I should be keel hauled for sailing Myananda 2,000 miles or so from South Amboy, New Jersey to the British Virgin Islands and then on to St. Barth and St. Martin without adding a single post to this blog. I don't have much of an excuse except to say I was a bit busy and preoccupied with the logistics of getting her back to the Caribbean. Last July or so, it was becoming apparent she would spend a third winter in New Jersey if I didn't get her in the water and head south. It was a good decision to splash, because Hurricane Sandy ripped through New York and New Jersey just three weeks or so after I got the hell out of there. Lockwood Boat Works, the yard where I left Myananda, was hit hard by Sandy. I learned that water was up to the second floor in their welding shop and that boats in low lying areas sustained heavy damage. Luckily, I road Sandy out on the boat moored on a dock along Back Creek at Bert Jabins Yacht Yard in Annapolis.
Red Fehrle, Sue Humphrey, and Dennis Ryerson helped me move Myananda from South Amboy to Annapolis. We left Raritan Bay south of New York and sailed south along the New Jersey coast to Delaware Bay. We opted to sail up the bay on a favorable tide and take the Delaware-Chesapeake Canal to the upper Chesapeake Bay. The trip took us roughly two days, and we had a blast. We transited the canal at night, which was an amazing experience. I think we motored under three or four bridges, each of which appeared to be too low for us to get under, but we made it. The optics of that, especially at night, are just crazy.
We arrived in Annapolis in time for the 2012 Sailboat Show. I had arranged a slip for the month of October at Jabin's, and that's where we kept Myanada during the sailboat show. (more to come)
10/09/2012, Annapolis, Maryland
After sitting two long years on the hard, I suspect Myananda felt forgotten and neglected. No longer! We launched her at Lockwood Boat Works in South Amboy, New Jersey the last week of September in preparation for her return voyage to the Caribbean this winter. After dealing with some typical too-long-out-of-water stuff, Myananda cleared two draw bridges to enter Raritan Bay 17 miles south of Brooklyn, NY. She showed some reluctance by resisting our efforts to deploy the in-mast furling, but after a trip up the mast in a boson's chair to sort that out, she relented, and away we went departing for Annapolis finally at around 10:00 a.m. Dennis Ryerson, Red Fehrle, and Suzan Humphrey accompanied me on the two day voyage. We took a route up Delaware Bay and through the Delaware Chesapeake Canal that was terrific and interesting. We transited the canal at night ghosting under bridges that seemed in the darkness too low to get beneath, but all went well. We dropped anchor in the upper Chesapeake to catch some rest before proceeding to Jabin's Marina in Annapolis. It was a great trip with a great crew. I returned to Indianapolis after spending several days at the Annapolis Sailboat Show and working on boat projects during our spare time. In just three short weeks, Kate and I will return to Myananda to pre her for sailing in this year's Caribbean 1500. Crew and preparations are coming together nicely. Here's one photo I took from the bow of Myanada showing a misting morning breaking on the upper Chesapeake. Moments like this are why we sail!
12/04/2011, Indianapolis, Indiana
No sailor should have to go this long between outings. I never expected when I put Myananda on the hard in June 2010 at Lockwood Boat Works in South Amboy, New Jersey that she would still be resting in jack stands November 2011. Despite the lousy economy and depressed real estate market, our business conspired to keep us too busy to splash Myananda. There's few things worse on a boat than lack of use, so I headed to South Amboy in October to check on her and tend to a few things to keep her happier through another forlorn winter aground.
I was fortunate to have a good helper along, Aaron Williams, who spent his week long break from law school helping prep Myananda for better times. We quickly fell into the typical boat maintenance rhythm, putting grinders, sanders, and polishing equipment and supplies to use. Our main focus was removing months of bird crap from the topsides and prepping the bottom for a fresh coat of anti-fouling paint. Even though the boat was covered with a winter canvas, birds found openings and left quite a mess to clean up. It took literally days for us to get the bottom in proper shape for new paint. I decided to remove all the barnacle build-up so I could and polish the brass fittings for a fresh coat of primer and paint.
And then there was the electrical system. The batteries were pretty much shot, so we took things apart in preparation for installing a new set of Gel Cells before we set sail again. All in all, the boat was in surprisingly good shape for having been left high and dry for so long. We got a good coat of Micron paint on the bottom, and left her clean and buttoned up well for the winter.
I watched with dismay as the Caribbean 1500 left Virginia this Fall without me, but I took solace in knowing we'll splash the boat for sure next Spring and explore the northeast coast before taking her south again next year.
11/22/2010, Indianapolis, Indiana
[Photo above was taken in August when I traveled to Ontario with three friends (including Tom Spencer who starred with a broken rib in one of our 2009 Caribbean 1500 posts! The fishing was awesome!)
Well, I'd much prefer to be writing this from the hammock slung between Myananda's forestay and mast, but alas, I'm no where near that configuration. Instead, I'm at my desk, in my office in Indianapolis dreading the list of things I need to get done today. No, I won't be installing a new impeller or re-bedding my chain plates. I'll be calling clients for price reductions and talking with them about why their home hasn't sold yet.
Last year about this time, we were bobbing happily in an idyllic cove somewhere in the BVI's having just arrived with the Caribbean 1500. This year, we had to participate vicariously by watching our friends boat icons progress toward the islands on some Google Earth rendition of a sea map. Oh well.
Myananda is presently winterized and on the hard in New Jersey. Kate and I spent three solid days removing our kit from the boat, cleaning heads, disconnecting and blowing out pumps, and pumping 25 gallons of the pink stuff through all of our water lines. It was a huge project, and one that I would not have gotten finished without some able assistance from a very capable Lockwood Boat Yard worker.
So no sailing entries from this author for a few months. Plan is to splash Myananda next April or May and do some sailing in the Newport, RI and Maine areas, perhaps pushing our way up Long Island Sound. In the meantime, we wish everyone the best for a happy holiday season and a prosperous new year!
05/16/2010, Lockwood Boat Works, South Amboy, NJ
[The above photo shows Myananda stuck in the mud of Cheesequake Creek near Lockwood Boat Works 17 nautical miles south of Brooklyn.]
[New Gallery Post - Myananda's In New Jersey! - 5/16/10)
It's 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning, and I just finished coffee and breakfast aboard Myananda. I am alone on the boat, and all is quiet. Myananda and I are moored safely at the Lockwood Boat Works marina just up Cheesequake Creek off Raritan Bay 17 nautical miles from Brooklyn, NY. This is NOT where I planned to be, but this is where winds and circumstances lead me (more about that later). The folks here are friendly, and this will be Myanada's new home for the next month or two.
I arrived here Friday around 1:30 p.m. after dropping Norm off at the Mansion Marina in Great Kills Bay. Norm's mother developed a life threatening blood clot, and we diverted to New York from our planned Newport, Rhode Island destination so he could disembark and get to the hospital soon as possible. This diversion to NY likely would have been made regardless, because our sail to Newport had been made very difficult by uncooperative winds.
Lockwood Boatworks has been in operation for over 75 years. It's a family run business with over 12 brothers and sister running the place. It's built up a creek on land that was previously a swamp. They have to dredge the channel to maintain access to the marina, and you have to go under two drawbridges (one highway, and one railroad) to get to the place. And if you draw six feet like we do, you need to do this during high tide.
Well we missed the 11:00 a.m. draw bridge opening, so we had to hang out in Raritan Bay until the noon opening and make a run for it up the creek. I didn't think we were going to make it to even the first draw bridge,as I watched the depth meter drop to 5.9'. I know I plowed a furrow across the muddy creek bottom getting up to the bridge, but at least the channel depth climbed back up to 12' or so. After scooting under the highway draw bridge, we had to radio in a request for the railroad to open it's drawbridge, which looked like a relic of 18th Century engineering. The distance between the highway bridge and the railroad bridge is only a couple hundred yards, and the railroad guys were taking their sweet time about opening the bridge for me, so I found myself playing an interesting game of trying to hold Myananda in place against the creek waters running an outbound tide and headwinds wanting Myananda to turn around and head back to Raritan Bay. This went on for a half hour until the railroad guys finally raised the damned bridge, and I scooted on up the creek.
Mary Ann at Lockwood emailed me instructions for getting to their marina, and I had one hand on Myananda's helm and the other on my trusty iPhone, which had the emailed instructions on display. Mary Ann warned me that I might make it to their facility if I hit the bridge openings during mid tide, but my luck was about to run out. As I made the last turn off Cheesequake Creek toward the Lockwood Yard, my depth meter dropped to 6.0', then 5.9', then 5.6', and with what seemed like a sigh of relief, Myananda came gently to a stop with her keel buried in the soft New Jersey mud. What an ignominious ending to two long weeks of open ocean sailing. I'd run aground!
So there I sat with Red and Suzan, staring at a finger dock about eight feet off our starboard rail. Red and Suzan had volunteered to hang with me after Norm left to help me get Myananda to Lockwood. Now they were tantalizingly close to a dock that would lead them to a cab and then an airport and then to home. So we tossed over a dock line over a dock cleat and horsed Myananda close enough for Red to jump off and secure a couple mooring lines. There were mostly for appearance, because we were as stuck in the mud as a hair in a biscuit. At least we were on terra firma again.
After helping me secure Myananda to the finger docks and tidy things up around the boat, Red and Suzan disembarked with their gear and headed home. These guys were were absolutely delightful company during our voyage, and I already miss their company. This was their second time sailing aboard Myananda. They helped me deliver Myananda from Annapolis to Hampton, Virginia last fall as we prepared to depart with the Caribbean 1500 fleet. That was a short overnight sail, but I sensed then they would make excellent sailing companions, so I invited them to fly to St. Maarten and sail Myanada back with me to the states.
We'd departed St. Maarten Saturday, May 1st at approximately 10:30 a.m. We arrived in New Jersey exactly two weeks later following the traditional and popular 65th longitude north to Bermuda. That portion of the sail was largely uneventful. We had wonderfully easterlies for much of the time; however they died out half way to Bermuda, and we found ourselves motoring for three days through a classic Bermuda high that would have becalmed us save our iron jenny.
The sail from Bermuda to Newport was another matter altogether, but I'll save a full description for another time, as I've too much to do today to write much longer. So for the moment, let's leave it that the winds and weather were very, very uncooperative, seemingly always on our nose and shifting back and forth from NW to NE as the lows and highs crossed over the north Atlantic. We zig zagged our way on what looked like a drunken sailor's course from Bermuda toward New England. For a while we decided to head for the Blue Water Yachting Center at Hampton, Virginia near the mouth of the Chesapeake. As that became untenable, we considered Delaware Bay, further up the coast, but there's really not much there, so we pointed toward Newport. At one point we were dodging squalls and found ourselves surfing quartering seas running 10' to 15' with winds gusting up to 50 knots. We sailed with a double reef in our Yankee. That was it. At least this was during daylight. At times our SOG (speed over ground) hit close to 10 knots! Talk about frisky sailing!
Anyway, I think everyone was ready to pack it in when we finally reached New York. It would have taken probably another half day to get to Newport, so all in all, everyone was happy to make landfall at Great Kills Harbor near NYC.
I have a thousand things to do to prepare Myanada for her haul out tomorrow. She's in desperate need of bottom job. I don't know exactly when her bottom was painted last, but we had it cleaned several times down island, and the old paint has lost it's ability to prevent the growth of barnacles and that nasty, furry stuff that looks like a slimy green fur coat. She'll be happy to be out of the water getting spiffed and prepped for her next adventure. There are several maintenance and repair items that need attention, so I'm focusing on getting her cleaned up and dried out before I head back to Indy to my wife, my dog, and my (gulp?) business.
I'll find time to upload more photos as well as descriptions of some of the more exciting and interesting moments of our voyage. I did manage to shoot some video as we sailed through that 50 knot squall and its high seas, so stay tuned!
05/08/2010, Hamilton, Bermuda
[Above photo shows Mikalka moored in New York City. Kurt helped sail this boat back to the states April 15-26th.]
[New Gallery Post - Sailing from Tortola to New York - 5/8/10)
I find myself floating above an endless expanse of a sparkling blue ocean feeling ridiculously happy, wallowing in a moment of euphoric delirium. Cotton ball clouds shift shapes as they dance lazily by, first a dog, then Mickey Mouse, a pig's face, a stone head on Easter Island. Damn life is good.
I had no idea sobriety and euphoria could park their respective asses so tightly and inseparably in the same seat. At the moment, that seat is C23 aboard Jet Blue flight 787 some 35,423 feet above the Atlantic. My body is en route to St. Maarten at 534 mph, but my mind has warped backward in time and moving much slower, something like 6.5 knots.
Time bends in strange ways when you're on watch. Life goes by mostly in slow motion. Less than 48 hours ago I was floating ON the Atlantic, not above it, when my ass was rousted suddenly out of a sleepy, underway, off-watch reverie by Norm's booming command, "We've got to get off this ocean. A gale's coming with 70 knot winds. Grab the ditch bag, throw in the EPIRB, and grab hand held VHF. Hurry, this is NOT a drill."
From zero to sixty in .5 seconds. That's what the adrenaline junkie in me loves about sailing. But incredibly, as reality threatens to pummel our boat with an angry storm, my mind grows oddly quiet. Panic is the enemy...stay calm...assess...then react.
The time between assess and react grows shorter with experience, and with enough experience, it becomes instinctive. Norm is experienced and knows we gotta reduce sail quickly. We're a hundred plus miles off the east coast, just north of Cape Hatteras, and our Raymarine digital radar and Sirius weather overlay shows a wicked bright red storm blob bearing down on us. He directs me to drop the main, so I grab a handful of sail ties and haul ass on deck. In short order, I have the main securely to the boom and am back in the cockpit. Our winds are only 15 knots at present, so we sit, clipped in and huddled in the cockpit awaiting the forecasted ass kicking. It just doesn't get any better than this!
Actually this part of my sailing saga began April 15th, a few days after Kate left St. Maarten leaving me to ready Myananda for her trip back to the states. We decided to extend our sailing season closer to home, and bringing her back to the east coast seemed to make sense. In a moment of inspired insanity I proposed to Norm Harlow that I help him sail his Valiant 42 back to New York, and he then help me sail Myananda back to Newport, Rhode Island. Well Norm is crazier about sailing than I am, so he agrees to this plan. That's how I found myself somewhere northeast off Cape Hatteras with a storm headed my way, but hell, I'm in a Valiant 42, Bob Perry's famous design that has more short handed circumnavigation miles under her than any other boat.
Norm and I are sailing with Kimberly Devon, a free-spirited, 46 year old sailing aficionado who lives on St. Maarten. Norm found Kim on a crew finder site. Apparently she was looking for a break in her work and personal life ashore, and she'd done this trip a couple times before. Kim turned out to be an affable, easy going crew mate who showed no fear in the face of high winds or stout seas. She does not however like lightning. Seems she'd had a close encounter or two before, so she's huddled with us in the cockpit, head down, hoping like hell that Norm's description of the "cone of protection" isn't just some skipper's crew comforting crock.
Before leaving Tortolla, Norm and I reviewed GRIB weather files and a forecast from Commader's Weather. Many people head north this time of year to Bermuda and then turn west or northwest toward the states, but the GRIB's suggested this route would involve beating with winds dead on the nose and then sailing through a large, nasty looking low pressure system that would catch us south of Bermuda. No fun.
We opted instead for a northwestward rhumb line in hopes we could skirt most of the bad weather and take advantage of wind directions that for the first few days would allow us to reach northwestward. The plan more or less worked, and for the first couple days we sailed briskly into 5-7' seas that churned us around with sickening cross swells. Putting up with moderate pitch and yaw is better taking a hobby horse pounding while motor sailing close hauled. So we fell into a rhythm, and clawed our way toward New York making something like 160 miles the first day. Not bad.
The trip to New York took about 10 and a half days. We managed to thread the needle and avoid most of the really bad weather that was pounding the east coast. The highest wind gusts I saw on my watch was 48 knots. I think Norm saw stuff in the 50's once, so we got plenty of exercise reefing the main down to it's second or third reef points. The Valiant lived up to it's reputation as a sturdy, blue water boat, and never once did I experience any real fear or apprehension that we had no business sailing along, hundreds of miles offshore as the Coast Guard issued one small craft weather advisory after another.
One of the highlights of our trip was gorging ourselves on pounds of sashimi from a beautiful yellow fin tuna I caught on day seven. I wasn't finished cleaning the fish before Kim had the rice boiling. We had plenty of wasabi and low sodium soy aboard, so talk about an awesome feast! It was more spectacular the second day after it was chilled. We finally fulfilled a long time fantasy of Norm's - catching and eating a tuna during a passage.
We arrived in New York City early Monday morning, April 26th. The weather had turned cold, wet and dreary, but motoring under the Verrazano Bridge and past the Statue of Liberty then along Manhattan was pretty special. We docked at the 79th Street Basin Marina and headed out to a fantastic Greek restaruant for dinner, finally crashing into our bunks about 11:30 p.m.
I've said a thousand times, you can sleep when you're dead, so I was up at 6:00 a.m. and with my gear slung on my back, I marched into an awakening city to catch a ride to JFK Airport. I opted to take the subway, and with the help of four or five friendly New Yorkers, I found my way to JFK airport. Total cost of the two hour transit was $4.50! Amazing. At the airport I bought a smoothie that cost me $6.50. And as Jen in my office said, the sail up the Atlantic to New York was - priceless.
And thus began my trip back to St. Maarten where Myananda rested well in her slip, awaiting my return and the assembly of a new crew for her sail back to the states. More to come...