…A beautiful sail.

On the 10th, we set off from our anchorage at Liberty Park.  And yes, we had a quintessential NY scene.

We left NYC via the East River, getting a nice shot of the Pier 17 museum this time.

We passed the entrance to Newtown Creek (boo, hiss) and under the Queensboro Bridge.  Lovely thing, it is!

We were running with the current, having made it out of the Liberty Park anchorage at the exact right time.  When we got to Hell Gate, the current was flowing like mad.  Whirlpools swirled visibly and jerked us around like an amusement park ride.  It was cool as fuck.

This is a 6 knot boat under most circumstances. James started singing, “So we crashed the gate doing eight point eight,” but by the time he reached the end, we were bouncing over 9 and saw our top speed at 10 knots.  Ten knots!  Wow!

Rikers Island creeped us out and the rest of the area between Hell Gate and Throg’s Neck didn’t offer much more.

We passed into Little Neck Bay, Long Island, and settled the hook just of the coast of the city of Great Neck, NY.  The area didn’t have many boats in it and it was pretty peaceful once the water skier got tired.  A couple of other boats swung our way to get a good look – because we were looking great on the hook!

We know this because we launched the dinghy and gave her a maiden voyage, rowing to the little semi-public park meant only for the residents of the stuffy neighborhood.  The tony subdivision has a fancy name, but I can’t be bothered to remember it.

The row went swimmingly (not literally), with all our hard work resulting in a nice firm caprail that gives us plenty of purchase with the oars.  Once on land, this is what we saw.

Pretty, right?

As we walked the mile and a half to the nearest grocery store, we mulled over the Great Neck connection.  What was it?  Why do we both feel like there’s something significant about this town?

And then I blurted out, “Capturing the Friedmans.”

For those of you who haven’t seen this incredibly strange documentary, we by no means recommend it.  However, it is a fascinating expose of the beginnings of the heightened paranoia around sexual predators of children.  And it all began right here in Great Neck, NY.

From the moment I identified the Great-Neck-Connection, we were freaked out.  We increased our pace back to the boat.

“Get me outta here!”

The next day, we moved northeast on Long Island Sound.  The day was glass-water calm.

We raised the main at the first ruffle on the water.  At first, it was a meditative sailing experience although the winds were light and variable.  We passed some great lights, including this one at Execution Rocks.

Execution Rocks.  It’s so much fun to say that.

As the morning wore on, the calm fled before a wind that was far more east than south (not quite what we’d expected), meaning that we ended up beating into a 3-5 foot ragged chop.  We adjusted our course for the easiest ride over the chop, reefed the sails, and started the engine.  By 1100, the wind had moved around to its projected southeasterly direction, creating a perfect situation for going pure sail once again.

It was a lovely couple-few hours on the Sound before we rounded the rocks off Rocky Point and made our approach to Oyster Bay.  We’d heard about the town’s history as Roosevelt’s summer white house and the more recent wonders of an artist’s community in a gorgeous place.  The real draw was the great holding in peaceful surroundings on the water.  Protection from wind and wave action, greenery and “some lovely estates”.

We learned that this meant a marina that scoffed at the idea of allowing us landfall with our dinghy, a Coast Guard designated “Special Anchorage” that had been completely littered with private moorings, and a whole lot of ostentatious housing.  The good stuff, so we hear now, is on up around Centre Island.

Well, okay.

Meanwhile, I had signed up on Couchsurfing.com to see if we could get a flat place to sleep were we kicked off the boat while it was being worked on.  Remember, we have been dealing with Progressive Insurance on the gouges made in Lincoln Harbor Marina.  We narrowed it down to a couple of yards in Norwalk, so we headed on over and I contacted a person on Couchsurfing.  This has been a great success for us, since we have been pleased to meet Sequoia.  He took us around town yesterday and has invited us to a storytelling evening on Friday…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

We couldn’t make landfall, so we couldn’t get rum.  Our sober selves ate burritos in the cockpit and I got this shot of a passing gaff-rigged sloop.

No reason to hang around, we left early the next day on our way to Connecticut, the place of my (James’) birth.

Leaving Oyster Boy  at 0645, we had the sails up in less than an hour.  The winds were in the perfect position for running, but not strong enough to make much speed.  Sailing in light winds and a following sea is such a gentle experience that it really doesn’t feel like sailing at all.  The boat moves itself through the water like a whisper and allows one to slip into an imaginative reverie.

The winds died out completely by 0915 so we motored into Norwalk through the Sheffield Island entrance channel, rounding Greens Ledge.

We were met in the channel by a truly amazing topsail schooner, gliding under light sail out to the sound.  We didn’t catch the name of it, because the dinghy covered their transom.

This really was our first experience with navigating through a rocky channel on this coast.  The channels are well marked but the tides are starting to get really dramatic.  Seeing a light that is normally awash showing its underskirt of rocks adds a paranoid edge to a couple of sailors that have spent the last few years in the muddy Chesapeake.

So, we shagged a mooring ball in Norwalk Harbor, less than 100 yards from our new friend, Sequoia, who invited us over to his boat for a nice lunch and a few good stories.

This morning, we started the motor at 0825 and motored over to Norwalk Cove Marina for our haulout and damage estimate.  The short story by the painter is $5000 per side and we want both sides done so the boat won’t look ridiculous with mismatched sides.

I’ve never seen anyone with two different sides – one new, one old.  Sure, we want to be unique, but that’s just jankey.

So they hauled us.

Hauling a 13000 pound boat on two strings is always a dramatic event.  This, piled on top of the fact that we were hit in NY, we’re underway in unfamiliar places, just added to the tension.

These guys were so pro that it went flawlessly and quickly.  But still.

We’re a bit freaked out here.

So, this is our new home.  And yes, it’s raining.

Norwalk Cove Marina, East Norwalk, CT.

May we not be here too long.



  1. oh no. I hate to see your boat home out of the water. It looks so awkward, like a turtle on it’s back trying to turn over in the baking sun. May you all be back in your natural habitat soon.
    These photos are really special. Having these gorgeous, vibrant images illustrating the narrative makes the boating world and your true delight within it accessible to us earth people. Poetry in brushstokes, these photos.
    Hope the storytelling this evening is monster fun.

    1. Thank you for seeing the beauty that I want to convey through my images. I believe that photography and words are an adequate description method for a person like myself who often falls short in both mediums.

  2. All part of the adventure. Sail on and keep posting the great pictures and words of wisdom on your voyage. Volvo Ocean Race is almost over and I love following an adventure in the making. Positive vibes on the waves. Love Pat

  3. This post is an especially good example of pictures balancing words. The Iconic New York postcard, with the low mist and the grand perspective – are you using fish eye lens too spread it out? And glass-water calm, that image of the dingy took me right there.
    The photos and words are both crucial from the “along for the ride” point of view.

  4. No fish eye, just an 18-70 standard Nikon lens. In the digital medium, 18mm translates into approximately 28mm in the film medium.

    Dena and I go really well together like that – pictures balancing words.

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