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

Thursday, October 18, 2018

October 3-16 -- Fifth and Sixth Weeks after the Cruise

Five sail days of the fourteen, though one was for only an hour, during the longest day related to boating. That Saturday began at the Club at 9 a.m. for the Harlem's annual Fall Work Party. But work did not get underway until after coffee and bagels at, about ten. I attached myself to PC Bobby. Our team's primary job was attaching sheets of plastic, which Bobby had obtained and cut to size, around the dozen tall wooden columns that are at the second floor level of the Clubhouse and seem to hold up the its third floor. I remember scrapeing and painting the columns, a huge job, but that was maybe fifteen years ago and again they looked like hell.
This time the plastic was wrapped around, held in place temporarily with straps while the seam was caulked and then also held firmly with nails every three inches. After the tradional free lunch, we completed our team's second project for the day. This was creating racks for the oars of the Fordham women's crew team which practices from off our docks and gets off to their studies by 9 am, before most of us get to the Club. And they pay a good rental for the privilege.  There were concrete pilings on the north side of the house, where no one goes or sees. They hold up the air conditioning units. We placed two by fours against the concrete pilings by drilling holes in the wood and  placing threaded rods with washers and nuts on both ends through the holes which compressed the wood against the pilings.

  1. I should have taken a picture of the racks but here is one of larger team installing the diagonal supports so the rails of the dock do not get blown away in the next hurricane. And the good looking columns make the gutters above them look like they need to be painted, come spring.

After the work ended I accepted Rhoda's invitation for a sail aboard "Jazz Sail". We only had an hour underway but it was great to be out on the water, with good wind. We used only the genoa. Next, back to back, was a lecture on how we must wash and scrape our boats' bottoms to comply with the environmental rules followed by a Club membership meeting. A very constructive meeting, without rancor. The Club is getting by financially, holding its own,  and bylaw changes were read reorganizing the duties of several board members as was the nominating committee's slate for 2019. Peter, a very hard worker is moving up to the Rear Commodore slot and one of the new trustees will be Claire, a frequent old Salt. The acrimony that existed during my early years at the club have receeded, almost out of memory; I need no longer bring along WD40 to spray upon the roiled waters.
The final event of the day (I told you it was a long one) was Octoberfest, featuring a profusion of German foods. Our Caterer, Anne, did a great job, but I have to say it was not as good as Mom used to make. I seated myself with Claire, Ginny and Ginny's friend John. I was home by 10, fourteen hours after I had left.
The day sails:
1) The Wednesday before the work party, the Old Salts sailed: seven folks on ILENE and five more on Dave's boat, "Lady Cat". Dave invites strangers who want a free ride with the hope that some of them will want to become members. When we got back to the moorings after about 2.5 hours tho,se wi)h other committments had to leave, and there were nine folks on ILENE for refreshments. I missed the next outing with this group caused my a stiff neck that laid me up for a few days with muscle relaxants.

2) I enjoyed sailing with Alison, Patrick and their younger son, Ian.

They belong to my Congregation and I tried to do this in the spring of 2017, only to embarrass myself by running over the pickup stick and needing to replace the bridle. No such problems this time. We were underway for 5.5 hours with light westerly winds to start and it got us to six knots over ground. Ian has a keen interest in airplanes so we headed west, tacking under the two bridges. I made a long detour south, to sail in waters where I had never been before: The channel past the east side of Rikers and LaGuardia all the way in to CitiField, home of the Mets.
This was to honor Ian's keen interest in airplanes and my interest in going into new places. It is hard for me to imagine that I have been sailing these waters for over 25 years but never into this long wide channel. Retracing our track north, out of that channel, we continued west to The Brothers Islands, the northern one of which held the still visible ruined sanitorium where Typhoid Mary was confined over a hundred years ago. We broad reached back from the Bothers as the wind got lighter and lighter. Having a bit more time, we went through the channel off Kings Point before turning to port, around Stepping Stones Light to the mooring. At this time it was slack tide and the wind was zero. We lost steerage because we had no way on through the water for the rudder to bite. At that moment another result of my stupidity occurred. I had not filled the fuel tank since Portsmouth, New Hampshire and we ran out. I heard the engine sputtering and shut it off before it finally stopped, thereby avoiding the need to bleed the system. We had two gallons of diesel in the jerry can which proved more than enough to get us the two miles back to the mooring.
The next day I worked for about 2.5 hours on the boat: looking for and finding things to take home, cleaning, especially in the aft head (Lene had closed but not dogged down the ports in that head and during heavy rains water had seeped in), checking out the watermaker so I can service it next time, and pouring four more gallons of diesel into her tank that I bought at a shoreside gas station on my way. It made my neck worse.

3)A day sail with Bruce, Lene's acting teacher, his wife, Valerie, and gheir two sons, Gabe, age 7, and  Sam, twelve. Four hours making grooves and the wind picked up so they got to see what six knots felt like. Val grew up on the Chesapeake and was a good helmsperson. The rest of them had never sailed with us and little Gabe was an avid learner: He started sitting on a cushion on my lap but ended standing astride the helmsman's seat, where he could see where he was going. They had won the outing in an auction for the benefit of WEDREPCO, Lene's theater company. Gabe, himself an aspiring actor, learned his lines and called the launch to request our pickup.

4) I also sailed for four hours with Fred of our Coop. He had sailed with me in September 2017 and belongs to a sailing club that uses J-24s from a marina in the Hudson at the World Trade Center. About four hours out to near Mamaroneck and back, passing on both sides of Execution Rocks and through the channel off Great Neck's King's Point. A problem when a sudden wind shift occurred as we were rounding The Blauses, with the big genoa that takes time to tack. We were close to being blown onto the rocks but we used the engine for about one minute to avoid the problem. Again the wind got stronger as the day wore on and when it was time to beat back, we used the small jib and still achieved six knots.
Hauling to occur soon.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

September 26 - October 2 -- Fourth Post Cruise Week

Only two sailing dates this week. The first seemed like a gift from God. It was Wednesday afternoon and hence the appointed time for the Old Salts. But all week the weather guessers had forcast severe storms starting at 4 pm. These were likely to get us wet and spoil the apres sail libations. But I has said i'd be there and seven of the ten who had lunch at the Club came out on ILENE. And the wind was strong enough to move the boat at about six knots and we got further than usual, to about 1/3 of the way from Execution rocks to Matinecock, on a beam to broad port reach, before beating back to the mooring and enjoying the party. The rain did not come until after we were all back home.

The other sail date was on Sunday with Sid and Jan, who have sailed with us aout once a year since before I met Lene back in 1997. Mendy also came along and he is so strong at grinding and is "learning the ropes".  Sid worked with me and is an expert on the legal nuances of software license agereements, now retired. We had a wonderful timLENE up to 4.4 knots for the first half hour but then it died and we motored slowly the remainder of the four hours we were underway.
e catching up with each other even though the sailing itself was punky. We had a gentle breeze getting I
And The day before was a fundraiser baebecue for the Club run by volunteer members with food and beverage contributions and a big crowd. Tthe weather cooperated and it was scheduled at high tide. Mendy was there and Jerry, who was former member but now spends most of his time in Florida and enjoyed meeting old friends.
And there was also a large family party was run by our caterer upstairs so: "a full house".

Thursday, September 27, 2018

September 19 - 25 -- Third Week After the Cruise

One day was for the annual atonement for my sins. And the fast was broken, in a very non-traditional way - boiled lobsters - at Bennett and Harriet's house. They live near where I pray. Another couple of days were devoted to the care of my mate who had surgery; Lene's mostly OK now.

Two sails. The first with Bill, the author of a book about his multi-day sail, aboard his catboat, in New York City waters. He left from Jamaica Bay on the south shore of Long Island, up the East River and into Long Island Sound, with many memories of past experiences that occurred to him during this multiday voyage. I had borrowed the book from Bennett and wrote to Bill and offered him a ride on ILENE, which is as sleek and modern as his catboat's look is classic. He teaches Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center; a new friend.

The other sail was with Morty and Clara on ILENE. They are "Old Salts" and I was not sure who I would be sailing with that day, the primary mission of which was to put away the dink. But I only worked an hour on it, pulling it up onto the dock, inverting it and using a brush and lots of fresh water to scrape off the marine growths that covered its bottom and lower transom, before stowing it again on the dock. I had planned to pull it up to the top of the seawall but the tide had gone too far down for that.  So I sailed, a nice couple of hours, going very deeply into Manhasset Bay, to the ten foot water line, before heading out. While there we passed "Thai Hot" while Bob was setting her anchor for the raft-up for those staying late for the Harlem's "Full Moon Rendezvous". These autumn sails are wonderful.

Next day was not a sail but a work day, though it took only an hour, near high tide, to float the dink, tow it to the seawall, get it up and fully deflate it before inverting it and using a yard cart to get it over to the "farm", the storage area across the street from the Club's driveway entrance. Then to place it atop another hard dink on the top level of a three shelf dinghy storage rack. There is a crew of men who are always working for the benefit of our Club. We could not exist without their near constant volunteer help. They had the Club's forklift running, which made the lift easy. It will be hard to steal the dink from its perch, without a forklift, and the lock on the chain will make that much more difficult.
With a little luck we have another two or three weeks before it is time to haul for the season.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

September 12 - 18 -- Second Week Back

Our last two nights sleeping aboard this season, with transport of selves and kitties to our apartment on Friday the 14th. So the cruise is over but day sailing continues. But no less than four sail dates were cancelled during the week due to threatened rain (Nanda), fog and no wind (Old Salts though we did enjoy lunch), being stood up (by the organizer of the Veteran's sail) and the fouth day, totally fouled up by the remains of Hurricane Florence. But I did have two good sails.

 The first was with the members of the New York Map Society. I joined last year. They are fellow map enthusiasts though most are collectors and some are artists and scientists. I'm just a user of charts and they interest me. The annual dues are very low and they have interesting programs mostly on East 27th Street. I had offered a boat ride to the Society and thought to sail with two shifts of up to six folks per shift. But we had only nine souls for the lunch at the Harlem,  (the Society paid for it), of which only four joined me aboard ILENE. Sadly the four sailors did not include Andrew, the Secretary and energetic driving force of the Society, whose specific interest is Lithuanian maps! He did come for the lunch.  But both the President, Steve, who took the wheel for a while
and Sy, who was one of the founders of the Society, were among the intrepid four who sailed. We motored for a while due to light wind, but then the wind came up and we got to speeds over six knots, giving the folks a hint of the thrill of sailing.
And three of the four sailors live in lower Manhattan so I was able to give them a ride home in our car.
The only other sail during this week was with Rhoda aboard "Jazz Sail" her Catalina 27. I arrived at  her boat (with a sandwich to share) before she did and had it ready to go when she got there. We headed off but were back within five minutes when a rather heavy rain caught us. After lunch in the cabin the rain stopped and we got off for about three hours for a trip around Hart Island. Nice fall wind, plenty for that light boat. I noticed and photographed the top of her mast and aft end of her boom. Both show bare pole for the the last 12 to 18 inches; in other words, there is room on the spars for a larger mainsail. Hmmm?
On the other hand the headsail is a genny which with 1) the short radius of the winch handle (its shortness needed to avoid the lifelines) and 2) the absence of a self tailing top on the winch meaning only one hand is available for turning the handle, meant that grinding in was a tough workout for me; doable for a big guy like me, but I wonder how Rhoda manages. 
Rhoda also invited me to a performance of a reading of the play "Teddy and the River" a telling of Teddy Roosevelt's life threatening 1912 voyage of discovery on the Amazon, after his Presidency and his run as a Bull Moose. This was staged at the National Arts Club, half a mile from our apartment and it was a well written play and a well acted performance. Thanks for a lovely day, Rhoda.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

September 5 - 11 -- First Week Back - Living Aboard

It is always good to be back and there are always a lot of things to do: car needed inspection, shopping. banking, paying bills, propane refill, haircut, etc. Our nephew, Mendy, spent three nights aboard with us including one of the two day-sails during the period, together with Christine and Heather. The wind was strong on a cool grey drizzly afternoon and when we came near to close hauled, with just the small jib and main, we were heeled considerably. Lene pointed out that we were not in cruising mode -- that we had no destination to make before nightfall. Could we please respect the cats wishes by reducing the heeling?
Aye Aye, Admiral!
So we furled the headsail and tacked back and forth across the mouth of  Eastchester Bay with the wind near the beam for the rest of our two hours before regaining the mooring for the noshing. I really appreciated Mendy's prodigious upper body strength. My crew performed a very nicely done controlled jibe.
The other sail during this week was on the first day we got back, on Mark's Deuce of Hearts, a very comfortable catamaran. I reserved ILENE form the service of the Old Salts until we get the cats moved back ashore. In addition to Mark and I, we had three couples and Claire. Our Club's secretary, Doug, hosted Karen, a social member, and two of her girl friends on his
Cape Dory 28, "Aquila". They joined us after for the digestibles. My problem with these events is that I eat too much; dinner - forget about it!
Some of the nights aboard have been hot and humid. others rainy, windy and or foggy.
The rest of the time this week: a visit to our apartment to get "city clothing", an matinee on Broadway, a day's trip to Kent, CT, to visit our friend Fran, a meeting on the upper east side of my Book Group, religious high holiday services, and a huge family dinner at cousin Judy's in New Jersey.
Back in August, at Frenchboro, Maine, we met up with and had blueberry pancakes with liveaboards Rick, Claudia and their son Dylan, but I failed to capture them photographically. But they are now at the Harlem so my error was correctable before they head south soon.
See ya next week!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Cruise Summary -- Maine 2018

We left the Harlem Yacht Club on July 4 and returned on September 4, 63 days later. But seven of those days were spent off the boat on a car trip to Quebec City while an addition to ILENE's keel was attached. So the cruise itself was only 56 days, considerably shorter than our Nova Scotia cruise of 2017.

The events of each of those 56 days, the delightful and the ugly, have been reported in 33 posts to this blog -- details and highlights. This posting attempts to describe the forest instead of the individual trees -- by statistical. as well as subjective approaches.

The 56 days are the sum of  45 passages (to 44 destinations - two visits to Rockport Maine) plus eleven lay days. About eighty percent passage days. Some of the lay days were weather related. One of them was devoted to the round trip visit to beautiful Monhegan Island, by ferry, a highlight of our summer. Our lomgest stop was three nights - in Belfast, associated with Witty's illness. We like to keep moving.

Among the 44 ports were 15  that provided the thrill of entering a new destination and 29 old friends; so almost a third were new ports.

The nights: no overnight passages like the three last summer. The vast majority of our nights were spent on moorings: 40  (ten of them were free!). Only 14 were on our anchor and two at docks. One of the docks was at Sandwich Mass, which seemed a necessary place to stop and has only docks. The other dock was at the Great Island Boat Yard in Casco Bay, where ILENE was hauled to permit her keel to be re-soled. At docks our kitties get frisky so we seek to avoid them.

How about the mileage, which added up to 1079, round trip. Roque Island, the furthest destination , is only 356 miles from our mooring at the Harlem as the crow flies, which would mean 712 crow miles, But the shortest locical course, without going in and out of ports and backtracking is probably about 450 miles on e way compared to our 539 miles each way.

Here is a chart showing the distribution of our days, passages and miles into the three segments of the trip:

To Maine
In Maine
From Maine

No matter how you slice it, it is about 300 - 350 miles to get to Maine from New York City.
By driving through the nights this could be done in about 70 hours, less than three days. We took a more leisurely pace with about nine passages each way ending up using one third of our cruise in the coming and going phases, but we saw some very nice spots along the way, taking our time to smell the coffee. Still, we did an average of about 35 to 40 miles per passage on the outbound and return passages, compared to only 15 miles per passage in the target vacation area where we spent two thirds of our time.

And the food: Lene puts out the three squares each day subject to occasional meals off the boat.
During the 56 days we had one breakfast (on Monhegan Island), four lunches and 17 dinners "out".

We do have a few prejudices: toward moorings, against docks and in favor of healthy boat cooked food. But subject to these, the patterns simply emerge when I count things up at the end, rather than with set targets.

Subjectively, first. what went wrong:
1. I somehow left our clear plastic cockpit enclosure "walls" at home, and the Club burgee too. I was sorry about the burgee but it was such a warm summer that the cockpit enclosure was not missed.
2. I put water in the fuel tank, necessitating a tough job this winter.
3. Witty's illness put a crimp in our style- the reason for the second visit to Rockport Maine, and we hope he gets better soon and that the motion of the boat did not contribute to his pain.
4. The biggest problem was the light winds. We did a lot more motoring than we wanted to.
5. The transformation of nice places into berths for superyachts to the exclusion of sailors like us was a problem to which I do not have a solution.

The positives:
1. People whether it is unexpected accidntal unplanned rendezvous with boats associated with our Club -- four of them.
meeting with old friends or making new ones, we are social animals and enjoy being with other people in port.
2.  We escaped the brutally hot New York City summer.
3. The new ports we visited -- and there are so many more.
4. The new addition to the bottom of the keel has been a big success in making for a more comfortable ride.
5. We got back alive and safe.

This blog will continue with many fall sailing activies already planned. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

September 3 and 4 -- Port Jeff to Cockenoe Island Anchorage to the Harlem Yacht Club, 17 and 29 Miles

We are home. Continuing to live aboard the next ten days or so but home.

Cockenoe Island and its spit extending quite a bit east, (to the right) underwater, is a tiny lump of land at the eastern end of a group of islands called the Norwalk Islands. They protect Norwalk and Saugatuck from the winds and waves of Long Island Sound. I had thought to possibly go to Northport on the north shore of Long Island for our last night away, but once out in the Sound it was clear that crossing to its Connecticut shore would make for a better ride. We feared too little wind and it was indeed light, and from the southwest. Northbound across the Sound was sailable, though slowly. we made between 4 and six knots. A short passage on a steamy hot day; why not sail slowly, give the Yanmar a break and take advantage of the water cooled air contitioned breeze. We were headed too far to the east, toward Fairfield, CT, where I had planned to tack and go west to Norwalk. But during the three hours the wind came very gradually but steadily about 35 degrees to the south and with each increment we turned a few degrees further west until me were almost parallel to the Connecticut coast, making landfall near Cockenoe, our track a long curve.  Lots of room for lots of boats and our Rocna got well set. I had planned to dink over to explore the island, having never been here before, but it was so darn hot and Lene was engrossed with her tennis watching so I just stayed put and rested up for the final passage home the next day.
The next day was windless, six hours to motor the 29 miles. Then a laundry, dinner abord and reading before bed.
And an article called "Nova Scotia Idyll" has now come out in the September issue of Points East magazine, starting at page 26. I wrote it, condensed down a lot, based on the facts in the posts to this blog about our summer cruise there in 2017. It is the sort of article I wish I had been able to read before we went there. pointseast.com
So while we will be reaclimating to city life, the sailing of 2018 is far from over.