell Gate.
Hell Gate is a tidal convergence from Long Island Sound, Harlem River and the upper bay of New York Harbor. (All at different tide levels! -tc) The goal is to pass Hell Gate at slack tide for the smoothest ride. We had a little bit of planning luxury, but we wanted to get going nonetheless. So we experienced a bit of eddy action, but nothing Kailani couldn’t handle.
Coming out of the east side of Roosevelt Island we could see the United Nations Building immediately to our starboard side and the entire of Manhattan Island opened up to our close-up view. This is truly a spectacular sight from the water. Also, the southern tip of Roosevelt Island was the green light for the crisscrossing maneuvers of the New York Transit Ferries and the ensuing wakes resulting from those maneuvers. This would be the heaviest seas we’ve encountered to date and they’re not even from mother nature! John had clued us in that when we passed under the Brooklyn Bridge we should turn to port and keep Governor’s Island to our starboard. This would save a few miles and keep us out of the main channel for a while longer, thus avoiding the parking lot of barges anchored in the channel waiting for entry into their respective ports. Tracy did some research and found that the Smothers Brothers were born on Governor’s Island. (Mom always liked you best! -tc)
As we came out the south side of Governor’s we had an extremely gigantic Maersk liner bearing down on us from our starboard stern as we maneuvered into the main channel. I wasn’t completely confident that we should cut in front of this floating iceberg that was only two miles off our stern, but with careful lookout and Tracy prodding me that we were totally safe, (I sorta, kinda, not really called him a chicken but “prodding” is a better word. -tc) I got into the main channel ahead of the container ship and made way for the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and Staten Island. Tracy was completely correct, we had plenty of water between us and Maersk. The Verrazano Narrows Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world when it opened and the amazing thing is that the Engineers had to take into account the curvature of the earth at that distance and the two supporting towers are actually farther apart at the top than at the base!
Once we were safely under the bridge we turned to starboard to follow the coast of Staten Island down to Great Kills. Tracy had been in constant contact with John Caliscibetta throughout today’s trip notifying him when we left City Island to texting him when we passed under the bridge. John had told us that he was handling another one of his volunteer duties today and counseling seniors on medicare options and choices and he would be tied up until 2:00 or 2:30 pm. Since we had left City Island right at high tide, we had gotten a four knot push all the way down the East River, so we were motoring at 9 knots but moving over ground at 13 knots. This put us entering Great Kills Harbor around 1:00 pm and John would not be able to meet us on the dock, but gave us specific directions for how to navigate the harbor and where to tie up. His advice was spot on and at 1:15 we were tied up, electrically connected and waiting for John to show up when he became available. Tracy had told him that if there was any way to get water into our holding tank that would be appreciated, since our dirty dishes were building up and Tracy could not use her vac-u-flush without water in the holding tank. (Actually, I threatened to come to his house to do both. -tc)
When John showed up and met us, he immediately went to work stringing out about 300 feet of hose to get from their water supply, down the entire run of docks and onto Kailani so we could get about one hundred gallons of freshwater into our holding tank. Now we can do the dishes and use the second head on board! After John acclimated us to the club, and the expectations for us, he offered to take us to the local Frank & Sal’s Italian Market to replenish our cupboards. (What a delight! So many thing fresh and homemade. Sauces, and pestos, and sausages, oh my! However, the most amazing thing was the vanilla coffee cake. Anyone how knows me well, knows I will butter anything. THIS cake did not need butter. In fact, butter would have ruined it. We went to this market twice and the second time bought two cakes. -tc) Tracy asked about access to the bus into the city and John offered to meet us later tonight in the clubhouse and he’d provide us his pass and route maps so we could explore the city at our leisure.
As we look at the marine forecasts looking for a decent window to make the 81 nautical mile trip to Atlantic City it seems that we may be here for potentially a week waiting for fair seas. At least we won’t be held up by smoke!! (My chance to edu-ma-cate Nick on the finer points of life in NYC. -tc)