People of the Salt Water

25 June 2017 | Oswego
11 June 2017 | Waterford, NY
24 May 2017 | Port Washington, Long Island Sound, New York
11 May 2017 | Port Washington, Long Island Sound
28 April 2017 | Annapolis
23 April 2017 | Washington DC
13 April 2017 | Washington DC
20 March 2017 | Deltaville, Virginia, US
13 March 2017 | New Zealand
01 March 2017 | New Zealand
01 March 2017 | New Zealand
22 February 2017 | Sydney, Australia
12 February 2017 | Australia
23 August 2016 | Virginia, USA
26 July 2016 | Deltaville, Chesapeake Bay, Virginia USA
13 July 2016 | Norfolk, Virginia
13 June 2016 | Charleston S. Carolina
22 May 2016 | Vero Beach, Florida
06 May 2016 | Varadero, Cuba

A Trip on the NY Canals

25 June 2017 | Oswego
Belinda and Kit
Picture shows a beautiful spot on the Erie Canal

See more pics on Google Photos; https://goo.gl/photos/ao1uQGpm2UcgyYQx5

After a few dry days the water levels had subsided sufficiently for the canals to reopen but just to be sure we gave it another day or so before heading into the first flight of locks. The first one on the Erie Canal (perversely numbered Lock 2) is a 'biggie' with a 34 foot rise. We were quite apprehensive but managed OK and once through the first 5 and into the Mohawk River we felt like old hands.

We left Waterford with another yacht, 'Espirit'. The skipper, Pete, was single-handed and we were very impressed that he could manage alone as the Canal locks, especially the rising ones on the river sections, are actually quite hard work. Most are next to a dam with rushing water that sets up a lot of turbulence as we approach, then we have to go in and hold on to pipes, cables or sometimes just ropes hanging down the lock sides.

It can be difficult to control the boat and stop it swinging when the water rushes in. The deepest lock had a rise of 40 feet and didn't have opening gates but an overhead gate that dropped down - it felt like going into a dark tomb! (See google pics) We stood on the boat at the bottom hanging onto just a rope each as the lock filled.

The locks are perhaps more difficult for yachts than motor boats because we have the mast overhanging both ends! We tried to alleviate the problem with a wooden plank tied across the boat close to the bows to keep the masthead fended off but it snapped in the second lock! However we only had one casualty - the VHF antennae which hit the lock wall and got twisted at the top of the mast. Luckily Kit has another and was planning to replace it anyway!

New York Canals are in their centennial year and as part of the celebrations are waiving all transit fees for 12 months. We travelled 184 statute miles on the system from Waterford to Oswego, partly on canals and part rivers. There are numerous docks along the route where we can tie up overnight for free, so our passage through cost us very little.

We travelled with Espirit for a few days but Pete was in a hurry and had further to go than us as he was bound for Buffalo on Lake Erie. Our route saw us leaving the Erie and entering the Oswego Canal to get to Lake Ontario.

We rose up to 420 feet above sea level, however once we got to that level and began to go down in the locks to the level of Lake Ontario (245' above sea level) things were much easier!

Overall the canals were very interesting and we enjoyed seeing wildlife as we motored along; Bald Eagles, Osprey, beaver, ground hog, deer, snapping turtles and numerous small birds. It was also good to visit some inland places and many pretty canalside towns where people were very helpful and made us feel welcome.

Even so it was a good feeling to pass through the final lock and arrive at Oswego on the shore of Lake Ontario. It's a nice town with lots of individual shops on the high street - something we haven't often found in the US!

Re-stepping the mast went really well despite our misgivings about the slim-looking gin pole they use in Oswego - again the guys know exactly what to do and are very professional. Now, we're looking forward to raising the sails and heading out onto Lake Ontario.

Too much water under the bridge!

11 June 2017 | Waterford, NY
Belinda and Kit
Picture shows Quilcene on the dock at Waterford with the river in full flood

More pics at;
https://goo.gl/photos/bRvwJCo1RFqtUb9Z8

Eventually we sorted out the liferaft problem and were on our way again. Passing through New York as we left was much less hectic, mostly because we left Port Washington at 0345 to transit Hell Gate on the East River at (almost) slack water. Also at this hour there was very little traffic on the water.

We spotted Concorde on display at a NY waterside aviation museum but didn't get close enough to get a good pic as it was guarded by a coastguard vessel sporting a rather large gun on its bows!

We must've got the timing right as we had a favourable current for 50 miles up the Hudson River to Cornwall where we dropped anchor for the night. We picked up the following flood tide next morning and spent a beautiful sunny day admiring the mighty Hudson. To see the beautiful Hudson River Valley from the water was a real treat, and we loved the lighthouses, which are actually houses on rocks in the river! (see google pics) The only downside was that we had to keep a careful watch to dodge the numerous logs and debris floating down the river. There had been a lot of rain and water levels were quite high - as we were to find out later....

We anchored in the river opposite Catskill, where we sat out a couple of wet days waiting to go in and get our mast unstepped. In between rain showers we watched Bald Eagles fishing in the river behind us - a wonderful sight as they scooped up a fish in their talons and flew overhead with the struggling fish held fast.

Once tied up on the dock at Catskill we took down the foresails and Kit busied himself preparing the rigging and wooden horses to hold the mast. We celebrated being on the dock with a delicious lobster dinner at the Port o' Call Tavern in Catskill.

The guys in Catskill Marina are obviously used to unstepping masts and it went well. Two strong men and a big crane was all it took. Kit had done quite a lot of preparatory work; disconnecting the electrics on the mast, loosening the rigging etc., and we did have a few anxious moments, but in less than 90 minutes the mast was safely stowed on deck and Quilcene was a motor boat!

Setting off next morning it felt very strange, especially when we passed under a low bridge!
We were still running with a bit of fair tide and made good time to a quiet spot just south of Troy Lock. We decided to drop the hook and as it was a Friday Kit set to and cooked our traditional Friday curry!

Next day we passed through Troy Lock on the Hudson, having to fend off strongly as the boat swung in the incoming water and the overhanging masthead almost hit the lock side. With a couple of dozen more locks to pass through Kit has since worked out a solution to that problem!

Shortly above Troy we turned into the Erie Canal approach and tied up to the floating dock at Waterford Visitor Centre. The dock here is free for 48 hours, and also has free showers. Very civilised!
There was a farmers market on the dock on Sunday morning so we decided to stay another day and stock up with fresh vegetables.

The stalls had just about packed away when it began raining hard and didn't stop for 2 days. This compounded the earlier days of rain and water levels began to rise in the Mohawk River and Erie Canal approach; soon it was flowing fast. After the first flight of locks at the east end of the canal, the route is actually along the Mohawk River, which was now in full flood. A canal closure was announced due to high water and strong currents, and the 48hr docking rule was suspended, not that we could go anywhere anyway as the rushing water was holding us firmly to the dock.

We spent an anxious night listening to the water rushing past the hull and next morning the water level had risen by 4/5 feet. Our floating dock, which had been 5 feet below the concrete dock wall was now level with it! (pic above)

Rather than watch the water we checked that our lines were secure and took a bus to visit Albany, NY state's capital city. Albany has some impressive buildings and an interesting museum. We bought lunch from a street vendor and ate it sitting by a lovely pool and fountain. Later we read that the pool freezes over and is used as an ice rink in winter!

Back in Waterford the weather had improved and with a good forecast all we had to do was wait for the water to go down. Still, there are some nice walks and lots of wildlife to spot!


'They say the neon lights are bright....'

24 May 2017 | Port Washington, Long Island Sound, New York
Belinda and Kit
Picture shows Times Square

More pics at; https://goo.gl/photos/2QXUXcgMopZ3Q4xf9

We're still on a mooring ball in Port Washington, Long Island Sound.

Phil and Monica on catamaran ‘Miss Molly’ were here with us for the first few days. We enjoyed having company, especially for one of Kit’s Friday night curries!

Phil heard that the local yacht club was hosting a talk by an adventurous sailor called Richard who was anchored out in the Bay. We headed over in our dinghies to listen to his talk about an expedition to the Antarctic. Brrr! Just looking at the slides made us feel cold!!

Wish we could say the weather is great here but it’s not! It’s a bit like the English weather; a few lovely fine sunny days then a spell of damp, chilly, windy, grey days!

Still, we’ve made the most of the good days and been into New York three times on the train, it's very easy from here. We've done lots of touristy things – eaten pastrami on rye sandwich in Ben's Kosher Deli; been to a Broadway show - 'Beautiful', the Carol King Musical (Kit's birthday treat). It was brilliant!! We queued hopefully in Times Square for half price tickets and were lucky enough to get them!

Carol King not only made some great records but along with her first husband Gerry Goffin also wrote many famous hits for other stars – including the Drifters 'On Broadway' - very appropriate and of course just our era.

We saw the matinee so afterward went to 79th St Basin on the Hudson River for a drink and supper. It was really nice as the weather was perfect. People had advised us to take Quilcene to 79th St Basin moorings but they looked really rolly so we did the right thing staying in Port Washington.

On one of our excursions into NY we took a picnic to Central Park. We looked at the Famous Guggenheim Museum first but didn't go in. After seeing so many museums in Washington (all free) we limited ourselves to one in NY!

Central Park is a haven in the middle of Manhattan Island. New Yorkers walk, run, cycle and just hang out there in good weather. There are lakes, monuments, cycle and running tracks, street artists and lots of green space. After wandering for miles around Central Park we finally found Strawberry Fields - the John Lennon Memorial garden; a quiet space to enjoy our picnic before heading on to MoMa - The Museum of Modern Art (our choice for the one!) for a spot of culture! So many famous artists and works, it is really interesting, and the MoMa garden was a peaceful haven where we enjoyed an ice cream before heading back via the subway and train.

We were set to leave on Sunday to head up the Hudson but the water taxi bumped the side of our boat and damaged the liferaft. We’re waiting to hear if it can be repaired or if we need a new case.

..and the same evening an Osprey flew into our wind generator! It immediately started knocking (the wind gen not the Osprey!) and we feared the worst but couldn’t see much as it was dusk. Luckily after Kit took it down next day and reset the blades it seems to work fine again.

But the poor Osprey wasn’t fine - it fell in the water and had its head up as it floated away but a wing looked badly damaged so we didn't hold out much hope for it. Osprey are rare in the UK but along the waterways here they're quite common. We love to watch them fish and felt really sorry about it.
So we'll be here for a bit longer. Not too much of a problem tho' - the Erie and Oswego canals didn't open until May 19th and it’s probably still quite cold as you head inland.

Also Port Washington is a nice town; supermarket, laundry and West Marine are all near the dock, and there’s a great Mediterranean Cafe/Restaurant/Deli in the Port who have a Jazz Band playing once a week. It’s good fun and a change to go out in the evening; we don’t tend to do it much, especially when we’re anchored or moored out in a bay.

After a few days of glorious weather, 30C and clear, we now have a wet week coming by all accounts.

Hope it’s better where you are!

The Big Apple

11 May 2017 | Port Washington, Long Island Sound
Belinda and Kit
Picture shows the Statue of Liberty
(Liberty Enlightening the World) - a gift from the French people to the people of the United States in 1886 - the pic was taken as we entered NY Harbour. Quite a moment for Quilcene and her crew!!

On Monday 8th - Kit's birthday - we left Annapolis and had a long day sail up to the top of Chesapeake Bay and through the Chesapeake and Delaware canal. There was a bitingly cold wind and we were wrapped up like mummies under our oilies! As if to cheer us up we saw a sea eagle swoop down and catch a wriggling fish in its talons - incredible!

Also to cheer us even more we cut Kits birthday cake en route!

We anchored at the east end of the canal overnight along with Phil and Monica on 'Miss Molly' who we'd met in the Caribbean,and seen in Deltaville. We set off down the Delaware River for Port Henlopen, opposite Cape May next morning. Halfway down we got a weather forecast giving strong northerly winds for later in the week so we decided to carry on overnight Tuesday and all day Wednesday to get to New York ahead of it.

Cape May was a bit tricky as we took the inside passage close to shore to save time. Here we encountered rip tides just as the tide was turning. It was a relief to get through the disturbed seas. Again we were rewarded by sighting a whale quite close to the boat! So close we could see barnacles on its fin!

It was quite a good passage up the coast; Atlantic city was well lit up when we passed during in the night, with whole sides of buildings showing moving adverts! We could see them through the binoculars! We sailed a bit and motorsailed a bit and saw a fantastic sunrise next morning - just like a Rothko painting! (see google pics)

Coming into NY was quite daunting; as we sailed past the famous statue I managed to click a few pics but it was really busy with sirens blaring, traffic jams on all visible roads, lots of fast ferries and Coastguard boats racing around throwing us all over the place, and police helicopters overhead - not to mention incredibly fast currents and tides! The coastguard called us up on VHF to ask us to pass north of Governers Island to enter the East River instead of the recommended channel inside it as they had an 'ongoing incident' - we never found out what it was tho'.

It was a hectic couple of hours; thank goodness we'd heard of quiet moorings up the East River and into Manhassett Bay, Long Island Sound!

It's lovely and peaceful here - it's a shame we have to go back through NY to get to the Hudson River when we leave! That will be in around 8-10 days because the Erie and Oswego canals don't open until 19th May - must be because of the possibility of ice!

It's actually quite cold here at present - we had to wear thermals and several layers of clothes under our oilies to sail overnight! The forecast gives heavy rain for the weekend but promises warmer weather next week - hurrah!

We can go into NY city by train (only around 30 mins we're told) to have a look around so will probably go a couple of times. We may even take in a show on Broadway!!

Annapolis

28 April 2017 | Annapolis
Belinda and Kit
Picture shows sailboats on Annapolis Town Quay with flags flying


Back down the Potomac River and up to Annapolis for the Spring Sailboat show - although it was a little disappointing, not much of interest to us.

However Annapolis is a lovely town with paved streets and nice little shops. Also a cool place named Chick & Ruth's Delly (yes, it is spelt like that!) where we enjoyed delicious crabcakes! We're told that the Delly hasn't changed in 50 years - it is a bit like a 50's diner!!

As usual as as soon as we decided to leave the weather changed so our stay was extended. Several wet and cold days kept us inside the boat so we used the time to study the charts and plot our next passages.

Washington DC

23 April 2017 | Washington DC
Belinda & Kit
Picture Shows 'Abe' in the Abraham Lincoln Memorial

More pics at; https://goo.gl/photos/kEtH33McW3RTn3qS9

Shortly after we arrived in the Washington Channel we were invited over to the Capital Yacht Club by Scott Berg, who'd noticed our OCC (Ocean Cruising Club) burgee. Scott is a past Commodore of the Seven Seas Cruising Association, a US organisation affiliated to the British OCC, and will shortly be OCC Port Officer for Washington. Scott was very helpful during our stay and kindly helped us with a battery problem. Our OCC burgee is often recognised and because of it we've met some great people as we've travelled up the coast of the US.

We really enjoyed looking around Washington DC, we took our time and visited a few of the principal attractions each day. The weather was quite changeable with sunny hot days interspersed with wet grey days - a bit like the UK but warmer when the sun shone! We arrived just in time for the Cherry Blossom Festival although there had been a waterspout through the basin the previous week that stripped all the blossom from the trees. The festival was a small affair on the waterfront with lots of food stalls and a couple of bands, but the fireworks at night were spectacular and we had a great view from the boat!

The National Mall stretches 2 miles from Capitol Hill to the Lincoln Memorial, with the Washington Monument about halfway between. All along the Mall are huge buildings, many resembling Greek Temples, that house National Museums, Art Galleries, and monuments. There are sculpture gardens, the National Botanic Gardens and parkland. Much of this is part of the Smithsonian Institute, and most have free admission. The Smithsonian Institute was funded by an Englishman, James Smithson, who never visited America but left $500,000 to found an 'establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge' in 1826.
Perhaps what is most impressive is the huge scale of all this - and of course the space around all the buildings, the US does have lots of space!

Amongst the sites we visited were Capitol Hill, The Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Memorial, Washington Monument (you have to get close to appreciate the size), and the American Indian Museum, National Art Galleries (modern and traditional), Smithsonian Castle, Arthur Sackler Gallery, Freer Gallery, Union Station (an amazing building) and of course the White House, (well, we had to didn't we?).

We walked miles but also used the buses and Metro (underground). The Metro is not as extensive as London Underground but covers the central area. The stations, although modern, are huge and very dark and dour. Unlike London there is no advertising so all you can look at is grey concrete - who'd have thought we'd miss advertising!!

Away from the big tourist attractions the areas we liked most were the Eastern Market Area with paved, tree-lined streets, an open market, street musicians and interesting shops, and Dupont Circle with cool cafes and bars.

...and speaking of bars we found an Indian restaurant close to our moorings that has a Happy Hour for both drinks and small portions of lovely food - a great place to relax after a tiring day being tourists! We had many interesting conversations in there; people were very friendly and interested in exchanging views when they realised we're British.

After two weeks we were ready to move on; the constant hum of the city and the drone of planes landing at Ronald Reagan Airport - not to mention White House helicopters flying overhead up the Washington Channel - was beginning to gall.

Just as we planned to leave there were a couple of days of bad weather which delayed our departure. The pressure was so low that on high tide the water came right up over the wall and into the park next to the Channel (see google pics).

These tidal inundation events are becoming more common apparently - Climate Change doubters take note!!!
Vessel Name: Quilcene
Vessel Make/Model: Bowman 40
Hailing Port: Plymouth, UK
Crew: Kit and Belinda
About:
In our previous lives, Belinda worked as a marine biologist at the MBA Plymouth and Kit was a surveyor for a marine civil engineering company. Over the years we had sailed the south west of England and northern France. [...]
Extra: Quilcene, a Bowman 40, is a masthead cutter designed by Chuck Paine and built in 1991. The name is an American Indian word meaning 'People of the Salt Water', which we feel suits us very well. Quilcene is also a town on the West coast of the USA near Seattle.
Quilcene's Photos - Main
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Melbourne and driving the Great Ocean Road
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