Sailing down America’s famous Hudson River from Poughkeepsie in a private yacht, whilst passing iconic sites gracing ancient shores, until pulling in to dazzling New York, is just incredible!
Promises of a pleasant and quiet cruise down the Hudson River, is enough to draw any hardened backpacker away, from spending months enduring arduous treks and perpetual bus trips in South America.
With an invitation to join intrepid friends that are currently circumnavigating the world on their yacht – to sail down the Hudson River – who would be crazy enough to pass up this fabulous opportunity?
The voyage: Poughkeepsie to New York
After flying from Lima, Peru and spending a couple of nights in Brooklyn, today we meet friends at the Poughkeepsie train station. And, off to the boat to settle in for a week of relaxation and wonderful catching up.
Friends have been sailing down from Lake Champlain through the many locks, until reaching Poughkeepsie.
With the mast only raised recently and the sails not re-installed yet, we won’t be doing any sailing.
Motoring is fine by me for a river way, as we won’t need to tack our way down.
The Hudson River
At this point, I’d like to offer a little background on the Hudson River, which flows for over 500 kilometres north to south in the US, before finally emptying out through New York’s harbour into the Atlantic Ocean.
Named back in 1609 by the English sailor Henry Hudson, the Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano previously sailed down this river in 1524 and is the first European to navigate the river.
With this history in mind, we motor down the Hudson dodging sporadic debris, left over from hurricane Irene’s destructive visit last month.
Stunning mansions perched close to the riverbank on expansive grounds with private jetties, are a commonplace sight along the Hudson.
Having heard so much about prestigious West Point over the years, especially in the news, today we’re finally passing this grand US military academy.
With its fortifications designed back in 1778 by one of Saratoga’s heroes: Thaddeus Kosciuszko, this commanding complex resembles a massive impenetrable fortress.
As a college for the military elite, this institution’s alumni included George Patton, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight Eisenhower, and Edgar Allan Poe passing through its doors.
Bear Mountain State Park
Cruising down the west side of the Hudson, we anchor up near Bear Mountain Bridge for the night, but also to stretch our legs and do a little hike in the Bear Mountain State Park.
Stretching across 5,205-square-acres of natural bush land and only just over 80 kilometres from New York city, this peaceful park seems strangely devoid of visitors today.
I’m sure during different seasons the park sees more people as there are around 50 official trails, hiking, cross-country running, swimming, picnicking, skiing, ski jumping, Perkins Memorial Tower, a merry-go-round, the Bear Mountain Inn, Trailside Museum and Zoo, and a skating rink, amongst some of the activities offered at this park – something for everyone.
No, we didn’t see any grizzly brown bears today.
Sing Sing Correctional Facilities
Gracing the eastern side of Hudson’s bank, we slide along the ominous Sing Sing prison, which spans 130 acres. A nearby marble quarry provided prisoners with the required marble they excavated for the cellblocks in 1825, and finally moving into cells in 1828.
Sing Sing was made infamous through its electric chair executions of high profile criminals, such as Mafia’s crime boss: Louis “Lepke” Buchalter.
Stopping again for the evening but this time in Nyack, decide to venture out for some Thai food. Following a mediocre meal – spoilt for Asian food living in Australia and so close to SE Asia – stroll back to the boat.
The night is deathly still and icy.
Anchoring just across from the eerie village of Sleepy Hollow, made famous in Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow classic novel, this village is now considered “one of the most haunted places on earth”. But, also due to its folklore roots and infamous early American history.
Hoping that the headless horseman isn’t about this evening…
Today is another short motoring day with our final destination: New York. Shame it’s such a grey day, but it’s still great for black and white photography.
Slipping past the New Jersey borough Fort Lee, sees us also passing Manhattan Island’s skyline – dramatic even during the day.
Strange to know that here we are cruising along without a care in the world, whilst millions of commuters are on the island going about their busy daily lives and work.
From the river, it’s almost like watching frames of a distant mini-movie gliding along…until we’re confronted with the majestic Lady!
More on Manhattan frivolity in a separate post.
Statue of Liberty
Although I’ve seen The Liberty Lady previously, there’s nothing like drifting slowly through New York’s Upper Bay waters, whilst passing one of America’s most iconic sites.
This imposing and colossal 93-metre-high statue is always an incredible sight, and never grows old – a testament to time, since its inception in the late 1800s.
The history that envelopes the monument and Ellis Island, includes welcoming over 12 million migrants during a 60-year period from 1892 until 1954.
The only problem with being on a boat whilst passing the statue or other sites is that photos are not always the best, but I persist anyway.
Coney Island Creek
As the hunger pangs increase, we decide to take a little break for lunch, so continue to nudge the boat slowly into Coney Island Creek. And nudge we did, until touching mud.
Turning quickly around and anchoring out a little further, we stop.
Surveying our surrounds during lunch leaves an uneasy felling of maybe not choosing the correct spot to anchor. Close to shore, there seems to be too many undesirables too keen to cast an uncomfortable eye over the boat.
Everyone decides not to venture on shore to stretch our legs and explore whilst leaving the boat unattended, but to continue to the marina after lunch.
I guess the large Australian flag waving proudly in the gentle breeze in the boat’s cockpit doesn’t help.
With an easy cruise to the Nichols Great Kills Marina, there’s still time to absorb more of New York Harbour.
The helpful marina guy greets us in his dinghy. Picking up an available mooring, we settle in for a couple of days.
Sometimes, I need to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming this trip and the past wonderful week!
After non-existent wi-fi these past days, the only signal is outside the marina’s office, so here we sit in the freezing cold, catching up on emails and news.
Off to New Jersey
The rough plan is after a wonderful week on the boat enjoying the Hudson River and playing around Staten Island, it’s time to move off the boat and stay in New Jersey for a couple of days. Other guests are booked to arrive on the boat for the long weekend, so not enough room for everyone.
Newport Yacht Club & Marina
Returning on the boat after getting our land legs back for just a couple of days, here we sit at Newport Marina with a breathtaking opposing view of Manhattan Island.
Although the marina is expensive, facilities are great and it’s an excellent location if you want to explore Manhattan.
Where to next?
After the incredible boat trip and exploring Manhattan, it’s time to go on yet another little side-trip. This time it’s to beautiful Boston for some culture and to also watch the NFL game at the Gillette Stadium, between the Patriots and Dallas Cowboys.