Sailing To New York City

Sailing To Sandy Hook (continued)

Click on the picture to display a chart of where we anchored at Sandy Hook. (143 kb) Use your browser's "back" command to return here.  

Monday, June 25, 2007 (in the wee hours of the morning)

Well, it was a long trip, coming up the coast all morning, all afternoon, and all night—the coastline of New Jersey seems to go on and on, forever.

During the night, we could easily see lighted features along the coast, since we were only a couple of miles offshore. At one point, we saw fireworks in the distance over the shoreline by what was probably Asbury Park. Later on, as we got closer to the New York metropolitan area, we started to see lots of commercial airliners flying around overhead, approaching the various major airports. From many miles away, we could see the sparkling lights illuminating the suspension cables of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, a long and impressive suspension bridge connecting Brooklyn and Staten Island.

In the wee hours of the morning, the wind picked up again, and Jerome steered us towards Sandy Hook Channel. We then motorsailed along the well-marked channel, up and around the mostly low and dark point of Sandy Hook. As with Cape Henlopen, there was deep water very close to shore. After we furled all sails, Jerome motored into a cove on the inside of the hook, not far from the point and adjacent to the Coast Guard station on Sandy Hook. As usual, he sounded out the cove, then we anchored at 3:40 am. Unfortunately, the wind hadn't followed the forecast, so instead of the boat being in the lee of Sandy Hook, we had an onshore wind. But luckily, the wind by now was light, so there was no risk to the boat at all.

It took a few minutes to shut down the engine and secure everything; by now we were both dog-tired and moving slowly. Oddly enough, we saw another boat come around the point and anchor near us; in the binoculars, it appeared to be some sort of recreational trawler. As we prepared to retire below, the very earliest traces of dawn were beginning to appear on the eastern horizon.

Looking ashore at the charted light on Sandy Hook Point. Much of Sandy Hook is undeveloped and preserved as part of a national recreation area, although there is also a large former military base located on part of the property (Fort Hancock, deactivated in 1974). In the 1950s the base was the site of a Nike missile battery that protected New York City.  

Pilgrim with the sandy shore of Sandy Hook in the background.   Looking ashore from Pilgrim. The buildings are somewhat dilapidated and might be unused, but the radar at left was constantly turning, keeping a watchful electronic eye on the surrounding waters.

Monday, June 25, 2007 (later the same morning)

Although we went to bed after arriving and anchoring, I didn't sleep well so I didn't get much rest. I think I have built up a rather large "sleep deficit" from long days with irregular sleep.

We finally got to take a look at Sandy Hook in the daytime. The Coast Guard station was quite small and was southeast of the anchorage; looking down the peninsula towards the mainland we could see numerous buildings that were part of the former military base. Looking the other way out to the point, the area looked largely undeveloped but flat and not very inviting.

Looking around the water, we could see a sailboat anchored far away near the old military base, and close to the point we could see the mystery boat that anchored nearby (it was an odd-looking trawler). Looking across Sandy Hook Bay toward the mainland, we could see a long pier extending out from shore with a few navy ships tied up. According to the Coast Pilot, this is an ammunition loading pier for the military, and needless to say, it's a restricted area. Looking down the shoreline towards the mainland, we could see an extensive fish trap with long staked-out nets leading out from shore. It's a good thing we didn't explore any farther last night, because it would have been easy to blunder into the nets in the dark.

Jerome had the marine VHF tuned to channel 13 this morning, and it was interesting listening to all the ships and tugs communicating. Most of the tugs are local, and all the ships are required to have a local pilot, so all the voices spoke with a "Noo Yawk" accent. They also relate where they are and where they're going, so we could get an idea how busy the various waterways were this morning.

Since Jerome has to figure out where to stay, he needed phone numbers for a few marinas. By waving my magic wand, I was able to conjure up phone numbers from the cockpit GPS (it has an internal list of numerous points of interest for boaters, including addresses, phone numbers, and exact locations). I also plotted waypoints for the 79th Street Boat Basin (19.2 nm from Sandy Hook), City Island Yacht Club (24.7 nm), and Liberty Landing Marina (14.0 nm). After making a few phone calls, Jerome reserved a transient slip for tonight at Liberty Landing Marina, in Jersey City across the Hudson from Lower Manhattan. He has a good lead on getting a mooring at City Island, but the details have yet to be worked out (the Boat Basin will be a backup).

The story continues in the next section as we motor through New York Harbor to Liberty Landing Marina.

The docks of the small Coast Guard Station at Sandy Hook. Surprisingly, I couldn't find a web site for this station on the internet.  

The strange-looking recreational trawler that anchored nearby in the wee hours of this morning.  

The nearby fish trap, with nets and stakes extending hundreds of feet from shore. It's not only a fish trap, but also a boat trap, especially at night. Luckily, we anchored before we got to the fish trap.  

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