Sunday, August 2, 2015

Once in a blue moon

We are still anchored off Pier-i at the end of 70th street in Manhattan. Our anchor is, by now, very well set in the thick Hudson mud, despite having shortened up scope by a dozen feet after a tide change swung us into seven foot depths at about a two-foot tide. The reality of tidal current here is that we are never really swinging right at low tide (the maxima and slack are offset by about two hours), but we didn't want to risk bumping something on the bottom -- much of the river bottom is foul inshore of the old pierhead line.

Vector as seen from Riverside Drive. Pier-i is in the foreground. The current is so swift it looks like we have a wake.

We immediately splashed the tender and have been ashore most days since we arrived, at a landing fee of $26 per day. Pier-i has been vibrant the whole time, hosting outdoor movies, childrens' music at lunch time, dance music, karaoke, and even a marionette show since we arrived. The movie last Wednesday was pretty loud (The Great Gatsby), but otherwise we've enjoyed most of what comes from the pier.

Pier, as seen from our deck, filling up for The Great Gatsby. Inflatable projection screen is to the right.

The 79th Street Boat Basin is still a wreck, with shoaling in many slips, no wake protection, and debris everywhere. On this visit, however, a work crew with a giant crane barge is working on replacing the north fixed dock, which ought to be a big improvement.

Lots of mallards living at the boat basin right now, including these five ducklings with their mother.

We had arranged for a few things to be sent to us in care of the UPS customer center, some 30 blocks south of here. That included our mail, a trio of electrical contactors for a project I am working on, and a spare 24-volt alternator to replace the old 12-volt take-out that we've been hauling around as an emergency stand-in since switching the whole system to 24 volts.

This latter item proved to be a problem, as the seller, in Toronto, opted to send it via the postal service rather than UPS, even though he advertised express UPS shipping. I even contacted him before sending my payment, to clarify the shipping method. Of course, this heavy item was refused by UPS (they won't accept US mail on behalf of customers) and so the alternator is on its way back to Toronto now, an expensive lesson for this eBay seller, who is out the $75 or so he paid Post Canada for express shipping.

Sunset over New Jersey, and one of the ubiquitous tour boats in the river.

Unfortunately, I don't have another address to give him to re-send it any time soon, so he'll probably end up refunding my money and thus be out the sale, as well. And I'll be stuck for a while longer with a 12-volt back-up alternator. While it's not useful for charging our 24-volt battery system, it would at least serve to tension the drive belt, which turns not only the alternator, but also the engine coolant pump, without which the engine will not run. Since alternator bearing failure is a real concern, we need to keep a spare even if it can't make electricity for us.

Once we had word that everything else had arrived at UPS we piled into the subway and headed down to Times Square, backpacks in hand, to pick it all up. We're very happy to have our mail, which included some important papers as well as a replacement credit card. The contactors alone weighed quite a bit, and I was sore by the time we got home. There was also a bit of fabric for Louise. We left most of the packaging right there at UPS.

Louise has been bargain hunting for fabric that would be appropriate for kid's quilts. She's sewing for Project Linus now.

Our "home" subway station. I never saw these mosaics or relief details growing up, as they'd been covered over with soulless modern tiles.

With over a week to spend in one spot, I tackled several projects. First among those was to clean up the workshop and the parts storage in the engine room, both of which have gotten a bit out of control over the last few months of catch-as-catch-can project work. It took me the better part of three days to wrangle everything into designated storage spaces, and we now have quite a few items stowed under the sole plates in the engine room, including motor oil, coolant, and hoses.

A clean workbench. The contactor and contact cleaner are current work items; everything else is screwed or strapped down.

As part of the cleanup in the workshop I ended up screwing a number of containers down onto the workbench, so they will stay put even in a rough seaway. It's nice to have a clean workbench again for the sorts of projects I don't want to bring above decks.

The contactors I mentioned above are to replace the whizz-bang transfer switch that was installed on the boat under the last administration. This has been on my list for a long time, but it has escalated in importance in recent months as we continue to live by mostly generator power. Now that I have the contactors in hand, I've started building the new switch, which I hope to have finished and ready to install in another few days. I will write up the whole transfer switch project as a separate post when it's a bit further along.

New transfer switch being "breadboarded." After I'm done wiring it all up it will be moved from the wood to hard mounts in the engine room.

Another project that has been on my list for a long time is to add a sink in the engine room. Such a sink was on the original plans for the boat, and there was even a drain connection for it from the engine room bulkead to the old gray water system, since removed. It's been a low priority, given everything else on the list.

The aforementioned clean-up project elevated it, because the sink itself has been kicking around the engine room for a year. This is a small "bar" sink that was originally the bathroom sink in the upstairs day head, which was repurposed as an actual bar sink when the last owner had the head removed and replaced with a wet bar. We would have kept using it for that purpose except that it was a drop-in type and we needed an under-mount model for the new granite countertop, to match the undermount galley sink on the other side of the room. When I demolished the old bar counter, I kept the sink to use in the engine room.

Wash-up sink in the engine room, cantilevered from the HVAC racking. The sink and faucet were salvaged from the galley remodel.

The sink is a bulky, oddly shaped item with lots of sharp edges that can scratch paint, gouge hoses, or do other damage if loose in the engine room, and in the great cleanup it became clear that the best way to "store" it was to just mount it properly, and so that's what I did. It's nice and solid and I am quite happy with it, but we really need to see how its location and mounting performs under way, and so I am deferring actually connecting the plumbing until we have a  few sea days behind us -- no sense in having to do that work twice.

I boarded at 66th on my solo trip, after walking through the park. The restored mosaics here are fantastic.

I made a pilgrimage, stag, to midtown to drop in at West Marine. I wanted to see if they would do anything for my poor binoculars, which are now so beat up they can't be properly focused for both eyes, and the compass illumination stopped working eons ago. They gave me full credit towards a new pair, and I opted for a newer model with individual focus and no compass, as this latter item is all but useless on a steel boat. I also picked up some bolts for the sink project and lug terminals for the transfer switch, as well as a chart book covering New England, where we will be heading shortly.

The New York Public Library, from a block away as I passed on my way to West Marine. Little did I know I would end up back here later.

I managed to pick the one day that it was raining on and off, and heading uptown from West Marine to Best Buy I got caught in it, and so took shelter at the iconic main branch of the New York Public Library. The main reading room, which is so often depicted in films, is closed for renovations, and so I chose to sit in the Map Collection room to use the lightning-fast WiFi to update my phone. I also strolled through all the public spaces in the building, which have been nicely restored throughout.

The Map Collection room.

The ceiling of the Rotunda, just outside the main reading room.

I made it to Best Buy after the rain let up, but struck out on my mission there to acquire a sound bar for our entertainment system, so that will be an Amazon Prime item next time we have a good address. I made my way back to Grand Central Terminal for the subway ride home. After the requisite grocery stop at the West Side Market, the heavens opened again before I could make the marina, and I ended up having a beer at the Boat Basin Cafe rather than get drenched. I made it home in time to grill steaks for dinner, and managed to stay dry the entire day.

The Chrysler Building, towering above Grand Central Terminal on my way back.

We've mostly been dining out each evening, hitting some old favorites as well as a few new ones. Every few days we get bagels from our favorite kosher spot on Amsterdam. At some point it occurred to me to contact our business club to see if they had a current venue in the city. They have struggled to reestablish a presence here since their local venue, atop the World Trade Center, was destroyed in the attacks.

Lacking a local club, they instead have partnered with famed Le Cirque restaurants to offer their members a dining alternative. We were offered a choice between the more casual cafe at Le Cirque itself, or the more Tuscan styled Osteria del Circo across town. We opted for the latter, both because the menu was more appealing, and it was an easier subway ride. Only as I was looking at the web site did I realize that we had dined at their sister restaurant, now shuttered, in the Bellagio in Las Vegas for the wedding of our friends Steph and Martin.

Whimsical circus theme at Circo. I remember the one in Vegas being similar.

The food was quite good, and afterwards we enjoyed strolling along Central Park South and past my old stomping grounds on our way to the subway at Columbus Circle. I hardly recognized the circle, with what I remember as the Gulf+Western building, an eyesore of an office tower right on the corner of the park, having been completely renovated into the Trump International Hotel and Tower, with a complete change of facade. The Coliseum, which fronted a quarter of the circle and was where I attended my very first boat show at a rather young age, was razed in 2000 to make way for the Time Warner Center.

One of the things we had delivered here was this padded bucket lid. The bucket serves as Louise's seat (classy, huh?) when we are in the dinghy; she doesn't like to face backwards in the bow seat, and we can't plane if we are both in the back.

Yesterday I walked all the way to the cruise ship terminal along the very lovely Riverside Park and Hudson River Park, both full of people out enjoying themselves on a pleasant summer weekend. It was really quite refreshing. Meanwhile, Louise took advantage of the free laundry room at the marina to wash some of her latest quilt projects, and sat in the nearby park.

One of four quilts Louise finished while we were here. This one will be donated.

I passed the weekend free kayak program walking through the park. Mike-the-kayak-guy remembered us from our last visit and said hello last Saturday.

Today will be our last day here. I had originally anticipated leaving yesterday, but the tidal current was unfavorable. By waiting until tomorrow morning we can get under way at a civilized hour and still have current behind us both southbound on the Hudson and northbound and eastbound in the East River. It will be a short day, with only 24 miles to a familiar stop at Manhasset Bay, where we hope to avail ourselves of the services of the pumpout boat, which operates until 2pm on Monday.

Sunset reflected by the Riverside development.

It has been a very enjoyable stay, with superb weather, and we hope someday to return to this spot. For now, though, we'd like to move along and get at least as far as Boston before turning around and heading south for the season. I promise you will not have to wait for the next blue moon before I post again.


  1. Hi Sean,
    Nice to hear from you. Is the Bahamas in your plans for the winter?
    We are home for now and intill late Sept than back to Sea Turtle which is Savannah. Some work to do in the fall on the boat to be done in Ft Lauderdale in Nov-Dec than to the Bahamas around the new year. Hope to see you again, and go diving this time.

    1. Hello Michel. Just now catching up on comments.

      Our planning horizon only goes to around the end of the year, so I don't know when or if we will return to the Bahamas next season. We might catch up with you somewhere between Savannah and FLL -- we plan to be in DC in late October, then heading south to Savannah or Charleston for Thanksgiving and onward to Florida someplace by Christmas, perhaps the St. Johns. Let's keep in touch this fall and we'll see if we get close...


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