When Blue Moon left New York nearly three years ago, I didn’t think we’d ever sail her back. I love the city; it’s the only city I love. I loved living in the city for thirteen years before we left, and I’ve loved visiting the city for the last two summers. If I were to move back to land, I’d move back to the city. But bring Blue Moon back to the city? Nonsense. Blue Moon in the city is like a fish out of water.
Then I suggested to Jason we bring Blue Moon back to the city, he called my bluff, and 1708 nautical miles and 255 hours later, Blue Moon sailed back into the city. We were moored at 79th Street Boat Basin Marina from late May until late June and docked at Chelsea Piers from late June until mid July. And while we loved being back in the city, Blue Moon wasn’t so sure.
For Blue Moon, the Hudson River is an inhospitable cesspool. Within five days of sailing into the river, there was a thick ring of dark sludge coating our water line, and lord only knows what kind of growth coating our hull. The water is so polluted with sewage and chemicals and garbage that visibility is less than a few inches. (We know this because poor Jason had to dive in to change a part – a zinc anode – underwater shortly after we got here. I am still monitoring him for strange growths or odd behavior.) Dinghy rides involved being splashed with buckets full of Hudson River grime, and the dinghy painter and mooring lines were completely slimed over. I wash my hands. A lot.
And forget about using our desalinator to make water – there is no way we’re pumping Hudson River sludge through our hoses and membranes. The current in the river is treacherous on a good day, and downright dangerous when the current holds you abeam to gale force winds. (Yes, our mooring dragged, another boat dragged down on us, and we were both dragging into a barge. Thank goodness for Jason’s expert motoring skills.) Even on the dock at Chelsea Piers, the wakes from frequent ferries and tankers passing by rock us incessantly, making the Hudson an uncomfortable place to live.
For us now, the city is an expensive, challenging place to live. As cruisers, we’ve become very adept at sailing to inexpensive places and seeking out good deals. Half price beers and free appetizers at Friday night happy hour at Rackams in Grand Cayman? We’re there. Every Friday. Dollar beers at Casa Vela in Panama? We’re there. Every day. New York has no such deals and is markedly more expensive than the places we’ve been cruising in the Caribbean over the last two and a half years. Preserving our cruising kitty in a place like this hasn’t been easy. I’ve hit up nearly every free opportunity in the city – free Metropolitan Opera performance in Central Park, free entry to museums on Friday nights and during Museum Mile, free musical performances on the rivers, free wifi and air conditioning at the New York Public Library, free harbor tours on the Staten Island Ferry, and free yoga classes in the parks.
Few dirty, expensive, urban places attract cruisers, though New York gets its fair share. Anchorage is free around the Statue of Liberty and transient mooring balls at the 79th Street Boat Basin are reasonably priced. But few cruisers have the audacity to treat New York like home quite like we do. After a decade and a half living in the city, two years living on Blue Moon in the city, and six weeks here as a transient cruiser, I cruise around the city like it’s my own, in my foul weather gear, sporting my boat hair, on my (rusty, rickety) boat bike. (A guy shouted after me the other day, “You’re too pretty for that bike!” and I wanted to school him on the benefits of having a folding bike no one would want to steal and you can toss after it rusts too much.)
I was certain someone would call the bomb squad when Jason biked across town with our ten-pound propane tank strapped to the front of his Citibike. I keep waiting for someone to call the homeless shelter when I blow dry my hair using hand dryers in public restrooms. Even in a city like New York where I have always basked in the anonymity of the masses, unwanted attention is drawn to behaviors that are completely ordinary in the cruising community.
Having friends and family on board has made our city cruising all very worth it. It’s nice to be able to share our cruising experience with them without requiring them to fly to us. After seven weeks in the city, it’s time to take Blue Moon to better cruising grounds. Jason departed yesterday for Maine, where we look forward to discovering clean water, quaint coastal towns and under-inhabited islands. We’ll be back in the city later this summer. Until then, fair winds my dear New Yorkers. Thank you for all the docktails.
We’ve got a runner!
Finally Jenny Mac came to visit
Eli wants to come live on a boat!
Finally Ali visits Blue Moon!
Happy 4th of July!
Happy 4th of July!