Sunday, May 14, 2023


Happy Mothers' Day, everyone. Vector is nestled in the paint shed at the shipyard, and we're settled in to our AirBnB in the village of Mamaroneck, NY. Although our reservation here did not start until tomorrow, they put us in the shed earlier than we expected, and we were fortunate that the place was available and able to move our reservation up by a full week.

Vector flying through the air with the greatest of ease.

When we awoke on May Day, Manhasset Bay was a choppy mess in strong westerlies, and we waited until 9:30 to weigh anchor for the short cruise to Mamaroneck. The anchor did not come up quietly; the windlass struggled mightily and it came up with industrial tarp wrapped around it and holding us firmly in place. Paul from s/v Grit happened by in his tender and gave us a hand getting free. We thanked him, said goodbye, and started to make our way out of the harbor, hoping the sound would be only mildly uncomfortable for the crossing.

Bob Derecktor was famous in both the yachting and shipbuilding communities and this, the original Derecktor Shipyard, is a local landmark.

I texted yard manager Steve at Derecktor Shipyards to let him know we were under way and to give him an ETA. A few minutes later he texted back to say that winds were too high in the harbor for good docking conditions, and we waved off for a day. That was actually a relief, as we were not looking forward to the crossing. We turned around and dropped the hook in a little-used anchorage on the far western edge of Manhasset Bay, where we had stopped on our very first visit here (map), for a bit more protection from the westerlies.

Vector in her berth. Aluminum work boat just to our starboard is a research vessel belonging to the university system. Sailboat in the foreground, in the slings, is awaiting being splashed.

I spent the day up on the flybridge, making more progress on removing hardware. It was too windy to be up the mast, so instead I worked on the upper helm, removing the controls for the stabilizers, spotlight, and deck lights as well as the Garmin GPS "mushroom" on the coaming that provides position data when the mast is lowered. The wind laid down just enough for us to go ashore at Morgan's Dock for a final dinner at Pepe Rosso, after making a quick drop-off at The UPS Store.

Working on removing the lights from the now prone mast. Corrosion is evident behind the spotlight.

Tuesday morning things were much calmer and we once again weighed anchor to head for Mamaroneck. We had a calm crossing, and I was able to make some phone calls about getting a pumpout, as it was still not working in Port Washington as of our departure. Unfortunately, the Mamaroneck Harbormaster also allowed that their pump was down, and I had a frustrating hour calling everyone else. Eventually we learned there was a boat that serviced the whole county starting early May, and we signed up for an appointment online.

We had not heard any aircraft here since arriving, so when the unmistakable thunder of military helicopters grew closer, I went on deck to find these VH-3D "presidential white tops," normally used for Marine One, flying by. No idea if it was a presidential movement or just preparation.

When we arrived to the harbor we went down the west channel to the pumpout dock anyway, on the off chance they had somehow got it working since our call two hours earlier, but no dice. We drove around to the east basin, which on May 2 was completely devoid of moored boats, and pulled up to our assigned dock at Derecktor Shipyard, sliding in port-side-to so we could offload the scooters. After getting them on the dock we dropped lines and turned around to be starboard-side-to, per the yard's instructions.

Louise providing some scale for the heavy lifting tackle Vector will soon be hanging from. Greenwich ferry Indian Harbor behind her is in for replacement of badly corroded hull plating.

By the time we had turned around and gotten squared away, there were already a half dozen boats moored in the harbor -- the local boat yards, harbormaster, and yacht club were all busy splashing boats for the season. This would continue all week, and as of this writing the harbor is nearly full. We got the code to the personnel door in the yard gate before they closed up and walked a couple of blocks to the Sedona Tap House for dinner and some well-deserved drafts.

Mast is mostly stripped and we are in position for the crane. Sailboat behind us is the one shown in the slings earlier, now with its mast re-stepped.

In the inevitable "hurry up and wait" of boatyard arrival, we sat right there at the dock for the rest of the week with little attention from the yard, other than a couple of planning conversations with Steve. That gave us plenty of time to get the lay of the land in our new home. At least when I was not busy removing appurtenances from the exterior of the boat. Thursday was our 20th wedding anniversary, and we had a nice dinner at Nonna Carolla, at the higher end of the dozen-odd Italian establishments in walking distance.

The davit crane in its constituent pieces.

Crane base removed for the first time in two decades. Held down with ten 5/16" through bolts.

Friday we got to see the enormous 110-ton crane in operation, splashing a large sailing yacht and a small day boat before hauling an aluminum research vessel. It was good to see it working ahead of our own haulout, so we'd know what to expect. The crane was purchased used by Bill Derecktor over a half century ago from a Korean coal mining company that no longer had use for it, and it looks the part. It completely obsoleted the old marine railway on the property, which no longer extends into the water and now only serves to move boats from where the crane drops them, up the incline to the storage shed.

Awaiting the slings.

Steve had wandered by to suggest the guys would start stripping stuff off on Monday, and we would possibly be hauled later in the week. With no call back from the pumpout boat, I gave the harbormaster another call and learned the pump had been repaired. So we dropped lines at high tide and headed around to the other basin, this time threading through a labyrinth of moored boats, tying up at the rickety pumpout dock. The pump was working, but quit about halfway through the process. Oh well, better than nothing, and we still had a chance for the boat to get to us before haulout.

Also Friday we finally took the scooters out for a spin, riding down to nearby Larchmont for a grocery store. Larchmont is another village in the Town of Mamaroneck, not to be confused with the Village of Mamaroneck, also mostly in the Town of Mamaroneck, except for that part which is in the Town of Rye. New York is so confusing. We only needed a few items to tide us over, but it was good to get out and see more of the neighborhood.

A different view of the lift; still another dozen feet or so to go.

The weekend afforded us the opportunity to clear out every locker, bin, nook, and cranny on the weather decks to be ready for sanding. Some of the locker contents went straight to the dumpster, and some ended up on the dock with a "free" sign on it, including the table and folding chairs from the aft deck. We had no place to store them, and they're due for replacement anyway. Also in the give-away pile are the five A-4 round fenders that started life orange but are now a sort of light pink. There's so much dirt embedded in them now that we dare not put them against a new paint job, and we're just going to bite the bullet and replace them.

Locker contents that we're keeping, piled on the deck.

On Sunday we got out the winch and finally lowered the mast, as I was at an impasse, unable to remove any more hardware without unweighting the cables. Also, the bolts for the radar are inaccessible with the mast fully raised.  I promptly removed the radar, mast and spreader lights, and several antennas, many of which had never been moved since the boat left the builder's yard in Nova Scotia two decades ago.

Guiding Vector onto the blocks on the trolley. The yard guys are very blasé about standing under 55 tons hanging from a sling.

Monday the yard started first thing, and they wasted no time. Hardware started flying off the boat. While the guys worked on the main deck, I finished on the boat deck, getting the last items off the mast and disassembling what was left of the crane, which I had started dismantling on Thursday. The base has never been off the deck since new, and I was a bit miffed to find at least three of the fasteners loose. I could not get to the nuts until the yard guys removed the overhead panel below them, which I was unable to free on my own.

Jack stands in place, crane released, and being winched into the shed.

In the middle of all this, Steve came by to announce we'd be hauled the next day, and quite possibly in the shed before day's end. That sent Louise to the AirBnB site to see if we could get in here any sooner. We had both figured to be on the hard outside for at least a day before being booted off our own boat. Fortunately, they were able to commit to starting our rental on Tuesday.

Swim step had to come off to fit.

From that moment on Monday until we left the yard at closing time Tuesday felt like an all-out scramble. Hurry up and wait, as it so often does, turned immediately into everything happens all at once. In and among all the prep, we dropped lines Monday afternoon and moved the boat around to the crane side of the dock, just in time for an incoming 80' Burger motor yacht to take our spot.

Final position.

Tuesday morning they dropped the slings in the water and lined Vector in. We had each packed a small bag with, among other things, our laptops, to spend the day off the boat. And then we took our positions for our most nerve-wracking haul-out to date, with Louise on the dock and myself atop the bulkhead two stories above. It took one small test lift to get the slings in the right spot, and just a few minutes later she was flying some 30' above the water.

Pressure washing exposed this bare steel, revealing the section was not properly profiled, causing the primer to separate. Pattern suggests it was due to jack stand placement. Sunglasses for scale.

The crane operator lowered Vector to just a few feet off the ground in the washdown area and they secured the tag lines to heavy cleats while one of the crew pressure-washed the bottom. We retreated to the customer lounge with our laptops and then walked next door to the Mamaroneck Diner for a late breakfast. When we returned the pressure washing was done and they were swinging the boat over to the blocks, placed on steel I-beams with rail wheels.

Bow eye after removing snubber shackle. Nine years ago this hole was perfectly round and a tight fit to a 3/4" shackle pin.

After lunch they finished up making the "cradle" with jack stands set onto the rail trolleys and released the crane. Vector was now a temporary rail car. They pulled the assembly into the shed with a giant winch until it was just a few feet from the Admiral Richard E. Bennis, a NY Waterways fast ferries in the shop for a propulsion change. They had to take our swim step off the transom to even get the doors closed.

We seem to be following this ferry way too close.

It was past 2 by the time they got a ladder set up, and we had less than an hour to secure the boat for the night and grab a few things to take to our new digs. The whistle blows right at 3, just like in the Flintstones, and the entire shop goes dark. We were a bit late off the boat, and in our haste to make it back upstairs before the whole place locked down, Louise managed to tumble down the last three steps of the giant aluminum ladder, banging herself up pretty good. Just bruises and scrapes, but she's still recovering.

Very beefy aluminum boarding ladder positioned next to our forward gate. It's 20 steps up and one down. The last couple of steps at the bottom is where Louise took a spill.

We arrived here at our AirBnB by scooter around 3:30 or so. We have the entire second floor of a house that's over a century old. Likely it was a single-family when built, and was converted into a duplex long ago. We have a bedroom with bath, a living/dining room with a sewing nook (what, I think, sold Louise on the place), and a kitchen. I guess as apartments go, it's pretty average, but to us it feels enormous and we are rattling around. It's pleasant enough, but we learned in short order that there is not a single comfortable seat in the entire place. There are two identical couches that were probably a C-note apiece on Wayfair and have no padding whatsoever -- you can feel spring steel when you sit.

Gratuitous shot of the work on the ferry. The yard fabricated these new aluminum aft hulls for a conventional drive after removing some kind of fancy outdrives. They had to move the fabrication jigs out of the shop to fit Vector.

The very next day when I returned to the yard I marched back to the dock and grabbed the two sling chairs we keep on the boat deck. We were wondering where to store those anyway, and so I just strapped them to the back of my scooter, along with the little folding outdoor table we'd already labeled "free," and had them home by lunch time. Not great for hours of sitting, but better than what we had. We shoehorned one of the sofas, which must have weighed all of 40 pounds, into the bedroom to make room in the living room.

Our new digs. Louise rearranged all the furniture over two days so we could use these more comfortable deck chairs we brought from the boat.

I spent the rest of the week pulling more hardware off the boat, punctuated by moments of helping the yard guys remove the various pieces they were handling. I tried to make a list of all the things we removed over the past two weeks. The yard starts every morning at 6:30 and goes to 3, with lunch and scheduled break. I've been keeping mostly the same hours, coming home for lunch. Louise comes by several times a day to schlep additional scooter loads of stuff to the apartment and start the process of covering all our remaining worldly goods in plastic.

How to know you are in a high-end boatyard. This is the urinal plumbing in the workmen's rest room, the one I had to ask a worker about since the office only showed me to the nice customer one. 316 stainless plumbing with compression unions, on custom welded stand-offs made from 316 stainless finish round, all perfectly rectilinear. "Shop supplies."

I'm going to say it's taken a bit more than a half dozen scooter trips to get most of what we need over here. I've been mostly riding the e-bike back and forth, since it's easier to keep out of the way in the very cramped yard. But we now have all our food, enough clothes, and a fair share of Louise's sewing supplies here for the duration. Mostly I am just going back to work, and it feels a lot like an 8-4 job now.

The stainless anchor bash plate is off for the first time in two decades. Not as bad as I feared underneath.

The whirlwind week had me completely exhausted by Friday evening, and so I am just as glad that the yard closes down for the weekend and we have no access to the boat, so I can't work even if I want to. I spent most of yesterday in a vegetative state, recovering. By tomorrow I will be champing at the bit to get started again, and I've added a dozen items to the to-do list over the weekend.

As much as we wanted to get away with leaving some of the larger, harder-to-remove stuff in place, we just couldn't. This is the poultice corrosion around the starboard wiper spindle. The paint came off in my fingers.

I have a few more items to remove, but I should be mostly done by maybe Tuesday. And I'm adding projects that make sense to do while the boat is torn apart, including adding floodlights and cameras and additional access to the mast to make it easier to run wires. My hope is to get all my holes drilled before paint starts, so it will all be seamless later.

Giant pile of all the outside stuff, now inside.

We've been here nearly two weeks now, and so far we've not eaten in the same restaurant twice, save for the diner, where we've had both a breakfast and a dinner. Tonight, in honor of the Mothers' Day crowds, we will eat here in the unit for the first time. All of those meals were in walking distance except one, when we had vaccination appointments in Larchmont and ate in their cute downtown instead. Apart from the ones already mentioned, we've so far tried:
  • Herradura (Mexican)
  • Sal's Pizza (best we've had in quite a while, although a charmless room)
  • Red Plum (Hibachi/Sushi/Japanese)
  • La Gladys (Peruvian, with my first Pisco Sour since actually being in Peru)
  • Frankie & Fanucci's (Italian, with an excellent local dark lager on draft and a great salad)
  • SmokeHouse Tailgate Grill (bbq and burgers with an excellent selection of drafts)
  • Rio Bravo (Mexican food in Larchmont, near the train station)
  • Modern on the Rails (fine Italian, in the old Mamaroneck train station)
  • Decadent Ales Brewery and Taproom (draft beer with a few food items from a concessionaire)
  • Avenue Bagels (bagel joint with chaotic service and just OK bagels)
We've also been to the local no-name dollar store, where we needed some essentials for the unit such as a broom and a rubber bathtub mat, and I had my hair cut at Giovanni's, who apparently used to cut Bob Derecktor's hair back in the day and seemed to know half the yard guys.

The starboard boat deck and flybridge rail was fabricated in a single section some 30' long. I'm holding the forward end just off-camera as the yard lowers it with the hoist.

There's a deli just a block away where I popped in the first night for snacks and some milk for our morning coffee; they have enough essentials to obviate any emergency trips to the grocery in Larchmont. And we're just a couple of blocks from the train station (we hear the trains all day and night) which will be handy when I finally have enough time for some leisure in the city, or when we connect with some friends over Memorial Day. A beer store rivaling the beer sections of BevMo or Total Wine is also a short walk away.

Boat deck with the rails and most everything else gone. The edge is 20' above a concrete floor and I am staying off this area unless absolutely necessary.

Apart from being exhausted, I'm very happy with the pace at the yard. At this rate I would think they will have no problem finishing within two months. The paint we were planning on is having delivery issues and we will be using PSX-700 from PPG (formerly Ameron) instead, so we are back to having to chose a specific color, but that should not hold us up any. The boat should be stripped naked by Tuesday some time and I would imagine they will start sanding and blasting shortly thereafter.

Half of Modern on the Rails, in the second oldest station on the New Haven Line.

Before I wrap up, here is a partial list of things that have been removed from the boat in a little over a week's time.

Removed by me:
  • radar
  • two vhf antennas and mounts
  • two SSB antennas and mounts
  • WiFi antenna
  • anchor light
  • masthead light
  • spotlight
  • two spreader lights
  • tv antenna and mount
  • Furuno plotter GPS antenna and mount
  • AIS transponder GPS antenna and mount
  • Comnav satellite compass and mount
  • cleats and pad-eyes for flag hoists
  • mast access panels
  • spotlight controls
  • stabilizer controls
  • navigation side lights
  • stern light
  • main fuel tank vent cover
  • Garmin GPS "mushroom" and mount
  • Furuno plotter
  • three windshield wipers, motors included
  • three windshield washers
  • deck lights
  • scooter chocks and their pad-eyes
  • davit crane, in four large pieces and numerous small ones
  • dinghy chocks
  • life raft and mount
  • EPIRB mount
  • life ring mount
  • boat deck rear access hatch
  • outside power outlets and inlet
  • deck shower
  • hose bib
  • starlink antenna and wiring
  • anchor snubber
  • Kahlenberg horns
Removed by yard personnel:
  • five boarding gates with hardware
  • four locker doors with hardware
  • overhead panels on aft and side decks
  • rub rails
  • 13 hawse pipes
  • deck rails
  • 12 cleats
  • anchor (from chain)
  • anchor roller
  • anchor bash plate
  • mast (from deck with hoist)
  • swim platform
A short clip of part of the lift. You can see a yard worker running up the ramp holding the forward tag line.

I'll be pretty scarce around here until we're done with the yard, but I will update when I can. We have to be out of this unit by July 1, which may or may not be after we again have access to the boat. We may well be looking for alternative quarters by this time next month. For now we are settled in and trying to readjust to landlubber life. Long-time readers will know that the last time we were painted, we moved into a borrowed RV, which is a lot more like the boat than an apartment, but I am sure we'll get the hang of it in due time.

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Comfort in the familiar

We are anchored in Manhasset Bay, at Port Washington, in a now all-too-familiar spot (map). We've been here two weeks now, and Friday morning the yard committed to being ready for us tomorrow. Once we leave here for the yard, it will be days before I can get back here to post -- yard periods tend to be quite busy -- so I thought I'd best update the blog before we weigh anchor.

Sunset on our calmest night here. Nordhavn 50 Grey Goose, whom we've seen before, is on a mooring.

The fog we were in when last I posted here stayed with us all the way to New York Harbor. At times it thinned enough that we could stop running the horn for a while, and, incredibly, we even saw a boat or two. And I happened to be looking in just the right direction at just the right time to briefly spot a right whale, perhaps a hundred yards from us, just as we were passing Atlantic Highlands. Louise managed to catch a glimpse, too, but he was gone before I could snap a photo.

Other than the fog, conditions were perfect, and we were well ahead of our planned arrival due to favorable current. With light traffic and good pictures on both AIS and radar, we decided to press on through the fog, now so dense we could barely see 200 yards, all the way to Gravesend Bay, where we knew from radio reports that it would thin out.

Coney Island Light on Nortons Point appeared out of the fog at just 1/4 mile.

I dialed New York Vessel Traffic on one radio and the bridge-to-bridge channel on the other, relegating the distress watch to a handheld, and we crossed the Sandy Hook Channel and made our way toward Romer Shoal. Just past the shoal, which we must avoid, is the Ambrose Channel, the main shipping lane into NY harbor. We knew from the AIS that we would encounter the cruise ship Norwegian Gem there, and I made arrangements with the pilot -- we'd stay tight to the shoal, outside the channel on the green side, until well past on two whistles (starboard to starboard).

The Norwegian Gem is 965' long and fifteen stories tall. Like all cruise ships, she's lit up like a discotheque in anything short of broad daylight. We passed her 500 yards away and never saw a thing. Not one light or even a silhouette of a ship, though I am certain I could hear the music of the sail-away party. If we had not been in and out of this harbor a dozen times, it would have been quite the moment. One thing we did not hear, from anyone other than ourselves until much later, was a foghorn.

The Coney Island Yellow Submarine, and the remains of a wooden barge, on Coney Island Creek.

Not long after crossing Ambrose we were making our way past Coney Island and into Gravesend Bay. As we had heard, visibility improved, and we could see the Ikea on shore after rounding Norton Point. We dropped the hook in a familiar spot in the bay (map), just outside the commercial anchorage, and immediately sat down to dinner, which Louise made under way.

In Coney Island I replaced this pelican hook on the dinghy lifting harness, which let go with a bang and deformed as we were decking the tender in Atlantic City.

We were hoping to have a quiet night here, but it was not to be. Swell rounding the point built steadily -- confirming our choice to make harbor this evening rather than put it off to the morning when seas would be bigger -- and by 9:20 it became clear Louise was going to have a miserable night. We weighed anchor and made our way through the narrow channel into Coney Island Creek, where we dropped the hook in the middle of the estuary (map) and had a very comfortable night. On a cold, damp evening in early spring, the beach parties that can make this anchorage miserable were nowhere to be found.

Clear in Coney Island Creek, but socked in just a mile away at The Narrows; you can barely see the bridge.

In the morning two enormous ships had taken up residence in Gravesend, waiting on Coast Guard inspections. Tide was not favorable for us to pass through the city until the afternoon, so we had a quiet morning and enjoyed the scenery, such as it was, from this new-to-us anchorage in the daylight. We weighed anchor at 1:45 for a fair current all the way to Long Island Sound, in light fog for the first part of the trip.

Approaching Manhattan. Hard to tell.

That put us in Hell Gate with five knots behind us, and we whizzed through at over 11 knots. Our Starlink stayed online the whole time, so they are not yet enforcing the prohibition on in-motion use, which would take it offline around 8.7 knots. Once clear of the downtown ferry traffic we had the rivers mostly to ourselves.

The Statue in the fog, left, and Jersey City, from Buttermilk Channel near Governors Island.

We arrived to a very empty Manhasset Bay just past 5pm, and had the anchor down in this very spot before 5:30, in plenty of time to splash the tender and head ashore to old standby Amalfi's for dinner, follow by a quick trip next door to the Stop & Shop for some essentials, and a stop at the Shell for dinghy fuel. We've been here ever since.

The cherry trees on Roosevelt Island were in spectacular bloom.

Our decision to press on and arrive here early has proved prescient, as conditions off the NJ coast have been miserable for the past several days, and there is no sign of it letting up. I know folks who figure to be pinned down in Atlantic city for over a week. We alerted the yard when we arrived, in case they could take us early, but frankly I feel lucky just to be getting in tomorrow as originally scheduled, as yards often get behind.

It's a bit eerie being here so early in the season. We've had the entire bay mostly to ourselves. Most of the moorings had already been placed when we arrived, but many lack pendants. A couple of boats have come and gone, and the ones that used the moorings were even able to get launch service. Even though the harbor is empty, we're unable to get any closer to town than usual, as the empty moorings take up the entire area.

My attempt to show an empty harbor with a 180° pano from our anchorage.

In the two full weeks we've been here, our longest stay not involving a hospital, we've been ashore almost daily at three different landings. In addition to our usual over near the grocery store, we landed at the town dock for the half-mile walk downtown, and a new spot for us, Morgan's Dock Park, featuring the eponymous dock which just re-opened in 2019. That provides access to another couple of dining venues and the very nice Manorhaven town park.

The Manorhaven Preserve is a short walk from Morgan's Dock.

In addition to Amalfi's which is casual and unremarkable, we sampled Finn McCools, which is decidedly not the Irish pub atmosphere that one might imagine and was actually quite good with a nice prix fixe, Nikkei Peru, which is Japanese cuisine and not at all Peruvian, Bosphorous, perhaps the best of the lot with Mediterranean fare, and Salvatore's which is famous for coal-fired pizza, which was good but did not live up to the hype. Mojito's had some of the priciest Mexican food we've ever encountered, Pepe Rosso is Italian and perhaps our new local favorite, Toscanini's merited a repeat visit from five years ago, Andy's Pizza  was close to the dock but not worth going back, and finally we tried Nino's Beach, which has a dock along with overpriced yupscale fare.

What you can't get in this town is a burger or similar casual fare with a beer. Every restaurant, it seems, is either Italian or Turkish, with the odd Mexican or Asian place thrown in. We did have one mid-day meal ashore, wherein we might have tried one of the delis (where you can buy a beer but not drink it), but we ended up at burrito joint Cactus Cafe instead. Where we enjoyed a Corona with lunch.

There was a concert at the waterfront band shell, but it was too cold and damp to want to attend. We heard the music a half mile away on the boat.

One of the reasons we often return to this harbor is convenient access to services, and on this visit we had need of Home Goods, TJ Maxx, Target, West Marine, Ace Hardware, FedEx (inside Walgreens), the UPS Store, the post office (inside Ace), and recycling, at the Manorhaven park. All of these are an easy walk from the dock, as is the grocery store, a True Value hardware, and several other handy businesses.

The West Marine stop was necessitated by our sudden desirability to a nesting pair of osprey, who made several efforts to start their nest on a nice, tall, flat platform right smack in the middle of the harbor, with no competition in sight. I ended up buying one of those inflatable balls with six eyes, which we've nicknamed the Eye of Sauron (though neither of us is a Tolkein fan; a nod to popular culture I suppose) and a roll of flashy Mylar tape for streamers. It seems to have worked; we eventually found them building their nest atop a different boat in a much less attractive spot. That guy is in for a rude awakening when he comes back to find a federally-protected nest on his boat.

Osprey deterrence deployed. The flashy streamers are hard to make out.

A couple of days after we arrived we noticed a large sailing cat that had been moving anchor spots around the harbor, and we recognized the name, in very large letters: Grit. It took us a few minutes to place the memory and realize we had seen it at Cape Negro Island in Nova Scotia, just before Hurricane Fiona, and prior to that at PEI. We had chatted with her skipper, Paul, who was single-handing the boat from Nova Scotia straight to P-Town on Cape Cod.

On our next trip ashore we swung by to say hello, whereupon we got to meet Christine, the other half of the crew. With both boats in the harbor for a while, we agreed to meet for cocktails on a convenient evening. When the appointed time came we tendered over to Grit, cocktails in hand, and had a lovely evening in their salon, over hors d'oeuvres that Christine prepared. We found a lot of common ground and look forward to seeing them again somewhere along the line; they are on their way back to Nova Scotia.

Starlink cable, run through four new 7/8" holes and two cable glands.

It has been mostly cold, and often windy, and sometimes raining the whole time we've been here, and I've not made as much progress as I had hoped. But I did start taking hardware off the exterior, and I knocked out a major, two-day project that needed to happen before paint, to wit, running the permanent wiring for the Starlink terminal. Heretofore that's been running on a jury-rigged cable zip-tied to the upper rails and exiting through a hole that really belongs to something else. And the permanent run involved drilling a bunch of holes in the aluminum superstructure, which needed to happen before prep and paint.

Last Saturday a storm blew through here with 49-knot winds, officially a "severe gale." We added another 40' of anchor chain before it hit, Louise exclaiming that she will never drag in this harbor again. Just one of several days, including yesterday and today, where we were pinned on the boat. That gave us a good opportunity to work our way through the provisions, which we're hoping to finish before we move off the boat in a couple of weeks.

Big blow. 57 mph is 49 knots.

Also on those down days I whiled away the time by pulling gear out of the "to be sold" closet and listing it on eBay. I had figured most of it would languish there for weeks, which is why I waited until we'd be in the yard. As it turns out, several items were snapped up right away, necessitating the aforementioned UPS/USPS visits. I'm glad to have the stuff off the boat, because we'll need the room as all the outside gear comes inside during the painting.

The two weeks have really flown by. It's been great to have the comfort of a place where we already know where everything is and it's easy to get ashore, and we're very glad the harbor was already functional enough this early in the season to accommodate us. And it's been nice, in a way, to have the place mostly to ourselves.

Sunset on a calmer evening.

In the morning we'll squeeze all the stuff that's now loose on deck, including the life raft, life ring windscreens, deck lights, deck shower, ship's bell, and other gear along with all their mounts, into the most out-of-the-way corners and make our way across the sound to Mamaroneck. It might be a bit of a lumpy ride. The pumpout here is not yet operational, so our first stop over there will be the town dock before we head over to the yard.

I expect to have my nose to the grindstone for the next couple of weeks, and I won't get back here for an update until I can come up for air. That might be after we've already moved off the boat into the AirBnB we've booked starting mid-May. But once we've settled in to the yard, I don't expect the boat to be going anywhere until July.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

On the home stretch

We are under way in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of New Jersey, in calm seas but dense fog. I have the fog horn running and the radar on a tight focus, and the plotter is saying we'll be behind Sandy Hook by 6pm, with an option to continue to Gravesend Bay if conditions are favorable.

Foggy view from the pilothouse.

We pushed against the tide the rest of the way to the cape on Tuesday. An enormous group of dolphins was feeding and playing just outside the canal, and I had to do-si-do with a dredge working the canal just inside the jetties. He was very pleasant when I hailed him and moved a bit to let us by.

This photo of a postcard was framed above our table at Lucky Bones. "Dear Louise ..."

Dredging is sorely needed further into the canal, where we found the shallow spot is down to about six feet at low tide. We came in at close to high tide and had no issues. We had the tide behind us after entering the canal, and we had an easy run to the marina in Schellengers Creek. We did have to squeeze past Coast Guard Cutter Sledge, a buoy tender, who was in the channel replacing a pile beacon.

Washington Street Mall, Cape May. No tourists this early in the morning, and the season.

When I called, the South Jersey Marina was very insistent on sending someone out to help us, but we were spun around and tied alongside (map) before they could get around to it, thankfully. We were happy to find good 244v power, as opposed to the 208v we so often encounter that makes laundry take twice as long. The cleats were poorly spaced for Vector, making for a challenging departure.

Cape May lighthouse and South Cape May Meadows preserve to right of fence; public beach to the left.

The marina was pricey, at $3.25/ft plus a whopping $25 for electricity, but they drove me down to the Acme supermarket for provisions, and they gave us a late checkout. In the evening we strolled over to Lucky Bones for dinner. They had a great draft selection, but we were disappointed by the pizza we chose for dinner. I suspect the rest of the menu is better.

The Promenade, and some classic Cape May architecture. Beach is just beyond the dunes on the right.

With the late checkout Wednesday I was able to ride the e-bike around town and take in some sights. There's a cute downtown with a street that was turned into a pedestrian mall a half century ago, before it became popular to do so, and an enjoyable boardwalk-style promenade along the beach, with resorts, shops, and restaurants right across the street. It would make for a very enjoyable stop, except there's no easy way to get to any of it from the boat. I picked up a couple of breakfast sandwiches at Bagel Time on my way home.

The Fishermen's Memorial, one of the more moving I have seen.

We dropped lines right at 1pm and headed out into the harbor, bound for our usual anchorage. We knew most of that was occupied by parked dredging equipment, but we were able to just squeeze in between the Coast Guard station, a day beacon, and a deck barge full of dredge gear (map). At dinner time we splashed the tender and headed across the channel to our old stand-by, the Harbor View.

Fresh tributes, including shells place atop the wall, tell the tale. Some of the names are very recent.

While Google had helpfully told me the restaurant was open to 9pm, after tying up the tender we discovered the place dark, with a sign saying they were open Thursday through Sunday. One of the perils of being this far north before the boating season even opens. We had to go right past Vector again on our way to the other dock-and-dine option, the Lobster House, literally adjacent to the marina we had just departed.

Tucked in next to a moored deck barge. The tug came in late in the day and tied to it for the night. That's the Coast Guard's recruit training facility on the right. We get to hear First Call, Taps, and Reveille.

That proved to be a mistake, and we should have just tied up at the marina and walked someplace else. This place is a relic of the past, with tourist prices, tiny portions, and a dining room that has not changed in half a century, along with the waitress uniforms with mandatory hose. Our seafood "salads" were swimming in mayonnaise and devoid of lettuce. On our one previous visit we ate at their more casual raw bar one building over, and that was better.

Lobster House. Straight out of the 50s.

Thursday morning we weighed anchor for Atlantic City at 7:30, to have a fair tide at both ends. We had decent conditions and an easy passage, and we had the hook back down six hours later at our usual spot in Atlantic City (map). At dinner time we splashed the tender and headed to the state marina, which is open year round and attached to the Golden Nugget casino resort. I would have preferred to go to the Back Bay Ale House, but the docks at Gardner's Basin were closed. Instead we scored a table in the bar at the Chart House and had their very reasonable happy hour menu.

USCGC Sledge replacing an ATON. The cutter is a towboat, semi-permanently mated to a crane barge.

Yesterday's conditions were unfavorable outside, and so we had a quiet day at anchor. We booked massages and Louise booked a haircut at the salon and spa at the resort, where they were able to fit us in back-to-back from 4-6. I went ashore mid-day and walked over to Harrah's to see if there were some better dining options for afterwards, but there were not. We ended up at Vic & Anthony's steak house in the Golden Nugget, making the whole afternoon a resort experience. The casino also has Italian and Asian venues, but they are open to the gaming floor, and NJ casinos are the last bastion of indoor smoking.

Vector looking lonely and diminutive in Atlantic City.

This morning we were up before the dawn for a 13-hour dawn to dusk transit. I plan these transits at six knots, but we've been making 6.7 today, so we'll arrive well before dusk if this holds. This is our final open-water passage, and we will no longer be at the mercy of sea conditions, so now we can relax a little in the two weeks before our scheduled yard visit. We were disappointed to wake to fairly heavy fog, but we did not want to miss the window.

Sunset from our anchorage.

We don't really have any plans for these two weeks. Likely we will spend some time in Manhattan and then work our way to Port Washington to have a comfortable wait until the yard is ready. I will probably get in at least one more blog post before we're in the yard.

A lone dolphin escorts us north off Wildwood beach after leaving Cape May.