This is update #3 as we cover Fred and Sidonia St. Germaine's trip along The Great Loop in their Nimbus 405 Coupe. Links to the other updates are below.
We last left Sidonia and Fred at Mansion Marina in Staten Island, NY, after their trip up the New Jersey coast. As it happened, the couple decided to stay at the marina for a few days. Mike, their son, was expected to arrive in four days, and it made sense to wait for him at the marina, which is close to the airport. The weather also got very hot, and the couple wanted to enjoy the boat’s air conditioning during the heat of the day.
The friendly people who kept their boats at the marina provided a lot of great local information, which Sidonia came to think of as their very own concierge service. So, they had no reason to just sit in the boat. They took advantage of their time in Staten Island to explore and enjoy local cuisine, which turned out to have a major Italian influence.
“We rode our scooters to a hardware store to buy a padlock and chain for the scooters. It was like stepping into the past. The store was tiny, just three aisles, the shelves were crammed, the floor had a few pieces of ancient linoleum still stuck to the boards and it had that wonderful, nostalgic smell. I’m not sure what it was, but it sure doesn’t smell like that in Home Depot.
“We then went into Frank & Sal’s grocery store which our ‘concierge’ at the dock had told us about. It was also a small store with only four aisles. One entire aisle was dedicated to pasta on both sides.
There was a real meat counter where the butcher was chopping up steaks. We felt like we were in a foreign country because everyone, customers as well as employees, spoke Italian. They have an on-site bakery and there were some delicious looking pastries in the little glass case. Couldn’t resist some of those.
“For lunch, we went to Fiore di Mare which is close to our marina. We had appetizers of shrimp cocktail and octopus with cannelloni beans and sauce. When we’ve had octopus in the past, it came all chopped up in little pieces. This was the thick tip of a leg about six inches long. It was delicious and tender. All the help spoke Italian.
“We then closed ourselves into the air-conditioned boat for the afternoon and watched the thermometer rise to 98 degrees."
It is always a treat when there is no schedule, or when some event keeps you from pressing on regardless. For some, it may be a broken lift bridge blocking safe transit, for others it may be some mechanical problem.
Last Item had no issues, just waiting for their son to join them, and the couple spent their days riding their scooters to various restaurants and stores and went back to Frank & Sal’s market several more times for a few Italian treats.
“Another lazy day. We rode our scooters a couple of blocks down to the the third restaurant down the street and had a pretty good pasta lunch. It was mostly seafood/pasta dishes.
“Later in the afternoon, we moved the boat to fuel up and then came back to our slip. At 5:00 pm, it started to rain again but no thunder and lightning.
“The next morning, we enjoyed a late breakfast at Andrew’s Diner and then picked up a few more items from Frank & Sal’s grocery. We packed the scooters away, filled up with water and made ready to leave first thing the next morning. Mike had texted that his flight was an hour and a half late taking off. He was originally scheduled to arrive at 5:18 pm.
“Mike arrived at the boat a little after 8:30.
“The next morning, Saturday, June 4th, we said goodbye to our nice neighbors and took off at 7:45 am. Within an hour, I climbed into the dinghy in New York Harbor and took photos of Last Item with the Statue of Liberty in the background. We then had Mike take photos of us with a bottle of champagne to christen Last Item. The harbor was much calmer than when I took photos of Shearwater here 12 years ago but there were swells which made it difficult to balance on the bow of the dinghy for the photo op.
“Following the picture taking, we took a side jaunt up the East River to give Mike a good look at the Brooklyn Bridge and the wonderful NYC skyscrapers. It was also our first time seeing the new World Trade Center building, which is quite beautiful."
From New York City, the Great Loop goes north up the Hudson River some 155 statute miles to Waterford, NY, where one turns left into the Erie Canal. Originating in the Adirondack Mountains, the Hudson River is rich in history, beginning with the Native American communities of the Mohican and Lenape nations. Then came European explorers and settlers, and America began created its own history, with landmarks of its own.
For people from the Pacific Northwest, such as the St. Germaines, this side of the country is so different, with much to see that represent old and new chapters in the history of America.
“In the Hudson River, we passed the fascinating Pier 51 Hudson River floating island, ‘Little Island.’ The supports for the park form a resemblance to lily pads.
“Farther on we passed the famous prison, Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining. We went close to shore for a better photo. While I took photos, Mike looked through the binoculars and saw a guard in one of the towers looking back at us. We didn’t stay long.
“Three hours later, we reached Safe Harbor Marina in Haverstraw, NY about 40 miles up the river from NYC."
Sidonia and Fred wanted very much to explore the Lyndhurst Castle in Tarrytown NY on the other side of the river. This mansion and grounds are one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in the country.
One problem they would now encounter as they got away from major cities is the spotty availability of transportation options, such as Uber. They were able to get an Uber driver to take them the half hour drive across the river to Tarrytown. They found the mansion and grounds impressive but not up to the level of other golden era mansions they have seen in their travels.
Unfortunately, they were not successful arranging an Uber ride for the 18-mile trip to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. They had scheduled and pre-paid for the tour, but there was no way to get there. Such is the life of cruisers who sometimes miss the boat.
“The next morning, we tried to figure out a way to get to West Point, but with Uber being uncertain, and our need to be out of the marina by noon, we just couldn’t make it work. We were very disappointed to not be able to take the tour but did eventually get a good view of West Point from the river.
“Instead, we walked about a half mile to the lovely Haverstraw Bay Park. They have a memorial there to honor their local fallen heroes from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They also have a twisted beam from one of the World Trade Center towers. Nearby is a piece of concrete from the Pentagon with a plaque that states that every September 11th at 8:46 am, the shadow from the twisted beam falls across that piece of concrete. And the concrete is surrounded by earth brought in from Shanksville, PA where Flight 93 went down.
“I placed my hand on the beam for at least a minute until the emotion became too heavy.”
At this point the Hudson River begins to change, with long stretches of tree-lined shoreline, no homes at the water’s edge, and it became narrower than the wide-open water by New York City.
They saw very little boat traffic, although they did pass a few Loopers, all flying the AGLCA burgee, an identifier that creates instant camaraderie whenever two burgees meet.
They traveled another 55 miles from Haverstraw to Kingston, where they got a slip at the City Marina. They found the slips weren’t in very good condition, nor were they quite long enough for the 40-foot Nimbus Coupe.
“There is another marina close by, in about the same condition, that is only $2.00/ft. and we’re paying $3.20/ft. We walked a short block to the historic waterfront section of town with its short row of charming old brick buildings. We enjoyed a late but good lunch at Ship to Shore Bistro.”
Kingston was founded in 1652, an early European settlement. Unlike many of the nearly empty towns they will pass in the coming weeks, Kingston is vibrant, with several historic districts. One of the joys of the Great Loop is seeing the living history of our country, and Kingston is a good example. It was the state capital of New York in 1777, but it was burned by the British after the Battle of Saratoga.
Today, its Stockage District is well known for upscale dining, shopping, art galleries, and nightlife.
“The Ole Savannah Southern Table & Bar was recommended by a nice couple we met in Haverstraw. Southern fried chicken sounded good, so we dumped the dinghy and putted down Roundout Creek to the restaurant. It was walkable but we had done enough walking.
“Halfway back to the boat, after a nice dinner of crispy fried chicken and corn on the cob, our outboard motor quit. After our previous problems with it we feared we were going to have ongoing outboard issues. However, Fred checked the fuel tank and we had run out of gas. He had filled it in Annapolis, and we’d barely used it since. Fred figured that the technician who had been checking out our motor must have run it for a very long time.
“Mike was in the middle seat of the dinghy, so we elected him to row us back to our Nimbus."
The couple were now settling into a routine, and it was working out for them. One of my pet peeves about trips like the Great Loop is how easily one can develop a mindset similar to a boat delivery: Boat. Stop. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. We can all become infected with it when we go cruising, especially a long trip like the Great Loop.
That is one reason I like the idea that a boat capable of faster cruising speeds means one is not forced into long days of slow travel. In the case of the Nimbus 405 Coupe, this couple can make the 50-70 miles of a day’s run in a few hours, leaving a lot more time to explore, relax, see the sights. And with no specific schedule to follow, it is a very relaxing way to go cruising.
“I got up the next morning, Tuesday, June 7th at 6:30 and walked over to the historic waterfront part of Kingston to take a photo of the old buildings. Then we left the dock at 8:05.
“The Hudson River was now getting narrower with lower banks. It was very windy but luckily the wind was with us, so we had a smooth ride. We fueled up at Shady Harbor Marina, $6.99/gal. Yikes!
“We passed Albany and Troy but had no desire to stop at either city. At Troy, we entered our very first lock of the trip. We had to wait about 20 minutes for the lock to open. The way you secure to the lock walls is so different from our experience with the Hiram Chittenden locks in Seattle.
“Here there are indentations in the lock wall about every 75 feet with a vertically running pipe inside. You loop a line around the pipe and hold on. The line slides up with you as the boat go up. We were the only boat in the lock.
“We learned right away that we needed more fenders than the three round fenders we put out. We quickly added three regular docking fenders as well.
“We also found that the boarding ladder attached to our swim platform on the Nimbus is not well placed as twice it bumped the lock wall as the stern swings inward.”
From Troy, it is only a couple of miles to the town of Waterford, and the junction of the Erie and Champlain Canals. It’s quite humorous to reach the edge of town where there is a sign to greet you.
Arrow pointing to the right for those going to the Champlain Canal. Arrow pointing left to enter the Erie Canal.
Waterford’s claim to fame is that it has the highest set of lift locks in the world, which is quite impressive.
Last Item tied up along the 1,000 feet of floating docks. There is a Waterford Harbor Visitor Center, and several restaurants and other businesses a short walk away. The visitor center has two webcams to follow the boats coming and going. (Harbor Visitors Center - Town of Waterford, NY)
It is from here one starts the Erie Canal portion of the Great Loop.
Sit back and enjoy. The canal journey is about to begin.
See you next time.
Here are links to the LAST ITEM's previous Great Loop updates:
Update #1: Let's Go On The Great Loop!
Update #2: "Last Item" Begins The Great Loop
Update #4: On To Rome!
Several readers asked about how they carry two electric bikes on the sleek Nimbus. Fred told us this:
“The handlebars fold down for one. I also remove the seat and the front tire to make them more compact. They then store in 1/2 of what is available in the lazarette. They take up the whole half. Sidonia made bags for them with handles which helps a little getting them in and out.” (See below)