Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sailing to Brooklyn with the Millers

First, a problem is brewing with Seas The Day.

Evidently some of the swim ladder hardware isn't the right grade of stainless steel.  We're getting rust stains on the transom.  Does anyone out there know how you can clean rust off of fiberglass without damaging a decal underneath?

Continuing with Today's topic, being part of the Keyport Yacht Club means (among other things) that we get "reciprocity privileges" with the other clubs in the area.  That means that members can stop by for a visit with other clubs in the area at no cost.  Most Yacht clubs in the NY/NJ area take part in this, so we can visit the other clubs, and their members can stop by Keyport.  It's a nice way to sail away to specific destinations without breaking the bank.  (For example, stopping at Liberty Landing Marina cost us $140 for the night... this trip to Brooklyn cost us the amount we spent on dinner.)

So we decided to sail away to the Sheepshead Bay Yacht Club in Brooklyn, NY.  Our goal there was to meet up with the Millers, a young family who also just joined KYC, and join them for dinner so we could get to know each other some more.

The day was a little crazy... very overcast... wind was very variable with gusts into the 20 knot range. We practiced sailing (I'm in the middle of a book on sail trim) across the Raritan Bay, but then pulled in the sails for the trip across the shipping channels and into the Rockaway Inlet (right next to Coney Island).

 When we arrived, we discovered that they had guest moorings, but both were occupied so they told us to just raft up with the other boat from Keyport (luckily it was the one the Miller's just purchased).  This was our first time "rafting up" (tying the boats together) and Brandon was kind enough to come out and help us.  The boat they just acquired is a 15 year old Catalina 320, almost identical to Seas The Day (a Catalina 315).

We headed right into town for dinner at Randazzo's Clam Bar which was a half-mile walk into town from the yacht club.  We passed a group of swans feasting on one of the docks.  It turns out there's a fair population of swans in this marina area.

Randazzo's was a perfect casual location for a group with 3 small kids and a nice meal, we returned to the boats and chatted for a while before turning in.

One interesting thing about this marina off the Rockaway Inlet is that it is party barge central.  At all hours of the night (as well as EARLY in the morning), party boats were coming and going.   Note: These are NOT party boats where 6 guys go out fishing with a 6-pack captain... no, these are PARTY BOATS complete with DJs and a few hundred revelers. (One left at 6:00 AM returning at 9:00 AM - who chooses those hours to party?)  I swear some of them were propelled by sub-woofer.

Oh well, I did want to get up early for some quiet time (which I did have between party boats).

And of course, I had a great chance to practice some candid portraiture... this is Gavin as he was serenading us with Beethoven on his keyboard app...

Madeline tried to stay far away at first, but eventually warmed up (somewhat)...

And Preston, who seems to be the sailor of the bunch.  That's actually incorrect as all three of them have been sailing since they were 6-months old (and thus have much more experience than Vicky and me).

The Sheepshead Bay mooring field is... um... tight... they are really set up for smaller boats, so we all watched the mooring ball from our nearest neighbor come uncomfortably close to our boats off and on during the morning.

And finally a family portrait of the Millers on their boat.

Finally after breakfast, it was time to shove off, we broke up the raft, and headed out past the swan colony and back to Keyport.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Statue of Liberty Run

My sailing goal for this year (actually set last year during the ASA103 class) was to sail into NY Harbor and around the Statue of Liberty.  This weekend held the perfect combination of a barnacle-free bottom, good weather, favorable tides and no overnight guests.

(Note:  There are way too many photos from this trip.  I've selected a few to tell the story... you can see the whole collection at my SmugMug link below.)

Statue of Liberty Run photos

So, the previous post was our preparations.  Here is our route...

The intent was to head NE across Raritan Bay using waypoints at Old Orchard Shoal and Swinburne Island to keep us off the shallows near Staten Island.  Then we would go under the Verrazano Narrrows Bridge into NY Harbor.  After that, we would follow along the western portion of the harbor, past the Statue and Ellis Island, then turn left into the Morris Canal and overnight at Liberty Landing Marina in Jersey City.

We set out a little later than planned (a few minutes before 11:00 AM on Saturday 8/23).  Weather reports had been saying "partly cloudy" with no rain leading to clearer skies as evening approached. When we left, it was "mostly cloudy"... perhaps even "alarmingly cloudy".

Still, we set off.  The Raritan Bay was more active than we had previously encountered... especially as we got out towards the East end.  It provided quite a ride.

We changed course slightly at Old Orchard Shoal, but stayed about a half a nautical mile north of West Bank Light, turning North once we passed Swinburne Island.

As we turned North to go under the Narrows bridge, we noticed the sea texture had become interesting telling us we would have a fun time steering through the chop.

It calmed down a bit once we entered the Narrows (I guess from more land blocking the wind).  So we sailed under the bridge and breathed a little sigh of relief (I even gave John the helm)... only to be greeted by 5 LOUD blasts from a ship's horn (which is a maritime way of communicating "What the #@%* do you think you're doing?").  So just in case it was aimed at us - of course it was - we looked around and realized that the tugboat in front of us just starting to go under the bridge was towing a large barge maybe a half mile away.  Prior to the ship blasting their horn, we were headed right between the two.

Oops!  So John executed a quick turn to port and we continued on.

Despite this baptism by fire into NY Harbor, John kept the helm.  We realized we needed all of us looking out as the ships here make the tankers and barges moving through the Raritan Bay seem small.

So we found our way over towards the west end of the harbor and then things calmed down... calmed down enough for a snack.  It turns out Vicky wanted to try out the galley and had brought SWEET CORN!  So we ate our subs, had some corn and a few other morsels.

In NY Harbor, you have to dodge all sorts of traffic besides the big commercial ships.  Ferries, other sailboats, smaller vessels, even traffic from a different era of history.

We picked our way through the traffic and approached the Statue of Liberty... slowed down for some photo ops and then...

... realized that the pirate ship was chasing us!  WTF???  John kicked us up to full throttle to get away, but they turned away after a short while. I'm sure the tourists had a nice laugh.

Next, we sailed past Ellis Island.

Side note:  Somewhere on the island is a memorial wall and Mom had made a donation to have the Brossman family name inscribed when they renovated something or other in the 80s.  It turns out that was completely in error because the Brossman clan came to the COLONIES (Not the USA) in 1739 - long before Ellis Island.  (Yes, we were the poor, job stealing, "Illegal Immigrants" of that era.)  See the link below for details.

Brossman Family Tree website

So after passing Ellis Island, we sailed past the tip of lower Manhattan and turned into the Morris Canal and Liberty Landing Marina (where we had the best dock hand to help us).

Since Liberty Landing Marina is in Liberty State Park, we walked down to the waterfront to see "Empty Sky" (the NJ 9/11 memorial).  After that we ate at MaritimeParc, the restaurant near the marina, cleaned up Seas The Day, and went down to the waterfront to photography the night skyline.

(NOTE:  The posterization effect in the sky is from a bug from using the Lightroom software with my new camera.  I'll try and remember to update the image on my SmugMug site when the fix releases.)

After that, we had the pleasure of hosting one of my colleagues, Nicole.  She and her husband live 2 blocks from the marina and they stopped by to check out Seas The Day and help us celebrate our milestone.

After their visit, we turned in for the night.

On Sunday, 8/24, we got up, and while getting ready for Breakfast, I heard a strange sound coming from under the dinette... exactly where the holding tank from the Head (maritime speak for toilet) was located.

I ignored the sound other than telling everyone not to use the Head... we were going for pumpout (yes... exactly what you think) after breakfast.  So John slept in, and Vicky and I walked around the marina into Jersey City for breakfast at The Brownstone Diner.  We brought a sandwich back for John, then readied Seas The Day for buying fuel and pumpout.

We had to wait our turn for a while, but eventually we pulled over to the fuel dock and the dock hand asked me to open the waste fitting...


We did NOT have a normal pumpout experience... at least I hope not.  I will not go into details because, well, I don't want to leave a written statement around for the EPA to find.  I will say that I realized several things in VERY rapid succession... namely that I had ignored the Head for too long and should have had the pumpout boat visit Seas The Day much earlier... that the fact that the head was getting harder to pump wasn't due to uric acid and salt crystals in the pump (I had vinegar with me to take care of that), but perhaps.. perhaps from an overful/overpressure condition... and that the sheet metal BANG I heard earlier in the morning should have been paid more attention to.

I'll leave things at that and avoid more details just in case our dear readers are eating while perusing this blog.  Notice that we have a nice new plastic waste cap in place of the metal one that WAS physically secured to the boat with a chain.


So, we finished refueling, then headed out to retrace our steps.  The day was indeed partly cloudy this time in the best way possible, and we passed the same landmarks as we headed through NY Harbor and under the Narrows bridge.

Once we reached the bay, we turned the helm over to Otto and relaxed for a while.

That lasted maybe an hour, but Otto is a little flaky at times and when he started spinning us in circles... just after reaching Old Orchard Shoal, we saw some other folks sailing and decided to bring out the sails for the last leg of the trip.

Clouds were building but we finally saw the "Reiner Mooring" waypoint on the chartplotter and motored in the final bit.

John took care of the pickup, we cleaned up Seas The Day, and headed out to Bertucci's because John was going through "pizza withdrawal" (from being off of work).