Thus far in our adventure we have been in delivery mode more than in cruising mode. What’s the difference? On a delivery making miles is paramount, the goal is to get somewhere else, in cruising mode, we slow down, have shorter days and longer stays. We stop to smell the beach roses. The journey to Block Island was a delivery with a long layover. When we left we were back in delivery mode.
Leaving Old Saybrook we headed towards City Island in the Bronx to stage ourselves for a passage through NY harbor and down the coast to Cape May and on to the Chesapeake. On an uncharacteristic day the winds cooperated, and we sailed to Milford CT for a maintenance stop. It was time to re-provision, refuel, fill water tanks, and do laundry. A hot shower and flush toilets were appreciated.
Next stop, City Island another 40 or so nautical miles to the east. Moored off the island we had hoped to meet a friend, visit the community, and attend to a few maintenance items. City Island is a unique NYC community located in the Bronx on an island about 1.5 miles long and .75 miles wide ,its history is tied to the maritime industry. The island has a unique feel, the main avenue is very urban, lined with small shops, bodegas and restaurants. The neighborhoods are quiet with tree lined streets and large and small homes interspersed. As a friend described it, “[City Island] mixes the romance of a New England sailing center, the charmlessness of a gritty Bronx neighborhood.” And thus it was.
Hart Island lies to the east of City Island Harbor. Over the past 150 years it has been the site of varied institutions including a Civil War Training Grounds for “Colored Troops” to a Union Civil War prison, a psychiatric institute, a boys reformatory, and a potter’s field; the types of uses one might expect on an island at the edge of the city. In what might be a lead into an Improv Skit, three boats are moored nearby, Free Spirit, Fantasy, and Warm Gun; a free spirit had a fantasy, a warm gun and was seen near a remote cemetery. The cemetery continues to be used, during our stay a ferry boat frequented the island delivering the deceased for burial.
At the north end of the harbor lies Rat Island. The small island is mostly a rock outcropping that has been used as a storage area, picnic area, a residence for “infected people,” and a mini colony for artists and writers. Currently owned by a man of Swiss ancestry, the island sports a replica statue of Swiss Freedom Fighter William Tell and several flag poles.
We had hoped to visit an interesting part of NYC by visiting City Island, our expectations were met. Unfortunately, we unable to meet our fellow Sabre owner and friend as time pressures required an early departure.