Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Hudson River Paddle Part 12: Day 7, Bringing It Home - Yonkers to Red Hook

As usual, click on any picture for a better view.

Sunday, August 18th - My friends at Yonkers had offered to find me a place to stay for the night, but I'd said if it was OK, I'd rather stay at the clubhouse. This worked out wonderfully - I slept very well on the bench in the meeting room and I must have been excited all the way down to a subconcious level about the last day because for the first time in the entire trip, I could have skipped the alarm clock - it was set for 5 am as usual, and I woke up feeling completely rested, refreshed and eager to go at 4:50 am!

I dressed, had an energy bar for breakfast, collected the day hatch stuff and the other items I'd spread out to dry, re-packed my boat, re-filled my on-deck water bottles, and as a final step stashed my cell phone in a small drybag in the day hatch, where I could reach it easily, in case I needed to text TQ with any updates about what time he should meet me. I'd told him probably around 2 at Pier 40, assuming I would have the same slow start I'd had every other morning - I didn't send him an update from Yonkers even though I was finally getting on the water at the perfect time because I wanted a good cushion to play with in case of...oh, in case of whatever. 

I was on the water right around 6. The sunrise was lovely and a little bit later, there was a piece of a rainbow over the Palisades. 
Morning rainbow snippet

Looking back at where I'd been

The ebb had just been getting started as I got on the water and as I approached the northern tip of Manhattan, it was increasing. I swept under the George Washington Bridge so fast I barely got a shot of the Little Red Lighthouse (that being the seventh of the lighthouses I passed on my trip - the only one I didn't get a picture of was the Stony Point Lighthouse, which is up in the middle of Stony Point State Park, which I passed on my longest day on the river - even if I'd known exactly where it was I don't think I would've been inclined to make a stop to see it). 

Spuyten Duyvil, at the northern tip of Manhattan

Approaching the George Washington Bridge

The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge

"If you want the rainbow, you must have the rain" - yes, the rainbow over the Palisades did of course mean rain was headed my way, and that started right around the George Washington Bridge. I thought about pulling out the short-sleeved paddling jacket I'd had in the dayhatch for the entire trip, but decided that if I just kept paddling at a good clip that would keep me warm enough.

When I found myself approaching the water treatment facility at 125th St. before 8:30 am, I decided it was time to send TQ an updated ETA. There is a small dock at the Fairway market at 125th Street, and I pulled over there to get out the cell phone. I texted TQ that I was now expecting to be there closer to noon, then put the phone away and pushed back out into the current.

As I approached the north end of the mooring field at the 79th Street Boat Basin, I saw flashing paddles approaching along the seawall - turned out to be some of the women of New York Outrigger out for a morning training paddle - I shouted hello as they went by and told 'em where I was coming from and their steerswoman, Di, who (along with a lot of other NYO folks) is an old friend from my Pier 63 days, flashed me a thumbs up. 

New York Outrigger - IMUA!

I'd already been in a good mood whirling along this oh-so-familiar stretch of the North River (as the stretch of the Hudson that runs by Manhattan is known) and seeing the NYO gang made it even better. A second outrigger passed heading north a little bit later and then a little bit later still I heard "Hut-HO!" from behind me and glanced back to find the first boat out in the current and bearing down on me fast - of course I immediately went into a sprint and raced them until they swept inexorably by and I capitulated, calling out "You guys are too good, I can't keep up"! I thought to try to draft a little too late, put on a last burst but couldn't catch 'em, gave up watched them charge away, but that had put me in just a fantastic mood and although I went back to cruising speed I kept some of that energy as I passed by all the familiar landmarks from my Pier 63 days. 

79th St. Boat Basin, "garbage barge pier", the "Uptown Downtown Boathouse" (although I think there's a new occupant there since the Downtown Boathouse was able to move back to the new boathouse on their original downtown pier this year), the Intrepid, Circle Line, the barge at pier 66 where I kept my boats for my first few years of paddling, Chelsea Piers where I actually learned to paddle a kayak and also the home of Classic Harbor Lines, the tour boat company I worked for on a part-time basis for five very enjoyable years, the fireboat station at the Gansevoort Peninsula, and then all of the sudden there I was pulling into the embayment to the south of Pier 40 at...10:30 am??? Hmm.

Intrepid and submarine Growler - navy brat, had to say hi!

The barge at Pier 66, formerly at Pier 63, which is where I kept my boats until 2006. Thanks to John Krevey for giving us such a welcoming home at a time when paddling was still regarded somewhat nervously by the powers that be. We all miss you, John.

Classic Harbor Line fleet - I worked on the Manhattan (motor yacht) and the Adirondack (white-hulled schooner); the America 2.0 joined the fleet after I'd left to go sail Sunfish at Sebago. Lovely boats, and a good outfit to work for.

The Chelsea Piers embayment where I took my first kayak lesson from Manhattan Kayak Company in 1998. I wonder if I would've believed you if you told me how far (literally) I was going to take this kayaking thing!

Fireboat at the Gansevoort Peninsula

I had picked Pier 40 as a takeout for a couple of reasons. New York Kayak is based there and if I'd somehow turned into a total beast (in a good way) on my paddle and gotten back in 6 days, on Saturday, or if there'd been some big problem at TQ's pool on Sunday and he'd needed to go help take care of it, there would have been a safe place to keep my boat overnight, and I could have gone home on the subway. It's eminently achievable from Yonkers, conditions would've had to be really, really bad to keep me from getting there, and another practical consideration was that I wasn't really thrilled with the idea of crossing the area between the Battery and Governor's Island by myself.  That spot is basically a 5-way intersection for some very big, very fast traffic; I don't mind crossing in a group because a group is a little more visible and with more eyes you have a much better chance of spotting anything you'd need to avoid. But it was only 10:30, the ebb was still going strong, the traffic hadn't looked too heavy so far, I was feeling great, and the idea of finishing in my home borough of Brooklyn, at Valentino Park, which has been the launching and landing site for a lot of good adventures, was incredibly appealing.

I only got out of my boat to go tell Randy that I was OK and heading on south - I'd told him I expected to arrive on Sunday and I didn't want him to worry; turned out he wasn't even there but I left word I was fine with Carey, went back to my boat, pulled out the phone again and texted TQ, "I'm going to Red Hook!" - and the way things were going, my ETA was still noon!

World Financial Center with the new WTC 1 towering up behind

Ebb carried me on south beautifully; just as I approached the Battery, the Staten Island Ferry and a Statue of Liberty ferry pulled out, and the SeaStreak cruised by - that was actually perfect, that meant a number of the boats I'd been concerned about were just leaving the area; I did a good look around for tug-and-barge units and other big guys who I would need to avoid, didn't see any of those, so off I went. A couple of tour boats did pass as I scampered across to the red buoy just north of Governor's Island, but not close enough to cause me any worry. 

Looking back at Manhattan from the Buttermilk Channel

I crossed the Buttermilk Channel and stopped at the Mary A. Whalen to see if Carolina was by any chance out; didn't see her but shouted out "Ahoy the tanker!" and that brought her on deck to see who was yelling out there. Great fun sharing what I'd just done with her, she took that lovely picture of me about to finish, of course, and it turned out that with TQ coming to get me in a station wagon, we were going to be able help her move a little of the remaining heavy metal from her Heavy Metal fundraising sale, so that all worked out nicely and I was really glad I'd stopped by.
Carolina Salguero aboard the Mary A. Whalen, home of PortSide NewYork

Carolina's shot, me in the homestretch, very happy!

With a few more minutes to spare, I set out again - by now the flood seemed to be started in the Buttermilk Channel, but I didn't have far to go and by 12:10 I was pulling into the cove at Valentino Pier, where TQ was waiting for me. Hooray! 
Arriving at Valentino Park

We unpacked my boat, loaded up the car, and went and helped Carolina move her metal (which was indeed heavy, but we got the things she wanted shifted shifted in two trips). She gave me a shackle the size of my two fists together as a thank-you present, which I have sitting on the windowsill in the living room now, and offered to take us out for lunch. Now, ordinarily I would jump at lunch in Red Hook, there are some great restaurants there, but the weird thing was I wasn't particularly hungry, and the not-so-weird thing was that I could feel the mother of all nap attacks coming on, so we said thanks but no thanks. Took my boat to the club, offloaded that, then TQ helped me bring all of my gear up to my place. We agreed to meet for a sushi dinner later (we love sushi and I wanted to take him out as a thank-you, he'd taken a day off from work to come meet me) and after he took off, I sort of dealt with the gear, turning every bag upside down, dumping the contents on the floor, hanging a few things (the tent and the soggier paddling clothing) up in the bathroom, spreading the rest out so that at least nothing would fester. Then there was a sandwich, a shower, and a long and wonderful nap in my own bed. Good to be home!
Schooner Pioneer in the Buttermilk Channel

Google map, Day 7 - Yonkers to Red Hook, 20 miles.


moonstruck said...

My friend Doty is leaving for Antartica. Just think, You would love paddling in the ice bergs???

bonnie said...

My friend Louise Adie, who sort of made this trip happen by inviting me to go to help out with their Women Swimmin' event on Lake Cayuga, is actually a professional Antartic kayak guide. I'm not really a big fan of cold but I would love to go see that part of the world someday.

I suspect the Drake Passage would test the limits of my "I haven't gotten seasick yet" thing (I always say that instead of "I don't get seasick" because I know there are MUCH bigger seas out there than what we have in NY Harbor)! :D

moonstruck said...

Seriosly,, I would have mailed you a CYC T Shirt.

bonnie said...

Ha! Wore my CYC shirt with pride when Sebago went to the Norwalk Yacht Club last week!