Sunday, July 7, 2019

2019: NYC 4th July Fireworks

July 4, 2019
Sandy Hook Beach and Macy's Fireworks
Distance: 43 NM

It was a last minute decision to go to Sandy Hook beach and play in the sand and sun with the grand dudes. The other option high on the list was a day spent with neighbors as their guests at a beach club. We went with the boat option and found a spot where we could drop anchor and take the dinghy to the beach for Lily to play in the sand.

Our new captain - Lily

Fast Dinghy Ride

Papa Clark and Lily on Sandy Hook beach

Chris (son), Heather (his wife), and
Lily (our granddaughter).
Jack (grandson) and Evelyn stayed on the big boat.

Lily loves to play in the sand.

Chris, Heather, Lily, and Jack
on bow of Sunset Delight

After a fun time playing in the water followed by a nice dinner, the question came up could we do Macy's fireworks - we could see NYC as it was only 16 nm away. Clark's answer was a resounding "YES!" (he loves fireworks). Given that, we enjoyed a smooth crossing of Raritan Bay with the exception of a small encounter with a board and some debris. We anchored near New York City, off the Buttermilk channel, just south of the "Echo" security zone. This was far enough out to protect the grandkids' ears from the loud booms that tend to make them cry.

Approaching a hazy New York City

Multiple helicopters arriving in preparation for fireworks

Statue of Liberty at Sunset - gorgeous!

Lily and Jack with NYC in the background

Both the fireworks and the boat traffic with their associated wakes (except for law-enforcement boats) seemed subdued this year compared to our many trips in prior years. Clark likes to take pictures of the fireworks. Sometimes he gets a good picture - frequently, that is not the case.

Macy's Fireworks over the East River

Weird camera effects on Fireworks picture

Finally a decent picture of the fireworks and the river!

Lily managed to stay awake until the fireworks started. She must have been unimpressed, however, because no sooner did they start then she fell fast asleep in Heather's arms. Heather, Evelyn, and a sleeping Lily stayed below on the cockpit while Clark and Chris went up top to hear the synchronized music being played on AM radio 1010. After the show Chris came down and carried Lily, still dead to the world, to the guest stateroom and her makeshift bed.

At 10:15 Clark was still waiting for the "grand finale", but the rest of us finally convinced him that the Macy's display had truly finished about 10 pm. We pulled up anchor and slowly headed back towards New Jersey. Given our somewhat early departure time from NYC, it seemed we might arrive back home early, i.e. before 1:00 am, but as it turned out, our adventure was yet to begin.

As we headed back towards New Jersey, the Verrazano Narrows bridge lit up the river like day, but after passing under the bridge, it became eerily dark. The haze, no, more like pea soup fog, descended around us. It was black all around us except for the stars and aircraft in the sky and the green reflection of our own running light off the cloud bank. The cold air sent us scrambling for long sleeves and jackets.

The grandchildren were tucked into bed. Heather decided to stay in the guest stateroom with them to hear them if they woke. Evelyn, being exhausted from early-morning play with Lily, decided to lie down and rest. Chris and Clark were left manning the helm for the trip across Raritan Bay. They ran on an auto pilot track to the Sandy Hook channel with their eyes glued outside searching all around.

Hoffman and Swinburne Islands showed on the chart plotter and radar but were otherwise invisible at 1500' out. The plotted track would take us through Chapel Hill bell G"17", still invisible at 1000' out, so the track had to be altered to starboard to be sure it was well off the track. As they got closer, they could see the flashing green fog. At 450', they could finally see the marker abeam.

By now, we were idling at less than 1000 RPM, and the boats all around us were sounding fog signals, mostly off the port side. For safety, we also sounded ours, but it was so loud that it was in danger of waking our young and not-so-young sleeping passengers. Chris went below to see how everyone fared. Evelyn reported that that horn blasts had startled her several times. She had no idea we were dealing with dense fog and thought that there must be other reasons for the horn blasts. She had been trying to figure out what those reasons might be.

Happily, checking AIS, Clark found that the other boats around us had also slowed their speed. Sadly, our ETA was now predicted to be well after our anticipated 1:00 am. Passing by West Bank light and horn, 3 unlit nuns and a can had to be accounted for; Clark and Chris managed to find 2 of these closer aids. From here on, the visibility slowly improved allowing faster running speeds as the lights of NJ and Earle Pier slowly appeared. Checking AIS, about a mile out from Sandy Hook channel, we found ourselves on a collision course with an inbound freighter, White Hall. On a VHF call, we agreed we would slow to let him pass ahead.

Arriving at the Shrewsbury River channel entrance, an outbound boat appeared showing white and green lights thus making us the stand-on vessel. However, as the boat came closer, it became clear that 1) The red running light was extinguished and hiding the apparent head-on collision situation until the boat was very close. 2) A normal head-to-head meeting calls for a port-to-port pass, and this boat was cutting across our bow to starboard without any signals for another passing arrangement. 3) The boat was on the wrong, i.e. red, side of the channel squeezing between us and the nearby red marker. 4) The boat was traveling at a high rate of speed. 5) We needed to, and did, drop all speed and signaled a 5-blast danger salute on the horn. After which, the boat turned away after a delay that was too late to be effective for collision avoidance.

Following that incident, Clark attempted to call the boat on channel 13 and 16 to let them know their red running light was out. No name was visible, and they did not have an AIS transmitter operating, so hailing by name was not possible. No response was received on either channel when calling the vessel by location.

After this last adventure, we had the river to ourselves. It was at this time that Evelyn returned to the upper helm having missed the fog and the near-collision incidents. Although damp and chilly, the rest of the trip was uneventful. We finally arrived home some time after 2:00 am. It was well after 3:00 a.m. before all of us had climbed into our beds. Even so, we could expect the grandchildren to be up by 7:00!

(This story was written by Clark and posted to Facebook prior to Evelyn incorporating it into our travel blog.)

2019: Loopers passing by New Jersey

May - June 2019

Now is the time for members of AGLCA who are on the loop to be passing by NJ. Many go straight to Great Kills, Staten Island and bypass the north-central portion of NJ. Sometimes, we are honored by a visit of a passing looper. We are always happy to reconnect with our boating family.

This year we had the opportunity to connect with Karen and Mark on "Captain's Choice" (no picture), Denise and Mark on "Island Office", and Jim and Jo Ann on "Namaste Too".  We met up with "Captain's Choice" and "Island Office" in Staten Island, NY. We tried Andrew's Diner for lunch with the Gaudy's and enjoyed it so much, we went back with "Island Office" when they passed through.

Mark, Denise, Evelyn, and Clark
Lunch at Andrew's Diner in Staten Island, NY
On June 2, Jim and Jo Ann came to stay at our dock in NJ for a couple of nights, so we got a bit more time (and more food) to share with them.

Evelyn, Jo Ann, and Jim at
Dinner in Red Bank, NJ - "... say cheese!"
(Clark photographer)

Stir-fry Dinner at our home in Rumson
Evelyn, Jo Ann, and Jim
(Clark photographer)
Clark checked Nebo and saw that some folks we met at Faro Blanco this year had arrived in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He contacted them and invited them to stop by our place for a visit. They took us up on the offer and arrived at our dock on June 7th. With a commitment to meet up with family in Staten Island in a week's time, they decided to stay for a while.

We had a lovely time together including dining out at restaurants as well as combining our cooking skills to create great home-cooked meals. Our time together involved showing them some of central New Jersey's sights.

Red Bank -- Riverside Park

Asbury Park New Jersey

Robin and Charlie at the top of
Sandy Hook Twin Lights Lighthouse

Evelyn also took Robin food shopping at Delicious Orchards, which Evelyn described as an indoor farmer's market for lack of a better description. Robin loved it!

A couple doing the Great Loop that Robin and Charley knew from their travels anchored out at Atlantic Highlands during the McVey's stay at our dock. We invited them to join us for dinner at our home. The six of us had a delicious pot-luck dinner. Charley had rented a car given their length of stay at our dock, so he and Clark drove over to collect the other couple and return them to their boat after our evening together.

Charley and Robin left on the 13th to continue their second Great Loop adventure via the Erie Canal.

Charley and Robin, "The Lower Place",
traveling on the Shrewsbury River in
Monmouth County, New Jersey.

Also, in May and again in June, we got together with friends of ours who are planning to enjoy the Great Loop some time in the future.

Docktails on board "Home Too" in
Atlantic Highlands Marina, Atlantic Highlands, NJ
with Franklin and Cathy (future loopers)

Sunday, May 5, 2019

2019: Historic Monmouth County New Jersey

No boat travel.
"A Weekend in Old Monmouth" Tour

I do not usually include non-boat related entries in the Sunset Delight blog. However, our very long-time, non-boating friends invited us to come along with them on a tour of "Old Monmouth" to explore some of the rich history this state and Monmouth County in particular have to offer. I decided to incorporate our day's travels into a blog entry.

We had a choice of several routes to follow and chose the Orange Route which took us to the western-most part of the county. From there we worked our way back towards the Jersey coast and home. Our friend, Rich, drove his wife's van so all six of us could travel together.

We started in Allentown, New Jersey at the Allentown Presbyterian Church founded in 1720. In 1744 members of the congregation bought a  plot of land for 5 shillings and a meeting house was built in 1756. In 1837, the original church was torn down and the current, standing church was constructed to accommodate the now, much larger, congregation.

Allentown, NJ Presbyterian Church c. 1837

Pews at Balcony Level

18th Century Cemetery

Bricks from original church engraved
"Robert Debow 1756"

Governor William Newell, founder of the U.S. Life Saving Service, is buried here. The U.S. Life Saving Service later merged with the Revenue Cutter Service to become the U.S. Coast Guard.

A short drive took us to Cream Ridge, New Jersey and Historic Walnford -- the former mill village of the Waln family. The village began with just a grist mill in 1734. When Richard Waln purchased the property in 1772, he added a sawmill, blacksmith, cooper's shop, a two-family home and other buildings. The village remained within the family until it was sold in 1973.

The property's purpose / use changed over the centuries. In the 18th century, it was a country house. In the 19th century it became a family farmhouse, and by the 20th century, it turned into a rural retreat from work in Philadelphia for the family.

The property is now operated by the Monmouth County Park System. A lot of research and work has been done to restore the buildings to their original appearance. The color of the various buildings depicts when it was added to the property.

Historic Walnford

As we entered the property, we passed under an unusual shaped structure. Our friend, Darlene who was raised on a farm, said, "That looks like a corn crib!" Sure enough we found corn in the corn crib! Darlene explained that the upside-down U shape of the structure allowed farm equipment to be brought in under the building.

Corn Crib!

Blue building at rear of photo - Corn Crib
Building in foreground - Carriage House

In the carriage house, we found ...

Old Buggy

A sleigh

Well-used Side Saddle

On the tour of the family's home we saw (among other things) ...

Preserved Original Kitchen

Ice Cream Maker (huge in size)

Side-to-side Butter Churn

Cheese Press 

Weather vane 

The most interesting part of the tour was the tour of the grist mill including a demonstration of the mill in operation.

Grist Mill - blue depicts correct color of when it was constructed

Turbine for grist mill

Stones to grind the grains

Showing different grades of coarseness of ground corn

Complex, multi-level system to grind and sort grains

"Silk as Sieve" - expensive but excellent method to sort grades of ground grain

From Historic Walnford, Rich drove us to Roosevelt, New Jersey where we could gawk at the bust of Franklin D. Roosevelt located there. The idea for the town of Roosevelt was conceived in 1934 during the Great Depression as a New Deal settlement for Jewish garment workers. The first residents moved here, many from New York, in 1936. A local artist sculpted the head of Roosevelt which sits behind the local elementary school.

Bust of Franklin D. Roosevelt

It took longer to walk to the sculpture than it took to look at it, and very quickly we were back in the car and on our way to our next stop - the Thomas Baird Homestead in Millstone Township, New Jersey. The Bairds planted orchards and a tree nursery for fruit and ornamental trees. They were among the first in the county to do this on a grand scale. Trees were brought in by train from Maryland and Delaware.

Baird House c. 1830

The house dates to 1830, and we found many interesting antique items to view on the property.

Huge Spinning Wheel

Grandfather Clock -
like the one in Clark's grandparents' home

Fun organ

Doll House -
sign above says that this is a model home to show a buyer what
the house would look like when constructed. Not until much more recent
years and mass production did model houses become toys.

"Pop Goes the Weasel"
Spinner's Wheel, or Spinner's Weasel, goes POP
when the desired length of material has been reached.

Baby Carriage and Cradle

The Clarksburg Allen Hay Barn and the Wagon House located on the property were recently moved here.  Scheduled for demolition, they would have gone for landfill if not for the "friends" of the historical society who disassembled them and rebuilt them on this land in 2010. The women we met talked about working every day for a month to deconstruct the barn.

We departed the Baird Homestead and headed for Englishtown, New Jersey. The places we visited first on our tour resided in more rural parts of Monmouth County, New Jersey. As we approached Englishtown, we found "civilization" and a place to eat lunch. Being ravenous, we quickly decided on "Romeo's Gourmet Pizza" as the perfect place to chow down.

After eating a quick lunch, we made our way to the Village Inn also in Englishtown, New Jersey.  The original portion of the building dates to 1726. In 1766 it became a tavern and continued in use by the public until 1963. During the time of Prohibition, the owner found uses of the property as a ice cream parlor. To bring in clientele, she spread the word that Washington had slept there - a blatant falsehood that worked to keep the business open and preserve the building as an historical site.

Village Inn in Englishtown, New Jersey

Broken items and garbage were thrown out behind the tavern throughout the years of its use. Through excavation, many period items, albeit broken, were found. As they dug up artifacts, they discovered many oyster shells, so they know oysters were served here.

Oyster Shells and No-frills playing cards
on dinner table in tavern

I learned the origin of the word "Bar" from a very knowledgeable docent who talked way too long but did know a lot of history of the inn. The word "bar" comes from the fact that the tavern had many uses such as for town meetings and such. The alcohol stored behind the bars, shown in the picture, could be locked up during non-business hours.

A tavern bar with bars!

 Tavern rates for beverages and food were set by the government and posted for all to see.

Model of the Village Inn

We saw some interesting antiques and period clothing on display here.

Square Piano

Period Dress  - Fancy!

Lady's swim suit

Teeny Tiny Sewing Machine
Anxious to get to as many as possible before the 5:00 closing time, we moved on to the Old Tennent Presbyterian Church in Tennent, New Jersey for our next stop along the orange route. The original congregation of this church consisted of Scottish Dissenters who fled Scotland in 1692 to escape the persecution of King James II. In 1731, the church moved to its current site, Oak Hill, from its original log church located in Free Hill in Marlboro.

The size of the congregation grew rapidly and in 1751, the church expanded in size to accommodate the growth. The structure has changed little since then and continues to be used today as a place of worship.

Old Tennent Presbyterian Church

Restored gilt weather vane replaced
original damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012

Family members paid a yearly rent for their pews. More affluent members sat up front and prominently displayed seating.

Pews at Old Tennent Church

The less wealthy folks sat up in the balcony seats. The church had no heat or air conditioning for many, many years, so the only heat source consisted of foot warmers containing hot coals brought in by the members to serve their own family.

View from the balcony

During the Battle of Monmouth in the fight for independence from British rule, the church served as a hospital. When the docent appeared to be concluding her comments on the church, Janet, who had been here before, asked her about the blood-stained bench and the cannon balls. The docent then took us to see these items.

One of the pews contains a blood stain believed to date back to the time the church was used as a hospital during the Battle of Monmouth in 1778. Testing has been performed on the blood stain. It is too old to reveal anything other than the fact that it is indeed human blood.

A rather macabre viewing of the
blood-stained pew 

Hefting a 7-pound cannon ball to see how very heavy that feels 
Viewing two different-sized examples of grape shot

The Battle of Monmouth took place on June 28, 1778. A reenactment is held every year at Monmouth Battlefield State Park. This year it will take place June 14 to 16.

Many soldiers died near here. Common graves on the church property contain the remains of both rebel and British soldiers.

Spooky old tree in graveyard

Our next stop took us to the Oakley Farm House in Freehold Township, New Jersey. We were told to rush by the person who greeted us as, although today's event was scheduled until 5:00, they planned to shut down in just 15 minutes at 4:10. This annoyed Janet very much.

Tollhouse on property

2.5 cents - one horse / buggy
5 cents - team of horses / wagon

Though not as old as items we saw in some of the other houses today, the antiques here brought back a few memories for some of us.

Old Stove

Old Washer with Ringer

Stroller / Pram



When we left the Oakley Farmhouse, we had time for just one more stop before the advertised closing time. We decided to see Covenhoven House as our final stop of the day. This house, built circa 1752 by a successful Dutch farmer, shows the owner's affluence by the size and decor of the home. Unlike the last place we visited where we were essentially told to "hurry up and get out", we were greeted by a very knowledgeable docent who enthusiastically told us about the home's history.

Picture of Covenhoven House (taken from Wikipedia)

Inside the house we saw ...

Clark loves grandfather clocks because they
remind him of his grandparents' home.

Dutch-style, Sparsely-furnished tea room

Preserved, historic kitchen
(Modern kitchen is hidden in the original pantry)

The docent told us that although men stayed in the inn. Women visiting a town generally stayed in someone's home. The guest house at Covenhoven would tell anyone visiting "these people have money"!

Guest room at Covenhoven House ...
Printed cotton bedding shows the affluence of these owners.

Restoration procedures removed many layers of paints from the walls of the master bedroom to reveal the original walls. Decorated with a solution made from eggs, the original design soaked into the wood to be preserved for future generations to enjoy.

We walked out of Covenhoven House at precisely 5:00. Having seen so many places in one day, we were all ready to call it quits. With the every day hustle and bustle of a very busy Monmouth County, it is easy to forget that this area is rich in history. It was fun to travel back in time for a day.

Thanks to our friend Rich for driving. Thanks to Clark for taking 250 or so pictures to choose from covering today's exploration.