A Day in the Life

I turn over, dislodging the cat from my hip.  He cries and jumps down to be soothed by James.  The clink and pour of coffee rouse me further and I consider getting up.  I can lounge until 6am if I like, or I can get up earlier and have more coffee before the row into the marina.  Today I laze a bit. When I swing my legs around to dismount the v-berth, the cat chirps and vibrates at me from the companionway.  He’s still our timid skitty and has barely made it onto the side decks as of yet.  James, sitting in the cockpit, breaks off his contemplation of the S.V. Sophia Christina, late of Anacortes and salvaged after Hurricane Irene put her on a weather beach.  He smiles at me and says, “Hey, baby.” “Good morning,” I reply and stretch.  It’s warm already.  Days are getting into the mid-80’s.  I pull a couple pieces of clothing on and pour myself a cup of coffee.  I forget to thank him for making it.  He gets up at 5am, grinds and brews the coffee before I’m conscious.  Thanks, James. Being moored along the ferry route means that we get tossed regularly.  I sit cross-legged on the settee, coffee in hand, and James say, “Big wake.” My response is a minimal nod.  The boat starts rocking, settles, and rocks again, harder, the motion damping down slowly.  I imagine the double-whammy being due to the bow wave, followed by the wake from the props at the stern. Getting up at 6am gives me 15 minutes.  I’m putting on my shoe a few minutes early.  No rain, so we don’t have to allow time for bailing the dinghy.  We get aboard, one of us swinging down from the rail of the big boat to[…]

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Still Life on a Mooring

So we’re on a mooring. As much as we dissed it last summer, having a 400 pound anchor with battleship chain makes for a restful night under all conditions. (You got me tied down with battleship chains, 50 foot long with a 2-ton anchor…) We were at anchor here for a while – you may remember our account of the storm.  Then we went into the dock for a little while. During that time, I started some projects.  The cockpit coamings were due for a new coat of paint.  But the big’un was the jib sheet winches.  Whew.  We hadn’t done a cleaning and regreasing yet – 4 years in with pretty constant use, and it was time. After struggling with the retaining nut at the top for three days – soaking the bronze/stainless mating surface with Liquid Wrench and hammering at it (in the process, smashing my thumb and losing our mallet overboard…grrr, argh) – I separated the pieces and went to town on cleaning them up. A lot of grease where it belongs and none on the pawls and springs (machine oil for those), and they went back together easily.  Now the motion is smooth and the pawls click into their teeth, making a nice crisp snapping sound.  Just like new.  Goes to show the quality of Barient winches. And now we’re at home for the summer. The up-sides: The sunrises have been breathtaking and they are unencumbered by the structures of shore.  Since James leaves the boat at 6:15, I (Dena) get in the little boat with him and blink sleepily at all the beauty.  He gets up a little earlier in order to have coffee, and he gets the real glory. Then I row back to the boat and have my own coffee before starting my[…]

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Home Again – or do I mean still?

What a lovely vacation! After quitting our grindingly tense jobs and keeping our noses to the boat-work-grindstone, we took some time to enjoy ourselves. Threemile was lovely and peaceful until the night before we set off for New London. At about 3:00 am we got hit by a screaming squall with winds in excess of 40 knots broadsiding us and rocking our little home in the Hamptons for about an hour before dying back down before sunrise. After the sun came up we sailed away from Long Island heading back to Connecticut to find our summer fortunes. As we hit the deeps of Gardiners Bay, our winds died and some of the local colors began to pop. We motorsailed all the way across the Sound but as we made our way into the Thames (rhymes with, me, James) River our spring winds kicked back up to bring us into the downtown free moorage. Our plan was to shag some free showers at the public moorage using the key-code that we got from them last summer. The key-code worked but the city of New London hadn’t turned on the water in the showers yet. Damn! So we (Dena) did a little research and found out that we could transfer our gym membership from Groton to Waterford (which is about a mile from our new marina) online so she made that happen and we motored back down the river to our new digs. On the way down river to Burr’s Marina, we got a good look at the Coast Guard training vessel S/V Eagle. I recommend you google that ship if you don’t already know about her. She’s got an incredible history! We buried the CQR in 8 feet of water, launched the dink, and struck off on our bikes (we’d dropped[…]

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Our home in the Hamptons

    After all the intensity of sailing across the Sound on Saturday, we had significant wind for a night, a day, and a night on the hook.  Sunday drifted by while we were huddling down below dodging the heavy winds and reading.  You know, living the dream…while also prodded by our truest natures (nature? nurture?) to make something, do something, which something became our last blog post. The photo above does a glorious job explaining how it felt to wake up on Monday morning in Threemile Harbor, East Hampton, New York, in the peace and quiet of a still dawn. We spent the early morning cleaning up and stowing the boat.  The temperature was slated to reach 60 – leaving behind the highs of 40 and 45 for, we hope, the loosing action of a stronger sun.  We had to go out and explore our home in the Hamptons. To actually buy a house in that part of the world you pretty much have to be a millionaire/billionaire from Manhattan (a few exceptions being made for those servants the rich cannot do without, for where would happiness be without a clerk to sell a shirt or a nail tech to buff and fill?  But, of course, those sorts are housed in special zones clearly labeled to keep out the well-behaved children of the rich while being irresistibly alluring to the older kids who know that “Mobile Home Park” is another way of spelling “Acid Score”). Unless, of course, you’re us. We launched the dink and gave’er a good eyeballing.  The sailing had shaved her beard and revealed a patina that reassured us.  Yes, there is real copper in the bottom paint we pay over $100 per gallon for.  We rowed the mile into a secondary channel.  Really – this[…]

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Underway at last!

Yes!!! After months and months of working in these tight quarters with freezing hands, sore backs, bruises, bumps, knots and filth, we did it.  We just left! But you know, it’s kind of weird, I (James) used to tell people at West Marine that if I got caught in a big blow, so be it, but I’d never go out in one! Well that’s a lie… I should have prefaced that statement with, “that depends on my motivation!” When we left Spicers Marina at 12:00pm on Thursday, let me tell you, we were motivated and we had to be. The winds were honking at a steady 25 knots with gusts up to 30 with seas from 4 to 6 feet on the bow inside Fishers Island Sound.  It was intense but we just had to put those months of work  to the test. So, the big seas and the howling winds almost felt good… Almost! It was also really cold but motivation can be  powerful protection from the elements at least temporarily. Once we got the main up, the reefs in, and the Monitor set, it eased up a bit but we were beating hard, heading for Three Mile Harbor inside the South Fork of Long Island. We met this sailor at Spicer’s, Doc, and we asked him, just like we ask all local sailors we meet, “What’s your favorite local anchorage?” and he told us it was “Beyond a doubt, Three Mile!” …So Three Mile it was. But once we got out in the Long Island Sound and were getting our little butts spanked by Mother Nature, we started looking for other options. We could head up the Thames (rhymes with James) and shag a free mooring in New London and wait out the wind or we could go[…]

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Alone on Fishers Island Sound

So gently powered that we didn’t even bob, the boat floated across Fishers Island Sound. We’d motored out of the channel and zipped the sails into place – full, easy sails and we wouldn’t have known we were moving except the green buoy slid across the land behind it. Oh, and the GPS said 3 knots. Silence broken only by our musings on silence until the weather shifted. The wind built and so did our speed. Starting to heel, then really heeling. We reefed to bring her back to balance but kept heading for the Island, two miles from the Connecticut shore but legally a part of NY. A small ferry passed us, crossing our bow a safe distance ahead. We tacked. A harder beat, colder, windier, slower against the tide. We tacked again, then ran before the wind, creating a fiction of gentle breeze. All points of sail tested and re-tested. We looked at each other, shrugged and said, “Done?” “Done”. We doused sail and motored back into the slip. Sailing. I fucking love this shit.

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Sailing Lessons

Almost a week after Hurricane Sandy wiped us with her skirts, stomping all over New Jersey and barely hitting us at all, we returned to our boat. It had taken us about an hour and a half to do the hurricane prep – striking the sails, removing the boom and lashing it on deck, taking everything that was loose or could be loosened and tucking it belowdecks, doubling up on all the mooring lines.  Battening down the hatches, literally and figuratively.  It took us about twenty minutes less to put it all back together and be ready for sailing. Rather than set sail immediately to test the rig, we did another project that has been on the need-to list.  Engine maintenance.  We tightened the alternator and water pump belts, then ran the engine for a while.  Once the oil was warm, we took care of the oil and oil filter change that has been in the forefront of our minds.  This was the most-used system over the last summer and fall, and we both feel that it had been neglected more than we were comfortable with. The next day, we went sailing. Casting off, we got hit by a gust just as the lines were loosed.  The bow swung wide causing us to collide with the boat next to us.  No damage, not even scuffs, but it shook me (Dena) up more than a little.  Rather than tie back up and check both boats over, we continued out of the slip and got underway. This is contrary to our agreed-upon operating principles.  One thing we established quite some time back is this: we go with the opinion of the more cautious of us.  If one of us thinks it’s time to reef, we reef.  If one thinks that we’re anchoring[…]

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