Monday, September 10, 2007

Poughkeepsie Yacht Club - Home After 10 Weeks!

Our goal of getting our topping lift repaired was not to be fulfilled. Despite having two weeks' warning, Samalot Marine only acted on the morning of our arrival to try to find a fix and couldn't locate a wire halyard (their fix to preventing chaft at the mast head) of the proper size. Since we didn't want to hang around for several days, we headed north to PYC.

For the first half of the trip it was warm but when we passed under the Newburg-Beacon bridge, the wind suddenly turned from out of the south at 8 to 10 kts to out of the north at 18 kts! That started some wave action rather rapidly and we took to the sides of the channel to avoid the worst of the wind and waves, arriving at PYC around 5:30 pm, docking with much appreciated help from Richie and Frank Niet.

Reflecting back upon the two month cruise, we took a vote on the best places:

Best Anchorage: Opechee Island. It was surrounded by small, uninhabited islands you could visit and the protection was great.

Anchorage Honorable Mention: Round Island in Merchants Row. It also had uninhabited islands to explore. Honorable Mention also goes to Mackarel Cove in Swans Island where you could sit in the cockpit and have a great view of Mt Desert.

Best Harbor: No contest, Boothbay Harbor. For $25/night, you had a mooring in the middle of town with about 100 shops and restaurants to sample. There was also a free shuttle that included passage to a Stop and Shop for reprovisioning and an aquarium to see.

Best Restaurant: Again, no contest, Lenny's at Branford. We sampled seafood up and down the coast and although some was pretty good, the clams were not as sweet nor as juicy as at Lenny's.

Best Sail: Many in this category. the sail from Cape Cod Canal to Provincetown was wing on wing all the way. The sails in Maine were good with the constant wind (no gusts) and the scenery could not be beat. The last three days in Long Island Sound were fabulous when a south wind came up for three straight days at 10 to 15 kts where we sailed from Port Jefferson to Manhasset.

Most Challenging: Those Maine lobster pots! After awhile, you learned to not to just look 50 ft ahead of you for the next bouy but to look further ahead to "see" a fairway. There was always a path through them if you looked carefully enough. It certainly wasn't planned by the lobstermen but with enough randomness in the placement of the pots, there always seemed to be a path if you could see it quickly enough. Some areas were denser than others, especially around Tenants Harbor and in sections of the Deer Island Thorofare. Upper Penobscot Bay practically had no pots.

Most Fog: Of course, that's Maine which made the lobster pots all that more difficult to avoid. Despite our best efforts, we still managed to snag two but both slid off without fouling the prop.

Most Fun: Matthew was definitely a joy to have on-board. There's nothing like an infusion of youth to get the spirits up and get you going! I think he'll be joining us next year too. Now, if he could just tell us his secret in how he swam in 61 degree water for hours at a time without freezing.....

We will definitely be returning to Maine in 2008 and at some point in time, continue on south through the ICW. It's been great fun and I hope you will all join us on our cruise next year.

Sincerely, Bob and Ann Sherer
Thanks for following the blog and hope to see you again next year!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Haverstraw, NY - At Anchor off Croton Point

The current didn't turn in our favor until 9:15 (sailboats have to worry about such things) so we left around 8:00 towards Hell Gate and the Hudson River. We passed several tugboats pushing barges and finally came upon Hell Gate (see photo) at slack water so it was an easy passage. We passed by the United Nations building and on to the Hudson River heading north to Haverstraw. When the UN is in session and the President is in attendance, we can't even pass through the East River, it's closed! That happened to us a couple of years ago but today it was fine. As it was, the Coast Guard announced that the lower harbor (south of the Verrazano Narrows bridge) was closed from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm due to off-shore powerboat races. The main NY harbor was fine. It pays to check the website for Notice to Mariners for New York City (good advice but I didn't do it, I forgot!)

On Monday we'll pay a visit to Samalot Marine to get our topping lift fixed and then head home later that day if the fix is quick (good luck on that....) or, more likely, head home on Tuesday morning.

Follow our progress at Return Trip.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Manhasset Bay - Another Great Sail Day

We weighed anchor around 10:00 from Northport and found a good 10 kt wind out of the south which was perfect for a sail to Manhasset. In fact, it was perfect for racing too. We saw one fleet of boats, must have been at least 50 boats, off our starboard side which was a great sight until they started to turn in our direction! There wasn't a Dacron sail in the entire bunch! They all had the Mylar translucent shade of brown on display, both the main and the jib. They started to catch up but I trimmed the jib and pulled ahead :)

For the first time since we've been coming to Long Island Sound, we sailed through Execution Rocks. In fact, we sailed all the way from Northport into Manhasset Bay anchorage. Great wind, great sun, no waves - did I say great - maybe fabulous is a better word.

We grilled a sirloin on the grill and used the rub from BBQ USA and watched the sun go down. Tomorrow we have to leave around 7:15 to make the current change at Hell Gate and then head up the river to Haverstraw for the topping lift repair on Monday. Hopefully we'll avoid the predicted showers.
Some have requested the recipe for the rub we use:
2 tbsp ground corlander
2 tbsp sweet paprika
2 tbsp coarse salt
4 tsp ground cumin
4 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
The rub is from Steven Raichlen's BBQ USA book. The rub came in first in the competition at his BBQ University school.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Oyster Bay - Another 5 hour sail

The morning dawned with a blue sky and warm weather. I went forward to raise the anchor as Ann tended the wheel. As usual there was a lot of mud to be washed off with the anchor washdown pump. As we headed out, we saw many of the characteristic clam boats that inhabit Northport. The man in the boat will pull and push furiously on a long pole up to 30 feet in length to harvest clams. It sure looks like hard work!

We sailed all the way from Northport into Oyster Bay, great day for a sailboat! There was a forecast of 20 kt gusts the tonight so we anchored close to a south shore in Oyster Bay in about 7 feet of water. With 120 feet out, that's a lot of scope so we should be secure for the night.

I called Samalot to schedule a visit on Monday to replace my topping lift jury rig with a proper replacement so we'll be headed up river on Sunday. I expect Monday will be taken up with the topping lift repair and then we'll head for PYC on Tuesday, arriving early afternoon. Tomorrow we'll aiming for Manhasset to position ourselves for a trip through the East River, always a "fun" ride.
Follow our progress at Return Trip.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Northport at Anchor

I looked at the GPS this morning at Port Jefferson and we had circumnavigated our anchor! The plot of the GPS was a neat circle with the anchor in the middle. Raising the anchor with the windlass was slow as I had to stop every few feet to use the washdown pump to rinse off the mud in the links of chain. Anchoring can be messy.

Leaving the harbor we found a 10 kt south wind so we put up sail and headed west. It is hard to describe the pleasure of sailing. To non-sailors it makes little sense to go a few kts towards your destination with a lot of work. However, to sailors it's a dream. To be on the same tack as we were today for 5 hours, varying the sail trim as the wind increased and slackened, to have the boat respond to the helm, to feel the wind, the sun... I took a photo of Ann at the helm which better explains all this than I can. Sailing is a great pleasure that's hard to describe, we both love it. We were able to sail all the way into the anchorage.

The Northport anchorage is a turn to the north once past the end of the sand spit. One reason we like it is that there's a place for Lance to run free. We look for such anchorages when Lance is with us. We're watching a storm around North Carolina develop but so far there's not much predicted for New York in the way of precipitation. We'll keep an eye on it.

Follow our progress at Return Trip.

PS. some have asked how to download the photos. First, left click on the photo in the blog. You will then see a larger photo appear in your browser (the full resolution photo). Then right click with your cursor somewhere over the photo and choose "copy" from the list of choices (by left clicking on "copy"). Then you can paste the photo in your favorite photo editing program for storage or printing.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Port Jefferson - We Reprovision

The weather has been just great: warm, sunny and no rain. So today we just took it easy, did some teak and after lunch headed into town to reprovision since our refrigeration is working again. We looked on the map and found a Stop and Shop about 1/2 mile from the end of Setautek Harbor which is the next harbor to the west of Port Jefferson harbor. There's a marina at the end as well as a pubic landing for dinghies. We chose the marina and bought a bag of ice as a dinghy fee. They brought out a sun umbrella for Ann! I went to find the Stop and Shop but ran into a meat market and a fish market first about 10 minutes into my walk down 25A (west). It was the first fish market I found that had fresh tuna so I bought a pound, I grilled it for dinner! Next door I stocked up on enough meat for a week. If nothing else, we'll eat well on our trip home! There was also a deli and a well stocked hardware store along the way. Much better shopping than in downtown Port Jefferson. Tomorrow we'll head for Northport and anchor, hoping for a good south wind!

Follow our progress at Return Trip.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Port Jefferson - At Anchor (to starboard as you come in)

It started out as a great sail with winds 15 to 17 kts behind us, pushing us to Port Jefferson. However, about 1/2 way there, the winds died and we had to motor the rest of the way. Still, the winds were warm and the sun was out, nice day. About in the middle of Long Island Sound we ran into flies. I don't know where they came from but they came in the 100's. There were none on shore, just out in the middle. The only thing I can think of is the the passing of a garbage barge.

Once in Port Jefferson we anchored far from other boats. However, just as we were sitting down to eat, a catamaran anchored about 30 feet off our starboard side! Sure enough, as the tide changed, we got close enough to touch! That convinced him to haul anchor and move. We settled down to eat and enjoy a great sunset.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Milford - The Return of the Refrigerator Repairman

We left the dock at Branford and headed over to the fuel dock. We had to back out with a strong wind pushing us into our dock. Tying the dinghy up short, I neglected to shorted the painter enough and I heard a strange grinding sound as we back up. Yep, I had sliced through the painter, luckily the line parted instead of wrapping itself around the prop. I guess there's something to be said for cheap line, I bought it at Home Depot for $10 for 100 feet. We had a few moments of fun retrieving the dinghy with the boat hook but finally got it secured and tied off. After that I took on 21 gal of diesel.

The wind was predicted to be 15 to 20 kts out of the southwest which put Port Jefferson out of the question as far as we were concerned (PJ was dead SW). So instead we motored over to Milford, only 10 miles west. We still saw 15 to 20 kts true wind and the typical Long Island Sound chop (short, steep waves). We were making about 7 kts with water over the bow at times but the powerboats were not doing much better, 8 to 9 at most. It was a wild ride but a short ride. Approaching Milford, we saw one small powerboat come out, turn around and head back in.

Milford is one town that has its act together. They have an attractive marina at good rates ($2.50/ft) and within a short walk of the center of town. The marina is like a flower garden with all the plantings. They have improved the boat launch ramps across from the marina to provide entertainment for us, no end of fun watching boats being launched (you wouldn't believe how some people launch boats!) Coming down the fairway, we almost collided with a small powerboat. He decided to come to a dead stop about 10 feet in front of us and Ann had to put Fleetwing in reverse suddenly to avoid another insurance claim.

Several discounts at local restaurants are part of the dockage at the Milford Town Landing so we took advantage of a 10% discount at Cancun's Charlies, a Mexican restaurant that's pretty good. They also provide free coffee and a paper in the morning, not a bad deal.

Now, to the refrigerator. Our old friend, Jerry (we're on a first name basis) paid us another visit since the freezer section didn't get below 32F overnight. He fed in some more refrigerant (409A) and spent about 2 hours with us before he was satisfied it was working okay. Right now the freezer is reading -1F and we're in the process of freezing our first set of ice trays with the new compressor. With that I think I can call the repair a success. We have a 2 year warranty on the new compressor and associated electronics. On to Port Jefferson in the morning with a promised northwest wind!
Follow our progress at Return Trip.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Branford - Refrigerator Repair Day

After evacuating the coils overnight, the technician returned this afternoon to recharge the unit with new refrigerant. We're waiting to see if the freezer section reaches 10F or so like the old unit did. It's currently sitting at 40F, not a good sign after five hours of cooling. We'll see in the morning.

Meanwhile, Philip and family returned for a visit with the intention of going to Lenny's for dinner but that was a dream. They didn't arrive until 7:00 pm and you can forget getting a table at Lenny's at that hour, they were out in the parking lot waiting for a table. So Philip ordered pizza and we all ate on the boat.

We're headed for Milford tomorrow with winds predicted to be right on the nose, oh well.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Branford - Great Sail and Lenny's

We had a full moon tide running down river this morning with the boat reaching 9 kts at some points! We had a strange incident at the bascule bridge. As we rounded the bend in the river, we saw that it was up, hurray! But as we approached we saw it start to descend, darn (and a few other words...) However, after it came about 3/4 down, it stopped and after a bit started to go up again! We called the bridge on channel 13 to find out what was happening (would it start to go down again as we crossed under the bridge?) but we never got a reply. Regardless, we barreled on through without incident and never found out the reason for the strange behavior.

Wind, wind, glorious wind!! 25 miles of glorious wind to Branford! We had a beam reach all the way and even with a reef in the jib and main we were routinely reaching 8 kts (8.3 max) over water (9.3 over land per the GPS). With the wind coming off the land, there were little in the way of waves, nice smooth water and lots of wind.

At Branford we were met on the dock by our refrigerator repairman. We've known him for three years and he came out to meet us so he could start work right away. He found that indeed the compressor was the problem. He said he works on 50 or so boats a year and the compressor is usually the most dependable part of the refrigeration system, lucky us. He will be installing a new compressor (cost of one boat unit) and tonight we will be serenaded with the sounds of the vacuum pump evacuating the coils in preparation for adding cooling fluid tomorrow. So if all goes well, by tomorrow at this time we will be back in business with an operating freezer/refrigerator.

Naturally, when we're in Branford we eat at Lenny's. They have the best fried seafood of anywhere I've eaten. We sampled up and down the coast from Maine to Florida and Lenny's is simply the best. Lest someone think I'm free with my praise, here's what the New York Times had to say about Lenny's in their 8/29/07 edition:

"Putting together the experience from the trip, I decided to try my hand at customizing my meal at Lenny’s Indian Head Inn in Branford, Conn.... What was placed in front of me 10 minutes later was a platter with clams nearly as large as those at the Clam Box. They had a light golden almost tempuralike coating. And the bellies? They were briny, sweet and so juicy a lobster bib wouldn’t have been out of the question."

Here's a link to the complete review, click on NYT, the review of Lenny's is in the last paragraph on page 2. We'll be here one more day and we'll have to put up with going to Lenny's again - tough work! Follow our progress at Return Trip.