"There is nothing more pleasant than cruising on a boat with the whole family."
Letter from Empress Catherine the Great

Friday, October 6, 2017

September 28 to October 5 -- Three Sails on Three Different Boats

The season is drawing to a close and after the 87 day cruise, my craving for sailing has waned with my energy so that I have not been aggressive in filling up my calendar with sailing dates.
Then there were some recovery from stomach flu days, days for doctors appointments, for Yom Kippur, for the funeral mass of the Commodore's wife's mom, a movie, cleaning, and an unsuccessful attempt (so far) at the repair of the swim platform door (I need longer bolts). Our last night aboard for 2017 was Tuesday, October 3.

But three lovely sailing days with just the right winds. First was aboard ILENE, with Sid and Jan. He worked with me, practicing a more commercial and less litigious type of law and has just retired; so now they both are available for weekday sails. We were underway for five hours and went out almost to Peningo Neck at Rye. On the way out I changed course by up to 30 degrees, about five times to keep the wind away from our stern. Lots of conversation about the bad old days and our other colleagues before some wine followed by dinner at Artie's, what with the Club restaurant being closed on Tuesday, and just in time to get the last launch ride back to the boat.
Next day being Wednesday, I returned to the boat to pack up more things and for the Old Salts.

Nine of us, including Erwin, a founding member of the Salts, visiting from Florida, sailed on Bennett's Ohana which handled the winds gracefully. About two hours of zigging and zagging in the Sound between Eastchester and Littleneck Bays, before the libation hour. Mike and Sandy gave me a ride home .
The next day Rhoda invited me to sail with her on Jazz Sail. I was going to the Club anyway to pack up almost a;ll of the rest of our things and we had a great two hours under genoa alone, into Littleneck Bay and back.
These autumn sails were so pleasant. We did not have the storms of autumn and it got Indian summer warm. The kind of weather which makes a person try to keep going later into the season. The only problem is the knowledge that the bitter cold grey days of winter are breathing down our necks and hauling and doing the other work needed to prepare for winter when it is ugly and cold is not pleasant. So my target hauling date is Monday October 16, giving me two more days after before I'm flying to Oregon to visit family and friends there. Another plan, waiting to be upset by events.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

September 20 to 27 -- NO SAILING and Five Nights In Our Apartment.

Yes, the last night of the prior post and five more during this one were spent ashore. My plan to sail after services during the afternoon of the second day of Rosh Hashona fell through due to lack of interest. Two folks nibbled but no one bit the hook. A wider cast net will be deployed nest year. But on that day I returned to ILENE, to pick up a few things we had forgotten to take with us, and to pick up Mark and Liz of s/v Saving Grace, who took a mooring in the Harlem field. They spent three nights in our den and are what I call good travelers. It was their first visit to New York and they filled each day at hour home and later from their mooring with seeing the sights; Highline (shown here at 30th street amidst a whole new city that is under construction over the old railroad yards at the extreme west side of Manhattan),
Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty,
9-11 Memorial, Empire State Building, Met Museum of Art, and a ball game at Yankee Stadium. Whew! They are high energy folks!

We had dinner on their boat,
one at a restaurant in our neighborhood and one in our apartment. Lene taught them her favorite easy card game, "Oh Heck," but it seems that it is almost the same as their game of Wizard except that Wizard has a few extras including four wizard cards which trump any trump card. Mark has very good card sense.
I read their blog: www.svsavinggrace.com
They have lived aboard for six years but until 2016, remained in the Great Lakes, where it is very cold in the winters. Last year they sailed to the Bahamas via Bermuda. They like longer passages such as North Carolina direct to Nova Scotia and Nova Scotia direct to Boston, so Maine and the rest of New England except Boston is a virgin cruising ground for them. I read the part of their blog that dealt with their arrival in Nova Scotia to Baddeck and thence to New York. We were on the same journey but in Nova Scotia they went to many places that we jumped across and we likewise visited many that they missed out on; reason for a return trip.
I took in a very inexpensive short one woman musical off Broadway. There were one evening and two days of religious services and I got a gastrointestinal problem which slowed me down quite a bit.
We did a lot of chores in getting our house ready for the painters who are at work in it now, the car inspection, laundry, groceries, etc.
I checked out buying a new section of elkhide to recover the portion of the steering wheel at the top where my hands have worn through it during the last twelve years, and figured out what is wrong with and cleaned up the Magma kettle grill.
But the biggest deal is the addition of a 1250 pound slab of lead to the bottom of ILENE's keel, where it will do the most good in correcting her "tenderness" problem -- her bad habit of heeling over too much when the winds are strong. Making the pendulum (which is the keel) longer and heavier will diminish this bad habit but will also increase her draft by less than two inches, so we will have to see that our mooring is moved further from the Clubhouse into slightly deeper water. The slab of metal will be shipped from Mars Metals in Ontario, Canada to Harpswell, Maine, where it will be installed at the Great Island Boat Yard in Casco Bay during a week to be determined next July or August. So having decided to do the work in Maine we thereby decided which direction to sail to next summer and are now booking a winter storage spot at the Huguenot YC in New Rochelle for this coming winter.
We had lunch with the old salts on Wednesday, but decided that I was not up to the sailing part. I did not even do any of the boat chores that require effort, but just lolled about trying to get my strength back. This too shall pass.
We discovered another thing during our time in the City and then returning to the boat: out cats like the boat better. Smart cats. Sunset over The Bronx: lovely.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

September 13-19 -- The First Week Back

Only one sail and that on Bennett's Ohana with the Old salts the day after we got back. The meeting was very well attended and we packed some fifteen folks onto Ohana and Deuce of Hearts. I sailed on the former for about two hours with Bennett's new sail, a "code zero" -- a sort of light weight spinnaker that furls upon itself and is tacked to the anchor roller and hauled up by the spinnaker halyard. The furler is operated by a continuous loop line led from the bow, next to mast and back to the cockpit. It is going to take a bit more time for us to learn how to use the new sail effectively, and then it will provide more speed. Lene joined the luncheon and the sailing but went back to ILENE during the libations section of the afternoon.
We took the subway to Manhattan with a family whose boat was on a guest mooring at the Harlem. They had sailed here from Copenhagen and planned to go on the Nova Scotia. I put them onto this blog as a reference work. We went into the city to get our car and mail and as to the latter, it was a good thing because a check we had mailed out in June had come back as "undeliverable" so I got to pay the vendor by hand delivery.
Our apartment was in great condition and we had planned to live on ILENE for the first three weeks while the apartment is painted, but the forecast proximity of Hurricane Jose caused us to move ourselves, our stuff and the cats back to the apartment for a few days during the encounter. The strongest winds predicted are only gusts of 40 knots and we have ridden out stronger winds on our anchor but a course change for Jose of just two degrees to the left would mean much stronger winds. Fortunately the hurricane seems to be northbound, passing east of us, giving us the gentler winds of its western half and from the north, without a long way to work up huge waves in Eastchester Bay. But hurricanes are large, powerful, dangerous, full of hot air and capable of moving in any direction at any time (sort of like the incumbent in the White House) so it pays to take precautions.
We had an unhappy experience at the Club's dining room: The food was great but service was so slow that our alfresco dinner turned out to be eaten in darkness. This is a problem that will have to be fixed. I can't invite guests there, who have schedules to meet, if they may have to wait 90 minutes for their food.
We met up with PC Mark and Marsha of Leeds the Way, for a beer on their return to City Island, met them for breakfast the next day, and helped them haul out, deflate, roll up and store their dinghy.
We attended a party given by our financial adviser, Tom Mingone in his lovely home in Rockland County, NJ. Tom has sailed with us but has a power yacht. At the party we unexpectedly met Seth and Sue, who belong to our congregation and have sailed with us aboard ILENE. We ddi not know that t hey were clients of Tom.
Sunday we drove up to Kent CT with our friend Sheila to visit Fran. Both Fran and Sheila have sailed with us.
At Torah study class I invited the whole group to sail with me after services on the second day of Rosh Hashona. But the hurricane may mess that up this year. The holidays are about repentance and the Rabbi said that repentance for our failings is analogous to tying back together the two pieces of a rope that connect us with God which get severed by our sins and failures. His point was that the resulting rope is shorter, bringing us closer to God. But I later pointed out that the rope is also weaker because a knot reduces the strength of a rope. Only sailors will see the negative corollary in the metaphor he described,
We met up with Christine and Heather who have sailed with us in New York and Miami. Christine who has a way with birds, is a volunteer at the Greenville Animal Shelter in Westchester which we visited with them. This huge American bald eagle is injured and cannot fly -- but he has a home here.
And my book group met at the home of Lee and patty (who met us in Red Brook Harbor on the Cape a couple of weeks ago) to discuss Robert Massie's Catherine the Great, which is a land book except for voyages on the river and the Baltic and battles at sea with the Turks. (Did you know that American naval hero, John Paul Jones, had a brief and unhappy professional relationship with Catherine? She imported his talent but her Russian naval brass made his life miserable.)
Leaving the boat on Monday was after pickeling/winterizing the water maker and turning it off electrically for the season and securing everything above decks below, tying extra lines around the sails, pumping the bilge, carrying off eleven bags of stuff including food, and taking the dink to the dock, hauling it up, removing its water retaining plug and securing it firmly to the dock. A lot of work to prepare for the worst.
Still, an easy first week back.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Days 86 and 87, September 11-12 -- Clinton CT to the Black Rock YC, CT to HOME at the Harlem Yacht Club --35 and 37 NM

We have stopped several times at the Fayerweather YC in Blackrock CT, but whenever we tried to visit the Black Rock YC,

about half a mile less far up the creek, they were too busy, having a regatta, sold out, etc. This time they were open and a very nice club it is, founded in 1928, with a large modern club house with a swimming pool and tennis courts. But the restaurant is closed on Mondays so we cannot report on the cuisine. Like the Harlem it an all-moorings yacht club served by a launch, but unlike the Harlem is has no dock that sailboats can use, even to tie up temporarily near high tide to wash or take on water!
The passage here held promise, but the winds got light, with periods of sailing interspersed with periods of motoring.  Elapsed time of 6.25 hours.  We had two miles getting out into the sound, a straight shot of due west for 28 miles and then a bit more northerly and going in at the end around this damaged daymarker.
Tide was with us almost the whole way.

Our final day was likewise almost uneventful with the primary waypoint, Good old Execution Rocks,  a straight shot after clearing
black Rock and the Penfield reef behind it.

Such a windless day that we did not even put up even a single sail. We had tide almost the entire 5.25 hours underway. We gave the diesel its annual workout, intended to burn off carbon deposits that will accumulate if it is not worked hard occasionally. We ran for half an hour at 2500 rpms. Maybe that is not fast enough?
The passage was not totally eventless however, including a first in my life of sail. We were motoring along off Huntington Harbor with auto pilot steering when this craft came up rapidly behind us and close to us.
I slowed to three knots and the voice came over "Have you had a safety inspection in the last year?" "No, not in the last 28 years!" They closed to two feet from our port side, I opened the gate and two of the four Coasties aboard jumped onto ILENE and politely asked for my driver's license and the boat's registration papers. I showed them our life raft and EPIRB, not required on their check list, and the fire extinguishers and life preservers. They did not check whether we had flares or whether they were up to date. They noted that the manufacturer's inside label in our life preservers was worn and gave us a clean bill of health. I believe that cruisers like us (evident by our dinghy hanging from its davit) tend to have the required safety features and more. It is the casual day sailor who is likely to not be so well equipped.
Dave, our senior launch operator, told me that the Club had rented our mooring from almost the entire time we were away to the owners of a boat that did not sail much. That is why our new bridles, installed this spring, were so clean.

As you know, this blog will continue, but the summer cruise of 2017 is now concluded. I enjoy being away but there is no place like home.Thanks for reading.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Day 85, September 10 -- Block Island to Clinton CT -- 49 NM

Avid readers may recall that day two of this summer's cruise involved the reciprocal course. But that day, as I recall, the weather was wild and foggy while today it was clear with light winds. Both times, though, our transit of The Race was aided by tidal current. We left at 9:15 with reefed main and small jib but soon it was apparent that the bigger sails were needed. Our speed varied with the wind and several times, including the last two hours, we were motoring with the main up more from stabilization than for speed. neither Columbus nor sailboat racers can do this but we can and not being purists, we all to often do.
We had planned to stop in North Cove in the Connecticut River, a slightly shorter passage. But obtained local knowledge from Mark and Marsha whose "Leeds The Way" got stuck in the mud there which was confirmed by an official of the Yacht Club there in a phone call during our passage today: The place has silted in and is only good at high tide. So we considered alternatives and Clinton won the debate. On the way north we stayed at the Cedar Island Marina. They offer free rides to the local supermarket but the rent they charged was over $200 for the night. Lene called the Town Dock, operated by the Harbor Master. "No we do not have any moorings, but we have space at our dock for our off season rate of $1 per foot. We could take a cab to the supermarket and back and still come out ahead. Several times over the years we have had submarines coming to or from their base in New London across our path. This year we saw a slightly older  watercraft.
We arrived at 4:30 and once tied on, while Lene was talking at the Harbor Master's office, a very nice couple, Lawrence and Alyson, offered us a ride to the supermarket and even gave us a tour of the town beach (which we had passed on the way in. Across from the supermarket was Taste of China, a restaurant with pretty good food. After dinner though, no cabs. So we went back to the supermarket and another nice lady gave us a ride back to the dock.
No matter how enjoyable a travel experience is, as the last of its days approach, a longing for home sets in. I have reached that stage in this cruise.  Our exciting new cruising grounds are in our memories and these days we are just enjoying each day as a passage bringing us home. We have lots of time, no deadline, but the end is near.

In the morning before casting off, having provisioned the night before, we watered the boat, I washed her and we fueled her up. (When she was diving into the crests of waves in Hog Island channel, as the large volumes of water rushed aft over her top, they brought out a large number of bits of black composting vegetable matter: leaves and such which had gotten caught in the channels under the top through which the lines run aft. they washed out onto the coach roof and the cockpit and were washed away today.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Day 84, September 9 -- Cuttyhunk to Block Island -- 38 NM

A rather uneventful passage. we were underway 6.5 hours. Wind was supposed to be from the north to our going west for a nice beam reach. Our sails were up immediately out of the channel, full sails, anticipating lighter wind. But once all set and on our way they only moved us at three knots so the motor had to come on again. I took an off watch to do some paperwork and during that hour the wind came up. I shut down the engine and we sailed at 6.8 to 7.1 knots, on a close reach for over two hours until the wind got shut off, or more specifically got very light and from the west, dead in front of us. So we furled the genoa and motored the rest of the way.
Post labor day rates for the town's moorings are only $25, rather than about double that when we were here in June. But we got an even better rate by anchoring. The last time I anchored here was on my 28 foot Pearson with Jesse, the sailing dog, as my companion. We spent a lay day here, hunkered down during a noreaster. "Active Captain" which publishes the unfiltered views of sailors who had been here, presented conflicting views of whether this is a good place to anchor. One problem is that the large central portion of the pond is too deep. Another is that as a result, in the busy season, the area for anchoring is small and there are many boats. I've always though anchoring in these circumstances was a disaster waiting to happen. But this time of year there are few boats and the forecast was for light winds so we anchored. In June we went ashore and shopped and dined. This time we did not lower the dink.
The anchoring area is in the NE part of the pond, furthest from the frenetic area of  "The Oar." We dined aboard. If "Leeds The Way" had been here, we would have dinked in and dined with them, but they made it to Martha's Vineyard today, the objective of their cruise, and I congratulated them.
Nice sunset, tranquil, not like the wild weather we had here on our way north in June.
This is what scattered showers look like.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Day 83, September 8 -- Mattapoisett to Cuttyhunk -- 16 NM

During the night, the hook of the snubbing line fell off the anchor chain. So we were not snubbed and the anchor was "noisy during the night.
Today's sail was longer than the nominal 16.4 NM. We put up sails in the harbor and these were double reefed main and genoa. The Admiral feared a rough passage and it was a beat but with gentle winds from the SW. So as we beat we were heeled but it was sunny and comfortable and with the short distance and an early morning start, the four knot average speed was all we needed. We began and ended on starboard, on the mostly westerly course, interrupted by half an hour on port, headed north.
Cuttyhunk is frequently quite crowded but not not after Labor Day; those white dots are not lobster pots but mooring balls.
No reason to lower the dink: none of the attractions of the shore remain open.We anchored in the square of dredged inner harbor, toward its NE corner, in 14 feet of water at high tide on 50 feet of snubbed chain.
Cleaning  the boat, cooking and planning where to go next were major afternoon activities. Block Island is the winner for tomorrow, with a possibility of connecting with Leeds The Way there. The two also-rans were: Point Judith Pond and the little bay just inside the western headland of the Sakonnet River. The former had the advantage of permitting me to confront and overcome the memories of a very bad night there in a Noreaster about seven years ago. But calls for local knowledge generated intelligence that the upper portion of the channel we would have to traverse to get there was not recommended except at high tide. Sakonnet had only one advantage: I have never anchored there.
After Block we currently plan to pick two harbors, each about one each third of the way home, which, subject to change, would get us home on the twelfth, two days ahead of the non-schedule.