My family and I completed the Great Loop in October 2017. After returning to our land home, we all missed the water terribly, as well as the life it afforded us. So, we knew we had big decisions to make. After my husband Ben reinvented his career to focus on marine electronics, we moved back to the boat in July 2018. Aboard our 57' Carver Voyager, Have Another Day, with our two daughters, Molly (14) and Madelyn (11), Ben worked from the boat, and I homeschooled the girls.
We loved every minute of our Loop, and sharing this small section of our family adventure with Marinalife brings back fond memories. Traveling through the historic Hudson River Valley was a special trip that gave our girls a firsthand experience into the lives of people who lived there long ago.
The Hudson River Valley took us 155 miles from the Statue of Liberty (mile 155) to the start of the canal system in Troy (mile 0, Lock 1). Tidal currents tugged at the boat the entire way. The current could be 4 knots in New York Harbor and decrease to around 2 knots when approaching Troy.
Estimated Mileage: 41 NM
To begin this adventure, we passed the Statue of Liberty and Battery Park and headed up the Hudson River. We found no good anchorages for the first 50 miles, but we boated past old city warehouses while leaving the city skyline behind. This section was extremely slow due to the current. While passing under the George Washington Bridge, the city started to fade away into beautiful countryside. Before long, we passed Sing Sing prison in Ossining.
We spent our first night in Croton-on- Hudson anchored in the bay. Our girls loved the city but were thrilled to jump off the back of the boat and go swimming. For those who prefer a marina and have not gotten enough of the city, Half Moon Bay Marina in Croton-on-Hudson is an easy place to get transport back to the Big Apple.
On the opposite bank of the river is Haverstraw, with a small marina and a good place to anchor nearby in Haverstraw Cove. Haverstraw is where Benedict Arnold betrayed America and planned to surrender West Point to the British in 1780. Arnold was working with John André from the British army. After André was captured, he was hung. In Haverstraw, the tree from which he was hanged still grows in the town square.
Even though I have spent a long time studying the American Revolution with both of my daughters, when we boated up the Hudson River, we had not yet covered all the history of that time and place. The following year, we really dove into the 1770s, and through history books and novels, we covered events from the American Revolution that took place on the Hudson River all over again. It was an incredible moment when we learned about Benedict Arnold and the spies who caught him, and Molly remembered that we anchored right where it all happened.
Estimated Mileage: 11 NM
Leaving Croton-on-Hudson, the mountains and sheer rocky cliffsides continue and offer a stark contrast to the ocean landscape or city views along the coast. First comes Dunderberg Mountain and then Bear Mountain.
The Bear Mountain Bridge is quite a feat to see stretched from mountainside to mountainside. When it was completed in 1924, this was the largest suspension bridge in the world. At this point in the Hudson River during the American Revolution, the Patriot Army dragged a heavy chain from shore to shore to prevent the British ships from making it farther upriver. This tactic did not work. The British took the chain, continued north and burned the town of Kingston.
To explore Bear Mountain State Park, anchor and use the dinghy dock located near the tour boat dock. Hiking trails and the zoo help visitors take in the scenery. During COVID-19, it is best to check with the park's website first about the tour and dinghy docks.
Estimated Mileage: 5 NM
Continuing along, we came to mile 103, where the United States Military Academy at West Point appears breathtaking from the water. The history can be seen just from looking at the buildings. When we came through, the academy was not open to visitors. Tours have started operating again, but always check before trying to make a visit. Guests can no longer use the Academy docks; however, the Cornwall Yacht Club is close by.
Estimated Mileage: 33.5 NM
Hyde Park offers three not-to-be-missed stops that, sadly, we missed: the home of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his presidential library, Vanderbilt Mansion, and the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). Vanderbilt Mansion and CIA sit on the banks of the Hudson River. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing all three stops remain closed to the public due to COVID-19. If you can tour these amazing places, dock at the Poughkeepsie Yacht Club, which is seven miles north of Poughkeepsie. We did not stop, because we came through on a day that CIA restaurants were closed. You can tour the campus and eat in one of the wonderful restaurants when they all reopen to the public. I wish we had the chance!
Estimated Mileage: 21 NM
Traveling on to mile 64 is Kingston, which was the capital of New York State back in 1777 and is a great stop by water. At the entrance to Rondout Creek, a beautiful lighthouse awaits to guide you in with docking on both sides of the creek as well as an anchorage farther up. The city docks are located on the north side of Rondout Creek downtown, but we chose to stay at a marina on the other bank to gain access to a pool for our kids. The Hudson River Maritime Museum on the town side of Kingston is worth a stop. The waterfront is home to restored buildings, shops and restaurants.
Estimated Mileage: 55 NM
Upriver from Kingston stand several historic lighthouses. Saugerties is north of Kingston and south of Catskill, with a couple of marinas open for a stop. We chose to push on northward and just enjoy the magnificent views of bridges, old lighthouses and houses up on the cliffs. Shady Harbor Marina in New Baltimore is a popular stop for a full-service marina and a place to provision. This stretch also offers the option to anchor behind some of the little islands and take advantage of a peaceful evening.
Cruising past Albany with our girls, we talked about the state capital and marveled at the difference in the waterfront. After miles of natural beauty, we were now looking at an industrial city waterfront. Unfortunately, there is not a place to stop and see the capital from the water. It is simpler to cruise to Troy, where you can find transportation back to Albany and check out the New York State Capitol Building and New York State Museum.
Troy ends the Hudson River Valley cruising and begins the New York Canal System. Troy is mile 0 for the Hudson River Valley and Lock 1 of the next adventure. It is also referred to as the Federal Lock. It's best to unstep your mast here to move through the locks in a sailboat. After going through Lock 1 is a sign for the next route decision: Left for the Erie Canal, right for the Champlain Canal.
This brings the Hudson River Valley to a close but is only the start of fantastic cruising. Both routes offer endless opportunities for rich history and breathtaking beauty.