LINKS FOR THE YEAR 2000
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Log for the week of Oct 1, 2000 by PS
Well, I wasn't too sure I would have much to write about this week. That all changed on Friday afternoon. But I am getting ahead of myself.
On Monday we went on a picnic cruise with our friend Mike Start. Mike was one of my students at the Apprenticeshop. He is doing is part to keep wooden boats alive. Presently he owns several in varying states of repair. For the picnic we got to ride in his Lyman runabout. It's a nice classic that reminded us of the fact that not everyone travels over the water at 5 knots. Over a meal of cheese and crackers we talked about boats and such. I emphasize "WE" because I restrained myself from our usual encounter. Amy has brought to my attention that anytime I see Mike I get a case of diarrhea of the mouth. She thinks it stems from the fact that Mike is one of the few people with which I can use "boatspeak", that jargon of "garboards" etc. that only boatbuilders understand. She is correct in the fact that I don't give Mike a chance to get a word in edgewise with a shoe horn. At the picnic I tried to make amends.
The rest of the week was pretty quiet. I worked on the sail covers till 2:20 am on Wednesday. Sometimes I get into things and I just can't quit. We also sailed out into the Gulf of Maine to make more water, which by the way is working fine now. Living aboard at a mooring you tend to get pretty lax about leaving stuff around. The glass that was so content on the counter now tries to slide to its destruction. We spent part of the week doing research on starting our own publishing company. Amy has written some wonderful books. Unfortunately she has had some bad experiences with literary agents. Starting a publishing company would cut through a lot of red tape. Finding someone to print the books is the real problem. It seems to be a well kept secret, but we are working on it. The temperatures are also dropping, so the wood stove has been using fuel like an angry dragon. The coldest it has been inside the boat so far is 12c or about 50 degrees f. first thing in the morning. On a sadder note, Larry the canary died. It seems that he had cancer. We gave him a proper burial as sea. He will be sorely missed for his musical beginning to our day.
On Friday we drove our 1970 MGB "Melvin" to visit Amy's parents in Stowe Vermont. Melvin has had a clunk in the right front tire that I attributed to a brake pad. When we rebuilt the front brakes a few years ago, we found that a pad had stuck and caused uneven wear on the remaining pad. I decided to grind some metal off the new pad so this wouldn't happen again. This left Melvin with a slight thumping noise, which wasn't a problem.
About an hour from Stowe there was a bang from under the hood. Amy tried to slow down and pull over, but was having some difficulty. There were all kinds of noises, none of which sounded good. When we finally stopped, I thought the worst. As I looked under the car I saw one of the blades of the fan on the ground. "Oh No!" I said. I thought it must be a broken engine mount, which had laid the engine over on its side and slammed the fan into the radiator. There we were, on the side of the road with me wondering how we were going to get Melvin to Amy's parent's house so I could try and fix him. Amy was the brave one to open the hood and look for herself. Wonder of wonders, the engine mount was fine! It appeared that the fan blade had an old fracture that finally let go. Amy started him up and he seemed fine except for a vibration caused by the missing blade. We started off again, only to find that when we braked, the right front wheel made an awful rasping noise. We pulled over again and upon closer examination discovered the wheel was loose! Melvin's wheels are not held on by lug nuts. The wheel slides over grooves in the axle and is held on by a single large nut. Why this nut decided to loosen is a mystery. These kinds of things are always a mystery to me. How things can be fine for years, then suddenly go haywire gets under my skin. Leave it to "Murphy's' Law".
While we were stopped I decided to take off the fan and try to re-balance it by removing the opposite blade. I didn't know how I was going to do that as I didn't have a hacksaw. I am fortunate to have a good friend who is also a pretty smart mechanic. You know the kind. Someone you can call up any time, day or night to get you out of a bind. Using our new "Cell Phone" I had Amy call him up. After several attempts at remembering the correct number ("Hello, hello? Can you hear me? I'm on a cell phone that doesn't work very well. Hello? Is this Rick Patten's house? Oh, sorry ma'am I must have the wrong number.) She finally got through and he suggested just leaving the fan off. Duh! Why didn't I think of that? As long as we kept moving, the air across the radiator would be as good as the fan could do. It pays to have smart friends.
I tightened the wheel and we were on our way again, or so we thought. When we tried braking, the same rasping noise was heard. Once again we pulled over. This time in front of an old garage, the kind you see with lots of old machinery around. No one was there. I jacked up the front of Melvin and removed the wheel. I discovered that the grooves (splines) in the wheel and axle were so worn that the wheel was slipping. This was where the noise was coming from as well as the uneven braking. I decided to switch the front wheels in hopes that a new wheel would hold on the worn axle. The right wheel went on fine, but the left wheel was going on hard. In my eagerness to get it on, the car fell off the jack. Aggg!!! No harm done really, except that the car was so low I couldn't get the jack under it. It was about this time that a Native American family drove up in their old Audi and asked if they could help. Luck was with us once again and they had a second jack that allowed us to get Melvin on his feet. I still couldn't get the left wheel on. It finally dawned on me that the spare tire would work. Once it was on and the family saw that Melvin was fixed, they left. We never even got their names. Now it will be up to us to do someone else a favor someday. So once again Melvin got us to our destination and received a well-deserved slap on the dashboard for a job well done.
We had a good visit with Amy's family. Her dad found a repair shop that welded the fan for us. Melvin was now ready for the 6-hour drive home. I have always encouraged Amy to spend as much time as she can with her family. I guess the loss of my grandfather years ago made me realize that life is short. Spending time with your family is important, even if its' just watching a video or having a meal together.
It's Sunday and we are on our way back to Iwalani. I'm anxious to find out what the weather will be this week. As soon as it looks good, we will be on our way south. We will be stopping in Marion, Massachusetts and Port Jefferson, Long Island. Then it's back to the open sea off of New Jersey to see how Amy copes. This will set the stage for our plans to Bermuda or down the coast to the Florida Keys. PS
PS It seems that we are not completely rid of "Murphy". With Iwalani only an hour away, he broke off another fan blade (not the one that was welded) on Melvin. I'm getting real good at taking the fan off. We finally arrived at the marina after dark.
Log for the week ending October 8, 2000 by, APW
We left Robinhood Wednesday morning after spending Monday and Tuesday doing some last minute shopping and stowing. We winterized Melvin the MG and put him in the barn for storage, said good-bye to pets and friends, (again), then waited on the boat for the right weather window. We had been waiting for a cold front to pass through, so we could follow the associated Northerly winds south. Our route was a straight line from the tip of Georgetown, Me. through the Cape Cod Canal to Marion, Ma. The winds were light and out of the SW when we left, but were expected to veer to the NW overnight. I was reluctant to leave because the weathermen were predicting showers when the cold front passed through. By my figuring, the showers would arrive as we were crossing the Boston shipping lanes at three a.m. Showers show up on radar and can sometimes obscure any signs of boats or other shipping traffic. "You worry too much" , Phil said to me. We left anyway.
We decided to divide the watches up according to the ship's clock- four hours on and four hours off, starting at 8 am with Phil getting the first watch. Around 4:30 in the afternoon, just as Phil came on watch, I went below to make some tea. Phil yelled down that we had our first visitors- three song sparrows and a myrtle warbler. They looked exhausted as they circled the boat-eventually landing on the lifelines. I went back down below only to hear Phil cursing and saying "Oh no! You stupid so and so" when I came back up the companionway, Phil was in the process of turning Iwalani around.
"What's the matter?" I cried.,
"Oh one of the sparrows fell in the water" he answered. Sure enough, a brown blob, looking like an old glove, floated on the surface, about fifteen yards downwind of us. Phil was doing his best to maneuver Iwalani around in a tight circle, to a point where I could rescue the spread-eagled sparrow. We have no net on board- (an oversight we will correct), so I tried to scoop the sparrow up with a bucket. When we were about ten feet from him, he raised his head up, looked directly at me and then plunged his head deliberately into the water. Phil was frantic trying to get Iwalani close enough for me to reach him. The wind and the waves were working against a successful rescue. Iwalani is designed for long straight passages, not tight maneuvering like a J24.
"Forget it" I cried, "he's committed suicide."
"I hope you can do CPR, on him, because I'm not giving up" was Phil's reply. The sparrow was quite dead when we finally got him on board. I tried CPR, remembering my client Janet Bonney's fifteen minutes of fame, after successfully performing CPR on one of her frost bitten hens, but I knew this case was hopeless- he was quite stiff. Our first man overboard drill was a failure. The next time we have a man overboard, we decided to forget all the conventional methods of performing a rescue. We will start the engine and just back Iwalani down, since she backs up arrow straight. We got our chance a few minutes later to practice our new method, when another sparrow landed in the water. Within thirty seconds we had backed Iwalani up to the second sparrow. I lowered the bucket- but this time the sparrow rose up off the waves, like the phoenix out of the ashes-and landed on the bow railing, looking tired and hungry. The backing-up method seems to work. I provided our guests with a fresh water bird bath and some of Larry's bird seed. The meat eaters in the crowd, cleaned the decks of the Georgetown mosquito carcasses. Phil had come very close to scrubbing the decks before we left. Everyone was grateful he hadn't. By dusk, we had close to thirty different songbirds eating, drinking and pooping on Iwalani-song sparrows, white throated sparrows, warblers and juncos. They were all older birds, quite tame, some even landed on my hand. We will need to stock up on more wildbird seed.
At dusk the sky turned gray and cold. The wind finally started to blow from the NW. We worked around our feathered passengers and finally raised the sails. Off in the distance Phil and I had been aware of a flock of sea birds swarming around something in the water. We had figured it was a whale. All of a sudden we saw the water under the birds awash with white caps, coming toward us. It was a huge group of white sided dolphins; as soon as our engine was turned off, they had decided to come over and investigate us. These guys were even more fun than the ones near Halifax . A strange thing happened to me- I don't know if it was the scopolamine patch or the Japanese book I am reading, which tells a story of a maiden that falls in love with a male dolphin; but, in any event, one big male in particular, swam right under Iwalani's railing- on his side, looking up at me; we spent maybe a minute looking at one another, I had the weirdest desire to jump in and swim off with him… I am now going to cut the Scopolamine patch into quarters. Hallucinations or not, I don't need Phil having to explain to people that his wife didn't run off with another man, but swam off with a dolphin!
Phil and I had supper, down below at the table. Quite civilized. No rocking, no rolling. At nine p.m. Phil even tried to get the season premier of Star Trek in on the TV-but we were too far offshore. I bought a four inch color TV for Phil's birthday. We never watch TV on land- there just isn't time. But now we are able to know what people are talking about- elections, Survivor, Millionaire- before, we just shrugged and said "Huh?" We are getting more in tune with civilization the further we leave it behind.
At the end of my 8-12 watch, the sky started getting light to the north. It looked like the pastel colors that appear before sunrise- just as light. I checked my watch-11-30 p.m. I checked the compass- north- Northern Lights! Phil was treated to a spectacular show on his watch from midnight to four. I actually missed most of it as I slept from midnight, to the eight bells that signaled the start of my next watch. This is a record!!! At four, I came on deck after putting on long underwear, two sweaters and foul weather gear. We had crossed over both sets of shipping lanes off Portland, the Northern and Southern in-bound and outbound approaches. We were North of the Boston shipping lanes, Phil said there were a couple of fishing boats on the radar to the west of us- but nothing to worry about. I settled in for my watch while Phil went below to mark our current position and crawl into his bunk. I looked at the radar and checked the lights on the horizon trying to account for all the blips on the radar screen. There were some scattered showers to the south of us. All of a sudden I realized I was looking up at a set of lights that were to the west of us. "Oh no!" I cried "I didn't realize he was so close" I could now see a green light, two white lights and a red light heading right for us. Two long metalic arms were out stretched like a bird of prey ready to pounce on Iwalani. It was a fishing dragger, barreling full steam toward us. I turned the spotlight on and shone it on the sails, then I turned the light onto the bridge of the dragger. Phil was standing next to me, by this point.
"Forget the spotlight! Turn the engine on, full blast!" he screamed. You have never seen me move so fast. I had the engine on , Iwalani in gear and lurching out of harms way, within five seconds. There was no one on the bridge of the dragger. We could smell fish and diesel as it wooshed behind our stern- never slowing, never altering course. No one on the bridge. Phil and I learned an important lesson- all the boats that are out there are there to kill us. Rules of the road mean nothing anymore. A rocket launcher is looking like a pretty handy piece of equipment. We have read of some people who keep flare guns loaded and ready to be fired off at a moments notice. I always thought it was in case they were sunk fast, shooting at these boneheads sounds like a more reasonable alternative! This was the second time, in as many months, that we have almost been split in two by a fishing boat. Jeez, these guys get famous with one movie and they think they own the ocean. Once we got to the Boston shipping lanes, I felt like an air traffic controller- monitoring everyone's position with the aid of a dry erase marker on the screen of the radar. Thirty two boats at the twelve mile setting. I prefer the dry erase marker method to the automatic trail setting on the radar. The big ships were no problem. They left Boston single file in neat lines, all moving in concert- but once again, the crazy fishing guys were all over the place. Some were even fishing in the inbound traffic lanes. I breathed a huge sigh of relief once the sky started getting light-once again. This time it was a real "red sky at morning" sunrise- not the Northern lights. We were now in the Northern right whale breeding habitat. I used to have sleepless nights about running over a sleeping calf and having the mother come after us…not this time- no whales. But what a mess on Iwalani's decks! Bird seed and poop everywhere. It looked like we had had a wild bird party. The guests had all left as soon as it started to get light, only to leave me with clean up duty. I hooked up the salt water wash down pump, figuring the noise would get Phil up, since it was an hour into his watch. I have a problem with waking the next watch-man. I feel guilty about it. That's probably another reason I got so tired before- letting Justin have another half hour, or hour, of sleep here and there…my goal is to get to the point where I need to be woken for my watch. Then I will know I am truly relaxed.
We sailed on south into a thick gray-blue, ominous bruise colored sky, with a glorious red sky to our left. Breakfast at nine. Through the Cape Cod Canal and into rain showers and fog. We made it to Mattapoisett by 5:30 p.m, choosing this anchorage over Marion's because of more swinging room. I phoned sister Sue and she took us both out to a great dinner at the Mattapoisett Inn.
Friday we woke up to gloomy rain and fog. We headed back to bed and didn't get up until 2:15. This is the latest I have ever slept in my life... including college and bouts with the flu. Phil has said that when we complete a "real" passage we'll probably sleep for twenty four hours straight.
Mattapoisett is a very cute town. The people were all very friendly and most of the people on boats actually sailed on and off their moorings. I bought some cookies at a pastry shop and realized too late I only had a $100 dollar bill. "Don't worry about it, take the cookies" the shopkeeper said to me, "just come pay us sometime when you have smaller bills" I returned later with a fistful of dimes to honor my debt. My other sister Whistle and nephew Max, arrived on Saturday and took us out for breakfast. We had a visit from Peter Arenstam and family, a former student of Phil's who is now responsible for the upkeep on the Mayflower. Who knows when we will be seeing everyone again?
We left Sunday morning for Newport RI. But didn't get very far. Winds were right on the nose with the tide also against us. After five hours of motoring I went and checked our predicted arrival time in Newport according to our Delorme Streets Four program. Our seven hour trip was now up to twenty hours . All I could see was dollars going up in smoke as we burned up diesel fuel to move west twenty feet. "Maybe we should think about heading in and going west when the winds are more favorable".. It wasn't my day to be captain, as it was an even day and I have the oddball days, Phil can be quite stubborn and if he has made up his mind to go-we do, even if it is only at half a knot. "If you want to go in, then find a harbor" was Phil's reply. I looked at the chart and the nearest harbor was Clark's cove or So.Dartmouth-Padanarum. Clark's cove had waves breaking and Phil took one look at Padanarum and said it looked like a porcupine- there were over a thousand sail boat masts standing up behind the breakwater in a small anchorage. We anchored near the mouth of Padanarum waiting for more favorable winds to continue heading to Newport. APW
Log for the week of October 15, 2000 by PS
This week we had to deal with what is known as the "Prevailing Westerlies". These wind conditions have brought about the phrase "Down East" in Maine. If you are on a sailing vessel "Down East" is the way to go, not "Up West".
Monday we spent the day huddled around the wood stove in the harbor of Padanarum, near New Bedford, RI. The outside temperature hovered around 40 degrees, with fog and rain. The forecast was for clearing on Tuesday, so we waited for better conditions. Besides, neither of us brought our mittens!
Tuesday we left at dawn for Newport. The wind started light NW then gradually came around to the west. We motored into it. We were making decent progress until the last few miles in Buzzards Bay. Iwalani fought her way into a head current, a wind of 20 knots and a short steep chop, earning every foot that she gained towards Newport. The last two hours were not pleasant to say the least. Iwalani would plunge her foredeck into a wave and then raise her bow towards the sky. Looking over the side I watched as the water seemed to hover almost to a stand still. Then, she would slowly gain way again only to be met with the same scenario a few minutes later. But we were getting closer to Newport. Once we rounded the channel buoy into Narragansett Bay we fairly flew into Newport harbor. After contacting Old Port Marine, we were guided to a mooring by the launch. It seemed a very close fit. The wind was really screaming. Any wavering from pointing directly into the wind, would have caused Iwalanis' bow, which had just proved herself better then what Buzzards Bay could dish out, to quickly create some work for the local boatyards. Not on Iwalani, but for the fine yachts that were around her. The launch driver was keenly aware of this, as he positioned his launch between the nearest yacht and us. A sort of over sized fender, as it were. Drama was not to be had this day. With Amy on the bow, pointing the boat hook directly at the mooring ball, we picked it up with barely a word between us. Real teamwork! I wonder, as I witness other boats in this situation, why the person on the bow insists on trying to give verbal directions ("a little left, more left, NO NOT THAT MUCH!"), instead of using the boat hook as a pointing device.
Wednesday we walked around Newport. It was good to stretch our legs. You would think that trying to remain upright on a constantly moving boat would be exercise enough. Walking a few miles on solid ground is actually a welcome relief! Amy enjoyed seeing so many Copper Beach trees, or CBs' as she calls them. We have planted two at our house in Georgetown. Hopefully ours will look as magnificent in 100 years. The houses in Newport were impressive too, but we wouldn't want the upkeep. The Seaman's Church, located next to Old Port Marine, had an Internet cafe', which I used to update the web page. We also managed to find Red Bull soda. Amy adopted this as her official drink when we were in England. While ordering our lunch at Firehouse Pizza, Amy didn't notice the Red Bull in the cooler. When I ordered my drink I said "Red Bull please." You should have seen her reaction. I haven't seen her this excited for a drink ever! She quickly replaced her ice tea and grabbed a "Bull". She loves this raspberry drink because it has more zip then "Jolt Cola".
Thursday we left Newport before sunrise. We had a fair current and wind for a change. About six cruising boats took advantage of the good weather and were following us out of the harbor. By noon the wind backed to the west and it was engine time again. Amy began to wonder why we had bothered with a mast and sails. If only we had gone to the Azores with the trade winds. As the afternoon wore on, it became apparent that we would not reach Orient Harbor before nightfall. We decided anchor in the lee of Gardiners Island instead. The current held us crossways to the wind. We started to put out a stern anchor, but I decided against it. When the tide changed the current would have put a strain on the stern anchor, which was something I didn't want to have to worry about in the middle of the night. As it turned out, being sideways to the current had greater ramifications. After motoring our dinghy to the beach, we hiked a mile or so. Because this is private land, we had to stay below the high tide line. We saw every conceivable type of floating trash you could imagine. There were the usual lobster buoys, along with plastic trashcans, sneakers, coolers and even a rocking chair. It was a sad commentary about how we treat our waste. We were cold when we returned to the boat, so Amy lit the wood stove. Well, laying crossways to the wind sent a strong draft down the stovepipe. No matter what we tried, the stove would not draw. We went up on deck with Stewie and wondered how we would transform "Phils' Smoke House" into a livable space again. Amy remembered she had a spray bottle filled with water to water her plants. This stopped the smoke but it wasn't till the tide turned that we had things under control again. No more fires with the wind across the deck!
Friday we sailed for Port Jefferson. The bright orange disc was just coming over the southeastern horizon. We got the early start to have a fair current through Plum Gut. As the saying goes "Time and tide wait for no man". Amy whipped up some great scones. She managed to finish baking them before we got into the chop of the Plum Gut rip. It was in the Gut that we saw a single hander with a 30-foot sailboat struggling to roll up his jib. We watched him for a half an hour struggle to get it rolled up. He obviously didn't have an autopilot because by the time he got to the bow the wind had backed the jib against the shrouds. As a matter of fact, he tried motoring this way for about 15 minutes. We would have tried to help him, but our dinghy was on deck. Launching it in that chop would have been our own nightmare. He finally came to his senses and lowered the jib to the deck. Needless to say, roller furling will have no place on our boat. We arrived in Port Jefferson around sunset. We tried to anchor just outside of the moorings, but for the first time on this trip the 65lb CQR wouldn't hold. Amy said the bottom looked like slimy oil. After the second try, we moved to deeper water and the anchor held. I'm not happy until I can make the anchor hold with the engine in full reverse. We called my parents and made arrangements to see them on Saturday. They live 15 miles from Port Jefferson.
Saturday morning we were greeted by "Andy" in his rowing dory. We didn't know him, but he saw our wooden mast from shore and decided to check it out. After inviting him aboard, we found out just how small the Wooden Boat World is. It turns out that he had worked on the schooner Roseway in Maine. He also worked for Steve Pagels. Steve and I go back to 1977, when he came to me looking to have a schooner built. I subsequently built two for him. It was good to see that someone took an interest in Iwalani. Up until now, people have pretty well ignored her. We had a good visit with my family. There wasn't all that much to catch up on, as they have been following our log. We did find out though, that when our logs were late, the worrying began. Technology can be unsettling sometimes. On our way back to the Iwalani that night we saw a traditional English cutter. We motored around and got invited aboard. John and Val were on there way south to the British Virgin Islands. It was exciting to talk to people who knew what deadeyes and lanyards were! We had a great "Gam" and look forward to seeing them again as we both work our way south.
Sunday our friend Roger and his son Ian came out to visit. Roger is a wooden boat "Nut". We became good friends while I was working at the Suffolk Marine Museum. He had helped pore the keel and put the side planking on Iwalani and hadn't seen her since. He was pretty excited to see the finished product. Later in the day we borrowed my fathers car so we could do laundry and shop for more food. The Laundromat was great. There were over 100 machines, three TVs and Wednesday night was singles night. Only in New York! We planned to meet my sister at the dock so she and my niece Crystal could see the boat. Little did they know that we timed their visit so they could help us carry our laundry and food to the boat. They were a great help. We are now returning to my parents for dinner. Tomorrow we will head south (up west) once again. PS
Log for the week ending October 22, 2000 by APW, Baltimore MD.
We are lying at anchor to the west of the Baltimore aquarium at the very end of the inner-most harbor; at the very heart of the city. There are three other boats at anchor near us, thousands more in slips and on docks surrounding us. We got this anchoring tip from our friends Poe and Larry (see archives: Sept 24) after we finally heard from them via cell phone. We are pretty close to catching up to them. This has been a week of big cities and bright lights!
Monday we left Port Jeff. NY and had a cold but great sail with following winds (NE) and tide, to Cold Spring Harbor NY. No mention was made in Reed's of this port as an anchorage... in fact we are beginning to think that the best places to anchor are carefully omitted from Reeds. We don't have any cruising guides of the east coast; just Reed's Almanac and our chart kits. It makes it a little more interesting having little clue what lies ahead! Cold Spring Harbor was pretty, and very quiet- very nice houses, in fact, much nicer than Newport. We were the only boat anchored along the eastern shore, in fact we were the only boat, period.
Tuesday we sailed as far as Manhasset Harbor, (Port Washington NY) This was an okay harbor, but not as great as Reed's talked it up. We went out for dinner at a place called Louie's, (fair). Phil wanted to top off the diesel tanks before we left, so I called in on the radio inquiring about water depth at the dock. "Plenny water" was the reply from the Mexican at the other end. Then I told him we drew seven feet. "Oh... " long pause, "then doe'n leave the channel". We motored into the dock with Phil calling out the depth every three seconds... "six feet", "five feet" and finally "four feet". This was as low as it went, we didn't run aground; it was good to know that that amount can be read off on the depth sounder, before we will run aground, which knock on wood, hasn't happened yet. We purposely located the depth sounder far forward and half way down the keel, so we will get plenty of advanced warning.
Wednesday arrived cold and rainy. This was the day of our big trip through New York city via the east River. I tried talking Phil into waiting a day, for improving weather, but he wouldn't have any of it... it was an "even" day, so I had no say, as the "oddball", but I still put my two cents in. I wanted the nice weather forecasted for Thursday, for picture taking and he wanted the weather for the offshore trip around the New Jersey coast. We started out in pouring rain and poor visibility. Maybe it was the gloomy Dickensonian weather, obscuring most of the sights, but the East River seemed totally fascinating to me. It seems like the most valuable, least utilized piece of property in the entire east coast. We went by mansions and Victorian era brick factories tumbled down and covered with thick weeds. Mostly abandoned because they were opposite Rikers island. "Couldn't you feel the bad vibes as we went by?" Phil asked me. It looked like they keep prisoners on rusted, broken down ferry hulks tied to the docks- another page out of Charles Dickens. Past Rikers Island, the city still ignores it's East River waterfront. We went by an abandoned amphitheter, that had outdoor seating and a fantastic building for the stage, totally barricaded off with vines and barbed wire. It had a front row view of the Statue of Liberty under the Brooklyn Bridge and the rest of Manhatten . Sure, all those touristy postcard sights, were impressive too. But the East River to me, is like a mangy old stray dog with lots of potential; it just needs a little love and attention; and perhaps a good cleaning.
We had talked about going up the Hudson River and tying up to the fire boat that Phil's friend Roger works on, but, Phil was anxious to continue on. I think it's because he's not a baseball fan and the "Subway" series frenzy was a bit much. So I took over the helm as we headed for Sandy Hook New Jersey. Ordinarily, the night before we head anywhere, one of us will plot out a course with all the latitudes and longitudes of the following days bouys, and plug this information into "David"; our nickname for the streets 4 program Phil picked up from David Delorme. Yes, we actually do navigate with a road Map!!! But what a road map! If we want, we can scan in a chart, but usually the "road map" program works fine. David is a GPS unit, that gives us a graphic picture of where we are, where we are heading in relation to the buoys that we have plotted in, our speed, time to finish, etc etc. The beauty of David, is that we can use him anywhere in the world and he only cost about sixty dollars. Unlike the more expensive nautical versions, we still have to use a chart to get the lat/lon of the buoys etc. The real David had tried to get the government to give him their nautical data for free, but they would have nothing to do with it, they were willing to sell it to him however, which is why the other programs are so expensive. Anyway, Tuesday night neither of us had bothered to feed David the buoy information, because we figured going through the city would be like driving down the highway. It was, actually, until we got to the other side and were heading out toward New Jersey. I was navigating the old fashioned way with dead reckoning; and Phil had "Herb Time", the period between 3:30 and 4:30 when all boats check in with the weather guru on the single side band. I watched in amazement as one tiny little sail boat crossed over the channel in front of a giant container ship-the other thing I lose sleep over. As we headed out I had to veer off to the right, down a narrow channel that was very well marked with plenty of buoys. Suddenly, a squall came from the New Jersey shore. We had seen it coming but attributed the rich gray hue to air pollution. Iwalani was awash in a torrential downpour. The radar became useless-a black mass of voided water, I couldn't even see one buoy in the channel, let alone where we had come from. I became fidgety and worried that maybe my calculations were wrong, and started checking and double checking the chart, checking the compass, looking at my watch. My behavior made Phil nervous- he finished with Herb and came up on deck. The rain let up a little bit, enough to see a green can, marking the left hand side of the channel and a ferry boat and sailboat on the other side of the can. "What are those boats doing over there?" he cried. I didn't know. The sailboat was the same one that had cut in front of the container ship and the ferry was a high speed ferry, which draws little water. By my figuring they were in about ten feet of water. After checking the number on the can, we figured out we were in the right place; but nonetheless, it was scary for me, because I still managed to get disoriented. David will be up and running all the time from now on with one quick glance at the computer, you know instantly where you are.
We got to Sandy Hook as it was getting dark. We anchored near the mouth of the harbor and looked around. The wind was still blowing and it was raining horizontally. We were both tired and hungry. It looked like Iwalani was sticking a bit far out into the harbor channel. Very few boats were actually anchored, most were moored. Just as we were debating this, a high speed ferry rounded the jetty and Phil decided to call on the radio to see if we were in the way. The ferry captain said "Yup" I hauled the anchor back up. We re-anchored a little ways down, but we were still in the channel. We finally anchored one more time, well away from the crazy high speed ferry drivers and right in the middle of the moorings. We must have looked like a bunch of crazed screaming buffoons.
The next day the wind was blowing (supposedly) thirty five knots from the NW. I took one look out the hatch and told Phil; it was time to leave. I couldn't imagine a better wind for getting around this dreaded New Jersey coast, I had heard so much about. (Remember, if I didn't throw up on this particular passage, the trip around the world was still on.) The faster we went, the less time it would take, the less chance I'd have to get sick!
We motored past the "Jerk" rakers, in order to get around the point at Sandy Hook. These are New York's version of clammers. Phil did it growing up and I have tried it. It is very hard work These guys were doing this in twenty feet of water. A long pole attached to a basket with sharp rake fingers, is held over the side of the boat and down to the sand below. You pull the rake toward you with a "Jerk",(hence the name) once you feel a clam hit the rake fingers, you dig deeper to get the clam into the basket. It's a little like raking rocks out of your yard from the second story window. They don't get enough money for those clams.
We had put in the third and second reef points in the mainsail before getting under way, but after rounding the point, took them all out. Finally Iwalani started to pass boats. We were going 8 knots, her best speed yet. It was fun and no, I didn't get sick! In fact I haven't since George's bank...
We had to do watch on watch, just like we did out of Maine. I took the watch from 8pm. to midnight. Half way in between New York City and Atlantic City I observed an interesting phenomenon, there was twice as much light pollution over Atlantic City as over the entire New York city area. This seemed really strange to me. Then I started to see things. Off our starboard bow I could swear I was seeing a lit billboard with red lettering. It didn't show up on radar and despite our progress through the water, never seemed to get closer. Finally I figured out what it was... Atlantic City itself. The whole place is totally lit up. The buildings look like they are opaque crystal with red glass tops. In one night, they must use enough electricity to supply northern New England for a year. What a fantastic waste of energy. How does anyone sleep?-that's the point was Phil's reply.
The following day we had a couple more hitchhikers-two golden crowned kinglets, again, very tired and very tame! Two mourning doves tried to land but couldn't get the hang of it.
Friday morning we arrived at the Delaware River and decided to head up there and down through the Chesapeake. The winds had dropped off, but was supposed to come round to the SW, which would have meant we would be motoring around Cape Henlopen. The Delaware River seemed kind of blah. There aren't any good anchorages for a seven foot draft sailboat so we just pulled off the highway and anchored in the breakdown lane, so to speak, near shore. It was pretty bouncy.
It was a slow trip to the Chesapeake/Delaware Canal. On the way up, we passed a dredging boat that Phil had toured when it was at the Maine Maritime Museum dredging the Kennebec River. He had a good radio chat with the captain. The ship, "Macfarland" is interesting in that it is hollow in the middle- shaped like a rectangular donut, so that a crane and gantry, can scoop out the channel from the inside.
We arrived at the C & D canal later than we wanted, going against the current the whole way. The trip wasn't half bad, lots of weekend yahoos, but luckily no commercial shipping traffic. Phil and I sat in the bow reading cheesy novels and steering Iwalani with the remote control. People passed us wondering who the heck was steering the boat!
We exited the canal near sunset and decided to pull off in the one spot that had "deep" water-11 feet. It was a actually very quiet, but we had a strange view of a mobile home park that was so dense it looked like a single building.
The upper part of the Chesapeake is okay, I guess; some nice farms, but we get spoiled with the views in Maine. I'm also not crazy about cruising in such shallow water. I also miss the wildlife that usually accompanies us, seals, dolphins, porpoises- it seems you are never alone in Maine waters. Here there are lots of people, not really very friendly, (so far)..and spiders. Yesterday Phil was complaining about all the spider webs in the rigging of Iwalani. I thought he was exaggerating. Yesterday, I brought the boat down to Baltimore while he caught up with Tom Clancy and some sleep. I was looking up at crows nest, maybe, it was the way the sunlight was shining, but he wasn't kidding... Iwalani looks like she is decked out for a Halloween thriller. Cobwebs! I guess so. Where did these spiders come from? Interestingly enough I found the answer going up the river to Baltimore. Spiders were floating by on little fluff ball rafts, each raft had a huge plume of web strand, shooting straight up, at least twenty feet like a kite. These plumes were getting caught on anything that passed and provided the boat access for the little spider raft.
Tomorrow we will go to the Baltimore aquarium and try to find an internet cafe'. APW