Beautiful SceneryRobert H. Boyle, the Sports Illustrated writer and avid Hudson River fisherman who spearheaded the effort to clean up the Hudson River in the 1960s, once described Haverstraw Bay as the "richest exploring ground in the whole river." The river is widest here, spanning more than three miles with a combination of the kinds of shal- lows, marshes and deep water that attract all sorts of fish and wildlife. The communities that surround it-Haverstraw and Stony Point on the west and Ossining, Croton-on-Hudson, Verplanck and Peekskill on the eastern shore-are river towns with fascinating histories and a variety of worthwhile attractions. Marine facilities range from the largest marina on the Hudson River, expansive Haverstraw Marina, to small do-it-yourself boat clubs.
The area was of great strategic significance during the Revolutionary War. Benedict Arnold forged his plot to betray West Point near Haverstraw. At Stony Point in 1779, Mad Anthony Wayne and 1,200 Continentals stormed and cap- tured a fort held by the British; the site is now a state park. And Washington held a headquarters in Peekskill.
From the 1800s to the 1930s, Haverstraw became a top brickmaking center that provided New York City with about 90 percent of its bricks. Across the river, Peekskill became an important manufacturing center for stoves, hats and other products. When the manufacturing jobs ended, both commu- nities fell on economic hard times, but the tide has turned. An upscale waterfront condominium complex-The Harbors at Haverstraw-is attracting new residents and sparking a downtown revitalization. In Peekskill, an artists' district is bringing new life to the old downtown.
Things to See and Do
Once past Nyack, the sight you'll notice as you approach the town of Ossining on the east shore, about 5.5 miles north of the Tappan Zee bridge, are the imposing stone walls of Sing Sing, the maximum security prison where convicted spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were electrocuted in 1953. (Ted Conover's book, Newjack, is a great way to look inside with- out actually having to do so.) While it's a good idea to stay away from the prison itself, you can learn all about it at the Ossining Heritage Center (914-941-3189), where there's even a replica electric chair. The heritage center also has an excellent exhibit on the Old Croton Aqueduct, which once carried water to New York City. Now its path is a wonderful trail that runs through several Westchester County towns. The easiest access is in Ossining, and it is the only place where you can enter the aqueduct itself. Tours are run by the Friends of Old Croton Aqueduct (914-693-4117, www.aqueduct.org).
The center of town, which is a mile's uphill hike from the river, is a lively business district. Handsome 19th century buildings, which house a great mix shops and restaurants, make it a worthwhile walk.
On the west side of the river, the Haverstraw Brick Museum (914-947-3505), a small storefront museum on Main Street, tells the story of a community that shipped over 300 million bricks a year. At Stony Point Battlefield and Lighthouse (845-786-2521) you can take a walking tour of the battlefield where Wayne waged his midnight assault on the British, see museum exhibits and tour the oldest lighthouse on the Hudson River, Stony Point Light, built in 1826 and restored and relit in 1995.
Croton Point Park (914-862-5290), which juts into the Hudson on the east side of the river just north of Ossining and south of the Half Moon Bay Marina in Croton-on-Hudson, is home to several events that make it worth a trip. The most famous is Clearwater's Great Hudson River Revival (www. clearwater.org), a weekend-long music festival that draws thousands of visitors to the park every June for the last 30 years. Event proceeds support environmental programs and the Clearwater, a 106-foot replica of a nineteenth-century Hudson River sloop that sails the river and teaches about its environmental needs since Pete Seeger and associates raised the funds to build the sloop in 1969. Seeger is a regular at the festival.
A few miles upriver in Verplanck at King's Marine you'll often see the Half Moon, a full-scale replica of the Dutch ship Henry Hudson sailed in 1609. Expect Half Moon to play a big role in 2009 during the 400th anniversary celebration of Hudson's voyage.
Continuing north on the east side of the river, you can find dockage at Charles Point Marina or the Peekskill Yacht Club to check out the developing arts scene in that city. The Paramount Center for the Arts (914-739-2333), a former movie house, hosts live entertainment, gallery showings and educational programs. Periodic tours of the Artists' District also start from there. The National Maritime Historical Society (914-737-7878, www.seahistory.org) makes its home in Peekskill and sponsors frequent lectures and events.
Restaurants and Provisions
Restaurant choices abound in these Hudson River towns. Haverstraw Marina expects its on-site restaurant, which burned down three years ago, to open under new management in summer 2008. In the meantime, you can boat to Civile's (845-429-3891), a fine Italian place at the foot of New Main Street in Haverstraw. Parrot Bay (845-429-6180), a short walk from the Haverstraw and Stony Point marinas, serves fun food in a casual atmosphere. In Stony Point, Noel's Irish Pub (866-772-0949) offers free pickup and return ser- vice at local marinas.
A healthy walk or short cab ride will take you from the marina in Croton-on Hudson to the town center, where you can choose from several restaurants, including diners, pizzerias and white-table cloth establishments. Among them are Memphis Mae's Barbecue Bistro (914-271-0125), Umami's CafÃ© (914-271-5555) and Ocean House Bar and Grill (914-271-0702).
Peekskill offers a similar range of choices. Downtown, try the Submarine Galley (914-739-8827) for soup and sandwiches, or the Division Street Grill (914-739-6380) or Susan's Restaurant (914-737-6624) for dinner or a Sunday jazz brunch. Crystal Bay Seafood (914-737-8332), right at the Charles Point Marina, is another good choice.
Use Maptech Waterproof Chartbook Hudson River & N.Y. Harbor; Maptech Waterproof Chart 4; or Maptech electronic and NOAA paper charts 12346 (1:10,000) and 12343
As you cruise north of Tarrytown and Nyack, the majestic heights of the west bank drop down to the water's edge. On the east shore you'll spy the infamous Sing-Sing Prison, given away by its two water towers. The main channel through here is very well marked. Westerly Marina (914-941-2203), located south of Croton Point, offers extensive repair facili- ties and transient dockage. At Half Moon Bay Marina (914- 271-5400), transients are treated to friendly amenities in a very convenient location.
The river widens still more as you enter Haverstraw Bay, a stretch of five miles extending from north of Croton Point to Stony Point. This is where the Hudson is at its widest, stretching to three miles across. The deep, main channel in the bay favors the western shore, while depths of six to nine feet over a soft-mud bottom are found to the east. The area north of Croton Point is a suitable anchorage in all but north and west winds.
Haverstraw Marina (845-429-2001) occupies a large basin just south of Grassy Point, and just about every ame- nity that a cruising boater could ask for is available in the resort-like complex. That includes transient slips, repairs, a pool, a new restaurant for 2008, and a ship's store.
The manmade bight called Stony Point Bay is home to numerous other marinas and yards, plus a marine fueling station. In the heart of Stony Point Bay, Patsy's Bay Marina (845-786-5270) is a wonderful place to take a slip and stay a while; you can also get a full slate of repairs there while the kids find plenty to do ashore.
Across the river and a bit north, Verplanck presents a couple of marine yards, and Peekskill offers the transient- friendly Charles Point Marina (914-736-7370), which has a well-regarded restaurant. Your main landmark here is the Indian Point Nuclear Plant, but don't get too close or stop and ogle with binoculars or a camera; security personnel will chase you away. Services can be obtained at Peekskill Bay by following the U-shaped channel leading to the marinas. Stay within this channel, as the bay is shallow.