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Posted By Robin & Jim

We had one last surprise before we left Staten Island, NY.  There is a group of Italian gondoliers who have come to the U.S. each of the last few years to commemorate the 9/11 tragedy in some way.  They ship a 43 year old wooden gondola over from Italy, and last year they rowed it some distance up the Hudson River.  This year they shipped the 1100 lb. gondola to NY again and took several days to row the 36 miles around Staten Island for their tribute.  Even more amazing is that these 5 gondoliers are 70 years old!

memorial gondola

We happened to be going ashore just as they entered Great Kills Harbor with a FDNY Fire Boat shooting water cannons as an escort - the pace and vigor of the gondoliers was really impressive. 

Despite waiting for improved weather we still had a lumpy ride down the NJ coast to a very pretty anchorage in Atlantic City.  It's just across Absecon Inlet from AC, a marshy area with lots of wading birds.  Nature on our doorstep and the bright lights of Sin City reflecting on the water...

ac anchorage

We had a favorable current to run through Cape May, up the Delaware River, and through the Chesapeake & Delaware (C&D) Canal into the north end of the Chesapeake all in one long shot, so we made a 16 hour run.  There was still a bit of floating debris in the water from all the heavy rain so we had to keep a careful watch, especially when it got dark.  It was a fine ride and we managed to avoid any hazards, anchoring in the Sassafras River around 11pm.  The weekend was starting and we wanted to avoid all the heavier recreational boat traffic so we slept late and then headed up the Chester River to hide out for a few quiet days after the long run from NY.

We've seen so many beautiful places and the scenery has changed so much in the many miles we've traveled on this cruise.  Since we used to live on or near the Chesapeake for so many years it's easy to forget how beautiful the Bay is.  The rolling hills, forests, and farm land on the Eastern Shore are very pretty, and we were sorry we couldn't spend more time exploring new places and visiting familiar favorite spots. 

langford creek

The only thing spoiling the quiet was the constant honking of huge flocks of Canada Geese.  Ah yes, the sound of Fall in the Bay!

We had to stop in Baltimore for some annual doctor visits, and we were able to see Jim's brother Richard and his wife Carol (pictured below)...

richard & carol

as well as his sister Margaret and her husband Rene. 

The temperatures are falling fast and we are heading south to warmer places!


 
Posted By Robin & Jim

We had such a great visit to the NYC area.  We spent a lovely day with my brother, his wife, and their dogs, and we took some time to play tourist in the City and see some friends. 

Even though I grew up across the river from NYC, I had never been to the top of the Empire State Building... it was one of those things I always wanted to do.  We didn't care that the cost was silly and the lines are usually horribly long - we were going!  We ended up getting there later in the day than we intended, but who would have guessed that the line would be very short and painless at 7pm on a Friday night?  The views were magical...

empire state nw view


nyc empire 2

It was a perfect evening - not too windy, comfortable temperature, and it was fun and romantic to be up there looking at lights in every direction as far as we could see.  I also love the art deco style, and that building just oozes it.  Fabulous!

Of course it started to rain about 1/2 hour after we came back down to earth, and we weren't really dressed for it.  We caught the ferry back to Staten Island, but had trouble finding the right place to get off the bus on a dark, rainy night.  It took a bit of trial and error while we walked up and down a few streets before we found the harbor in the pouring rain.  After that, we had no trouble remembering to bring our GPS!  It just made the evening more of an adventure.

The trip to the City is fun - the ride on the Staten Island Ferry is worth taking just for the views of the harbor.  I can see a lot more when I'm not concentrating on driving the boat!

 ferry and lady liberty

Another day we met up with friends who showed us the High Line park/walking path on an old elevated railroad - it's very artsy and interesting with lots of natural landscaping.  And it was great to see Roger and John and finally go into the City together.

high line guys

They also took us to the little-known Conservancy Gardens uptown, above the Guggenheim.  This was a hidden gem - one of the many oases in NYC.  Nothing was blooming at this time of the year, but it was lovely regardless.

garden pond

We decided to see a play on Broadway, and got pretty reasonable same-day tickets for Jersey Boys - the story of Frankie Valli.  We had a great time - dinner at a little Thai place, the show, and walking through Times Square at night.  Even on a weeknight there was no end to the colorful characters we saw, including the famous Naked Cowboy. 

I tend to prefer quiet nature places more than cities, but New York has so much to offer and it's so different - we had a blast while we waited for a weather window to continue south.


 
Posted By Robin & Jim

We had some foggy mornings as we headed west through Long Island Sound.  The fog was usually patchy, and with no wind in the early morning it was nearly impossible to distinguish any horizon.  It was very pretty, and we could see just fine with radar so it wasn't a problem.  The photo shows a small red buoy and a small fishing boat.

foggy sound

We stopped in Port Jefferson - a very active harbor with some big ferries that run between Port Jeff and Bridgeport, CT.  The gal who ran the mooring launch was very friendly and helpful, and we found the town to be welcoming and really nice.  The best thing about this area is that you can find great ethnic restaurants all over the place, so we had a nice Mediterranean lunch.  And of course Jim found a bakery for some treats - this one was right across from the harbormaster's office and was so well-stocked that Jim was paralyzed by indecision!

port jeff bakery

Traveling on the Sound we had a hitchhiker - a little bird came and hung out with me on the flying bridge for two days in a row.  I don't know if it was the same bird both days, but it was the same type of bird - a northern parula warbler.  He sat on the wheel and around the nav computer, over by the kayaks, and a few other spots.  He was happy to eat some little flying bugs, and he chirped and was generally just cute.  A big tugboat pushing a barge passed us going the other way and he decided to switch rides.

bird

We stopped at the Harlem YC to catch up on some chores, and we went ashore for some nice long walks since we had a little time before heading to Staten Island to visit my brother over the weekend.  From there we timed the tide and cruised down the East River, through Hell Gate at slack water, and along Manhattan into NY Harbor.  It wasn't a pretty day - overcast and cool, but it's still a thrill to see so much going on in one place.  The city bustles with cars and people, airplanes land at three major airports, the waterways are criss-crossed by fast ferries - big and small, tugs push barges, pleasure boats cruise along, and big ships lumber up and down. 

brooklyn bridge

It always makes us feel small and insignificant as we cruise in our floating home through the midst of all this organized chaos!
As we were heading through the Verrazano Narrows a small squall hit, bringing some rain and a little wind.  Another larger squall was coming in and we were glad to have the current with us to help us get to the harbor in Staten Island before the bigger one hit. 

si storm

We were nicely secured on our mooring in plenty of time, but DeFever friends Ted and Nancy were a bit behind us coming in and they had to moor in the rain.  It was good to see them though, and we all headed ashore for a nice Italian dinner and some time to catch up.