New York, New York
Here we are in New York - well, New Jersey actually where the Sopranos live - but I can see the whole Manhattan skyline from the cockpit of Saxon Blue. It's about 9:30pm but it's really hot and sweaty and I'm not going swimming in this water, that's for sure.
We raised the anchor at 0630 this morning and were underway as the sun came up. To start with, the navigation was pretty straightforward and there wasn't much other traffic. We passed under the first of the many bridges after about half an hour and were then into the eastern end of the city. We passed La Guardia airport, then Rikers Island which seems to be just one massive prison with prison barges parked around for extra capacity. Then, as we approached the Harlem river, we entered Hell Mouth. It's not quite as bad as it sounds but the tide was running at around 5 knots against us so we made very slow progress for a few miles.
As we got into the East River and alongside Manhattan Island, we could see a small rib bobbing about in front of us. As we got nearer, they put on a flashing blue light and came alongside. By now, we could see that the rib was actually solid with a small cabin, two massive outboards and a large caliber machine-gun on the bow, mounted on a tripod. They asked us politely to move over to the left side of the river and I wasn't going to argue. I suggested that Kali might like to show them our gun but she wisely declined. The funny thing was that they ran along beside us, only about 10 meters from our starboard side, until we were well past what I think was the UN building. All the time they were there, they didn't even look at us. The guy with the machine-gun just stared straight ahead as if he was a robot.
Once they'd left us, the river got a bit wider, the tide slowed down and we passed beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, amongst others. It's a beautiful construction with the supporting cables making a dramatic pattern in the sky. As we got to the southern end of the island, things started to get a bit hectic. There were ferries coming in and out, kayaks out for a paddle about and dozens of helicopters coming in low to pick up tourists for a trip around the Statue of Liberty. We could see the statue away on the Port side and we should get a better look tomorrow as we pass by.
We now had to turn north up the Hudson river - which I was surprised to find has no bridges between Manhattan and New Jersey - and try to find a berth. The marinas that had been recommended to us were all full and it took Kali a good deal of time and patience to find us somewhere atall. As it was, we could only get a berth on the New Jersey side of the river although the price is several hundred dollars cheaper and the view is much better as we can see the whole of the city. It was impressive during the day when we arrived (about 1100) but it's amazing now in the dark with the moon up behind the buildings. You can see the Empire State and the Chrysler from our berth.
We got alongside without incident, sorted ourselves out, paid and went off to find lunch. We ended up sitting outside a big restaurant over the road which served massive portions of excellent food accompanied by soft rock music and a constant stream of helicopters overhead. It was like being in Apocalypse Now.
Andrea and I wanted to go over to the city after lunch and it was too hot to wait for a bus so we grabbed the first taxi that passed. It was a scruffy number, not a proper yellow cab, driven by a friendly and very handsome guy from the Dominican Republic. We chatted as he played bumper cars to get into the Lincoln Tunnel under the river and then dodged through the New York traffic on the other side.
The city itself is so well laid out that the traffic moves fast most of the time. Amongst the cars are guys on roller blades taking what look like crazy risks. The traffic lights on major intersections have traffic cops directing traffic as well which has got to be a very expensive way of keeping things flowing. We got out at Central Park and went for a stroll in there. It was busy but pretty although we didn't see very much of it. We spent a while watching the horse-drawn taxis going past then set of for a walk through the city.
First stop was the Apple store - huge but a bit of a bun-fight - then we headed back in the general direction of Saxon Blue until we found a bookshop and bought a guide book with a map. In fact, you don't really need a map as the whole place is a grid. I realised that the ferry terminal to get back over the Hudson was on 39th Street so you just have to count down and go west until you're in the right place. On the way, we stopped for a noisy but tasty Mexican meal and arrived at the ferry just as it got dark.
As we got off the ferry, we saw a shuttle bus for the Sheraton hotel near the marina so we pretended to be clients and caught that - we're doing well with complimentary shuttle buses these days. We've been on Saxon Blue for an hour or so now and watched the Police bring in a small sailboat that looks as though it capsized or something. It's still far too hot for my liking and the boats on the river are making plenty of wash to keep us rolling around.
So, what's New York like? Well, it's easy to walk around in, friendly, clean and seemed safe. When you look down one of the dead straight streets, you can see right across to the other side of the island through a chasm of huge buildings. Some of the tall ones are amazing with jet-black glass curving up as high as you can look without falling over backwards. I know London has some tall buildings but this seems to be on a different scale. We didn't try to see very much today as we're intending to come back anyway and we didn't want to get too frazzled. We're both looking forward to coming back and seeing some of the museums and galleries before we fly back to the UK. I don't know if you call New York beautiful but it is intriguing and much more engaging than most big cities. It's also very noisy and I suspect that the racket never stops.
radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: http://www.sailmail.com