Thursday, August 18, 2005

Adventures on the Hudson




Adventures on the Hudson

Sometimes a day seems like two… We were motoring (of course) down the Hudson from Kingston, NY heading for an anchorage near Pollepel Island. Our stores (beer) were low and I happened to see a little gas dock that also said, “Ships Store”. Well, you never know and there were a number of things we could use (toilet paper). So we turned and headed into the little floating dock. A huge motor yacht was passing down the river at the same time but this meant little to me right then as I was focused on the depth sounder, current, and making a nice landing. As we pulled up to the dock, Sue jumped off and some guys there took our lines and then one of them said, “Look out!” I didn’t know what he meant. I soon found out. The wake from the big boat had arrived. It was at least 4 feet high. It washed water completely across the dock to about knee height for the people there and lifted Enee nearly completely out of the water. Sue said she was looking sideways at about the middle of the keel. On board I revved the engine and tried to keep us in front of the dock. At one point I could feel the keel hit the bottom of the river as a trough from the wake passed us. If we had been a shallow draft power boat this wake would have washed us right up on the gas dock. As it was, no damage but a pretty severe scare. Just goes to show two old adages:

  1. Cruising is defined as long stretches of relative peace and boredom separated by moments of abject terror.
  2. Power boaters are assholes.

We found Pollepel Island on which a rich Scotsman built a summer home…castle some years ago! Now abandoned. The walls of the river are steep and high here and it is quite beautiful. Along this eastern shore there is plenty of water fairly close in. We anchored along this shore and because of the nearness of shallows and the reversing tide we set a bow and stern anchor. First time for us and it is a bit of a battle because there is no convenient way to work with a big anchor off the stern. We got it done though and Enee was lying nicely parallel to the current. Too good to be true, right? Right. The wind was really picking up and the weather was predicting some heavy thunderstorms. We were looking right down the mouth of the river with nothing to block this south wind. After a bit we decided to move across the river to tuck in behind Storm King Mountain to get in its lee. Again we tried to set two anchors and we more or less succeeded except this time w ended up more parallel to an east-west shore. So what? We were in plenty of water. About 15 feet when we dropped the first anchor. As the night wore on we were able to “enjoy” a series of lightning storms and some heavy rain. Not much wind with any of this but really spectacular lighting and the anxiety that goes with. Finally it abated and we went to bed. Around 2:00AM I awoke because the wind and waves were now out of the north and slapping loudly against the stern of the boat. She couldn’t turn because I’d set two anchors. I got up and inspected the anchor rodes. The stern line was really tight! I let a little out and then checked the depth…5 FEET! Holy Crap, what happened. I mean I get the tides and all but I was in 15 feet when we anchored. In retrospect it turns out that the wind and waves having turned to be against our beam pushed us into the shallows. The lines a bow and stern couldn’t keep that from happening. Now what. It was fairly comical to see us run to the bow and stern coming up with a variety of plans none of which we were willing to execute! No matter how I thought of it, I’d have to loosen or completely raise one anchor to reel in on the other but if I were to do that I’d certainly be blown into even shallower water before I could do any reeling. I checked the tide tables and realized that we were at or near low water so that we would probably be ok and the best thing to do was to wait for the water to come back which we did. In the morning we were back to 15+ feet of water. The tide had come in and the current that comes with the incoming tide pushed us back out to where we were. Sometimes the best course of action is to do nothing and this was certainly one of those times. Even if we had stuck in the mud we would have been lifted off in a few hours by the rising tide.

The next morning we quickly left the anchorage before low tide caught us in the shallows again. The humidity had cleared and the wind was now from the north which allowed us to sail, yes I said sail, down the Hudson using just the genny. Going with the tide and the following breeze we were cruising at 6 knots. Fantastic. We think this stretch between Storm King Mountain and New York City is the most beautiful part of the river which sharply winds between rolling hills and mountains. And yes it’s true. West Point is spectacular in it’s setting and architecture. As we entered the valley of West Point, the winds calmed and we slowly drifted by seeing much detail of the campus including a sign on top of their athletic building that reads: Beat Air Force! We were indeed not only amazed, but shocked and awed.

That night we found a very nice anchorage in Haverstraw Bay off the north shore of Croton.

1 comment:

Erik said...

I do not understand . . . map still shows you to be in Albany. Isn't map real time?????