A Long Travel Letter Series by Jørgen Amundsen
It would be another early morning aboard Fram Jr. Lot’s to be done on our final push to Manhattan. Sunburnt and tired from our previous days voyage down the canal and through the swell of Rockaway beach, a strong coffee and the all-too-reliable breakfast of choice, bacon, would be in order…It did not disappoint. We headed for the The Narrows, a small passage way leading us toward the city. With the The Verrazano–Narrows bridge above us and Fort Wadsworth to our portside, Fram Jr. felt smaller than we could have imagined. With the Statue of Liberty dead ahead, the morning off to a good start.
We motored around lady liberty, capturing photos of our little Norwegian vessel alongside the iconic statue. It was hard to believe we had made it. We laughed with joy. Intent on circumnavigating the island, we then headed up the East River—which also gave us the opportunity to capture some photos of Fram. Jr beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. We motored up to the large foundation of the bridge and Trygve jumped off and scampered up to a lookout. The next 30 minutes were spent dodging ferry’s and barges with our dingy in tow in an attempt to get the perfect shot. If all went well, this could be the cover shot. After this excitement had settled, Erik realized we should look for a place to drop him off. He had a flight back to Oslo that afternoon. We all thought this would be no problem. The next dock we saw we would drop Erik off. However, it soon become clear that docking against the walls of the river with no place to tie off and quick current against us would be impossible. We proceeded in silence—all of us scanning the river for a possible exit. After an hour we found a run-down wooden structure which would have to do. With a little bit of luck, but not much time to spare, Erik would make his flight.
We said goodbye to Erik and continued north, connecting with the Harlem River. Lush green woods to our portside and large cliffs of stone to our starboard. We passed the Columbia University “C” painted on the cliff and Jørgen queued up some music. Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, and Johnny Cash sang us up the Harlem River to the Hudson. It was as if we had entered a Mark Twain novel and we were twelve years old again—not a worry to be found and our spirits high as ever. We ducked beneath the low hanging metro north bridge, removing our flag as we slid into the Hudson River. There was not another vessel in sight. We plunged into the water before heading back down towards the city. Not an hour later, as we passed midtown, Jørgen pointed to the water and said, “what’s that!?” We all look overboard and JC responded in a remarkably calm and even tone, “that’s a pig.” “A pig!? What’s a dead pig doing here? We have to go back to see it!” We motored on, glad we had decided to swim further up the river.
Our journey aboard From Jr. was coming to a close. It had now been 8 days on the water. Our only remaining goal was to bring Fram Jr. to the shop in Nolita—which had been a dream since the inception of the trip. Against all odds Fram Jr. made it out of the water, on a trailer, through the Holland Tunnel and pulled up in front of our Mott St. shop. We found a local saxophone player who started the party off by standing in the boat and playing his tunes for the whole neighborhood to hear. The night was finished with a tour around the block in the boat with smiles from ear to ear. As the streets cleared and everyone found their way home, it was clear this was field-testing adventure not soon to be forgotten.