PHOTO STAN RIES
Clearly, New York City was out of the question. With the
slow speed, we also abandoned our plan to spend a short
first day on the river and dock early at a marina. Instead, we
plowed on into the dusk, then dropped anchor and spent a
restless night in unfamiliar water as currents swung the boat.
We’d startle awake and dash to a porthole to make sure that
our anchor hadn’t dragged, or that we hadn’t drifted into the
main channel with its commercial barges.
The long first day underway kept us on schedule to
dock at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on our
second evening. Carefully doing our homework before the
trip, we’d phoned several weeks in advance to reserve dock
space. As we neared the imposing military campus, our radio
call received no response. We grew nervous.
Olana, the exotic estate of artist Frederick Church, is open to visitors and
offers a commanding view of the Hudson River.
All Eyes On The Tulip
As Kevin persisted in his efforts to raise the academy
dock on the radio, I scanned the shore for flora, fauna, buoy
markers, and such. An unusual pattern on the opposite bank
caught my eye. A closer look revealed a platoon of West
Point cadets in camouflage, sitting in identical cross-legged
position on a hillside. A mid-sized Army transport ship
pulled in, and the cadets rose and boarded. Kevin’s radio
broadcast was finally answered, not by the dock but by the
captain of the transport ship. “I’m headed there,” he radioed
curtly. “Follow me in. Over.”
It was our first time ever docking a boat. The solitary,
private practice that Kevin had hoped for his first experience
was not to be. A former Navy man, he wanted to maintain
standards of excellence, especially in such a prestigious loca-
tion as West Point. I looked into his eyes and saw naked
fear. Picking up the bowline, I took my position so I could
secure us to a cleat when we approached the pier. Ahead,
Captain Curt skillfully docked the transport ship. West Point
PHOTO HUDSON ATHENS LIGHTHOUSE PRESERVATION SOCIETY
The Athens Lighthouse guided ships around the dangers of Middle Ground
Flats beginning in 1874, manned up until the 1950s when it was automated.