Solle Weekly Grind #2: Hootenanny

Solle Weekly Grind #2: Hootenanny

The word “hootenanny” is defined as an informal gathering with folk music and sometimes dancing. The Solle' crew is well-accustomed to these such gatherings, and this past weekend was no exception as Mike and Emily welcomed a new addition to New York harbor for the winter, aptly named Hootenanny.

Hootenanny is a 31’ Pearson sailboat formerly docked in Long Island. The move from Glen Cove to Manhattan is about 30 nautical miles and requires around 5-6 hours of travel, enough for an incredible day of New York sites, history, and wildlife.

It wouldn’t be a proper start to the day without a morning jolt of Solle, which we prepared the night before as cold brew. Check out the end of the blog for instructions to easily make our cold brew when amenities are limited. After an initial cup and a tight squeeze out of the marina, we put up the mainsail and were on our way.

Utilizing landmarks as reference points makes navigating incredibly easy, and our first landmark happened to be an eerie, rugged lighthouse with a dark past. For the sake of this post, I won’t elaborate on the reported history of the island, but Execution Rocks Lighthouse was the first of a few surprisingly picturesque lighthouses along the route. Long Island Sound has over two dozen lighthouses, some dating as far back as 1796. Along our route, we got the chance to view Sands Point Lighthouse which stands alongside the gorgeous Hempstead House, a Tudor-style mansion located on the grounds of the Guggenheim Estate, and the much less opulent Stepping Stones Lighthouse, a tiny Victorian inspired lighthouse just northeast of Throgs Neck Bridge. Around Stepping Stones, we noticed what appeared to be a shiny head poking out of the water (no, I didn’t go overboard). Upon closer inspection, we were greeted by the first of three harbor seals that we spotted along the way. It’s not unusual to spot seals “hauled out” onto rocks or beaches in the Sound during winter, as they migrate down to these warmer waters from the northeast during these months.

After our seal adventure, our first bridge crossing arrived. This point was the first time that the crew felt any anxiety, because no matter how tall you know that the bridge stands and how tall your mast stands, perspective makes you doubt both of those measurements. Throgs Neck provides 142’ of clearance below compared to the 42’ mast of Hootenanny, but standing on deck gives an illusion that makes you question the competence of the bridge’s engineers. We held our breath… approached… and passed underneath with 100’ of clearance above us. We did this 7 more times as we moved through the East River and it never seemed any more comfortable than the first. 

Volumes could be, and have been, written about the history along the East River, and there is no way that a blog could do any of it justice, but it’s worth noting some of the lesser known sites. As we passed between Bronx and Queens, the runways of La Guardia sent airliners just overhead. We then passed the infamous and controversial Riker’s Island to our south and the VCBC jail barge to our north. The latter is the world’s largest operational prison barge, which was brought to New York in 1992 as a temporary solution to reduce overcrowding in NYC’s jail system. The boat stands like a massive container ship with a cage-enclosed recreation area on the top floor. Continuing west, our bow pointed directly at what appeared to be a lush, untouched natural island in the middle of the river. 

The only sign of human existence from this perspective was a brick chimney barely peeking through the treetops. Sailing closer to North Brother Island, we could begin to see the ruins of Riverside Hospital, whose mission until the 1930s was to house patients with quarantinable diseases including smallpox, tuberculosis, and polio. Most famously, though, the hospital treated typhoid and housed Mary Mallon, more commonly known as Typhoid Mary, until her death in 1938. Today, the island operates as a bird sanctuary and is off limits to the public, but nearly all of its original structures still stand inside the foliage.

This quick dose of nature is quickly contrasted by skyscrapers, horns, and ferries as we head south and approach the waters that divide Manhattan and Brooklyn. As much as we didn’t want the trip to end, there was something refreshing about heading into home, but first we had to conquer the most infamous passing of the trip, appropriately named Hell Gate. We had been told horror stories of shallow waters, swirling currents, tight channels, and heavy traffic under Hell Gate Bridge, and we had prepared ourselves mentally for this moment. We headed towards the bridge in smooth waters, waiting for the fury to unleash… and kept motoring smoothly through calm waters, waiting… and waiting… and we were through. No whirlpools, no Kraken, nothing, just a beautiful rail bridge welcoming us to Manhattan. From there it was a bridge countdown (Triborough, Queensboro, Williamsburg, Manhattan, Brooklyn) until we were in the open waters of New York harbor, and Hootenanny was home for the winter.

As history and engineering nerds, travelers, sailers, and husbands, Mike and I will naturally go off-page with content that is not coffee related, and we hope that our customers and followers enjoy it as much as us. We intend to provide content that not only revolves around coffee, but can also be enjoyed alongside your coffee. If you have content that you would like us to cover about New York City and New Jersey, sailing, pop culture, or anything in between, let us know at or and we will be sure to explore it in future posts. 


Sollevato Cold Brew

Ingredients (2 Servings):

2/3 C ground Glacial Blend beans or 2 Lifted Blend Steepables

2 1/2 C cold water

Milk (optional)

Step 1: Either stir Glacial beans and water together or submerge steepable bags in water in a jar or sealed container. Close or cover and let rest overnight. 

Step 2: If using beans, strain through a coffee filter or cheesecloth. Coffee will be concentrated, so add additional water and ice to taste.