Cape May, New Jersey...an area we had barely ever heard of, but what a pleasant surprise! We arrived on Friday, June 17, into South Jersey Marina after an uneventful 65-mile voyage down the Delaware River. We were going to only stay one night but the winds were howling which forced us to stay put for two additional days. The open Atlantic Ocean for the next 150 miles definitely lets you know when you should not venture out. There are at least 5 other Looper boats in the marina and we had docktails on Saturday night and shared stories. We reconnected with Mark and Michelle on Tuscorora who completed their Loop last year and are now on a new adventure up the east coast. We originally met them way back in March 2020 in Vero Beach during the infamous Covid shutdown. We spent Saturday walking around downtown Cape May. It is a charming beach town with lots of activity. Many restaurants and shops are located a block from the beach. The Peanut Butter Shop is a must stop! We found out that Cape May is designated America's original seaside resort. Its downtown contains blocks and blocks of beautiful Victorian homes, many of them very large establishments. Cape May would be the perfect destination if you want a beautiful beach vacation. Monday, June 20, brought decent seas and out we ventured into the Atlantic Ocean. Next stop...Atlantic City, New Jersey. Atlantic City is a smaller version of Las Vegas. The Farley State Marina is next to the Golden Nugget Casino Complex and we had the opportunity to enjoy one of its many eateries, walk around, and spend a half hour in the casino. Those who know us know that Linda enjoys the slots and Conrad has no time for it whatsoever. He watched as she made three 50-cent bets and won $857 and then another $100. Conrad cashed the tickets in and we walked out. (We put those coins to good use during the week we stayed in New York City!) We departed on Tuesday morning and because it was a good day to run the ocean and we decided to travel all the way to New York City...about 105 miles. It was a good decision for us as the next several days brought winds and rain and we were happy to be off the ocean.
The arrival of WaterMarks and crew into New York Harbor on Tuesday, June 21, is a highlight of our Great Loop Adventure. It is one of the most special experiences that every Looper experiences. We floated by Lady Liberty and Ellis Island and made our way to Liberty Landing Harbor in Jersey City, New Jersey. This was our home for the next 6 days while we played tourist in New York City.
Tuesday, June 21: We arrived into New York Harbor and were immediately assaulted by ferry boats everywhere, barges, and a couple of ships, and lots of pleasure boats. We were traveling with four other Looper Boats to make sure that we each were able to get a picture of our boat in front of Lady Liberty. Trying to line up for the picture with all the boat traffic around us was a challenge, but we were able to get this important picture accomplished. We then headed up the Hudson River to Liberty Landing Marina which was right past Ellis Island. This would be our home for the next 6 days. We got settled in and then explored the marina. It is obviously a destination spot for events and weddings, as there was something going on every evening we were there. We relaxed for the evening and planned our attack on New York City.
Wednesday, June 22: We woke up to dreary, rainy weather so decided to walk to Ellis Island, which was a few blocks away through Liberty Park, and attached to our marina. We got as far as the bridge over to the island and were greeted by park rangers letting us know that no foot traffic was allowed and that we needed to return to the marina area and board a ferry to take us to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. We spent most of the day touring these two remarkable historic landmarks. Ellis Island was especially poingnant in that we learned so much about what immigrants went through to come to America, including Conrad's grandmother who came from Germany by herself when she was 15. The restoration of this landmark after it had been left to go to ruin has been accomplished in a very beautiful way. The hardships were extreme and very well depicted in the museum. We both feel that every American should visit Ellis Island. The Staute of Liberty museum was very informational. You still cannot go up into Lady Liberty but we learned so much about her history at the museum.
Thursday, June 23: Up early again and caught the ferry (only $6) over to Manhattan. We walked to the 911 Memorial Park and Museum. The park where the memorial pools have been built is beautifully serene. The two cascading pools are built in the footprint of the towers and the top walls of the pools are stainless steel with the engraved names of everyone who perished in this attack. Even though there were hundreds of people walking around the park the mood was very respectful and somber...easy to forget that you are in the middle of a huge city. We tried to get tickets for the museum but at 10:30 were told they were totally sold out. We purchased tickets for the next morning and went to Plan B. We took a walk around the near area...walked down Wall Street and past the Stock Exchange and the Battery. Decided to take an open air hop-on-hop-off bus tour which took us into the theater district, the many piers on the Hudson River, SoHo, ChinaTown, restaurant row, Times Square, 42nd Street, and a lot more. We hopped off near Times Square and landed a table at place on restaurant row called Carmine's. We hopped back on the bus and continued the tour around Manhattan and then returned to downtown late in the afternoon, grabbed an afternnon refreshement near the ferry dock and headed back on the ferry across the bay to Liberty Landing.
: Up early again (seems like a broken record), ferried across the bay and walked to the 911 Memorial. We entered the museum and were able to check in an hour prior to our tour starting. We spent the hour 4 floors down in what we thought was just a space until we realized we were at the base of the towers where the original footings for the towers were. This was also the bottom side of the memorial pools from the park above ground. It was a surreal experience. We viewed the exhibits on that level and then started our 1-1/2 hour tour. The guide began the session by letting us know that it was ok to take a break from the tour if necessary. We didn’t quite understand the comment until we got going. The emotions are raw and there were times we couldn’t hold back tears. This by far was the most emotional tour we have ever experienced. It certainly made us proud to be Americans. We made our way back outside to the 911 Memorial Park and enjoyed excellent Philly Cheese Sandwiches with beef, fried onions, and cheddar cheese sauce (we don’t eat like this often) from a street vendor. Next stop…we grabbed a Lyft ride and headed to Central Park where our horse carriage awaited for a tour of the park. Central Park is 870 acres of hills, rocks, greenspace and lots of people situated in the middle of Manhattan. We enjoyed seeing the bridge where the pigeon lady was in Home Alone 2 and John Lennon’s home (where he was murdered in 1980). Following the ride we caught a Lyft back to downtown Manhattan and grabbed dinner at a Mexican restaurant called El Vez. Had to go there because it was connected to the Conrad Hotel. Caught the ferry back to the marina as the sun was setting on the harbor.
: Our final day of playing tourist. Today no ferry ride because the ferries from our marina don’t run on the weekends. We Lyfted to Radio City Music Hall and began our exploration from that point. RCMH was closed in the morning but we were able to peek inside the lobby later in the afternoon. We walked to 30 Rock Plaza, saw the Today Show headquarters (NBC) and the Plaza. Unfortunately, being Saturday, we didn’t get to see Hoda or Savannah or Al in action. Rockefeller Center and the 30 Rock Building is beautiful. Lots of people out enjoying the day at the Center. Spur of the moment we decided to take the tour of 30 Rock so we were quickly transported to the 67th floor and stepped out to a 360 view of New York City on a beautiful sky blue day. The history of the building dates back to the Depression days. It was interesting to learn and see all the pictures as the building transformed to its modern-day appearance. The one thing in common with all the downtown buildings and venues is you always see some type of security…even near the bathrooms!
Following the tour we walked to 49th Street and had lunch at an Irish Pub where Linda proceeded to order a very spicy margarita filled with jalapenos and a Greek Salad. (Just didn’t have a taste for Shepard’s pie for lunch.) We then walked a bit toward the Ambassador Theater, found another little open air place for a glass of wine where we could do some people watching. Mid afternoon the doors opened at the Ambassador and we saw our first Broadway musical…Chicago. It did not disappoint. This was our final tourist item on the Bucket List.
Reflecting back on the 5 days we spent in NYC...we were exhausted but feeling like we put a dent on the list. Linda has never visited this city and it was a highlight of our trip and we really liked the "activity" steps we accumulated over the 5 days!
Since we had ignored the boat all week, on Sunday, June 26, we rested, cleaned, did laundry, looked at the 13 identical ocean racer sailboats that had come into the marina on an around-the-world adventure, had docktails with a couple, Carol and George, who are from Scotland and live aboard at Liberty Landing, and then called it a night. We had to prepare everything to leave at first light, put the ocean behind us (and the salt water!) and head north on the Hudson River.
Monday, June 27, we said good-bye to NYC and slowly as we headed north the big buildings turned into rolling hills and trees and beautiful landscape. We traveled about 35 miles to Half Moon Bay at Croton-on-Hudson, New York. As we left NYC on the Hudson we floated over the portion of the river where Capt. Sully Sullenberger landed his US Airways jet in the river in 2009. Hard to believe, based on the location, that there were no casualties. We are now back into rural areas as we head toward the Erie Canal.
Wednesday, June 29, found us traveling about 55 miles to Roundout Yacht Basin in Kingston, NY. We pulled into this little town off the Hudson, got tied up and a couple from our dock in Sturgeon Bay came floating in. Roger and Jane on the Jolly Roger IX are doing this portion of the Loop and we happened to cross paths. We shared docktails on WaterMarks and then Ubered into the small town of Kingston and had a nice meal with them. The next day was calm and sunny for a 60-mile run to the Albany Yacht Club in Albany, New York.
And we thought the week In New York City was exhausting!! June 30 found us in Albany, NY. Not much going on but we were able to restock the boat while there. Once again our trusty wagon came out and we hiked about 2 miles to the nearest grocery store, filled the wagon, and returned to the boat. The Albany Yacht Club Marina was adjacent to a nice condo complex. We only stayed for one night and on July 1 we officially entered the Erie Canal. We made the run to Mohawk Harbor in Schenedtady, NY which included 7 locks on this leg. The beginning of the Erie quickly gets you "up to speed" on how to handle locks. There are 5 locks in the first 2-mile stretch. This was called the Waterford Flight. We stayed in Mohawk and Jolly Roger is still running with us, which is fun to have friends heading the same way we are. That evening we were fortunate to be entertained at ann outdoor concert by the Albany Symphany Orchestra right behind our boat and then had front row seats on the boat for a spetacular fireworks display. We left very early on Saturday, July 2, for the next leg of the Erie Canal. This time we again handled 7 more locks over about 50 miles. We arrived at St. Johnsonville, NY, where Jolly Roger lost its power steering just leaving the last lock. They were able to make it into the St. Johnsonville Marina and because its a Holiday weekend we stayed for 2 nights. On Monday, July 4, we left Jolly Roger behind and made a short run on July 4 to Little Falls, NY, to connect with Loopers we met in Jacksonville, Jeff and Cathy on Serendipity, and who are from Wisconsin. Only two locks on this leg. Jolly Roger will await repairs and catch up with us in a few days.