22 July 2007 | Mystic Seaport, CT
Clear skies. NE winds 5 to 10 kt. Seas 1 ft or less. High 77, low 59
A blog can be a very hungry monster - especially a sailing log-blog like this one. The longer I go without writing, the more I have to write in order to capture some of the extraordinary things we have seen and done, and the bigger job it becomes. And I have never tried to hide that I am an Olympic-class procrastinator. So much has happened since I last posted here and I'm not going to be able to philosophize or do any of it real justice, but I want to try to get caught up with a brief description of some of what's happened.
A week in New York City attending ThrillerFest. Just some snapshots. We were docked at the Newport Marina in Jersey City where we had very little protection - in spite of their "wave wall" from the constant wakes from the ferries. The boat rolled rail to rail about every ten minutes or so all day, and then as soon as the ferries stopped at night, it was a lovely place to be. I took the PATH train to 33rd St. and then changed trains again at Times Square to arrive at Grand Central. The last two nights, Friday and Saturday, I stayed at the hotel instead of commuting. It all went by in such a blur. The high points? I moderated a panel with Lee Child, David Hosp, Nick Santora, Lori Andrews, and Phil Hawley. They were all brilliant. It was called The Art of Deception and we turned it into a sort of Liar's Panel where they all had to read a brief section from their books and then the audience had to guess if they had done the research for it or if they were lying. They fooled the audience almost every time. Then they had to pick audience-generated topics out of a hat and do a riff on it - and the audience had to decide if they were using facts or fiction. It was a hoot and a great example of how talented authors can make fiction on the fly. Another great moment was meeting Paul Garrison/Justin Scott who has authored several of the best sailing thrillers ever and getting to sit at the bar in NYC and discuss the book biz with him. Then there was the extraordinary time was Saturday night after the banquet when I closed the bar and was headed up to my room at 1:00 a.m. and a couple of friends, Britin Haller and author Shane Gericke came by with Jeffery Deaver and they all invited Fred Rea and me to join them. Off we went to Greenwich Village and we walked the streets and rode in cabs and ate out at a quaint little Italian place and danced and drank a lovely wine and I listened to Jeff Deaver telling tales about his life. What a generous and kind man to spend an evening sharing his time and life with us! I'll never forget it. We got back at 4:00 a.m. and Jeff had to be the luncheon speaker at noon the next day. I hope he got a little more sleep than I did! Finally, there was the very special time I got to spend with Shane, author Zoë Sharp and her husband Andy Butler when I invited them out to the boat Sunday. I dragged them through the subways and the PATH train and we descended on Bruce and Chip and had a wonderful time sipping wine in the cockpit, looking at the Manhattan skyline and doing a rehash off all we'd seen and done at the conference. The absolute best thing about being an author is getting to know all the wonderful people who are a part of this publishing business.
We left Newport Marina at about 8:30 the next morning and dodging ferries and tugs and all the wild traffic, we made our way around lower Manhattan and into the East River. I will put up a photo book here of some of the pics I took. The weather was lovely and the sights were really breath-taking as we passed under the Brooklyn Bridge and passed the UN, et al and with the tide running with us we were flying along, clocking better than 11 knots at one point. The currents at Hell's Gate lived up to their reputation and we actually saw a whirlpool that probably could have sucked a dinghy right under. Then we were out into the Sound and we crossed to Oyster Bay and picked up a mooring. The mansions and homes on the shore, the yachts moored in front of the Yacht Club all told me that we probably not going to be able to anchor. Indeed, we called and picked up a mooring and found it cost an astounding $1.50 per foot just to spend one night on their mooring!
The next morning we took on fuel at their dock (priced comparably to their moorings) and then we motored most of the way across the Sound to New Haven where we anchored just inside the entrance to the large commercial port. I was determined to make it to Yale to see the Skull and Bones house as research for my book. We barbequed ribs as the sun set and later that night it started to rain. The next morning, it was blowing and raining and we decided that a long dinghy ride wasn't in the cards, and we wanted better protection for Matilda. We upped anchor and took off for Branford, just a few miles to the east, but the wind and rain were cold and right in our faces. It was an hour and a half slog to get into the Branford River and tied up to the marina there. We had a late lunch at the marina restaurant and had the best New England clam chowder I have ever tasted! I'm making my goal to try the chowder in every restaurant we visit!
The next morning we walked a mile and a half to a Hertz place and rented a car to drive into New Haven. We had a great time walking the campus and driving around the Connecticut countryside on Thursday. It rained a bit and we were glad we'd done the car. The next morning, I returned the car and walked the long walk back while Bruce readied the boat (code for rebuilding the bilge pump) and we were off by 10:00 bound for Mystic. That day we had the best sail of the trip so far - broad reaching at seven knots, then tacking down wind between the tip of Long Island and the Connecticut shore. I go down below and work on my novel and every time I pop back up topsides, the scenery has changed dramatically.
We've spent two nights here in Mystic, visited the Mystic Seaport Museum and Village and it all just gets better and better (including the chowder). Okay, so this part of the country does suffer a little bit from a terminal case of "cute," but you have to love the fact that we were sitting outside last night eating dinner at the cockpit table when a steamboat went by with a live Dixieland style band playing jazz. There were kayaks paddling by, sailboats, powerboats and everyone was smiling and waving. Not a sole gave us the famous Florida one-finger salute! This place is amazing!
So this morning, as I write this, Bruce is checking the oil on the engine (good news again, the oil level is unchanged) and Chip is bouncing around my feet ready to be walked the quarter mile to land (why is it that we always get the dock farthest from land? I think we are going to have to write a book about the Farthest Dock Exercise and Diet Program) and we are readying ourselves to head out to Newport today. It will be about 37 some miles and the wind is on the nose. We've got to get going, it's going to be a long trip.
So, now that I've fed the blog, I can jump up and get ready to go, too.