Sunday, July 24, 2016

A day of sailing to finish a business trip.

I was in Brazil for training this past week and the flights were from Newark airport in NJ.  So upon landing, I braved the shore traffic and headed to Keyport and Seas The Day for a nap while Vicky drove up from Delaware.

Once she arrived, we spent a little time on maintenance and then headed out. 

This was Vicky's turn to practice some maneuvers singlehanded (just in case she had to... say... rescue me). We still had time for photography.

In fact once we started heading back, photography was the main event.  We were nearing sunset. 

Of course, since I was on a business trip, I left my camera at home, and everything needed to be captured with the iPhone.  

And obviously, that meant it was one of the best sunsets we've seen!

We finished a perfect (and perfectly exhausting) day with drinks at the Keyport Yacht Club and a late dinner at Drew's Bashore Bistro.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Hudson River Trip - Postmortem

Being a scientist, after finishing any large project, a postmortem seems like the thing to do.  We headed out to explore the Hudson River all the way up to Kingston, NY.  In the end, our track looked something more like this... only getting as far as the Tappan Zee and Nyack, NY.

We spent a day going into NY Harbor, two more days around the Statue of Liberty with friends and family, two days going up and down the Hudson, and a final day (and storm) crossing back to Keyport.

Here is a quick summary of what we accomplished and what we learned (in no particular order).

- We doubled the amount of time we spent on board Seas The Day from the 3 days of our Delivery Trip to six days.  This gave us a much better feeling for some of the features of our ship... we're better at working the head, we understand more about some of the electronics, and I'm a little more comfortable with docking.  Power management - both underway and while plugged in is better understood, and I also have some areas where I should hit the books and brush up on my knowledge (understanding Otto, for example).

- Spending time with people letting them see the Statue and other landmarks from the water was a wonderful way to deal with Liberty Landing's "Three night stay on holiday" rule.  My first thought was to pay the inflated fee and just head up the river.  That actually might have canned the whole trip... the Hudson was so rough those first two days, I don't think I would have ventured (or even been able to get) very far.

- Understand where ferry docks and other restricted spaces are.  Your boat's electronic chart may not show them (especially if the rules have changed since your purchase).  The USGC IS serious about this.

- I seriously underestimated the river.  There was no way (in this time of spring tides, and on the dates chosen) that the planned length would have been successful - other than a series of very long (10 to 12 hr) days.  I did learn a lot more about currents and tides, though.

- Boat handling during bad weather... we had always been "fair weather sailors" before this trip. Staying under power during the squall seems (based on my reading this past day) the right thing to do.  It was better than trying to drop anchor under duress.  That being said, a key mistake was racing to try and get home on the ball as a storm was obviously bearing down on us.  That move put us closer to shallows than necessary.  I would have been better to use the time to get out to a place with deeper water in all directions so I would have time if the electronics failed.  Washing sunscreen off my face and zipping in the center panel in the Bimini would also be nice preparations.

- We didn't plan a huge amount in terms of provisioning for six days.  This turned out to be the right choice.  We had enough on board that we had options, but correctly guessed that most days a restaurant would be available (it was vacation, after all).  In July heat, letting someone else do the cooking was a relief.  I did, however, bring way too much camera equipment along... the basic camera and street sweeper zoom alone would have been fine.

- Managing symptoms while traveling... I think we hit OK on this one.  I had the first signs of discomfort on Day 2.  We stopped by an ER on the morning of Day 3... we were hoping for a clinic, but the ER was the only choice - and open on a national holiday.  I choose to manage symptoms (lots of cranberry juice and water) and keep an eye on things, rather than pay ER prices (especially when they wouldn't quote me a basic charge).  When the Hudson looked so inviting, I chose to explore knowing that I could get medical assistance anywhere along the river if I really needed it (and I was in contact with my insurance company's "nurse line").  When I finally check into a clinic and got the prescription, it was clear that sailing was over for a week or so (not allowed to be in sunlight), and I was glad we had salvaged a good portion of the vacation.  (Oh, and I need to figure out how to use the head so my...     well, I'll spare you that visual.)

- Never underestimate Vicky's unorthodox approach might just solve a problem I've been wrestling with... weather it's putting up a towel with bungee cords or chasing flies with a dish wand... you never know.

Hudson River Trip - Day 6

We woke up at Liberty Landing Marina still kind of tired from the heat the day before.  We decided we would head back to Keyport and perhaps do a day or two of simply sailing around the Raritan Bay.  So after a boat-cooked breakfast (eggs and sausage) and some refueling, filling water tanks, etc., we shoved off, took one last look at the Morris Canal and headed out past the old train station and south into NY Harbor.

This time - for the first time - we encountered Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty in relatively calm waters.

We bid goodbye to these famous landmarks and headed into the harbor.  I'm always amazed at how fast (relative to Seas The Day) things move around here.  I glanced back and noted a SI Ferry was underway - way back at The Battery - then glanced up and here it was... right behind me.

We did toy briefly with the possibility of heading over towards the Port of Newark and taking the back way home via the Arthur Kill (the tidal straight that separates Staten Island from NJ).  But I couldn't confirm that some bridge construction was OK to pass, so we opted for the NY Harbor/Verrazzano Bridge route.

It was a hazy day and looking beyond the bridge, I could barely make out Hoffman and Swinburne islands, so I was a bit worried how visibility would be, but it turned out OK.

We passed under the bridge...

... and after passing Swinburne Island, we turned towards Keyport.

Here we realized that "Hey, we have sails... we don't have to listen to this motor all the time", so I went forward and got things ready and we unfurled the Genoa and Mainsail.

This lasted about 15 minutes as we watched the wind die down to 3 knots or so...

We knew there might be storms approaching later, so we turned on the motor and spent the next couple of hours crossing Raritan Bay.  As we started getting near the Keyport #1 buoy, I noticed some  clouds in the distance that soon became more ominous. Eventually, I could see rain over by Staten Island.

Then the squall started crossing towards us...

Ruh Ro!

Soon we were in the squall...  winds gusted up into the high 20s/low 30s knots and (most worrisome),  visibility dropped to 100 feet or so.   This was not helped by the rain pelting my face and the sunscreen running into my eyes.  We were pretty stable as long as I motored into the wind, but the wind kept shifting directions.  I was incredibly glad that the chart plotter functioned like a champ through all this - we were close to Keyport and I knew there were some shallow spots in our general vicinity.  I tried to drive us out towards deeper water whenever I could.

The whole thing lasted maybe 15 or 20 minutes.  I've always enjoyed watching these squalls come across the bay from our condo.  This was a different experience... not bad... a bit worrisome... but kind of interesting nonetheless.  I do need to read up a bit on what exactly we should do in this case.

Once it cleared, it was a short ride to our mooring ball.  As usual, all boat trips end at the Keyport Yacht Club bar... here we enjoyed some drinks with John as the sun set behind us.

OK... that's not exactly the ending.  In the photo above, I'm drinking cranberry juice and seltzer because the trip actually ended first at Integrated Medical Alliance where it was confirmed that I needed some antibiotics.  Unfortunately, what was prescribed is not compatible with being in direct sunlight, so we decided to skip the remaining two days of sailing and return to Delaware... after the sunset, of course.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Hudson River Trip - Day 5

We woke up in Nyack with the sun already risen over Tarrytown.  Water was perfectly calm, and with one attempt to go outside and I was repelled by hundreds of black flies camped on our Bimini.  I choose to stay below for a little and work on the blog.

Finally at 7:30, I went out to this scene, quickly dropped the hook and we motored off towards the Tappan Zee bridge.

A last glance up the Hudson showed us the cliffs that were only shadows yesterday as we arrived.  We'll have to try that trip another time.

As I got out to the channel, I turned south and we headed down the Hudson and under the bridge.

We were going full bore and as soon as the current caught us, suddenly we were doing 8.1 knots!

I didn't want to complete this trip too quickly, so I backed down to a more normal cruising speed and we settled into a nice 6.5 kts SOG.  Far in the distance you could see the NYC skyline.  The cliffs from the Palisades looked incredible and a ton of black flies camped out, along for the ride.  I tried several times to shoo them, but they just kept coming back.

As we traveled south, we stayed close to the western bank and the Palisades, watching the houses, wildlife and landmarks as we passed.

Vicky decided we needed to be more comfortable and rigged a nice sunshade, then she chased the flys with a dishwashing wand.  Somehow that wand was magic and the flies left us.

We continued down past the Alpine Boat Basin...

I wondered how cars got down to that boat basin, and discovered this bridge... so I guess there's a road.

Soon, we reached the top of Manhattan and our next landmark was the GWB.

I didn't know they had a nice little campground just north of the GWB on the Jersey side.

Once below the GWB, we still hugged the NJ shore... I was amazed at how they carved space for houses out of any somewhat useable space in Edgewater.

Somewhere around Edgewater, Otto suddenly went bonkers and we started leaning far left and right.  I looked and this smooth weird shaped wave was passing under us.  Looking around, there were no barges or other large vessels.  I check the tide tables and I think that might have been the tide wave coming in.  After it passed, we suddenly started picking up some speed.

We continued to pass landmarks - both nice ones and less nice.

This complex seemed like a nice use for an old pier.

I never liked this stick-like building... still don't.

This one, however, I love...

Steven's Institute of Technology sits right on the Hudson.

I attended a photography workshop once at this Gazebo and Frank Sinatra Park, below, in Hoboken.

As we got into lower Manhattan, the wind picked up a good bit and it began to get choppy again.

We even began to see whitecaps right as we reached the bottom of the Hudson.  I was glad to see the Colgate clock and turn in

Soon Seas The Day was tied up back at Liberty Landing Marina.

We tied up, I paid for our night's stay and we had a nice relaxing (and hot) afternoon.

As evening approached, we cleaned up and went to dinner at the Liberty House restaurant.  We have never before been able to get reservations here on the weekends we have visited.  Mid-week, however, there was space available. We shared a roasted garlic appetizer and then Vicky had braised short ribs and I had a nice salmon. Since we were celebrating a nice trip up the Hudson, we had a nice banana brownie dessert.

The food was tasty, the wine enjoyable, the view... well considering the location, they could have designed the restaurant better to take advantage of the view.  We stayed indoors because we wanted to cool off, Vicky had a partial view of lower Manhattan, I had a partial view of the Goldman Sachs building.  Lower views were blocked off by the gardens and outdoor structures.  

For the money, next time I'd do Maritime Parc.

Afterward, we relaxed in our own special ways... I blogged, Vicky cleaned her boat.