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

Thursday, October 17, 2019

October 10-16 -- The Season's Last Two Day Sails And Two Evening Activities

The sails were fun because of the people, not the wind, which was very light. The first of them was with Lene, Sid and Jan from New Jersey and Linda and Joel from Long Island. All veterans. The lack of wind suited Joel, whose stomach is tender. We sailed out at speeds of one to three knots under full sail, to the eastern edge of the entrance to Manhasset Bay and then motored back, via the King's Point Channel, four hours. Dinner at the Club was disappointing. I like the food there, including my bay scallops and onion rings that night. Everyone else complained, mostly about the food being overcooked. Our caterer was betrayed by the cook she had working that day, Lene's burger was not medium toward rare but extra well done - dark brown inside and black outside!
The final sail, what with the Old Salts on Wednesday being rained out, was with Bennett and Mike, who are Old Salts. The purpose of the day was to get our dinks and outboards off our boats' davits and stored for the winter. In my case, with the RIB, the boat and outboard are safely ashore but more work is required on each. When the work was completed we sailed for almost two hours, with the same lousy wind as noted above. We zig-zagged in Eastchester Bay, looking for wind and did not get further than .6 miles from the mooring. The interesting thing was that Bennett had to be ashore by a certain time so we put him off ILENE onto the launch near the dock underway, sailing at almost three knots, before heading out to the mooring to tie up for the day.

The evening activities were a dinner and theater date with Bennett and Harriet, and a unique lecture.

 I belong to clubfreetime.org. It is a wonderful service for New Yorkers who like to go out in the evenings to learn and enjoy. For $20.00 per year you get a password. The internet then displays a variety of things to do: theater, concerts, art gallery openings, walks, lectures and other events that are either free or cost $5.  I go out to events that I learn about through this website about twice a week. Most of the events are interesting though not all of them, but I always get my money's worth.
But this event was different. It screamed out to me: GO! A lecture, illustrated with slides, at the South Street Seaport Museum by Peggy Garan about "The Seafaring Cats of Gotham and The Men Who Loved Them". Her website, hatchingcatNYC.com, has many stories involving all sorts of animals since early in 2013.

Her methodology is to search in the New York Times electronic morgue for "cat". She said that the editors mostly in the decades 1890 to 1930, had a thing about cats. Once she finds a story she checks other media to flesh it out and looks up information about the ship involved, the docks it stayed at and the men who loved the cat in question, etc. She told us that this was an era when a lot of cruelty toward animals was sadly tolerated. The ASPCA was in operation but its focus was on horses, not the smaller animals. Her book, "The Cat Men of Gotham; Tales of Feline Friendships in Old New York" tells of 42 cats, in nine chapters. Her interesting and well presented lecture told of seven cats. Seafaring cats are an old phenomenon, both to provide protection against rats and mice eating the provisions and lines and because the sailors got lonely.
One example was the cat of the SS Carpathian -- the ship that in 1912 rescued the survivors from the Titanic.  Captain Rostron was given many honors for his brave efforts, and two ladies gave him a black cat he named Captain who sailed with him, but not on Carpathian's final torpedo-ending voyage in 1918. Tom, was the sole feline survivor of the three cats aboard the USS Maine when it exploded in Havana Harbor in 1898.
Lene and I had seen a single photo of a cat aboard a Skandinavian naval vessel in the Lunenberg Maritime Museum but I had not known that the practice was common. This summer I read "The King's Commission" by Dewey Lambden, (an R rated Hornblower type story) in which the lovable, crusty Captain of a warship in 1791 kept a dozen cats, one of which saved the day for the hero, Alan Lewrie.
I remembered a book that I loved when I was in elementary school: "Brave Tales of Real Dogs", by Eleanor Fairchild Pease, published in 1945. The difference was that the brave dogs of the book rescued people: in Alaska, Lassie, St. Bernards, etc.,  while Ms. Gavan's cats were largely the object of rescue by humans, specifically men.
I spoke with Ms. Gavan and several cat loving audience members before the lecture about our brace of sea cats and showed them pictures of Alfie and Witty aboard.
Few activities are as perfectly located at the intersection of four of my interests, educational experiences, the sea, New York and cats. Thanks, Peggy!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

October 4 and 5 -- Two VERY Different Sails

One difference was that these were Lene's first two sails of the season that were not on our cruise. But the two days were so different from each other in terms of wind and other activities.
The first day was with Jeff and Anthony, who have sailed with us in prior years.
In hindsight we should have aborted the sailing -- too much wind. Thirty five knots and a bit more in puffs. The first mistake was in motoring off the mooring. I saw that both the ball and the pickup stick were to port and directed Lene to motor forward. She did, but not fast enough, and the wind pushed us sideways onto the rig destroying the pickup stick and one of the two bridles.
With the second reef I had put in the main before we left. we sailed and turned off the engine.
It was slow so after the jibe to head a bit more east -- we unfurled the small jib too. But when we got headed up to where the wind was close to the beam the boat was overpowered -- too much helm and not enough control -- so we furled the head sail and proceeded under only the double reefed main at speeds of up to six knots. We went in to Manhasset Bay for a more sheltered area in which to sail and got as far in as the race committee barge before tacking to beat our way out. Progress was slow against the strong wind and waves and on the second tack the main blew out.
Actually it was not the sail itself, but only the bowline of the reefing line at the aft end of the boom. In the picture, the line both slopes down diagonally from the lower end of the sail to the aft end of the boom, pulling the sail aft, and loops under the boom where the knot blew out to pull the sail down. Without the aft end pulled tight, the sail flailed and was useless so we lowered it. Later inspection showed that the stub end of the knot I tied was too short and that the whipping rubbed off the line and the knot became undone. The line is long enough for me to leave a longer stub, and by putting a stopper knot at its end I can insure against recurrence.
In any event, we motored, slowly, rather directly into the wind over toward the east side of Manhasset Bay, There the wind was far enough off our starboard bow that we could use the small jib again, under which we sailed home, without the engine, again at up to six knots.
At the destination, having alerted the launch operator as to what I would need, he came out in the launch and we were under motor again. Anthony transferred from ILENE to the launch with our boat hook while both boats were underway, grabbed the remnants of the bridles with the hook and then in hand while standing on the launch and handed them to me on the bow of ILENE while Lene steered ILENE. I really have to thank Anthony who was a big help with grinding winches as well as grabbing the mooring and to Lene's steering ability.
It was not as cold as we had been led to believe but we all repaired to the Club for dinner before heading home.

We sailed the next day with Christine and Heather, also repeat guest sailors, including a few days in the Miami area in 2015. Again, it was cold but not as cold as predicted and a lot less windy.
But before the sail, I participated with about 40 guys and gals in the Harlem's annual fall work party, from 9:30 to 1:00. A lot of work got done. I was mostly involved with the pulling of weeds and the cutting of vines and eventually three trees at the north side of "the farm, our area across the street from the clubhouse. We got a lot of future firewood and filled a dumpster with vegetation. And I got a wee taste of what it must have been like to pick cotton. Other teams did indoor repairs, gardening, washed the windows and put new "sacrificial" two by fours on the sides of the dock's pilings so that the docks would wear away the two by fours rather than the pilings themselves.







Others filled a big pothole in the parking lot with a blacktop patch and lowered and raised the flagpole because the flag halyard to its top had worn through, preventing the raising of the flag. Lowering the pole took a lot of guys holding a lowering line and the fork lift. The next two pics show the two ends of the pole when rotated down from its base and the last shows the tip top, with the line to be inserted through the little space just below the gold dome, showing blue sky.


I also brought our five gallon yellow jerry can of bilge water mixed with diesel ashore and transferred the contents into an empty can which was taken, along with other contributions from other members to a site at Orchard Beach where hazardous and polluting wastes were received.
 I missed most of the free lunch served at 1 p.m. to go sailing.
The wind was gentle and from the west. We sailed down to the south end of Little Neck Bay and back under full main and small jib. An easy pleasant sail. The opposite of the white knuckled sailing of the day before. Before leaving the mooring I had tied a second mooring pennant, part of an old genoa sheet, to the ring at the top of the mooring ball and attached an empty half gallon plastic milk bottle with handle to the bridles with a long line. Returning to the mooring, Lene steered excellently so my picking up that line with the boat hook was easy.
Lene and our guests left and I attended a very productive membership meeting  starting shortly after 5 pm, followed by the Oktoberfest party at 7: LOTS of German themed dishes.
A full day and a beautiful sunset behind a mix of the city skyline and Harlem masts.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

September 18 -October 2 -- Fifteen Days with Six Day-Sails and One "Other"

Days sails are fun and interesting, but not the same as cruising. But winter is imminent, a sad time, but I am doing what I can to get as much sailing as possible in before hauling, maybe about a month from now.
Three of the six sail dates were on Wednesdays, aboard ILENE with the Old Salts. The group missed ILENE during the six weeks we were away, but reported that lousy wind on Wednesdays diminished the loss.




Mostly regulars but Aya at the helm in the top pic, and Dan and Mary Jane in the bottom two, are new, I think.  About two hours per day, with lousy wind one of the days, though we went anyway. The last of them, October 2, saw wonderful strong winds on our course deep to the south end of Little Neck Bay on nearly a beam reach with the return including a side trip through the King's Point Channel and around Stepping Stones Light. With three  women aboard, discretion called for a single reef in the main and using the small jib, and we still did 7.4 knots. The helm was manned by Doug, the HYC's secretary, outbound and Sarah on the way back. The only problem (no one was hurt) was that the forecast 35 percent chance of rain turned out to five minutes of 100% heavy driving rain starting about 30 seconds before we got onto the mooring -- the passage of the leading edge of the cold front which cooled the air from a record setting 93 degrees (old record: 92 in 1927) quickly. Everyone went below except Doug on the bow and me at the helm. A better plan would have been to head out to clear water with Doug below and wait for the rain to end.
We closed up the boat in sunny warm dry air and moved the libations from the cockpit to the Adirondack chairs in the Club's gazebo.
Another day, three hours, was the Second Annual Sailing Excursion of the New York Map Society aboard ILENE. Also good wind and every member of the crew took the helm, including the eleven year old daughter of one member. We went out to Execution rocks and back.
Dan, at the right, is a sailor and helped pick up the mooring and performed most of the helming duty. He told me how different ILENE feels as compared to the small boats he is used to, where every slight shift of one's position changes the weight distribution and hence the boats performance
A couple of hours with Rhoda and Lloyd aboard their 27 foot Catalina, Jazz Sail, around lunch at Louie's Restaurant in Port Washington in Manhasset Bay. Zero wind outbound. Louie upscaled his dive about ten-fifteen years ago and it's one of the rare places where one can sail and use the dock while at lunch, but the food is just not the best part of the experience. The return trip started out windless but the wind came up and we made a nice close hauled sail on port tack back to Big Tom before falling off a bit. Lloyd had the helm and is developing good sailing skills.
The sixth day sail was with my Nephew Mendy, in the afternoon of the second day of Rosh Hashonna, after morning services. Again excellent wind. We used full main and small jib and made 7.4 knots heading south toward the fort at the west mouth of Little Neck Bay, then tacked under the Throggs Neck Bridge and a few more times under the Whitestone Bridge and to the longitude of Citi Field. Broad reaching on the way back and also through the Kings Point Channel. Mendy is also developing into a good sailor.
And another day writing the article for Points East magazine about Rhode Island and dinner and theater with Bennett and Harriet.

End of 2019 Cruise Summary August 1 to September 11


Well, as you know, I started out planning to head south this coming winter,leaving in October and  returning to Grenada West Indies after an absence since 2012, or maybe only to the Abacos, which we missed on our transit north from there. But Lene’s dentist told us: “Sure, as long as you don’t leave before Christmas”. I know that John Adams, in the service of his unborn nation, crossed the Atlantic is a wooden three master in January but we didn’t feature the Atlantic, even coast wise, in winter. So was born Plan B: Newfoundland. Sailors we had met in Nova Scotia in 2017 and in Maine in 2018 were going and a buddy boat arrangement promised much fun. But again, my Mate, who suffered several fractures in a non-boating accident in the fall of 2018 said: “Not so far this Summer.” Hence Plan C was called for and it became a sail in Rhode Island.

With only six weeks to sail I was able to combine it with and include the Harlem's Annual Club Cruise, and sailed the first seven days with Huck and Cindy on their 36 foot Pearson, "Miraval". Two boats are needed to call it a "club cruise" but we had more Club activity when we were met by Lloyd and Rhoda who drove their car for a weekend in Bristol, which included a day sail with a flotilla of Herreshoff boats including this beauty. We also met up with retired Harlemites, Hadley and Susan for a dinner in Tiverton. That rendezvous would also have included a day sail except that Hadley is recovering from a surgical procedure and the dinghy-to-boat transitions would not have been safe.

This was the easiest cruise I have done since starting this blog in 2010. For one thing, RI is only about 100 miles from the Harlem in The Bronx, New York. Second, RI is the smallest state of the union so the distances between ports are small. And finally, we took at least one lay day in most of the ports we visited once in Rhode Island.

My plan was to put ILENE into every port I could, with her 5’10’ draft and mast height of 63.5 feet especially to ports I had not been to before. Also, with our crew, the 12 year veteran Alfie Girl and her newly adopted eight year old brother, Cruiser, we strongly prefer moorings or anchoring to docks; to prevent their wanderlust from getting them lost from us. We managed to only dock (other than for fuel and water) in one port. it was "dock only" accomodations that kept us from Allen Harbor, Apponaug, Warwick and Mellville.  My only disappointment was in failing to push a bit harder to anchor in the unnamed cove north of Quonset Point and south of Davisville Depot, and Mackerel Cove on the SE side of Conanicut Island, and visiting (by dink) the historic village of Westerly at the head of the Pawcatuck River. That's why there is a "next year".

We also took the first week of the six to participate in the Harlem Yacht Club's annual cruise, visiting ports in and about Long Island Sound with Huck and Cindy on “Miraval”, their Pearson 36. We visited Port Jeff, both ways, Duck Island Roads, both ways, and on Shelter Island both Coecles and Deering Harbors.

But Rhode Island was our focus and this chart shows where we went:

Port
Nights
Lay
Days
New
stop?
Anch, Moor or Dock
Dining out?
Comments
Stonington CT
1
0
No
Mooring
Lunch
Not really RI, but on the border
Nappatree Beach/Watch Hill
2,3
1
No
Anchor
Dinner

Point Judith
Pond
4-6
2 (but see next two entries)
No
Anchor

No

Wakefield
(by dink)
-
0: not by boat
Yes
Dink at
Dock
Lunch
Visited by day by dink
Snug Harbor
-
0: Not by boat
No
Dink at
Dock
Lunch and
Theater
Visited by day by dink
Dutch Harbor
7
0
Yes
Mooring
Lunch and
Dinner

Wickford
8,8
1
No
Mooring
Lunch

E. Green-
wich
10,11
1
No
Mooring
Lunch

E. Provi-
dence
12-14
2
Yes
Dock
2 lunches &
2 dinners

Edgewood
15-16
1
Yes
Mooring
1 lunch, 1 dinner

Bristol
17-20
2 (another night after a day sail)
No
Mooring 2
and anchor 2
1 breakfast, 2 lunchs & 2 dinners



Potter Cove, Prudence is.
21
0
No
Anchor
No

Kickamuit
River
22
0
Yes
Anchor
No

Battleship Cove,
Fall River MA
23, 24
1
Yes
Mooring
1 breakfast;
1 dinner

Tiverton, Standish Boatyard1
25-26
1
Yes
Mooring
Dinner

Fogland Anchorage
27
0
Yes
Anchor
No

Third Beach,
Aquidneck Is.
28
0
No
Anchor
No

Newport
29-30
1
No
Mooring
Dinner

Block Island
31-33
2
No
Mooring
Dinner

Stonington
34
0
No
Mooring
Lunch
2d stop here this cruise
TOTALS:
19 ports
15 lay days






So that’s 19 ports (one twice, and two of them only by dink -- is that cheating?) in 34 days, with 15 lay days: in other words, a lazy man’s cruise.

We had only 184 miles round trip between City Island and Stonington. And we drove only 194 miles "in Rhode Island", divided among the 18 passages (including the day sail with friends from home near the Herreshoff Regata out of Bristol, but excluding the dinghy transit to two ports in Point Judith Pond). The math shows an average of less than eleven miles per passage. And for some of those passages we did not put up sails due to lack of wind or wind in the wrong direction. For those of my friends who still consider me a sailing purist this is proof that I am not!
And of the 19 distinct ports we visited, including two by dink, only eight were new, with 11 old friends, though we discovered new treats in them.
I keep track of this stuff so of our 34 nights, we spent three on the dock in East Providence, 11 on our anchor and 20 on moorings.
The only bad night was in the Great Salt Pond of Block Island, during Hurricane Dorian. This was an avoidable discomfort and hazard. I should have stayed in Newport, more inland and further north from the eye. But I was in love with the idea of visiting Block after the season, when it is quiet and empty -- and we survived.
During the 34 days we had two breakfasts, twelve lunches and eleven dinners in 25 different restaurants, ranging from the appropriately named The Shack in the marina in Dutch Harbor (think Chipotles but better) to fine dining at several places and interesting imaginative grub at ____Diner (since 1916) in East Greenwich. The other 77 meals were taken aboard, mostly cooked by Lene with a few cameo appearances in the galley by the Captain.
We wanted to visit Providence by boat and the problem is the absence of places to anchor or moor. We ended up in very nearby East Providence on a very poor dock for a very high price and we learned from our next stop, in Edgewood, that Edgewood with its lovely little club, would have been a much better bet. Everyone told us "Why Providence; that's where we want to get away from." But we are urban people and the Brown university campus the RISD museum of art, movies, and a Bolivian Cultural festival, plus a free "ticket", a seat of a moored houseboat, to the Beachboys concert made it a fulfilling stop. The harbor master helped us to the "ticket" and the Uber ride to town was short and cheap. But next time, we learned, we can achieve the same result with an Uber ride from Edgewood.

The Kickamuit River was a kick; it looks hard to navigate the entrance by chart, but once in forms a large harbor with lots of anchoring depth and protection. It is only 2.5 road miles from all the commercial activity in Bristol, but there is no commercial activity in the harbor and no indication of anyplace where a stranger can land a dink.

Friday, September 20, 2019

September 8 -12 -- Block Island to Stonington to Duck Island Roads to Port Jeff to the HYC to Our Apartment

This was the end of the cruise. Four consecutive passage days of 15, 28, 31 and 33 NM. Having spent the last two of our three days in Block Island aboard, we did not set foot off the boat again until we were at the Harlem --  except for a couple of hours for lunch in Stonington.
This is not quite the itinerary I wanted. I thirsted to go the the historic town of Westerly RI, to add another RI port to  ILENE's list, but it didn't work out that way. (Actually, the boat could not get up to the historic old town because of insufficient depth in the Pawcatuck River. But I saw an area on the Connecticut side of the channel near the mouth of the Pawcatuck with 7-8 feet of water at low tide where we could have anchored, and then dinked the last 3 - 4 miles up the river. A marina operator I called told me that the Bridge Restaurant up there has a dinghy dock and the restaurant told me that if we had lunch we could leave the dink for a few more hours to explore. This would have been a weekday after the season.
But the admiral told me in no uncertain terms, several times,  that she did NOT want to go to Westerly. It would have extended the cruise by another day and by this time "home" was ringing in her ears as clearly as  her "nos" were ringing in mine. And after I had subjected her to a fearful night of rock and roll on the mooring in Block Island during the hurricane, prudence dictated this would be an opportune time to accede to her wishes. Next time: Westerly!  Also, good old Stonington was conveniently located, with Dodson's friendly and efficient marina renting moorings and we had a late lunch in the Dog Watch Cafe, located on Dodson's grounds. I recall that place as for ice cream but it has upgraded itself into a good eatery over the last few decades. Hmmm? I wonder if the restaurant is named after the fact that a patron there can watch a procession of sea dogs eager to take a walk after a passage. A "dog watch" is a two hour watch in the night that provides for rotation of the crew though all of the watches so no one gets stuck on watch perpetually from midnight to four a.m.
Leaving the pond of Block Island we had the main up already and tried to sail to Watch Hill Passage, but we were beating back and forth against the current and not making much progress. After an hour of this I furled the head sail and we motored straight for the passage. But the wind shifted south and suddenly we were sailing again so I doused the engine. It was close hauled on port but we made it through the passage, around the three reds and in past the second sea wall before motoring to the mooring.
Next morning the wind was still out of the south but on our port  quarter. and it was a slow, relaxed and fun sail to Duck Island Roads. The MFD generates our track on the electronic chart as a thin pink line showing where we have been. And our anchor in Duck Island Roads was maybe 50 feet from where in had anchored in early August. Sixty feet of snubbed chain in 12.5 feet of water at mid tide with no other boats nearby and light northerlies made for a calm serene night.
The passage across the Sound and west to Port Jeff saw less wind, and empty seas. Weekdays in  eastern Long Island Sound, after the season there is not a lot of traffic. We had to motor most of the way, though we shut down the engine and sailed for the last couple of hours. When the wind lessened  again and we were near Port Jeff, about two miles off the north shore of Long island, I doused sails and then turned on the motor. But no "whirr."  We were safely off shore in light wind so the half hour it took me to take everything out of the aft cabin to reach under the sole to the starter engine to shove the wire go it back into place was not hazardous. Entering Port Jeff, we were on someone's mooring very close to where we had been on the way out. One always hesitates to pick up a stranger's mooring -- how heavy is it; how well maintained? But with light air predicted we did not worry.
On the last passage of the cruise, the wind was still from the port side, but a beat, As we tried to head west we had a lot of north in our course, headed for a Connecticut landfall.  Much more active water with tugs and barges, cruisers flying spinnakers and this huge beauty, Isabella, which overtook us motoring west.
As we sailed, the wind shifted, gradually more to the south, permitting us to sail more to the west, toward a landfall much closer to home -- Greenwich rather than Stamford. But then the wind died so we motored most of the rest of the way.
It being a Wednesday afternoon I was on the lookout for an Old Salts boat and we closed Deuce of Hearts off Hart Island. Mark took our picture.
They were sailing so we cut the noisemaker and sailed the last three miles to our mooring under main only.
Dinner at the Club was followed by our last night aboard. Thursday was for packing, cleaning and driving to our apartment.
There is still a month of sailing left in 2019, but the cruise has ended. Those who appreciate such things, look for the traditional synopsis of the cruise at this site soon.