Sunday, July 16, 2017

Poughkeepsie YC - at our dock

The West Point Military Academy is always a dramatic sight
Today was OK. We had pizza for dinner so today was fun. My cosins left so that was sad. We are at the PYC club. We are HOME. We are having an early bedtime so I am a little disappointed just a little. We had a fun time on the river for 2 weeks I hope we have more like this. But before I go I need to tell you all something very special, the pizza was cheese.    

Storm King comes right to the edge of the Hudson River
The last day of our cruise with the grandkids was perfect. Ann prepared a favorite breakfast for Finn (pancakes and bacon) and we were off. The tide was against us all the way but we didn't care. We had a good view of all the magnificent sights along the way north including the palisades on the New Jersey coast which are about 300 to 500 ft high, very dramatic. Farther north you'll pass West Point and World's End where a chain barricade was placed across the Hudson Rive to prevent the English going farther north during the Revolutionary war. Just north of that you'll see Storm King Mountain which rises 1340 ft above the Hudson. In all it's a dramatic trip up the Hudson River.

Lots of barge traffic today, nobody could figure out what these were
The railway owns both sides of the Hudson for tracks so there is very little development since all the waterfront property is already taken by the trains. the Poughkeepsie YC is a rare exception where the trains take a small detour back from the water.

Home at last, we like it here too
Coming up on PYC we had about a 1 kt current behind us with a 15 kt wind, not ideal for coming into a face dock when there's a boat directly ahead of your slip. Ann was at the helm as usual and I supervised the crew with the lines. Ann decided on a Captain Ron maneuver and came at the dock at a 45 degree angle while moving with the current 1 kt towards the docked boat in front of our slip. At the last minute, Ann turned the boat 45 degrees and threw it in reverse just like Captain Ron in the movie of the same name. The boat stopped cold and snugged up against the dock. It was quickly tied off and we were in!

Our Connecticut crew is gone and we just have Rowan and Finn on board. We will get off the boat Monday and take them home Wednesday to Pennsylvania. We will undoubted spend a few days to rest up.

This marks the end of the temporary blog but it will continue starting 9/15 for our eighth trip to down the ICW to Key West. Be sure to join us then.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Croton Point in Haverstraw - at anchor

Finn's favorite building
Hello it’s the long lost FINN!!! Today we saw some skyscrapers. We are anchored at Croton point. We swam of the back of the boat. Matt joined us too. We saw one skyscraper that we called the drunk architect. It was really crocked so they attached it to the building next to it. I don’t know who would buy it but whoever who bought it must have been CRAZY!!! Today was a great day.      

Another odd one
We have Matthew on board who's in the architect school at Roger Williams University as a Junior this coming year so it was interesting rounding Manhattan and seeing some of the wilder buildings and Matt's assessment of the design. Finn was impressed once again by the "leading towers" of two buildings (pictured). I can only guess that it's just the desire to be different that drives such a design. Likewise for the buildings that appeared to be inspired by Lego blocks. On the other hand the Freedom Tower looked elegant and unique at the same time. It was an interesting ride.

How would you like to work here?
We went through Hell Gate as the tide was turning against us in the hope that by the time we reached the Hudson River, the tide would be in our favor. However, once again in our experience the tide was late. We bucked an adverse current all the way to Haverstraw Bay! It should have turned by at least the George Washington bridge according to the tide tables. We have never seen it turn on time yet! 

Magnificent Manhattan
We are now anchored off Croton Point with about 50 other boats (it's a Saturday night). We well conclude our journey Sunday upon returning to PYC late afternoon. I wish we had more wind for the trip but that's the chance you take in Long Island Sound in the summer. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Port Washington - at a free mooring

Sarah likes to steer the  boat! 
Hi this is Sarah and today was a very rainy day. This morning we had delightful biscuits with honey and had to wait out the rain. We were aiming to leave at 12:30 but there was a opening and we took it! I read my book, A Tree grows in Brooklyn, for a tiny bit until a felt a little sick and too nauseous to read to read. After a while I took my thirty minute shift and had lunch and rested for a little bit afterwards. Then we got to Port Washington and it was still raining. Before the our trip I took some motion sickness medicine and after we arrived in port Washington I could barley keep my eyes open and feel asleep. After I woke up and played on my phone and now I am doing the blog. After we have our dinner were going to watch Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, bye.

Racing sails!
We watched the weather radar to look for an opening and one came at 12:30 so we were off. There wasn't much wind and we didn't think we had to put out the mainsail for stabilization. That was a mistake. There were rollers coming off the Sound and they were hitting us broadside causing us to roll about 45 degrees in both directions. Everybody down below came up to he cockpit, it was not comfortable. We then up the mainsail up and that helped some but it still wasn't a good ride. 

When we turned the corner around the point and headed directly for Manhasset things got much better.We could see on the weather radar that we still had a window so we hurried along. Then the fog set in. We countered by turning on the running lights and powering up the ship's radar to see what's ahead of us in the fog. As you might expect, nobody else was out in this mess. We found the same mooring we used last time and then it started to rain. 

90 one day, today in the 60's, hardly summer weather
We hope to leave Manhasset around 7:00 am so we can make the tide through Hell Gate and reach Haverstraw Bay by the afternoon if all goes well. The next day we plan on reaching PYC. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Northport - at anchor

Even though it's called Sand City, the beach is mostly pepples
Howdy! Matt here. Today we had a lovely pancake breakfast. We then proceeded to remove ourselves from Port Jeff. On the way out of the anchorage we raise our mainsail and after getting a little ways farther out into the sound we raised the jib and cut the engine. Fleetwing got to experience a pleasant sail across the sound over to Sand City, Northport. She reached speeds of up to 6 knots with a strong 16 knot wind behind us. We didn’t have to tack until two thirds of our sail was over. I was caught using the head mid tack. I found myself up when I should have been down and came up into the cockpit with the swift realization that we tacked. I got some good reading in while we were sailed today. I have gone deep into the pages of the sci-fi masterpiece, Dune. We are now sitting anchored in Northport waiting to see whether we’ll get hit with a storm. Happy Sailing!

Peddles or not, the kids still enjoyed the water
At last we sailed! We came out of Port Jefferson and sailed across the Sound. Naturally, you could not point directly at our destination, that was right on the bow! We were just happy to have good winds of 10 to 12 kts and we took advantage of the opportunity. Once on the other side we tacked to point towards Northport but then in looking at the weather radar which showed severe weather on the way, we decided to motor the rest of the way (directly into the wind, of course, the wind gods know where you want to go!). It feels kind of powerful to be the only boat on the sound that controls the wind so effectively. Other boats must have fair sailing with winds on the beam since we didn't see any other boats headed in our direction. 

The front looked fierce but we didn't get much rain and no thunder or lightning
The cool front was coming with the associated storms so I made a quick trip to shore with Hoolie and the kids got some swimming in but we had to cut it short to get back to the boat before the storms hit. As it turned out, we snuck through a gap in the front and barely got any rain at all which didn't bother us any. Now it's about 15 degrees cooler and it feels nice. 

We're headed for Manhasset on Friday but there are storms coming again so we'll head out in the morning to avoid the afternoon storms. The real chancy departure date is from Manhasset heading for Haverstraw Bay. There are storms predicted all day long. If there's no opening, we'll sit Saturday out and leave on Sunday. The weather is king.  

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Port Jefferson - at anchor

Running the dinghy is great fun for kids of all ages. They all take turns.
Today was great. We went to the beach. I snorkeled. I found some interesting rocks. I even found a clam. I spent most of my time In the aft cabin reading. We anchored at port Jeff. Sadly we didn’t sail but it didn’t take long to get here though. Today was a FANTASTIC day and I hope I have more like it. BYE       

The blog above was from Finn. His brother Rowan got off the boat in Branford but Finn stayed on for the rest of the trip. We would have liked the winds to be incorrectly forecast like yesterday, out of the northwest instead of the southwest. Now that we needed winds out of the northwest, naturally, the winds came directly out of the southwest, mostly on the nose for the trip from Milford to Port Jefferson which resulted in us motoring all the way. Oh well, such is Long Island Sound.

Storms all around us but none on us so far
It was a short trip over and we found the anchorage entirely empty. Two other boats came in later but three  boats in all allows for a lot of room. The anchorage could easily take 30 boats. Of course, the kids were eager to go swimming so that consumed about two hours in the afternoon. There are thunderstorms all around us but none appear to be aimed at us. It's warm at 83F but there's a breeze and if needed, we'll run the genset tonight with A/C to cool off the boat.

Our goal on Thursday is to move over to Northport and anchor next to Sand City for more beach time. There should be a window open in the morning before the storms kick up.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Milford - at a dock

Finally got to sail
Hi this is Sarah here and today was a pretty quiet day. This morning when I got up it was very hot and humid. We had breakfast and then we said goodbye to Mattituck and headed over to Milford. We were able to sail but we only went 5 knots for our speed. Me, Matt, and Finn all took turns sailing the boat. After I read for a long period of time; so much that I was asleep when we were heading into Milford. I took the stern lines and helped with the fenders. After tying down the boat Matt, Finn, and me played card games like slap jack, knock, and exploding kittens. I won a good amount of those games and then Matt started to make dinner after, which are taco burgers (onions, and taco seasoning). So now were going to eat dinner and might watch a Kurt Russell movie after wards, bye!

The docks are nice and quiet
We were going to spend the rest of the trip at anchorages but when we looked at the weather report and saw a southwest wind predicted at 10 to 12 kts, we thought that was perfect for a long reach to Milford from Mattituck. But we made a fatal mistake, we broadcast our intentions before leaving the anchorage. That was the opening the weather gods wanted. Upon exiting the inlet, the winds were directly on the nose! The winds were out of the northwest and not the southwest! We should have hidden our intentions better to keep the weather gods guessing and maybe they would have guessed wrong. But usually in cases like that, there's no wind at all until you turn in one direction or the other, then it's right on the nose! We've even tried pointing at somewhere we didn't want to go but to no avail, the weather gods knew better.

In the end, nothing beats ice cream
In the end, we just clocked over enough away from Milford to get some sailing in at the expense of having to motor the last two hours into the wind to make up for the sailing while not pointed at Milford. On the positive side, everyone had a turn at the helm sailing and they all did fine. We took a dock at Milford Landing Marina and Matthew prepared dinner. I took everyone out for ice cream at one of the best places on Long Island Sound, Scoopy Doos

On Wednesday we're headed  back to Port Jefferson and one of our favorite anchorages where the kids can go swimming again. This time the winds are predicted to once again be out of the southwest but only at 4 to 5 kts, not enough to sail. At least the kids will be able to swim which is pretty important.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Mattituck Federal Anchorage

Our anchorage
Howdy! It is I the long lost Matthew! I make my triumphant return with a trade off at Branford with my younger sister Natalie. It’s been a long time since I’ve been on the boat for more than a day sail. After a strong scrubbing of the cockpit, we had a pleasant ride out of Branford. We spotted a sub and went bonkers trying to get the binoculars up so we could take a closer look just to realize it was a tug and barge. The wind was real sassy today. Wouldn’t give more than 5 knots the whole ride over until we were just put the sails away when it picked up to 15. We are now anchored in Mattituck. I went ashore with Grandpa to get some supplies while Finn and Sarah swam off the back of the boat. Motoring the dink back and forth from shore to the boat was like riding a bike, one doesn’t forget the ever important landing maneuvers. For dinner we’re having some salsa and cheese chicken. I’ll be onboard until the end of the voyage on Sunday and will be adding to the blog till then. Happy sailing!

Matthew joined us for the rest of the trip. It's the same Matthew that we took to Maine 9 years ago! He's gotten a lot bigger, 240 lbs worth! We wanted so much to sail today but the wind just would not cooperate. It maxed out at 7 kts with 5 kts being the norm. So we motors all the way to Mattituck. 

The anchorage here is ideal. It's big enough for a half dozen boats but we're the only one present for now. There's a free dinghy dock provided by the town and lots of shops a short distance away. There's even a supermarket about 1/2 mile down the main road to the right not to mention the laundromat nearby too. 

Free dinghy dock too for access to town
We'll spend the night and the crew voted to return to Port Jefferson so they could all go swimming again on the beach by the anchorage. The water holds a big attraction for kids. 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Branford - at a dock

Kiddy heaven, it's part of the dockage fee
Today was cool. Finn here. We actually SAILED today. My little brother left today too. I was really sad though I didn’t cry. Mathew is on the boat now. We went to dinner at Lenny’s. I had a huge burger. I could barely finish my fries. Today was a fun day. Good-bye.    

Crew duty;
Our sail today was rather short. We had 22 miles to go and couldn't afford a 6 hour trip at 3 kts (the wind was averaging 7 kts from directly aft of the  boat). The big attraction of Bruce and Johnson is the great swimming pool for the kids so we wanted to arrive in time for a good bout of swimming to exercise the crew. I waited until we were underway before formally making the reservations over DOCKWA, the only way they would accept the reservation. You credit card is charged at the time your reservation is accepted and you'll forfeit 1/2 of the dockage fee if you don't show up.

Fried food may not be best for you but it sure tastes good when it's done right
The other great attraction is Lenny's. It's a famous seafood restaurant that does fried clams like no other restaurant in the world. It's been featured by the New York Times as one of the very best for that speciality on the east coast. They have other menu items but it's like going to a French restaurant and ordering a hamburger. It would be good but it's not what they are best at. Nevertheless, one of our crew did just that! We tried to pretend he wasn't with us but he was too close by.

Our new crew for the next week
Sadly, Rowan chose to go back with Monique today and Natalie had to return for a chance to be in a play. On the other hand, Finn and Sarah stayed and we picked up Matthew who will be a junior at Roger Williams University this fall studying architecture. We will restart our adventure with our modified crew on Monday and head over to Mattituck for their town anchorage, no more marinas the rest of the way.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Port Jefferson - at anchor

Yet another beach, this one at Port Jefferson
This is Sarah here and today was a great day! We started the morning with a nice breakfast and decided to head to port Jeff around 10. Grandpa pulled up the anchor, then I was able to steer the boat for a bit. We were able to put up the main sail and the jib, but we had to keep the diesel on because there wasn’t enough wind in our direction. It is really fun steering the boat because I like to learn so in the future me and Finn can have a boat of our own. Also it is nice to feel the wind in your hair and the water at your side. After I made lunch for my cousins and we were still just cruising along. We anchored, but had to move more further away from shore because of the depth and we went to the nearest beach. It was really nice going to the beach because I thought that the weather was hot and gross. After swimming and spending some time at the beach I stayed in the dink with Natalie to help Grandpa walk Hoolie. Now were settled down and just about to watch a movie before dinner, thanks for reading, bye!

Whatever you do, do not feed the swans at Port Jefferson I did once and found they were impossible to get rid of
Although the weather is nice for the Sound, the wind is not cooperating. Today we had less than 6 kts, not enough to even fill the sails. We headed out anyway since we wanted to get to Branford and the swimming pool at Bruce and Johnson with a dinner at Lenny's. When we arrived at Port Jefferson and immediately everyone headed for the beach! There's nothing like water to keep kids happy.

One of the great things about cruising Long Island Sound are all the excellent anchorages for free, many of which have sand beaches for kid entertainment. There's Manhasset with the free moorings, Northport by Sand City Island, Port Jefferson right by the entrance to starboard, Manatuck with the free anchorage area, Stonington with its designated anchorage area, North Cove free anchorage, and so on. You can cruise the entire Sound without every having to stay in a marina. The only problem is you do not always get wind.

We'll leave in the morning to reach Branford so the kids can enjoy the pool to their heart's content. We will meet Monique there and see who wants to get off the boat and who wants to stay for another week. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Northport by Sand Island - at anchor

Just add water, instant diversion. Lots of splashing resulted a few moments later.
Hi, I’m Rowan, I’m seven years old and this is my first cruise! Today we went to the beach!!! We had fun today doing motoring down the river. I saw two beaches and a catamaran in the morning. I splashed around in the water and I saw two seagulls.

Playing with my new 40x zoom, this nest is about 1000 ft distant
Tonight was Rowan's turn at the blog. We had to endure a raining morning and we didn't get started until 2:00 pm after waiting for the rain and winds to die down. Meanwhile the kids baked donut holes and made pizza for lunch (busy hands and all). The bad weather finally abated and we were off. The wind died as predicted but there were rollers coming head on to the boat as we headed east so we pitched up and down quite a lot, more than I expected. Rowan seemed immune to all the motion but the others felt it more although nobody got sick. Rowan was up and down the stairs, inside and out in the cockpit, no difference. The rest were subdued.

Starting to get some sunsets
Once at Northport, everybody wanted to take a trip to the beach at Sand Island. The anchorage is very protected and the beach is a popular place with the locals. The beach is more pebbles than sand but it had water to splash around, sold!

Tomorrow is predicted to be a sailing day so we're all looking forward to a sail to Port Jefferson and another appointment with a sandy beach.  

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The bridge replacing the Tappan Zee impressed Rowan no end
Hi I’m Natalie and I have been spending time on the boat with my grandparents and cousins having the time of my life. This week we went down the Hudson River using the diesel. Yesterday we spent a nice part of are day going down the Hudson on are sailboat and we had the most prettiest trip. Today we went through New York City and it definitely was rocky! We saw water taxis, ferries, and cruise ships and it was beautiful seeing the city side. On are way through New York City, we saw the Empire State Building, the Freedom Tower, and the beautiful Lady Liberty given to us from France! There was so many barges going by and the New York Harbor was so rocky that all 4 of us kids had to wear life vests! We’re in the beautiful mooring field of Port Washington and tomorrow we’ll be headed to Northport. We will have a lovely ride down the sound tomorrow and maybe we’ll be able to sail tomorrow! Wish us luck on our journey, Bon Voyage! Oh before I forget, the answer to the riddle Finn had yesterday is: Nothing, Nothing is greater than god, Nothing is more evil than the devil, the poor have Nothing, the rich need Nothing, and if you eat Nothing you will die!    

This elicited a big "Whoa!" from Rowan
Well we had quite a day today going down the Hudson River, around the Battery, and through Hell Gate. Our timing was not ideal with slack tide due to Hell Gate not until 3:30 pm! We left around 10:00 from Croton Point and the tide was against us about 1/2 the way. At the end we were doing 10 kts! From past experience I was expecting a fierce tide against me towards Hell Gate and I had one at first but it lessened and even though the current tables predicted a 2.5 kt tide against me, it was actually slack at Hell Gate. It was a rather smooth trip compared to our past trips through the area.

Everybody rushed out to see the Statue of Liberty
That's not to say there wasn't a lot of rocking and rolling! The water taxis ensured our ride was not smooth all the way. All the kids had lifejackets while up in the cockpit south of the George Washington bridge until past Hell Gate. What could be heard the loudest was, "Whoa!" from the youngest, Rowan, whenever he saw a barge or large ship. There were a lot of "Whoa's."

Who designed this!? Everyone thought it was weird
One "Whoa" was reserved for the Statue of Liberty that everyone recognized in the distance. The kids took pictures but with all the rocking and rolling, I'm not sure how well they turned out. Another great attraction is steering the dinghy. They all take turns including Rowan but the big challenge is docking to the aft of Fleetwing. Some come in too fast, some too far away, but they are learning. We do riddles during the quiet moments while motoring down the river. Finn and Natalie are great riddle fans.

All the kids piled into the dinghy for a ride to shore and a chance to drive the dinghy, a very big thing here
We'll just spend one night here and head out for Northport on Friday. There's a sandy beach there for exercising the kids. It's not so far so we should be able to sail at least part of the way. We have tentative plans for Sunday night at Branford if the weather holds.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Croton Point - at anchor, July Adventures on Camp Fleetwing

They were fascinated with the large ships going by
Today was AWESOME!!! This is Finn by the way. Today we sailed down the Hudson river. My grandfather gave us some riddles to try to figure out. The one I got stuck om was what is greater than God but worse than the devil what do the poor have and the rich need and if you eat it you will DIE!!! The answer will be in Natalie's blog tomorrow. We just anchored at Croton Point. I took a swim off the back of the boat and snorkeled a bit. Today was an AWESOME day but sadly I didn’t do any more than that. So I am sad to say this but BYE!!     

Exercise is a big part of keeping the crew happy
Today was quite the adventure on Camp Fleetwing. We have four grandkids aboard on a 42 ft sailboat. We do have two cabins but that's hardly enough room for four active kids. Their first task was to dewater the dinghy which was done amid much splashing with most of the water exiting the dinghy. We took on fuel and then we were off! The weather could not have been better with a high in the mid 80's and cool breezes. The kids gawked at the large ships going up the Hudson River and we motored on to anchor at the north side of Croton Point. 

Part 2 is keeping the crew fed!
Ann prepared a one pot meal with sweet and sour chicken which the kids enjoyed and we're resting  before everyone hits the hay. I think they are going to bed much earlier than they ever do at home. Our motto is, "If we're ready for bed, then the kids are too!"  At least the swimming off the back of the boat did tire them out just a little (but not much!). 

The Captain and Admiral are ready for bed! Now to convince the crew...
Thursday we head for Manhasset Bay via Hell Gate and the East River. Everybody will be wearing lifejackets for that trip. It can get rough through New York Harbor and especially through the East River with the tugs stirring up the water. There's no swimming in Manhasset Bay so we'll have to find another way to exercise the kids. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

2017 Edition Coming Along

I've completed the first draft of the 2017 of the ICW Cruising Guide. It has many new features and better charts. I hope to get it uploaded to by the end of July, possibly earlier. In the meantime, I've rewritten the instructions on downloading of GPX files and I need volunteers to try out the instructions to be sure they work on all devices. You can see the new procedure at GPX Routes under ICW Tips on the main blog page. Let me know if you have any problems with the download, especially for the iPad only version. Please leave a comment on your experiences at the bottom in the post.

The two articles I wrote earlier on what to do if your computer crashes while cruising have been added to the "ICW Tips" section of the blog. It was a traumatic experience to lose my laptop and what I discovered while trying to bring it back to life may be of interest to other cruisers in remote places. For example, Win10 does not automatically create restore points! That feature was turned off for Win10 as well as the F8 key that lets you get into advanced recovery options in Win10. It was news to me at the time since creating a restore point was a key feature of all previous Windows versions. The two articles are:
Recovering from a disk crash
Recovering programs after a disk crash

Below is an example of the new charts with better depth shading which clearly shows a path through the Dawho shallows. All the new charts will have the better depth shading in the 2017 edition.
 Dawho River East Entrance MM496

This stretch can be nerve racking at low tide. There are lots of turns and it's not obvious where the deep water is. It's wise to go with some tide under you. Split all red/greens but stand off all other marks for 5.5 MLW. The above chart showing the channel is from NOAA ENC charts as shown in Navimatics Charts and Tides but any program using ENC charts should show the same thing. I noticed that the Navionics chart does not show the channel but their display of the ENC chart does.
R108  19 MLW, 100 ft off
G109  13.7 MLW, 100 ft off
At first shoal mark 6.3 MLW
Split R112 and G113  7.4 MLW
G115  6.6 MLW but stand off 400 ft! Closer to G115 and it shallows quickly
On way to R116  5.6 MLW
R116  6.7 MLW
Greater than 10 MLW the rest of the way south but standoff marks by 100 to 200 ft.

The Charleston ACOE survey chart of 11/4/2016 that I’ve used elsewhere in this guide is not helpful here. Their practice is to follow the old channel and not survey outside of that channel. In the case of Dawho near G115, they show the channel within 125 ft of G115 – that’s too close. They show 3 to 4 MLW, which is why you must pass north of G115 by 400 ft. 

The earlier sections covering how to get ready and ICW tips have also been greatly expanded. Now it's just double checking over everything and proofreading.  Ann and I will be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary in August and part of the celebration will be taking four of our grandkids out for a two-week cruise on Long Island Sound. Two grandparents and four kids, ought to be fun. I will activate the blog for the adventure starting July 5.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Reply to Duchess on AIS A vs B

I had a question from Dutchess on which is better AIS A or B? I'm  going to reply in a post instead of directly to Dutchess since the subject may be of interest to others.

If you want to participate in AIS (Automatic Identification System) you have several choices:
You can chose to just receive AIS signals from other boats and not transmit your own position. This is the least expensive option. You will need an AIS receiver such as  AMEC CYPHO-150S for $259. It has an internal signal splitter so you can connect it to your VHF antenna on top of your mast for maximum range.

If you you want to transmit your position so others with an AIS receiver can see you (such as very big ships) then you will need either a Class A or Class B transceiver. Class A is for the big boats, it transmits more often and with greater power but it costs more, around $1700. The AMEC CAMINO-701 is such a unit. Be aware that the $1700 cost is only the tip of the iceberg. You would need a heading sensor, GPS antenna, a VHF antenna, a junction box for interfacing with on board equipment, it costs more than the $1700. Only big ships have them installed.

If you want a simpler solution to transmit an AIS position and also receive AIS info from other boats you can chose the CAMINO-108S Class B transponder for $649 (check the box with the integrated splitter). It comes with an internal GPS receiver but requires an external GPS antenna which you can get for $49, the GA-22. Just connect the external GPS antenna, split the power to your VHF radio and route the VHF antenna wire from the mast to the unit. No separate antenna splitter is required. Note, the antenna splitter is an active splitter. It does not introduce signal loss like a dumb splitter. It switches between the AIS transponder and VHF radio in real time with the VHF radio taking precedence if there's a conflict.

On my boat I installed a Class B transponder and routed the output to my Garmin 492 chartplotter but any modern chartplotter will accept AIS input and display the targets on your chart as you move along in real time. The image to the right is AIS data from my Class B transponder as shown on my Garmin 492 chartplotter as I moved through New York Harbor. Note the intersecting red and black lines (black line for me in 10 minutes, red line for someone else in 10 minutes, we are headed to meet, he later changed course).

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Poughkeepsie Yacht Club - At home on my dock, last post until 9/15/2017

This looks very big when passing close by!
It was a long day. The lousy weather continues but at least it didn't rain today. The high was only 61, really cold for the end of May. We got off our anchor by 7:17 am and started north. We had looked at the current tables and have learned that a favorable current is always later than predicted. We were supposed to hit a slack tide at the Verrazano-Narrows bridge but it took another two hours up to the George Washington bridge before the adverse current stopped.

The boat at the left edge got my attention!
We had intended stopping at Haverstraw Bay but when then we finally got a favorable current and started hitting 9 kts so we decided to soldier on. Beside, the next day's forecast was even worse than today, lots of rain.

Along the way we passed three naval vessels that were apparently in town for the Memorial Day weekend. One was an aircraft carrier, very impressive when so close. I can also vouch for the effectiveness of having AIS displayed on your chartplotter. At a glance you can see which very large boats are anchored and which are moving, very important when running through New York harbor. All the ferries have AIS too. Most chartplotters will give you a choice on how to display other boats on AIS. For me I chose the option of projecting a line where I will be in 10 minutes and the same option for other boats. If the two lines intersect, then you have a problem to solve to avoid a collision. Furthermore, there are two types of AIS. Class A just receives signals, Class B will not only let you see other  boats AIS signal but it will also transmit your own position so you're visible on their AIS displays. I have Class B, everyone should. If you want to use your VHF antenna at the top of your mast (for maximum range) then you will also need an active splitter which automatically switches between the AIS transponder and your VHF radio with no signal loss.

I was a great cruise, now it's time to get ready for the fall and our next trip down the ICW
We are now securely tied up at our home for the next 3.5 months. I have a long list of todo's that include publishing the 2017 version of the ICW Cruising Guide. It will  be greatly expanded with many new sections.

So this is my last blog post until 9/15 when I hope you will join me again for another trip down the ICW to Key West Florida. There may be a vew interim posts when we take our four grandkids for a Long Island cruise, we are looking forward to that as are the kids. Thanks for reading the blog, it's been fun.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Atlantic Highlands - at anchor with cold and rain for comfort

A second iteration of the iris - I like it better than the first one
Rain storms came sweeping in from the west even though we had a 15 to 20 kt east wind (humm, how does that work...)  We watched the multiple storms approach and move through but there always seemed to be another one right behind. We almost left, we took the motor off the dinghy and were ready to turn on the engine when yet another storm appeared on the weather radar. That was around 11:00 am. With that we decided the better course of action was just to stay put. Navigating through New York Harbor in a driving rain and wind is not a good thing to try. We're just in not that much of a hurry, let the dozen or so ferries and a like number of tugs and barges battle it out without us, at least until there's better visibility.

Tuesday is predicted to be a better day as far as visibility, the temperatures will still be in the 60's with an overcast sky, ugh. The only good thing is the flood tide that should carry us far up the Hudson River in the morning. If you can catch the flood tide at the Battery in NYC, then you can ride it up the river all the way to the Poughkeepsie YC. This only works going up the Hudson since the flood tide is progressively later in the day as you move north.

Nobody left today, we're all in a row
Ann spent most of the day painting with her pastels (see photo) and I read. The genset is a real blessing in such weather, we were nice and warm. When taking Hoolie ashore he somehow got it into his head to jump the dinghy before I got ashore and he found himself in neck high water. On occasion I've had him jump into the water when the dinghy touched bottom. Then he's ankle deep, no problem. He was probably thinking of that when he jumped. Now I had a saltwater wet dog.

Once again we plan on leaving in the morning in anything other than a downpour. We've given up on getting warm weather but we do want to avoid rain going through NY harbor.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Atlantic Highlands - at anchor

Goodbye Atlantic City until next year
We said our farewells to Atlantic City at 5:45 am and headed north. There was a regular armada of  boats going north, about a dozen that I could see. The Coast Guard was posting a small craft advisory Monday night so the window was now and everybody took advantage of the opening in the weather. Still, what's with the weather? It's almost June and the temperatures are still in the 60's!

A great dinghy dock at Atlantic Highlands
The winds and waves were exactly as predicted by PocketGrib using the grib file produced by NOAA. Just light winds off the aft quarter and little wave action. We like a comfortable ride when going 80 Nm in a day.

The moorings here are $50/day, way overpriced. As usual, we opt'ed to just anchor which we prefer to a mooring anyway. There's room for at least a dozen boats but there are only four of us here tonight. There's a 15 minute (time limit) dinghy dock down the second fairway past the fuel dock. So we have everything we need in an anchorage.

Lots of room in the anchorage, why pick up a mooring??
On Monday we would like to run up the river with the tide behind us all the way to our home, Poughkeepsie YC but the weather does not look good, rain all day long. I really do not want to navigate through NY harbor in a driving rain with a ferries and very large boats going in all directions. So we will wait for the rain to cease before hauling anchor and perhaps we'll not make it to PYC which leads us to the Haverstraw Cove anchorage for the night, about six hours south of PYC. That put us home on Tuesday instead of Monday. As usual, the weather is king, we'll see Monday morning.