09/13/2007, Atlantic City
Well, my time aboard Christa is coming to a close. She is a stout vessel and Christian was smart to choose her for his travels. My trip began at Point Judith, Rhode Island, where, coincidentally, was where I met Christian. I was stationed at PJ from 1989 to 1993 and Chris and I were often on the same duty schedule, making him my immediate supervisor. Like so many, I'm a big fan of his.
So, from Point Judith Pond we left for Long Island. We did a fair bit of motoring for the first days of the trip. As you've probably read here, we were held up in LI waiting for weather and a bit of engine/ battery reworking. Leaving Long Island was great as the weather seemed to be on our side for a good portion of the following 27 hour leg. Our trip through the East River was surreal. I've been to NYC many, many times, but this trip felt like we were sailing into Hong Kong or some far off destination.
Then, passing the Statue of Liberty we were continued to be helped along by a favorable current and Capt. Chris' planning. We scooted by Lady Liberty and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge at a significant clip. Next thing I knew, we were sailing under an incredible star filled sky. No moon, just billions of stars. Chris had put up Big Bob (his custom made spinnaker rig that he couldn't stop ogling) and we were making impressive use of the light winds. One of the highlights of the night sail (as Chris likely mentioned) was a small pod of dolphins that were illuminated under water by the phosphorescence. Glowing dolphins is a sight to see. They were playing in the bow wave and as always, disappeared the second I broke out the video camera.
For the last 10 to 12 hours of the 27 hour leg, we saw lots of the USCG. Two Dolphin helo's, a C-130 and a 47 foot small boat. We happened to sail right through the middle of a search for a poor fellow that had dumped his kayak and apparently hadn't returned to the beach. As we sailed into Atlantic City the search appeared to be winding down. We kept a vigilant lookout, but to no avail.
We finished the trip with a walk along the boardwalk in AC (not for the faint of heart). After a nice peaceful sail, there is nothing like walking through a casino full of ringing slot machines and cigarette smoke.
Well, my feelings for Atlantic City aside, this was an incredible journey. The last time I sailed with Christian, we were caught in a nasty gale that lasted well over 36 hours (between Catalina and Santa Cruz Island aboard my father's sloop, Iris, with my father and two college friends - we can talk about that another day). Needless to say, this trip was a joy and Chris is maintaining the vessel as though she were his flesh and blood. I yearn for the next opportunity to join the two of them. I'm thinking warm water, big fish and spanish speaking locals... or frankly whenever he'll allow me back aboard.
Many thanks to Christian and the S/V Christa for taking such good care of me and for letting me share a small piece of Chris' (soon to be fulfilled) dream of sailing the world's oceans.
Fair winds and following seas, John Gamble
09/13/2007, Atlantic City New Jersey
John and I had a great overnight sail to Atlantic City where Christa is tugging on 100 feet of chain in 10 knots of southeasterlies. In the later part of yesterday afternoon the wind started to ease and swing to the NW and finally settled on due north. As Christa almost came to a screeching halt, we decided it was time to break out Bob, my big green and black 900 square foot cruising spinnaker. So John and I popped the chute and set the Monitor steering vane. The boat was sailing so perfectly I almost burst into tears. Sailing with a spinnaker is something else. Christa stayed on her feet with little healing and ghosted along between 3.5 and 4.5 kts. I have little experience with using a spinnaker. It's quite easy to use with the ATN chute scoop with no pole involved. I was even more surprised to find the Monitor kept the course even better with Bob up than with the jib. John captured some awesome pictures and video of the event. He promises that he'll burn them so I can get them posted.
I was surprised at how much shipping traffic we encountered during the night. Again, the AIS is proving to be a very valuable tool in keeping the shipping picture. With the backscatter of the lights of the Jersey shore it is very difficult to pick out contacts. The AIS identified many tugs hauling barges. These barges travel inshore and not in the Ambrose Traffic Separation Scheme. So basically up would pop a contact on the AIS, I'd get his name, call him on CH 13 and say hey fella, I'm out here and lets make some passing arrangements. Alleviates any confusion and keeps stress low. With Bob up and drawing, tacking rapidly ain't happening so early identification of a situation was critical. All good practice. Anyway, by daybreak, I had been up all day and all night and with the Christa's speed down to 2.5 kts we fired up the Yanmar and beat feet for Atlantic City. We arrived in the late morning got the hook set and headed into AC for a bite to eat. It was very weird to go from the peace and quiet of the boat and sailing to the bling bling in Trumps Casino in such a short period of time. With my sleep deprivation and the overwhelming chaos of the casino floor I nearly locked up. So John and I headed out onto the Board Walk for a tour of pleasures.
So tomorrow, I'm sorry to say John Gamble is leaving on Amtrak headed back to Williamstown MA. He has been a great help and a great shipmate. I will be headed for Cape May. Hope all of you folks, where ever you may be roaming are fine.
09/12/2007, The Race
John and I spent a couple of fairly difficult days moored in a slip in Manhasett Bay Marina LI. The weather was dreary with a good ole fashion deluge of rain making everything aboard quite damp. As noted before Christa had some charging issues. I had a mechanic come down and verify what I thought, which was an alternator that was not producing electricity and one bad battery. I had the original Yanmar alternator aboard, so I switched it out, bought a new battery (not sized correctly, but will do for now) and installed it. All systems are working fine now.
Today has been fantastic. One of the best days aboard Christa yet. Christa sailed at 840 am bound for Hell Gate and the East River. A cold front came through last night with gusty SW winds. Today is a beautiful, low humidity with brisk west winds 15 to 20 kts gusting higher. We passed through Hell Gate at slack before the ebb and came through with no problems. Motoring down the east side of Manhatten was thrilling. Actually I was more excited than I anticipated. It all happened so quickly because we were moving along a 8 knots! Pretty soon we hit South Street Seaport and standing proudly was the Statue of Liberty. I didn't have to much time to gawk at everything as it was blowing and the amount of commercial traffic is just crazy.
I am very happy to report as of right now, about 330 pm, Christa and company have left Sandy Hook NJ to starboard and we are currently sailing on a beam reach in 15 knots of west wind, self steering vane steering a straight and true course. It is just thrilling! So John and I plan on sailing all night and will either pull into Atlantic City or Cape May sometime on Thursday, depending on our ability to keep trucking. So all is well aboard Christa. Thanks for reading!
Capt Chris with Agent Gamble aboard
09/10/2007, Manhasett New York
John and I have been spent a couple of very long days of motor sailing since the last post from "The Race" in Long Island Sound. We had about a 16 hour day yesterday after leaving Point Judith. We pulled into Port Jefferson on LI north shore just as the sun was setting. I am bummed to report that Christa is in the throes of some kind of charging or battery problem. Either the alternator is not putting our juice or the batteries refuse to except the charge. The only way to fire up the engine is to have "big red" which is my portable Honda generator running and driving the installed battery charger. But I digress......
Today.....John awoke at 4 am with some kind of notion that someone or something had climbed aboard and that he "had heard voices." Well since we were 45 minutes from our scheduled waking time and since I wasn't sleeping well anyway due to alternator worries..... we made coffee. We weighted anchor and were underway by 530 am. It was foggy and drizzling, but much to our surprise we had a very nice 10 to 15 knot easterly breeze to push us down the sound. We also timed the tide to give us a fair current. We moved along a 6 knots plus the entire distance.
We moored along the fuel dock at Manhasett Bay Marina around noon time. We filled up Christa's fuel tanks which is the first time I've ever filled up at a gas dock. I usually jerry can in all my fuel. One thing to note is the vacuum gauge on the Racor fuel filter is showing some movement which means the filter is starting to clog up. This is also a first for me, but then again I've never drained the tanks as low as I did today. Anyway, John and I got a slip at the marina for the evening. I've been working on trouble shooting the battery situation and haven't solved the situation, but believe maybe the batteries need to be replaced. But I'm still trying to figure it out.
Tomorrow we plan on being at Hell Gate which is the confluence of the East River, Harlem River and the Long Sound. The current can be brutal. We hope to go through the gate at slack tide about 10:15 am and proceed down the east side of Manhatten. We will anchor up somewhere near Sandy Hook New Jersey. Looks like the winds are favorable for an early morning departure Weds to make the transit down the New Jersey coast. More later!
09/09/2007, The Race
Yesterday my buddy John and moved Christa from the top of Point Judith Pond to the Harbor of Refuge which basically juts out from PJ and is protected on all sides. We delayed leaving for Long Island Sound by a day due to adverse winds. Right on the nose, 15 to 20kts with higher gusts. So we had al day to assimilate, stow for sea and generally rest.
This morning we arose at 0330 with a favorable forecast and as importantly a favorable tide. On this leg down the LI Sound most everything is timed based on currents in certain bottle necks. The first one, "The Race" is a no joke choke point. In fact about an hour ago Christa was squirted through The Race at nearly 8 kts! Although we are on the iron jenny, we are making tracks toward Port Jefferson on Long Island's north shore. We hope to arrive around 8 or 9pm this evening. Yes a long day, but were trying to make up for a day lost. If all goes well, we will leave Port Jefferson tomorrow bound for Manahasset which will be our staging point to ride through Hell Gate and down the east side of Manhatten.
Capt Chris with Agent Gamble aboard