Fade into Bay

Chesapeake City rained a little, gusted a bit and all the boats in the anchorage drug-down on their anchors… all but one, of course…us! One plastic-destroyer skipper actually motored up to me while I was quietly sipping coffee in the cockpit and asked me to “give him a little blast of the horn” if I see his boat dragging. Even though the name of their boat was “M/Y Morning Prayer” and they were asking a complete stranger to babysit their blessed motor-yacht, I wasn’t belligerent at all. I simply smiled, nodded once and forgot he ever existed. We quickly recovered from our forty-one-hour blow-out tour of New York, the Atlantic Ocean, the Delaware Bay, and the C&D Canal. So, once T/S Arthur had blown himself out without ruffling our feathers much, we wasted no time weighing anchor and pointing the bow up the Sassafras River. In quick succession we sailed up/anchored/sailed down the Sassafras River over the course of two days and then went to discover Perryville and Havre de Grace (though the museums that make it a possibly-cool stop are all covid-closed). It’s a couple hours up the Susquehanna, which I (Dena) have read a lot of historical novels about. Just past the flashing red-over-green buoy “A” where we took the north fork, I checked the hours at the post office and got a shock. “Hours may be different on Memorial Day.” Gasp! How could it be Memorial Day Weekend? My (James’s) father used to say, “There are only four days a year a ‘real sailor’ can’t be caught on the water: Memorial Day, Father’s Day, 4th of July and Labor Day. Those are the days the dumb-shits and assholes take over the American Waterways. Best stay at anchor!” …sound advice, but a little late for that. A popular[…]

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Somnium

In the dream, the feelings, sensations and levels of stimulus on a sailing adventure that starts at 4 am in Long Island and ends one day and seventeen hours later in a hurricane-hole 209 nautical miles away in Chesapeake City, is real. But in reality, “…this is how WE do it, baby!” We left Manhasset Bay with excitement. It’s a good staging spot and all, but we’d been there too long. Our anchor was caked with the thick mud of the southern end of the bay and even the anchor snubber showed signs of having dragged around in the muck. The dinghy stowed surprisingly well on deck. Even pushed forward far enough to sit as low as possible, it was easy enough to move around behind the sampson post. The two sides hugged the dorade boxes in an as-though-made-for-this kind of way, and the lack of motion in a pounding (foreshadowing, anyone?) was gratifying. The entire trip down the East River to the Verrazano Narrows in a little under 4 hours. That’s around Rikers Island, through Queens, The Bronx, East Harlem, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island…all of New York City before lunchtime and we still hadn’t reached the Atlantic Ocean. Our top speed for the entire trip was entering the East River at Hell Gate doing 10 knots on glass water but we never got under 7 knots all the way through the City. We were doing a respectable 4-5 knots as we were disgorged by New York Harbor. All sails aloft, a broad reach off the Jersey shore took us into the maw of the Atlantic Ocean. From Sandy Hook on a freshening ocean easterly, we watched the local star burn the beach inhabitants two miles west of us for most of the day. The ocean swell was from[…]

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On Main Alone

Days of gales at anchor, a wild ride in a monster truck (up and down the Eastern Seaboard to get our bikes to Annapolis)… …and some clever social-distancing from some good friends defined the blur-of-a-memory that was our Covid-Old Saybrook-2020 adventure. That’s S/V S.N Cetacea over Fred’s left ear and Sue’s head. Then we went sailing! Once again the spring guided our departure with a narrow window of fair winds. The weather said it would start slow and could get gusty with winds at 10 to 15 knots from the northeast, setting us up for a down-wind run west from the mouth of the Connecticut River. I (James) figured we could go nice and easy by tightening the tack for a reach to Port Jefferson on Long Island, and that would make for very little high-jinx and a nice short (ish) day. This is a thing we’ve done a few times so not really an adventure, just a sailing trip. But, The last time we went to Port Jeff was a miserable anchoring experience. We dropped the anchor on the fingernail edge of a large expanse of safe water completely full of empty mooring balls! Our motivation to spend two and a half hours navigating into and another couple hours coming back out of a place we don’t even like was almost nil, the weather was only starting to kick up, and by the time Port Jeff was off our port bow, going there wasn’t even a thought. So we pushed on. We had a window of less than 24 hours of downwind sailing before another strong southwesterly would mean banging our heads on the wind and waves, after which another rocking Nor’Easter would blow through the Sound. That and the fact the current would be fair for a little[…]

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Jump

When the weather says ‘Jump’! We woke up, looked at the weather, weighed anchor and were underway, just like that, after three weeks of feeding the fire and foraging in Covid-New England. Sailing south down the Narragansett with the wind and the tide was a brisk New England sleigh ride but the temperatures rose along with the wind all day long, making anchoring in Point Judith Harbor of Refuge more like a nice gentle trip down memory lane than a sailing adventure. You’re not getting any complaints from us! With a 48 hour weather window going our way, we jumped all right and our timing couldn’t have been better! Day two was an easy start on rolling glass with the fair current but as the ripples rose so did the dacron and sailing did ensue. By the time we got to The Race heading west into Long Island Sound we were doing 7.1 knots on the regs and S/V S.N. Cetacea was in her element. She was dug down deep in the washing machine chop throwing a growling hiss off her waterline with nary a heel to lee. We hugged the shoals to north passing the Thames and Niantic but soon the twins at the mouth of the Connecticut rose from the direction of our next descending squall. The current angled as we entered the river’s flooding pull and the winds got fluky, like they do, so we rolled in the headsails and started the diesel. Fuck-n-A! No cooling water coming out of the motherfucking exhaust pipe! Shut her down before the engine overheats!!! “All technology fails!”* James was at the helm so I (Dena) rolled the yankee back out. The staysail is too easily blanketed by the main when we’re running, and it looked like we would have to[…]

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