On Friday, September 12, 2008, 110 NELL members and
non-members alike made the trip to the Wyndham Hotel located in Newark
Airport in very heavy rain and winds. I’m sure we were all wondering
what the lighthouse gods had in store for our cruise of N.Y. Harbor and
the surrounding lights the next day. We didn’t have long to wait. In the
morning as we finished breakfast and looked outside, we all breathed a
collective sigh of relief. The sun was starting to peek thru from behind
the last remnants of the storm clouds.
By the time we got to Liberty State Park, N.J. to board the yellow N. Y.
Water Taxi the sun was in full shine mode and the lighthouse gods were
smiling down on us once again.
We left the dock at 9 a.m. sharp as planned, passing by the Lightship
Liberty heading for our fist lighthouse of the day, the Statue of
Liberty (yes, she is a lighthouse). Leaving Lady Liberty we went to Fort
Wadsworth, Coney Island, West Bank, Romer Shoals, Sandy Hook and the
Navesink Twin Lights of New Jersey, aka Highland Lights.
I had been to and climbed Sandy Hook and Navesink lights several times,
but seeing them from the water for the first time was quite a surprise.
They look very different. Especially Sandy Hook. It seemed so much
smaller with the landscape being totally different from the land view.
When you’re at the tower you are looking down and out from atop a small
knoll. On the boat you’re looking almost straight ahead instead of up,
with the lighthouse being partially blocked by trees and houses. When
our narrator and NELL member, Mike Boucher announced Sandy Hook
Lighthouse he added a very nice personnel touch stating “that’s where
Judy and I met and got married.” Congratulations Mike and Judy, you
picked a beautiful surrounding for a very important day in your lives.
Cruising a little further you’ll immediately recognize the twin towers
standing guard above the tree line. That too is a much different view,
but still very recognizable. Unfortunately the main section of the
building is blocked by the trees and the boats that are in dry storage
at the numerous marinas that line the waterfront.
With the schedule calling for the viewing of 20 lighthouses and
lightships we headed for Conover Beacon, Great Beds, Old Orchard Shoals,
Elm Tree Light and Robbins Reef.
We also saw the 4 “Waterfalls” of N.Y. City. This was an art project
similar to the Gates of Central Park 2 or 3 years ago. Four different
platforms were constructed on the river and river water was diverted to
the top of the platforms making a waterfall.
We finished the day seeing Lightship Ambrose, Blackwell’s Island, U.S.
Lighthouse Tender Lilac, Lightship Frying Pan and concluded a great day
of light-housing with Lefrak Memorial light.
I’ve been a New Yorker all my life -- all 39 years, (lol,) and I’d like
to mention a very interesting piece of history that I never knew until I
got into light-housing years ago.
Blackwell (Welfare) Island (1872) was built for N.Y. City by convicts
from the former Blackwell Island Prison. The lighthouse now serves as a
tourist attraction and is located in Lighthouse Park at the north end of
what is now known as Roosevelt Island. Roosevelt Island is only
accessible by a bridge at 36th Avenue and Vernon Blvd. Astoria, Queens
or the Roosevelt Island Tram from Second Ave. and 60th Street Manhattan.
We had beautiful weather, a great crew and a swift boat.
The 50-50 raffle produced winnings for Amy W. and NELL of $215 each. Amy
donated a good portion of that back to NELL in memory of her cousin
Laurie S. who suddenly passed away earlier in the year.
Our thanks go out to all that attended with our apologies to all that
were left on the waiting list. We are working on next years cruise and
its shaping up to be as good or better than this one.
One of the non members, that attended this cruise (he became a member
shortly after the cruise) had this to say when he sent in his membership
application; "Thanks for the best (best was underlined twice) 1 day
lighthouse cruise I have ever been on. I've been on quite a few.” We
thank you very much for the compliment and are happy you were able to
get off the waiting list and on the boat – even if it was at the
eleventh hour. We’re delighted to have you as a member.
I hope to see many of you in Rhode Island at Lighthouses Hot Chocolate
and You (LHHC&Y) Friday January 16 thru Sunday Jan. 18, 2009.
Link to photos by Tom Kenworthy from the cruise