Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!
Henry Hudson here helping the skipper pilot up the Hudson River to the Erie Canal. The crew passed some memorable scenery as they left Haverstraw Bay and headed to Hyde Park. The Bay is the widest point on the river, about 3 miles across from the east to west bank. After a short stay in Hyde Park to explore the area, the crew then made their way to Waterford where they will enter the NY Canal System.
But first I had to give the skipper a little sun dial training. Seems the modern skipper relies on gadgets and GPS to navigate and they have lost the skills we old salts used to have to safely travel these waters.
The skipper came across a sundial – 9/11 Memorial while he was out riding his bicycle in Croton on Hudson Village. The gnomon, the piece that sticks up and casts the shadow, was actually a steal beam from the twin towers. Red bricks were then laid to create the hour-lines. At the end of the hour-lines were medallions to represent the time as the shadow passed by.
The crew shoved off from the dock on Tuesday and headed north. One of the first features passed was Bear Mountain which rose to a height of 1305 feet above the River. The Appalachian Trail crosses the Hudson River at the Bear Mountain Bridge. The crew saw hikers on the bridge 155 feet overhead and wondered if any were section hikers, since it would be too early for through hikers at this point.
Appalachian Trail (AT) Factoid – The trail from Bear Mountain to Delaware Water Gap opened October 7, 1923, and was the first section opened of the famed AT.
The Skipper and Admiral dream of through hiking the AT after completing this season of boating America’s waterways.
West Point was the next landmark along this section of River. As the crew came around the next bend in the River at Con Hook, they could see West Point on the western shore about 5.5 nautical miles up-river.
In the revolutionary war the American’s stretched a chain from the west bank to the east bank to prevent the British from getting north of West Point. Each chain link was 2 feet long.
Another 5 nautical miles up-river the crew passed Pollepel Island. The Island is better known as Bannerman Island to the locals. There is a deteriorating castle on the Island that has quite the story to tell.
Buried on an island in the Hudson, beneath the brittle body of century old castle walls and thin hair of tangled vines, lie Civil War bayonet scabbards and the ashes of Irish linen bed sheets.
This is the remnant of a Scotsman’s fortress called Bannerman Castle — built not as a home, but as an arsenal for his immense collection of weapons. To read the whole story, click on the title: Bannerman Island: A Mystery Island on the Hudson
Four nautical miles further up-river and the crew passed George Washington’s 1782-1783 Headquarters in Newburgh. The Hasbrouck House is where George issued the Proclamation For Peace that ended the Revolutionary War. The house is the oldest house in Newburgh, and also is the first property acquired and preserved by any state in the US for historic reasons.
Another 4 nautical miles and the crew passed under the Mid-Hudson Suspension Bridge. The crew is about half way to the Erie Canal. The crew pulled into the Hyde Park Marina to spend several days exploring the sights of the mid-hudson.
Shore Excursions in Dutchess County
The Hudson River Valley is rich in history going all the way back to 1609 when I first sailed these waters. The heavy Dutch influence is still seen today, mostly in the naming conventions that is still in use. For example, a ‘kill’ in Dutch is a creek. Eleanor Roosevelt’s home is named Val Kill Cottage, or Cottage on the Creek.
With so much history in the area, the challenge is to narrow down the list of must see things to do, to a manageable number. On this trip, the crew decided to walk the Val Kill Cottage property, visit the Hudson River Maritime Museum, Vanderbilt Mansion, FDR Library and Museum, the Culinary Institute of America, and West Point. To see and do these things the crew rented a car for three days.
But before setting off on Wednesday morning, the skipper noticed that one of the bridges in Poughkeepsie had been converted from a rail to trail bike ride. It was about two miles from the marina to the trail, and then a 4.5 mile loop over the Walkway Over the Hudson Bridge to the Mid-Hudson Bridge, and then two miles back to the marina.
As often happens on the explorations, the skipper stumbled over an exciting exhibit. On the Mid-Hudson Bridge, someone had actually created 12 tracks of music that one can listen to. All the music was made by beating on the bridge. Very entertaining.
The Mid-Hudson Bridge was done as a proof of concept to attempt the same thing on the Eifel Tower. The Bridge Music turned out to be a success and he went on to also produce Tower Music.
For a mobile web tour of the bridge and area, visit walkway
Kingston, New York
The first settlers arrived in Kingston in 1652, which makes the village the third oldest in New York State. Kingston was also the first capital of New York.
Historic Old Dutch Church
Founded in 1659, the church is often referred to as ‘Kingston’s Cathedral.’ The church is built with native stone, showing Greek, Italian, and Egyptian influences. The architect used symbolism of the Christian Church in using 3’s, 5’s and 7’s in the interior design.
Three stands for the trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. There are three entrances, three aisles, and three pulpit chairs.
Five stands for the 5 senses. There are five windows on each side, five balcony arches with five columns.
Seven stands for the days of creation. There are two pairs of seven branch candle holders.
The stained glass memorial window behind the pulpit was designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany.
The Praying Angel, designed by German sculptor, Carl Burbel, took first prize for bronze work at the 1893 Worlds Fair. (The angel on the right side of pic.)
While walking the grounds of the old church, the skipper tried to enter the church but found the door locked. As the crew was walking away, a young man came up to the crew and asked if they would like to go inside. Of course the answer was yes. The young man unlocked the door, turned the church lights on, and basically gave the crew the run of the place to look around.
Hudson River Maritime Museum
The museum did a fantastic job of explaining the history of and uses of the Hudson River.
Two of the more interesting things were the ice sailing and ice harvesting exhibits.
The museum actually had FDR’s ice sailboat on exhibit. Films showing ice sailing captured these contraptions sailing in excess of 100 mph over the ice.
The ice harvesting reached a peak in the early 1900’s but was put out of business with the invention of electricity and refrigeration. However, in its hey-day, there were over a hundred business cutting large chunks of ice and storing the blocks till summer. Then selling the blocks of ice to customers in NYC.
Vanderbilt Mansion – Hyde Park – this mansion was purchased by Frederick and Louise Vanderbilt as a spring and fall cottage in 1895. The couple spent $2.25 million furnishing and updating the estate. The couple had no children, so when Frederick died in 1938, he left the Hyde Park estate to a niece. She did not want the head ache so she tried selling the estate. Eventually dropping the price all the way to $250,000. After no takers, she donated the estate to the government in 1940.
FDR Library and Museum – FDR actually designed his library in the Dutch colonial style. Unlike the presidential libraries that followed, FDR actually used this facility while sitting as the president. The crew spent four hours wandering the exhibits and could easily spend another full day.
The skipper was humored though by Eleanor. The library had an exhibit of items found in her purse when she died. Amongst the credit cards, and ID’s were about 10 different prayers she carried with her and a New York gun permit. Can you believe it, a praying, gun toting, New York progressive. My, how times have changed.
Culinary Institute of America
The crew stopped in here for lunch and also took the tour. The Institute was actually started by two women following WWII to help returning veterans learn new skills and find work.
The sturgeon statue is made of knives, forks, and spoons. The fish was selected because it makes its home in the Hudson River and brings us caviar.
The crew visited the Army Museum. An interesting thread that first appeared on a plaque outside West Point, reappeared in the museum, and ended at the cemetery is the story of Susan and Anna Warner.
The two sisters are the only female civilians buried in the cemetery. For decades the two women taught Sunday School lessons to the Cadets who would row across the Hudson River to their home on Constitution Island. Susan died in 1885, but Anna continued teaching the cadets until her death in 1915. Dwight D, Eisenhower was a student of Anna’s. Anna is also known as the author of the song, ‘Jesus Loves Me.’
On Saturday morning the crew decided to push further north up the Hudson and left the dock at 0915. While throwing the lines off the boat, an old man approached the skipper and asked if Henry Hudson was aboard. When I heard my name, I looked down from the helm and saw my old friend, Rip. You might recall that when Rip wandered into the woods he met my crew before falling into a deep sleep.
Since Rip knows these woods we gave him a ride north to New Brunswick. Along the way he pointed out landmarks and told stories of long ago.
When we passed the Esopus Island, Rip informed us that we were now out of the brackish water, and would be in fresh water the rest of the way north. He mentioned that we will still feel the effects of the tides until we get to the Troy Lock north of Albany.
Rip pointed out the Esopus Lighthouse. The light was placed in service back in 1839.
Further up the river we passed the Kingston Lighthouse. Rip informed us that it was originally built in 1838.
Just south of Albany, the crew passed under the Rip van Winkle fixed Bridge, and Rip decided it was time for a nap. We let him disembark under the bridge and I waved goodbye to my old friend. Soon after dropping Rip off, the crew motored up the side of Houghtailing Island and anchored for the night.
On Sunday the crew weighed anchor in the rain and made their way north of Albany and then on to the Troy Lock. This is actually the furthest north I made it during my 1609 explorations of the region.
The lock raised Still Waters II 14 feet. Now that the crew has passed the lock, the crew will not have to deal with any tidal effects for a while.
Also, after passing the lock, the crew passed green ‘1’ which is the furthest east on the basic route of the Great Loop. The boat in the pic below is to the starboard of the green 1 can floating in the water.
The crew docked at the Waterford Town Dock. The skipper went and bought their pass to transient the NY Canal System. The crew will make final preps on Monday to make the canal passage. The big question right now is whether to take the Erie Canal west or the Champlain Canal to the north.
Tune in next week to see which way the crew decides to go.