Sandy Hook and Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey is another town revisited for the fishing. Upon arrival, we anchored on Sandy Hook next to the Coast Guard Station so we could meet up with Ortolan, friends from the Bahamas. Roy brought a couple of frozen bunker so he could get his line in right away. Sure enough, Eric and I are recovering from our night watches when Roy yells, “Fish ON!”
This is the first time in a long time we’ve used the net. Roy reached in to de-tangle the fish when it went and bit him in the finger. Yeow, we’re used to fish blood all over the boat, but this time it was Roy finger blood. So, I held it down with a rag while he freed the lure and teeth. Since this is our first bluefish this season there was a moment of discussion as to what type of fish it was until it bit Roy. Then we were sure it was a bluefish.
After saying goodbye to our friends we continued two miles into Atlantic Highlands to the anchorage. It was a little difficult getting the anchor up. I thought, “Wow, the mud sure is thick here.” The anchor windlass tripped the electrical breaker several times until the anchor finally came up. With the anchor up, we were still stuck to the bottom. Apparently we pulled up an old net and a piece of chain that was still stuck on the bottom. It was so gooey, I called Eric up to push it off the anchor, he doesn’t mind getting his hands icky.
Once anchored Roy set out to capture his own bait. He got this idea last year from the locals here in Atlantic Highlands. The schools of Atlantic Menhaden are so dense that a toss of the net can bring in several of these 10 inch, oily, smelly, bait fish. They are part of the herring family and have historically been used to fertilize crops. Wikipedia talks about the large schools and mentions that some have been reported to be 40 miles long.
Menhaden are filter feeders so won’t bite at bait or a lure. The other way to catch them is with a large weighted treble hook. Roy casts it out over the school and reels in fast and easily snags the fish somewhere along the way. Occasionally a bluefish chomps down on it before Roy can get it back to the dinghy.
Back to those Bluefish, they have really big teeth. Roy was lucky the tip of his finger only got a nick, I’m sure this guy could have easily taken the entire finger off.
Or even his arm. The guy at the meat market said bluefish contain mercury so only the smaller ones should be eaten. With a little Mahi left in the freezer we decided Roy should be looking for trophy fish to have his photo taken with.
Back on Makai more civilized activities are happening. Like selfies with Topaz and reading. For Christmas, the kids each got kindles to encourage reading. Now Roy and Genny spend hours and hours reading. We got some books by trading with other cruisers and there are more books available from the public library’s online service.
Every morning we wake up to a clamming boat. There is usually a single guy on a 20 foot skiff with an interesting basket shaped like a shovel at the end of a 20 foot pole with a T handle. He just floats around digging into the bottom to collect his catch. This is another seafood delicacy that Roy has come to enjoy recently. Clamming required a permit and special equipment, so we indulge in the bargain the local grocery store is offering. Fifty little neck clams for $15. I steam them in a pot with 2 cups of water and a chicken bullion.
The municipal marina was wiped out by Hurricane Sandy but appears to be rebuilt. The marina is busy on the weekends with the launch ramp, fishermen, and sailors. Next door is the yacht club, sport fishing boats, the Seastreak Ferry to Manhattan, and a few restaurants. First Street takes care of us with a laundromat, movie theater, Napa Auto Parts and a supermarket at the top of the street. We can take the dinghy around to the east, closer to Sandy Hook and the West Marine is a half hour walk away. Friday was Farmer’s Market day, Roy got a Frisbee there. He and I are looking up to catch it and Topaz is looking down to chase the shadow.
All along the US coast services like Tow Boat US and Sea Tow offer memberships, similar to the AAA, offering members assistance if they have mechanical difficulties or get stuck in the mud, which is easy to do here. This frees up the Coast Guard and the taxpayer’s money from assisting with boats out of fuel or run aground. Last year we bought the membership after listening to a sailboat stuck at night, in the surf at the end of Sandy Hook.
We loved our Cape May, NJ lobster dinner so much I googled around for another place to get steamed lobster. Lusty Lobster is a market a few block in from Atlantic Highlands, in an area just out of our walking distance. But, the man at the seafood counter at the FoodTown supermarket said they get their seafood from Lusty Lobster, so I guess I can get my seafood from FoodTown. The bonus is that the supermarket has a steamer and will cook the lobster for me! My mom came for a visit from Buffalo, so this is a perfect time for a lobster dinner.
Bright and early Sunday morning we headed out for NYC. Miserable weather is predicted in the next few days so we better enjoy a nice day while we have the chance.
Entering New York Harbor everyone poses like Lady Liberty.
We learned that Liberty Island was originally called Bedloe Island and the star shaped base the statue stands on was Fort Wood which shared the island for 40 years until the National Parks system took responsibility of The Statue of Liberty.
The harbor was full of life with tug boats, ferries, speed boats, sail boats, and sight seeing cruises coming and going.
The Staten Island Ferry was hard to miss. These ferries commute back and forth on the 5 mile run from Staten Island to Manhattan 24/7. During rush hour they are scheduled every 15 minutes and in the middle of the night you have to wait an hour for the next ferry. The best news is that this service is free!
Entrance into the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island National Park is Free as well. The catch is that you can’t approach or land on the island unless you are on a Statue Cruise ferry. These boats move between NJ and the park or Manhattan and the park from 8am to 7pm daily.
Makai’s harbor tour passed at least 400 feet of the park islands and then to an anchorage on the north side of Ellis Island where millions of immigrants passed through to their new life in America.
This anchorage offers a million dollar view of New York Harbor’s activities and Manhattan. During the day it was crazy rocky from the boat wakes but worth every minute of it.
My mom brought a stack of packages with items we’ve been ordering for Makai. Eric broke out a new American Flag for Makai. We’ll save the old one for Roy to retire with his scout troop when we return to California.
Not only was the harbor a flurry of activity, so was the air. Kennedy Airport is off to the east, Laguardia Airport is north east, Newark to the west and the south end of Manhattan hosts a heliport, don’t forget military airbases and about 28 smaller outlying airports and heliports adding to the traffic passing by. In the afternoon, five military helicopters came down the Hudson River, circled the Statue of Liberty a few times and went up the East River. I learned on June 6th, to honor D-day, they poured rose pedals on Lady Liberty.
Roy put out a line but didn’t have much luck.
Just when we thought we had seen everything, the cruise ships start coming down the Hudson River. Norwegian Dawn sports the Statue of Liberty on the Starboard bow.
Finally, the sun went down and the harbor traffic went home, the wakes subsided for a pleasant evening. One World Trade Center, The Freedom Tower, rises above the city with the top of the tower 1776 feet above the ground.
When we visited NYC last year, Liberty and Ellis Islands were closed while repairs from Hurricane Sandy were being made. Lucky for us, we got another chance this year. It was a quick dinghy trip around the corner to Liberty Island Marina to park the dinghy and a short walk to the ferry landing. Too bad it’s a stormy day.
The ferry leaves from the north end of Liberty State Park near the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal.
In its hey day the Terminal welcomed passengers from the B&O and Reading Railroad and was surrounded by more than a dozen ferry slips for passengers to continue their trip across the bay. The timetable in 1936 shows 132 weekday departures. The terminal operated from 1889 to 1967. This train station transported an estimated 10 million immigrants to destinations throughout the United States.
Now the platforms and rails are empty but I’m sure they have many stories to tell of the lives they changed.
Well, the rain finally stopped, we made it through security and aboard the Statue Cruise ferry we’re heading to Ellis Island.
The ferry passes by Makai with Nannie and Topaz aboard.
The first stop is Ellis Island’s Immigration Museum.
Many of the artifacts are still stored off site as the climate control system has not yet been repaired from Hurricane Sandy. Still we spent many hours wandering through the exhibits. The Ellis Island Immigrant Processing Station opened it’s doors January 1, 1892 and 12 million immigrants were processed here until it closed in 1954. Ten million of those immigrants spread across the United States at the New Jersey Train Terminal. Most of these people were registered, checked in, inspected and transferred the same day they arrived. The museum did a fantastic job of describing immigration past and present. This sign says it all. The journey can be a trip to Costco, a day at the beach or Disneyland, a vacation in Hawaii or camping. Maybe even an offshore cruise on the family sailboat, or maybe relocating alone, with friends or family to another city, state, or country. How about the people who did this before mail deliveries, telephone, email, or internet blogs. Wow, they are brave.
Next stop is the ferry trip to Liberty Island and the statue the French law professor Édouard René de Laboulaye and sculptor Auguste Bartholdi worked so hard to erect as a symbol of freedom and friendship from the people of France to the Americans.
Yesterday, Eric and I went to the ticket office to check into today’s adventure. A few years back the kids and I came to NYC but couldn’t climb to Liberty’s crown because Marie wasn’t tall enough. This time we were excited about the prospect of the 354 step climb to the crown only to be told the wait list is 18 months long. On the other hand, because we came a day early, we can climb the 200 steps to the top of the pedestal.
Maybe the climb wasn’t so special, but access to the museum inside was great. The lobby houses the original torch that was replaced in the 1984-1986 refit.
I watched the fireworks from Battery Park in 1985 on July 4th with my brother. Lady Liberty was covered in scaffolding, but he was 16 and I was 20 and these two country mice had plenty of fun in the city.
I suppose the pedestal provided a great view of the harbor, but the weather lowered a foggy cloud over the tops of the sky scrapers.
Once at the top of the pedestal we could look through a window that gave us a glimpse of what it looks like under Liberty’s robes. Her copper sheeting is 3/32 of an inch thick beaten into shape using the repoussé method under the supervision of French scuptor Bartholdi. The thin copper skin was reinforced with asbestos by Effel the French engineer who designed the statues internal metal framework.
Eric was in awe of Liberty’s giant nuts… and bolts.
On the lower level is a fantastic museum describing the more than 21 years of dreaming, planning, fund raising, and work to bring us the Statue that welcomed millions of immigrants into the United States and stands for freedom to people all over the world.
This museum shouldn’t be missed if you decide to visit Liberty Island. Be sure to order your tickets in advance at the ticket office or online.
Think about the excitement of a new life for the people arriving aboard ship after crossing the Atlantic as they passed the Statue of Liberty.
Next is our trip up the East River. We’re a little short on photos because my favorite Olympus T2 camera was out of battery and the charger failed. Ho Hum. I love the photos this camera takes, how easy it is to use, being able to take it under water, and how small and easy it is to carry around. What I don’t like is that over the last six months that we’ve had it, it has occasionally given me door seal errors and just as we were leaving the Bahamas, it occasionally didn’t want to turn on. Ahh, why does my favorite camera ever have to be broken? I have replacement batteries and an external charger on order, hopefully that will solve my problems.
But luckily not much has changed on the East River. Check out our blog post from last year, there are some great pictures on it including a picture of Makai from a B17 as we rounded Liberty Island. At the end of the river we spent two nights at City Island. The area was quiet New York town with yummy fried seafood, a fun playground and nice people to talk with. Roy picked out balancing game Suspended by Melissa and Doug.
This is our turn around point, Makai is heading back south to Maryland. Back at Atlantic Highlands our friends from Dream Catcher came by. Eric and Ken took an excursion to Milford, NJ and the Harrison’s house where our van has been waiting. Beth, Jeannette and Beauty stayed with us on Makai while the guys made repairs and preparations for the van to take the Pimentels on a road trip. Topaz and Beauty co-habitated nicely taking turns visiting the people in the main salon.
In the usual North East style, every few days a nice black storm cloud passes by.
We had neighbors over for sundowners and the rain dumped down filling up the dinghies. The kids got out the soap and scrub brushes to clean the dinghies and take a bath.
Bright and early Saturday morning Nannie and Topaz jumped ship. They’re heading to Club Nannie where Topaz and JJ get 6 meals a day, frequent trips to the grass, comfortable couches to watch TV on, and a private swimming pool just for dogs and their guests. We really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, and more reallys miss Topaz. We miss cuddling and kissing on her, we miss giving her our scraps, we miss her barking at the jet skis and stealing our sandwiches, but when the weather gets warmer and she can’t swim and we’re busy doing boat projects or going to museums, Club Nannie will be better for her. See you at the end of July Nannie, Topaz and JJ.
The rest of the day we spent at the movies. How to Train Your Dragon 2, was great, there was a classic car show on First Street, and then we headed out for Barnegat Bay, 40 miles to the south.
The sail was fantastic, we had great wind, and a favorable current which carried Makai at 8 to 10 knots arriving in the anchorage just before sunset.