Sailing To New York City

Motoring Through New York Harbor

Jerome had worked out the tide details so we could carry the flood tide all the way to the Hudson River, and the plan called for a late morning departure from Sandy Hook. We upped anchor at 11:45 am and motored away, cutting across Sandy Hook Channel and heading towards Chapel Hill Channel. This channel would take us northward across the Lower Bay, which is miles wide at its southern end (our location) and largely open to the ocean. At this point, we are still nearly 10 miles south of the protected waters of the Upper Bay, which is what most people would consider to be New York Harbor. The Upper Bay is north of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which we could see in the distance.

As we were cutting across Sandy Hook Channel heading north, a giant tanker was cruising down Chapel Hill Channel and turning into Sandy Hook Channel. At one point it looked like he was headed directly toward us and would run us down, but we crossed the channel and reached shallow water well before he reached us. I heard the tanker sound five toots on his horn, which is the "emergency, get out of the way!" signal, but the horn signal was intended for other small boats that still occupied Sandy Hook Channel. A short time later, the tanker sounded another five toots due to additional small fishing boats cramping his maneuvering room.

Two pictures from the vicinity of Green 17 in the northern part of Chapel Hill Channel. The left-hand picture shows the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in the background (3.6 nm away), and the right-hand picture is looking back down Chapel Hill Channel at the West Bank Lighthouse, built in 1900 and still in use.

The high-speed ferry Seastreak Wall Street, heading north towards Manhattan. By examining the timestamp on the digital photograph and consulting ferry schedules on the internet, I deduced that this ferry departed Highlands, NJ (on the mainland at the base of Sandy Hook) and is heading towards East 34th St. in Manhattan. This particular ferry uses waterjet propulsion, like a giant jet ski, but other ferries use conventional propellers. The ferry cruises at a speedy 38 knots (44 mph), but then again, it has a total of 7,500 horsepower pushing it along, with a fuel consumption of nearly 350 gallons an hour!  

As early afternoon rolled around, it was warming up and turning into a muggy, humid day. With so many sights to see (and photograph), I was disappointed that the sky was mostly overcast and very hazy, which made for very poor picture taking.

By 1:30 pm, we had reached the northern end of Chapel Hill Channel and now entered Ambrose Channel, the main shipping channel for New York City. Needless to say, you don't want to dilly-dally in one of the world's busiest shipping channels, so we angled eastward across the channel to get to the other side. As we were crossing over, we saw three low-flying banner-towing airplanes wandering all around the Lower Bay, towing inane messages that neither Jerome nor I could figure out. It must have been a local publicity stunt, but the effort was wasted on us.

During this time, we also motored past Coney Island, on the southwest shore of Brooklyn, though from some distance away. Coney Island has a long history as a popular seaside resort (dating back to the late 1800s), though in more recent times its popularity has waned. It still has an amusement park, boardwalk, and beach. Coney Island also has a 262-foot-tall steel tower, visible for miles, that was used for a parachute jump amusement ride. Although the ride is no longer active, the tower has been restored as a city landmark.

Looking east towards Brooklyn and the beach at Coney Island. You can see the tall tower for the parachute jump amusement ride.  

Three banner-towing airplanes with their inane messages.

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