Ananda takes Manhattan

Ananda's blog
Keith and Stella Myerson
Thu 6 Oct 2011 11:50

40:32.67N 74:07.99W


Wonderful as our time was in the UK, it was rather marred by anxiety over a certain lady called Irene. 

At one stage, this tempestuous lady was almost directly on course for New England where Ananda lay, shored-up on dry land on Rhode Island.  We had presumed her to be safe and sound, but later learned that previous hurricanes in Melville have produced a storm surge that rose over the quayside, sweeping boats away. 

Over in the UK, there was little we could do about it.   But our friends at the boatyard were terrific and secured Ananda, taking down her sprayhood and lashing anything moveable to the deck.  Thank you Barry, Richard, Alison, Jean and Kevin for all your kind help and reassurance, and for taking the trouble to keep in touch with us as events unfolded.

Dangerous as Irene was, her behaviour gradually improved and the damage was less severe than many had expected, though the boatyard was without power for some days. 

On our return we were much relieved to find an unscathed Ananda, and immersed ourselves with last minute jobs before our scheduled launch the next day.




A gleaming Ananda is wheeled to the water’s edge and moments later our world returns to a normal perspective back at sea level.  But there are problems with overheating of the stuffing box, the seal between the prop shaft and the hull.  Wells and Carlos work hard to sort out the problem and by the next day and 3 test sails later, all is in good order.


There’s a schedule to keep and we’re soon on our way, on past Newport in foggy, wet weather.  Mirabella, the tallest sloop in the world, is moored there, her mast top invisible in the low cloud.  Out to sea, and it’s not too far till we reach the eastern entrance of Long Island Sound.  Here we anchor at the pretty town of Stonington, Connecticut.



Stonington lighthouse, a first for the federal government in 1823.  Note the 16 star, 16 stripe flag - the same one that encouraged the yanks to man the cannons and beat back an attempted British invasion in 1812!






But today there’s another more welcome British invasion in the form of extra crew – our son Peter arrives from London to cruise with us through Long Island Sound to New York.  We watch a great egret catch dozens of fish – every dip of his long beak a winner – then enjoy gentle sailing to the beautiful Thimble Islands, where Captain Kidd used to hide his ships.  We anchor as the sun sets behind tiny High Island, a privately owned rock of pink granite with 4 or 5 beautiful homes.  A dory floats past us with Mike and Chris, whose family own one of the houses.  After a few drinks Peter and Keith go ashore, stumbling along overgrown paths in the dark to visit Chris’s amazing house and its observation platform high above the trees.  Some say Kidd’s treasure is buried here somewhere.  Just magic.


The cruise continues to Contentment Island, Sheffield Island and across the sound to Oyster Bay and Port Washington.  But the highlight is yet to come – a trip along the East River through Hell Gate to Manhattan, New York.


We plan our departure carefully as the currents in the river can reach 5 knots.  The weather is kind to us with a broad reach towards the entrance of East River at Throgs Neck Bridge.



Throgs Neck Bridge and a fascinating passage ahead





On we continue, past Rikers Island and its notorious prison, the world’s largest penal colony with 15000 inmates.  Obviously not enough though.  Because we also pass a hulk, a forbidding-looking prison-ship festooned with razor wire.  Hanging off the gratings, the inmates stare morosely at us as we sail by – for them, a glimpse of freedom, an Eden without access.




No holiday cruise ship – the hulk near Rikers Island





Next is Roosevelt Island and on past the famous Manhatten skyline with the Empire State United Nations and Chrysler Buildings and under the Queensboro, Williamsburg, Manhatten and Brooklyn bridges.   And all done with minimal hassle and interference from the armed coastguard cutters.




A relaxed Peter outstares the manned machine gun on the coastguard cutter





Heading southwards, we come across some moored square-riggers, a pretty sight against the waterfront.





But I am taken aback by the name of one of the ships – the district of Liverpool where I spent my childhood years!





As we sail past the tip of Manhatten, rising upwards from Ground Zero is one of the new towers that will replace the World Trade Centre. 



Battery, Manhattan.  The building under construction on the right is 1 World Trade Centre, one of a number of towers planned to replace the twin towers.





We pass a busy heliport, with helicopters buzzing everywhere.  Sadly, only a few days later, one of these crashed on take-off with loss of life.  Then into view comes the sight we have been waiting for, the statue of Liberty, arm outstretched in welcome.   Nearby is Ellis Island, the gateway where generations of immigrants landed in the hope of being allowed to enter this prosperous land.  By the time it closed in 1954, it had processed 12 million immigrants since opening in 1892.  One third of Americans can trace their ancestors to this island!



 The lovely lady waves back




After these sights, it’s a bit of a haul down to Verrazano Narrows and the enormous suspension bridge that links Staten Island to Brooklyn – a mile wide gap that marks the entrance to New York.  Ananda appears almost insignificant as we pass beneath and on towards Great Kills Harbour.  But the entrance to the harbour is shallow and so we drop anchor off Staten Island to await the tide.


It’s a rather curious fact that Staten Island, now home to 500,000 residents, only became part of New York State as the result of a yacht race!  It previously belonged to New Jersey, but both states claimed it.  New York’s Captain Charles Billip and his sloop Bently won the race – and the island too.


It’s dusk now, and the tide is just about high enough.  But our hearts are in our mouths as we feel our way in over the shifting sands into the calm safe haven that is Great Kills Harbour and with much relief we finally drop the anchor at the end of an amazing day.  It’s pretty here with tree-lined shores, yet an easy commute to the sights of New York City – a perfect blend of comfort and convenience.  Pete’s girlfriend Vic flies out to join us and we enjoy a week as tourists in the great metropolis.




The Wall Street Bull…








…and the police lying in wait for the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protesters








The new memorial at Ground Zero – a fitting tribute to those who died in 9/11



When it comes to enjoying wildlife in its natural habitat, New York would not be the first place that springs to mind.  Yet, outside the Holocaust Museum at Battery in downtown Manhattan, we watched humming birds and butterflies collect pollen from flowers in a pretty public garden.


Another treat for us is a visit from American cousins Jeannie and Joel, who drive down from New Jersey to visit us on Ananda.  Great to catch up with family news!









All too soon it’s time to say goodbye to Pete and Vic as they return to New York for a couple of days before their flight home.


Time to head south again, and as the sun sets we edge past Sandy Hook Light, the start point for Charlie Barr’s transatlantic race and the many other attempts that followed him.  


Soon we are alone on the open sea…




Sandy Hook Lighthouse




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