July 26, 2022
“Cruisin’ Down the Hudson”
The Dutch Apple II
Article by Ilona Weisman, Dame de la Chaine
Photos by William M. Harris, Bailli
On the balmy evening of July 26th, the Albany Bailliage went shipboard. Under an azure sky, some 30-odd Dames and Chevaliers de la Chaine embarked on The Dutch Apple II for a sunset cruise on the Hudson River. Boarding started at 5:30 as members crossed the gangway, entered the middle deck, and, surrounded by a nautical backdrop of polished teak, exchanged greetings near the bar. The boat left the Port of Albany at 6:00 o’clock sharp and headed south down the historic river, glassy and windless that evening.
Parting ways with the chapter’s customary black tie attire, seafaring costumes cohabited with the profusion of Chaine ribbons. I noted several in classic yachting attire – white trousers and navy blazers – women and men both, and a few souls who donned the horizontal stripes of swabbies.
The Dutch Apple II, built in 1986 at Scarano Boat Building in Albany, was designed in the style of the great dayliners that sailed the Hudson River from the 1860s to as late as 1971. The steamboats ferried travelers in comfort and luxury from New York City to Albany and all stops in between until the last one—the Alexander Hamilton—was finally retired in 1971.
Scarano used wood species native to the region in the boat’s construction. Its hull is made of Douglas fir, the frame of Alaskan Yellow Cedar and the superstructure of Adirondack White Cedar. The main deck, windows, rails and trim are all fashioned from teak.
Once under way, the crowd took to the uppermost of the boat’s three decks. At open air tables we sipped wine and traded stories about goings-on since the previous Chaine gathering in Saratoga Springs. Some congregated beneath the awning adjacent to the pilot house, where Captain Frank deftly guided the vessel down the river. Lush greenery lined either side of the river and music played in the background, as the Albany skyline faded into the distance.
Nicole’s, an intimate Albany dining venue serving continental food, crafted an appealing shipboard buffet that featured Chicken Marsala, Penne alla Vodka, grilled vegetables and a carving station with roast beef. The trick was how to convey one’s buffet plate safely up two flights of stairs to the upper deck while the boat continued its route over water. Remarkably, no china was smashed in the undertaking. Well done, landlubbers.
At Castleton Bridge which spans the Hudson River at Schodack, New York on the east bank and Coeymans on the west, the boat turned northward to head back to port. As our boat came about and passed beneath a railway bridge, a train thundered overhead, its weighty undercarriage exposed, breaching the extraordinary quiet on the river. As the stillness returned, dusk began to settle, and all too soon the conspicuous towers of the Empire State Plaza came into view. Under cover of night, we arrived back where we had begun. A delicious circle of food, wine, friends and a waterway on an ideal summer evening.