Valley Boy

The early morning air was redolent with the tang of low tide on the Hudson River as I steered upriver, bound for Lake Ontario via the Erie and Oswego canals. I’d gotten underway shortly after dawn to ride the flood tide north. The Manhattan skyline towered above me to starboard. Behind me the green-hued Statue of Liberty looked grand in the soft sunlight. The sounds of bustling Manhattan and
Author:
Updated:
Original:

The early morning air was redolent with the tang of low tide on the Hudson River as I steered upriver, bound for Lake Ontario via the Erie and Oswego canals. I’d gotten underway shortly after dawn to ride the flood tide north. The Manhattan skyline towered above me to starboard. Behind me the green-hued Statue of Liberty looked grand in the soft sunlight. The sounds of bustling Manhattan and Jersey City carried over the river and seemed to meet in the middle–—an incessant low-key thrum punctuated with the roar of jets.

hudson

I had just begun this solo inland passage aboard my Bristol 24, Elizabeth. It was an adventure I’d dreamed about for a long time. The Big Apple was simply the first bite of this cruise. I savored it, knowing this urban scenery would soon give way to a more bucolic backdrop on a river often referred to as the Rhine of America.

Stretching 315 miles from the Battery to its headwaters at Lake Tear of the Clouds high in the Adirondack Mountains, the Hudson River is an estuary for nearly half its length. The tides reach 153 miles upriver to Troy, New York, traveling up a valley gouged out by Ice Age glaciers that carved the bluffs and mountains along the river’s shores. With the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, the river became a hub of maritime commerce, a vital link between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. The Hudson is still busy. As you sail north or south, oceangoing ships accompany you all the way to Albany or New York Harbor.

In its lower reaches, the Hudson is home to marinas on both shores that offer easy access to the Big Apple’s attractions. Liberty Landing Marina in Jersey City is a popular stop, where you can hop a water taxi to Manhattan or take a ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The adjacent Liberty State Park, with its science center and picturesque promenade, Liberty Walk, is a fun family destination.

As the morning progressed, a gentle breeze from the south riffled the smooth water, gradually freshening enough for me to unfurl the genny and kill the engine. The Palisades dominated the view on the Jersey side of the river, its furrowed facades rising steeply from the water’s edge. Roughly 25 nautical miles north of the Battery, the river widens into the Tappan Zee, named for the Tappan Indians that once lived there and for the Dutch word “zee,” which means sea.

Passing under the impressive Tappan Zee Bridge, completed in 1955, I entered the widest section of the Hudson. The broad waters spread out, shimmering in a deep shade of blue. Verdant hills lined the shores, and off the bow to starboard the Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse, a stubby sparkplug, stood as a reminder of the days when 14 lights guided merchant vessels around the river’s more dangerous shoals. The lighthouses date back to 1826, when the Stony Point Lighthouse went into operation.

Also off the starboard bow was Tarrytown, with a marina just north of the bridge. The town was once known as Millionaire’s Colony, because it attracted some of the wealthiest Americans at the beginning of the 20th century. Approximately 85 estates were built in Tarrytown, which boasted the largest concentration of wealth of any community of similar size in the world. Tarrytown was also the home of author Washington Irving, famous for his short stories, including “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” featuring lanky Ichabod Crane and the infamous Headless Horseman. Irving’s home, Sunnyside, is open for tours, as is the Gothic Revival mansion, Lyndhurst, that once belonged to railroad tycoon Jay Gould.

Sailing north of Tarrytown brought me into scenic Haverstraw Bay. I let the wind carry me along, albeit very slowly, as the ebb tide had begun to run. A tug and barge passed me to port, the tug’s engine clearly audible as the tow came abeam. The scene inspired thoughts of the past when steamboats and broad-beamed Hudson River sloops plied these waters. Rounding Croton Point, I made my way to the bight on the north side, right off the beach at Croton Point Park, where I dropped the hook and enjoyed the sunset.

Haverstraw Bay is home to several excellent marinas and yacht clubs, including the resort-like Haverstraw Marina in West Haverstraw, with 1,000 slips, an upscale restaurant and an Olympic-size pool. Near Croton Point Park is Half Moon Bay Marina, situated within walking distance of shops and restaurants in Croton-on-Hudson.

Related

pic00

Installing a Helm Pod

Our 1987 Pearson project boat came with an elderly but functioning Raymarine chartplotter, located belowdecks at the nav station. Since I usually sail solo or doublehanded, it was of little use down there—it needed to be near the helm. When I decided to update the plotter along ...read more

Panamerican

Pan American Game Success

Team USA’s young sailors went to the quadrennial Pan-American Games in Lima, Peru this summer with high hopes, and returned with a good haul of medals—two Golds, three Silvers, and two Bronze. Gold medals went to Ernesto Rodriguez and Hallie Schiffman (Mixed Snipe) and Riley ...read more

190916-AC75

U.S. Team Launches First America’s Cup Boat

Fast forward to around 2:25 to see the boat in action. First day out and already doing full-foiling gybes: not too shabby! Hard on the heels of the unveiling of New Zealand’s first AC75, the New York Yacht Club’s American Magic team has now launched its first America’s Cup ...read more

GGTobCaysHorseshoeColors

Picking a Charter Destination

Picking a destination should reflect the interests of your group, says People often ask about my favorite charter destination, and invariably, I sidestep the question with one of my own: “Well, what do you want to do on your vacation?” Most often I hear an incredulous, “Why, ...read more

sinking

Waterlines: Chasing Leaks on Boats

Chasing leaks on boats is a time-honored obsession. Rule number one in all galaxies of the nautical universe through all of nautical history has always been the same: keep the water on the outside. When water somehow finds its way inside and you don’t know where it’s coming ...read more

BestBoatNominees2020-Promo

Best Boats Nominees 2020

Bring on the monohulls! In a world increasingly given over to multihull sailing, SAIL magazine’s “Best Boats” class of 2020 brings with it a strong new group of keelboats, including everything from luxury cruisers nipping at the heels of their mega-yacht brethren to a number of ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Relieve the load  One of the ancient arts of the sailor is setting up a “stopper” to relieve a loaded rope without letting anything go. The classic use for a stopper is to take the weight off the genoa ...read more

05

Ask Sail: Water Getting into Coax

Q: While inspecting behind the nav station for my spring cleaning, I discovered water behind my chartplotter and VHF radio stack. Freshwater to boot! Do electronics leak? I didn’t think so. — Everette Gracy, Norton Shores, MI Gordan West Replies  Last winter your region was ...read more