Monday, October 22, 2007

Rowing to Alpine & Back


The lovely Quixotic rowing under the George Washington Bridge.

Under brilliant Sunday afternoon blue skies, rows and rows of white, pristine clouds, and the sun shining at just the right angles and intensity, three Whitehall Gigs sailed and rowed their way back to Pier 40 after a journey up north and a night’s rest at Alpine, New Jersey.


Rowing in The Quixotic.

Led by Rob Buchanan, on Saturday, October 13, we rowed up the Hudson to Alpine, New Jersey where we spent the night at the Alpine Picnic Area/Boat Basin (with permission, of course). For some, this trip echoed an earlier mission this past summer when we helped bring three boats from Croton Point to Pier 40 for the FISA Row Around Manhattan event. The Magnus resides in the boathouse as a result of that trip and it was one of the boats we took on our adventure, along with the Quixotic and the Alex Murphy.

Although we were set to go with fourteen people, only twelve showed up. Since we planned on taking three boats, we divvied up the crew into groups of four. Ideally, you want five people in the boat—four rowers and one coxswain, a.k.a. the leader. We lacked full power, but we went ahead anyway. Luckily, the Magnus was already equipped with a self-steering device that Rob himself put together, so that crew had it a bit easier.


Setting up the sails at Fort Washington Park.

Heading out at around 10 a.m., we stopped just before the George Washington Bridge at Fort Washington Park for bathroom beaks and rigging up the sails. Ever since I fell in love with rowing, I’ve wanted to sail in the Whitehall gigs, especially because I’ve never been sailing before. Sam, Rob and Frank put up the sails—placing the mast, setting up the halyard, affixing the sails and away we went.


First time sailing in The Quixotic under the George Washington Bridge.

This trip marked The Quixotic’s many firsts—first overnight adventure, first endeavor past New York City, first over-10-mile trip (rows around Manhattan don’t count) and its first time sailing. Anne and I, along with Rob as our teacher, built The Quixotic in the first Lang on the Hudson class and we were so proud and happy to officially break The Quixotic’s sailing cherry. Granted, it took us forever to actually get to Alpine because the tides were against us, the skies were overcast and it was difficult picking up the winds. In the end, after we reached Alpine, it didn’t bother us too much.


Around the campfire.

At the Alpine Pavilion, there was a wedding reception and our boats added that romantic touch. Sam and I spoke to the bride and groom, who, along with their wedding party, posed with the boats, and other various guests. After thoroughly enjoying ourselves with food and many, many drinks, we wandered around the area, taking pictures and talking. Eventually, the campfire/grill was set up and dinner was served. With full bellies, we sat around the fire and talked about life and all that stuff.


Climbing the Palisades.

After a cold night’s sleep (which will never happen to me again), we awoke to another golden morning. With a quick breakfast and a reminder to return by noon for shove-off, we explored Alpine.

First stop was the Kearny House, which, to our dismay, was closed. When we weren’t able to find any way into the building, we went hiking. After staying on the trail, we strayed off. Suresh and I parted with the group but eventually caught up. We met up at the ruins of what must have been a manor overlooking the Hudson and decided that our goal way to climb up the Palisades and find either a WaWa (I’ve never been to one) or store so Derek could buy cigarettes. The non-path was rocky and steep but the eight of us managed. When we reached the highway, we walked south until we saw a Citgo to our right. Derek bought his pack while we bought drinks and snacks. Since we had about thirty minutes to head back and we were having no luck with trying to hitch a ride back, we followed the actual trail down to the Hudson.


Sailing and rowing the Magnus.

Back at the beach at Alpine, we prepared and we were off. I switched to the Magnus and sailed. Because I couldn’t steer and hold the sail, Rob steered from the stroke position. Sailing was wonderful, especially when the wind picked up and I felt the powerful push. We made a stop at Englewood Basin for paninis. Then we rowed and sailed the last leg back to Pier 40 as we talked about poetry, camping, and mountaineering and enjoyed watching The Quixotic.


The gorgeous boat we built.

With the pink-and-orange-tinted skies above, we cleaned the three boats and all headed our separate ways home. Well-spent weekend. Very. Check out Rob's write-up for more.


Cleaning the boat.

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