Our last day in NYC was a sunny, spring day around 14°C and that meant everyone and their dog was outside; New Yorkers LOVE their dogs and the dog de jour seems to be the little Maltese tucked-under-your-arm things. We walked for hours through Central Park, past the Dakota, of John Lennon fame and then dodging all the cyclists along the river boardwalk, made our way up to our most favourite food joint here, Zabar’s Deli on Broadway and 80th. The smoked salmon counter here, easily 25 feet long, is a thing of beauty. Who knew there were so many different types of smoked salmon. Place your order and watch one of the five skilled artisans behind the counter use 10-inch long razor-sharp knives to slice your salmon into delicate wide ribbons and lay them lovingly alongside each other on a sheet of waxed tissue. This display is definitely worth the trip. For those of us who thought smoked salmon came in one shape and size, these carvers happily provide samples to help you decide which sort of salmon you prefer. We tried the Nova Scotia Salmon as well as some smoked Sable; both excellent.
We unhitched Strathspey from our mooring ball at 6:15 am in order to catch a favourable current to carry us upstream on the Hudson River. From the 79th Street Boat Basin north, it’s all new territory for us. We planned for two days to reach Catskill Creek where we’d arranged to have our mast unstepped and put to bed in a cradle on Strathspey‘s deck. Riverview Marina is in Catskill Creek and it’s the last marina we can pull in to have our mast lowered before Troy, New York. Just past Troy, we make a left turn off the Hudson River and enter the Erie/Oswego canal system; a 180-mile canal with 30 locks and quite a few fixed bridges that are only 20 feet high (definitely too low to pass under with our mast in place).
Traveling up the Hudson River, the morning was cool enough that we stayed bundled up until about noon but by afternoon, the sun shone down and warmed us up enough so we changed into shorts and tees. That excellent current upstream had us traveling quickly past Sing Sing prison, Tarrytown (Sleepy Hollow of Rip Van Winkle fame) and West Point, the army’s answer to Annapolis’ US Naval Academy; all places we’d heard of but were surprised to see at water’s edge on the Hudson River.
Pulling in to West Shore Marina in Marlboro for diesel around 3 pm we decided to take a slip here, mainly because there are so few places to anchor in the Hudson River. This river’s water is deep, deep, deep right up to the wooded shoreline so there are few protected spots to spend the night. On top of that, we’d just turned the corner on a full moon’s extra high tide. This meant that the river had reached new heights and gathered up quite a few logs and other debris that we’d been dodging all day. When we walked into the town of Marlboro the next morning it was clear that it was just a widening in the road (Hwy 9) despite it’s efforts to promote tourism here, “We’re in the heart of New York State wine country”. It didn’t matter, we’d found the local’s morning hangout, had bacon and eggs (BAD!!, but good….sometimes ya just gotta do it) and read the New York Times; all this because happily we weren’t in a hurry that morning as the current dictated that we leave around 9:30 am.
We loved traveling up the Hudson River with all it’s history and it’s wide rambling mountains; we passed through the Hudson Highlands, then a section of the Appalachian Mts and then into the Catskills. I can imagine this is a spectacular trip south in the fall by boat when the colours are at their peak. Now that we will be land-bound from September to May, we’ve even thought that this would be a wonderful drive or train ride to take sometime in October.
The river is particularly busy with fishermen right now. These guys are all after the Striped Bass, who in turn, are chasing the salt water herrings all the way up the Hudson River from the Atlantic. The fish run has just started and everyone’s excited in Catskill where we’ve pulled in to unstep Strathpey‘s mast. Striped Bass grow big (up to 50-60 lbs) and everyone wants one. The limits are strict though; one fish per fisher per day. The two nights we’ve stayed here on dock, we’ve heard the fishers heading out, some at 2 am, some at 5 am and some at 6 am. On our way upstream, we passed nets strung out in shallower areas to snag the herrings. Here at Riverview Marina, they have a good business going, selling those live herrings to fishermen looking for bait to snag “The Big One”.
As soon as we arrived at the Riverview Marina on Catskill Creek, we set to work taking down our sails, removing lines and building a frame for Strathspey‘s mast to rest in for the next five days. Mike, the head honcho at the marina told us, “No matter how well you’re tied down, when that 58 foot Hatteras motor yacht roars by you, you’re gonna wish you’d had more tie downs”. Picking up some tips from another boat unstepped a day ahead of us, we made a trip to the local WalMart and picked up some super tiedown straps with mechanic winchdowns. The following afternoon, Strathspey‘s boom was laid on her deck, her mast came down and was settled into it’s frame and surprisingly, all in all it was a relatively painless process. Riverview Marina staff was competent, calm (always important when mast unstepping), provided lots of good advice re the strapping down process and all this at a reasonable price.
So now we are a honkin’ big 54 foot motor boat with top speed 6.2 knots; can you imagine the marketing program to sell a boat like that? We’re taking a big breath now and wondering what canal travel has in store.