Into the Intercoastal Waterway....and out again

Melvyn Brown
Sun 17 Oct 2010 16:00
40: 03.09N 74:02.9W

We left Great Kills Harbour (but not before I had another shower - I was determined to get my monies worth) and encountered hundreds and hundreds (no exaggeration, honest!) of fishing boats. It was Sunday, cold and crisp and the first time the commercial fisherman had been able to get out for a few days because of the winds (gusting up to 50mph), their numbers swelled by all the keen sports fisherman who were probably thinking it might be their last opportunity before the weather turned. The majority of the boats had found their spot and were anchored, but many were buzzing here and there, changing their position. There were large cruiser/fishing boats, charter shipping boats with fishermen lining the rails, dinghies - some with a canopy offering a little shelter, but others just open boats. Everything that could float and everyone who owned a rod seemed to be out there.

Our destination was just inside the Intracoastal Waterway. We knew we couldn't travel more than 60 or so miles along it before we would have to return to the open sea because after that there were bridges that were too low, and even so it would require careful navigation along even the section where the bridges opened, because it was only just deep enough in places. We encountered three bridges. The first was a railway bridge which remained open unless a train was passing. The second and third were highway bridges and you had to radio the operators and get them to stop the traffic and open the bridge so you could pass through. Melv left me to "drive" while he spoke to the Bridge Controller. Imagine - if you will - the scene. There is a ferry behind me, a large boat the other side and the bridge is yet to open. I have to "hover" (stopping dead is not an option given the tide/current) until the bridge opens and I have no idea as to whether the boat waiting to get through the same gap from the other side has right of way.

I now know the procedure for calling up the Bridges. I am dealing with that while Melv steers. (Likewise I have learnt how to tie the fenders and ropes so I don't have to take responsibility for navigating our way into harbours.)

We arrived at Bay Head in mid-afternoon. The weather by this time was a beautiful, late autumn, afternoon. The marina was very neat with numerous (as always) very large and expensive cruisers. The owner's Bentley was parked in the car park - but as Melv said at $2 per foot he wasn't surprised he could afford a Bentley.