Couples enjoy a 10-day cruise from Hoboken to Block Island.
By Pete Stevenson
Looking for adventure, my wife, Rosemary, and I boarded David and Libby Cross’ Catalina MK II sailboat Peregrine at the Hoboken, N.J., Shipyard Marina on 4 July.
The marina sits directly across the Hudson from New York’s 23rd Street and directly adjacent to one of Macy’s fireworks barges. That night, identical salvos fired from four barges rocked our boat for more than a half hour.
We departed the next morning on the first leg of our 10-day cruise. After crossing the Hudson, we left New York Harbor, traveling up the East River. We passed under the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg and Queensboro bridges, past South Street Seaport, Roosevelt Island and through Hell Gate. Leaving the East River, we passed under the Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges.
When we entered Long Island Sound, we raised sail and traveled along the North Shore, avoiding the boat traffic on the Connecticut side. We made good time to Huntington Bay, where we stopped at the quiet Eaton’s Neck Coast Guard Cove anchorage. We swam and stayed the night with four other sailboats and four powerboats.
On 6 July, we headed north out of the sound, sailing some and motoring some, covering the 60 miles to Plum Gut where we entered Gardiner Bay. Plum Gut is a deep, narrow passage between Orient Point and Plum Island. Eventually, we anchored in a large, shallow Orient Harbor just outside of Greenport, N.Y.
The next morning, we discovered that the dinghy had gone ashore a mile or so away. After a short swim, David recovered the boat, and we headed closer to Shelter Island and Greenport to anchor in Pipes Cove, a great anchorage with good views of the local fireworks. Then we began the great search for liquefied petroleum gas. Peregrine has two 10-pound LPG tanks, which seemed to be foreign to Long Island gas suppliers. Although we didn’t find LPG in Greenport, we did find pizza and a ship’s chandlery. While there, we enjoyed the scenery, sunsets and a pleasant walk around town.
The next day, we circumnavigated Shelter Island heading for Sag Harbor, an uneventful passage except for one small cut at the tip of North Haven Peninsula where a fast current, two ferries on opposing courses, and a fleet of smaller vessels tried to squeeze through a 600-yard wide passage. The captains seemed unaware of the hazards, passing uncommonly close and darting between the larger boats. Soon we were inside the jetties at Sag Harbor, which was filled with fantastic yachts, crowded anchorages, free services provided by the town such as pump out and launches, and a nice dinghy dock inside Long Wharf at the foot of the main street. Filled with shops, we enjoyed walking along the town’s shady streets. We anchored outside the jetty along with dozens of other sailboats, a few powerboats and one mega yacht.
The ninth night Peregrine departed Sag Harbor to head across Gardiners Bay toward Plum Gut. Before long, we turned east toward Montauk, at the southern fin of the Long Island fishtail. Once a freshwater lake, our busy, well-protected anchorage was a salt pond. Entrepreneurs dug a channel to create a harbor; the channel splits, with the right leg leading to marinas, fuel and food, and the left channel meandering past more docks and marinas, ending in a large shallow pond with scattered anchorages. Luckily, it has a small, 2-foot tidal range, and picking a spot was fairly easy.
Leaving Montauk on 10 July, we sailed to Block Island by circumnavigating the island and entering New Harbor. Like Montauk, the new harbor was once a freshwater pond that had been opened to the sea, providing a huge anchorage with hundreds of boats on moorings and hundreds more on the hook. Going ashore required a long dinghy ride followed by a long walk.
We hired a tour guide, Monica, who acted as one of the original settlers from 1661. She knew everything, including all 900 permanent residents. (The summer population approaches 50,000.) Monica revealed that 47 percent of the island is permanently undeveloped. The town of Old Harbor has shops and restaurants, bed and breakfasts, and elegant hotels as well as well-stocked grocery, liquor and T-shirt shops. Happily, the local LPG service is boat-friendly and will fill 10-pound tanks if you leave them overnight.
Leaving Block Island, we sailed almost into the New London harbor. Just before entering the channel, we passed an outbound attack sub and traveled up the Thames under the Interstate 95 bridge and the railroad bridge until we were intercepted by the guard boat for the submarine base.
Turning aside, we anchored south of Green No. 5 and prepared for the evening meal. Friday morning found us across the river from the sub museum. We visited the Thames View Marina on the U.S. submarine base at Groton. Many of the long-term residents of the marina stopped by to say hello and chat about boats, cruising and destinations. We accepted a ride to the Mystic Seaport Museum in the morning. We wondered the museum for about four hours. Afterward, we made our way back to the marina.
By 1430, we cast off and headed downriver to the New London city pier, which is adjacent to the Amtrak station near the Long Island ferry docks. After landing, we brought our gear ashore, said our goodbyes, and watched Peregrine head out into the sound.
P/Lt/C Michael LeButt, SN has been sailing for over 60 years, and has logged thousands of miles on the Great Lakes and coastal California, where he lived aboard his 40-foot cutter, True North. He is a member of Tip of the Mitt Sail and Power Squadron (Petoskey, Michigan), and an Associate Member of Balboa Sail and Power Squadron (Newport Beach, California). He was recently named District 9's Instructor of the Year, and is a Coast Guard Licensed Master.
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