Brooklyn’s a Bust

We left Sandy Point before 8am, heading for the big city.  The trip was exciting, partly because it was uneventful.  Here’s a major moment of glee:

I really like the little lighthouses that lead from the Atlantic into NY Harbor.  That’s the Ambrose Channel West Bank Range Front Light.  Whew.

We had a fine time motoring into the East River.  Fretting at the cost of diesel only took a little shine off the morning, since there was no changing the fact that we were on a schedule and the wind was on the nose.

We played “Spot the Landmark”  – oh, I know this one!

This schooner, before the Jersey shore, was making great time.

And, of course, the Big Apple.

I always think “assault and” when I see, hear or say the Battery.

The Brooklyn Bridge is particularly effective in the kind of ominous cloud atmosphere we had today.

And a nod to our lovely Baltimore friends.  The Baltimore Domino plant is less of an industrial eyesore than this one.  Mmhmm.

And this is where the story gets good.

We motored up the East River and turned starboard into Newtown Creek.  The creek separates Brooklyn from Long Island City and provides raw sewage dumping in case of heavy rains, scrap metal barge storage, and the foulest smelling water this side of Fells Point.

As we traversed the murky waters, James began to wonder whether or not we would fit under the bridge we were approaching.  I had read that we could.  Shrug.  And James agreed.  But…Damn, that bridge was really short!

Our mast is about 36′ tall and we have a 3′ antenna on top.  The bridge height at max high tide is 36′ according to the charts, with an additional 4′ in the middle of the span because of the curve.  So I had heard, at least.

Being as though it was high tide, we felt a bit uncertain.  We called the bridge tender on both channels 13, which they supposedly monitor, and 16, which everyone should monitor.  No answer either place, but a helpful tug answered us with the cell phone number of the tender.  And they didn’t answer that either.

So we waited about an hour for the tide to drop some.  We were tied up at a  little park at the end of Manhattan Ave in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint.

After waiting for the tide to go out, we went for the bridge.  Boy, was it close!  We have never gone under a bridge that fucking short before.  Hopefully we won’t be doing so again any time soon.  James eased us up to it and then slipped us under.  A great sigh was heard across the waters.

And shortly thereafter, we turned into Whale Creek.  The loudest moorage we’ve ever experienced.

The park is kinda neat looking.  It’s got a lot of great botanical specimens, but it is still a shit processing plant and home of one of the worst environmental disasters of mankind.  An oil spill that lasted almost 25 years.

But we look great on that dock!

They were shoving, grinding, smashing huge sheets of metal into the bottom with a sound that must have topped 100 decibels of sheer pain.  The goal seemed to be to sheathe a dock so that industrial barges could bash it with impunity.

Meanwhile, right off our port after quarter were 4 barged stacked 15 high in destroyed automobiles.  Living the dream, baby.

All this would have been fine (they couldn’t work 3 shifts on that shit, right?), so James stayed to babysit the boat during the falling tide and I went for a nice long walk to the YMCA.  A great guy there let me in to shower for the first time in four days.  He was warm and sympathetic, and didn’t even charge me.  Perhaps I really, really needed that shower.

As soon as I walked out, refreshed, James called.

“Ok.  Let me see if I can describe this.  About 2 feet under the massive bolt heads that supported the base of the dock – the ones we were barely fending off?  There’s another level of structure sticking out 3′ further from the bulkhead.  I’m holding her off by hand.”

My response boiled down to gotta go!

That structure was covered in barnacles, so the tide dropped our hull against it and the result was a grinding sound.  James leaped onto the deck and found himself without any options.  He had to keep the boat off that damn wall until I could get back.  Being as though it was over a mile away, it took me a minute.

He slacked the lines, put his shoes on, fended off, slacked the lines more, and moved up and down the boat making sure we weren’t going to grind on those concrete blocks under the water.  My hero!

When I showed up, he was pretty mellow.  We smoothly released the mooring lines and shoved – hard – off that wall.

We were trying to stay, for free, in close proximity to my reading tomorrow night.  All we want to do is anchor out and row in  and take nice walks and do some grocery shopping and maybe pet a cat.  But no.  It’s NYC.

We ran aground.

After passing back under the bridge of fear, we decided to shag a night and maybe the next day at the park wall we had waited out the tide at.  James’ approach was perfect, but there was a strange point at which we stopped moving.  At all.  Just before the wall.

It was very low tide and probably a good thing.  If we had come in at another time, we wouldn’t have known we were going to be stuck fast aground.  Instead, we shoved off and went on our merry way.

That darkness in the sky presaged the light rains that harried us down the East River at 7 knots with the current and then crazy winds and more rain up the Hudson River at 1.2 knots against the current.

These waters are busy.  I don’t know how many ferry operations there are, but shit loads of boats pass between the shores over and over and over again, tossing our shit all over the fucking rivers.  We were pounded.  At one point, we were caught in the bear hug of two ferries that passed us fore and aft.  It was like slapping a mosquito with both hands.  If only the wakes had cancelled one another out.

They didn’t.

When finally we came to our resting place for this evening (the worst dock ever made), we couldn’t reach the dock person right away, so we went hunting for slip B-15.  The piers aren’t marked, but we figured that one out.  The usual dock number system would put an odd number on the A side of the B pier, so we headed down that way.  The guy showed up and waved us around the other side, so I made the first of two 360 degree turns in fairways barely wider than our boat is long.

The current rushes through here and the ferry and tug wakes pound through.  Just when I thought I had the current figured, a wake shoved me past our slip and I had to turn around again.  When I got the bow into the slip, the dock guy took our bow line and pulled with all his might, dashing our side hard against the unyielding “enviro-friendly” docks.

Ok, it’s okay.  Except wait.

Why are the docks jumping in place and groaning with the sound of tortured steel?

Ah, home sweet home.

Brooklyn and Jersey have about the same to offer.

Noise, motion, and insecurity.

Right now, the ferries have stopped so the movement in the marina is minimal.  It’s quiet and we’re happy we made it again.  We will get a good night’s rest here, but it sure ain’t free.



  1. Glad your safe. I did notice the sewage plant on Google maps. But yeah, sounds like NYC. And looks like the evil empire i remember.GRAY and smells like oily shit. Aloha

  2. Hi Dena…JW here – met you nice or twice with James. You remind me of one of my bigger blunders in sailing. When we lived in NJ and were about to move to Baltimore, I got the bright idea to enroll myself and wife Leslie in a beginners sailing course – guess where??! On NYC harbor!! Not only was it blowing 20 knots, the usual traffic you describe was there as well…..AND it was fleet week in New York!! On day 2 on the water, Leslie got wacked in the head during an accidental jibe. Thus ended my hopes that she would be my sailing partner! I kept sailing of course, but now I own a C-Dory…..

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