We left Kingston bright and early with many things unstowed or unfinished. We just had to go. The wind forecast was for a SSW wind, 10-15 knots, and the tide started going out at 8:00. The wind was not favorable by any means, but we were anxious to put hours on the engine. Throughout the morning the heat increased and so did the wind, whitecaps formed and began to spray across the deck. I busied myself organizing the boat and stowing our last purchases while Max focused on the engine. He discovered a small oil leak. Not enough to worry too much. Later we began hearing a subtle, sporadic whistling sound. Max told me he was sure it was the alternator belt. I thought to myself that I would never have known that and asked him how he did. He said that that's the only thing that makes that kind of noise. I guess I now know that too now. We decided to anchor and fix it, but before we had the chance to, it went away and we decided the engine had a few things to work out too.
When we left Max's parents on the dock at 8:30, we were anxious to set off on this familiar trip down the Hudson. There were so many reasons to stay busy, and we did, but the occasional smile at each other across the cockpit belied that this trip to NYC was different. We were actually setting off, and our dream was reality. By the time we passed Poughkeepsie we were shoeless and shirtless in the shade of the bimini, watching the barges pass and the grand estates of the Hudson roll by, lush and green.
It became obvious early that the hard dodger we built would be priceless. The protection it offers from the wind is dramatic and one only needs to lean beyond its shelter to feel a rush of wind that would necessitate another layer if it weren't there. All day we found reasons to celebrate this particular addition to Tortuga. Right now I am enjoying its shade and using the companionway hatch as a writing desk. I've opened the dodger window so that I can feel the warm exhaust of the engine on my feet and a cool breeze on my face. I am sure this will be my favorite writing spot.
At 12:30 we passed under the Newburgh-Beacon bridge and an hour later Bannerman's Island came into view. This small island in the Hudson, with its strange castle ruins, has enchanted me since I was a kid. Bannerman, an apparent madman, must have been a predecessor to the Hudson Valley eccentrics we know so well. Max tells me he was an arms dealer and that he mixed into the foundation the weapons that he couldn't sell. Today his island looks overcome by trees and growth, the fantastical ruins popping out here and there as the earth tries to claim his peculiar dream. Max and I keep listening for the engine's whistle, but it really is gone.
The day passed quickly and by 6:30 we found an anchorage north of the Tappan Zee at the base of Hook Mountain. Just as we secured the hook, it started raining considerably. We were able to stay inside the dodger and take notes on how wet the cockpit could get and scheme about ways to change that for the future. Max made a dinner of shrimp and rice while I took pictures of our anchorage. Hook Mountain is a heavily quarried part of the Pallisades that rises 728 ft above the river. The rock is striated in gray and browns with stripes of mustard. At the base there is a small stone house made of the same colors, camouflaged against the cliff face. We went to sleep in a state of absolute happiness, looking around at the warm colors of the main salon and guessing about which of our friends would meet us at Chelsea Piers the next night.