The Twilight Zone

October 8, 2010

Another beautiful day on the Atlantic! The water was amazingly calm today. If yesterday didn’t feel like an ocean, today certainly did not. In fact, it was almost too calm even for a good sailing day on Lake Erie.

Good sailing too. We put out all four sails and really got her heeling! Carol was not happy with the boat being so “tippy”, but the rest of us were enjoying it immensely.

-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-

We worked our way down to the tip of New Jersey, Cape May. We had an hour and a half to kill until the tide would be in our favor, so we drove into the bay, hoping to find a restraunt to dock and eat lunch at. As we came in, Kris suddenly shouted, “Dolphins!” We all came rushing up to the cockpit. There they were, dolphins playing at the bay’s mouth. I tried to take some video and pictures, but dolphins are so hard to capture on a little digital camera. Everyone was excited to see them, including Spinny!

We couldn’t find a dock deep enough to stop in at. Disappointed that there would be no lunch (and no potty break for Spin), we headed back out onto the ocean. The dolphins were there to greet us once again. Still having to wait an hour, we headed over to the Cape. Seeing that the mouth of the Delaware Bay was marked “Prime Fishing” in the chart, we motored around and let Gary cast out a line. The sandy shoals in the water had shifted shape from where they were marked on the chart, however, and after having to reverse and turn around over and over again, we finally gave it up. It was time to enter the bay anyway.

The Delaware Bay was one of the eeriest places we’ve sailed through. It’s so large, you feel as if you were on the ocean, and the water was especially still on such a calm day. You find yourself following an endless channel, with buoys appearing out of nowhere on the distant horizon. After two days out on the salt water, this strange place started to get to our heads a little.

It started at sunset. Being near Washington D.C. and Baltimore, at least 10 or more planes were in the sky. Contrails streaked the orange sky. Staring out toward the setting sun, Gary suddenly spoke, “There’s a UFO out there.”

“What? Yea right, that’s an airplane.”

“No, it has a funny round sort of shape.”

Kris and I tried to tell him that it was just an airplane shining in the sun, but he was not fully convinced. I started singing Close Encounters of the Third Kind tones as well as the Twilight Zone theme.

But there was more to come. The Bay became even more eerie after dark. Bouys now blinked in the distance and it was difficult to see exactly how far away they were. A nuclear power plant was lit up on the horizon. Large ships would materialize out of nowhere, coming our direction, and pass us by.

[This is a long exposure photo. Doesn’t work too well on a moving boat, but I wanted to try and capture the nuclear plant’s tower. You can just barely see it to the left, but in the night, it was large and looming.]

Closer to the mouth of the Delaware River, two bright lights that had been on the horizon appeared to become closer. They stood one on top of the other, and the lower one was flashing. We couldn’t figure out what it was. Was it a boat? We checked the light chart. Was it a tug boat towing a barge? How close was it? It wasn’t showing up on the radar at all. It was a ghost ship.

We were nearing a bend in the channel and still we hadn’t caught up to the ghost ship. As we turned, the lights grew further and further apart. “It’s a range marker!” Relief. The mystery had been revealed. There was no ghost ship after all.

Next came the fun of finding a place to stay. We didn’t want to go through the canal that would take us to the Chesapeake Bay in the night. It looked well lit at the entrance, but we didn’t know how well lit it would be all the way down.

We made out way over to Delaware City. According to the Skipper Bob cruising guide there was a marina and free dock over here. We could anchor out, but we wanted to take Spinny in for a potty break and we didn’t want to lower the dingy in the dark. After circling the waters in front of the town like fools, another boat came by and motored into the hidden marina channel. We were saved! We crept cautiously in. The boat we’d seen motor by was already docked. The captain assured us that there was enough water and urged us to continue in, all the way to the gas dock. We crept along until we saw another ketch. It’s captain began shouting as well. “Over here! Bring her in right here!” He pointed in from of his boat. We swung in and he and his wife helped tie us up. Their names were Cary and Dina, and they had a 2 year old chocolate lab named Cody. We were glad to meet them and were sad that we had pulled in at 11pm, tired and worn, and expecting to get up at 5:30am the next day. Our new friends said that they were driving to Annapolis for the boat show as well, so hopefully we will see them then.

Another long day has gone by with only the promise of 5 or 6 hours of sleep. Oh well, that’s life on the boat for you!

The Atlantic

October 7, 2010

The winds were a bit more gusty today, not as ideal sailing weather, but pretty good nonetheless. We were ready to get those sails up and get this boat to the ocean! And we did.

It was rough getting out of the bay and around Sandy Hook, but after we got into the open ocean, the chop and rollers calmed down and spread out. We hoisted the staysail and the mizzen to start out as the gusts were climbing up to 30 kts and kept the motor running to give us more speed. With a whoosh of the lines and clicking of winches, we were sailing!

No real sign of sea life, but birds in the distance told us where the fish were gathered. The water was beautiful and the breeze was delightfully salty. Horizons was finally out on the open ocean again.

I put on some music, and we began truly cruising, for the first time the entire trip. (I’m not counting Lake Erie…that was more like a crazy, rolly rush across the lake). Waves lapped up against the hull and white foam dotted our wake. It didn’t feel too much different from a calmer day on Lake Erie, but the endless horizon to our port side, the one that stretches all the way to Spain, told us that this was no lake, not even a great one. This was the Atlantic Ocean!

As the day progressed, the winds became more steady with less gusts. By evening, we decided to hoist the main, and finally, the genoa. As the sun sank lower in the sky, the world was infused with brilliant color. The sails looked as if a light rainbow had spread across them. I sat out on the deck and soaked it all in. This was truly a wonderful evening to be alive.

The sun set slowly to the west, and dark came over the Atlantic. Little ocean fireflies dotted our wake now, tiny bioluminescent plankton that light up in the water. Stars filled the clear open sky, streaked by the Milky Way. We sailed on into the night until we got to the bright lights of Atlantic City. We had hoped to go all the way to Cape May, but it being 10pm already, we decided to head in. If it was open ocean all the way, we might have gone on ’til morning, but we had a canal coming up.

None of us were much in the mood for gambling (at least with money in slot machines…boating is always a bit of a gamble in itself). So after walking Spinny around, we all headed in for bed. It was going to be an early morning in the morrow.

I’d like to finish this blog post with blips of the conversation Kris and Gary are having behind me as we sail smoothly across the ocean. They’re talking about the trip:

Gary: “We weren’t thinking about this when we bought the snark huh? Or the sailfish, remember when we got started with the sailfish?”

Kris: “Yeah….Well, I think it’s when we got the Hunter this was a little more on the horizon.”

Engine Troubles

October 6, 2010

The sun rose to reveal a brilliant blue sky. We awoke early, eager and ready to set sail! The winds were coming from the NW at a steady pace, it looked like good sailing. We weren’t the only ones. Small fishing boats in the bay sailed slowly by with tarp sails.

We were just getting to the channel that would take us out to sea when Gary came up from below deck. “Stop! We’re taking on water!”

Kris and Gary inspected the situation as Carol and I tried to keep us away from the shoals. The engine had built too much pressure up in the exhaust system and blown a crack in the muffler. The problem, thank goodness, could be fixed.

It took a good part of the day, extra fiberglass, epoxy, and Carol’s hairdryer, but by the end of the day, the muffler was fixed. While spending so much time on the dock with the muffler, Kris discovered some interesting sea life on the side of the dock and jelly fish and little fish in the waters.

Relieved that we could continue on our journey the next day, we all sat down to a dinner of Shepard’s Pie and cherry pie from Delicious Orchards for dessert. Yum!

Monmouth Beach

October 4 – October 6, 2010

On our way across the water to New Jersey, the chop and the swells really started to rise. We were rocking and rolling! Look at the spray all around Gary, working hard to secure the loose lines.

Here we are, docked at Bahr’s Marina in the Atlantic Highlands. When we came into the bay, it was too foggy and wet to see too far ahead, so it was difficult to see Sandy Hook to our port side.

We spent the rest of the day with old Krasnosky family friends, Mariella and her daughter Juliana. By the smiles and adamant conversation, I could tell that they were glad to just sit down and visit with one another.

The next day we stayed in the Highlands and visited many places that the Krasnoskys loved to go when they used to live in the area.

First was the Twin Lights lighthouse in the Highlands. This beautiful lighthouse has two light towers, to ensure that at lease one was ready to guide ships in the night. On the lighthouse hill you could see clear across the water, all the way to New York City.

We ate breakfast at Steve’s. They have delicious pork roll and muffins. Kris, Carol, and Gary used to come here all the time. Kris used to sit on the counter and watch Steve at work in the kitchen. Unfortunately it was Steve’s day off, so we could not say hello.

Next we visited Delicious Orchards, and oh, it is delicious. We left with pie, dried fruit, fresh produce, and the best apple cider I have ever tasted. Once we’d left I wanted to turn around and go back again.

Then it was off to the boardwalk! Because it was off season, there wasn’t too much open, but the beach and the ocean were beautiful. Kris and I found an Aquarium on our walk down the beach and decided to visit. It was a small Aquarium, but a very nice one, with fish, sharks, horseshoe crabs, sea horses, penguins, and seals! We arrived just in time to watch the trainers feed the seals.

Next we set out for some amazing Italian ice from the Light House (there sure are a lot of lighthouses on our trip!). Cherry, lemon, strawberry, chocolate….they were all so good. Kris thought so too, as he ate all of his and finished off everyone else’s!

Our palates pleased by our Italian Ice treat, we headed for Sandy Hook. We explored old military bunker ruins, drove past the military houses, walked around the park, and visited the park light house. The light house used to be on the furthest point on the sandy outreach, but now it’s halfway back from the point at Sandy Hook. We couldn’t go to the furthest point now, as it is occupied by the US Coast Guard.

%\.%\.%\.%\.%\.

Spinny played dress up in the car with Kris and me as we made our way back to Mariella’s for a delicious lobster and shrimp dinner. Dressing up like Emily sure is tiring huh Spin?

We had a wonderful time at our all too short visit to Sandy Hook, Monmouth Beach, and surrounding places.

New York, It’s No Walk in the Park!

October 2 – October 4, 2010

We woke about 8am, ready to pull out and travel further down the river that runs two ways (and it does!). Suddenly, as we came around a bend, the skyscrapers came into sight on the horizon. There it was! New York City!

As the city came closer we began to make out certain land marks. The Empire State Building. The Chrysler Building. And then, yes, there it was, tiny but certainly her – The Statue of Liberty.

We also spotted a beautiful wooden sailboat on our horizon. We exchanged waves as we sailed past them. What a beautiful boat!

Though we were delayed on our approach to the Big Apple, our wait gave us two beautiful sunny days to walk the city streets. We decided to stay on the Jersey side of the Hudson in Jersey City for our NYC stay. We docked in at Newport Marina with only a five minute walk to the Path train over to the city.

We had lunch at Joe’s Pizza. Mmmmm, real New York style pizza!

Then it was off to Little Italy for dessert. Cannolis and cappuccinos from Ferrara’s. mmMMm! So good!

The Empire State Building. Kris and I wanted to go up to the top, but the lines looked exceedingly long, so we opted not to. There were too many other things to see. Macy’s, for example. We went down to the Cellar, but it was unfortunately not as spectacular as Carol and Gary remembered. Canal Street was still as exciting, filled with trinkets, purses, scarves, hats , and belts.

As the sun went down on our first day in NYC, the lights in Times Square came on. They were spectacular. And to spice the square up, the city had blocked off the entire square streets and made them open to pedestrians. Apparently many companies on the square were irritated, but I thought it amazing to be able to slow down and see the lights all around me.

And where do you think we went next? Oh, why the Apple store of course! The entrance to the store was a glass box on the sidewalk with a glass elevator and staircase down into the store below. Very cool.

The view from our dock at the end of the day. Beautiful (though a bit blurry, I apologize).

The next day we took the morning slow, then started off on our city visit at the tip of Manhattan. The train stopped at the World Trade Center. Ground zero was right beside us as we got out of the station. It looked as though construction was going on behind the gates. The spotlights that used to shine up toward the sky were not there any longer.

We also saw the church near ground zero that miraculously wasn’t hurt in the explosion. Inside, many different booths to the side displayed memorials to those who lost their lives in the towers, and to those who worked to help on ground zero after the tragedy. One of the simplest of these memorials was a church pew with a fireman’s uniform at the end. The scratches on the pews of the church were from the boots of firemen and policemen who dozed in the pews when on duty at ground zero. They were never sure when they would need to jump up and be ready to go, so they slept in their full uniform.

We walked on down the road to Wall Street. Here’s the building where George Washington was sworn in as the first President of the United States.

Then it was off to the Naval Pier on the East River. There was an interesting mix of sights here: large, old, restored sea ships, an Indian festival, and above are some dancers recording what appeared to be some kind of pop video.

Then it was off to Central Park! Here stands Spinny’s hero, Balto. We went all over the park, from the zoo, down the central walkway, to the fountain by the lake, the John Lennon “Imagine” Memorial, by the Boat House, and to the boat racing pond.

We brought New York to a close shortly afterward…but not without making a stop at F.A.O. Schwartz! I liked the giant stuffed elephants and the giant piano board.

We brought our tour of New York City to a close as we sailed out of the Hudson the next morning, right past the Statue of Liberty.

Good bye New York! Instead of first seeing Lady Liberty as we approach, we will wave to her as we leave and turn our heads toward New Jersey, Sandy Hook, the Atlantic Highlands, and Monmouth Beach.

Working Our Way Down the Hudson

October 1, 2010

We’re making our way down the Hudson to New York City. The views are beautiful, but the weather is wet, rainy, and misty.

Horizons cuts down the waters of the Hudson. She’s bound for the Big Apple.

Lighthouse ahead! Yet another one of these beauties standing out in the middle of the river.

Mist pouring over the mountains.

A beautiful little waterfall pours into the river.

Fog behind the bridge. It looks as though the world just disappears.

West Point on the cliffs.

We stayed by Ossining, NY for the night – home of the Sing Sing Prison. Gary was threatening to throw me in there, but I knew better. They’d be after him before long.

Cormorants take their posts for the night as we settle in. Tomorrow it’s off to New York City. The weather is supposed to clear up and sunny skies should greet us in the morning.

Extra Note: Our trip into NYC will be posted in one post, probably sometime tomorrow. However, here’s a little preview picture especially for our friend Hans:

You didn’t tell us you ran a deli Hans! Why don’t you share some sandwiches with us next time? It’s the least you could do for us.

Also: If you would like to see more photos of our trip, visit our blog album.

Kingston, NY

September 30, 2010

A fierce storm has been sweeping up the east coast, causing flooding wherever it goes. The Carolinas were hit earlier today, and the storm swept further up. High winds and choppy seas were threatening the Big Apple. We decided to stay the day in Kingston and stay out of the weather.

It rained for most of the day today, but the winds up in Kingston were not too bad during the day. Carol and Gary got breakfast at a local cafe. Kris and I took the opportunity to explore the Kingston Maritime Museum.

Here is an old ice boat in the museum. The wealthy used to make a sport of ice boating in the wintertime on the Hudson in these sailing contraptions. They were the fastest moving vehicle in their day! Now a few passionate, but not necessarily wealthy, New Yorkers have restored some of these boats and continue the passion on perfect ice sailing days on the Hudson. It was really awesome to the see the pieces of some of these boats. It would be even more amazing to see them (or even ride one) on the ice!

A beautiful wooden Ketch that had been restored and was docked next to the museum. We couldn’t tour it however, as it is someone’s private boat.

(Side note: Hans, we fully expect your boat to look like this next season!)

Kris stands before the tug boat Mathilda. The Museum is hoping to move the tug out of their court yard and closer to the street, as well as open it up to visitors, allowing them to walk inside it’s historic innards.

The Mathilda’s giant prop and rudder. Big and beautiful.

Kris and I got a hot bite to eat at the local Irish Pub (run by and honest to goodness Irishman, so hot Irish Soda Bread, shepard’s pie, and bangers were of corse on the menu, along with the typical Irish American items (stew, Ruebens, fish and chips, etc.) Yum!)

The rest of the day was spent shopping for groceries, taking Spin out for a walk, and watching Hell’s Kitchen and Apocalypse Now (fun line up huh?). A lazy rainy day. It felt as though we were on vacation!

The winds picked up at night. Later we learned that Annapolis and New York were being flooded as well (Here’s a New York Times article from this morning). We hope the water can be cleared soon, but there’s no changing the weather I suppose. All you have is what is given to you.

Masts Up!

September 29, 2010

A beautiful sunny morning. We’re ready to get going and put the masts up! Kris and Gary did a little last minute tinkering on the boat as we waited our turn for the crane. Carol and I busied ourselves with cleaning and completing the laundry.

Preparing for the grand feat of stepping the masts. All this extra junk must go…either up or off the boat!

She’s waiting to sail once again.

We keep seeing things from Ohio on this trip! Here the crane was from our home state. An Ohio crane lifting up Ohio masts.

Another boat from Vermont pulled in at the gas dock behind us. They were eager to get their mast up as well.

What Spinny was doing to help step the masts – staying out of the way (and taking a nap to boot). Later I got her energy back up as I gave her a good hose bath and a brush. The water was cold (I felt bad) but the weather was warm, so we dried off and warmed up with a good game of fetch. Spinny made a few more friends at the Marina this way, several of whom tossed her toy for her a couple of times. Now she’s soft and silky and smells like oatmeal!

It was difficult to step the masts with the genoa and staysail hanging from the main, but the boys got it done!

The genoa and the staysail are in place. Now they’re just trying to get the line for the crane detached from the mast!

We had to wait for the tide to come back in and lift the boat out of the mud before we could continue. The boat needed to be turned around so that the mizzen could be stepped. This got done all on good time. After a refill on gas and a good pump out, we were cleaned up, filled up, and masted up, ready to go!

A view of the mountains as we traveled down the Hudson.

Another light house in the river. Soon it will be time for it to shine it’s light and guide the boats still traveling in the night.

Kris and I worked on tightening the stay cables to straighten the masts out. Kris thinks he’s Captain Morgan here. Might need to straighten out the radar now…

A bridge across the canal, all lit up and ready for the night. We are pulling into Kingston soon, looking for the red and green lights of the markers to guide our way.

Kingston! We’ve made it! It was a warm and beautiful night. We’d just made it under the first Kingston bridge and into the Kingston Marina when this photo was taken. The bridge had a 56ft clearance and we stood 52ft tall. That was an exciting 30 seconds of my life as we approached the bridge. Gary shown the spotlight on the mast and the bridge as Kris drove toward it slowly. We all watched, breath held as the mast came to the edge of the bridge. It’s hard to tell distance when looking up. For a few seconds, I was sure that we were going to smack into the bridge bottom, but we made it, safe and sound. As we docked at the marina, a man sitting at a nearby park bench filled the air with the soft sounds of a harmonica. (Much more atmospheric than Gary singing 99 bottles of beer on the wall, as he’s doing now).

Goodbye Erie, Hello Hudson

Sorry the blogs are so late! Got caught up in getting to Catskill to take the masts down, then Catskill didn’t have a good internet connection for us. Figures! Here’s posts from the past few days. Anyways….

September 28, 2010

Change of pace. I’m going to post photos (since they are in high demand) and write a few little captions underneath to give you little pictures into our day.

Here comes the last lock on the Erie Canal!

Spinny and Gary are ready for the lock.

We’re through, and on our way past Waterford. It looked like a nice place to stay, but we had bigger fish to fry.

We met this boat in Sandusky before we had left. Walk-a-Bout. Safe sailing to you.

Where the Erie Canal runs into the Hudson.

A replica of Henry Hudson’s Half Moon, docked in Albany, NY.

We saw our red sister docked outside of Albany. Her masts stood tall. We were jealous.

This light house stood in the middle of the river. There are something like seven of these still standing and working in the river today.

Soon we pulled into Catskill, NY, more than ready to have our masts back up, standing proud and tall.