We left peaceful Ticonderoga Point at 6:30 am on August 3rd. We knew we had a long day ahead of us to get down to Mechanicville, NY, a trip of 75.65 miles, filled with bridges and locks. And, it was foggy and raining. The weather forecast was calling for more rain, which can flood the canal. That’s not good for a tall boat squeezing under these low bridges at high water (hint, Misty). To make the trip south on the Champlain Canal less nerve wracking than the trip up north, we had the radar and satellite domes removed at Shelburne Shipyard before we left Vermont. Doing that gives us another foot for our air draft. We’re glad we made the decision to push forward, as the canals did fill in the coming days, and a few of the locks were closed for a couple of days after we passed through. We were lucky to be ahead of the rising waters, and made it to Mechanicville, soaked to the bones, at 4:20 pm. We were so wet, that we literally still felt wet the next morning!
To our boating friends…while there is virtually nothing to do in Mechanicville, NY, there are a few stores within a couple of blocks, but their free town dock wall is great! Water, electricity and clean, private bathrooms. Again, all for free. Just avoid the street lights along the wall for tie up, as you’ll be inundated with bugs. Not the biting kind, just the overabundance and messy/obnoxious fly up your nose kind.
Lower Lake Champlain
Getting to the skinny part of the Lake, nearing the canal
Leaving Mechanicville, NY, dodging logs after a night of pouring rain
Waiting for the log to drift out of the way before entering the lock
After a day and a half of the beautiful, but challenging, Champlain Canal, we were THRILLED to see the high bridges of the Hudson! Even with removing our radar and satellite domes, it was still a tight squeeze under some of the bridges on the canal due to rains and high water, and we’re happy to be through successfully…twice! It was a busy day on the river, as it was Saturday. Additionally, with all of the high water, there was quite a current that was pushing us along. Boaters beware: the dock master at Castleton Boat Club, south of Albany is a cranky guy (with a reputation). We were running down the river at 800 rpms, respecting the no wake zone of the marina, but the current was pushing us faster. The dock master was nasty on the radio and started to call the Coast Guard to complain about our speed. When Rob came back to him on the radio and told our actual speed and the current, he was still rude and unprofessional. We later learned the this is pretty typical behavior for this guy, so be aware as you pass his marina.
Scenes along the northern Hudson River, Albany
Seeing Shady Harbor Marina in the distance was like a mirage! We can’t say enough about this marina. Brian and Kathy Donovan, the marina owners, are gems, as is their staff. Basic and clean, with the added benefits of being a full service marina with great mechanics, there’s a pool, laundry, a courtesy car (the infamous “1/2 a car” because it’s so little), and a well stocked ships store. It was the perfect place to clean up, rest and and provision before continuing south. We had a brief storm, which was beautiful more than a problem, and it was good to be tucked in!
We left Shady Harbor at 11:30 am, with the goal of reaching Norrie State Park. On our way out of our slip, I had to take a picture of Red Head, a boat owned by Jeff & Karen Siegel, founders of Active Captain. They purchased the boat from Billy Joel, and have spent the last year giving her a face lift with a new paint job and some mechanical repairs. When Billy owned the boat, he had a Jeep Cherokee on the deck where the Siegels have their dinghy! We enjoyed chatting with them, and meeting their three big, super friendly dogs. Shady Harbor has a few of its own wandering around, adding to the friendly atmosphere.
Good-bye for now, Shady Harbor, we look forward to seeing you in the spring for your pig roast in June as we head north for the Loop!
Just south of Shady Harbor the river gets truly scenic. We had some showers along the way, and encountered some thunder and lightening just north of Kingston, so we decided to tuck into Kingston instead of motoring on to Norrie State Park. Despite the weather, the trip was spectacular, and actually kind of cool to see the storm on the river. But it is a little nerve wracking to be out on the water with thunder and lightening!
A stormy day on the Hudson
The entry to Rondout Creek from the Hudson is easy to find, as there is a beautiful lighthouse building on the point into the river just south of the Kingston Bridge.
We were planning to be there a couple of days, rent a car and enjoy some of the historic sites that dot the Hudson Valley. With the weather turning, and more storms expected, we were glad to be tucked into the Kingston City Dock.
Kingston City Dock
The area around the city dock is small and charming, with a promenade along Rondout Creek, and some historic sailing vessels tied up at the wharf. You can also visit the New York Trolley Museum and the Hudson Valley Maritime Museum nearby.
A friend who grew up in Kingston recommended eating at Ole Savannah Southern Table and Bar, right on the creek. We went, and we’re glad we did. First, take note of the space. The restaurant is housed in the historic Cornell Steamboat Company shop building, where they built and repaired boilers for the company’s steamboats. They have left some of the tracks on the ceiling that were used to haul the ships into the building. The service was warm, friendly and efficient, and the food was terrific. Rob enjoyed their southern fried chicken and I had amazing shrimp and grits. These were shrimp and grits that rivaled versions of the dish I’ve had in the south! And, it was reasonable and close to the boat!
Ole Savannah Southern Table and Bar
Unfortunately, the Culinary Institute of America was closed for summer break, so the campus tour and meal at one of their restaurants will have to wait until another time.
We rented a car from enterprise for the day to explore the area and revisit some places we haven’t been in years. We love enterprise, as they come pick you up and bring you home after you return your rental, and the staff is always super friendly and helpful, not to mention the occassional upgrades!
FDR’s family home, Springwood, is located in Hyde Park, about a half hour from Kingston. The FDR Presidential Library is also on the property, and Franklin and Eleanor are buried in the rose garden. Both Eleanor and FDR had smaller homes of their own, or “retreats”, located a short drive away. While Springwood, Val-Kill (Eleanor’s retreat) and Top Cottage (FDR’s retreat), are both cozy and very personally decorated, Springwood is far more formal than the retreats. This is such a fascinating place, filled with so much history, yet you feel an intimacy through the well versed and passionate docents who guide your visit.
Springwood, Hyde Park, NY
The interior of Springwood
Top Cottage and Val-Kill
The stable, and yes, FDR had a horse named “New Deal”
FDR and Eleanor’s Gravesite
The interior of Val-Kill
The FDR Presidential Library is housed on the Hyde Park property. Here’s a peek at what’s inside:
Valerie Valente, one of Nancy’s former colleague’s from Rodale (and a fellow Drew U. Alum!), retired from the business 5 years ago, and convinced her partner, Eric Miller, to leave Brooklyn and Manhattan for the Hudson Valley and life as owners of a bed and breakfast. They bought The Journey Inn in Hyde Park, directly across the street from the Vanderbilt Mansion. It’s a beautiful spot, and it was great to see Val so happy in her new venture! We agreed that life is good after retiring from advertising sales and marketing!!
The Journey Inn, Eric, Val and Nancy
The Hudson Valley is dotted with estates built at the turn of the century for the aristocracy of New York City, including the Livingson’s and Vanderbilts. Many of them are open for tours, but schedules vary, so check hours. Having lived in the New York/New Jersey area our whole lives, we have enjoyed several visits to the area. We wanted to revisit Montgomery Place, a Federal Style house built for the Livingstons. While we were not there at a time when tours were offered, we enjoyed strolling the beautiful grounds, designed to be an aboretum. Bard College now owns Montgomery Place, using it for events, but still maintaining tours on a limited schedule.
We’ve loved the lighthouses along the Hudson River, as they are actual houses in the river. They’re beautiful and charming. One of the more famous lights is the Esopus Meadows Lighthouse marking the harbor for Saugerties, NY. Nicknamed “The Maid of the Meadows”, the lighthouse dates from 1871 and was placed to to warn mariners of the mud flats known as the Esopus Meadows off the western shore of Esopus Creek, the harbor for Saugerties.
Maid of the Meadows
The Hudson never ceases to amaze. It is so beautiful and majestic, and there’s so much to see!
Hudson River views, Kingston to Haverstraw Bay
We loved the area of the river where Half Moon Bay Marina is located, but frankly don’t understand the allure of the marina. So, we decided to anchor out in Haverstraw Bay, not far outside of the marina break wall. It was beautiful! We were the only boat in the anchorage, the sun was shining, and the water was warm. Nancy is a swimmer, and for the first time in her life she swam in the Hudson River. It was like a bathtub, completely delightful! It’s also a popular swimming spot for the landlubbers, as we were woken early in the morning by swimmers talking just off our stern as they swam across the bay yakking as they swam!
Haverstraw Bay anchorage
We weren’t really planning to spend time in NYC and Liberty Landing, but we decided to tuck in, and we’re glad we did. We had our great friends, Doug and Diane Desaulniers come for dinner and overnight. And, Marcus, who lives with his wife Jolanda and their cat Luna, on a boat at Liberty Harbor Marina across the basin (see past post, we met them in Florida at Trawlerfest), saw us on his morning run! So, he, Jolanda and a friend visiting from London, came over for a visit. Everyone complains about how expensive Liberty Landing is, but we feel it’s worth it. The views, the park, the water taxi to NY, and we found a great grocery store you can bike to in Jersey City: Hudson Green Market. And, we have the added bonus of having Marcus and Jolanda just across the basin! We can say with authority, that the rates at Liberty Landing are cheaper compared to marina rates in New England, where they can soar to $8.00/foot plus $45./day for electricity. Ridiculous when you consider that we bring our bedroom and kitchen with us, make our own beds and meals, and don’t need room service, etc. But Liberty Landing comes with an amazing, unsurpassed view, clean and updated facilities, restaurants, bike paths, and a wonderful, friendly staff. Hmmmm….
Heading back down the Hudson and beautiful Liberty Landing views
The next leg of our adventure will bring us up Long Island Sound to Essex, CT, Newport, RI, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Block Island, and back to the North Shore of Long Island…more to come!