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Posts Tagged ‘NYC’

It’s been an eventful month with the dominating theme being the weather. With a maybe/maybe not repaired engine, we finally got out of Onset Bay, MA a day after Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach NC. We spent three days on the move while following the news of the devastation unfold. Our beloved Oriental NC got whacked hard again with a storm surge even higher than for Hurricane Irene in 2011. The effects were felt well north. We opted for a lay day in Northport Bay on the north shore of Long Island as the remnants of Florence passed through. A day later we moved on, picking up a mooring in Port Washington where we staged for a run through the East River and hooked up with cruising friends Dawn and Paul for a low-key birthday celebration for Captain Mike at a local pizza place.

From Port Washington we caught a favorable tide and had a nice but overcast run through the East River/NYC on our way to Atlantic Highlands/Sandy Hook NJ where we spent another couple of days with Dawn and Paul waiting out yet another bit of weather. Finally, on Saturday morning, we opted to haul anchor on the tail end of a small craft advisory and started what would be about a 27 hour offshore run down the Jersey coast. Alas, our cruising friends made a last minute decision that they wouldn’t make the run south afterall, opting to leave their boat north for another winter season. Oh, to have such options. We pressed on.

Sailing was challenging, but we persisted until the daylight on Sunday when it looked like we were at risk for a night time arrival in Cape May. Sails down, engine on, we motored the rest of the morning and into the afternoon to an anchorage off the Coast Guard Station in Cape May. We had plenty of company as we waited out… you guessed it, more weather.

Come Wednesday morning, we made a break for it again. An early early morning departure found us motoring through the Cape May Canal, after which we caught a favorable tide for a run up the sometimes ugly Delaware Bay. In fact our tide was so favorable that we carried it all the way north to the C & D Canal where we caught another favorable tide through the canal. We were anchor down in the Bohemia River after a 71.5 nm run, which might in fact be a one day record for us. At this point we’d accomplished our ever shifting goal, to be past the outside runs and at least into the Chesapeake Bay before having to tuck our Cheshire in while we make our 5th annual “Driving Miss Rita” road trip. We took one more lay day to make some final arrangements, booking a marina slip, a rental car, etc. before moving to a marina situated a comfortably safe distance up the Sassafras River on the Eastern Shore.

Chapter Next…

After a few days of getting Cheshire tucked in, we were off on our road trip. For five years now, each October, I (sometimes we), travel from wherever we are to collect my Mom from what’s been her home in Indiana to shuttle her and her car to the panhandle of Florida where she winters. This year though would be our final trip as Mom’s sold her place in Indiana. Early Monday evening, we pulled into her driveway just as the auctioneers she hired to clear out her place we cramming the last of her stuff into the back of their truck… except for small truck load they ended up returning for the following day, and the couple of car loads we donated to the local Christian Center of things the auctioneer couldn’t/wouldn’t take. Suffice it to say that despite Mom’s efforts over recent years and in particular these past summer months, it was a big project. I had flashbacks to our own pre-Cheshire purge back in 2011.

Early on Tuesday, October 2nd, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) began monitoring an area of low pressure that had developed over the southwestern Caribbean. Meanwhile, in Anderson, we spent a couple of days wrapping up the details, visiting family in the area, and swapping our rental SUV for a 10′ U-Haul to ferry the last of Mom’s belongings, final packing. Two driving days later, Sunday afternoon, we arrived in Panama City Beach for what we thought was the end of this season’s Driving Miss Rita trip and the beginning of some family time. This was to be the first time in nearly 6 years that my siblings (4 of us) and I were all in the same place at the same time. Mother Nature however, would have a different plan.

On Friday, October 5 th, while we finished day 2 of our drive, the NHC declared this storm a tropical depression, and soon after, upgraded it to Tropical Storm Michael. We spent the weekend unloading boxes, cleaned up and moved patio furniture out to the balcony, stocked the pantry and fridge in anticipation of our family gathering. My sister and brother-in-law  were already in PCB ahead of Mom; one brother and his 2 kids arrived Sunday afternoon.  I managed to grab a couple of photos before things got crazy… and obviously need to work on my selfie technique.

Mike and I began our Monday morning as we do every morning… with coffee and weather checks. The coffee was good; the weather forecast not so much. Michael was now a full blown hurricane and he was coming to visit PCB in a hurry. I shifted into storm-prep mode, started planning for bringing patio furniture back inside, thinking about our water supply, eating without power to cook with, etc., while some of my family suggested I might be over-reacting. A few hours later a mandatory evacuation was issued and most of us were packing.

Early Tuesday morning, most of my family evacuated to Montgomery AL. One brother opted to stay behind.  My youngest brother and his crew of 4 were to be flying into PCB; plan B was skip their Atlanta to PCB leg, rent a car and meet us in Montgomery. We spent the next 4 days, one day at a time with a hotel change somewhere in there, obsessively watching the Weather Channel, scouring social media for updates and generally trying to amuse ourselves in suburban Montgomery. Mid-day Wednesday, Hurricane Michael raged ashore at Mexico Beach, about 25 miles east of where my Mom and sister stay, as the third most intense Atlantic hurricane to ever make landfall in the US. It was horrific and the damage extensive. PCB has been a special place for my family since we started vacationing there when my siblings and I were very small. My parents bought their first rental property on the beach while I was in high school and my parents, now my mother, have wintered there since Dad’s retirement in 1995… ironically the year that Hurricane Opal made a visit and wreaked some havoc in the area.  My family’s condos came through this storm with only minimal damage; many others were not so fortunate.

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Mike and I did check out some of the local tourist sights while we were in Montgomery, found some interesting eats, a hiking trail… details to follow in a later post. Long story a bit shorter, when the storm passed and we got some indication that power would be restored to Mom’s area within a day or two, Mike and I grabbed a return rental and started our way back to Maryland. Mom was in good hands with family and the FL Panhandle didn’t need any more people than necessary trying to reenter. We would have loved to have returned to PCB and volunteered with the recovery efforts, but having our Cheshire so far north, we were not in a position to delay any longer. We arrived home on Sunday night after two weeks away; about a day and a half later, the remnants of Michael made landfall in Portugal.

Fast-forward a few days, our Cheshire is now put back together. She’s had a bubble bath and a bottom-cleaning. We’ve topped off provisions, propane, and water. We’ve dug into our deeper storage to retrieve our warmer clothes. We even did some repair work on our weather-worn cockpit enclosure in hopes of better keeping out some of the cold we’re sure to encounter in the weeks to come.  Tomorrow we cast off the dock lines with a goal to get south as quickly as we can, weather permitting. Even before we get off the dock though, we’re already having to allow for some upcoming weather days/small craft advisories. Mother Nature Always Wins. We can’t complain though when we remember so many who have lost so much in these recent storms. Maybe we’ll get some good fall color out of the deal though.

 

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After a week long wait in the Norfolk area, our patience was finally rewarded with a decent weather window for an outside run from Hampton VA to Long Island Sound. We headed out bright an early on a favorable tide, passing Thimble Shoal Light as we were leaving the Bay.  We also passed over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, always a bit weird to know that you’re floating over a stream of land-based traffic.  Seas were calm, but unfortunately so were the winds, so we motored.  Sunday morning/Father’s Day brought another pretty sunrise.

After a weather check Sunday morning, tweaked our plans a bit.  The lack of wind dictated that we make a fuel stop, and a snotty forecast for the southern shore of Long Island the following morning had us deciding to pass on heading for Fire Island Inlet… we’ve done it before, but it’s best in more settled conditions.  Plan B, we’d stop in Atlantic City NJ to fuel up, then head up towards Sandy Hook and plan for a run up the East River to Long Island Sound.

After about 30 hours offshore, Sunday afternoon in Atlantic City NJ was more than a bit crazy. We opted for a stop at Kammerman’s Marina, a family owned and operated place, passing on a property formerly owned by Trump.  I also got some shots of  Absecon Lighthouse on our way into the inlet of the same name.  I’m guessing it was a more effective aid to navigation before Atlantic City was developed.  Still, nice that it’s still standing.

Mike did some calculations and decided that if we wanted to transit the East River through NYC on a favorable tide, we needed to slow our roll.  We were effective in doing so by spending the rest of the afternoon and through the night sailing in very very light winds.  At first light, we finally dropped the sails and fired up the Red Queen.  Romer Shoal Light (NJ) welcomed us to Lower New York Harbor.

We’ve been through the Harbor and East River once before, but in the opposite direction and much later in the day.  This time around we enjoyed a morning run, better light for catching some good photos and thanks to the Captain, our timing at the infamous Hell Gate was perfect.  As on our previous run, I was captivated by the bridges (works of art actually), the varied architecture, and an occasional lighthouse. Lady Liberty and the United Nations building stood as proud as before, but I couldn’t help but think about how much our political climate has changed (and not for the better imho) in the not quite two years since we last saw them.

By shortly after 1300, 55 hours or so after we hauled anchor in Hampton VA, we were on a mooring ball in Port Washington NY on the south shore of Long Island Sound.  This was a familiar spot for us as we spent several days here on our last trip, waiting out Hurricane Hermine which didn’t amount to much up here except to delay us a bit.  It’s quite a cruiser-friendly place with great access to town via two different dinghy docks.  In the day that followed we did laundry, topped off provisions and water, and revisited the yummy Ayhan’s Mediterranean Marketplace.  Arriving literally minutes behind us were Bob and Sandra aboard s/v Carpe Diem who we’d met several years ago in the Florida Keys.  Turns out they’ve done a lot of  sailing in Maine, so it was great to have them share their wisdom over dinner one night.

Next stop: Connecticut, new waters for us.  Stay tuned.

 

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Having survived the non-event that was Tropical Storm Hermine, it was once again time to get moving.  Our next stretch would need to be carefully timed though… wicked tides and currents that would work to our benefit if we planned carefully and would be quite challenging if we didn’t.  An area in particular referred to as Hell Gate demands respect.

After topping off fuel and water, we were off at about 14:30.  Our planning paid off.  The current was in our favor, though the Captain had a most challenging afternoon into early evening as there was much going on along the way.  Not surprisingly, but definitely new to us, there was lots of activity on the East River through New York City.  We were one of only a few pleasure boats, but there was plenty of traffic on the water… tugs, barges, and some huge ferry boats.  The skies were busy too.  I wondered if jet pilots use the East River as a guide on their approach to LaGuardia as we had a plane every couple of minutes off our stern as we approached the city.  It was a bit freaky actually.  Too fast to get a good photograph though; they were that close.  Further down, as we approached the Wall Street area, we were surprised at the amount of helicopter traffic.  There were even a few seaplanes taking off and landing in the river.  Crossing the river via cable car had to win the prize for most unusual though.  Bet that was an impressive vantage point.  Like I said, there was lots going on.

While Mike was busy dodging traffic, I was busy taking photos.  As usual, it was challenging from a bobbing boat.  Our late afternoon run also meant we were headed directly west into the sun for much of the time.  Also as usual, I was particularly captivated by the beautiful old bridges, 8 in all, though I didn’t get photos of all of them.

Of course there were lighthouses, many of which must have been much more prominent when built, but in many cases now are dwarfed by all that surrounds them.

Seeing the Statue of Liberty from the water was most impressive.  Interesting side note: from shortly after its installation in 1886, Lady Liberty and her torch served as an official aid to navigation, in fact the first “lighthouse” to be lit with electricity.  In 1902 it was discontinued as an aid.  In the fading light, we dropped anchor not far behind the statue, just off Liberty State Park, her torch visible above the trees from our cockpit.

We might have stayed a bit longer, but favorable weather the next morning prompted us to move on, finishing our run through New York Harbor .  The bright orange Staten Island ferries were flying quite busy, at least one of them with an armed USCG escort.  Another bridge, a few more lighthouses, and we were anchor down just off Atlantic Highlands in New Jersey.

Here we’d wait a bit for some favorable weather.  Our next stretch will be an outside run down the New Jersey coast.

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