Back in New York, New York

11th - 17th  September 2005

It was a poignant moment as we motored around Manhattan Island on 11th September at the exact time the horrific terrorist attacks had taken place at the World Trade Center four years earlier.    A memorial service was being held at the Ground Zero Site with the names of all the victims being read aloud by relatives.   The reading of the names hadn't been completed in the two hours it took us to travel around the island, which really brought home the number of victims.     Later that evening in tribute to those lost, the former sites of the twin towers were lit up with searchlights shining into the sky........

Approaching Manhattan four years to the minute after the terrorist attacks

Tribute to the victims of 911


We were safely moored at the Boat Basin in time to head out to Broadway for a Greek-style Sunday Brunch and a stroll around Central Park in the sweltering heat for a spot of people-watching. 

Next day we had a brainwave to head over on the ferry to Staten Island and check out the harbour at Great Kills, which, from our charts, seemed to offer more protection, just in case Hurricane Ophelia should head our way.    

Phil enjoying a free ride across the Hudson

Sunday Afternoon People Watching in Central Park

   First we had to take the subway to the station at the South Ferry Terminal.  To alight at that station you had to be sure to be in the first five cars of the train.  This led to some entertaining racing between cars at stops along the line, as we made sure we were far enough up the train.    We weren't alone, plenty of other people were leaping off the train at the different stations on the way, racing up the platform, battling through the exiting crowds, to make progress up the train and then leaping back on just before the doors shut.   We were just glad we'd known about this beforehand, as announcements on the subway train were totally unintelligible to us.    Who said it was a common language?
The recently renovated ferry terminal building was quite impressive and the fact that the ferry was free of charge even more so.    There ended the list of impressive things about our trip to Staten Island.   After a long bus ride we arrived at the bus stop at Great Kills Park, only to find the harbour was a walk of about three miles distant.    As it was another scorching hot day we gave up our challenge and took the next bus back to the ferry.   We found Staten Island pretty unimpressive.   

Preparations in full swing in Little Italy for the festival of San Gennaro

Back in Manhattan we checked out Chinatown.   As we'd already eaten lunch and weren't in the market for a cheap knock-off handbag or watch, it didn't have too much to offer us.   Suddenly on rounding a corner we found ourselves in the Little Italy district, New York was certainly a city of contrasts.  Little Italy was in the throws of preparing for the festival of San Gennaro.   Streets were blocked off and restaurants were being expanded onto the pavements.      The street closures, when combined with other nearby street closures for the UN General Assembly in the City and the resulting fleets of black stretch limos ferrying the VIPs around, led to a pretty chaotic and noisy traffic gridlock.    New York was one of the few places we'd visited in the US where having a car was definitely more problematical than being without one.
As on our previous visit to the city, much of our itinerary was based on the list we had showing which attractions were free of charge on which days.    On Tuesday we were off to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, a new adventure as we hadn't crossed the East River to Brooklyn previously.   We made sure we took different subway lines there and back, so we experienced both the tunnel beneath the East River and crossing over the Bridge on our way back.   The Botanical Gardens were on a much smaller scale than the ones we visited previously in the Bronx, which meant less walking in the head.  They offered a peaceful and shady oasis in the hot city.

We took a tourist ferry out to Liberty Island to have a closer look at the Statue of Liberty.  Unless you were queuing up at first light, it wasn't possible to visit the inside of the Statue.   We ate possibly the worst food we've ever had in the United States at the cafe at the Statue and then got back on the ferry to hop over to Ellis Island.

Brooklyn Botanical Gardens

Main hall at Ellis Island

The museum at Ellis Island was fascinating and gave a great insight into how it must have felt to arrive in the United States in steerage class.    Ship passengers who'd paid higher fares were processed aboard ship but those in third class were subject to long waits prior to vetting for suitability to enter the country.    

The first stage was a health inspection where any sickly looking arrivals were weeded out.   The most gruesome part of the medical examination was an eye inspection which involved rolling back the eyelids with a large metal hook.   If you survived the medical examination, the next stage was a background check.    We enquired how the authorities were able to check into the arrivals' background and it transpired that basically you were asked if you were a criminal, political activist or insane, which you would have to have been to answer yes.


The immigration statistics on display were fascinating reading and on viewing how many million people emigrated from England to the USA, Australia, Canada and New Zealand each year, it was a wonder anybody was left there.   Also strange was the fact that everybody emigrated from England or Ireland with apparently no arrivals recorded from Wales or Scotland!    Geography was obviously not a strong point with the statisticians.

On our last day in New York we made use of the free Friday evening admittance to re-visit the Museum of Modern Art, which we'd really enjoyed on our last visit.    As a final farewell to New York, we then wandered down to Times Square to see the big city lights.

Big City Lights of Times Square


Leaving New York

When the tide turned in our favour next morning we made our way down the Hudson, stopping briefly to refuel before motoring on to nearby Sandy Hook, where we anchored overnight, ready to make an early start south next morning. 

It seemed that the weather would be perfect for our trip, northerly winds were forecast for the period when we would be motoring south along the shore of New Jersey and then the wind was expected to shift to the south east at about the time we would be turning north west up the Delaware river.   Needless to say the reality was the complete opposite, leaving us to motor into the wind southwards down the coast of New Jersey before a wind shift left us motoring directly into the wind up the Delaware River.   Although weather forecasts in the States gave excellent local detail,  we were beginning to realise often they didn't actually bear much resemblance to reality! 

We were relieved that we'd carefully carried out tidal calculations for our route, so at least we had the current in our favour as we motored quickly up the Delaware River and then shot through the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal into the Chesapeake Bay at around eight knots!

After 36 hours of motoring we were happy to anchor overnight in the Sassafras River and then after attempting to press on to Annapolis next morning but finding fifteen knots of wind right on the nose again, to spend another quiet day in the Sassafras resting.    We decided to move a few miles to an anchorage at Still Pond, to cut down the distance for the following day and were worried on the way there when we found sea quiet choppy that the anchorage would be uncomfortable for the night.   Bizarrely once we entered the bay, which was wide open to the wind direction we found that although the bay was choppy, one corner was completely flat and calm for some inexplicable reason, so we were able to spend a comfortable night after all. 


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