Friday, May 31, 2013

Barnegat Bay to Staten Island, Ground Zero NYC

We had a very pleasant night at anchorage in Barnegat Bay except for a few fishing boats coming and going at all hours of the night and rocking the boat a bit.  The sunrise was nice also.

We had several boats leaving about the same time.  We were planning to follow Roger and Anne on "Third Reef" again.

After the easy trip the day before, the forecast was for 2 to 4 foot seas but we never saw them.  Roger and Anne have made this trip several times over the years and said we had two of the best consecutive days they had ever seen - we'll take it!  There was really not much to take pictures of - more water, beaches, and houses.  Sorry, New Jersey, but your waters have been the least interesting of any we have traveled thus far.  We ran 65 miles that day with rain and fog the last couple of hours and finally docked at Great Kills Yacht Club on Staten Island.  It was too foggy to get any pictures of Long Island or NYC on the way over to Staten Island - that would have to wait for another day.

GKYC and the other marinas had lots of damage from Hurricane Sandy.  One of the lighthouses was missing on the way in and evidence of the damage was still clearly evident. The floating docks and the boats in the slips all wound up on land at GKYC. All of the members got to work putting in new docks and getting the boats back in the water - many were able to be lifted by crane, inspected, placed in the travel lift, and dropped back into the water. Unfortunately, others were totaled.

Our dock had been repaired and was in good shape.

We said goodbye to Roger and Anne the next morning as they continued their trip home to Maine, and it was time for us to venture into New York City.

Loopers have a great representative there at GKYC in John Calascibetta.  John and his wife, Juliet, completed the loop around 2004 in a 42' Grand Banks.  We had called John before heading in to GKYC and he made the slip arrangements for us and met us at the docks.  On Wednesday morning, he drove us to the train station, gave us numerous pointers on sightseeing in NYC, and loaned us his open-account MTA card so we wouldn't have to worry about buying prepaid cards.  Here's the train station at Great Kills.  It would take us to the north end of Staten Island to catch the ferry to NYC.

While we waited for the train, Rhonda struck up a conversation with "Spider" - loved his Jersey accent.  We expected everyone to have it but that was not the case. By the way, northerners have no trouble distinguishing our southern accents either! Anyhow, he knew John at GKYC and gave us many sightseeing pointers as well.  We went immediately from the train to the ferry which for some reason is free!  They have several of these running constantly.  Here's one docked next to ours.  They are 4 stories tall and have elevators in addition to the stairs to get from one floor to another.

The ferry takes you right by the Statue of Liberty and The Battery waterfront of Manhattan, but it was still foggy and we have much better pictures of all of that so we'll cover that later.  One of the first things we saw getting off of the ferry was evidence of the new bicycle rental program NYC just started this week.  I got a couple of differing sets of numbers but it's something like 10,000 bikes branded with the New York-based Citi Bank’s logo at 600 docking stations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Long Island, and Queens.  You can imagine the controversy on this one - almost as much as Bloomberg's ban on large soft drinks!  I think Citi Bank forked out about 41 million to sponsor the program with the bikes appropriately named "Citi Bikes."  It sounds like a pretty good deal - $95 a year for unlimited use of the bikes.

Our first stop was a short walk to Ground Zero. We were hoping to get tickets to get into the 9/11 memorial area and we did.  There was just a short wait to get in.  You all know the horrors of that day and it's hard to describe the emotions of walking those grounds today.  It's difficult to imagine just how horrific it would have been to be there on that infamous day, but I have to admit that the memorial site does have a certain "peace" about it now. I think the pictures tell the story better than I can.  Below - the first new tower (others are planned), the 2 pools in place where the old towers stood, and the names.  Yes, the names and the lives lost  - that is the really hard part.

Regarding the names - they are grouped together by relationships/associations people had with each other.  This could be people on one of the flights together, families, friends at work, firefighters/rescue workers/police that worked together, again recognizing the significance of the loss that day.

   Four hundred white oak trees are being planted, all purchased from nurseries within 500 miles of the three attack sites.  

But one tree in particular stands out - the Survivor Tree.  It was planted at the WTC in 1970 and was found after 9/11 as an 8-foot stump only.  It was nursed back to health and sprouted new growth, today symbolizing the survival and resilience so important to the history of 9/11.

New construction is ongoing all around the portions on display today.

We had lunch and then went a short distance to St. Paul's Cathedral.  It is significant in many ways (George Washington used to worship there).

But 9/11 changed its course in history also and the inside of the cathedral is filled with memorials and memorabilia since that time. St.  Paul's became a place of rest and refuge for the recovery workers.  For eight months, hundreds of volunteers worked 12-hour shifts around the clock, serving meals, making beds, counseling, and praying with fire fighters, construction workers, police, and others. 

These are some of the actual pictures and postings of missing friends and family members - heartbreaking.

There were several sculptures on display, made from actual structural portions of the towers.

A "Flag of Honor" has been developed with the names of all those who died that day in the stripes of the flag.

The outside of the cathedral and the cemetery grounds were strewn with debris after the attack.  The solitude of the grounds today is much different of course.

When we returned to the marina that evening, we visited with John up at the yacht club.  Two retired NYC firefighters were there also.  One of them mentioned that he had frequented St. Paul's many times after the attacks, noting that it indeed provided a resting place, solitude, and encouragement for return trips to the scene.  He had recently taken his kids there so they too would have a clear awareness and understanding of just what happened on 9/11.  I think it is fitting to stop here for this post.  I'll cover other portions of NYC another time. 

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