New York Harbor! What an exciting, inspirational trip to enter New York Harbor from Long Island! Under the Throgs Neck Bridge, past LaGuardia Airport, up the East River and Hell’s Gate (aptly named), under bridge after bridge including the historic Brooklyn Bridge, around the Battery, and into the Hudson River! The Statue of Liberty on the left, and the Financial District, the new World Trade Center, and Manhatten on the right! A number of pictures are posted on a separate post that I’ll send out momentarily.
Speaking of the Brooklyn Bridge, it was completed around 1880 and was considered at the time to be one of the 7 man-made wonders of the world. The foundations for the two piers were built by sinking a huge upside down wooden box with no bottom into the river, then pumping it full of compressed air to push out the water and create an empty chamber. An airlock (like on a submarine) allowed men to go in and out of the chamber and for excavated material to be brought out. Men with shovels literally dug down beneath the box, causing the box to sink deeper and deeper to get to bedrock. The deeper it got, the more air pressure was needed to keep the water out. Soon some of the workers who emerged from the box after digging all day started to become afflicted with a strange, inexplicable disease. We now know it was the bends, but in 1880 they had no idea what was happening. Many men died, but the work continued. The Chief Engineer, Washington Roebling, became disabled from the bends after emerging from the chamber. He was no longer able to visit the site, but ran the project from his home with his wife as his eyes and ears and messenger. There is evidence that, towards the end, she was making many of the design decisions herself. If you’re interested, “The Great Bridge” by David McCullough is an excellent book about the politics, the financing, and the construction of the bridge.
Back to our trip – so we left City Island around 7:00 AM last Sunday and arrived at Liberty Landing in NJ across from the World Trade Center at 9:30, after an exciting run of 23 miles, dodging ferrys, tugs, and low-flying helicopters. After fueling up and taking on my sister Kate and her friend Michael as passengers for the morning, we headed north on the Hudson and arrived in Poughkeepsie, NY late in the afternoon. The Hudson is a beautiful, historic, interesting place – sights along the way include the Palisades, West Point, incredible bridges (including the George Washington Bridge, made world famous by Chris Christie, the Tappan Zee, and the I-90 bridge), Indian Point Nuclear Power plant, several light-houses, an abandoned castle, and much more. There is also a surprising number of large tankers plying the river between Albany and New York. There are a number of pictures of some of these sights on the next post. Upon arrival in Poughkeepsie, we found free docking in front of a restaurant, adjacent to an enormous railroad bridge that had been converted to a pedestrian crossing. Dave and I hiked about a mile to get up to the bridge – there we learned from interactive signage that it is the longest raised pedestrian crossing in the world! There are pictures in the next post. However, by the time we arrived back at the boat, the restaurant had closed its kitchen. Thankfully, the bar was still open, so after a couple of beers we were ready to tackle the cooking of our own dinner on board.
Monday morning we continued up the river, arriving in Albany, NY by early afternoon. Monday evening, our good friend and colleague Kathleen Sheehan, who lives part-time in Mechanicsville, about 25 miles to the north, drove down with her Mom and took us to a marvelous dinner in Waterford. Not only that, she brought us a care package of goodies which did not last long with this crew around. A most delightful evening!
Back to our arrival earlier in the afternoon – unfortunately (this is the part where patience comes in), our hydraulic steering problem again reared its ugly head. We found a mechanic (Ron), called the manufacturer of the steering system (again), and put our heads together – the consensus was that it must be a defective steering piston. We ordered the parts to be delivered overnight, and Ron put some other work off and set time aside to install them on WEDNESDAY. In the meantime, our nearly-new cutting-edge Garmin GPS/chartplotter had stopped functioning on our way to Albany (patience….). After contacting the factory and trying several fixes, they concluded something had gone haywire with the hardware. After some “discussions”, Garmin agreed to overnight (at their expense) a replacement machine under warranty, and we mailed back ours to them. It was scheduled to arrive on WEDNESDAY. Problems always come in threes, right? The third appeared on Tuesday morning. The head (toilet) clogged and, try as I might, I could not unclog it without taking it completely out. The toilet is euphemistically called a “compact” toilet – I won’t go into any details, but I decided if we’re going to go through the ordeal of removing and reinstalling the toilet, we were going to replace it with a new “man-sized” toilet (I can’t wait to hear the comments about that….). So we ordered one to be delivered overnight, to arrive on WEDNESDAY. A big day shaping up indeed! The toilet arrived first, and Dave and I tackled the project – we called ourselves The Toilet Boys. Success! You can see a picture of our newly-installed man-sized toilet in the next post. The GPS/chartplotter arrived next. Success! Problem two resolved. Only the !#^&*!#! steering problem remained. Ron arrived in the afternoon and after some trials and tribulations, finished at 9:00 PM. Only time will tell if problem three is resolved….
We left Albany early Thursday morning, heading north on the Hudson and into the Champlain Canal. Due to low bridge heights on the Canal, we tied to the wall in Waterford and lowered the radar tower. We transited five locks and arrived in Schuylerville, NY by mid afternoon. Along the way, we encountered a massive dredging operation and learned upon arrival in Schuylerville that it is a superfund clean-up operation being paid for by General Electric to remove PCB’s from the sediment in the riverbed. It is supposed to be the largest environmental clean-up operation in the world, and GE has spent over $1 billion so far. However, it is quite controversial – many people believe that there is more harm in stirring up the contamination to try to remove it than to leave it in place. In talking with some of the local people in Schuylerville, it appears that the vast majority of local residents are not in favor of the project. However, on it goes. There are some pictures of the dredging and of us locking through on the next post. By the way, a really great and readable book that tells the story of the clean-up of the Hudson River is “Riverkeepers” by Robert Kennedy, Jr., who is an environmental lawyer who sued many cities, towns, and companies starting in the early 70’s to force them to stop polluting the river,
So the boat is tucked in in Schuylerville for the next 4 days while I travel to attend my daughter’s graduation – a treat indeed! We plan to return next Monday night and resume our travels on Tuesday with a new crew – Tom and his son Ted join me for the next month – a treat indeed!
Incidentally, due to “technical difficulties” between me and the website, I’ve put the pictures that would normally accompany this post on a separate post that I’ll send out momentarily. The order and placement of the pictures is somewhat random as determined by the website until I can figure out how to do it my way –