7/11/18: We left Haverstraw feeling a little bit anxious. Today was the day we would sail into New York City and we’d been told horror stories from many people about the intense boat traffic and the huge wakes coming at you from all directions. Plus, New York City is just plain BIG, which created a little apprehension on its own. The marina we chose was right across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan and was quite costly – over $200 per night for our length of boat. Needless to say, we decided to spend only one night there. We left Haverstraw early in the morning, hoping to arrive with enough daylight left to visit something during our short stay.
We left Haverstraw around 7AM with a stiff north wind. By the time we motored across the bay and got to the main part of the river, the waves were from our stern at about 3 feet. Wow! We haven’t seen conditions like this since Lake Huron last summer! We rode in 3-4 footers almost the entire way. As we passed under the Tappan Zee Bridge, about 6 miles south of Haverstraw, we got our first glimpse of New York City, still 25 miles away. Already it looked impressive! Here is where we started to encounter more boat traffic. There was construction at the Tappan Zee bridge itself, and we had to be mindful of several tugs and barges carrying building supplies for the construction. We also saw many trawlers and other power boats zipping up and down the river, adding a little more choppiness to the waves we were already in!
New York City grew larger and larger and the boat traffic thicker and thicker. But, with as much traffic as there was, there was also a LOT of river to share the traffic with. We quickly realized that yes, it was busy, and yes, there were a lot of wakes, but it wasn’t anywhere NEAR what we feared. We were thankful of that, because it allowed us to enjoy the ride more and take in all the sights. Coming into New York City from our direction (the north), you don’t really get a sense of the enormity of it until you are motoring by it. From the north, you only see a few buildings in north Manhattan, and you are also only seeing it from the island’s width, not it’s length, so you only see a tiny (tiny) fraction of the whole (plus, you don’t see any of the other boroughs, which are also like smaller cities unto themselves). Once you are about half way down Manhattan island, though, you start to see just how big New York City is. Unless you’ve seen it, you cannot begin to grasp just how immense it really is.
We motored along, taking in the immensity of the city until we reached the marina (which was technically in Jersey City, NJ). We turned in, stopped at the fuel dock to fill up and pump out, and went to our slip. The marina was nice, but certainly not nicer than some others we’d been in. Was it worth $5 per foot? We didn’t think so, but this was New York City, and space (even marina slips) come at a premium. It was about 1PM, we were hot and sweaty from the ride down, and we still wanted to do a little sight seeing. We found out from the dockmaster that tour boats for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis island left from a dock about 1/2 mile from the marina, and left every half hour until around 6PM. Perfect! We both took quick showers, and by 2:00 we were walking to the ferry docks.
We got tickets for Ellis Island and the Statue, but unfortunately, pedestal/museum and crown tickets for the Statue were sold out (until early August – apparently only so many people are allowed inside at any one time and they are booked far into the future). But we were allowed on to Liberty Island and could walk the entire perimeter, so we felt that was enough for such short notice. Of course, tickets were still full price even after asking them to knock off a few bucks for not being allowed into the pedestal / museum. Oh, well…
Ellis Island was both interesting and disappointing at the same time. Interesting because it did a good job of showcasing the history of early immigration into our country, as well as the country’s expansion westward and how immigrants played their part in that. Disappointing, though, for two reasons. First, we only got to see the inside of the processing center – where the people first arrived and were interviewed, documented, and had various medical and psychological tests done. We weren’t allowed in to the building where they were housed while being processed, nor any of the other buildings on the island. The second reason was in their displays. They had a lot of different photographs, old posters, and other items on display, but they also had a lot of descriptive plaques to read about everything. In other words, there was just TOO much reading involved at the museum. We opted not to do the audio tour after our experience with that at Graceland. There also way too many people in the museum to appreciate the displays. They were milling around, bumping into you, and crowded around various displays. It took away from the enjoyment of the museum. Still, it was really neat to see and we’re glad we stopped there to see it.
The Statue of Liberty was awesome. Even though we weren’t allowed on to the pedestal or into the museum (including climbing the stairs inside to her crown) or into the museum, it was still a sight to see and worth the admission price. All of the pictures and all of the movies she’s been in cannot do her justice. She’s not only impressive to see, but she also invokes a sense of deference for what she represents and stands for. But we also felt a sense of sadness for all we’ve lost since 9/11, not only with the aftermath of that event but also with what’s happened in recent years with the decay and decline of our democracy. We also reflected upon what the statue meant to the early immigrants of our country and the words of “The New Colossus” sonnet and plaque (now housed in the Statue of Liberty Museum) and how they contrasted with the state of immigration today. It was awe-inspiring and saddening at the same time
When we returned to the marina, we were pretty hungry, but the only restaurants around were “white linnen tablecloth with crystal wine glass” places, so we opted to eat on the boat and then did two loads of laundry. It was dark by the time we went back to the boat, so we took a quick walk through the park next to the marina, and took a few snapshots of lower Manhattan at night. All in all it was a good stop: short and expensive, but good. Our next stop will be on Staten Island, which will be our launching point for the next leg of our journey – the New Jersey coast.