Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New Jersey Coast - A Vague Feeling of Malaise

Here is a quick shot of "Sandy Hook" New Jersey.

This is one of the most talked about sand spits on our planet. Poised at the outer end of New York Harbour it's passage marks the first time most lake sailors hit salt water.

Not much to look at is it?

So many sailors have encountered poor or changeable conditions sailing from Sandy Hook south along the New Jersey Coast that we are all filled with a vague feeling of malaise as we enter the ocean.

I explain to my American friends that this is what it is like to be Canadian.

Our run last night, September 29 was a dream. Waves were 6 to 8 feet and the wind circled behind us at 10 knots cycling from east to west and back again several times. Each time we set the mainsail and preventer for running with the wind it changed direction. It felt like sailing on an America's Cup boat - "time to gibe boy's, only 87 more on this leg!

Departing Great Kills, NY at 7:30 a.m. we dropped hook in Cape May at 2:30 a.m. next day. This was very good time for us averaging more than 7 knots the entire trip.

Connie was awakened at 4:00 a.m. with radio chatter informing us the C & D Canal was closed as an oil tanker had run aground mid canal. The bad news was that if the canal remained closed we were faced with another lengthy coastal run to the Chesapeake. As you can see we prefer the bucolic pace of the Inland passage (red passage). It is shorter too.

The good news was that she did not wake me up to tell me. I found out next morning by which time the barge had been towed off with no hydrocarbons spilled.

One of the few highlights of this run is seeing Atlantic City from offshore. If I were a better photographer you could share this interesting sight.

Must be that new camera. :)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Great Kills


Another pleasant day in Great Kills Mooring Field.

Meredith is a guest of the RCYC, which down here is the acronym for the Richmond County Yacht Club, not to be confused with that "drinking club with a bit of a sailing problem" back in Toronto.

We were quick off the early launch with 35 lbs of laundry - 2 weeks worth - and a purpose. Well the club house was full of people who were not Bob and Connie. The sheer novelty of speaking to someone with whom we had not shared a boat for the last 8 days caused a delay in implementation of the Purpose.

Finally we headed off in search of a Laundromat. Connie did her thing and while the laundromat equipment worked we took breakfast at "Andrews Diner", a very Russian sort of place for such an English name. On the way back to the Yacht Club we stopped for groceries at "Nova", a Russian Deli. This place was so Russian I could not read any of the labels. Most of the staff did not speak English. I presume they spoke Russian.

Another couple of hours at the Clubhouse with Benoit and Andree (who corrected my misspelling of her name) and Bill the Diesel Guy from Sitatanga and we ran into Mike and Judy on Sea Sharp out of Fredericton NB. After a couple of drinks they offered dinner and we were not slow to accept.

Here you see the Judy and Mike conferring with the Budget Committee.

Judy can cook like nobody else. Mike, like Benoit, is a gadget freak and we get along very well. He is using an Amazon "Kimble"to download books whereever he is. The display is paper white with well formed black letters - not a backlit lcd screen. This is an astonishing device and I want one.

Now how to approach the budget committee?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Escape from New York

Time to be Moving On but the City does not give up easily.

We had been Guggenheimed into submission. Connie was so MoMA'd I was looking for the remnants of alien pods in the bilge. "She looks like my wife but she doesn't act like my wife". We had to escape.

The weather conspired to keep us in the 79th street Boat Basin yet two more days while we waited for a weather window down the New Jersey Coast. My beloved did not trust my assessment of the chances for a Saturday Run claiming it was more like a "bathroom window" than a weather window.

Thankfully Benoit and Andre, friends from Douce Folie V, had been stuck in Great Kills NY for the same time we had been stuck in New York and they were looking for diversion. They called, which was a lovely thing to do. It persuaded us to try our luck moving from NY to Great Kills.

It was dicey. By 11 the fog had lifted. FIFTY FEET. At least I think it was fifty feet. Using my Captain Ron calculator I looked up and could not see the top of my mast. Since the mast is 56 feet I am confident that the ceiling was 50 feet. Visibility was at least a mile. Pretty much of a mile anyway.

My view was that it didn't matter. Since we did not know much about New York Harbour I reasoned it would not help to be able to actually see it. Besides I could dead reckon my way there. I took my Power Squadron piloting courses. But about those ferries, and sightseeing boats, and barges and container ships and tugs. They were not on the CPS program so I just did not concern myself.

Well, I lost my copilot in the Narrows. She started to dither and mumble about not knowing where she was. I pointed out it wouldn't help if she could see the shore because the danger was really the shallow bottom. This did not help.

She retired from the game.

We we made it to Great Kills. We have not got off the boat since arriving. I am drinking for the rest of the night. Connie made a nice Risotto for dinner. I suspect she did this so she could finish the bottle of wine she opened and out of which she needed one glass for the rice. In fact I look now and can confirm she has done this. Right now we are closer to submariners than boaters. As luck would have it I am reading "Das Boat" right now.

We might start speaking tomorrow. Not necessarily to each other but the rudiments of communication may return.

Arriving at Great Kills we found there was no line on the mooring ball. Connie took one of our lines in her teeth and while I manoeveured Meredith close to the ball she did an inverted situp over the side. Twenty Seconds later our line was strung and Meredith Secured.

Connie has moved from undergrad to PhD in the vagaries of mooring ball construction.

Rain and storm tomorrow so we will just drink with Benoit and Andre. How sad.

Who is Buried in Grant's Tomb?

Of course, no one is buried in Grant's Tomb. US Grant is entombed there.

Grant's Tomb is adjacent the 79th Street Boat Basin and this picture was too easy not to take. Sorry for the old chestnut.

New York is a great city. Now that we have figured out the Subway system and which is uptown and which down things have gone very smoothly.

Strictly for Boaters:

From our mooring at the Boat Basin ($30 per night) we were 2 blocks from the subway, 4 from Central Park. The basin can be a touch bumpy from ferry wakes and is purely unpleasant if the wind is strong and against the prevailing tides.

Groceries are easy to get: Fairway Market is on Broadway at W72nd and Zabar's (Connie's Favourite) is at Broadway and W80th. The mooring field has 50 mooring balls and some, like ours, are a fair dinghy from boat to office.

We love New York but we have overdone it. Time to go.

When the fog lifts we will head to Great Kills Harbour Staten Island where Benoit and Andre are moored with a bunch of other Canadians waiting a weather window to shoot the New Jersey Coast. Benoit and Andre are aboard Douce Folie V. We were very happy to get a phone call from them last evening with an updated position. Especially since they are only 10 miles away! We look forward to joining them in Great Kills.

Having had a difficult passage on our first run down New Jersey we are taking great care to have nothing but the best weather for this attempt. Great Kills brings us 2 or 3 hours closer to the Atlantic. It is a much more protected harbour than anchoring at Sandy Hook and is almost as close. We have friends who nearly lost their boat at Sandy Hook.

This was a very successful trip to New York, made more so by the companionship of Donna and her Sherpa Guide Randy. Bar Hopping in the Village and Circumnavigating Manhattan were high points of this visit. Here is a bit of the Sherpa sequence just for fun.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Revenge of the N'inds - Cheyenne Autumn Revisited

While transitting the Hudson River enroute to New York you must eventually pass a lovely little town by the name of "Coxsackie". You do not have to take my word for it. Here is a shot of the map:

When you ask a local citizen, as I was wont to do, as to the source of the unusual name you will be informed that it is a Native American Indian name which means "Hoot of the Owl".

Now, being a touch juvenile, I am thinking this is really another example of the subtle Native sense of humour which totally flummoxed a bunch of fairly dumb white guys.

You can set the scene:

The Natives, having been cheated out of Manhattan by soulless Dutch traders (as opposed to equally soulless British and French traders) ceded a town to the white guys and insisted they call it Coxsackie, telling them it was a Native word meaning "Hoot of the Owl".

Every time there was trading to be done one Native would tell another "Yeah, I gotta go upriver and negotiate with those [fill in the name of what you would call someone who came from Coxsackie]".

This would be an early example of the Cheyenne Autumn phenomenon.

Cheyenne Autumn was a traditional b grade oater shot on location on a Navaho reserve. The director insisted the native "extras" speak native.

This movie packs the movie houses in Arizona to this day. Can you imagine what those "savages" are saying? About Chief Little Dick and what did whose wife do to whom?

Just a little payback from a subtle and gentle people. Gotta love their sense of humour.

So What Do You Do When You Get to New York

Well, we are sailors, so what do you think we did? We found some friends and started drinking.

Here We are with very good friends Randy and Donna who joined us in New York with their motor launch, Buttercup.

Then we went looking for movie stars and we found Luke Perry doing a promo for the new "Beverly Hills 90210":

Connie went shopping at B & H Photo (Special Note for Richie and Tim - you gotta see B & H Photo)

We went sightseeing on Buttercup: And then more sightseeing:

I walked through Central Park with my favourite tourist.

We checked out the latest in Big City Car Design:

Finally I tried to figure out the Subway System so we could get our tired butts back to the boat:

Do we want the Red, Orange, Green, Black or Red Line, A, B, C, D, E, G, V or W train, 1, 2, 3, 5, 9 subtrain, local or express, are we going uptown or downtown and where the hell is Jamaica Hills anyway and why is this train going there?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Waterford to Catskill - Hudson River Begins

A cruise down the Hudson River is one of those things a person should do. Along with the pyramids, the Rockies, and other tourist traps.

There are two good things about the Hudson River other than staggering scenery: you can do it in a sailboat and there are no tourists.

Here are a couple of examples of what you meet along the path:

Second stop down the Hudson, after a short day on the river, is Catskill, NY where you will get your mast stepped.

We always use the guys at Riverview Marina who have done a great job for us:

Here is Meredith starting to look herself wiht Riverview Marina in the background.

Here you see some of the innovative techniques applied by Riverview workmen to effect an effect mast stepping:

CCan't find the photo. Will update in case you care. More later. out of time. damn.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Attack of the 42's

Here we see Gord and Lorrie enjoying the shade of their new Hunter 42, Mystic.

These two moved onto the Hunter 3 years ago and have built a secure well outfitted vessel which lives like a lovely home.

This pair takes great pride in demoing the many modifications and upgrades they have made to their home and are very open about the successes and failures of the outfitting process. We spent a great afternoon in the hot sun. (Mystic has reverse cycle air conditioning powered by a 6 hp Fischer Panda generator).

For the budget minded traveller in the 42 foot class (now there is a contradiction in terms a BUDGET class 42 footer) we think of Terry and Cindy on Freyja. Boarding Freyja for the first time in May of this year this pair has made it all the way from Duluth Wisconsin. They rebuilt the ship enroute. Somehow they are still together. Mind you Cindy was pretty aggressive with that pumpout hose she is holding. Terry is retired USN and among other things trained as a nuclear propulsion technician for submarines. Freyja rarely has to turn on their anchor light: Terry just sits in the cockpit and glows.

Honouring Uncle Sam - Be Men Now or Be Slaves Forever

Few people know that Troy NY is the home of the original Uncle Sam, the iconic American. Uncle Sam Wilson was the founding father of Troy back in the early 1800's.

To honour the progenitor of their city and their own version of Batman judging from the cape the citizens of Troy have erected a number of monuments in his honour. These range from the very traditional

to the less so:

The Uncle Sam Bus Stop is Right Beside the Uncle Sam parking Garage.

Nascar Bus Drivers

Nascar Bus Drivers - Meet Troy's Fred

We filled in a rainy Saturday by taking the local bus system to the West Marine store. This required two busses: the Waterford to Troy and the Troy to Crossgate. Each bus cost a buck each way. If a buck a trip is too much you can buy a day pass for $3. This will take you from Waterford all the way to Albany if you want.

Our driver on the Waterford bus
was Fred, one cool dude. His bus had two speeds: dead stop and full ahead.

Never have we careened through any city's streets like we did with Fred. Approaching a big power shovel working on the roadway we cringed when the shovel turned and its large, steel plated aft section moved into the.

Fred hit the horn and slalomed. Man can this guy drive that bus.

He was so good that on the way home we let one bus to Waterford pass us by just so we could ride with Fred and get this picture. Hats off to Fred (if his exhaust does not blow them off first)

A New Concept in Outboards - One that Works

So What Do You Think? Is Bob happy with the new outboard?

We spent today, Sunday, setting up our brand new Walker Bay Genesis dinghy and Tohatsu 4 stroke outboard.

Having wrestled with the old Mercury for so long we had trouble adjusting to an engine that started just because you pulled the start cord. I mean what about cleaning the jets and resetting the carburettor and .... you know all that stuff we had to do with the Mercury.

Connie liked it because we got to do the grocery shopping. The local Price Chopper grocery keeps a dinghy dock on the Hudson River at the back of its store. We just dinghied over, Connie did a major food shop and we drove it home. Just like suburbia.

Bob was happy to take her.