NYC/Hudson

Posted Oct. 26, 2008 at 01:10

Finally I made good on my promise to bring Dora to NYC...  she's never been here before (I visited in '72, spent a couple of weeks here in the summer of '80 as a student, then a couple of short visits 'on business' in the '90s...).   NYC is something else, especially the first time, and it's always fun to see what changed on subsequent visits.

My hunch was correct: Being moored at the 79St Boat Basin is a low-cost way to torture yourself exquisitely while on-board:  the endless wakes of passing ferries, tugboats and freighters rock and roll the boat, sometimes quite violently.  The combination of wind and current creates amazing Boat-Sutra positions between the mooring ball and the boat hull, quite difficult to rationalize how and why...  (The Hudson river is tidal and current changes between + and - 2kn four times daily so half the time the wind is against the current).   These positions involve intimate contact between the mooring ball (big hard piece of plastic) and the hull, sometimes accompanied by violent bangs that make the hull vibrate...  On lucky nights when there is little or no wind, after midnight, when the water-taxis/ferries are (almost) all sleeping, the minimum torture rate consists of listening to the flow of the river under your bunk...  6-7am, and rock and roll is back!

So why are we here?  Please refer to the 1st paragraph.  79th is very convenient from a getting-around-town and provisioning point of view.  You leave your dingy at the dingy dock (the dingy 'torture' dock - just watch them dance 1-2ft against the dock with a 2kn current and 20kn+ of wind), and you're at the subway in 5-10min of what it takes to walk up to Broadway.  A $25 unlimited weekly Metrocard subway pass is all you need.

The first day at 79th was nice and sunny, so we just continued walking past Broadway and zig-zagged across Central Park to Fifth Avenue and then down Fifth...



You can always catch a nice lunch, go buy a couple of books, take a ride up the Empire State Building for a magnificent bird-eye view of Manhattan... 



Then take the subway back to 79th/Broadway and walk in to Zabar's deli...  If you like food, it will be difficult to choose, select only as much as you're able to carry, and also leave.  Dora and I have never seen so many different cheese, cold cuts, gourmet dishes, side dishes, teas, coffees, spreads, fish, condiments, exotic oils and vinegars...



And the bread... We are quite particular about the bread we like, and they had so far the best bread we found since we left our favourite Macedonian baker in the old country...   Anyhow, 'Filone' (italian) is it... The 'ciabatta' or 'calabrese' or french bagette (depending on how it's done) will always do, but the filone comes very close, if not identical to the dark, hard-crusted, chewy, sour-dough type country-bread we love.  The other thing that blew me away:  as a kid I used to live on sheep-milk yoghurt and bread...  it's hard to find nowadays, even back in the old country last couple of years I was out of luck, and they had it at Zabar's (and lots of other 'exotic' milk spreads too).  Don't miss Zabar's if in NYC (it's mentioned in all guide books too).   By the time we got back to our dancing dingy, it was blowing over 25kn and we were bouncing like fleas on an air mattress as we navigated our way towards Dazzle...


Another day we paid a visit the Museum of Modern Art... This is Dora's territory, I'm just enjoying the nice articles on display.  Vincent van Gogh's night painting collection was a special, timed entry feature and was worth it.  After a brief regroup at the boat, I picked Dizzy's (Gillespie) Club on 60th/Broadway (Lincoln Center) with the Bobby Hutcherson quintet (with Russel Malone, Renee Rosnes in the band) playing to go and listen to world-class live jazz and have dinner at the same time...

If you get there on time, you get a first row table (first come first serve).  It was superb... these guys are such pro's and play so well and have fun while doing it and watching/listening from so close, in a small bar-like atmosphere is an unforgettable experience.

Back on the boat, the NYC harbour forecast for the weekend became menacing - all indicators were for a 40kn SE then SW blow...  I didn't like the idea of enduring a gale blowing up the Hudson on a mooring ball totally exposed...  I regretted not choosing after all the other NYC municipal marina, 'World Fair Marina' in Flushing Bay (Queens) - it was even selected as the 'marina of the month' by the Northeast Boating Magazine.  It has floating docks only (no moorings) and it's $2/ft/night for transients, which is lower than anywhere on the Hudson, and there is no rock-and-roll (there is airplane noise (La Guardia) and apparently some trash processing nearby).  Even though it is near a subway line, one would have to take a cab back at night for safety reasons as the area is quite isolated, so we decided against it because of that.

It wasn't easy to find an alternate on the Hudson... There are three or four marinas on the west side (New Jersey) across from Manhattan that can accommodate our draft of 6.5ft...  But, one was 'full' (hard to believe), the other one wanted $4/ft/night, yet another never answered the phone.  The one I liked the most (Newport Marina) told me that they only have 6.5ft at low tide (the guide however claimed 10ft).  So early morning, on a half-high tide, we motored over to check it out...  And the depth wasn't a problem - the marina and the guide can split the difference, there's about 8ft of depth in this slip.  We signed up for a week ($13.75/ft) considering the unstable weather outlook.  The best thing about this marina is that it is right beside the PATH subway trains that take you over to Manhattan in minutes.  MInd you, this marina (and most others) still has considerable rock and roll as the "wave barrier" still lets lots of surf through from the river, the docks are floating and, the worse part - the slips are parallel to the river!  Mindboggling.  It'd be much better perpendicularly, but alas, they weren't thinking about boaters comfort, just $$ signs I imagine.

I'm glad we came here though, since today (Saturday), as I write this, the wind meter is stuck over 30kn for two hours now with many 40s and some 45s observed and it's raining...


It was time to catch up on a bit of boat maintenance in the morning before the blow started and now it's perfect quiet relaxation time, except for the howling of the wind ;-)   Yesterday we stocked up on Bahamas charts at NY Nautical and got a few guides we were missing for the remainder of our trip south along the US coast.

Until now I considered the autopilot installation by the dealer as the only job that was done acceptably (except that the nuts were only hand tight as I discovered the first season) - but...  After our windy/stormy Gulf of Main crossing I noticed somy gunky dripping/flows in the lazarette... At first I thought it is coming though the rail, but upon closer inspection I realized it came off one of the 3/8" bolts holding the autopilot linear drive (the "musle" turning the rudder when engaged).  These are solid, rounded top, square peg bolts, through the transom part of the deck (in a perfect location, strength-wise).  So I removed one (with some effort, as they were sealed in with Sikaflex (a soft rubbery sealing compound) and got my surprise - the hole beneath was countersunk as for a flat-head bolt (round).

So the countersinking was done large enough to allow the square peg of the bolt to sink in, the difference filled in with sealant.  It's a fast solution and it looks good on the outside when handed over to the customer.  It's amazing that these bolts didn't come loose sooner and lasted through about 8000nm.  After I first discovered these nuts were loose, I tightened them from below (the bolts didn't turn due to friction and sealant)  and considered it done - why would you pull out four big, good looking bolts just to tighten the nuts?  Hence the late surprise.   Fortunately, I had flat-head 3/8" 316-grade bolts as spares from other jobs I did this spring, so they are in now. We'll see how well this will hold - in principle, I like the original bolts better, but I would have had to have filled the holes with epoxy, redrill, make the square hole properly (e.g with a Dremel).  If the current solution shows any signs of weakening, that'll be a 'bahamas' job hopefully in nicer weather.

The other maintenance today was running the Espar heater on kerosene for an hour on 'high' to try and eliminate carbon deposits... The symptoms of not starting the first time have appeared lately and today it took more than two tries to start.  Disassembling/reassembling the fuel line from/to the Racor prefilter and bleeding the air took an hour or so (including finding all the necessary tidbits for this job) not counting the time we ran the heater on kerosene which heated the boat up to tropical temps.

There are still museum left to go to (Metropolitan, Guggenheim, Natural Science and History) and some laundry/provisioning to be done before we continue on (and the weather stabilizes, if late October weather can do such a thing)...
--Z--