Aiming For New York

Bright and early the next morning we were up and on the road again, motoring because there was absolutely no wind. The sea was smooth without even a cat’s paw, so on it was with the iron genny and we motored our way towards Newport. It was beautiful and sunny, some high clouds but it looked to be a nice, warm day. The wind gradually increased, and around 2 hours into the journey we were able to turn off the motor and ended up with a glorious sail to Newport. Winds were 15 to 20 knots and we made quick work of the 45 miles needed to get there, arriving before 4pm and anchoring just south of Goat Island in front of the city.

One of Melanie’s school friends lives here, so we met Joan and her husband Bill for lunch the following day and then walked back to their home where we met their son, daughter-in-law and grand daughter. We spent a lovely afternoon with them and then walked back to the boat and picked up the dog to take him for a walk. We stopped at an Irish pub for a good Irish coffee before heading back to the boat for the night.

After work the next day we headed in to shore with the intent of doing laundry and Melanie, in passing our full, cumbersome bag of laundry over the rail to me in the dinghy, threw out her back, so after finished the laundry we spent the afternoon Ubering to a chiropractor who got her walking again, and then to West Marine for oil change and toilet stuff. Our head is going to need a rebuild – ugh – the joys of boat life. After errands we headed back to the boat and watched a few shows while Melanie relaxed in an effort to get her back to calm down. She was feeling much better, so we went out for a drink and some pizza with our friends from Germany. Everyone is abuzz about the World Cup, so we arranged to go the following day to watch Germany play in their second match against Sweden.

Next morning we headed into shore to do some grocery shopping. We picked up a few things from the hardware store as well and then stopped at the health food market for a good cup of coffee before heading to the boat to unpack our groceries. Then we were back to shore where we headed up to the FedEx store to mail a small gift for our new grandbaby Jemma. Then a quick stroll down through the historic section to Buskers, an Irish bar where we watched the World Cup. Germany was playing Sweden and our friends were there spellbound. A last minute goal helped Germany to a much needed win. After that we strolled over to the Newport Shipyard, there were a lot of power boats but very few sailboats there; I guess we were lucky on our last visit. We made our way back slowly to our dock, and found some ice cream along the way. Once back we watched some shows before heading off to bed. It was cold and we really didn’t feel like doing a whole lot except snuggling up and watching Netflix.

We woke rather late and were slow to get going, but once we’d had a cup of coffee we went into shore and took a shower, had a light breakfast, said our goodbyes and then hauled anchor and departed. It was a cloudy, dreary day and right as we were leaving the sun peeked out just a bit. We raised our sails and decided to sail out of the harbor as there was really nice wind blowing for a change. We beat out of the harbor into an incoming tide and a dying wind until we got to the point where after 2 miles of progress in three hours of sailing we bagged it and turned the motor on so we could make better headway. Our old friend Mr. Fog settled down as well and soon we were surrounded in a shroud of white with very low visibility.

We poked our way cautiously through the fog until we were near the approaches of the entrance to Block Island Harbor. Right then the fog lifted and we were able to enter the harbor and anchor with good visibility. We snuggled in for the night and watched Netflix and during the night the weather turned and we had rain, thunder and lightning until morning. The next morning the wind was out of the North at 15 to 25 knots and it was gloriously sunny! After work we headed out and set sail towards the Connecticut River.

In looking at our destination, we thought we would have a nice beam reach but the reality of it was the wind was coming from dead ahead, just like always. Close hauled in 20 to 25 knots made for a slow, bumpy ride. Thankfully it was sunny but still a little chilly. The waves bouncing around between the the islands made for a very ugly chop; I could see at least four different directions that swells were coming from. When they all hit us at the same time, our speed would drop down from 5 to less than 2 knots! It was quite frustrating trying to make decent headway through the sloppy mess.

As we neared the entrance of the Long Island Sound, the chop seemed to lessen a little bit and the wave directions became more predictable. The wind slowly died and around 4:30 we decided to start the engine. Within 5 minutes of starting the engine the wind switched from the Northwest to the Southeast and came up enough that it gave us about a half a knot of speed. We decided to continue motoring at that point because we wanted to get in to our destination before sunset. We had five miles to Fishers Island and then another 13 miles beyond that to get to the Connecticut River.

Within 5 minutes of starting the engine we turned it off. The wind came up to 10 to 15 knots and we were able to move comfortably under sail between 4 1/2 and 5 knots, so no need to use the iron genny in those circumstances. We had a nice following swell and an incoming tide with a little current to help us so our rough ride when we left Block Island was now nice and smooth and we had glorious sunshine to help warm us.

We passed through the race which is the entrance to Long Island Sound and our speed increased to over 7 briefly but then as we got further into the sound the wind slowly died until we reluctantly started the motor. It was a a good day’s sail; a good six hours before we fired up the motor to ensure we would be in Old Saybrook before dark.

We pulled in just before sunset, and after a nightcap we headed below to watch Netflix. After work the next morning we dropped the dinghy and headed into shore. We spoke to a few locals for a while and then walked into town to do a little exploring. We found the Katharine Hepburn Museum and toured it, spoke to the curator for quite a while and then found a gluten free vegan deli where we had coffee and a yummy treat.

We walked around a little more, exploring the local area and then headed back towards the boat, passing through a cemetery on the way where we found the tombstone of Art Carney. Then we stopped at the local Yacht Club and chatted to a few people there before heading back to the boat for dinner. Next morning after breakfast we dropped our mooring and headed off. The water was glassy. There was almost no wind and it ended up being an all-day motor.

We went into New Haven and just before entering the main break wall the wind came up so we sailed with the motor on for a short period of time. We motored down into what looked to be the heart of the city and dropped anchor. There was supposed to be stuff to see; there wasn’t. After scoping out the land with binoculars we realized there was really nowhere to go ashore, so we hauled our anchor and headed off to Morris Cove which is closer to the entrance of the harbor.

It was late, so we did not go ashore. We ate a light snack for dinner and then watched a few shows before turning in. The mooring, although sheltered was rather uncomfortable. There was a gentle swell from the South that kept us rolling back and forth all night. On top of that, a front was on the way towards us, and it arrived around 9pm. It started with gentle rain which lulled us to sleep, but at 5:30 am I awoke to the sound of thunder. Windsor was scared of the lightning and so I got up and went and laid in the salon so he would have someone to “keep him safe”. It stormed for hours! The lightning and thunder only lasted about an hour and a half, but it rained hard for a good 5 hours. That is of course when the leaks started – all those little drips that are so hard to find became steady streams, like flowing rivers and we had plenty of them.

We diagnosed the worst of them and determined that our stays needed to be re-bedded. A few hot days to dry things out and that will be another item on the to-do list. We decided to motor over to Jefferson Harbor, across on Long Island, and spend a few nights there. The harbor is home to Setauket, the home town of many of the individuals that worked in Washington’s spy ring during the battle for independence. We left to the promise of a sunny day; the clouds burned off and things started to dry out but as before, no wind. So once again we ended up motoring the 20 odd miles it took to get there. We noticed when we were about 10 miles away that the skies to the North and West were darkening. When we checked radar, we found a nasty line of thunderstorms racing towards us. It looked like they could perhaps miss us, so we motored on and prayed they would head North of us. They held off for an amazingly long time, but 5 or 6 miles from the harbor our luck ran out.

The rain came skipping across the water, starting off as an intermittent drizzle, then increasing to a steady rain, all the while lightning and thunder strolled back and forth in the heavy overcast to our North. Then we saw a wall of mist coming towards us. It was the rain storm; it had moved south of us and was wrapping around and enclosing us. Winds were not too bad but we had dropped our sails already just in case. Windsor was downstairs and we were togged up in our foulies and ready for battle. It POURED, visibility was less than a 100 yards and we were subjected to continuous lightning and thunder for almost an hour while we relied on our compass and charts to keep us going in the right direction. Huge strikes of lightning slammed into the water all around us, the closest struck less than a half mile away. We huddled under the bimini top and used an umbrella to help keep the rain off us (worked surprisingly well) and Melanie read Psalm 91 while I wrestled the boat towards the harbor entrance. About a mile from the channel, the rain let up and visibility improved enough so I could see the harbor entrance and the lay of the land.

We motored in and by the time we had found our spot and dropped anchor, the rain was done, the sun had peeked out and we were treated to a full rainbow. We were cold and wet, but nevertheless sat up and enjoyed a stiff drink before heading down below for the night. After breakfast the next morning, we hauled anchor and motored down to the mooring ball field – we picked up a ball for a night so we could do laundry and get a real shower. After settling in, we took the dinghy and motored the 2 miles over to Setauket harbor and walked around looking for spy stuff. We found the tomb of Abraham Woodhull, the first minister of the church Nathaniel Tallmadge, and the homes of Caleb Brewster and Benjamin Tallmadge when they were growing up. We enjoyed walking around although it got very, very hot and soon we were starving.

We found the SE-Port deli which we found out later was quite well known and bought a lunch there which was WAY more than we could eat. Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs and we ended up leaving half of it for later on. We motored back to the boar and then Melanie mixed up some nice refreshing drinks which we sucked down all to quickly before finishing the rest of the food and then watching the remainder of the series Turn. Next morning started out promising but the wind quickly died. After laundry and a visit to the local coffee shop, we took showers, headed back to the boat and then filled up with water and took off, our next stop Oyster Bay. This is another area of the country where a lot of the espionage activity took place.

We dropped anchor around 6 p.m., had a few drinks and some light snacks before going down below at sunset and watching the last episode of Turn again; we had fallen asleep the previous night while watching and missed the final wrap-up. After breakfast we headed into shore and found a spot to leave the dinghy and we walked into town. We found a nice coffee shop after talking to a local and there we enjoyed a good cup of coffee and a gluten free breakfast wrap while trying to watch some local news. I am so glad there is no TV on the boat, the news is wrong, misleading and divisive – we were forced to opt out while traveling and I am so glad we did!

We strolled around and found the Historical Society and the Raynham Museum, home of Robert Townsend. They didn’t open until 1 p.m. so we decided to find a place that sold ice cream to help us cool off. It was quite a walk and in the heat of the day we ended up hot and sweaty by the time we arrived there. We enjoyed some good cold chocolate ice cream before walking back to the historical society and taking a tour. Then we went over to the Raynham house and took a tour through Robert Townsend’s family home. There was so much history there, it was very nice to see how it all tied together with the series we had just finished watching. We thoroughly enjoyed our day and around 6 we headed back to the sailing club where we had left the dinghy and had a few drinks before heading back to the boat. We struck up a conversation with Tony, one of the members and had an enjoyable discussion before heading back to the boat at sunset and collapsing into bed.

We were up early the next morning, anchor up and out of Oyster Bay. On the way we passed Billy Joel’s house and the largest sailboat I have seen on this trip. It was huge! Once out into the sound to our surprise the wind was strong enough for us to be able to sail down towards New York without the incessant thumping of the motor. It had been almost a week since we could travel without running the engine. We made good progress, picking up a few balloons along the way, but it was very hazy and hot. By 10 a.m. it was 87 degrees and the visibility was less than 5 miles.

At the point just beyond Oyster Bay, Long Island Sound is only about 5 miles wide; we were about a mile from Long Island and four miles from Connecticut and we could not see the Connecticut coastline! All this pollution and haze, I’m glad we don’t live here! As we came closer to the city, the pollution and smog got thicker. A few miles off Port Washington, visibility was down to less than two and a half miles! There were boats we could see on our chart plotter that we could not see even with binoculars and they were less than 3 miles away.

We motored down the East River through Hell’s Gate and then out to the Statue of Liberty where we dropped anchor between her and the shore. Next day we headed into the marina and took a ferry over to see Ground Zero and walked a little bit of the surrounding area. We saw the church where Washington gave his inaugural address and just strolled around enjoying the neighborhood. We spent a good few hours down there before returning back to the boat. We were all hot, sticky and tired. We spent the 4th on the boat just relaxing and during the afternoon a protester climbed the outside of the statue. The island was evacuated and we had front row seats to the SWAT team climbing the statue and taking her into custody. What an afternoon!

Later that evening one of our boat neighbors that was anchored near us came over and we watched the fireworks together. Unfortunately they were a little further up the East River than we thought and they ended up going off behind all the buildings at the South end of Manhattan; we saw very little. We were so disappointed. After the fireworks were over we were sitting around talking and then fireworks started up again, this time on the Hudson River just north of where we were and we had a ringside seat for those. So although we didn’t see the main fireworks we got to see quite a spectacular display of twin fireworks; they shot identical shells up on the New Jersey and the New York side of the river and it was quite a show. After they finished our friend left and we retired to bed exhausted.

Thursday started early; on our trip ashore on Tuesday we had booked 9am tickets on the Jersey ferry over to the Statue and Ellis Island. We were up and running early so we could motor the 40 minutes or so to a local marina where we left the dinghy and walked to the ferry. Our trip was wonderful. There is so much history there. We spent about 4 hours walking through the museum on Ellis Island, watched a few documentaries, ate lunch and then headed over to the statue for a few hours before coming back to the boat. The wind really picked up during the day and blew the smog away, so we had our first clear day in the city. This also made for a nice 2 to 3 ft chop in the bay, so our dinghy ride back to the boat got us both soaked. We toasted the day and after a light dinner watched a few shows before heading to bed. We awoke the next morning to thunder and the sound of rain. It rained on and off for most of the day, so we stayed aboard and planned our last trip into the city to visit Roy, his wife and kids. Roy played football with Aaron, Melanie’s 3rd son, in high school and he lives right on the Hudson across from Manhattan.

In the afternoon the wind switched from the south to the West and came up to between 25 and 30 knots. It howled all night long and got so bad that I got up at about 2 a.m. and lashed the windmill so that it would not spin because it was going so fast I was afraid that it would try and take off on us again as it has twice before. It was still blowing 20 to 25 in the morning  when we hauled anchor and motored in to do errands and laundry. It took almost an hour to go the 2 miles as the tide was headed out, and there was a 3 knot current fighting our progress.

The marina had a 2-hour courtesy dock, so we came in, took showers, did our laundry, and then filled with water and diesel before heading over to Surf City, a restaurant on the other side of the cove to meet Roy and Jenny and their kids for lunch. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch with them, and after our goodbyes we dropped our dock lines, motored out into the Hudson and turned North, headed for Albany and home.

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