Log Book: NYC - July 4, 2004
Well, we made it. It’s Fourth of July and we are in New York City motoring through the New York Harbor towards Ellis Island past lots of barges, busy ferries, sailboats and yachts moving in all directions. Statue of Liberty is where I left her last time and so is Manhattan. Great! The massive barges sprawled around are loaded with fireworks for tonight’s celebrations, and we are going to have the best seats in the house. Yeah babe!
We anchor right off the Liberty Island in the shadow of the Lady in green patina. There are hundreds and hundreds of New Jersey families in the Park blasting radios and filling the air with aroma of burning BBQ's. Chilling on our boat we are truly in front of the line for tonight’s fireworks, something we are very excited about.
Tobi, however is determined to go ashore and phone her parents to let them know that miraculously she survived our sailing trip up the East Coast with so many long, long nights at sea. We don’t have a dinghy anymore - we returned the Li’l Blue in Key Largo but that doesn’t even slow Tobi down. We barely finish our humble Kraft dinner when she waves down a small motorboat going towards the dock and off she goes with some strangers. I am a little uneasy about letting her wander alone on this side of the river – it is New Jersey after all. Right, like she would care what I think anyway.
Tobi walked all the way around the Liberty Park, some four miles, along the pedestrian bridge and down to the CNJ train terminal. She saw Ellis Island and the old immigration buildings. Tempted by an ice cream vendor she buys a mango ice cream cone and walks back to dock, after disappointing discovery of two payphones both of which were out of order. And as she walks back along the road full of families….
Tobi: “I see their bounteous BBQ's and the mountains of food that they cannot possibly eat. I was just passing past some well-fed, African-American family, with the father BBQing some ribs to add to the pile. I feel God saying that I should go back and just ask them... so I walk back and ask the mother if there's any way I can buy a few frozen burgers off her as I'm on a boat and we haven't seen meat for a week. She and her husband ask how many of us and I say 2, so they start loading up 2 plates with their meal: Chicken legs, collard greens, beans, macaroni and cheese and some franks and more burgers for good measure. As if that weren't enough, she wraps it all in aluminum foil, puts napkins and forks in and sends me off with 2 cold drinks straight from icy cooler! I was too amazed at my good fortune to think I was being a beggar, and too pleased that Maciek would be so surprised to care. I waited by the dock for about 30 minutes before I saw some girls coming back to a boat tied there, and asked them if I might be able to catch a ride when they were going out again. They said they'd ask the owner and when he came back and introduced himself, he too, gave me more food: oranges and nectarines. Seems I hit the right day for good American generosity. After waiting around another half an hour for some friends of his to get there, we all boarded the boat and he took me back to the AfterBlue. Maciek was surprised about the bags of food; he thought I hadn't taken any money with me. When I explained the whole story he was staggered and we dined contentedly.”
Maciek: “Staggered” and “dined” is understatement! Food makes me crazily happy, and so does Tobi. After week of very limited culinary experiences on our Northbound passage I was joyfully chomping the chicken, burgers, greens and what else like a most content cave man in the world. I was thinking, you know, this lifestyle would be very easy to get used to. There was nothing I missed about the office, work or life in the burbs. I’d be happy to fly and see my family back in Polska, chill couple of months with some friends in TO and hop back on the boat. If Tobi was only open to it, who knows where we would be now… ?
That night we saw the Macy's Fireworks – biggest fireworks in the nation, some 2000 rounds a minute. And we were right on the water. Well fed, rested and in the front row I thought it was fantastic. Tobi apparently wasn’t too impressed about the salvo of round after round of fireworks. She was thinking about Toronto and our own Symphony of Fire – more refined, artistic competition of choreographed fireworks and music. For me being on that boat in NYC on 4th of July right in the thick of it but with luxury of being ahead of the crowds for the view was just a blast. Either way we were both pleased to accomplish our goal of spending 4th of July in New York City.
Only a river, few canals and a Lake away - home was waiting for us and it was close enough to become real in our minds. Our sailing trip exploring exotic Islands of the Bahamas and Cuba was coming to an end. On one hand I was ready to take on the world - I had big plans and I felt I was a changed man, but I knew I’d always miss the adventure, transparent waters and uninhabited islands of the Bahamas and yeah, Tobi’s company. That too.
NEXT (Sailing Hudson)