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

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

July 9-15 -- Three Work Days and Two Sails, Including a Great One.

The work days added up to fifteen hours plus five more by the saintly Pat who knows how to do things and whose generosity toward me was beyond belief.  I was also visited by our rigger, Jeff, who installed the new radar reflector and a new VHF masthead antenna to replace this one -- which he thought had been fried by lightning --, inspected everything, and told me to buy three new halyards and new rope clutches. So his expert service fee will be the least of the expenses associated with his visit.
The primary accomplishment of most of this time (yes, a couple of hours was expended looking for misplaced things, and cleaning) was the completion of the re-installation of the new stanchions and lifelines. The most recent blogpost described how I got ILENE to the dock, sat on it and drilled out the bolt, holding the bent stanchion. Well, not quite straight or clean. The casting which is the base for the stanchion has a groove that fits atop the vertical part of the toe rail. So the hole is discontinuous, first through the part of the casting outside the toe rail and later, the part inside. And we ended with a 5/8" hole that slanted downward diagonally a bit.  What we did, Pat's idea, was fill both holes with JB Weld stick: Pat cut off a piece, I kneaded it to mix the black center with the grey outside of this two part epoxy and pushed it into place using thin plastic scrapers that Pat had brought. Then he scraped off the excess and I washed the residue off my hands with soap and water and waited an hour for it to cure. Meanwhile he set up his huge full sized drill press that he had brought from his home shop and we clamped the casting in the perfect position and drilled a hole, starting with a small bit and increasing to 7/32". Meanwhile I borrowed a 1/4" by 20 thread tapper and its handle from Buddy's, the island's hardware store. Karl, at Buddy's said it was free but I felt better giving his $3 anyway. Let's hear it for Buddy's!
But we then had to go to the boat to measure and mark the place for the 3/8" holes, one on the side of each stanchion where the threaded top of the diagonal brace screws in, and to dry fit and then, after removal and liberal application of Boat Life caulking so water will not drip down into the boat, secure attachment of the newly drilled aft stanchion base. Pat did the hard part, on the inside of the boat, feeling where he could not see to fit the bolts onto the nuts and then hold them in place with a wrench while I screwed the bolts tight from topsides. Then a lot of acetone to get the caulk off hands, tools and boat.
Next day I put it all together, except that the flat "foot" of the diagonal, bracing rod, while attached to the flat part of the toe rail, was not securely flush down to it.  I was now working alone again, thanks, Pat, and the slowness of my work gave me time to think. And the solution applied the day after that was to back some of the tread out of the new 3/8" hole at the top of the diagonal, making it "longer" so its foot met the "ground". And, following Pat's advice, I had obtained a Number 3 (big) Phillips head screwdriver bit, which I fit into the ratchet wrench and slowly pulled the foot down to the ground. DONE!

Hold on a minute pardner! Next step is to insert the new lifelines that I had paid Defenders to make up to match the length of the old ones that I had kinked in the summer of 2016 in Hyannisport. Defenders is a very reliable and responsible discount vendor of all things for boats and I have bought many things from them and will continue to do so. The lower lifeline fit, fine but the upper, inexplicably, was a bit too long!!  After the fitting at its aft end was attached to the aft stanchion and the wire\was run through the holes at the top of each other stanchion going forward, the piece has a threaded rod. So does the piece hanging from the aft end of the pulpit. By threading those two threaded rods into a turnbuckle and turning it, those ends are pulled together, stretching out the wire to the desired tightness.  Nuts on the threaded rods are then tightened against the turnbuckle's ends n to prevent it from turning and loosening. But when I had turned the turnbuckle as far as it would go -- so that the two ends of the threaded rods had met and blocked each other from being tightened further, the wire still had some small loops in it. By the next day I had figured out what to do. Using the cutting wheel of the Dremel tool (a tiny hand held electric drill which does the work slowly without pressure) I cut about 3/4" off the end of each threaded rod and then used a different bit to round off the threads at the ends of those rods. Then the test fit, and it fit, nice and tight! [Add pic of turnbuckle.]
[Preview of the next job: the lid of the refrigerator box is about 4" thick, with a top surface and a bottom one, enclosing about 3" of styrofoam like material. It really provides great insulation to keep the contents of the refrigerator cold. But the top and bottom have come unglued, hence the next job. Stay tuned!]
And of course all work and no play makes Roger a dull boy, assuming a 76 year old man can still call himself a boy.  I've seen a meme recently: picture of a boy and his mom. Boy: "When I grow up I want to be a sailor!"  Mom: "Well son, you have to chose; you can't have both."
In any event, we had five Old Salts, including Mark, of "Deuce of Hearts" and Morty, Peggy and Sarah on ILENE on Wednesday. We were underway for about 2.5 hours but didn't get very far.  Light wind continued to curse us. We did get to 3.4 knots for a few seconds but the sailing was quite unsatisfying, compensated for by the good company. Five more folks who had sailed on Ohana came over for the refreshments.
The great sail took place late on Sunday, with winds out of the north of up to ten to twelve knots but no waves, just about perfect conditions.
Lene and I and Bennett and Harriet (and Milo, contented on her lap) made it out to the American Yacht Club on Peningo Neck in Rye for dinner and then back. That club is very posh and the dinner buffet (including the "service charge" because we were not members) and tax and tip was $60 per person. But the food was truly excellent and varied. This is still a club which refuses to touch money: they mail a bill to the Harlem, which notifies us of the charge; we pay the Harlem and then our club pays them. Quaint, in the internet age and it uses four postage stamps and involves a big delay, but that is how they like to do it. A funny thing happened while we were taking the free mooring they assigned us: Bennett lost a sneaker overboard and we failed to snag it with the boat hook on several attempts until it got too close to the rocks to continue trying. And this is a club that requires collared shirts (I was lucky enough to have one aboard). So bare feet, even in the outdoor patio dining room with its magnificent view of the Sound, would not do. We borrowed a pair of sandals that that had been left at the dock house and entered, but soon the owner came in to get them. As a result, for the buffet, Bennett and I switched back and forth using my sandals to get plates from the buffet.
We left the Harlem at about three-thirty and after two hours ashore, got back onto our mooring just before the last glimmer of the sun, which had set, was replaced by the light of the near full moon. We used the small jib on the way out and with slightly lower wind, the genoa on the way back. We averaged close to seven knots and touched eight. This was one of those few days a season when we are reminded why we like to sail. Here is the sun setting with new Rochelle to the right, followed by the same, rounding Belden Point and headed for home a while later.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

July 1-8 -- It's The Second Half of the Year with Light Wind, High Heat and Eight Days of Boating Activity

It amazes me how quickly the first half of 2019 has gotten past us; whoosh! It has been quite hot here, with light wind. But four of the eight were sailing days. In each case we rarely achieved five knots, but being out on the water underway made it cooler than on land.
First, was with Tom and Marie, friends who Lene and I met on a bus tour of National Parks out west a few years ago. Dinner at Artie's because the Club restaurant is closed on Tuesdays.

Second, was with the Old Salts. I was one of fourteen, probably not a record number but I can't recall that many folks.  I sailed aboard Ohana and I suggested that the jib halyard be raised two inches to get the wrinkles out of the headsail's luff and tightened the lines holding the dink on its davits to snug it against the rear pulpit to prevent potentially dangerous swinging. Refreshments were aboard Deuce of hearts.
Third, was with Mendy. I taught him the location, color, purpose of proper handling of all of ILENE's 19 sail control lines. I had never counted them up before. And at the end I drew diagrams for home study. Photos would be better. We got a mile past the Whitestone Bridge before heading back. Mendy  had the helm most of the way. And after our return me met Lene at the subway and drove with Mendy to Bennett and Harriet's house for a BBQ. Mendy's Dad, Ken, joined us there in admiring the koi pond, swimming in the pool and playing ping pong before dinner and a board game after.
Fourth, was with Lene, her actress friend Sacha ( who has sailed with us before) and Sacha's mother, Irina, a first time sailor.  My error, no harm done, was inattentiveness while auto steered. We passed, by only about fifteen feet, past a floating fishing boat. Way too close. "Where did HE come from?!" All told, about 15.5 hours off the mooring, and not exciting sailing due to the lack of wind, but good times with friends.
And three work days, for a total of 14.5 hours. The first, was mostly a trip to the City Island fuel dock, about 90 percent of the way around the island counterclockwise, for 35 gallons of diesel in the starboard fill (empty) fuel tank. The biggest bill I ever paid at a gas station at $4.11 per gallon. I did put out the small jib on the way back for a while, but I can't count this as a sailing day. And I poured almost half a gallon of distilled water into the 24 ports of ILENE's seven batteries to top them off.
The third work day involved three primary tasks.
1. Changing the zinc in the refrigerator's salt water cooled condenser. I wasted a lot of time looking for the replacement zinc in the life-raft locker but found two rusty tools there that I cleaned up, oiled and stored in plastic, and cleaned out the dust and dirt that had accumulated in that locker. (The zinc was in the second place I looked, a small drawer in the aft compartment.) I have to remember, for next year, that the zinc change should be done with Lene's help. That way I could have avoided squeezing myself into the awkward space aft of the engine -- four times. She could have taken the yogurt containers full of seawater that drain from the condenser once the sea cock is shut off and the zinc removed, and brought me the plumbers tape which I forgot.
2.  I motored port side to the Club's dock, and used the recently recharged electric drill to drill out the bolt holding the port aft-gate stanchion in place. This picture shows the significant bend just above where the stanchion goes into the base.
Nothing is ever easy and I used the dentists pick and the miniature curved needle nose pliers to get the head of the broken bit and the remnant of the bolt out of the hole. And the old bolt and its hole were 1/4" diameter while, when I shop for the new one, it has to be 5/8". But now with the help of Bob and Pat, we will get the port lifeline back into place. Pat suggested using JB Weld, a glue that hardens like steel, to fill the 5/8" hole and then drilling out a new clean 1/4" hole through it. This shows the toe rail with the stanchion that was broken off removed from the base to the right and the base removed on the left.
3. And at the dock, I both pumped the port fresh water tank dry and refilled it, and gave ILENE her first bath of the season.
The eighth day was the Club's annual Fourth of July BBQ, with all the trimmings. Mendy went with me. It is an all you can eat affair and I fear that Anne, our caterer, did not make a profit on him.

In about three weeks our cruise to Rhode Island will begin. That state has 27 anchorages and ports with water deep enough (and located seaward of low bridges) that ILENE can visit and I have only been to ten of them - so far. A challenge!

Sunday, June 30, 2019

June 29 -- In Memory of Nick Lecakes

Yesterday, organized and led by Pat McGovern, a group of mostly Harlemite and former Harlemite friends of Nick, paid him our final respects and scattered his ashes, as he had requested, about a quarter mile off the Sand Pit at the entrance to Huntington Bay, under Eatons Neck Light.

We all recalled scenes from the life of our friend: how he loved to teach, his service to the Club in many roles, including as instructor of a  class of dance lessons, his love of cola, the beverage with which we toasted him, and his mastery of fine wood working (of which this working tool, made entirely of wood - with only one piece broken off is a sample), and many other memories.
We read a psalm, said a prayer and had melancholy thoughts.
The ashes, much like sand, lingered, floating on the water, for a few seconds before slowly sinking, giving meaning to the expression “ashes to ashes; dust to dust”.

In addition to Pat, who fed us and took the pictures, John Paskalis, now living on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Don Havilan, our former Social Chairman, Harry Joseph, a long time friend and working colleague of Nick, and I comprised the crew of ILENE, on this mission.

Harry and John
Me and Don
The same group, and others who could not join us, had taken Nick out from The Hebrew Home for The Aged in Riverdale for several years, for annual day sails in the final years of his life.

The “rain date” for this mission would have been July 7, Nick’s birthday.

We slipped the mooring at 8:20, motored all the way out under overcast skies with very little wind, from behind us. The sun broke out during the brief ceremony. Then, fighting the ebbing tide,we sailed close hauled for about two hours, across the Sound and back at the beginning of the return before calm seas forced us to motor most of the way back, but, we sailed again from Execution Rocks to Big Tom and arrived on the mooring and had everything squared away before the brief torrential thunderstorm hit.
Here is a picture of our Club taken from a drone at high tide on a nice day; beautiful!

Thursday, June 27, 2019

June 27 -- Lunch with Jim and the New Movie "MAIDEN"

Jim, formerly the master of "Aria," lives in New Jersey. I enjoyed a delightful two hour Thai lunch with him there today. Many Harlemites remember him fondly and frequently ask me to give him their good wishes.
In the evening Lene and I were invited to a preview screening of the new movie "Maiden". It will be released tomorrow. It is quite an inspiring story and will enoyed by every sailor especially those who sail out on the ocean or race or are female.
It is a documentary on the life of Tracy Edwards, up to the age of 28, with footage of her and her crew at the time of her greatest achievement, 30 years ago and interviews with them now. Having crewed as cook aboard other boats on ocean passages she taught herself to navigate, and formed the desire to navigate around the world in the Whitbread Race.
She raised funds, especially from The King of Jordan whom she had met, bought a run down 58 foot aluminum sloop, rehabed it, put together an all female crew and successfully completed the 1989-90 Whitbread around the world race.
The only "hole" in the story, which I got clarified by the Director, Alex Holmes, after the screening, was the nature of the incursion of a lot of water into the boat while passing the Falklands, northbound.. The mast had fissures and the mast boot too, which admitted a lot of seawater when beating into big seas.
She overcame a lot of derision because of her gender and was met back in England by the largest crown in the history of the race.
I highly recommend this movie. You can get the trailer on Google.

June 21 - 26 -- Back to Urban Normal

Only two day sails, first with Lene, Mendy and Christine and Heather. We had 4.5 delightful hours off the mooring going to Rye Playland and back with a small but adequate breeze from the north, followed by dinner with Mendy at the club; the girls had to go back.
Mendy is extremely strong and is getting to know the ropes. He also steered for about 2.5 hours.  I have to give him a set of written instructions as to each set of lines and how to use them, and he will quickly become a competent sailor.

The other outing was with the Old Salts aboard Morty and Clara's 30 foot Catalina "Easy Living"
with eight souls aboard: the owners, Mike and Sandy, me and Bennet, and Claire and Janet, a newbie to our group, but she knows the ropes. She immigrated from England 35 years ago.

 Here she is in the launch after the sail between Clare and Bennet, who have appeared in this blog many times.
The only problem was extremely light wind though we did get up to two knots of boat speed while tacking back and forth across Eastchester Bay to as far as Big Tom before motoring back to the mooring for the libations.
Three work days for a total of 14 hours: one to get the dink down from its inverted position atop another hard dink on top of the dinghy rack, bring it to the seawall, inflate it, drag it to the dock, pull it our there, flip it over and tie it down. Another to scrub the bottom and treat it with Aeroprotectant 303, get down the outboard from the locker and attached to the dink with a lot of help from the ever helpful Pat and then buy gas, connect the tank to the engine and hold my breath while hoping it would start -- which it did. Then driving the dink to the boat, hoisting it onto its davits and cinching it in. We are ready to cruise!
The third work day I did several very small things and worked with Bob and Laura who helped with the removal of the broken stanchion and preparation for installation of the new. we ended up with one of us using my pipe wrench to twist it back and forth in its socket while the other grabbed the top end of the fragment and pulled it upward with the vise grips. We tried to remove the other damaged stanchion, which has only a slight bend, but could not get the stainless screw out of the aluminum casting where it has been sitting peacefully for the last 20 years. We tried to undo the four bolts that hold the base to the deck but could not reach it from the lazarette because it is too far forward, nor from the cutout in the ceiling of the aft cabin because it was too far outboard and my arm could not
bend to reach it. Bob ultimately concluded that he could bend it back straight, not an ideal fix but adequate. We also removed three of the four diagonal braces and Bob will unbend them at home.
Other events: Bennet's birthday party at his home with good food and good friends. We finally had the occasion to give him the large octagonal paving stone with pieces of stained glass picturing swimming goldfish to be placed in the ground by his koi pond. We had seen and bought it in Maine last August and waited for the birthday. I'm lousy at selecting gifts so finding this one was like a gift to me.  We also saw Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing outdoors with 1800 other folks in Central Park. Lene had gone up in the morning to wait on line for the free tickets but the line was already too long. As she was walking disappointedly away, Mike and Sandy saw her and hailed her. Each person can get two tickets so she waited with them and they gave us two of theirs.  An unusual and excellent modern production, breathing new life into the 500 year old words, set in an upper class black suburb of Atlanta Georgia with an all black cast.

Monday, June 24, 2019

June 10 -16 -- Sailing Rusee From Bermuda to Halifax

Departure day for the six-day passage to Halifax finally arrived. Captain Yves planned for a noon departure, using the morning to get ready. So we dinked ashore for last email communications and final provisioning. Returning to Rusee, we raised the dink, moved its outboard to its perch on the port quarter, scrubbed it top and bottom, deflated and rolled it up, wrapped it in its wrapper and stowed it on deck, forward of the mast.
But after starting the engine, we could not raise the Rocna. Nothing wrong with the anchor or the windlass but instead of pulling the anchor up, the windlass was pulling the bow down. We were snagged. Yves has a portable gas driven air compressor which pumps air through a long hose to a mouthpiece. Donning weights and flippers and taking down a long line, he fastened it to the anchor, and told us to haul it taut and then slacken the anchor chain. The chain had gotten caught under an old engine block lying on the bottom. Yves got it out from under but with thinking, preparing, doing, and putting everything away, it was two hours.
Then to the fuel dock to fill every tank and bottle with water and finally to the Bermuda Customs and Immigration Office for some paperwork, a call to Bermuda Radio for final clearance and we motored out through St. George’s deep channel to the Atlantic in very light wind.

Within two or three hours we were both off the Bermuda plateau into water thousands of feet deep and out of sight of land. Only an estimated 141 of the 144 hour passage left to go.
About 6 pm a strike! I ended up helping bring him close after a while when Greg got tired fighting the fish. I stood over his shoulder and pulled back from near the top of the rod repeatedly while Greg cranked the reel. Yves gaffed, killed and filleted the fish. A Wahoo, about three feet long. His body yielded 18 large filets, enough to feed the three of us for a week, in
plastic bags in the bottom of the

fridge. Greg was elated.
We divide the twelve hours of the night -- from six to six -- into four three-hour watches, and rotate among them each night. I got the two easiest the first night: “on” until 9 pm, then Yves, then Greg, and I’m back on at 3 a.m. after six hours off.
The apparent wind came up to about nine knots, about 60 degrees off the starboard bow. We’re getting something from the main, using the engine and making about five knots without a headsail. Good night.

Day 2 — Tues. June 11
Well Greg did not wake me at a quarter to three as I had requested, to give me time to gain consciousness, dress and prepare to stand watch at three; indeed, not till about four. The sun’s rays peeked over the cloudy horizon at 5:30. During the night, we had gotten a few degrees off course due to seaweed on the rudder which was shaken off by a few seconds of neutral.
About seven, winds were about ten knots near the starboard beam. After a few minutes of indecision between the Genoa and the asymmetrical spinnaker, Yves selected the former and after a lot of work getting it attached, up and set we were sailing at six knots under full main and Genoa.
With each boat making its own decisions about motoring versus sailing, sail selection and engine speeds, we are still within three miles of Argonauta with Shelly and Georgio.

Not much electricity from the solar panels until the sun comes out, but in addition to the wind generator, Yves tossed in the towed water propeller, on about e feet of propeller shaft for weight and 30 feet of three strand line. Water passing this propeller with its ten inch span, turns it, the line and the rotor on a generator, producing six to eight amps per hour. This is only for the open ocean not for crowded waters.
Today we passed the latitude of Cape Hatteras on a northerly course roughly parallel to the coast of Virginia to New York, but about 550 miles off shore.
Well the genoa did not work out that well; even with being poled, we were too far downwind so swapped it for the asymmetrical spinnaker.
Each of these sails require a lot of work to fly right. The Genoa sheets are coiled and stored on the rail forward. Yves mounts the top bow pulpit rail!!, attaches each to the clew with a bowline and undoes a strap that prevents the sail from unfurling unintentionally. It is because the sheets are not long enough to reach the cockpit when the sail is furled. Yves accepted my suggestion to leave the sheets attached which means he only has to go a bit forward to retrieve them rather than stand on the bow pulpit!!! The pole has its uphaul 
and its downhaul, and of course, the furling line has to be coordinated with the sheets and the halyard.
We are flying the kite on our port bow with the wind coming at our starboard quarter. But the spinnaker has gotten us up to seven knots, faster than the motor can go.
I was initially disappointed that Yves did not give me the helm under the asymmetrical in these blustery winds. They require a heavy hand on the wheel as we ride over swells which swerve the boat’s bow. But Greg has much more experience on this boat and with spinnakers than I do and he was selected to spell Yves. I don't like to be reminded of the fact that I'm not as great a sailor as my friends like to think I am.

But hand steering Rusee requires that the helms-person stand astride the helmsman’s seat, not sit on it, in a precarious high posture with few strong handholds. The wheel and binnacle are not to be used as supports. Also, I’m the tallest  member of our trio, and the oldest, by an average of ten years compared to the other two and my balance is not what it once was. So though disappointed, I came to realize the wisdom of Yves’ decision.

Lunch was a joint effort: my cole slaw accompanied Gregg’s wahoo burgers on rolls. These were not patties of wahoo flesh mixed with filler, but fried 5/8” thick filets. The restaurant at which we ate our only Bermudan dinner, The Wahoo Grill, sold something that they called a wahooburger, but at $28 a piece. We each ate two! Greg had caught us a very valuable fish.


About 4 pm we had a problem. We tried to take down the asymmetrical spinnaker and put up the tri-radial, which is held out with the pole. The good news: no one was hurt. The bad news is that one of the spinnaker sheets was lost. Broken or torn? No. Dropped overboard! This resulted from use of an untrained crew, me, especially untrained in the names and locations of the multiple lines that have to handled in a specific manner and order, coupled with an epidemic of hearing loss among us.When Yves yelled from the foredeck that I should “Let Go of The Sheet!”, I did. The thick yellow and white line ran forward out of the boat and got tangled with the continuous looped blue line that controls the raising and lowering of the sleeve and exposes the sail to the wind when raised and douses it when lowered. The tangle was in the ocean under the port side of the boat. Yves worked heroically and frantically (and he was already tired from the other operations). When he got the blue line free, he dropped the yellow one, thinking it was attached aft, which it was not. I’m rather amazed that Yves did such sail changes, that three of us had problems with, ALONE, when he sailed solo to the Azores, a fourteen day passage!
Then we poled out the Genoa again, to starboard to run wing on wing to catch all the wind coming over the starboard quarter. We talked over what had happened and Greg started dinner. We jibed to a port tack just before dark, now heading a bit west of north, anticipating the passage of a front, tomorrow, presaging wind from the north into which we will have to beat.
My night watch tonight was from midnight to 3 am. But at about nine, as I was about to sleep — more excitement. The “lost” port spinnaker sheet was not lost after all! Rather it had been caught on the towed water propeller, tangled to a knotted mass, and caught on the rudder and propeller. This was noticed when autopilot could not steer. I heard a lot of yelling topside and came up to learn of the problem and what I could do to help. First the head sail was furled to slow us and Yves was looking down and pulling on this and that to try to untangle things. He detached the towed generator propeller from its generator on the port stern pulpit which permitted tugging the generator line from either end.

But what to do? I actually suggested the method ultimately used, to dive now in the dark. The alternative was to furl all sails and “lie ahull”, drifting for the night with no steering or propulsion.and tackle the problem in the morning light. But the wind was expected to be stronger in the morning, making swimming under a bobbing hull even more dangerous. Greg suggested using a flashlight in a baggie after pressing out all the air from that baggie because air would make the unit too buoyant. Yves took off most of his clothes and donned a weighted belt, flippers, mask and a harness that does not have an inflatable life preserver. He tied a bowline to it, jumped in, and after a few seconds, after his first dive, bobbed up and said “We’re free!” Then we retrieved him, put all the gear away and it was midnight, time for my watch. We motored through the night, and not very fast. No one wanted to put up more sails during the darkness.
Day 3 — Weds. June 12
During the excitement Sherri had been calling from Argonauta. She offered to came back seven miles to help us. Yves told her to wait on this. After Yves took to his bed during my watch she called again to report that in the building winds, up to 20 knots, they were making six six under one sail only and were trying to slow down so we could catch up. We were making only five and a half with the engine. She asked to speak with Yves but I politely refused to wake him and she asked him to call when he rose. I advised her that we had solved our problem, did not need assistance and that she should do what was best for Argonauta. During my watch I patiently untwisted the tight Gordian knot that the spinnaker sheet had  become. We continued for the night under motor and in the morning Argonauta was out of VHF radio range. We contacted them in Halifax and they were safe.
We sailed most of the day under the main with a second reef and the small storm jib which is hanked on, not roller furled. And we tacked back and forth at slower speed and made relatively little progress toward Halifax. Rusee is fast for her length with the wind behind her, but does not point well. But at least we were not going backwards. Before dark we shook out the reefs. And with lighter wind, selected a course closer to our destination and motor sailed
.A quiet day, our third, and the first of them without a dive under the boat. A late breakfast of pancakes and chopped fruit with our coffee, no lunch and Wahoo for dinner. A small pod of dolphins played with us for a few minutes in the afternoon. We encountered one merchant vessel, which told Yves that he had altered course to pass 1.5 miles from us. Otherwise no contact with the outside world. Whatever news is happening out there is happening without our knowledge. I have become much more of a user of the internet to look up stuff and references in the books I read. Not on this voyage, however, and I miss it.

Interesting cleats: only one turn around the wide end for friction and the line, of various widths, is held under the narrow end. I'd not seen these before.

Day 4 —Thurs. June 13

Today we made up for lost time. With winds up to 18 knots apparent, we experimented until we came up with a great configuration. Auto pilot could not handle us with other configurations. The ideal was wing on wing, with the boom and whisker pole in near a straight line, but from off the starboard bow to the port quarter. The storm jib on the whisker pole and the reefed main on the boom. I had never thought to sail wing on wing except on a dead run. With this configuration we presented a wall of canvas to the wind and made speeds of up to nine knots. We made it a double reefed main before dark.

We ate well, slept a lot and talked a lot. We reattached and redeployed the towed spinner to generate electricity. One merchant boat caused the AIS to beep. It was set on ten mile range and the merchantman, which we never saw with our eyes, passed 9.8 lies behind us. No cause for alarm, but it is nice to be warned of such things. In Long Island Sound we have turned off the AIS alarm because it otherwise presents a constant nuisance beeping sound; out here it beeps rarely and usefully.
Day 5 — Fri. June 14
During the night, while I was asleep we got very high winds, peak of 38 knots, coupled with torrential rains, from astern. Greg had the watch and everything he wore was soaked through. Fortunately this was still south of the Gulf Stream, so not cold, well, quite a wind chill. With such high winds, autopilot could not handle the boat so Greg kept us safe while sails were reduced. Rusee has a plastic sheet that when zipped at its top, to the aft end of the Dodger, encloses the companionway area, which is wide and provides a seat from which the person on watch can sit when not needed to change the course or sails. rather warm and dry. Also, when the wind is from aft with rain, the plastic keeps the driving rain out of the boat. The zipper of its starboard side is broken and Yves tried to use strong clothes pins but they were not strong enough. I had seen Yves use his four inch long mini vise grips for many purposes. I suggested this tool to keep the plastic sheet in place and it worked. I tool I aim to acquire!
During my afternoon watch we had another heavy rain, but there was only about fifteen knots of wind and in daylight. I got out my soap bar and washed myself and all the clothes I was wearing. After scrubbing them they got three wring out rinse cycles before the rain stopped.
We continued with great speeds today until night, when the winds game up on out on our port bow and we probably averaged only 3.5 knots for eight hours.
In the Gulf Stream, Greg deployed his fishing line again with intent to catch and release. Yves heard the whir of a hit and saw a shark, perhaps eight feet in length. Before I could get topside to see it, the fish had bitten through the line and was gone, and with Greg’s expensive lure in his mouth.
I noticed a tear in the Genoa, in the upper half, which turned out to be only a seam that came undone for part of its length and can be repaired with relative ease, but the genoa cannot be used for the duration of this passage unless it is taken down and sewn by hand.
Other things that have broken on this voyage include 1) the glued bond of the base of an electric fan mounted in a corner of the nav table (I bounced into it with my hip), 2) the handle of one of the wide base coffee mugs (crumbled in Greg’s hand) and 3) the plastic hinge by which the toilet seat goes up and down in the head ( I was sitting on it when Rusee lurched). Ocean passages are the cause of many, hopefully small, broken things. Never a dull moment. Another merchantman, according to AIS, passed 9.8 miles behind us. A day of resting and reading. Rusee has an unusual interior. There are windows for 270 degrees around the forward view, like a raised deck salon style, but every boat I have seen in that style places the salon dining table in the center of the boat, high, so diners can take advantage of the view. On Rusee, the dining table is below the cockpit and atop the diesel.

Next is the look forward with the head centerline, aft of the centerboard sliding cavity (behind the ship's clock) with the head entered from the starboard side. (Fan still mounted on the nav desk, right.

When the wind came up this morning, we shook out the reef and ran with the main and storm jib, I’d call it the smaller jib, with winds from port, near the beam, making up to six knots. At 9:30 this morning, GPS says we will reach our waypoint, at the entrance to Halifax Bay, between noon and 1 pm tomorrow, depending on our speed, with another two hours to Greg’s dock at the far north end of Bedford Basin.
Yves played a set of sailing songs by Eileen Quinn, with very modern lyrics about GPS and other conveniences. And I was inspired to sing “Sailing, Sailing” which Yves had me repeat several times while videotaping me. He writes, produces, directs and stars in high production quality videos of each of his passages. This one will include my earnest but crappy singing; I'll add a link to it.
Day 7 — Sun. June 16
At midnight the computer said we would reach the entrance to Halifax in twelve hours. But the winds got too strong so we but two reefs in the main, which slowed us, when the wind lightened. By six a.m., still twelve hours and we shook out the reefs. During the night two big merchant vessels passed within 1.5 miles of us, heading to Europe. When heading up into the bay that has Halifax a big Canadian Destroyer passed us port to port about a mile away— this on a Sunday. Later a military ASW airplane. Halifax to port and Dartmouth to starboard.
Canadian customs told us to call them back after we were on a dock and we did so from the Dartmouth YC fuel dock. Four of them showed up, checked our papers and declined the offer to search the boat. Then to the dock at Greg’s house where we arrived at about 1:30 pm, less than one hour before the end of the sixth day of the passage. Wanda giving us a big welcome in front of their new boat.

Talk about a good time estimate! On the other side of dock was Greg and Wanda’s new, for them, 43 foot Albin sloop, teak decked and sleek. I had not known that Albin made sailboats.

Then showering shaving, packing up and cleaning before a feast cooked by Greg and Wanda. l should have taken a picture of it. Excellent wines. Lots of cheeses and crudités and then grilled shrimp, sirloins, wahoo, two salads, corn on the cob, baked potatoes, garlic bread and a few other things. Dinner for eight sailors: Yves and me, Greg and Wanda, Greg’s brother and his wife who sail a Beneteau 51, and Greg’s new boss and his wife, who have a smaller sailboat but are training to move up in size, including his serving on Rusee de Jersey for the next few legs toward Quebec City.

I was home via American Airlines the next night.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

June 5 - 9 -- Bermuda, Aboard Rusee de Jersey

My flight from Newark was flawless and on time. Well I screwed up by leaving my cellphone charging in the the waiting area. But after a frantic search in all my many pockets at my seat I ran off the plane and got it.    At Bermuda’s airport I paid an unexpected $35 departure tax. It's because I’m not flying out and  it’s $50 if you fly, but built into the airfare, so you don't notice.   Yves met me, we walked to a nearby beach, and dinked to “Russee de Jersey”. The only problem was a rather fast "slow leak" from the dink’s two tubes. My seat got wet in the light chop. It is not a RIB.    Rusee, Yves explained, translates from the French as clever or trickster as in the English word “ruse”.  When Yves tried to register her, Rusee was too close to Rosee, which was used by someone else. He bought her on the Channel Island of Jersey. He  asked and voila: The Ruse from Jersey. In the foreground.

Built in 1987, she is one of thousands of Kelts that were launched before that French company too went bankrupt. Yves has sailed various boats since he was a teenager and has seven Atlantic crossings under his belt, one solo! He made major structural changes to Russee including extending her waterline by adding a sugar scoop style swim platform, perhaps two feet long.
One interesting feature is that the main halyard runs from the top of the mast to a block which he attaches to the head of the main and back up. This reduces the force needed to raise the main by half, allowing Yves’ lovely, wife, Dominique, a dancer (who had brought Rusee to Bermuda from the Caribbean with him) to raise it with a winch that is not electrified. But it makes the halyard twice as long, too. The same main halyard is also used to raise the dink to the foredeck nightly. The propeller of the dink is set into a plastic bucket so that it does not mar the deck. This could not work on ILENE unless we got rid of the wing-like trim tabs on the outboard. Lifting the dink not only deters theft, but retards marine growth on her bottom. It only grows during the portion of the day when she floats.
Upon arrival, even before unpacking, we motored to the south end of Castle Harbor and re-anchored. I also learned how to raise the centerboard by cranking its line, led to the starboard coach-roof winch. This board does not swing up from a forward pivot point, but slides up through a diagonal hole in the bottom of the boat. And it is not heavy like a keel but is more of a centerboard. The enclosure of the hole through which it slides divides the two forward cabins.
We spent the rest of the day just talking before dinner, dishes and bed. My berth is aft of the rudder post and large: perhaps 6.5 by 4 feet, and runs athwartship with my head to starboard and feet to port. It has two small opening ports facing aft which let in the cool night breeze but have to be kept closed when underway, to prevent waves from potentially entering.
Yves patched the leak in the dinghy under Rusee’s strong deck light while I slept.
Our days involved morning repairs and afternoon touring. The cockpit table was missing a dowel upon which two of its four legs pivoted. My idea was to use a piece of pencil and Yves had a round one. We sawed off a 1.5” long piece and sanded it down to decrease its diameter to fit. My thought was to glue it into one hole, let the other end pivot in the adjacent hole and place a screw through most of its length with our “dowel” providing substance for the screw to "bite". But in the end, I somehow misplaced the piece we had created and in searching for it we found the original steel pin that had fallen out. But the repair was improved by mixing up several small batches of two part epoxy (several because each hardens so fast) and using a thin wood coffee stirrer to spread it into the shattering cracks in the ends of the legs to fuse each of them solid. Good for another 20 years.
We pulled the Speedo wheel (and plugged the hole in the bottom of the boat) in order to clean off the growth on it, bathed it in vinegar for an hour, lubricated the “O” rings with Vaseline, reinserted it and then mopped and pumped out the water that gushed in during the second when the hole was unplugged. Rusee’s bilge is rather flat, without a deep sump, so the mopping up process is complicated.
Yves snorkeled under the boat to check and scrape off marine growth. The dink was partially re-inflated to test the fix, and it seemed to hold.
We pulled the Speedo wheel (and plugged the hole in the bottom of the boat) in order to clean off the growth on the speedo, bathed it in vinegar for an hour, lubricated the “O” rings with Vaseline, reinserted it and then mopped and pumped out the water that gushed in during the seconds when the hole was unplugged. Russee’s bilge is rather flat, without a deep sump, so the mopping up process took a while.
Yves snorkeled under the boat to check and scrape off marine growth.    One afternoon we visited the Mid Ocean Club in Tucker’s Town, where we had Dark and Stormys (the national drink of Bermuda), used their WiFi and found another, smaller leak which Yves located and patched that night. One meal was salad and concoction of shell pasta, sweet peas, and Euro style bacon in a light sauce of double creme, lemon juice and chopped fresh mint which I have noted only because I plan to look up the name and recipe for this dish when I get back to Internet
Except for the last night we were in Castle Harbour, a huge harbor (with some shoal areas) inside the northeastern end of the 18 mile long nation – smaller than Manhattan.  

 Its SW side is partially enclosed by a string of islands. One of them, Castle Island has a fortress (castle) on it. The British built the forts here for the same reason that we built so many of our eastern seaboard forts, such as Fort Adams in Newport -- for protection against potential enemies. The British thought of the US and France as such.
This lucky shot got the castle with a White Tailed Tropicbird, the symbol of Bermuda, lower left. The nation, to my eye, has the shape of a large clawless lobster, lying on its back, tail curled in with its head to the ENE.
The cruise ships used to dock in St. George’s Harbour, just north of us, but now dock inside the tip of the lobster’s curled up tail, in Great Sound, the largest harbor, which contains the capital city of Hamilton and Bermuda’s Royal Yacht Club, which is where I stayed when I helped sail “Thai Hot” back to the Harlem YC after the Marion to Bermuda race in about 2007. That was my first multi-day ocean passage and only prior visit to Bermuda. We are securely anchored just behind the eastern tip of land so we hear the ocean’s roar outside but are quite protected. That whole area is called Tucker’s Town and it has a lagoon which is very well protected. We dinked to that lagoon, tied the dink to mangroves and waded ashore in water less than knee deep.
One morning Yves found the head was hard to flush, impacted. Yves asked if I had accidentally flushed toilet paper. He dived and tried to get at the problem from the bottom of the boat. Next he had to undo the end of the sanitary hose leading the discharge from the head to its the seacock. This made a smelly mess in the bilge associated with that seacock; Russee has many small bilges. Finally Yves concluded that the lever that turns the seacock has become disassociated from its ball in partly open position. He did not have a large enough wrench aboard for the replacement, not the part, and to insert it will also require that Rusee be out of the water. So we will “see how it goes” with a wooden plug nearby, just in case. Finally cleanup of the area with pump, turkey baster and then rags handled with rubber gloves and washed with Clorox, seawater and finally fresh water. I cleaned rust from the stainless steel and marks on the decks. Yves’ cleansers worked excellently.
Anther adventure was to the furthest part of Castle Harbor, near the causeway. We passed Tom Moore’s Tavern, since 1652, with four friendly big cats eating.
Then through a park to a posh resort for a beer and WiFi. The resort has a grotto, an underground cavern, with stalactites and stalagmites (I’ve forgotten which are which) and a natural pool of sea water, with steps and a ladder so one can swim. Electric lights dimly light the place but without warming sunlight the water seemed as cold as Maine’s. We each took a refreshing dip.
We hiked to Yves and Dominique’s favorite ice cream stand. It is open six days a week but not Fridays. But the restaurant across the street, the Swizzle Inn, served rum swizzle ice cream so we had dessert before dinner.  The dinghy ride back to Rusee was a long one with the wind in our faces and our 2.5 hp outboard. But last night’s repair held up. No major leaks of air from the tubes.  While we were away we ran the noisy gas powered Honda 2000 electric generator. Also running was the wind generator and the solar panels. The electricity hog is the refrigerator.  An outdoor shower before dinner.
I’m very well equipped for the expected cold Canadian weather, but less so for the t shirt and shorts weather we have had so far and expect to continue to enjoy until about a day before we reach Halifax.  Yves drove the boat to near the airport, anchored and took the dink in to get Greg and his luggage.

It was great to see Greg again and he brought gear for serious ocean fishing. 

Yves drove the boat out into the Atlantic and back into the little bay among the islands, very near to where we had spent the first three nights, but on the outside. But the wind direction and speed and shallow depths caused us go back inside. Next pic shows the inside from the outside. Our anchor was dropped behind the rocks, just at the edge where the yellow turns to blue.
We spent the afternoon catching up, telling sailing stories and with a bottle of rum. This after a delightful swim. The bottom is pure yellow sand without any rocks, pebbles, shells or grasses.  The water near us was only five feet deep. The area is a favorite for local people and day charter captains bring folks out for excursions. I swam over to a boat with two couples and invited them to share our drinks but they declined. A party boat full of about ten young people came. Many of them scaled the cliffs of Castle Rock and jumped into the sea from an estimated 25 feet up. Two beautiful and very fit young mermaids swam by and were attracted by Rusee’s maple leaf flag. Both are squash pros. Melanie was recruited from Yellowknife in Canada to practice her profession in Bermuda and she had invited the others. Her companion was Samantha from Toronto.   Eventually Yves cooked dinner, and we stayed talking till Yves noticed that it was 12:17 AM.

  • We motored out of Castle Harbor, around St. David’s Point with St. David’s Light and through the channel into St. George’s Harbor. About five miles. We circled s/v "Argonauta" with Sherry and Giorgio aboard. They have circumnavigated, hung with Yves in the Caribbean, and intend to depart for Halifax with us. We anchored, dinked ashore, used the free public WiFi, talked with them for a half hour and then had beers and french fries at a waterfront table. 

Then we checked out the 160 foot  megayacht, Georgia,
and took a five mile hike around the northeast end of Bermuda. Met nice folks, ducks and cows, and toured forts and a  development.  And in the process we  developed a hunger for dinner, consumed at Wahoo Grill, another waterside table. Our first and only meal ashore in Bermuda (ice cream, french fries and drinks are not meals).  After dinner, the others took in some more WiFi but I had no battery left in my phone so wandered off to talk with some folks tied dockside in their 64 foot Swan. They spend their winters in the Caribbean and summers in Newport. The lady of the boat, Norma, originally from Long Island, has been to the Harlem YC with a friend and remembered it fondly. I invited her to an Old Salts session in July.  Here are some of the sights during our walk.
This church did not burn; it was just never finished.


See the man in the kayak?
The Three Musketeers.

Condo under construction

Wee family on a 30 foot wide beach

Yves feeding green grass to cows

Same name as my granddaughter
We ride in the dink with the air pump; when things get too squishy due to tiny remaining leaks, we just pump her up a bit . Yves plans to replace her this year. Our last night in Bermuda was peaceful like the others.