The Decked Canoe Archives
Assembled by Tim Gittins
A Canoe Cruise from New York to Sag Harbor, L.I.
By the skippers of Tot, Foggy Dew, Papoose, and Chiquita.
Originally printed in "Forest and Stream", June 6, 1903
ON Sunday, August 10, at 8 A.M., we started from the Knickerbocker C.C. on the Hudson River on our cruise with the first of the ebb, with a good breeze out of the southeast, which grew steadily stronger, until opposite Hoboken we found it more comfortable to shorten sail, the wind gained in strength and the seas became so rough that they continually flushed us and kept our cockpit bags filled. Notwithstanding, we made Sailor's Snug Harbor, S. I., by 11 A.M., where we stopped for lunch, also to reduce our water ballast, especially the Chiquita, which was flooded, the deck being awash on arrival at the harbor, and the content's of the water-proof bags all water-soaked, the water in canoe being above the bag openings, forced its entrance and damaged contents to such an extent that we had to impose on the hospitality of our Snug Harbor friends, so as to dry out the Chiquita's outfit in their laundry over night, while we camped in their boat house.
Monday, the 11th, we prepared to make an early start, but were delayed until 1 P.M. on account of a heavy rainstorm. The delay cost us the benefit of the tide, so that we had that, besides a heavy head wind to contend with in working our way out of the bay and Narrows, to the New York C. C., in Gravesend Bay, where we arrived at 5 P.M., barely in time to escape one of the severest storms of the season. The New York boys made us very comfortable and insisted on our enjoying their hospitality for the night.
Tuesday, the l2th, we were up and ready to sail at 7 A.M.; we started under reefed sails, with a heavy wind and sea; had to beat out and around Norton's Point, then had a fine reach down past Coney Island, Manhattan and Brighton beaches, to Rockaway Inlet, where we ran on the shoals and had to await the flood tide to float us, meanwhile we utilized the spare hour to get a light breakfast. By the time we had sufficient water to clear the shoals, the wind became so heavy we sailed up the inlet under reefed mainsail only, and made remarkable time. We arrived opposite Rockaway and signaled the bridge, which was promptly opened, and we continued on our course to the Edgemere carry. Here it became necessary to unload our duffle and carry our canoes and outfits, about 200 yards, to the continuation of the creek leading past Far Rockaway to Lawrence, where we arrived at 3 P.M., and made our first camp. This is a delightful camp ground, fine sandy beach and good bathing. We camped here the following day, Wednesday, the 13th, and broke camp on Thursday, the l4th, at ll A. M.
We set sail with a free wind, passed the draws at Long Beach and arrived at Amityville at 3 P.M. where we lunched and stopped for mail. At 4 P. M. we again got under way and prepared to locate a camp site, but after an hour's sailing with nothing but marshland in view, we crossed the bay to the ocean side, opposite Babylon, and made arrangements to spend the night at the Muncie Sanatorium, where, after beaching our craft, we put on dry footwear and indulged in the novelty of a ready-cooked meal.
Next morning, the l5th, we had breakfast at 8 A.M. and got under sail at 10 A. M., for a run to Patchogue. The wind and sea being very heavy, we made the run under reefed mainsails only, and arrived at Patchogue at 1:30 P.M., which was a remarkable run under such short canvas.
Here we camped on a small creek with a fine, sandy beach, where we were so well suited we remained until Sunday, the 17th, when we again set sail at about 10 A.M., for Canoe Place Inn, sailing most of the distance under reefed mainsail, the wind being very heavy. We sailed in this fashion through Bellport Bay, Moriches Bay, through the Quogue Canal into Shinnecock Bay, and arrived at Canoe Place at 6 P.M., a distance of about 40 miles. Here we figured on spending the night and enjoying a hearty meal with our host of past acquaintance, "Wells," of the Inn, but were doomed to disappointment — the inn having closed its doors. So we made the best of our chagrin, and pitched our tents on the bank at the entrance to the canal connecting Shinnecock and Peconic bays. Being prepared for such occasions, we soon had our three vapor stoves working and had the following bill of fare, in very short order: Tomato soup, steak, potatoes, peas, bread and butter, and preserved peaches as a dessert, to which we did justice.
Monday we remained and surveyed the neighboring country until 3 P. M.. when we again broke ground and laid a course for Jessup's Neck. We were obliged to paddle through the canal, with our spars unshipped and fastened on deck, on account of the bridge, which was too low to allow our spars to pass. On arriving at the Peconic entrance, we again stepped our spars and sailed, again under shortened sail, the wind still holding its strength. Darkness overtook us and we were obliged to strike camp before reaching Jessups, the wind and seas combined being of such strength that we finished the last few miles under mere handkerchiefs.
The following day, Aug. 19, we again got under way toward noon, and reached Jessups at 2 P. M. Being short of provisions, water, etc., Tot and Chiquita volunteered to continue to Sag Harbor, to replenish our larder, while our comrades of the Foggy Dew and Papoose got their camp in shape at Jessups.
We got to Sag Harbor at 6 P.M., after a slow passage, the wind having moderated, but by 7 P.M. when we prepared to return, it again increased in strength and threatened to storm, but we figured we knew our bearings sufficiently well to start on the return trip to our Jessup's Neck camp.
We made good progress, but had a head wind to contend with until we had cleared the harbor, which took us till 8 P.M., so that darkness overtook us before we had more than half completed our return trip.
We shortened sail and kept close together, but it grew so dark that we lost all bearings and trusted to dead reckoning how neat we would strike to camp on making the beach After what seemed like an endless period, we felt our boards scrape and had barely time to raise them before we ran into a patch of sea grass which broke out impact When we surveyed the beach we concluded we had landed about five miles below our camp, which proved to be a good two hours' paddle against current and wind. We finally reached camp at 1 A.M. After pitching our tent and cooking our supper, we fouud it was drawing near to 3 A.M. After a refreshing sleep, a swim in the clear, cool water of Peconic Bay, put us in fine spirits, and gave us a hearty appetite for breakfast and dinner, which we combined.
Wednesday, the 20th, until Friday the 22d, we remained in camp at Jessup's Neck, which we enjoyed in solitude, it being inaccessible except by water or a very long walk. I the time we spent in fishing and sailing around camp.
Friday noon we broke camp for the final cruise home, which we made via the steamboat Shinnecock. We landed on the beach at Sag Harbor, adjoining the steamboat wharf, at 3 P.M., procured empty barrels for our duffle and prepared same for shipment direct to the club.
The canoes we shipped to New York on the steamer, and Saturday morning at 7 A.M., we lowered them from the deck to the river, and paddled around the Battery and up the Hudson to Hoboken, where we stopped at the Valencia Boat Club to step our sails and get breakfast. We left there on our last stretch up the Hudson at noon and arrived at the Knickerbocker C.C. at 1 P.M., finishing a delightful two weeks' cruise.
A description of the canoes, rigs, and outfits may prove of interest.
The description of one canoe will answer for all, as they were similar in rigs, etc:
Canoes, 16ft, 30in. beam; removable water-proof bag cockpit; 3 1/2ft sliding seat, raised about 5in. above deck; Norwegian yoke tiller; sail area, 80ft; reefed, 55ft. Camp outfit — Two 7x7 tents, with floor cloths, two cots or air beds in each; 4 sleeping bags; 4 folding camp chairs; 2 folding grub kits (containing tins for coffee, etc., also cooking utensils); 3 vapor stoves, 4 1/2-gallon water jugs; 6 1/4-gallon oil cans; 3 changes cf clothing and a suit of oilers for each; 1 repair kit, rope and tools, screws, etc.; 4 folding canvas buckets; also a supply of provisions for a few days in advance.
... A knickerbocker
I apolgize for the poor quality of the photos - they are scanned from a photocopy of the article - someday when time permits I will get down to the Reference Library and scan the original article. Below is an aerial photo of Long Island with a rough path of the canoe trip. Now a National Seashore, I'm sure it was very scenic a hundred years ago.