Most people who live their entire lives in New England enjoy visits to New York City. Bill and I are not like most people. Our only trips there were to catch flights, drive through on route to Philadelphia, and a few times through by boat. There were only two enjoyable trips there. The first was when we joined Mike and Heidi on their Schooner Montowese for a Tall Ship Parade in 1986. We did tie to a pier and go ashore for a few hours, but all I remember of this trip is the hundreds of beautiful old boats and the unique experience to participate. Then there was Junior Journey last April with the whole junior class of Casco Bay High School. This trip will remain in my memory as a wonderful opportunity to connect deeply with a bunch of truly inspirational young adults. My NYC experiences were completely through their eyes, and their reactions to all they saw and did, while I barely remember my own vision.
Some less appealing memories of NYC were when Kenny said “I’m gonna throw up” soon after he consumed a disgusting breakfast choice from McDonalds. There was no place to pull over in the traffic so the family had the unfortunate experience of Kenny following through. While Kenny was unfazed, Lindsay cried, saying “we need to get out of this car!” Then there was the time we were catching an early flight to Puerto Rico, and we stayed in a hotel near the airport. We arrived at midnight and left by 5 am, not enough time to see NYC, but plenty of time for Erica to develop a terrible allergic reaction to something. She boarded the plane saying “I’m really itchy on my legs” and sure enough, she had a serious rash that invaded her whole body and lasted all week. Instead of surfing with the rest of us, she spent her week in the hospital, or in an air-conditioned room so that the heat didn’t aggravate the rash. Luckily, Erica was a great sport, and the other eight of us carried on with our week’s plans.
Fast forward a few years to this week. We sailed down Long Island Sound and anchored right under the Throg’s Neck Bridge at King’s Point. So far so good. Up at daybreak, we raised anchor and headed for the East River. The currents snort through at almost our boat speed, so we planned to traverse the worst part, Hell Gate, at slack water. Again, so far so good. Then we saw the Coast Guard Boats and NYC Police boats stopping all traffic. Huh? What were we supposed to do? We had to anchor right at Hell Gate! For four hours! Finally, they let us go through the west channel, when the bridge opened. Ten boats had piled up in our tiny anchorage area and we all had to race to get to that opening. We all raised anchors and motored over and made it, but not without some racing heartbeats. This is how we get exercise these days. Panic attacks! I don’t think the Pope at the UN appreciated all this security and we certainly didn’t either, but all was well late afternoon. This unscheduled delay meant that we couldn’t make it to Sandy Hook tonight, so we dropped anchor right beside the Statue of Liberty. This was a crazy narrow and shallow channel into the anchorage, but amazingly tranquil once there. Before entering the narrow channel, we negotiated the rough water, with huge ferries, cruise ships, speed boats, tugs with barges, all crisscrossing our path and each other’s. Ahh…Anchor down. Breathing easier…
So there we were, in the anchorage but concerned about leaving our boat unattended, and our dinghy vulnerable to theft at some city pier. Why did we worry? We Mainers think city dwellers are scary. Not so. This is why we are taking this journey. To explore and to understand other cultures. We had a fabulous (albeit wet) experience taking the dinghy into town, then a water taxi from NJ to NYC, then on foot and by subway to all the sights. Food was amazing, music and dancing were entertaining, and the people all seemed friendly and welcoming. OK, so I think we could do NYC again. Our mission to learn about cultures is on course.