Sunday, July 29, 2012

Great Kills, Staten Island, NY to Block Island, RI

We stayed at Great Kills Yacht Club for three nights waiting for the weather to improve.  Great Kills is a melting pot of many nationalities.  The Italian bartender at the Club was Carmine, who was short just like Carmine from the old TV show Laverne and Shirley.  A number of the members were Italian and Irish.  We rode our bikes to St. Claire’s church on Saturday evening.  The parishioners appeared to be of Italian descent, but the priest was from Ghana.  After church we rode to a nearby market for groceries.  It was a small market and I couldn’t find the dairy products, so I asked the butcher.  He did not speak English.  I then looked at the labels on all of the products and they were in Russian. 

 The only person in the entire store who spoke English was the Russian clerk at checkout.  We had dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant where the waiters were Russian and the cooks were Hispanic.  Very different from Morton, Illinois!
Staten Island:  Did you know that Staten Island belongs to New York, not New Jersey, because it was won in a sailboat race in the 1800’s?


0620 we left harbor with no wind and just rolling swells from the bay as we headed for the Verrazano Bridge into New York Harbor. 

 Because it was a Sunday morning, there was light traffic.  The view of the skyline and the Statue of Liberty were spectacular. 

We saw one cargo ship, one Staten Island Ferry and two Circle Line boats, so passage was easy for us. 

We passed the UN building and Riker’s Island (prison). 

The current was 4 mph in our favor as we headed up the East River.  This area can be very turbulent due to the many eddies and whirlpools from frequent depth changes in the bottom of the river.  Once we arrived at Hell’s Gate, the river became very turbulent for a short distance.   Fortunately, there was still very little river traffic. 
After arriving in Oyster Bay (Long Island Sound), we tied up to the dock at Oyster Bay Marine Center (OMYC).  We had reviewed the postings on Active Captain for marina prices.  This one was listed for $1.50 per foot…spectacular for this area…BUT…we didn’t read carefully.  That price was for a mooring ball.  The price at the dock was $4.50 per foot on weekends.  GULP!!
Tides here were 8 feet.

We moved to a mooring ball to save some $$$.  This was our first attempt to tie up to one and we had no problems.  OMYC owns four boats that are used to shuttle people from their mooring balls and anchorages to shore. 

 The staff at this marina was very accommodating.  They had lots of dock hands.  The wind picked up in the evening but subsided during the night. 


0545:  Since we departed before the marina opened, we motored to the gas dock and tied up in order to give Duke a morning walk.  We were gone before marina staff arrived.   After the walk, we headed out on the Sound to Essex, CT and the Nordic Tug Rendezvous.   Essex Island Marina is about 100 yards off the shore of Essex, CT.   No cars are allowed on the island, so a small ferry boat shuttles people on and off on demand. 

The town is filled with houses built in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s.  Each house on the main street has a placard with the original owner’s name and the date of construction.  Very quaint!
7/25/12-7/27/12:  The Rendezvous

Seminars were offered on a variety of topics.  Some were large group sessions and other breakouts.  We met a wonderful group of boaters from New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Maine.  The boat behind ours was NT-317, Simone, which we saw being built last January at the factory.  This boat is owned by Bob and Sue Baglini.


Eleven Nordic Tugs departed for Greenport, NY. Because there were so many of us, we waited an hour in the Greenport Harbor to finally dock the boat. On the marine radio, we were directed to our slip and told “Stern In”. We do not like stern in because we have only one engine and a bow thruster (no stern thruster). That makes turning more difficult. The fairway to our slip was very narrow and the docks were short.

The boats were too large for the slips and protruded out into the narrow fairway.
At the last minute, I handed the controls to Ron and said…”you do this one”.  The boat across from us had a large bow pulpit and we were being placed next to another Nordic Tug with little space between the two boats (and the winds were blowing us sideways into the tug).  With the help of the dock hands, we finally got situated.  After walking around this touristy little town, all of the tug owners (25 of us) were invited aboard Ben & Sue Wilde’s 52 foot tug for cocktails and appetizers.  Ben is the east coast Nordic Tug dealer.  Nice boat!!!!

It was raining and windy.  Even though we were bow out, I was apprehensive about getting out of this slip that was such a struggle to enter.  I took the helm and Ron placed a spring line on the boat so that we could pivot on the piling as I piloted the boat forward.  Ron yelled, “all lines off” as I cleared the boat in front of us by inches and avoided hitting the dock.  When I looked back, RON WAS IN THE WATER!  He had tried to jump aboard, but I had the stern too far off and he missed.  So I was on the boat ALONE!!  Fortunately John Feeney, another tug owner was on the dock.  Ron had somehow tied the stern line to the dock, so I moved the bow to the end of the adjacent dock and John tied the bow line there.  If there had been a boat in that slip, I’m not sure what we would have done.  Ron was uninjured.  After I stopped the engine, he climbed aboard via the swim platform.  While all this was happening, Joe (from Marjo) yelled as he pulled out of his slip…”your stern line is still tied to the dock”.  He didn’t see Ron in the water and thought that I was motoring out of the harbor with a line still tied.  He and Marge thought that I was going to take out the docks as I left.  In hindsight, it was humorous, but it could have been a disaster.

Little did we realize that the day was going to get even more interesting.  We arrived at Block Island after 4.5 hours.  Although we had called for reservations at Payne’s Dock, we were told just to let them know when we arrived.  Block Island is a harbor surrounded by a circle of land with only one entrance.  There are mooring fields everywhere.  Some are privately owned.  The public ones are light green with black lettering.  We tried to find an empty one, but all were filled, so we motored down to Payne’s.  Someone yelled from the front of a large boat, “Do you want to dock?”  We said, “Yes”, and he said “OK…back in to the dock here”.  When we looked, there was no dock.  It was behind and between some large boats.  He said, “Back in here!”  It was like threading a needle through an eye that was way too small. 

A dock hand or boat owner was on EVERY boat.  Ron took the helm and I tossed lines as instructed by the dock hands.  They told Ron every move needed to get the boat through the maze.  A large audience on the dock clapped when we got it to the dock.  Apparently this is NORMAL PROCEDURE since they raft all boats here.  As soon as we got in, ORCA, another tug was placed in the last available spot next to us.  We were happy that Brad and Alice were the ones who would be climbing on our boat to get to the docks.  We observed this procedure several times as other boats arrived.  The procedure reversed as boats left on Sunday morning.

  It is amazing that no one had any boat damage to their boats.



  1. Hi there guys ! Welcome to New England? I feel for ya The first time Jim had to stern in ever was at Champlins at Block Island it was quite the experience! Block was also the first time we had to tread water and it was for almost 2 hours LOL. We did not know your were coming to NE this summer. Are you leaving the boat here for the winter?

  2. Welcome to New England from Erika Lin!! We are in Mystic, just a short 25 miles from Block. If your plans allow, don't miss the Mystic area (and be sure to say "Hello" we are at Brewers Yacht Yard, just before the railroad bridge, slip B21.

    Bob and Lynda