When my grandfather Balthasar Holobigian first landed on Ellis Island from Armenia, he must have been filled with emotion. Sailing down the East River with my friends, on my way to the Annapolis Boat Show two weeks ago reminded me of his plight. Experiencing the megalopolis of New York City from the water is a life changing experience for any sailor. Next to rounding Cape Horn or transiting through the Panama canal it certainly belongs to yachtsmen’s greatest Everests.
I am privileged to have had the opportunity to take this epic trip at least a dozen times on deliveries from New York to the Caribbean and back North. Every time you pass by the elegant Chrysler building, slip under the Brooklyn Bridge or glide past the Statue of Liberty I stand in awe. Thinking that my grandfather stepped off an immigrant boat, while I sail by on my catamaran is an exercise in humility and stills gives me goosebumps.
Let me tell you, approaching New York City from any direction, the smell in the air changes (unfortunately to the worse) and you experience an underlying drone unlike any other. Sirens, lights, low flying helicopters and fast charging ferries are only few of the distractions. You better make sure you get the tides on your side as the currents in Hells Gate could spin you faster than you can say – “Bro, trust me – Fuggedaboudit” !