Water, Water, Everywhere!

Me and Leslie at Waterford

When we were in Waterford, NY at the junction of the eastern end of the Erie Canal and the Hudson River, we spent some time talking with a volunteer at the city dock wall. He pointed out a sign on the wall about 2 feet above- and off to the side of the main building entrance. On it was a solid horizontal line with the words, “IRENE Waterline 8-29-11” written on it. Upon seeing this for the first time one instantly attempts to put into perspective the height of the building above the nominal water level (about 10 feet), add in the additional 8 feet or so of height to the line on the sign, then imagine the whole river valley, town, surrounding areas, etc., and it just doesn’t make sense. Where does all the water come from? Why doesn’t it just run out of there since it has an easy passage to flow down the Hudson River? What leads to all that water occupying all that space and how does that happen? The answer is really simple and yet complicated to understand. When the hurricane blows in and drops several inches to several feet of water in a short amount of time it doesn’t just drop that water on the river, it drops it all over the hills, fields, valleys, everywhere. An area many, many times larger than the river itself. Add to this the low pressure of the storm basically raising the level of the water like sucking through a straw at its center at the same time that its winds are pounding the waters up into the valleys and not letting them recede. So in essence, where these storms hit can be many times more devastating than what you would estimate from just the raw data that the weather wonks are able to tell you.

The reason I am going into as much detail in telling you this is that we are actually trying to figure out for ourselves where to keep the boat in the future and why we would make such a decision. Next year we will need to find a place where we will keep Wandering Toes for the hurricane season as we travel around the country and we want to make as smart of a decision as we can regarding her location and any possibility of getting hit by a storm. Boats are notoriously susceptible to damage if not properly stored or placed when they end up in the path of a major storm. This summer when Hurricane Florence hit North Carolina, the worst damage occurred in the New Bern area many miles up the river and away from the coast. Why did this happen?

My original thinking was to drive her as far up a river and as far inland as possible to get as far away from the coast as could be reasonably achieved. But now my thinking on this issue is changing. Imagine that a hurricane blows ashore in any location and you’re in the direct path of it. All that water, all that wind, all that rain, all that low pressure rides over wherever you are if you’re unlucky enough to be in its path. Would you rather be in a coastal area; i.e. less wind protected, but wide open space at sea level with hundreds of square miles of open flat areas for the water and rain to rise and fill, or in a tight, small, probably more wind protected area where the water has no place to go but up when it all is blown into the valley space? Take the wind and less water, or protect from wind but deal with too much water? I can tell you that the flood tides of major storms are what cause the most damage. Not that wind doesn’t cause damage, it does, but wind is less of a factor than water when it comes to massive damage. And at the end of the day, sometimes your luck has just run out and that’s what insurance is for. Still I’d like to be making the best decisions I can for us and leaving as little to chance as we can. Now I am thinking that we would maybe like to be in a more coastal place that is well protected from winds with strong tie downs for the boat and that can withstand a coastal flood tide if it comes, but not be so far inland as to be overwhelmed by the water when the natural landscape gives it no place to go.

That’s what’s been on my mind as we near the coast.

Entering the Hudson River

We left Waterford and motored down to Riverview marina in Catskill, NY where we were scheduled to have our mast re-stepped. Dave and Leslie on Gypsy Spirit were with us and they were going to a different marina to have their mast put back on having had it shipped there from Buffalo. We got there easy and found it to be an excellent place with super nice and helpful people and clean facilities. They stepped our mast the next afternoon and Wandering Toes was whole again. We then took the next two days to get the sails back on, clean and reorganize everything and get back to being a sailboat again. What a relief to have the mast back up! While at Riverview we also met Michel and Malic from Canada on the 34 foot sailboat Jolie Brise who are also going to The Bahamas for the winter. We talked about possible places to stay in New York City and enjoyed their company.

The next day we fueled up, filled the water tanks and set off down the Hudson. The winds were from the south and the current was from the north making for about two foot waves and impeding our progress. Still we motored on and made it to Poughkeepsie for the night. Our docking at the Shadow’s Marina was less than perfect taking a chunk out of a dock board and, uh, how do I say this….chaotically disassembling a power stanchion with our bow anchor while attempting to dock. The dock master Keith was super nice and disregarded the damage just happy to have us in safely. Wow! Worst docking situation I have ever been in, but Wandering Toes seems to only have a tiny, buffable mark on her bow. We had planned on eating on the boat, but thankful to be in from the washing machine of the Hudson we went up to the restaurant and had fantastic burgers for dinner at what was an extremely fancy place. We sat at the outside bar overlooking the river valley and just relaxed, enjoyed and came down from our day.

West Point
Tappan-Zee Bridge







Back out again the next day we passed through the narrows at West Point and saw the awesome buildings and scenery where the mountains converge and pinch the river here. No wonder it was easy to defend and a vital military asset in our nation’s history. We ended up anchoring about 500 yards in front of Sing-Sing Prison in Haverstraw Bay on the Hudson and about 2 miles north of the massive new Tappan-Zee Bridge where they are still removing the old bridge with many construction cranes and workboats in the area. We had a nice quiet night with no issues, our first night anchored on the river and in a place with tides.






Off the hook at 6:45am the next morning, we were off to New York City and the Ocean. We got a text from Michel and Malic. They had motored 70 miles the previous day and anchored only 2 miles north of us on the river and were going our same way. They said that they had gotten a reservation for a mooring ball at the same place that we did and we would see them later that day. Fun! We had a long day of motoring down the last of the Hudson River and into New York Harbor.

Verrazano Narrows Bridge

We went under the George Washington Bridge and down the length of Manhattan, past all of the tall iconic buildings of NYC, past Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, all of the anchored ships waiting to load or unload cargo and negotiating the hundreds of other mega-yachts, cruise ships, ferries, workboats, power boats, sailboats, kayaks and jet skis out using the bay. Then we went under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and out into Raritan Bay where we took a hard left around Coney Island and into Sheepshead Bay and our mooring at the Sheepshead Bay Yacht Club. Jolie Brise was in and moored two boats in front of us only a half hour after we were, and we were happy to be safe and out of the chaos of NYC.

Coney Island

So our journey to saltwater, and this important milestone is done. I tasted the water and yes, it’s very salty! We are right around the corner from the Atlantic Ocean. You can feel the salt air and smell the water. From this point on we will need to learn to be saltwater sailors and what it takes to have a boat out here. The waters are BIG. The whole country is to the west of us and the Atlantic is to the east. When you look out, it’s water for roughly 3000 miles. Tides are a real thing and demand to be payed attention to. It boggles the mind that the whole ocean rises up 5 feet, sometimes more, twice a day and falls again. Shorelines are feet under water in the morning and high and dry in the afternoon, and it is this water-clock, like a breath of life, where the land and the sea meet.

If you haven’t already, you can see more pictures and read a short snippet of every day of our journey so far that Marge has put together. Just follow the link to our Travel Logs . You can read them from the beginning by scrolling down to the bottom and following the links.

We’re glad to have made it this far. Amazed at all we have seen and all that lies ahead. Every day is an adventure!

David and Marge Back
s/v Wandering Toes, and RV Verne!

7 thoughts on “Water, Water, Everywhere!”

  1. Thanks for your post. I love them. Your adventures are so exciting and all the wonderful things you are seeing. Love you, Mom n Sad


  2. Glad to see you made it to the ocean with no major problems. I got Corinthian shrink wrapped today, she is all put away for the winter.


  3. What an adventure that you are on! Enjoy and thanks for the travel writings, it is fun to hear of your adventures. Be safe and take care!
    Penny and Dennis


  4. Thanks for sharing…. our wanderlust is increasing with each post!
    Our boat is on the hard, just in time. There were huge waves two days later.
    We’re going to try some tent 🏕 camping next weekend. Nothing compared to your adventures.
    ❤️Love you two!
    ✌️ ❤️⛵️


  5. I so look forward to reading your posts, and am never disappointed! What a wonderful adventure you guys are on!! Love you 🙂


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