Going from Port Washington to New York Harbor involves transiting the East River. The East River is notorious for strong currents and heavy boat traffic. So for a small sailboat its important to plan your transit through this river based on favorable currents. But not too favorable, if you hit Hell Gate while the current is fully in your favor you might not have steerage. So you try to time you passage so you hit Hell Gate at close to one of the slack tides. We chose to time our passage to hit Hell Gate about 45 minutes before slack, when the current was winding down but we could still have the current in our favor for most of the trip. This meant getting Hell Gate around 1 pm. To do that we would leave Port Washington around 10:30 and start heading down the East River.
Then we found out about Pope Francis’s visit to the UN. The UN sits on the west bank of the East River right near Roosevelt Island. Roosevelt Island splits the East River. On the west side of Roosevelt Island there is one bridge whose height is no concern for sailboats. On the east side of the island there are two bridges and one has a height of 40 feet closed but can open to give passage to sailboats with higher masts. We need 52 feet to clear a bridge; so we would have to get the bridge raised. During high security events like the Pope addressing the UN, the local Coast Guard unit will shut down all or part of the East River. Wouldn’t you know it that they were going to shut down the whole river near the UN building from 8 am to noon. After noon the river would be open again to normal passage. So timing wise everything should work out, as long as they stay on time. So we had to take it on faith that the river would be open and we would be able to pass when we started down the East River. We called the USCG and confirmed that the plan was still to open the East River at noon before we left and they said yes. As it turned out, they only partially opened the river and forced all traffic to go down the east side of Roosevelt Island. It wasn’t too much of a hassle but did add some stress to the first part of this passage.
We anchored at Liberty Park behind the Statue of Liberty. It’s a nice little anchorage with room for about 6 boats on the Jersey City side of the Hudson River. They have a floating dingy dock and you can walk to the park with great views of New York City and the Statue of Liberty.
We took a walk in the park at night to see the city light up.