As Dave and I paddled down the Hudson River we began to see more and more buildings. The buildings got taller and taller. Trains rumbled down each side of the river. Cars whizzed overhead on bridges. Dave and I looked at each other and he said, “We are a long ways away from the wilderness.” We had entered New York City. Over 8 million people live here.
We decided to take a route around Manhattan Island, turning off of the Hudson River and onto the Harlem River. The Harlem River looped around to the east and south. We only saw a couple of boats on the Harlem River. There was a constant hum of cars driving on either side of the river.
The Harlem River emptied into the East River and we were in the heart of the city. Here, seven people in three canoes met us. They were from the North Brooklyn Boat Club. We were so happy to see them. They escorted us to their boathouse and showed us the sights. It was exciting to see the Empire State Building from the water. We ended our day sitting around an outdoor fire, eating delicious food and telling stories at the boat club.
The next day was one of the most challenging of the expedition. We left early in the morning to catch the outgoing tide, paddling past Manhattan during rush hour. Ferries zoomed back and forth across the East River. People ran along the water’s edge, getting their morning exercise. People on bicycles and in cars rushed to work. We turned on our VHF radio so that we could hear what the ferry captains were saying to each other. We paddled along the side, keeping an eye out for boat wake (waves made from fast-moving boats). We took a minute to admire the Brooklyn Bridge as we passed under it.
Past the tip of Manhattan, we could see One World Trade Center towering above all the other tall buildings. We made our way towards the Liberty Island. We paddled as close as we could get, admiring the Statue of Liberty from the water. This was as close as either of us had ever come to the Lady Liberty. Did you know that the Statue of Liberty was a gift of friendship from the people of France? The statue was dedicated by President Grover Cleveland in 1886. She is a universal symbol of freedom and democracy.
Our journey for the day was not done at Liberty Island. We continued on through New York Harbor—passing massive cargo ships tied off to docks. At one point we had to pull over between two large ships at docks as a ship traveled down the tight channel past us. We made our way onto a smaller waterway called Arthur Kill and breathed a sigh of relief. Our trip through New York City was over. It was exciting and fun, but a little scary at the same time. This was a challenging and dangerous place to paddle. We have reached a milestone in our journey. We have just under 20 days to get to Washington D.C.