After a day at anchor in our favorite gunkhole in Jersey City we started to get a little paranoid about the safety of the dinghy, one of the main reasons I (James) hate our inflatable dinghy, I think about it too much. The free dock at the launch has been a low priority for the New Jersey Parks and Rec department for quite a few years now so the rusty spikes and birdshit cakes were enough to inspire us to think in terms of alternatives.
We have been known to say (or perhaps “repeat ad nauseum” is more accurate) that the most dangerous thing to bring on a boat is an itinerary. This means that whenever we do have reason to be in a specific place at a specific time, we pad our travel with a couple extra adverse-weather days. This, in addition to repetition of the phrase “weather dependent” whenever talking to the friends/employers/etc, is our hedge against making bad decisions about getting underway when we should stay safe on the hook.
This was one of those situations. We were early for the arrival of the Prakash family – Prakash, Lasitha (Lasi), and Madhumitha (Moumi). Moumi just started a master’s program at Columbia University, and her parents flew from Bangalore to NYC with her so that they could see her settled in her new apartment, signed into college, and supplied with necessities like a local sim card.
Back to the boat. The only alternative to Jersey City that got us closer to our friends, rather than farther away, was the 79th St Boat Basin. We spent some time there once before, and it was pretty terrible then. Extraordinary currents made it terribly hard to row to shore or back to the boat whenever they were turned against us…and we were holding down jobs at that point.
But we wanted to be helpful, as people who’d lived in NYC and were used to what kinds of things were on offer in the city. We hauled the anchor and headed out for the Hudson River. The light was perfect for shooting Lady Liberty, as you have seen.
The new art installation cum exercise venue along the waterfront is called Vessel, and we got to see it from the best angle.
We got the very last transient mooring. Not just the last as in the only empty one, but also the last in line, the farthest from the dock. That made our dinghy ride a long slog, even though we aren’t rowing (weep). After the first trip, I (Dena) started wearing my swim pants for the ride and then changing at the dock. The wind chopped at the current and made short, sharp peaks that washed over the bow of the dinghy so frequently that we started bailing as we went.
We’d done the whole…rent a car, drive to the Hamptons, pick up the bikes we left in the middle of downtown East Hampton 3 weeks prior…thing, so we loaded them up on the deck to take to 79th street with us. We’ve discovered the only way to travel in a big city is by bike and let me (James) tell you, New York City is a breeze and a blast to ride a bike in.
But, that meant that our bikes were aboard the boat and the wild waves made getting them ashore one hell of a tough proposition. Long experience, short story. We got it done.
We idled around town for a couple days while the fam got their chores done. We’d thought they’d need us more, but Moumi proved to herself and her parents that she can navigate Columbia University, New York City, and anything else life throws at her.
Since we’d only seen them a total of about 10 minutes and weren’t sure when we’d see them next, we decided to get away from the wet, dangerous ride and the unsettled, loud, uncomfortable living conditions alongside the Henry Hudson Parkway. During that whole time, the best moment aboard was the kind of moment that isn’t usually celebrated. The summer afternoon rains provided the best shower we’d had in weeks, sluicing salt from every pore.
The currents rule all scheduling in that area (unless powering your way through life is your calling), and I (Dena) found a moment when we could ride the last of the ebb down the Hudson River, round the Battery, and get sucked into the flood on the East River. Not only did that work, but we were the first of a parade of sailboats to hit the East River. We were followed by five boats of various complexity, age, and speed, and every single one of them passed us because not a single one of them decided to try sailing.
We’ve shot the bridges, the buildings, the whole damn town from these angles, more than once. The Chrysler Building is no spring chicken, but the sunlight was particularly engaging that morning.
And of course, in a place that dynamic, new buildings pop up all the time. What’s with this thing for odd angles and making bits and pieces stick out? I wonder how this era of architecture will be judged?
In no time, we were past Roosevelt Island…
And into Port Washington.
There are a bunch of town moorings (actually belonging to the water taxi guy) that are free for up to 72 hours, and it makes for a nice, easy stopover. We picked it because it’s the end of a train line from Penn Station, and easy for the Prakash family to reach.
We spent the first night alone in the mooring field.
The sunset was absolutely incredible.
Port Washington is very much into their maritime history so they do the fire-the-cannon-off-at-sunset thing. It’s pretty cool!
It’s a rare and wonderful thing to sail into a cruiser-friendly town at this stage of the 21st century and we did take advantage of it.
Then we went sailing with the Fam!
We had a spectacular adventure.
We’ve been wanting to share this experience with these awesome people for a little over a decade and it worked out famously!
The wind was fresh at a variable 10 to 15 knots with the occasional 20 knot blast thrown in for excitement. We left the yankee furled to keep the amount of heeling to a minimum, and still made reasonably good speed out into the Long Island Sound and back. Moumi loved seeing the NY skyline from the water, and everyone loved seeing her excited.
Prakash and Lasi flew to Toronto after that, and we sailed on a stiff beat eastward in the rain. We had a lee shore for most of the day as we threaded our way between shoals and islands that were all just out of our very limited horizon. Yep…
From Port Washington, we made for New Haven’s harbor, but stopped short of our usual anchorage (in the middle of everything). Morris Cove is easier to enter and leave, and it turns out to be nice and calm during northeast winds.
We woke to a gorgeous morning and did one of my (Dena’s) top 10 favorite things in the whole wide world. We sailed off the anchor.
I hauled the main, then hauled the anchor to a bare 20 feet of chain and waited. James was tending the main sheet and the wheel, and he brought her around to the tack we wanted. I pulled the anchor off the bottom, and we were away!
Quiet, controllable power. That’s sailing.
James took her all the way through the eastern opening, past the breakwaters and the winds ramped up a steady build.
But on this sail, we both got plenty of time to chill along with time at the helm.
The Connecticut River entrance rolled up right where we’d left it, only a couple weeks previous.
This was one of those sails that was “too efficient”, meaning we went too fast for too long, putting us on the foul current at the river’s mouth to the Sound.
So we motorsailed up the Connecticut River to Old Saybrook once again.
Our friend and confidant Kate joined us here and we spent the next three days freaking-the-fuck-out on our (no school) adult privilege like the handful of fun-fogies that we are.
This time we took the free (for 72 hours) town mooring. It’s a little bit of a drag being as though it’s situated right in front of the town’s favorite fishing hole.
We needed to get some of that good clean Hamburg Cove water on the hull (after NYC, ick!) anyway so back to “The Cove” we went…
Holy shit, it was Labor Day Weekend!
We have a rule-of-thumb…
Never sail on the 4-Days-of-Stupids, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, 4th of July and…
…wait for it.
So we did what any prudent sailors would do, we stayed put with Kate, swam, and got drunk…all fucking weekend!
When we got back to Old Saybrook to see Kate off for her train ride home, we realized that there wasn’t really anything enticing about doing an overnight sail with a strong probability of rain, squally winds, and generally uncooperative weather. We decided to take the next good tide, the next afternoon.
And some more shots of birds thinking they own the place.
Thanks, Kate. What a great weekend.
After a breakfast out, we readied ourselves to leave. One of the chores was getting a picture of the boat above…because it’s so strange to see it there! When we bought Nomad, this boat was for sale at the same dock in Norfolk, VA, and owned by the marina owner. He debated on telling us she was for sale, but decided that it was easier to keep trying to sell his boat than trying to collect dockage from the guy selling Nomad. Snort. He was probably right. This boat coulda been…
And then we left.
We motorsailed for the first part of the day so that we’d be sure to get through Fisher’s Island Sound before the currents started flooding at Napatree Point. We got a lot of fair current along the way.
And entered the Sound well ahead of schedule.
But then the current really started to scream along with us and our speed went through the roof!
We passed all the landmarks of Fishers Island Sound more quickly than I would have imagined possible.
And got the pleasure of watching all the pleasure boats heading home to the Mystic, Noank, and New London.
Some really lovely boats.
But on the other side, in Block Island Sound for the first time since May, we were alone with the sunset.
Which went on and on in the clear air.
Then we were sailing at night. Cool but not too cold, not quite windy enough to avoid the motor completely, but also lighted regularly along the way by the shore features. We were not in the deep blue, and civilization in the guise of lighthouses guided us into the Narragansett Bay.
It was a perfect night-sea-journey as the wind inhaled and exhaled and the seas built and subsided as if we were being cradled by our world. And while we were being ghoasted along at our clipping pace, only a thousand miles south of us Dorian was devouring the Bahamas. Our good friend Benjamin lost his boat in that storm. He survived; his beautiful boat did not.
When we woke, we were in East Greenwich Bay and it was both the same day we’d arrived and a new day altogether. We were officially in the staging area for our haul-out.
Greenwich Bay is not large, so it would have taken some truly odd circumstances to keep us from reaching Wharf Marina in Warwick, RI. Of course, Dorian was bowling right on by at that point, so odd still could have happened. Instead…
We motored over and took the most in-the-way slip in the whole place. The owner of the marina, Peter, had said we should take the last slip on the right, or the dock right next to the green Downeaster.
Being as though backing our boat to starboard is an exhausting proposition, we took the easy end slip.
Holy shit. That was our first trailer haul-out and it was super fiddley, getting all the pads where they needed to be.
Of course, James had to get the “A Girl and Her Boat” shot. I love that guy.
And bam! She’s ashore.
No blisters, clear through-hulls, and an amazingly clean bottom. We shocked all the life right off of her with those two trips up the Connecticut River. Fresh water on salt slime, fresh creatures eating salt and vice versa, and a whole lot more sailing? Done.
And we’re outta here!