Friday, July 2, 2010

Hell Gate

I did mention Hell Gate yesterday. I forgot that if you are not from NY City you most likely don't know about it. Hell Gate is the confluence of the Harlem and East Rivers. They are both tidal, in fact the East River is not considered a river at all, it is the tidal rip between Long Island Sound and the upper harbor of New York City. Hell Gate has currents to 5 knots and all sorts of whirlpools and other nasty things. In addition, going North (East)one exits Hell Gate thru a very narrow channel under the Triboro and Hell Gate (railroad) bridges. Of course the current is terrible under the bridges also. So one has to time ones transit so that you go thru when the current is in your favor, but not too much in your favor or you lose control. Of course just as I was making the turn from Hell Gate proper to get under the bridge I was met by a Southbound (Westbound) tanker. Fortunately since he was going into the current and we had chatted on the radio (thank you AIS!) the pass went without major incident.
Coming out of the upper East River past LaGuardia Airport I started to pick up lots of traffic in the other direction. These were all Long Island boaters making the transit to New York Harbor for the Fourth of July fireworks. They were timed for the current to shift so that they could go down the river in the other direction.
When another boat is coming directly at you do you know how to decide if you need to take extreme action to avoid them? Answer, if it is a powerboat doing 20 knots and he has all his fenders in the water it is a good time to find a place to hide. Lots of boats yesterday skippered by people who got their license at Walmart!
Everyone has something to be proud of. As you exit the East River you pass Rikers Island. They have a big, if old sign near the old ferry terminal on the Island. Why is this! funny? Rikers Island is the New York City prison complex.
I did have fun coming up the East River. I saw Obama Heaven (the UN), several riverfront restaurants where I used to dine, Metropolitan Life where my father worked for his entire career, my old apartment building, and several other landmarks that took me back to younger days. ("Slow down", you move to fast - yes, the 59th street aka the Queensboro bridge.)

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