It was late afternoon when we motored from Shelter Bay Marina to the staging area in Bahia de Limon to await our pilot and extra line-handler. The past two days was a much needed rest after having just sailed over 1,700 miles from the Bahamas, around the western point of Cuba and due south across the Caribbean Sea. It wasn’t a lazy, sit by the pool with a frufy drink kind of rest. Rather it was a change from the ten days of being at sea where a constant watch is kept to ensure there is still wind in the sails, the course is maintained, the crew is rested and fed and collisions of any sort (with other vessels, drift wood, large containers or even land) are avoided.
We sailed overnight, a full day and overnight again, not quite totally without incident. We found what looked like a nice abandoned pier around 90th Street to tie on to and wait out the ferocious ebb tide before trying to motor our way through Hells Gate. This is essentially where the North River (the Hudson), the East River and Long Island Sound all come together. It’s a narrow passage where a lot of water flows at speeds up to five knots with the tide.
Shawn and I were below on his 27-foot Bristol sail boat just chatting it up when we heard what sounded like a bilge pump engaging automatically. We didn’t have an automatic bilge pump. After cocking our heads at each other trying to sort it out, we popped our heads out of the companionway only to see we were being boarded by the Coast Guard.
It turns out we’re not allowed to tie up on this unmarked pier and we ended up with a citation – a boat parking ticket – before our trip began. The really interesting part was the NYPD floated up shortly afterwards (while Shawn was up the mast in the rigging clearing a line) and couldn’t believe we got a citation. The cops gave us some floating key chains and their condolences.