16/07/2008/3:25 pm, Boston, MA
They were fine days to be on the water - but they would have been finer if we could have sailed!
After leaving Newport about 10:45 on Tuesday, we motored along through Buzzards Bay right to the western end of the Cape Cod Canal. We had talked about various places to stop for the night and opted for easy. There is a narrow little tongue of deep water just inside the pilings on the east side of the channel south of Taylor Point and we edged in there for the night. Lots of mooring balls and fishing buoys littered the area, but only one other little fishing boat was in the deep water. It is one of those places that we'd think twice about without a chartplotter, but it was easy to do, our depth sounder never got worried at all even with a tidal swing on 90 feet of chain, and it made for a quick getaway in the morning.
I had some Italian sausage to sauté with onions and peppers and tomatoes and olives (those last were add-ons for me) but no pasta or potatoes, so I served them over cheesy grits, and it worked well - a new experiment in fusion cuisine. Lunches this week have been salads, and breakfasts are fruit and yogurt - Jim and I are trying to drop some of the excess pounds we picked up - and keeping away from bacon and eggs, and bread and rum sure helps!
A 6:45 departure allowed us to make use of the eastern setting flood tide through the Cape Cod Canal and were in and out of there in less than an hour. We saw 10 knots at the start, and kept going at 8.5 to 9 knots most of the way. Once into the ocean, we motored along in some low-lying fog at first, but it lifted as we continued and it was never heavy enough to turn on the radar. Once again, there was very little wind. We contemplated digging out the DRS sail but there wasn't even enough of a breeze to make it worthwhile, and the swells on the starboard side probably wouldn't have helped it any.
So... we played a couple of games of Scrabble - I trounced Jim on the first one, and he returned the favour on the next one. We have a little travel version with tiles that snap into the board and we've discovered that if we both perch on the back rail and put the board on the seat behind the wheel, we can keep an eye on the water and play as we travel. There were occasional interruptions to alter course to avoid lobster buoys but it worked well and kept boredom at bay.
We missed out on Nantucket and Cape Cod sailing yet again (we said last fall that we'd explore this area on the way home) so we'll just have to come back. While we don't regret any of the stops we made farther south, we have to make up for it now.
After the last of our long days for a while, we headed into Nantasket Roads, through the Narrows - a winding passage that links up with President Roads and into Boston's Inner Harbour. Navigating Boston Harbour seems much more complicated than New York. There are far more channels and marked routes, making it confusing unless you have the waypoints entered on the chart plotter; we had them. Planes flying low overhead to and from Logan Airport, fast ferries and tour boats come and go in all directions, and all eyes available are needed to keep a watch. It was a satisfying feeling to navigate through it all and arrive at the Boston Harbour Sailing Club just off the Aquarium in downtown Boston.
We stayed here last fall, and when we called to reserve a spot, we were lucky enough to get a mooring ball again. Because I was staying on the boat while Jim went to Ottawa, we didn't want to be anchored, and didn't want to pay the big price of a dock. Unfortunately there have been some changes here. The Club no longer has an arrangement with Rowes Wharf for showers and laundry facilities, so while the price has increased from $40 to $45, there are fewer services. We didn't find out about that part till we got here, and I'm not thrilled about it. However... we made do in the south without showers and I can do it again. I may have to tear apart Madcap's shower drain and try to fix it myself if I get desperate.
Jim and I went ashore for a pub dinner - 1-¼ lb lobsters for 12.99 - and took in a free outdoor concert. What a hoot! It was an evening of oldies; Shirley Austin Reeves - an original from the Shirelles with her group of new Shirelles, and Charlie Thomas from the Drifters with a mix of old and young back ups singers performed that night. She is 67 and he is 72 and they both still have their voices and great stage presence. Charlie said at one point that the young folk have to pull their pants up and start performing. "We need a new Elvis Presley and a new president!" Interesting combination! I bet he'd have been a neat person to get going in a conversation, but he restrained himself to a few curious asides and kept on singing.
Besides the music, a highlight of the evening was watching the seniors in the audience. School buses lined the street outside, and dozens of seniors filled the seats. Several got up to dance - and could they move!! We watched one lady who had to be in her eighties really dance up a storm. These folks who learned to dance when they were young still have it. Later in the evening, we stopped in front of Rowes wharf to watch another group of young folks dancing to the music of the orchestra on the Blues Barge. They knew how to dance too. Most were dressed up and they knew all the steps to those dances that involve more than just moving independently to the music.
It was a fine ending to the day. Jim heads off to Ottawa on Friday (after spending Thursday getting ready) and I'll amuse myself here.
As an update on the checking-in process, Jim has been dutifully calling a number from his list each time we move to a new jurisdiction. When he called the Newport number, though, he got a surprise - it was Newport, Oregon! The officer said this was the fourth call of the same nature this summer. (Such an efficient system these Border Protection people have.) After a call to another number he was directed to a Houlton, Maine office. We hoped that one call would do us all the way to the border, but no such luck. The number remains the same, but the calls must be made from each state. It's not a problem - just a quick call, our location given and a reply that we are updated. No answer yet to WHY we need to do this - we'll spend more time on that question when we get back home.
15/07/2008/3:20 pm, Newport, Rhode Island
Because we made such good time coming into Long Island Sound, and because it felt so very good to be roaring along under sail, we changed our minds about destinations.
We had planned to stop in Port Washington in Manhasset Bay where we stayed last fall, but opted to try a new area instead. We pulled into Hempstead Harbor - the next one along - and anchored just behind the breakwater. There are lots of moorings, but lots of room for anchoring too, and it was just a quick duck in from the Sound for those of us in a hurry.
Jim took the jerry cans to Glen Cove for diesel and paid the most yet - $5.70 per US gallon! Yikes. I made a Thai chicken stirfry in a hot peanut-garlic sauce with rice and salad for dinner and we had a pleasant evening listening to the music drifting out from shore and watching the boats come back from their day of sailing. There are some very fine sailors here and it was a treat to watch them sail among the moorings, turn into the wind and drop their sails just as neat as you please in just the right spot. By coming here we missed out on dominoes with Susan and Mike (Tabbycat) back in Port Washington but it worked better for our course planning. They are making their way to Maine too so I hope we'll have another chance. I never did learn how to play dominoes and want to fill that gap. (I never learned bridge either, but haven't had a hankering to change that one!)
Sunday (July 13) was a gorgeous sailing day and in hindsight I wish we'd made it last longer. We went only as far as Port Jefferson, because we wanted to make the crossing to the other shore the day afterward. As it turned out, Monday was a verrry long motoring day, and we'd have done better to strike out in that direction on Sunday. Oh well, hindsight is hindsight.
We anchored in pretty much the same spot as last year - just ahead of the barge mooring - and to the port as we came in the entrance channel. The wind was blowing at 15 knots till well into the evening, but we had very little bounce. Because it was Sunday, there was a huge amount of peasurecraft traffic in and out as well as the ferries. Lots to observe. In contrast to our encounters of the barge kind last fall, the night was quiet. Barges and tugs moved to and from the mooring in the evening, and some barges that were tied up there when we went to bed were gone in the morning, but we heard no voices and saw no lights. I saw the mute swans go by early in the morning, but they didn't come close to Madcap. Last year, I got some great photos of them.
5 o'clock on Monday morning saw us lifting anchor and motoring out of the harbour. We wanted to make use of the ebb tide at "the Race" to increase our speed on what we expected would be a long day. It was interesting to see that we were not alone - 2 other sailboats and a trawler left at about the same time. Unfortunately the wind we had expected didn't materialize and we had to motor the whole day. The current helped to carry us along at about 7 knots for a good way, but so much for being fuel efficient on that very expensive diesel!
The Race is an intriguing spot. It is a narrow chasm near Fisher's Island that looks like nothing much on the surface, but contains rapidly moving water and can be a tricky spot. We got there just after peak ebb current and went through at 8.5 knots. What little wind there was, was behind us so we had no waves to speak of, just some mild swells coming in from the ocean, but by hand steering, we could sure feel the eddies and swirls of water in the chasm. The book says that coming the other way on a flood tide can be quite an experience as the water rushes in, crashes against the shoal and surges upward. Last fall, we sailed inside Fisher's Island, bypassing the Race so it was nice to experience it this time.
We had wondered if we might make Newport in one day and sure enough we did. The current helped even if the wind didn't, and after motoring the whole way, we pulled into Newport Harbour and dropped anchor off the Ida Lewis Yacht Club at about 7:15. It seemed like a real waste of the beautiful sailing waters of Long Island Sound, and we'll do it more justice next time. Schedules! Schedules! We wanted to be in Boston in time for Jim to fly to Ottawa on Friday.
This is such a great yachting destination. The houses along the shoreline are spectacular; the sail and motor vessels range from ordinary to extraordinary - some of the most beautiful boats I've ever seen. There are marinas galore, and mooring balls and there is still ample room for anchoring within a reasonable dinghy distance to shore. Two good dinghy docks are along the waterfront, and once ashore the opportunities for exploration, dining, drinking and shopping are huge.
These kids in the sailing school had to dog paddle before they could sail!
One of our favourite nautical bookstores is The Armchair Sailor on Thames St and that's where we headed first thing Tuesday morning. Jim had found a log book there last year that became his preferred one, and he couldn't ever find the same kind anywhere else. This time he bought two! We picked up some charts for the crossing to Nova Scotia and browsed among the hundreds of beautiful books. We were able to restock our Barrett's ginger beer supply at the nearby liquor store. I haven't figured out why they have it and not the grocery store since it's non- alcoholic, but since it is one of our most consumed beverages - with and without rum - it was nice to find.
Unfortunately (because of that darned schedule) we had to resist a walk through the rest of the town and head back to the boat in order to head for the Cape Cod Canal. Jim was dragging at my arm by the time we got to the dinghy dock!
Mary (Strathspey) had alerted us that the Banburys (We Be Free) were in the area for a Nonsuch Rendezvous, and several Nonsuches were headed out at the same time as Madcap; we didn't see them though and despite several calls on VHF, didn't hear from them either. We must have missed each other. Too bad - it is always fun to encounter folks from "home".
13/07/2008/3:15 pm, New Y ork City
Hooey! What a thrill! New York is easily navigable, but you do have to have your wits about you.
As we left Atlantic Highlands on July 7, it was hazy with about 1 ½ miles of visibility, and then to complicate matters a bit, our GPS cut out. Those red and green visual markers are very handy things, as are paper charts, so we made our way under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and along the channel almost to the Statue of Liberty in the old way - pre electronics.
We never did find out why the GPS fix disappeared - military playing games? - but with our charts and three sets of eyes, we had no difficulty - even with the multitude of ships crisscrossing this harbour. It was a thrill for me to be at the helm both coming in and leaving the city this time. Last time, Jim had the wheel while I took pictures and acted as spotter. This time we traded roles - and oh it felt just grand to steer our little vessel through the harbour.
Timing is everything in New York and the tides were with us and we traveled with the flooding current through the Narrows and up the Hudson River to the W 79th St Boat Basin. Once again, they had room for us - perhaps it helped to arrive early on a Monday afternoon, and this time we were lucky enough to snag a mooring very close to the dock. Last time we were far up the river - a very long dinghy ride when the current was against us.
We oohed and ahed at the Lady standing so high on her island, at the skyscrapers lining the Hudson River, at the man-made waterfalls we could see in the Harbour - a current art installation.
When we left on July 12, we timed our departure with the tide again. We hoisted our mainsail, rode the tail end of the ebb tide down the Hudson and, in company with 10 other sailboats, rode the current (making about 9 knots) up the East River, through Hell Gate and out into Long Island Sound - no sweat at all. We laughed when we remembered how much planning and anxiety had gone into the trip down the river in the fall. We met a couple of big boats but there was always room, and this time we could use the east channel by Roosevelt Island, eliminating any need to stop for a bridge.
Once again, it was a thrill to be at the wheel. Thank goodness the other captain on this boat is a believer in sharing the joys! (Did you notice the haircut??)