11/01/2010, Great Kills Harbor, Staten Island
If it were warm enough to anchor we would be out of New York State tonight. But the low is still in the 30's, so we opted for a marina again. Looking at the chart, we decided it would be less overall distance if we went to Great Kills Harbor, on the south shore of Staten Island rather than down to Atlantic Highlands behind Sandy Hook, New Jersey. Besides, this marina (Nichols Great Kills Marina) was $.50/ft less. So as much as Bud wanted to get out of New York, he agreed to come here.
We had quite a ride down the end of the Hudson. At one point we were doing 9.9 knots with the current and ebbing tide. That's the fastest we've ever gone on this boat, and we didn't even have the sails up.
The ride down past Manhattan was beautiful. I took a few pictures of the city and have posted them in the gallery. There were a few barges around, but most were anchored. It looked like the up-bound barges were anchored until the tide changed. We passed one other traveling sailboat. It was probably less than 30 feet and was from Juneau, Alaska. I hope he sailed it from Alaska, I find that reassuring.
Once we got below Manhattan things got interesting. We installed an AIS, Automatic Information System, receiver. It's supposed to receive information automatically broadcast from commercial vessels. The first time we encountered a barge on the Hudson we were pretty happy to have the alarm go off and "Dangerous Target" come up in a huge box on our chart screen. Once we got to lower Manhattan the alarm was going off constantly. The AIS is supposed to be able to give us detailed information about each vessel. We weren't getting anything but the alarm and the box, so we'll have to figure that out later. There were ferries and barges, cruise ships docked, freighters, Coast Guard vessels, dredges and more. It was a challenge to sort them all out and stay out of everyone's way. The picture for today is of the Statue of Liberty with two ferries crossing in front. That sort of sums up sailing through New York.
Our paper chart ended at the George Washington Bridge. We have the chart on our chart plotter and we have electronic charts on the computer. I went down to the computer and planned a route to our marina. It worked pretty well after we figured out that the green buoys numbered "23" and "21" on the computer chart were "21" and "19" on the chart plotter. I determined a point to head for that would take us safely across some relatively shallow flats (16 feet for most of it) and put that in as a waypoint on the chart plotter. We steered to the waypoint and from there to a light and a buoyed channel that took us into the marina. I know this seems pretty simple, but to do it for the first time and to have all the systems work together correctly felt like an accomplishment to me.
So Earendil is back in salt water and tomorrow we go to sea!
10/31/2010, Haverstraw Marina
We got up early today to try and get going with the outgoing tide. We were also hoping to avoid fees at Norrie Point. We were just trying to figure out the best way to cast off when Bud saw the dockmaster approaching. So instead of leaving, we stayed and pumped out. The dockmaster helped us turn the boat around so we could reach our holding tanks. We told him about our docking experience last night. He said at low tide it was pretty shallow in the basin and we were best off out on the gas dock like we were. The marina is actually part of a state park there. We asked him what we owed for the pump-out and the night's docking. He said 7 bucks for the pump-out, and since he hadn't been around to help us dock, he wouldn't charge for the docking. So another free night with power. I added a picture to yesterday's post of Earendil at the dock, now facing out and ready to go again.
It was a sunny cold day. The wind started on our nose. It was supposed to move around to the northwest. When it came abeam Bud wanted to raise the main to save on the engine and gain some speed. I was concerned because we were coming to a narrow place in the river with high hills on either side. We got things tidied and stowed so we could sail, but waited until we entered the narrow part. The wind increased, but shifted directly behind us, so we didn't set the main. We were gaining almost 2 knots with the current already. The wind continued to go around us, the next time we got into a wide place in the river; it was back on our nose! By the time we got to the marina, the wind had wrapped our ensign completely around the pole.
We sailed past West Point today. That's very impressive. The picture is looking back north at the older buildings along the south side of the peninsula. The oldest part is on the right of the photo and looks like an old fort.
We didn't want to repeat yesterday's fiasco, so we were careful about the marinas. (No going without power tonight, the low is supposed to be 28! That is NOT boating weather as far as I'm concerned.) Haverstraw Marina seemed a reasonable distance, so I called ahead and gave our length AND our mast height. They could take us. As the day went on, and the current from the tide picked up, we thought we could perhaps make another 11 miles to Tarrytown. That was even more expensive than Haverstraw, but we thought the extra mileage would be worth it. So I called, but had to leave a message. When no one had returned my call as we neared Haverstraw, we headed in, even though it wasn't even 1:30 yet. We are safe and docked with power and have just finished a nice Chinese dinner cooked by Bud and I still haven't heard from Tarrytown. Glad we stopped. I wonder if we'll get Trick or Treaters here.
It will be a long day tomorrow, but we still should be able to get past New York City.
10/30/2010, Indian Kill
This morning we put on both foresails, decided the baby stay was too loose and tightened it up again and put on the staysail again. At least the staysail is easy to work with, and for once there was almost no wind. I hooked up the line to the backstay antenna while Bud ran the reefing lines. It all took morning to do these things and clean up the boat to get it ready. It's nice to have it back as a sailboat. We don't even have the extra lumber on the decks.
We were anxious to get off so we left as soon as we were ready, even though it was already 1:40 in the afternoon. Out on the river there was a strong breeze against us (of course) and not much help from the current or tide. We were only doing about 5 knots and at times less than that. We looked for a place to stay about 20 miles down river. We wanted a marina or yacht club because it's supposed to go down to the upper 30's tonight, so we wanted power for heat. I checked our "Skipper Bob" book and found a marina with a pump out (we need to pump our holding tanks, too). They said they monitored VHF channel 16, but this time of year we're finding that's not too reliable. Happily, we have the computer and internet access, so I went below and Googled them and found the phone number. I also checked out their website and it said they could accommodate boats up to 160 feet. The man at the marina asked me to call back at 4:45, since they close at 5. I called, at 4:45 we were just about to turn into Rondout Creek and go up to the marina. Bud had noticed a bridge in the distance. I was sure it wasn't a problem because neither the guide book nor the website had mentioned any bridge clearance. I asked, the bridge clearance was 56 feet. Our mast is 63 feet off the waterline. We weren't going there!
Now it was already 5 o'clock and we had no place to stop. I asked the man there if he knew of another marina. He said there were none near-by, he thought that the closest one was already closed for the year. He said there was a good anchorage on the east side of the river behind Esopus Island.
We headed down the river. I called Poughkeepsie Yacht Club, they had just finished pulling their docks. I tried to call the Norrie Point Marina but their phone was not in use. That usually means it's a seasonal phone that has been shut off. We started to plan to anchor. We got out a length of nylon dock line to use as a snubber. That's a line that's attached to the anchor chain and led to a cleat. Then as the boat pulls, it's pulling on the cleat and not on the windlass that raises the anchor. The only problem was we weren't sure how to attach the line to the anchor chain. I checked two of our reference books, but neither helped. So Bud suggested I call Jon and Arline. Jon described a knot, and told me to look up taunt line knot for better instructions. I found instructions on how to tie it on the internet. Then Bud asked me to make sure the end of the anchor line was secure in the anchor locker. I had to move two sails, two folding boat seats, Fuzzy's unused Pup-Head and a basket of miscellaneous stuff to get at the anchor locker, but I managed it. The anchor was secured.
When I got out on deck we were approaching the area the man at the marina described. He said we'd see other boats at anchor and on mooring balls. There was nothing. There was about 16 knots of wind coming straight through with no shelter. We continued to look for a likely spot. We saw one boat that might be at anchor, but it was well past the island. Bud headed towards shore, I went out on the forepeak and got the anchor ready to drop. Suddenly Bud slowed way down and turned back out towards the river. We were almost aground! The water went from 30 to 40 feet deep to 7 or 8 feet deep in an instant! At that point I persuaded Bud to go back about a half mile to the Norrie Point Marina. We had passed it, and there were still a few boats tied up, but there was no one around that we could see and they looked like pretty small boats. The guide said they had 6 feet of water at the approach and docks. That's not much more than our draft of 5' 8". Plus with the wind blowing towards the shore Bud wasn't sure he'd be able to maneuver to a small dock. It now seemed like our best chance, so we got to try it in the dark! (Oh, yeah, it was now dark.)
Bud turned the boat in circles out in the river as I got fenders and docklines set up on both sides of the boat. Then he sent me forward with a flashlight and told me to tell him loudly if I saw a dock. We still had 16 knots of wind. Happily, as we came through the flashing red and green entrance lights I made out their gas dock. Bud headed for that. I got off and got a line around a cleat. The gas dock sits right at the entrance, so with the wind angling across the river there is no protection. However, our slip at TYC gave us lots of practice in tying off against wind. About a half hour and 8 docklines later we felt pretty secure. Best of all, there was a 30 AMP working plug on the dock, so we even have power and heat.
Bud said he would just as soon not do something like this again tomorrow; I heartily agree.
I'll post a picture of the boat at the dock tomorrow, when I can see it.
10/29/2010, Still at Catskill on the Hudson
Today was another day of work. This retirement thing is not what it's cracked up to be! We started before 8. We moved the boat into the slip where the crane is to lift the mast. We took the leaf off the dinette table and then pulled the table and set it off to the side to keep it out of the way when the mast is placed. The boat has a metal piece bolted to the top of the keel where the mast sits. It's actually called the step, I think. Anyway, we have always had trouble getting our mast tuned right (that is getting it held up straight and centered on the boat). Bud and I both looked down at that step and thought it was crooked. Mind you, we could have looked down at that step at any time since October 16, when the mast was unstepped. But no, we waited until an hour before it was scheduled to be put back up to decide that it was crooked and really needed to be fixed. We scrambled and got the step loose, cleaned it and the giant screws that held it in place and put it back in with new caulk. We broke the caulk gun doing it. Bud thought he might have been able to move it a little bit, as the screws went through slots on the step. The slots were actually fore and aft, and we needed to move it a bit side to side, so we're not sure if we changed anything, but we felt better for trying.
Shortly afterwards the marina folks came and set the mast. It all went very smoothly. Once the mast was up off the center brace, we had to partially disassemble it to get it off the mast pulpit and out of the way. Then they dropped the mast down through the hole in the deck and we had to take the tape and bag off the bottom and uncoil the wires and feed them through the holes in the side of the mast near the bottom. I did that, so I was below when Sean, who runs the marina, put the mast in place. I couldn't believe how they did it. Their crane does not move from side to side. They had tied the boat off so the hole for the mast was pretty close to directly under the crane. Once they had the mast suspended and down through the hole on deck to within an inch of the step, Sean tells them to move the boat, just a little aft and a little in towards the dock. They did, and they dropped that mast exactly in place! I would never have thought they'd move the boat instead of the crane, and I'd never have thought they could be so quick and accurate.
Next we had to pin back all the shrouds and the two forestays and the aft stay to hold the mast in place. If you're not a sailor, these are all the metal cables that hold the mast. After that, we could move the boat out of their slip so they could do the two other boats that were waiting.
For Bud and I the fun was just beginning. First we had to tighten all the shrouds. As I said, we've not been satisfied with the way our mast was set, so we wanted to do a really good job. I read one of our cruising how-to books and we carefully followed those directions. We tried to center the mast from side to side by tightening and loosening the top shrouds first, the cables that go all the way to the top of the mast. Our mast seemed to be leaning quite a bit to port, so we tightened the shroud on the starboard side to try and bring it over. After over half an hour of adjusting, we looked up the mast from the base where it was obvious that only the top of the mast was moving to starboard. The mast had a distinct bend in it about two thirds of the way up. This is not good. Anyway we loosened things back up, literally pushed the mast over where it came up through the deck and put some wedges in to hold it, and tightened some of the lower shrouds until we had it straight. We also took up on both of our head stays (the ones that run to the front of the boat). Since both of those having furling drums on them that involved a lot more work. While Bud finished those up and then tightened everything up evenly all around, I went down and reconnected the wires from the mast. I had to hook up the radar, TV antenna, Windex, tricolor light on the top of the mast, white anchoring light on the top of the mast, steaming light and deck light. Hallelujah, everything works! Then there was the boom, and the main sail to get back on. We ended up having Brittany and Scott help us with the main. It all came off so easily, still in the stack pack, but getting it back on was another thing entirely. Of course it got windy as soon as we started to work on the sail. At the end of the day, Bud hoisted me up the mast and we reattached the lazy jacks, lines that keep the main on top of the boom as it is lowered.
We finally quit after dark, which is when I took the picture. It's hard to see, but the mast, boom and mainsail are back in place. Bud was exhausted. We still have to reattach our reefing lines, put on both our headsails and hook up the backstay antenna to the SSB radio. I'm guessing the way things go that's another three or four hours of work. But then we can SAIL...SOUTH...where it's warm. (Did I mention it was pretty cold out there today?)
10/28/2010, Catskill, NY
Cruising so far has been a lot more work than we expected and more rewarding than we expected. We were up early again today and decided to try to beat the wind to Hop-O-Nose Marina in Catskill on the Hudson. Our first task was to extricate the boat from the line-up in Waterford. Bud tried to use the engine off a spring line to pull the bow in and the stern out. When that didn't work I tried to pull the bow in. In the end I pushed the stern out and then went down to the uncrowded end of the dock and Bud picked me up. The current there was stronger (we have to get used to those currents) and continued to push Bud against the dock. The only casualty was a crack in our fender board, but since we had only the Troy lock to go we weren't worried.
The Troy lock turned out to be the trickiest one yet. First Bud had a hard time holding the boat in the current at the approach (those darn currents again). Then there were only cables in the lock and they were so widely spaced we could only secure one. That's supposed to be all you need, you hold the cable at midship and let the boat slide down against the fenders. We've gotten into the habit of keeping the boat off the fenders, but with just two of us, Bud was holding the cable and trying to fend off and I was going from bow to stern pushing one out and then the other. Eventually, Bud ended up close to the bow with the cable and I fended off the stern.
Once through the Troy lock we really started to move. The current and ebbing tide (oh no, wind and currents and now tides!) were both with us, so the knot meter was reading about 5 knots and our actual speed over ground from the GPS was about 8 knots. It was a beautiful trip. I put pictures in the gallery of Albany from the river and a tug and barge we passed.
We were almost there when the cell phone rang. It was Jon and Arline, our new friends from Fair Point Marina in Little Sodus. They were on their way to Connecticut and had thought they saw us as they crossed the Hudson. They were thinking of stopping to see us at Hop-O-Nose, but weren't sure if there was a good route back. If they didn't come here, they said they would look for us on the Chesapeake.
We arrived at Hop-O-Nose at about 1 PM. We didn't see anyone around, so Bud brought the boat along one of the docks and tucked it nicely between a powerboat and a cross dock. We (mostly Bud) really are getting better at this. We walked up and found one of the Marina guys and he said they could do our mast later that day or first thing in the morning. They preferred first thing in the morning because they were busy shrink-wrapping boats for the winter that afternoon.
Bud started to untie the mast, getting ready to step it. We also took off one of the fender boards and put the Windex back on the end of the mast. We needed to pull the stern of the boat right over to the dock to do the Windex. I climbed a stepladder on the dock and attached it while Bud held the stern in against the wind. We also got all the hardware ready for tomorrow and finished the repair where the mast goes through the deck.
While we were working on those things the head of the marina came over. He had a message from Craig and Barb on Freedom Quest, who'd been docked behind us at Waterford. They hadn't seen us before we left in the morning and wanted us to have their contact information. So I gave Barb a call and we exchanged email addresses also.
Since Hop-O-Nose doesn't have pump-out facilities, we were reminded that we thought there was a problem with our aft toilet. We ended up disconnecting the line from where water to flush comes in through a fitting in the hull to the toilet and pumping air and water through it with the dinghy pump (that dinghy pump has been useful!). We got the toilet working, but you can imagine the mess it made. We had just finished cleaning that up and Bud was washing his hands at the galley sink when I heard water running. I checked the aft head to see that the sink faucet had been bumped on. That drain is slow because the check valve sticks (we need to fix that again) so the water was running all over the floor. And oh, yeah, we're down to our last tank of water and have to refill the tanks tomorrow.
Just as the constant work, repairs and reminders of repairs to come were becoming overwhelming, a young couple stopped by who'd come in after us and are also getting their mast stepped tomorrow. We chatted a while; they said they were going to shower, then go have a couple of drinks in the restaurant at the marina and invited us to join them. We walked to town, fed Fuzzy and then went to see if they were still at the restaurant. They were so we joined them for dinner. They are Brittany and Scott Meyers from Chicago. They had transmission problems in Buffalo and docked at RCR Yachts, where we had done the initial work on Earendil, and Andy, our favorite mechanic, tried to help them. They ended up staying a week while they shipped their transmission to Florida to have it repaired. Soon after they got to Buffalo, Bill Fleming, Commodore of Tuscarora Yacht Club, came by. He'd been following their blog and emailing them. He saw on the blog where they were and went to check up on them. He brought them food and introduced them to Todd Ciehomski from the club. Todd and his girlfriend semi-adopted them and gave them a place to stay for a few nights. Bill told them to be on the lookout for a couple from TYC heading down to Florida. Bill sent our blog address, but they hadn't had time to check it out before they came into Hop-O-Nose. Wow! We had a great dinner and after I asked them to come aboard so I could take their picture for the blog today. So Bill or Todd, if you read this, you will recognize Brittany and Scott who are sitting in our salon with Fuzzy.
We have read that it's the fellow cruisers you meet who make cruising so rewarding. Now we're experiencing that first hand. Three different couples all reached out to us in one day, and completely took away the pain of stopped toilets and overflowing sinks.
P.S. Please note that we have finally moved a degree south!
10/27/2010, Still in Waterford
We stayed at Waterford another day. Two boats left that were at the side of the floating dock that still had power and we managed to squeeze three sailboats in the space. The picture is of the line of floating hobos headed south. Lost Navigator is by himself on the end of the dock without power. Now we have power, but we're out of range of the WIFI. I'd rather have power as we have an air card for our computer and are paying for Internet access anyway.
We stayed for two reasons. First, our package again did not come. Second, we had been warned about a front that came through back home with 65 mph winds. The forecast here said chance of thunderstorms with the possibility of 45 mph winds with the storms. We inquired about the package and found it had been sent via UPS to the General Delivery address at the local Post Office. The Post Office refused it. Our very accommodating technical support guy at Racor redirected it to Hop-O-Nose Marina, about 5 hours south of here where we're going to have the mast stepped. I don't know if there were thunderstorms in the area, but although we heard some distant thunder it was a beautiful day here, partly sunny and warm. So we really could have gone on to Hop-O-Nose but it was nice to have a day off.
In the morning I did the laundry. I was thinking of doing that at the marina, but our guidebook (another Skipper Bob book) said the nearest laundry to Hop-O-Nose was 5 miles. This one was two blocks and the folks at the Welcome Center said I should just use one of the shopping carts, so I didn't even have to carry the clothes. Bud put some epoxy on the wood under the trim where the mast had been leaking, as the plywood there had started to delaminate. He glued and clamped it.
In the afternoon we again played tourist. I persuaded Bud to walk the other end of the Old Champlain Canal Trail. We followed it down to the Mohawk River, which had a dam and some impressive rapids. It was a nice walk with the autumn colors.
We've been talking to our fellow boaters, and two of them are having alternator problems. One boat out of Toronto has been here a couple of days. He will be here at least a couple more, he thinks, as his alternator is shot. Today he pulled it out of the boat. He is having a new one sent. The sailboat that left this morning is back. (We shuffled all of the boats closer and squeezed him back on the end of the dock with power. There are now 5 sailboats lined up. We're tied so close that one boat needs to have its bow in and the other it's stern out so our masts don't hit.) He has an alternator that also acts as his engine starter motor. It's working as a starter motor but won't charge his battery. He made it down to the federal lock in Troy (about 3 ½ miles). He was on the Internet searching for parts for his unusual motor/alternator. Our air bubbles that don't appear to affect anything seem less worrisome when you see the troubles others are having.
Tomorrow it's on to Hop-O-Nose, hopefully. We expect to overnight there, maybe even two nights. Then we'll set out and try to make some serious time south.