11/03/2010, Cape May, New Jersey
The next good stop on our way was Cape May and it is a long way from Barnegat Inlet. We started out as soon as we could see. Since it was a clear morning, we were on our way at 6:50 AM.
We motored in light wind for about 3 hours. The wind picked up and from a favorable direction so we set the sails. We got all three sails flying (main, genoa and staysail) and the wind immediately dropped off. Within a half hour we had the genoa and staysail furled again and were motor-sailing with just the main. That was a lot of work without any gain. You can see in the picture how hard Fuzzy was working. That's his typical sailing position.
We might have had better speed under sail, but the prop wouldn't set again. We had this problem earlier this summer and thought it was fixed. Our transmission is hydraulic, so there's no gear to hold the prop still. We have a Max-prop which is supposed to feather to reduce the drag. When it works, the prop stops spinning. When it doesn't work, the prop spins, the shaft spins and the transmission spins. It makes a terrible whine. Anyway, yesterday the prop set perfectly. Today, no go. We sailed anyway because it's not supposed to hurt the transmission, but it's terribly annoying. I'm sure we put the engine on sooner than we might have otherwise.
We sailed past Atlantic City and I added a couple of photos to the gallery. I started a new album now that we're on the ocean, just thought it would be easier to view the pictures if there weren't too many in any one album.
Altogether we went over 76 miles. That's a long day at about 7 mph. We got here to the marina just after 5, by the time we bought fuel and got in our slip it was going on 6.
The folks at this marina are very nice, but it's another one not set up for sailboats. Bud did a masterful job maneuvering. You have to make a 90-degree turn to the left to go from the main channel to their entrance channel. Then you have to make a 90-degree turn to the right to get in the opening in their bulkhead, and it's not all that wide an opening. We came straight in the marina main channel to the end; where Bud had to pull, bow first, into a slip for fuel. Once fueled, he had to back out, and come back out the channel a bit to our assigned slip. There wasn't room to just back out and turn, Bud had to go forward and back again to get turned. The slip was next to a 48-foot powerboat. The man and woman came out and were ready to fend as Bud began to make his turn into the slip, but no fending was necessary. I could see how worried the man was seeing a 44-foot sailboat with one engine and no thrusters try to pull in next to him from a narrow channel, but in the end, he just stood and watched and said, "Nice job."
It was about 7:30 by the time the sails were tidied. We still had to walk to a convenience store and cook and eat. We are both really tired. The bad part is we have another long day tomorrow! We need to make it around the point of Cape May and up into Delaware Bay tomorrow, as the wind and waves are going to pick up through the day and all day Friday. If the weather wasn't going to turn bad, I'd love to stay here an extra day. It wouldn't be an issue if we could take the Cape May Canal and skip going out around the point, but there are two bridges with only 55 feet of clearance. That 63-foot mast is causing problems again.
Sailing on a deadline (even as vague a deadline as coming winter) is not so much fun. I'm still dreaming of warm weather and lazy days!
11/02/2010, Barnegat Bay, NJ
Today we SAILED on the OCEAN. It was great. We were only able to sail for about two hours, but for that time we had about 12 to 14 knots of wind on a broad reach. We had full main and 135 genoa out and were doing over 9 knots (we must have had some help from the current again, but Earendil was doing most of it herself). It was quiet and smooth and so nice. We've been motoring for so long that I was beginning to wonder if I'd find sailing stressful or too much work; not at all. Sailing is restful. The only thing you lose is the constant source of power from the alternator.
Unfortunately, once we got out past Sandy Hook and turned south, the wind was astern. We sailed off our course for a while to try and keep both sails filled, but after about a half hour decided we'd never make Barnegat Inlet if we didn't use the engine. There wasn't another place to stop in a day's sail, and with all the traffic in the area we were not ready to sail through the night. We motor-sailed with the main for a quite a while, but eventually had to take that down, too, and become a trawler with a big stick again.
Barnegat Bay has great places to anchor, but it's still too cold for us. We don't like to leave the generator run for hours and we really don't want to go without heat. So we had to find another marina. I thought in a place like this it would be easy, not so. Most of the places are set up for powerboats. They're too shallow for us. There is one yacht club and we checked that out, even though they want $3.50/ft per night. They could take us, but because of our length we'd go on a long dock with only 50 Amp power. We take 30 Amp power, and because too much power has never been a problem on Lake Ontario, we have adapters to go from 30 down to 20 or 15, but not up to 50. The club had no adapters, so we chose to go to the commercial fishing marina instead. We were warned that this was a fishing marina, we wouldn't fit in the lagoon and we'd be out near the wall. They thought they would have a place we could go that would have power. We arrived right at 4 PM and pulled in to the gas dock. Unlike gas docks that cater to pleasure boaters and have fenders or some protection all along the dock, this gas dock had no fenders and pilings on the outside, so your own fenders won't do much good. We got in with no problem. They showed us the slip we could use; it was right on the inside of their front wall. Again, the docks are lined with pilings. The commercial fishing boats don't bother with anything like fenders. Bud decided to back in, and he did it pretty well. It took a while to get the lines and fenders set up for the tide and pilings but now we are safe and secure and have power again. Earendil fits right in with the fishing boats, don't you think?
We celebrated our first sail with a seafood dinner at a local restaurant. We enjoyed it, but Fuzzy wasn't too pleased to be left alone on the boat. He does like the smells around the fish dock, though.
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?)