Sailing from New York City to Moorhead City, NC
05 November 2013
Sailing from the 79th Street Boat Basin to Moorhead City, NC.
(See photos by going to Recent Posts and Photos)
In September, I celebrated my sixtieth birthday. This November Don celebrated his 70th Birthday. Since both Don and I are having significant birthdays this year, and since I got his OK to write whatever I want, I am sharing my most recent experience aboard a fine boat with a fine captain and two lovely ladies. Happy Birthday, Don.
A Birthday Cruise: Prelude
One of the presents I got for my sixtieth birthday was new camera. Another was allowing myself a few days of vacation to crew aboard Williard G. This will have been my sixth trip on board that fine vessel.
The Seventy-ninth Street Boat Basin and Riverside Park
The Seventy-ninth Street Boat Basin is nestled in Riverside Park which runs from about 125th Street all the way down to 72nd Street on the west side of Manhattan. The West Side Highway runs along and through the park and in many places, runs along the River. At 79th Street there is a traffic circle where cars can enter and exit the highway. There is a stone rotunda that supports the traffic circle and overlooks the 79th St. Boat Basin. One can view boats from the top of the rotunda or follow curved stairways down to a mid level which is occupied by a simple but functional restaurant and bar area and tables that overlook the marina. A few more stairs downward lead to a promenade that borders the marina and runs the entire length of the park. On a fair day, the place is robust with diners, joggers, bikers, skaters and strollers. The whole Park, Highway and Boat Basin were designed and built in the nineteen thirties by the master builder, Robert Moses. It is a great place to get out and walk if you want to get some exercise and see what the locals are doing.
If you do stop there, make sure that you pay a visit to Zabar's at 80th Street and Broadway. They specialize in fresh breads, all kinds of cheeses, smoked fish, meats and salads of every kind. Anything that your pallet might desire, you will probably find at Zabar's. I think that they also have a coffee bar. On the second floor they have just about every kitchen gadget that was ever made. Last year I picked up a hanging thermometer for Don's new oven.
If you want to go to another part of the city, there is also a a subway stop at 79th and Broadway. You can get anywhere from there.
When I was much younger, I lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Riverside Park was one of my regular haunts. I would often walk, run or rollerblade from my apartment on 116th Street to rehearsals or gigs at the Ansonia Hotel on 72nd Street or at Lincoln Center and the Juilliard School at around 65th Street. In those days the Rotunda at 79th Street was a run down rat hole of a place. The doors were locked and the curved stairways were nasty passages to be scurried through with a plugged nose. The other paths and the promenade were usable, but they were in a much more disheveled state of repair. In those days I would often stop and stand on top of the Rotunda or along the promenade to watch the boats on the river and in the marina and fantasize about what it might be like to be onboard one of them.
The Journey Begins
On this beautiful fall day, however, I was the lucky one. I was the guy, casually but smartly dressed with my bags in tow, passing the onlookers, making my way down the curved stairs, around the folks at the restaurant, past the runners and strollers on the promenade, through the locked gate of the marina, and onto one of the prettiest boats in the whole place. What more could I ask for? Who would have thought?
When I arrived at Williard G. expecting to see Don, I was greeted by a beautiful blond woman who looked up, smiled and introduced herself as Shelly. Although my sails blow in a non traditional direction, my heart still skipped a beat. I had passed another body laying on deck when I rounded the corner at the slip, but hadn't paid much attention to it because I knew we needed to get under way ASAP. The clock was ticking and the tide was already starting to run against us. I stepped out onto the deck to wake and introduce myself to the sleeping body and was surprised to see another beautiful blond woman. I woke her. She was up immediately. She introduced herself as Kate and explained, somewhat apologetically, that she often recharged her batteries with a power nap. It so happens that I do the same thing. What really struck me, though, was that here was another beautiful blond woman. I thought to myself, "Don....you crafty Ol' sea dog, you certainly know how to pick your crew!"
That being said, let it be known to one and all that everyone on board acted with perfect propriety. We were there to have a good time and to go sailing and that's exactly what we did.
The 79th Street Boat basin is not only small, it is shallow, often wavy and when the river starts to move, it is filled with current. Even though we moved quickly after our perfunctory hellos, the current was already flowing at several knots upstream. When we let loose the first line, the boat immediately swung at a 45% angle, even with the bow thrusters at full tilt. We righted her as best we could and let go. In a moment we were swept into the marina, heading towards other boats, the shore and away from our exit point. Shelly, already on deck, started fending off the piles. I joined her and between the two of us we were able to keep them at bay. The only problem was that we were still headed toward the shallow. Also, because of the tide, the docks were way down low. The smaller ones had nothing to push on. I ended up jumping off several times to fend off and then grabbing the rails and jumping back on board as the boat started to move away. There were boats and docks everywhere and we were still being sucked into shore by a very strong current. I started to think that our trip was going to be very short. Don, however, somehow managed to get us turned around and pointed in the right direction. He hit the throttle and out we went, almost prancing, with our beautiful boat and her crew standing on deck and looking as if the whole thing had been nothing more than a preplanned exercise. Sailing is amazing that way.
As soon as we got into the main channel, Don informed me that I was on watch. I was happy to take the helm. No sooner had I done so, however, when a coast guard vessel approached and signaled us to move over. A luxury cruise ship was backing out of her slip and into the river. I moved over to give her some room and then immediately had to correct because a tug boat pushing barges up river was headed straight for us. Gradually things calmed down and we slowly made our way down the Hudson. We mugged for a few pictures, getting to know each other, admiring the views and always making a little room for the cruise ship until she passed us. This was a magnificent Sunday afternoon and the harbor was filled with sailing vessels.
By the way, Don is great about watches. He is very considerate and always, in my experience, takes the hardest watch for himself.
We passed Trump City, The Intrepid Air Space Museum, The Empire State Building, The Chelsea Piers, The Freedom Tower, the Statue of Liberty, the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and finally made our way out of the harbor.
On our way out, however, we did have a little sauce for the goose. On Kate's watch, a nasty little tug boat pulling a small barge seemed intent on running us down. There was plenty of water out there at this point but it just kept on heading straight at us. Finally, rather late in the game, it veered off to port as we took to starboard. Frankly, I think that it was just toying with us and giving us attitude. It must have been from New Jersey.
The first night at sea was cold and wavy. We did two person watches for safety and to give everyone time to get use to the boat. The weather reports had predicted favorable winds but we were cursed with dead on head winds. Everything would be reasonably stable for a while and then we would be sent reeling by a rogue wave. Shelly was on watch by this time and wisely tethered herself to the helm. I wore every piece of clothing that I had on board. In spite of the cold, we had a great time getting to know each other. Shelly and Don put up the main sail to stabilize us. Don kept the RPM's up on the diesel and we putted our way down the Jersey Shore.
On our second day, the wind shifted and we were able to cut the power. It's always so satisfying to turn off the motor and let the sails do their thing. The breezes were slowly getting warmer. The conversation picked up. Kate and Don played an improvised version of "Anything You Can Think, I Can Think Faster," she, with her smart phone App. and he in his head. Kate had more accurate answers by making calculations on her smart phone but Don was declared the winner because he could round off everything and arrive at a solution in a tenth of the time.
By the third day the wind was still coming from a good direction but so slight that we had to motor sail. We took turns sunning ourselves on the deck and appreciating the change of climate. In spite of the tepid wind, we made very good speed though, our sails were always perfectly tuned, thanks to Shelly.
Moorhead City, NC
We arrived in Moorhead City in the late afternoon on Wednesday. The weather there was sunny and warm. After the usual jockeying, we backed into the slip and secured the boat.
We checked out the marina and had drinks and dinner, talked and had a great time. On our second night. We had dinner at a local restaurant and good conversation back at the boat.
The Moorhead City Yacht Basin in is excellent. It is sheltered and has a courtesy car that can be rented at a rate of ten dollars for two hours.
In the morning, I tagged along with Kate and Shelly as they power walked around the neighborhood. The whole city was filling up with vendors and tourists for the North Carolina Seafood Festival. Unfortunately, we would be leaving town before the festivities got under way.
A college buddy of Don's had breakfast with us on the boat and then gave us a ride to the airport. We said our goodbyes with promises that we would meet again at some future point.
Kate is a force. She entertained us with all kinds of stories and gave us lessons in Spanish and wine tasting. She took the more difficult watches and made breakfast for us on our last day. She's an incredible woman.
Shelly is like a gazelle on board. She can feel a change of wind direction, adjust the sails and be back in her seat before the instruments find out that anything happened. She was equally diligent when we were in the slip, always making sure that the lines were just right. She is sweet, smart and totally beautiful.
Don is a great guy and skilled captain. Happy 70th.
16 January 2013
January 9, 2013
Up early and pulled the anchor at 8;00A.M.. Headed for the Saints, Sharon’s favorite place in the Caribbean. Reasonably pleasant sail down the coast of Guadeloupe past Pigeon Island. Could not enter the Saints from the north due to easterly winds so had to continue south to the western entrance. Anchored west of Pain De Sucre off of the Le Boes Joli Hotel. Very soon saw a dolphin swimming off our bow and enjoyed a lazy afternoon swimming and snorkeling in the bay. Great snorkeling with magnificent colored fish everywhere.
Next morning headed into town around the point to connect with the internet and check out of Guadeloupe. Shopped about town a bit, had some lunch, and headed back to the boat. Our next port of call will be St. Lucia but we will stop overnight in Dominica and Martinique without going ashore. We will blog again after we arrive in St. Lucia where we will stay a couple of days.
16 January 2013
Deshaies, January 7, 2013
We woke up to a cloudy morning which eventually cleared so we headed to customs around 10:00a.m. and found the very pleasant surroundings of Le Pelican a customs clearing location in Deshaies.
Explored the rest of town, stopping for coffee and a baguette at a local patisserie. Continued to look for a wifi friendly café. Stopped at the local market picked up some water, found the wifi café and had a beer while Sharon got on the internet. After reconnecting with the world we headed back to the boat where Don fixed the water maker and Sharon finished her book.
The following morning we headed for the Jardin Botanique. This is a beautifully organized and maintained botanical garden with varieties of plants from all over the southern part of the northern hemisphere and the northern part of the southern hemisphere and all of the continents are included. There are waterfalls, fish ponds, varieties of flowers from around the world. All of this is viewed via a walking path around the premises that takes about and hour and a half. At the very highest point there is a restaurant/bar where one could have a drink or rum punch and probably dinner later in the evening. Great view of the harbor and very interesting not to miss attraction.
Voyage to Montserrat
07 January 2013
January 5, 2013 Voyage to Montserrat
Up early, in Nevis, raised the main while still on the mooring and were off by 6:30a.m.. Our intention was to go to Decays, Guadeloupe. Winds south of east instead of the north of east so we are again at a close reach with waves coming at us. Not fun. After four or five hours of getting beat up we decided to sneak into Montserrat. We had never been there before and gone around the north side in 2010 so we not sure what to expect. The anchorage was far more calm and restful than trying to sail toward Decays and Don got a nice nap and Sharon cleaned up. The anchorage was a bit trolley so we decided to leave in the morning. Checked on the weather and again winds were suppose to be north of east. Our heading was 146 degrees so this should have been a nice sail. Not so, wind is at 105 degrees and we are so close hauled we can’t even make Decays. Beating to weather for five hours tacked over to starboard to get some northing for one hour. Our tack back to Decays was right on the mark. So while it was uncomfortable beating to weather for 6hrs. arriving in Decays is ecstasy . It is a protected harbor from the north, east and south, a quaint fishing village where many cruisers stop. We found a secure anchorage quickly and showered the salt away just in time to watch a beautiful sunset. As today is Sunday customs office is not open so we will check in in the morning and most likely stay a few days.
07 January 2013
January 4, 2013
Our sail to Nevis was mostly pleasant, closer reach than expected as well as higher winds than were expected but we sailed the whole way under full main and genoa. When we saw the familiar coastline of the four seasons resort and Sunshine’s restaurant we new we were there. We picked up a mooring quickly and settled in for the night. We were happy to be secure and out of the wind and waves.
Nice dinner, nice evening, music from the shore continued late into the night as usual.
07 January 2013
WE ARE BACK! St. Martin 12/31/12
It is the last day of 2012 and Sharon is arriving today. I have bumped into and created a friendship with George and Sam Chandler from the s/v Champlain, 2010 Oyster 56’ George is from Rochester and although we are in the same marina six boats apart we did not meet until Christmas Eve at a local restaurant. I had Christmas morning coffee and a boat tour and then several cockpit cocktail parties on both boats. At some point along the way I learned that last year at this time they had hooked up with Moby and Caroline Burton and had spent of the same good times with them.
Sharon arrived on time and we caught up and settled in before having New Years Eve cocktail with George & Sam on their boat. We retired to our boat about 7:30 and Don cooked lovely dinner, good vino, and we retired before midnight.
Had several projects in underway but were prepared to leave on January 4th. At 6:30 a.m. Jan. 4 we released our lines with the help of the early morning risers George and Sam and we were off to Nevis.