Saturday, August 27, 2016

Father - Son Daysail.

Each year we've been able to work it out that John and I can get away for a father - son only sailing trip.  It's been one of my favorite trips of each year.

Today was a beautiful day for sailing.  Perfect winds 8 a 10 knots with occasional gusts up to 10 or 12.   You couldn't ask for better weather.  

I like these trips because after everything is set and we're drifting with the wind, it's time to talk... it just makes for some nice quality time.  

We spent a few hours out... again sailing at different points of sail until we were back to our starting point.  Hopefully the days of sailing out and motoring back are behind me.

Afterward we went ashore (catching a couple of photos of Seas The Day on the way back) and had a nice steak dinner at Neil Michaels Steakhouse. (Great suggestion John!)

After taking care of some business (trying to rent our condo), I got back to KYC in time for the last bit of movie night.  Tonight's movie was 12 Days of Terror (a special on the shark attacks that took place here 100 years ago). 

Finally, I caught the launch out for a nice calm night on the water. It was slightly lighter than this iPhone photo, but the neighbor boats were still just dark shapes between the Manhattan skyline and Seas The Day.  

It's always so calm and peaceful out here.  

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Hot Sailing awith Deb and Nathan

Let me start off by saying my cousin Debbie and her husband Nathan are a hot couple.  And I also know that hey have a couple of hot kids (Maryanne and Brian).  How do I know this??

Because they came sailing with me today and the heat index was somewhere north of 105 degrees!

Perhaps this wasn't my smartest moment.  We're having one of THOSE heat waves... a bunch of days with heat indices in the triple digits... where the temps are in the high 90s with high humidity and you break a sweat just looking outside.  Because you know that once you open the door, your skin temperature in the 90s is cooler than anything around and that humidity just condenses on you like a cold glass of water on most other days.

Oh, I also have a crick in my knee, but that didn't stop me either.

You see a couple of weeks ago at a family reunion, Debbie and the clan were wildly enthusiastic when I said they should come sailing sometime.  They're teachers and their summer is rapidly drawing to a close, so we grabbed a day with perfect weather (except for the heat).

When we arrived at Seas The Day, the heat was unbearable... I rushed through the preparations and got the Bimini up so we had a little protection from the sun.  It was clear that there was no wind, so we motored out to the Great Beds Lighthouse.

After the requisite photo opps..., we could tell the young 'uns were getting tired and hot (sense a theme here?) and I cut the corner back to Keyport.

As we approached Keyport, we could see that they were starting the Fleet Captains Race.  This is kind of a fun race for both racers and non-racers with a cool party afterward.  I had thought about briefly joining this. We even smelled the ribs cooking while we were preparing to go out, but with everyone on the verge of heat exhaustion, there was no way we were going to wait for the party.

I did manage to get some nice "under sail" photos of some friend's boats...

This boat is the Miller's!

As we got closer to Keyport, the kids seemed to get a 2nd wind and for a brief second, I thought about pulling out the sails.  But then I remembered being a parent and how these reprieves can be followed by big crashes.  For all the heat, the kids had not kept up with drinking (water... not all sailors drink...) and I figured prudence is the best path.  

That turned out to be a good guess... by the time we got Seas The Day buttoned up and hopped on the launch, I was cooked (the kids were too).  It was a nice time if brief time on the water.  The ice cream afterward was especially welcomed.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

USCG Vessel Safety Check

This weekend looked to be especially beautiful so I arranged to "work from boat" on Friday and after an early morning departure, found myself on the Keyport Yacht Club launch commuting to work.

The day was gorgeous, but very bright... I had to work in the salon on Seas The Day in order to see the screen.  After a conference call, I went ashore and had lunch with an old colleague, then worked a bit in the waterfront room at the club (I can't charge my big laptop on-board yet, so if I have to plug in, I need to either be ashore or at a dock).

As evening came, I finished work for the day, then had a nice dinner with John at Friday's (it's great when you kid starts paying for dinner) and got back to the dock just in time to see the remnants of a nice sunset.

As Saturday dawned, it was a little cloudy, but otherwise nice.  I had brought some provisions so made breakfast (SPAM, egg and cheese sandwich and some fresh blackberries from McCormick Farms).  I just sat for an hour or so taking in the scenery before getting started on this morning's activity.

Which was getting my USCG Vessel Safety Check completed.  I do this mid-summer every year when I get my updated documents from the Coast Guard.  To prepare, I rounded up all the safety equipment...

Signaling items (flares, light, flags, etc.)

Made sure I knew where the pile o' lifejackets were (not shown is the bag of class 2 and throwable devices in the lazarette)

I did a pressure check of the LPG system (charge it and note the pressures when first shut off and 15 min later).  It held OK.

And also checked the pressures on the two fire extinguishers...

Around 10:00, Laura from the USGC Auxiliary came aboard, and we spent a half-hour going over the checklist and discussing safety and environmental concerns.  (Note:  There are a few other things they check like solution and garbage placards, navigational lights, and the marine sanitation device, etc.  These are features that are built in to Seas The Day, so I don't have to check them first.)

I passed the inspection, and received the "Safety Check Sticker" which I'm told wards off the evil spirits from passing patrol boats.

After that, I went to the dock to get water.  Hopefully there are no photos from my singlehanded attempt at docking.  Let's just say that after getting the bow line secured, I discovered that I can't use reverse to swing me against the dock like the launch drivers.  Fortunately I had an extra long dock line that we could use to swing me against the dock and tie up.

Then it was time to go sailing.  I headed out across the bay towards Mt. Loretto Chapel.  

I got maybe 2/3 of the way across the bay when I heard "US Coast Guard Station C, US Coast Guard Station C, Mayday Mayday Mayday" loud and clear on the radio.  This was the first Mayday call I have heard, though I frequently hear the USCG responses.  They answered back and received no reply.  I remember thinking that it was odd that the mayday call contained no other information.

Over the next few minutes the USCG tried to find out more.  They must have triangulated the radio signals to the mouth of the Raritan river (a few miles west of my location).  When they asked all mariners to report if they heard the broadcast, I gave my information.  I must have been closer because they then asked details about my antenna height and position (I was thankful for my GPS).

Over the next hour or so, I saw a lot of official looking boats with flashing lights and even a couple of NYPD helicopters.

I grabbed binoculars and looked about.  There were a bunch of boats west of me in the vicinity of the Raritan Yacht Club which is right at the mouth of the river, so since there was little I could do, I continued to practice my downwind sailing and practice my singlehanded gybes.  

The coast guard kept asking for the original transmission to respond.  Was it a hoax?  Maybe someone showing someone how to do a mayday call but the radio was turned on?  I'm not sure.  I'm glad the patrol boats are out there, but I can see where this can be frustrating to them.

I sailed from the vicinity of Mt. Loretto chapel down almost to Old Orchard Shoals, before the wind gave up for the day, so I motored back to Keyport, grabbed the mooring and upon seeing storms approaching, got everything battened down and caught the launch back to the club just before the storms erupted in Keyport.

I had a quick (nonalcoholic) drink at the KYC bar and headed back to DE.  The storm followed me for a while, but as I pulled into my development, I thought it would catch up.  We never had any rain... it passed about 3-5 miles to the northeast.