New York! New York!

Melvyn Brown
Sun 10 Oct 2010 16:10

40: 45.3N 73: 51.4W


We had a long day’s sailing from Bridgeport to New York and it was another cold and early start.  Just after 10am we thought we were going to be able to add “C” for Chimney to our I Spy lexicon…..but by 10.15 we had decided it was in fact another “S”….for skyscraper!  The Connecticut view going down the Long Island Sound was of virtually unbroken trees, just on the turn, with subtle autumnal colour changes.  This is patently prime real estate and for mile upon mile there were individual houses sitting in two or so acres, peeping out from the surrounding trees and with a view out over Long Island Sound.  In some parts the neighbourhood wasn’t so exclusive and although the houses were of individual design, from that distance they looked only just detached from their neighbour.  Although it’s probably like suggesting there is a posh end and a rough end in Sandbanks!   There were still enough lobster pots to keep us on our toes, but as we neared New York the hazard wasn’t the buoys but the dinghy sailors out for a Sunday afternoon’s racing.


The opposite shore may have been a mirror image but it wasn’t until the Sound narrowed we were able to view Long Island and as we got closer to New York we were able to see the very exclusive properties with their manicured lawns leading down to the water’s edge (and once I noticed, to the extremely large motor cruiser moored at the bottom of the garden).  In late afternoon we headed towards a marina on the Long Island side of New York City, it was only later we found out it was in the Borough of Queens (not the most salubrious of neighbourhoods…..!).  The Mets stadium (about the size of Wembly) and subway station was a 15min walk away and it was from there we went into New York on Tuesday and Wednesday to do the sights.  We went to Ellis Island and followed the sequence events a migrant would have gone through.  After the Registration Hall they would have walked up a long flight of stairs to the next floor and apparently doctors were stationed at the top looking over in order to spot those having difficulty getting up the stairs, which might indicate heart or lung problems and preclude them being granted access.  With only one good ankle between the two of us it occurred to me that if we had been seen hobbling, we would probably not have been allowed in!  The rejection rate was about 2% apparently and they weren’t averse to treating medical complaints – where they were treatable – but infectious diseases (especially the highly contagious trachoma, which was prevalent in Eastern Europe but virtually unknown in the US).  The doctors checked for it by means of a crochet hook to lift the eyelid – one doctor recording there surely wasn’t a more effective instrument ever invented.  Disease and an inability to earn a living (single mothers etc) were the prime reasons for rejection.  Of course the one rejected might be a member of a family group and they would be held in detention before being deported, which must have been a heartbreaking call for the rest of the family.


Just across the road from the super-modern Mets stadium was what can only be described as a shanty town, but I thought was an example of the entrepreneurial spirit of New Yorkers.  It was an entire block with hundreds of small workshops built of corrugated iron, and all - apparently - offering much the same sort of services (car repair, silencers, etc).   I first saw it on the Sunday when it was an absolute hive of activity.  It was like something you might expect to see in Mumbai.  ‘Elf and Safety legislation seems to insist on the placement of How To Wash Your Hands signs in all public bathrooms (and indeed I saw one about coughing or sneezing into your upper sleeve in the absence of a tissue – can you image what your Mum would have said about that!) but will seemingly turn a blind eye to what must surely be a whole series of health and safety issues with all these workshops cheek-by-jowl.



Again the marina held a lot of (private) fishing boats and I’d come to the conclusion there could be no restrictions on fishing, nor a “closed” season – because surely you wouldn’t spend that much money on a boat when you could only fish for part of the year?  However I picked up an information sheet in the marina which set out the Marine Recreational Fishing Laws & Regulations (for NY at least).  The stripped bass (definitely flavour of the month) caught by anglers aboard licensed charter boats between April 15 and Dec 15 must be a minimum of 28 inches and an individual is limited to 2.  For all other anglers they can keep one between 28 and 40 inches and 1 over 40 inches in length.  You can keep up to 50 eels of 6” minimum – which is useful because that’s what they use as bait for the stripped bass.  You can keep as many monkfish (goosefish) as you like providing they are a minimum of 17 inches.  The names of the boats are often a play on fishing-related words – I’ve seen Reel Success and Reelentless – and some include the word “Bass” such as Bass Chaser.