Tightwads in the Big Apple

It’s been a busy old time for the crew of Lady Jane in New York. After a terrifying dinghy ride from Liberty Park anchorage into the chaos of the Hudson to get to Liberty Landing Marina (the nearest dinghy dock), it became clear that the tightwad option of exploring Manhattan wasn’t practical.

But, fortunately, we knew of an alternative that wouldn’t shatter the piggy bank.

Several experienced East Coast sailors recommend Port Washington harbour on Long Island for good reason: Port Washington is served by the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) that whisks passengers to Penn Station, in the heart of Manhattan, in 35 minutes. And the Port Water Taxi company provides mooring balls and a ferry service for $25 per day – with the first two days free. That beats the $226.80 per night quoted at Liberty Landing. And as we planned to stay for a week, that represented a virtual saving of $1462.60 to spend on better things than parking the boat.

It’s necessary to travel up the East River and through the dramatically-named Hell Gate to get to Port Washington. Timing is everything here as the tides run rampant. And anyone arriving at Hell Gate against the flow would never need reminding again of the importance of getting it right, there are whirlpools round these parts. So, we set off just before noon so that we could go with the flow all the way.

Manhattan mayhem

Hell Gate – In Calm Conditions

Backstage Manhattan

Sailing up the East River presents a compelling alternative view of Manhattan. It’s like taking a peek backstage at a Broadway show: the glitter and pizzaz are out the front, but a lot of the hard graft to make it work is conducted at the back. Along the East River, fast ferries shuttle people back and forth to work, large ships bring in cargo to supply the masses, and the police hover all around in their launches to ensure all is safe.

Going through Hell Gate was a fast but non-scary ride. And three and a half hours later, we called the Port Water Taxi folks on the radio and tied Lady Jane to one of their mooring balls in the Port Washington mooring field. After sorting out the ropes, and ourselves, we took our dinghy to a dock near the Stop and Shop supermarket to restock our depleted provisions.

Later, we spent the evening on Serendipitous with Patty and Peter, coincidentally OCC members on the next mooring ball to us, also heading up to New England.


With several things to do and see, we wasted no time heading to the city. Travelling by train from Port Washington to anywhere in Manhattan is easy. We bought tickets for the LIRR online via their app, and went underground in the City with the Metrocard for less than the price of an expresso.

Our priority was to see Maria’s Aunty Jane, who has been our great friend and all-around good person to us for many years. Jane lives in Harlem, so we headed there to meet her – and to relieve her of all the stuff we had delivered to her apartment. And there was a lot of it.

Harlem may have an edgy reputation in times gone by, but things have moved on apace since then. The area in which Jane lives is lovely. I think the photographs may testify to that:

Manhattan Madness

We did far too much to detail everthing we did during our stay in Port Washington and Manhattan. But, in brief, this is what we got up to:

  • Returned to New York to visit the 9/11 memorial, which we found to be haunting, but fantastically well thought through.
  • Spent far too much time shopping for wedding clothes and shoes for a friend’s wedding in Italy later this year (because we had given all our formal wear to charity, we had to start from zero for this endeavour, and it took hours.)
  • Together with Jane, revisited our wedding venue at Fort Tryon Park – and dined at the New Leaf Cafe where we had our wedding breakfast.
  • Thanks to Jane, had a reunion soiree with old friends we last saw 12 years ago and some new friends too. The venue was the rooftop terrace of Jane’s apartment in Harlem.
  • Saw some of NY Pride.
  • Visited the Apple store at Central Station to get Maria’s iPhone battery replaced for a bargain $28. And ended up getting my iPhone replaced for free because the genius guy found a ‘thermal fault’ that was causing the battery to deplete faster than it should.
  • Had lunch at a fabulous Korean restaurant.
  • Met an old friend and ex-work colleague, Bob McLaughlin, for lunch at Port Washington and had a great time catching up over lunch at a Japanese restaurant.
  • Hosted Jane on Lady Jane on the blustery penultimate day of our stay.

Then on 29th June we headed over to the fuel dock, filled up with diesel and headed off towards Port Jefferson – a stop on the way towards meeting the OCC cruising folks for the New England rally in Rhode Island.

9/11 Memorial

Fort Tryon Park and the New Leaf

New York and Port Washington