Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Hot Zone

We are under way across Massachusetts Bay, with Race Point, the northwestern tip of Cape Cod, receding behind us. We were hoping to still be in Provincetown for the next few days, but, alas, it was not to be. Just as it did at this time last year, the pandemic is dictating our course of action.

After my last post we came whizzing out of the Cape Cod Canal and set a direct course for Provincetown Harbor, pretty much an exact repeat of our last cruise out of Penzance. We arrived a little before 6pm and dropped the hook in 50', very close to where we anchored last time (map). Not long after the anchor touched bottom the windlass jammed, and I found the chain bunched up and hockled in the locker.

Last night's sunset next to the Pilgrim Monument, as seen from MacMillan Pier. The haze is smoke from the western fires.

Even with just 100' out we were not moving, so I changed into grubbies and descended into the chain locker to continuously de-foul the chain as Louise paid out the second hundred feet. Between the late arrival, the fact that many places in town are dark Monday, and the fact that it was in the low 60s and damp, we opted to just leave the tender on deck and eat aboard. The forecast for Tuesday was much more pleasant.

Tuesday morning several boats that were around us when we dropped all weighed anchor and left, and we decided that would be a great time to pay all the chain out of the locker, untwist it, and re-anchor. That took the better part of an hour, but it was good to get all the chain out for inspection. The first 100' of chain is now so worn that it occasionally jumps the gypsy, whereas the last 300' is in much better condition. We are overdue to reverse the chain.

After we were set in a slightly different and shallower spot (map), I dug into another overdue project, to wit, servicing the tender. I changed the engine oil and filter, the final drive oil, and the external anodes, and greased all the lube points. I still have a leaky patch on the port tube that I need to replace, but I need a few days where we don't need to use it to get that done.

A hastily-snapped photo of P-Town from our anchorage this morning.

The dinghy thus fully serviced, we splashed it before dinner time and headed ashore to the town landing, aiming to stroll Commercial Street and find a nice outdoor table for dinner. In contrast to our last visit, which happened to be during Carnival, the town seemed fairly sedate mid-week. It was far less crowded than our last visit, and we had no trouble scoring a nice outdoor table upstairs at JD's, where we shared a pizza. Even the outdoor tables were separated by Plexiglas dividers, and the staff were masked.

A check of the passage weather when we returned home suggested a Saturday or Sunday departure, and I was looking forward to a relaxing few days in the harbor, capped with more casual meals and people-watching ashore at dinner time. I have Amazon packages arriving to a locker in Salem on Friday, but a weekend departure would still get us there within the three-day pickup window.

Today's errands were to be finding a couple of grocery items, and taking our giant bag of accumulated recycling ashore. I opened up the city's recycling web site first thing this morning to find out what they accept, and was immediately greeted by a Covid alert with a link to a public health advisory issued just Monday. And when I opened the news with my morning coffee, the reason for the alert was front-page center: a post-holiday outbreak is raging here. Ominously, many of those infected were fully vaccinated.

Race Point lighthouse behind us.

As much as I had been looking forward to a few days in town, and even though we are still practicing all of our safety protocols, we both agreed it was ill-advised to remain in a known hot spot, packed with people. Tomorrow's passage weather is lousy, so instead we scrambled to get underway this morning. We're very glad we took the time yesterday to get the anchor chain sorted.

On the plus side, this will put us in Salem in time to catch up with our friends Steph and Martin on Blossom, and also Bob and Dori on Liberdade. We just missed both of them in P-Town, and we were on track to miss them again in Salem this weekend. Conditions are flat calm here on the Stellwagen Bank and the plotter is projecting an arrival before 6pm. We can see whales about a mile off our starboard beam, surrounded by whale-watch tour boats.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Pie rates of Penzance

We are northbound in Buzzards Bay, headed for the Cape Cod Canal. Timing our transit for a fair tide will have us crossing Cape Code Bay this afternoon; we've set our sights on Provincetown, where we should have the anchor down before dinner time. We will just miss our friends aboard Blossom, who are leaving there today for points north, but perhaps we will catch them later on.

Saturday, after I posted here, the adverse current slackened through the afternoon, and we actually had the anchor down in the Point Judith Harbor of Refuge (map) just a few minutes after 7pm. I started the grill while we were still underway and making plenty of electricity, and put a nice steak on as soon as we had the anchor secured. Seas were three feet on five seconds by the time we passed the breakwater, and we were glad to have the protection.

At high tide the waves can overtop the breakwater, and even when they don't, a swell refracts around the ends and can make the harbor a little rolly. We had a pleasant enough stay, but the roll made for an uncomfortable night for Louise. We were eager to get underway after coffee in the morning.

Seas yesterday were also forecast at three feet on a relatively short period, and we contemplated making it a short day into Narraganset Bay and Newport, Rhode Island. But the weather gets no better this week, and even a two night stop would ace us out of a fair current in the canal until Sunday or Monday. Once we left the harbor and found tolerable conditions, we opted to press all the way to the protection of the Elizabeth Islands. It was three hours of bashing through beam seas, but once in the lee of Cuttyhunk Island everything flattened out.

Woods Hole as seen from our anchorage in Penzance Bay.

We had a fair tide all the way to Naushon Island, and we continued all the way to Penzance Bay near Woods Hole, Massachusetts, on the southern tip of the Cape Cod "mainland." A swimming event was taking place in the bay when we arrived, and we skirted around their northern mark and dropped the hook well away from the event (map), not far from our previous spot in this bay. We could hear the swimmers and their support kayaks talking about Vector. We shared the anchorage with just a single other boat, a sailing cat.

We weighed anchor at 10:45 to have slack water across Buzzards Bay and arrive at the canal with current behind us. As I wrap up typing we're passing the Bourne Bridge with three knots behind us. We are looking forward to a few days in P-Town; when next you hear from me we will be under way across Massachusetts Bay.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Let it go, let it go

We are under way eastbound in Gardiners Bay, bound for Block Island Sound and the Point Judith Harbor of Refuge. We've just wrapped up a week of visiting with friends, punctuated by boat repositioning and project work. It feels good to be back under way and to have a few hours in front of me to get the blog updated.

When last I posted here, we had dropped the hook in Port Jefferson. We splashed the tender early on, because I had an outgoing eBay sale that I needed to get over to the post office. But by the time dinner time rolled around, we had yet another thunderstorm rolling through, and we ended up just staying aboard for dinner. The storm hit hard and we got quite a good rinse. We decked the tender first thing in the morning and had a nice, calm cruise to Truman Beach on the eastern end of the North Shore (map). Yet another storm cooled things off a bit but brought little rain.

We weighed anchor when the tide was favorable, and shot through Plum Gut with nearly two knots behind us. We found ourselves almost immediately in a fog bank; at one point I had to make crossing arrangements with a large Coast Guard cutter less than a half mile away, and we never saw it visually. Fortunately, we came out of it before arriving at our chosen destination of Sag Harbor, where we dropped the hook in a mostly empty anchorage (map), a stark contrast from our last visit, where we had to squeeze in.

The famous original neon sign on the newly restored Sag Harbor Cinema.

While the earlier  Elsa forecasts had called for arrival of winds and rain perhaps as early as Thursday afternoon, we got a bit of a reprieve and were able to go ashore for dinner. Halfway along the main drag it started drizzling lightly, and we ducked into the first place that had an available outside table under an awning, which turned out to be high-zoot bistro Lulu's. French cuisine is never my first choice, but the food was good, we stayed dry even though outdoors, and we had good people-watching, if a bit spendy for what it was. That, of course, describes most of Sag Harbor.

Friday morning Tropical Storm Elsa arrived, with winds building steadily throughout the morning. We had carefully selected a spot well away from other boats where we could put out a full 7:1 scope, and the storm clocked us around in a near-perfect circle throughout the course of the morning. We had a lull in the middle as what was left of the eye passed over us. The storm just barely registered as a Tropical Storm for us, with our anemometer recording the highest winds at 43 mph.

By late afternoon, Elsa had left the area -- we never even heard "Let it go." By dinner time the sun was shining, and we headed ashore and found a shady table at casual eatery Sag Pizza. Consistent with the nature of this town, two draft beers, a salad, a small pizza, and an ice cream came to eighty bucks. Still, we are glad to have taken shelter in a town which at least has a few services. I availed myself of two hardware stores, the beer distributor, a wine merchant, and the local post office during the course of our stay

We seldom make such a clean pattern. The zig-zag from NW to SE happened as the eye passed over us.

Saturday our friend Cora picked us up in the afternoon and drove us to their house in Springs, about 20 minutes away, and we enjoyed a nice home-cooked meal and a very pleasant evening with her and Dave. We chatted well into the evening and it was well past dark when we got back to the town dinghy dock via Lyft, and we picked our way through a dark mooring field and the seawall to get home.

Sunday we had a reservation at the Mitchell Park Marina in Greenport. In hindsight, it was a bad idea to plan to arrive at this very busy marina on a weekend day; when we approached after a very brief cruise from Sag, several boats were already hovering off the marina waiting for day-use dockage. The marina staff seemed overwhelmed, and the narrow canal where our assigned slip was located already had boats lining both sides, with at least one boat managing to get itself sideways in the middle somehow.

To make matters worse, it was blowing stink, the current was running a full knot, and we needed to go to the pumpout dock before our slip. There was already a boat at the pumpout, so I circled around outside the breakwater waiting my turn, carefully avoiding the steady stream of ferries running back and forth to Shelter Island. When the boat at the pumpout pulled out, another boat zipped in front of us and got to it first. The marina was too busy with the constant influx of day use boats to pay any attention to the pumpout dock at all.

Sag Harbor town clock, with a large selection of beer behind it.

After twenty minutes of circling around in the chaos of poorly-skippered waiting boats and long-suffering ferries, we conceded defeat and gave up. We postponed our marina visit by a day and went instead to a small cove just west called Pipes Cove and dropped anchor (map). It was a bit uncomfortable with weekend boat wakes through the afternoon, but after a pleasant dinner aboard it calmed down considerably and we had a quiet night.

That was good, because at 7am we were awakened by voices outside our portlights asking if anyone was home. I staggered onto the deck to find three oysterman standing in their oyster boat who had bad news: we had dropped our anchor in the middle of their oyster farm. I pointed out that it was not on the chart, and they sheepishly admitted that, yes, it was uncharted and they were trying to get NOAA to put it on the charts. We had carefully anchored between two other marked aquaculture sites; after more fouled-anchor experiences than I care to recount, the last thing we would ever do is deliberately anchor in a fish haven.

They were very apologetic, but they wanted us to weigh while they were still there to untangle their gear from our ground tackle as it came up. We got dressed, poured some coffee, and ran through our startup procedures while they waited patiently. Much to everyone's relief, our chain and anchor came up clean with no gear attached. We moved 1,000' and dropped a "coffee hook" (map) so we could enjoy the rest of the morning before giving the marina another go.

Monday morning offered a stark contrast from our Sunday arrival. There was little wind and no chaos at all. We pulled right up to the pumpout dock, took care of business, then drove around to a mostly empty canal and tied up alongside the marina's east pier (map). We were tied up just in time for a previously scheduled lunch outing with our friends.

Sunset over Long Island Sound from the "beach" in Southold.

The next four days were a whirlwind of daily visits and evening meals with our nieces, their parents, and various extended family members at their vacation home in Southold. We mostly rode back and forth on our scooters, which sorely needed the exercise after a long stint on deck. In between visits I knocked out projects while I had a good delivery address, and we reprovisioned and filled our tanks. I also made an overdue pilgrimage to Costco, piggybacking on someone else's excursion to Riverhead, and stocked up on meat.

One of the projects we tackled was to deal with my hanging locker, which is what you call a closet on a boat. We had noticed a mildew problem developing in there, a common issue on boats and especially in lockers against the hull. We pulled everything out of the locker, and Louise ran everything that was machine-washable through the wash. I installed a pair of pancake fans at the toe-kick to increase ventilation, and we cleaned the surfaces and sprayed them down with Concrobium.

Having everything out of the locker was a great time to go through it all and pare down. I got rid of a half dozen shirts and various other items. The tuxedo was in good shape, owing to being stored in a clothes bag, but two sport jackets are now hanging in the engine room until they can be drycleaned. My last remaining suit (of perhaps a dozen in my closet when I was working) was another matter. Also stored in a bag, it was in fine shape, but, umm, a relic of the 90s, when it was new. I suppose you can say it's "gangsta" ... if by that you mean that Al Capone might have worn it.

Check out those lapels.

Our reservation at the dock ran out Friday morning, and we scrambled to get the scooters on deck and several boxes of donations over to the local charity before dropping lines. Checkout time is technically 11, but we cast off a half hour early to avoid being boxed in by day boats tying up at Claudio's on the other side of the fairway. We backed out of the canal without drama and went right back to Pipes Cove to anchor for our final night (map). Our friends picked us up at the town dinghy dock for one last evening.

This morning we awoke of natural causes -- no oystermen required. We drank our coffee in thick fog, the radio cackling with visibility and position reports from the endless onslaught of weekend pleasure boats running in and out of the harbors. We stayed put for a couple of hours until the fog lifted, with a dense fog advisory expiring at 10:30. We weighed anchor with the very last of the outgoing tide helping us out of the harbor and past Gardiners Island.

Before we even got to the Gardiners Island buoy, we ran right back into the fog, and when visibility dropped below a quarter mile we activated the fog horn. Fortunately it was short-lived, and we were out of it in a half hour or so. Now we are pushing against a knot and a half of current, an unfortunate consequence of where we are in the tide cycle, and the late start to the day.

The plotter is estimating an arrival at Point Judith sometime after 8pm, which means dinner will be under way. Our other option would have been to anchor north of Fishers Island, which is just about four miles off our port beam as I type this paragraph at 3:30. But the forecast says we'd be pinned down there for two days, so we are opting to press on now while we still can. The Harbor of Refuge can get lumpy in southerlies; we are crossing our fingers for a comfortable night.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Ere I saw Elsa

We are under way eastbound in Long Island Sound, bound for Port Jefferson harbor. We just passed Eatons Neck, and the plotter is projecting an arrival in just another couple of hours. It's an early stop, but the next safe harbor is another six hours.

Thursday was a rainy day in Port Washington, and the weather more or less kept us on the boat for two full days. We took advantage of a break in the rain Thursday to make a grocery run to the nice Stop & Shop store across the street from the dinghy dock, and we loaded up two backpacks and a couple of shopping bags.

The fresh provisions made for an enjoyable dinner aboard Thursday evening, whereas Wednesday we had had to make do with frozen veggies. Friday was equally gloomy, but we again found enough of a break in the middle of the day to go ashore for errands; I hit up Target, West Marine, Ace Hardware and Walgreens, while Louise browsed Home Goods and picked up another item at the grocery store. We made it home just as the rain was starting again.

Independence Day in Hempstead Harbor, Glen Cove, NY.

Also Friday we had a new snubber made up to replace the one that parted in Stuart back in February. I'd been looking for someone to do this in each port since then, and on our way to Port Washington I called the harbormaster for a recommendation. He referred me to the guy who sells the moorings and also runs the water taxi, who said he could make one up but he only had galvanized, rather than stainless, thimbles. 

I still had the thimbles from the old one, and we agreed he'd swing by and get them, then return with a new snubber. I had called when we arrived Wednesday, and he showed up in his water taxi Friday morning. The snubber was waiting for us when we got back from shopping, and he swung by afterwards to collect his very reasonable fee. I had it installed before we left town, returning the old one back to the spares locker.

Another break in the rain came just before dinner time, and we returned ashore for a nice casual meal at Amalfi's, one of our old standbys in the same nearby shopping plaza. The impromptu outdoor dining in the parking lot from our last visit is gone, but the place was uncrowded and we felt comfortable eating indoors. We walked back to Home Goods to pick up a small table Louise had spotted for her laptop on her earlier visit.

This robot was cleaning the floor at Stop & Shop. It's actually traveling to the left, which is forward, but clearly this side was more conducive to adding the whimsical googly eyes and face mask, which gave us both a chuckle.

We were securely back home and enjoying the evening when a line of thunderstorms hit with a vengeance. A mad scramble of boats returned to the harbor, many ignoring the 5mph speed limit to make it back to their berths. A short while later the distress calls started coming in to the Coast Guard.

One of those calls was from a small sailboat from the next harbor east, with a family on board, that could not make headway against the 40mph wind and was being blown toward the rocks. They were just a bit over a mile from us. Two police boats bashed their way across the sound from Mamaroneck to assist; they reported five foot seas, which is a lot for a small boat. They ended up escorting the sailboat back to Hempstead Harbor and then bashed their way back home.

Saturday morning we made a quick jaunt back to Home Goods in the morning. The table did not work out and we wanted to return it. When we got home we decked the tender and weighed anchor for Hempstead Harbor, just an hour away. I had read there would be a nice fireworks display, and when I pulled down the weekly Notices to Mariners, I found the limits of the security zone for them.

We had a nice sunset at Hempstead Harbor ahead of the fireworks.

We arrived in yet more rain and dropped the hook in the designated anchorage, just inside the protection of the breakwater (map). We were just on the edge of the published security zone. The anchorage was a sea of mooring balls; we were the only boat at anchor. By dinner time the rain let up enough for us to go ashore for dinner at The Cove, which has a dock for guests. We ate on the patio, a bit on the cool side. The weather had the hired DJ in the tiki bar area looking a bit bored.

Saturday was a pleasant enough day, and I considered running ashore at the boat ramp. But it's a mile and a half walk into Glen Cove from there, and there was nothing we needed, so we just had a quiet day aboard. I had been advised to be well anchored by 1pm, and, sure enough, not long after that the constant procession of day boats started arriving and jockeying for position in the anchorage for the fireworks. For us, watching this process, and the inevitable exodus afterward, is often more entertaining than the fireworks themselves.

I was very glad to have plotted the security zone ahead of time. Even though we were in a designated anchorage, the Marine Patrol came over to our neighborhood and rousted several boats between us and the fireworks barge. One of them still ended up between us, a 55 Prestige you can see in the photos, which also was one of the very few boats that spent the night.

Another of the many nice shells. If you zoom in you can see the barge ablaze.

While not as impressive as the NYC extravaganza on the East River (you can find snippets on YouTube), or even some of the shows we've seen in the past, it was still a good show. From our vantage point in our patio chairs on the boat deck, we could also see the shows across the sound in Rye, Mamaroneck, and a few other spots.  The harbor is surrounded by cliffs, and each percussive shell reverberated from every direction; it was actually a pretty cool effect.

Yesterday morning we weighed anchor with the favorable tide for a short cruise to Northport, just two bays east. We've never been there, in part because it's a long way in and out from the sound and we are usually moving faster. On this pass, with a loose schedule, I thought it would be a nice stop, as I read they have a free dinghy dock and a welcoming attitude, with several restaurants and shops an easy walk from the waterftont.

The forecast was for winds out of the south, which would make for an easy day. But when we rounded the corner into the sound, we found 15-20 on the nose, so easterly. With the entire fetch of the sound, we pounded over short-period three footers for a half hour before deciding it was not worth the discomfort. We opted to put Northport off for a day and turned instead into Oyster Bay.

The best shot my phone could do of several displays across the sound in Westchester.

Oyster Bay has never been on our radar because there is no place to get ashore unless you pay for a mooring ball. Those are $45 per night. They include launch service, but figure another ten bucks in tips. So that's $55 for nothing other than the privilege of visiting town, before you's spent even a dime on beer or food. We figure towns like this don't want our business, and we cooperate by not giving them any. In this case, however, we needed the shelter.

We had to drive deep into the harbor to find a sheltered spot to anchor, and we dropped the hook in a place called The Cove (map), across the way from Billy Joel's sprawling $37m estate on Moss Point. We had the hook down early, and several raft-ups of day boats came into the cove throughout the afternoon. They were all gone by bedtime, and we had a quiet night.  After dark we were treated to another fireworks display, visible over the hills to our southwest. We could hear yet another display across the sound in Connecticut, but our view was blocked by hills. I grilled steaks aboard and we never even splashed the tender.

Billy Joel's estate as we departed the anchorage this morning. One of many very expensive homes on Centre Island (now connected to the mainland).

Update: We are anchored in a familiar spot in Port Jefferson Harbor (map). This morning as we contemplated making our originally planned stop in Northport, a check of the forecasts revealed that Elsa has reared her ugly head, and we need to be well in quarters someplace by Thursday afternoon, as a precaution. Weather always trumps destinations, and we opted to make a beeline for Peconic Bay, where we have marina reservations at the end of this weekend. That will put us in the bay very early, but there are lots of places we can seek shelter there.

That finds us here in Port Jeff tonight, with Truman Cove, an indentation in the north shore, our destination tomorrow. That's a six-hour trip, and we could easily make Peconic Bay if not for the fact that we'd arrive at Plum Gut with the full force of the considerable tide against us. Stopping in the cove will allow us to time our arrival Thursday with the current behind us. Where, exactly, we end up in the region will depend, in part, on what the forecast looks like tomorrow afternoon.

When next you hear from me, Elsa will have passed, and we will be counting down to our stay in Greenport and visiting with our good friends in Southold.

Friday, July 2, 2021

No more emails from this blog

I meant to get this posted before June ended, but it seems I am a day late and a dollar short. In the unlikely event that you have not already heard this: The Feedburner service, now part of Google (as is Blogger), is ending its subscribe-by-email feature this month. Those emails have possibly already stopped -- Google did not specify which date in July.

If you are one of the thousand or so people subscribed to this blog by email, those emails will stop (or have already stopped) coming. While I would love to find a way to keep them coming to you, as I write this, there are no good alternatives. A very spammy commercial service called Follow.It has been aggressively pursuing Feedburner's blog base, myself included, but after reviewing their privacy policies and seeing how awful the ad-laden emails from their free version are, we will not be moving our subscriber list to that platform (you will thank me later, I think).

If another platform comes along to fill this void, I will look into it. I will only consider candidates that give each subscriber an initial opt-in opportunity and do not harvest subscriber emails for those who opt out. Also, as this blog is not monetized at all (yes, I know, we're bucking the trend), it has to be a "free" solution. Knowing that all free solutions either sell advertising or sell subscriber details, we will evaluate the business model for how invasive it is before making any sort of decision.

In the meantime, if you want to check in with us, you'll need to bookmark this page, or follow Vector's twitter feed (no Twitter subscription required). I also cross-post to my Facebook page if you follow me there.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

New York, New York

As I begin typing we are under way southbound on the Hudson River, bound for the Battery and the East River, after a lovely three-week stay in New York City. As so often happens here, I am either ashore or working on projects, and the blog tends to get set aside. Also, I am months behind on comments, which I hope to catch up with soon. It's a short cruise today, and I will be busy at the helm, so I'll likely finish this post tonight from our next stop.

Showing our pride.

When last I posted, we were under way offshore to Gravesend Bay. That's a very familiar stop for us, as are the waters from Sandy Hook to Coney Island. That made it comfortable for us to arrive well past dark, the first time we've done so. It's eye-opening how different everything looks at night, and even though we had good tracks, I made a point of visually identifying all the landmarks. In all the time I've been passing the Sandy Hook Light, for example, I never had occasion to notice that it's characteristic is steady white, unusual for a lighthouse.

Approaching NY Harbor at night.

We had the hook down at 11:30 pm, in a familiar spot (map). There was just a single pleasure boat with us, and the commercial anchorage was empty. Even with the late arrival and no urgent need to be back under way, I set an early alarm to catch the partial solar eclipse at sunrise, but it was too overcast to get a good view, so I went back to bed after capturing a fuzzy image.

Our view from the anchorage. Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge.

Later in the morning we weighed anchor with the tide for the short run upriver to our usual digs at the 79th Street Boat Basin. We missed our friends Glen and Julie by just an hour; they needed to make a beeline for Croton to effect some repairs and get pumped out and watered. I'm sorry we missed them, because it will be at least the end of the year before our paths might cross again.

One of many nice sunsets over NJ from our anchorage off 99th St.

We arrived to the anchorage to find that the Boat Basin had deployed all their moorings for the season; you may recall that last year they put none out, and we were able to anchor quite close to the marina on both visits. Notwithstanding the fact that there were just about a half dozen boats (on some 30-odd seasonal moorings), we still had to anchor 3/4 mile north (map), a bit further than usual because there was another boat anchored in the closest spot.

This floating ad for an Adult Swim cartoon was being towed around Manhattan. I think it passed us twice.

I tendered ashore to hoof it to the UPS store to return an Amazon purchase, and get the lay of the land in the ever-changing pandemic environment. I found the dinghy area to be rearranged, since part of the dilapidated docks had been closed off for safety reasons. Also, unlike our last visit when we literally had the place to ourselves, I had to squeeze in among a half dozen other dinghies.

Covid testing vans were ubiquitous around town.

We tendered back ashore for dinner at one of our old standbys, Amsterdam Ale House. We were glad to find most of our old haunts still in business, and very pleased that the hastily-constructed outdoor dining areas have been fleshed out a bit and still going strong. When we got back to Vector we found a jazz concert ongoing at the entrance to the red clay tennis courts, immediately adjacent to our anchorage. A quick search revealed it to be on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the Riverside Park Conservancy, which I will say has done a marvelous job of revitalizing this park and keeping it nice.

Tree huggers.

The following morning we made our first pilgrimage to our local favorite bagel shop for breakfast, our first real kosher bagels in half a year. When we returned we fired up the generator, and in short order we realized the impeller had failed. It normally takes me less than ten minutes to change an impeller, including draining the coolant to fish the broken bits of impeller out of the heat exchanger. This time, however, I dropped a wrench socket, which lodged itself someplace behind the fan belt.

Vector at anchor as seen from Riverside Park.

That made a much larger project because I had to move more things, remove another panel from the enclosure, and then remove the belt guard. Whereupon I discovered the belt in poor condition, with a couple of the "teeth" that allow it to bend around the pulleys broken off and lying at the bottom of the enclosure. I spent another ten minutes changing to a spare belt, glad that my fumble with the socket revealed this other impending failure before it happened. I also noticed the coolant pump is not long for this world, and I bought a spare on eBay while I had a good shipping address.

Moonset over NJ from our deck.

Once fully settled in and with a working generator, we had a very enjoyable couple of weeks. Among other things, we went together to the American Museum of Natural History, a nice walk from the dock, and spent an enjoyable few hours there. I've lost count of the number of times I've visited (and many exhibits have not changed a bit since my first a half century ago), but this was my first visit to the Hayden Planetarium since they demolished the iconic structure of my youth and replaced it with an even more iconic sphere within a glass cube. Disappointingly, the current show does not make use of the Zeiss Star Projector, which remained hidden in its lair beneath the floor.

Always something going on in Riverside Park.

I made a few excursions on the e-bike, including the requisite pilgrimage to the lone indoor gas station in the city to fill the dinghy tank, and a run all the way down the Hudson to Battery Park City and back. I made several trips on foot to the Amazon locker for project parts (and replacements for the fan belt and impeller I used) and new computer and tablet hardware. And I took many long walks around the city, including through Central Park a few times, down to Columbus Circle, and over to Gracie Mansion (the mayoral residence) overlooking Hell Gate.

Minuscule police car defending the river side of the mayoral mansion.

Hell Gate as seen from Carl Schurz Park near Gracie Mansion. These looks like rapids, but the water is 70' deep. A ship off-camera to the right was making less than a knot headway against this current.

Somewhere in all of this I got back on the subway for the first time in over two years. On our last visits we deemed it too risky pre-vaccine, and unnecessary trips were discouraged in any event. It felt safe; masks are mandatory and compliance is high, and the ridership is still very low compared to normal levels. I took several subway (and one bus) rides in the course of running errands or returning from distant walks. In the two years since I last rode, dedicated fare cards have been obviated by direct wireless payment readers at the turnstiles and on the buses; you simply tap your RFID credit card or wallet-enabled cell phone on the reader and walk on. Use the same card or wallet and it will recognize a free transfer. The fare card machines still exist for those who need them.

OMG, I'm on the subway.

I replenished the larder more than once at local grocer Fairway, exchanged a SodaStream cylinder at Zabars, hit up Best Buy, Target, and Home Depot for a number of items, and even made a trip to the paradoxical Amazon Books store (three levels above Amazon-owned Whole Foods) in the Deutsche Bank Center mall, to pick up a delivery that could not be sent to a locker. There is not much that you can't find somewhere in NYC, although a chandlery is on that list. West Marine closed their lone store in town since our last visit. We also both got massages, our first since the start of the pandemic, though they were a bit lackluster.

William Tecumseh Sherman monument.

On the project front, I tackled several urgent ones and many smaller ones when I was not gallivanting about town. In addition to the aforementioned generator repairs, on top of the list was the starboard stabilizer actuator, followed by the watermaker salinity probe and filter system. Rounding out the list were new laptops for each of us and an attempt to replace the backup plotter solution in the pilothouse. Louise, meanwhile, basted, quilted and bound ten quilts for the charities she supports.

Not sure why the Trump Hotel gets special NYPD treatment now that he is out of office. In my youth this was the Gulf+Western building and had a very different facade.

The stabilizer topped the list because it actually started leaking en route to New York. Regular readers may recall that I replaced the port actuator with a rebuilt one in May when it started leaking; the rebuilt cylinder and a loaner tool were sent to us in Hampton by Stabilized Marine in Florida. When I discussed the problem with them at the time, they warned me that when one side starts leaking the other is not far behind.

Columbus Circle and Central Park South from inside the Deutsche Bank Center.

After I returned my old port cylinder to them, they rebuilt it, and they emailed me on June 1st to say they were ready to send it to me so I could do the starboard side. I waved them off for the time being, for lack of a shipping address. And, sheesh, "not far behind" in engineering terms can be months, not days. But when I checked the fluid levels in Gravesend Bay, we were short, and a quick look in the starboard bilge revealed a pint or so of hydraulic oil. I contacted them as soon as we arrived at the Boat Basin and asked them to ship me the parts.


In a familiar pattern, UPS missed my delivery three business days in a row due to a "bad address," even though the address, by UPS's own admission, is correct. (They missed delivery on the watermaker parts twice for the same reason). To be fair, it's a weird address: "W. 79th Street at Hudson River," but all our US mail gets through, and Amazon has no problem with it, and UPS delivers here all the time. I think the driver got as far as the no-longer-existent "Boat Basin Cafe" and decided he was done, rather than coming all the way to the river. I ultimately had to go pick both packages up with the e-bike at the UPS Customer Center in midtown.

Half-disassembled mechanism mid-project.

Once I had the parts, I took a fortuitously timed rain day to make the swap, which took a full six hours, even having climbed the learning curve already on the port side. In part that is due to the cramped quarters on the starboard side; I first had to dismantle the built-in nightstand that covers it, and then spend most of the time on my knees or belly in the 16"-wide space between the berth and the wall. Other than that it all went well, and both stabilizers are now humming along. I put the old cylinder and the loaner tool back in the UPS the very next day. Those stabilizers ran 5,000+ hours before needing seals, and I got both of them done for around $700 and a dozen hours of my time, not a bad deal.

An ice cream shop in our neighborhood, part of a local chain.

The watermaker issue was that the salinity probe failed a few weeks ago, a fact the control panel was insistent about even though we have not made water in many moons. I went back and forth with cleaning the probe and triple-checking all the connections before biting the bullet and ordering a replacement. Installing it took maybe a half hour, but then I got filter alarms in the middle of a test run in silty Hudson water. I replaced filters until the alarms went away, and then shut down before I sucked in any more silt.

We passed many of these well-tended flower beds daily in Riverside Park.

Both of those projects were picnics compared to the morass that is upgrading computers. Regular readers may remember that Louise's laptop bit the dust on a hard roll exiting Charleston Harbor when we hit wake turbulence from a ship. She's been making do with a hangar queen I had lying around that needs an external keyboard to work. And my computer is having constant GPU hangs, which freeze the screen or sometimes crash the whole machine, so either I have GPU malware, or the board is just end-of-life. Either way, after pleading for help on the Internet got me nowhere, I decided to upgrade from this 2013-era clunker.

The ever-changing skyline. Midtown along Central Park South from near Columbus Circle. That's the old Gulf+Western globe sculpture at lower left.

Louise bought herself a Microsoft Surface because she wanted a touchscreen, and I bought a Chuwi Gemibook, after hours of research on laptops with backlit keyboards (a luxury I have been seeking) that could run Linux out of the box. I probably don't need to tell you what kind of upheaval is involved in moving your whole life to a new computer. Louise is mostly done, and I am still at about the halfway point. Her touchscreen is not as sensitive as she'd like, and my new steed has an inverted "Fn" key (you have to hold it down to get F1-F12, otherwise you get changes in volume and brightness and the like) and the Delete key where backslash should be, and power where Delete should be. First world problems.

Vector with Riverside Park in the background. I think of the building mid-frame as the Ghostbusters building, even though it lacks the gargoyles.

Upgrading both laptops prompted a change in the backup plotting where Louise sits under way, as she does not want to use her new laptop for it. I bought a cheap Android tablet to run one of our favorite nav apps, and a Raspberry Pi to send position and AIS data to it wirelessly. The cheap tablet was a no-go and is on its way back; the Pi is working fine, but even our nice Lenovo tablet is crashing with ~200 AIS targets coming in to it (previously I had no way to send it AIS data). I suspect a memory leak in the app, and the vendor is working with me. That needs to be resolved before I try again with a different tablet for her station.

Timed chess outside the Chess & Checkers House, Central Park.

We have not been meeting many cruisers lately, but on our way off the dock for dinner one evening we ran into a nice couple who were just on their way back. Pippa and Philip were on their sailboat, Heron, at one of the transient docks, about to start a round trip cruise up the Hudson, the same cruise we made our first time through here. After dinner we stopped by their dock for a beer and to chat about the trip; it was very nice to meet them and have some common interests. They live in Connecticut and we are hoping we will cross paths again in Long Island Sound.

Central Park Jenga!

As we entered our third week in the anchorage, we realized we'd need to make a pit stop alongside the dock to take on water and pump out, and we did so one morning at slack tide. It took two full hours to fill the water tank, a process that is always made longer because that is also when Louise runs a couple of loads through the washing machine, probably another hundred gallons in all. While we were tied up, I ran the backlog of recycling down to a barrel on 57th street on the e-bike; for whatever reason, the city has removed all the barrels on the upper west side.

Lime, the electric kick-scooter company, has gone into full-on street scooters in competition with Revel here in NYC. This one was left illegally on a sidewalk and already has a ticket.

When we finished we returned to more or less the exact same spot in the anchorage, except we must have been off by a couple dozen feet. The following morning after the tide reversed Louise noticed on the plotter that we had caught the chain on an underwater obstruction. One was marked on the chart, but whatever we hooked was a boatlength upriver. We immediately tried to weigh anchor, but we were caught hard and nothing we did would free us.

Practice. Practice.

Fortunately, we had only gone around the obstruction once, and I could tell pretty much the track we had taken from the plotter. We settled back in to wait for slack tide, and as soon as that arrived, we drove back around in the opposite direction, with a great deal of repositioning and tugging. This gambit worked and we eventually recovered the anchor, licked our wounds, and went another 150' upriver before dropping again. In the course of this, I tendered over to our nearest neighbors, a Dutch sailboat that was already anchored when we first arrived, to tell them what we were doing so they would not get nervous as we maneuvered closer to them. They shared that they had lost an anchor on the same obstruction on a previous visit.

300-boat jet-ski event circling Manhattan. A USCG boat was nearby to keep them out of the anchorage.

While we waited for slack, I called a diver whose name I got from the marina, who turned out to be the very same one who had come to help the Dutch couple previously. He told me that the remains of an old pier are in this location. That sent me to the history books, where I learned there was a "96th Street Sanitation Pier" here in the 1930s, sandwiched between two coal plants. In hindsight, the 15' length of rusty steel that we helped a sailboat clear from their chain in this same spot a couple of years ago, described in the middle of this post, was likely part of these remains. I've marked it on the chart  so we will stay well clear of a line running all the way to shore in this location, and I am glad we did not have need of the diver.

Metropolitan Museum of Art. I did not go inside.

We had finished our errands and gotten a good fill of the city by the end of last week, but the tide was not favorable to round the island, and we had lots of extra time owing to arriving a week early. We decided to stay through the weekend, and that gave me a great excuse to go down to the Village for Pride, my first in NYC. Even though the parade was officially "virtual only" this year, there were still two marches, which had much of 5th Avenue blocked off, and PrideFest, which ran for several blocks along 4th.

Stonewall National Monument.

I popped out of the subway on Christopher Street, which was already a party by 11am. I could not get close to the iconic Stonewall, and the sculpture plaza at the National Monument was closed off by the Park Service for the duration, but I still managed to move through the crowd safely before making my way over to the festival on 4th. I walked all the way to Bryant Park, where one of the marches was slated to start, before getting back on the train at Times Square. I would have stayed longer, but after three miles of walking and a lot of standing, I was done.

Closest I could get to the Stonewall itself.

We ended up waiting until this morning to move along, mostly because a favorable tide would have meant an uncomfortably early departure earlier in the week. That found us still at anchor for two unseasonably hot days, and we basically stayed on the boat in the air conditioning all day until dinner time. We normally run the gen about two hours a day, and we've average more like six over the past three days. It was still so hot at dinner time we found uncrowded and well-spaced restaurants both nights and dined indoors, our first in NYC in over two years.

Washington Square on my way from Christopher Street to 4th.

Speaking of restaurants, I'm going to list them all here mostly because we've stopped here so many times that we can't remember from visit to visit which one's we've tried: Amsterdam Ale House, Bettola's (which has always been Italian but now includes German food), Sala Thai, Fred's, Hi Life, Harvest Kitchen, Bellini, Haru, St. James Gate, Il Violino, El Mitote, Nice Matin, Sarabeth's, Maison Pickle, Viand, and Thai 72. We also enjoyed the ice cream at Van Leeuwen's.

PrideFest. Everyone was happy.

Other than the last few days of heat, we had mostly perfect spring weather for our visit, and the river was cooperative. It has been quiet on this part of the river for a year, but on Monday service resumed on the Edgewater ferry route, and we've endured the ferry wakes during the rush hours at each end of the day. Perhaps a signal that it was time to move along.

Waiting for the march at the Flatiron. Some impromptu dancing on the sidewalk.

We hope to return in the fall on our way south. It will be our last opportunity to be Upper West Side residents on the cheap; the Boat Basin will be closing for good at the end of this season in anticipation of a $90m renovation, to include the rotunda where the cafe once operated, that won't even begin until 2023. It might be the end of the decade before the marina reopens.

Party atmosphere at Bryant Park.

Update: We are anchored in a familiar spot at Port Washington in Manhasset Bay (map). We had perfect timing and a great push down the Hudson and back up the East River, through Hell Gate, and all the way to Manhasset Bay. We opted to take the channel east of Roosevelt Island this time, new ground for us, whizzing past Dutch Kills, Long Island City, and Astoria before rejoining the main river at a roiling confluence that mandated hand steering.

There is a museum for everything in this city.

We had the hook down a little after lunch time, and I immediately immersed myself in the logistics of our stay here and some other items, to the detriment of finishing this post. By cocktail hour we were getting dire weather alerts on the radio, and we gave up on dinner ashore in favor of battening down and eating aboard. The storm hit with a vengeance after dinner; our anemometer lost power after recording 43 mph winds but we are sure they went much higher. The boat next to us had his tender capsize and it is still upside down in the water, its engine now fully immersed. But we got all the salt from our cruise rinsed off.

Some things are timeless. Upper East Side.

We'd been running the AC full time and the generator on and off since we set the hook, but the storm brought the temperature back down into the 70s. Tomorrow it should be cool enough to go ashore for errands, in between patches of rain. We'll be here another night or two before moving one bay to the east for the holiday, where we hope to see some fireworks.