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

Sunday, September 11, 2016

September 6-11 -- Including a Wedding and a "Funeral".

Three sail days. averaging 2.5 hours. First was Old Salts after lunch went off promptly after all the problems with service the week before.  Mark, of Deuce of Hearts, accepted my invitation to sail on ILENE, I think his first time. He helmed through Hart Island Sound which was tricky because we came close hauled, and out past the red buoy marking No Nations rocks. Then a rookie, Sarah, a new social member, took over and did well deeply into Manhasset Bay, about a half mile past the racing barge and back out to Big Tom. I took over and sailed between the rock and the Island. The other three aboard were regulars. The refreshments were aboard ILENE, where we were joined by four of the five, including Bennett, who had sailed on Ohana.
The next day after a few hours of boat chores I got picked up by Rhoda and we sailed Jazz Sail over essentially the same route as the day before. I brought my whipping kit along but found that I had whipped the ends of most of her lines on a prior trip. The genoa sheet was new and its ends are now properly whipped. I noticed that the boat's main, when fully and tightly raised, ends about 14 inches (estimate) below the top of the mast. Also, the sail's foot ends about the same distance short of the aft end of the boom. In other words, it appears that the boat can carry a larger mainsail. Rhoda took photos and will check out my theory with Catalina. The more pressing problem however, as we are entering the stormy season, is the wobbly nature of the attachment of the port bow cleat to the boat. At least the starboard one is secure. We had dinner at Archies, our first time there, and were pleased with the food.
An "O" (Other -- related to sailing but not sailing or living or working aboard) was for the wedding of Erica, daughter of our friends Bruce and Linda, former Harlemites, at the Mamaroneck Yacht Club. A lovely wedding and we met two other former Harlemite couples, PC Tex and Maria, and Ken and Linda, who have recently gone over to power boating. The other three couples at our table were all Huguenot power boaters.
Finally, a day sail with the three adult children of Joel and Leticia, Harlemites who died in the past few years. My friend Jim, formerly of "Aria," set up the day for us. I got some boat chores done and the boat completely ready to go before they arrived, including a reef in the main because the winds were strong. The primary purpose of the sail was the dispersal of the ashes of their parents who loved sailing and were very active Harlem sailors though I had never sailed with them. The guests declined my offer to provide a religious component to the ceremony because their parents were secular ethical humanists. The scattering took about 20 minutes near Execution Rocks, with the mourners seated on the starboard coach roof between the mast and the dodger. There was weeping and appropriately I kept away from them, at the helm, during this time, keeping on port tack on a near  beam reach, with the wind slightly aft of the beam to reduce heeling. It served a cathartic purpose for them, I believe. The rest of our time together was pleasant, social and happy. They had brought snacks and wine and we had a very light early dinner at the club after returning to the mooring.

In my religion there are three major commandments or "mitzvahs": "Visit the sick. Comfort the bereaved. And rejoice with the bride and groom." During this period no one was sick but I was able to accomplish the other two.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

What is happening?

From Aug 26 to date there has been a vast increase in the readership if this blog. From 30 page views per day to about 150. I'm not complaining; I write this for public consumption. But I'm curious. Have I done something right? Any explanatory comments would be appreciated. thank you. Roger

Wednesday to Labor Day -- first six days back

Wednesday I lowered the dink, tied up the davit bar, drove the dink to the dock, unlocked and removed the outboard and took it to the locker, deflated the dink using the pump to suck all the air out of it to make it smaller, tied it up, and, with friends, hauled it upstairs in the locker house and into the locker where itislocked up for the winter. Amazingly, while it was getting soft on cool fall-like evenings, I never had to pump more air into it since I pumped it up in mid June. Lene did the laundry.

The afternoon was the Old Salts sail. The only problem was lunch, which our restaurant fouled up completely by not having food. We waited two hours and then half of us left without lunch. Things like this have got to stop. It's no good for the would-be diners, and not good for the Club either, which needs its members to patronize its restaurant. Things came off the rails this time and it must not happen again. There were 15 of us and I sailed with about half of them on Bennett's "Ohana" and  the others on Mark's "Deuce of Hearts". I took ILENE out of circulation this week until her transformation from "cruising/live aboard" status back to a day sailer could be completed. Two and a half pleasant hours underway followed by the customary appetite ruination aboard Ohana. Two new faces. Lisa, is a new non-boat owning member whose family keeps a big power boat. The week before had been her debut session with us and she repeated this time on the same boat, Deuce of Hearts. I told her that next week she must join a keel boat to become a real sailor by getting the sensation of heeling. The other newcomer, this also his second time, was Bob, a friend of Marcia, who helmed Ohana a lot.

Thursday I took the outboard up to Island Outboard for adjustment and winter service -- except not the oil changes due to the little use she got this summer, I estimate less than eight hours. And then Lene and I filled our mini SUV with stuff, including the kitties and their stuff and transitioned to our urban apartment. Funny thing that night. Lene was laying by my right side, as she does aboard. When I got up in the middle of the night she said "What are you doing?!"  Well, I was climbing over her like I have to do in the Pullman berth when we are aboard! At home it is not needed because I can get up from the left side of the bed. Force of habit.

Friday I spent about three hours on the boat, test-installing the replacement stanchion, packing up a second carload of stuff and preparing ILENE for the expected arrival of hurricane Hermine:
chafing gear on the mooring pennants, tighter wrapping of the roller furled headsails, closer positioning of the anchor, and removal of blocks and lines that could be whipping around in a big blow. Mark and Marcia invited me to join them on "Leeds the Way", out of Minnefords South Marina. Also joining us were Walt and Rita and a couple from our hosts' ski club. Into Manhasser Bay for two hours a of sailing. I trimmed a bit.  Dinner after at Artie's.

Saturday through Monday we visited our friend Lianne in her home in Great Barrington and brought Ellen along.  We were joined for dinners by Susan and Stan, did theater and visited Leanne's son and his family in Kinderhook NY. No sailing, but all was not lost. Herman Mellville, author of Moby Dick, which got such big play in New Bedford, wrote that Great American Novel in his home, Arrowhead, in Pittsfield. I learned a lot during a guided tour of the house by a very well informed docent, Jeff Aldrich, who intends to enter graduate school in American Colonial History soon. The view from Mellville's study of Mt. Greylock, the highest in Massachusetts, was excellent and he wrote that he saw in its ridgeline the back and tale of a whale. Moby Dick was a huge commercial and popular failure when published in the 1850's. It was not recognized for its genius until 70 years later, long after he was buried. Between New Bedford, a few weeks ago, and The Berkshires, now, lies most of the latitude of Massachusetts and a whole lot of whaling content.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Day 39 -- August 30 -- HOME. -- HYC, Eastchester Bsy. -- 25.6 nm

We left Northport at 9:45, sailing off the mooring. The first ten miles were fine sailing on various port reaches. But once out of of Huntington Bay and off Eatons Neck, we were headed east with the wind behind us and there was not enough of it. I tried wing on wing and heading 40 degrees off course to "hot it up" as the racers say, but no luck. Against the tidal flow we were making 2.5 to 3 knots over the ground. Columbus could handle this or worse, but we don't have to...the engine was deployed. Arrived at home mooring 2 pm.  Lene took the bus and subway to our apartment to get our  car. I cleaned the boat. We will live aboard tonight and tomorrow night, as we did before the cruise, before returning with Witty and Alfie to our apartment,

So:
39 days, 28 of them in Massachusetts.
22 passages to 22 ports, 8 of them new ones, with 16 lay days.
766 nautical miles.
Only one day of rain --  1.5 hours while underway -- and a few nights; but even more unusual: NO FOG!
A fun time.
Now if I can get my laptop to work or learn how to add pictures via edits to posts is iPad,  you will soon get photo illustration.

And summer is not over yet.

Day. 38 -- August. 29 -- Northport -- 36.7 nm

Underway from 8:30 to 4:15. It should have been a straight shot from the New Haven breakwater to G "13", off Eatons Neck, the entrance to Huntington Bay, off which Northport is a busy cove. We had sails up all the way, but the motor on as well most of the way as well while we tacked first across the Sound to Near Port Jeff and then back across again to near Norwalk, before heading to Huntington. The tide was foul from 10 a.m. Northport is our only stop on Long Island on this cruise though earlier this season we did visit Cold Spring Harbor and Sheepshead Bay, both on the Island.
We did have a half hour of blissful close hauled sailing when the wind came up but there were no waves yet. ILENE seemed so happy to be slicing through the water so cleanly. But then as suddenly as it started it was over and we furled sails and motored through Huntington Bay to our mooring, provided by Seymours. This may have been the first time I entered Northport, after perhaps ten trips, which was not a weekend day and there was no wind. Normally both the wind and the other boats provide a challenge.
The only challenge was the black flies which have congregated on ILENE, the last few low-wind days. They like to bite our ankles, which a spray diminishes but does not eliminate. There were at least fifty of them today, standing on the stern of the boat except when they came forward to bite us. And as on the other days, once we come to port they seem to vanish, thank goodness. Is there any insect expert who can explain this phenomenon? And speaking of insects, we saw no Mosquitos this whole trip. Is is extra precaution taken by public health officials in an attempt to ward off the Zima virus?
We went out for dinner, this our last night "on the road".  Tomorrow we expect to arrive back at the Harlem.
I did an analysis of our food bills during the first two complete monthly billing cycles of the credit card we use. These cycles were since we moved aboard in June. About 29% of our total food budget is spent in restaurants, as compared to groceries. This statistic has to be taken with a grain of salt because a small amount of credit card charges in grocery stores is for non-food items and some food eaten "out" is in coffee shops where cash is paid. But we eat well and inexpensively by cooking our own food.
A calm cool night.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Day 37. -- August 28. -- New Haven YC -- 30 nm

Some folks, alright, it was Ilene, have suggested that yesterday's post was boring. Well it is true that it was closer to a log than a diary, but I do not get bored by sailing and enjoy the changes that the different conditions compel me to confront. And there were not many land activities to report on in Niantic. In fact I have answered a friend's question: "Do you ever get bored with sailing?" with a question of my own: "Do you ever get bored making love with your wife?"

That said, today's passage, 30 miles by the direct route, was as close to boring as it gets. A nice warm sunny day with not enough wind to sail so the engine worked all day, 9:15 to 4:30, with the sails up but hardly contributing.

So what to do on such a day to add excitement? A three mile detour for a passage through the Thimble Islands, where I have never been. They are granite outcroppings that are private and have homes on them -- No trespassing. One can anchor in the passages between them, but holding is not good and cables run across from island to island.  There is little protection from the prevailing southwesterlies. Those are the reasons we did not anchor. Instead, we dropped sails for unimpeded maneuverability and took the tour. There are many buoys, navigational and mooring, and many islands and it took some figuring to make sure we were in the correct passage. A good day for it, with light winds, and we drove slowly. Many smaller power boats were on moorings inside, the folks just lolling about and enjoying doing nothing.

We have never been by boat to New Haven either. The marinas are quite deeply into the large, mostly industrial, mostly shallow harbor, near the city, several miles away. There were two anchorages. One is directly behind the massive sea walls that protects the harbor. We took the other, the New Haven Yacht Club, nestled in Morris Cove, on the eastern side of the harbor behind Lighthouse Point. They are friendly and offer a free mooring to transient cruisers and said it was available. But when we inquired we learned that it is too small in weight and in distance from other moorings for ILENE so we anchored about 100 yards away with plenty of snubbed chain out and enjoyed another of Lene's delicious home (boat) cooked dinners. The club appears to be small based on the number of its moorings, with most boats in the 20 to 30 foot range and the clubhouse is small and serves food only for parties. It probably thereby has low cost. Still, if we had more time on this cruise it would have been fun to lower the dink, spend a day and get to know the locals.
It was supposed to be a rather calm night, but despite being behind both the breakwater and Lookout Point, what wind there was rocked the boat. Not a comfortable night's sleep.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Day 36. August 27 -- Niantic YC -- 45.4 nm

Yes, from  Newport, which we left at 9, we had planned to go to Stonington CT, a lot closer to Newport than Niantic. But the tide turned fair just about when we were off Stonington, at about 2, so we kept going for another three hours to Niantic, where we had never been, always a plus for me, and dropped anchor, a calm night being predicted, at the edge of the YC's mooring field, at 5.
We raised sails in Newport Harbor and during the seven miles to Point Judith, heading 230 degrees magnetic, with the engine at 2000, tide and wind to starboard, we were going between 7 and 7.8 knots.
We rounded Point Judith at 10:45 and it brought up a lot of sad and scary memories in me of a prior encounter with Point Judith, before this blog began, a sea story which I will tell you about soon, though parts of it are written up in the decision of the arbitration panel of the admiralty reports.
From the Point the course was 270 for the 18.5 miles to Watch Hill Passage,  along the western half of the south coast of Rhode Island.
Before we left on this cruise I was talking with an actress friend of Lene's at a party in Hoboken who said she grew up in Charleston RI. "Never heard of it," I said. Well it's along that coast. That coast is sandy barrier beaches compared to the eastern part of the Atlantic coast of RI, which is rocky ledges giving way to harbors. "No boats in Charleson", I said. Well actually, I took a close look at the charts and at the coastline with binoculars and saw two tiny inlets, navigable by very shallow draft vessels, into Ninigret and Quonochontaug Ponds. There are no buoys marking the way in, no soundings indicating the depth inside and no references in cruising guides to either pond. In other words, they don't exist as far as cruisers or the Coast Guard are concerned. But if the folks who love them would consent and a developer with lots of money would dredge, they could become the next Lake Tashmoos or Cuttyhunks of this world.
Early in the passage along this coast there was no wind so I furled the Genoa and close hauled the main, to provide stability only, and we motored at 6.5, dropping down to 6. But 45 minutes later, at 11:30, the wind came back, off our port quarter so sails came out again to assist, which brought the boat back to 6.5. It was another clear sunny day, with a bit of haze but we saw Block Island all the way to Watch Hill passage. At 12:30, the boat speed came up to 6.7 knots so we turned off the engine and sailed the rest of the way, except for the last mile and a half. We started sailing at only 5.3 knots with wind on our port beam. With full sails, we were making half our apparent wind speed. When the wind got up to 12 apparent, we got up to 6.
We came through the passage at 7.1 knots at 1:50 p.m., though the tidal current was not supposed to get favorable until 2 p.m. In Fishers Island Sound and elsewhere today there wore small wind holes. Microbursts are narrow area, short duration, destructive winds, unlike hurricanes because of their small size and lack of a circular pattern. These wind holes were the negative matter of microbursts. We saw wind on the water's surface everywhere except for the area, perhaps 200 yards across, where we were, where there was none. We sort of had to coast through them. We passed Latimer Reef Light to starboard and a race at the Fishers Islsnd YC to port before passing between the Dumplings, passing Bartlett Reef to starboard and then heading NNWto the Niantic Bay YC. Those last four miles were exceedingly slow, the tide was bad and the wind light behind us. So we furled and motored the last mile and a half.
Our sole need to go ashore was to refill our three one gallon bottles of drinking and cooking water.  Before I had left for the YC on this mission, a couple in a dink came by and suggested we go in to town to see a movie. This entailed a dink ride of about one mile to the railroad and road bascule bridges and another half mile to Marker Seven Marina. The railroad's embankment cuts off the sea from the inner harbor, creating a sheltered spot. But the problem is that strong tidal currents run under the bridges through the narrow gap. It is suggested that sailors make this passage only at slack water.
No problem by dink, even on the return trip an the dark. We saw Indignation, based on a Phillip Roth
novel. Well acted and a bit strange.
A very peaceful night.