We finally made it to the Chesapeake Bay. It feels like we’ve accomplished something huge! We’ve completed leg 1 and are taking some time to kick back and relax.
Our apologies for no blog posts this past week but we’ve been super busy getting to a secure harbour because of all the hurricane fuss and also, I used up all the data so we couldn’t post 🙄. But we also had the great fortune to meet some wonderful fellow cruisers and are spending time hanging out with them and exploring the area. Thanks for all your enquirers though, it makes us feel special!
To catch up on things, having lolly-gagged in Newport for four days and having a load of fun, we finally pulled anchor and headed further west into Long Island Sound. We sailed along the Connecticut coast, having toured a little in the area last year while on a boat hunting trip. Connecticut is lovely, and is chock-a-block with marinas and boats. Our first night we settled into a little place called Old Saybrook, where we had visited the year before. It was pretty and also had are free moorings for the night, which is a bonus! We tied up, got the boat ready, had a nice meal and settled in for the night.
What we didn’t fully investigate was our proximity to the river. Essentially we were sitting in a channel with significant tide, so Ingomar was rolling and tossing all night. It was the worst sleep we had on board yet and we were up pretty early the next day to make our way further into Long Island Sound.
I was pretty keen on crossing over to Long Island where there are fewer river channels like we had experienced on the Connecticut side the previous night. We used our tools we had at hand to find a great spot to hang out and Oyster Bay was the winner. We pulled in late that night having completed almost 70 nm and dropped the anchor in a beautiful harbour. Oyster Bay lives up to its name and early the next morning we awoke to a boat, dragging the bay for oysters.
The area is gorgeous with large estates that line the shore, nestled in lush settings with sprawling lawns that ease into sandy beaches. Out front there is usually a lovely yacht or fast looking power yacht. We stayed in Oyster Bay for a couple of days but decided to venture in further to situate ourselves closer to New York City. Travelling down the East river can be a challenge as the tides and currents that flow through the river can get tricky and once again timing is everything. We decided to get close enough so we were within an hour of Throg’s Neck, the gnarly entrance to the river.
I read about a place called Port Washington, about 25 nautical miles west of our location in Oyster Bay. We did a quick sail over, arriving around 11:30 am into a busy and vibrant harbour. Port Washington is probably the most accommodating harbour we have encountered since we started cruising. They have free mooring balls and pump-outs for boaters, and also offer a water taxi for a nominal fee to take you into the city. The town dock was abuzz on Sunday afternoon with families and fishers lounging in the sun, fishing off the dock or out for a stroll. They have a pretty boardwalk that borders the perimeter of the waterfront, with parks throughout.
We took our dinghy into the town dock and went off to do some exploring as well as provisioning. Our food supply on the boat usually only lasts about 4-5 days because we tend to eat a lot of fresh fruits and veggies. Also, our fridge is limited in size so I typically have enough food to do about a week before the pantry thins out and before I have to get really creative.
One very cool thing about Port Washington is the significant amount of fish in the water. It is teaming with schools of fish, which the locals called bunker. Consequently the bird population was thriving with egrets, gulls, swans, geese, terns and so on and made for a very active place to sit and watch. Filbert loved it and tried more than once to catch a cormorant or gull that landed on our stern. He also had a bit of a scuffle with two local swans, where I had to intervene.
The winds came up once we’d settled in Port Washington which meant we couldn’t go anywhere for at least 3-4 days. We had a north easterly with gusts up to 40 knots, so we settled in and spent equal time relaxing and working on the boat. We had bought Flexi solar panels at the Newport Boat show and installed those while in Oyster Bay. We also did some maintenance such as installing a navigational light in the dinghy, which is a must in many US harbours. We’ve seen the Coast Guard ticket several boaters for not having proper navigational lights aboard when travelling at night. I also did a thorough cleaning of the boat, taking cushions out to air and cleaning all the lockers etc. The weather had been very hot and sunny, so it was the ideal opportunity.
On Tuesday we decided to take a run into New York City and explore. I cannot imagine a better city to explore! The train from Port Washington to New York took about 40 mins and was $13 round trip. We headed to Eataly so I could get some provisions not readily available in the stores we’d been shopping in and we also took time for lunch. Eataly, boasts 60, 000 glorious feet of Italian food with 6 restaurants, and areas dedicated to cheese, charcuterie, pasta, bread, fish, meat, olive oil, vinegars, sweets, wine and produce. After Al dragged me out of the store we headed down Broadway and walked through Soho and Tribeca, checking out the sights. We walked to lower Manhattan and toured the Freedom tower and 911 Memorial fountain. It’s still surreal to see the size of this area and how much was affected during 911. After touring lower Manhattan we took the subway back to our train station and headed back to the boat, beat but happy.
The next couple of days were more overcast so we hung out and read. I’ve been completing a book every 3 days or so and love having this much time to devote to reading. Al has also been kicking back and enjoying the leisure component of our adventure. Finally when a weather window opened we decided to make the jump, and after consulting tides and weather reports to ensure we we were entering the river at the right time, we made our great escape to NYC. We had little doubt as we neared New York that our timing was fine, for there were many sailboats and power boats all headed in the same direction.
Sailing down the East river and past New York city was beyond thrilling. I don’t have a bucket list, but if I did, that sail would have been near the top. Our transit went without a hitch, with courteous boaters all around us and very little commercial traffic. As we neared the Statue of Liberty, traffic increased significantly, with loads of tourist boats and helicopters in the area, and an increased presence by the NYDP via fast boats. I took a gazillion pictures, revelling in seeing the iconic structures from a new viewpoint.
After sailing past the Statue of Liberty, we headed towards Sandy Hook, where we planned to anchor for the night before sailing down the New Jersey coast.
Its been so much fun this past couple of weeks, and while its been challenging we are loving the experience. Our apologies for the length of time we took to post this entry, but its been busy. We’re currently in Chesapeake Bay headed for Annapolis and the boat show and plan to get you all up to speed on our current plans.