Monday, August 27, 2012

Long Island to Cape May, NJ

  We safely arrived Cape May on Saturday after five days of beautiful weather.  We left Three Mile Harbor on Tuesday and rode the tide out to Montauk, catching the lighthouse right at sunset.  From there is was open water all the way to the Cape May entrance.  We quickly settled into a watch routine, Kellee, being the night owl, took the evening until 2 am, then Chris, being the early bird, took the morning until 8 am, Kellee took back over while Chris caught a morning nap. Shared lunch then Kellee napped in the afternoon and the cycle worked for the whole trip.
    Light winds and calm seas for the first four days made for easy but slow sailing.  We got as far as 90 miles offshore and tested the range of our VHF and HF radios with great success, so we feel very comfortable we can talk to someone no matter where we are.  On the second night, Kellee was on watch, reading by headlamp, frequently checking for lights on the horizon and making sure the wind vane autopilot kept NAVIGATOR on the right course.  A "PFFT" noise from over her shoulder startled her right out of her seat and she looked out over the moonless night to try to see what had snuck up on her.  It turned out to be several curious dolphins, including a mother and baby.  They swarmed the boat, and were surprisingly easy to see as they swam through phosphorescence which lit up their bodies and left a trail of flickering light in their wake.  They hung around for almost 20 minutes, swimming all around the boat, coming up so close to the hull to breathe that Kellee got snotted on from their breath. 
   The next day, more dolphins came by and we tried to get some pictures of their acrobatics.  We also saw a couple of fin whales that kept a respectable distance, but with no motor running, you could hear them blow a thousand yards away.  We trolled for fish almost the whole trip but didn't get a bite, we'll keep trying!  Overall we saw about a dozen fishing boats and another 11 deep draft big ships.  On the last day, the wind and seas kicked up and we hailed a passing container ship to see if he could see us on radar in the choppy seas and he replied that we had showed up 5 miles out and he altered course around us.  It's comforting to know that we are visible even when the weather picks up. 
   The last day had us running straight down wind in building seas so we reefed down to shorten the sail and took turns driving every couple hours since the autopilot doesn't handle well down wind or with a following sea.  We arrived at the Cape May breakwater mid afternoon in the rain, and after crabbing our way across the choppy entrance that Chris likened to a west coast bar crossing, we dropped the hook just next to the Coast Guard station.
   We dinghyed over to TOMKAT, which had arrived a couple days ahead of us after touring Long Island Sound and NYC and sticking close to the Jersey coast.  We got take out dinner from the Lobster House and caught up on the last couple of weeks' adventures.  They were headed up the bay to Chesapeake City in the morning and we made plans to catch up in the Chesapeake in a couple weeks.  We were chilling out on TOMKAT after dinner when the first lightening flashes came across the darkening sky and we could hear thunder in the distance.  We thought we'd just hang out until the thunderstorm passed, but an hour later, a check of the weather radar showed no end in near sight.  We decided to make a run for it, a five minute dinghy jaunt across the harbor back to our boat.  We borrowed a bailer and a flashlight, since the boat already had a couple inches of accumulating rainwater in it and took off across the harbor.  The CG station was well lit and provided a nice target to aim for through the torrential rain.  We arrived back onboard, left our already soaked clothes in the cockpit and collapsed to sleep, only to find ourselves repeatedly awakened as the thunderstorm raged overhead with lots of bright, bolt lightening and accompanying surround sound thunderclaps.  NAVIGATOR sat comfortably in her protected anchorage and we finally went to sleep.
    The next morning, we awoke to sunshine and an almost completely filled dinghy.  We used the collection of fresh water to our advantage and got some seriously needed boat cleaning done.  Once we got her back to ship shape, we motored ashore to spend some highly anticipated quality time with our friends the Gibbons and Hugus families.  We took a preliminary tour of Cape May and enjoyed a yummy bbq to catch up.  We plan to stay about a week here then head up the Delaware Bay, through the C&D canal to the Chesapeake Bay.  See below and the links for some new pictures and video!

Pictures and Videos

We just arrived in Cape May, New Jersey after a 5 day voyage. There will be a bigger blog post coming shortly. Here are a couple pictures, and you can find more pictures and a new video about our dinghy if you click on "Pictures" or "Videos" on the banner above. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Forks

  We are sitting in Starbucks in the swanky Hamptons, borrowing free internet after a wonderful lunch at the Golden Pear Cafe where we (well Chris did) literally brushed elbows with a tv star! Mark Feuerstein of Hank Med fame from the USA show "Royal Pains" was enjoying his lunch at the next table, pretty cool.
  We have been bike riding fools around the forks of Long Island.  We took the ferry from Shelter Island up to Greenport and rode all the way to Orient Point, through vineyard country.  Shelter Island was very quaint and we enjoyed the services of the Marina there while hanging with the TOMKAT crew for a few days.  Incidently, that is the same marina where they build the boats associated with Billy Joel, the "Downeaster" boats.  We parted ways with TOMKAT and headed for Three Mile Harbor, beautiful and surprisingly quiet.  The water is warm and clean, we spent a day doing boat projects then took advantage of a rainy day to catch a movie, "Beasts of the Southern Wild".  Decent movie, not what we expected, but the popular movies were sold out, seems like going to the movies is the only thing to do in the Hamptons when it rains!
  Today we are off on another bicycle tour of the mansions of the Hamptons and exploring the beaches and towns of the south fork.  Check out the videos section of the blog for a short movie on how the bikes help us get around!  Tomorrow looks like more rain, so we'll hang out at the boat, perhaps try to see another movie.  We are closely watching the weather, looking for the best window to make our offshore trip down to Cape May, NJ.  This post closes out the New England phase of our journey,  in a few days we'll be making some serious southward progress.  Look for pictures when we get to NJ and have a solid internet connection!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Westport to Coecles Harbor

The last two weeks have been fun, visiting with family and settling into this new lifestyle.  Yesterday marked one month of cruising under our belts and we are loving the easy pace and simplicity.  Westport was a blast, going to the beach, visiting family, eating lots of Woods Ice Cream, taking care of some boat projects and stocking up for the next stretch.  We left Westport on the 3rd, aiming for Jamestown, but the wind and waves made Cuttyhunk a more attractive destination, so we anchored there instead.  Tried to paddle out to the nice right hand break off Canapipsit Channel, but the current was too strong so we checked out some cows on the beach and headed back.  It was a decent swim and the weather was perfect.  The next morning we waited for the fog to burn off and set out for westward destination TBD.  With the fog in and out through the afternoon and the wind fluking out, we opted for Dutch Harbor anchorage on the west side of Jamestown island.  It was a challenging day in the fog, but with radar and enough wind to sail into anchorage, we enjoyed the day.  The fog lifted just enough for us to come into the anchorage before it socked back in for the evening.  We waited out strong winds the next day, doing some engine maintenance and swimming and had a beautiful sail to Block Island the following day.

Block was crowded but there always seemed to be room for one more.  TOMKAT and BANSHEE arrived the next day, and we enjoyed a nice shrimp and chowder dinner while catching up with our folks. We closed out the day with a spectacular sunset.  The next morning was the perfect beach day, we arrived early enough to have the beach to ourselves and Kathy B. ranked it as one of the top five beaches in her experience. Took a stroll down the beach to town for lunch and headed back to the boats to prep for our potluck dinner on the beach with a sunset.  The next morning was warm and we spent the day lounging around BANSHEE swimming and reading then put some clean duds on for dinner ashore at the OAR.   The next day it was time to part ways, BANSHEE headed home and TOMKAT and NAVIGATOR headed west to Coecles Harbor, Shelter Island...New York!  See the pictures section for lots of pics of our Block rendevous.

The sail to Coecles was exciting, we sailed into our first thunderstorm.  First came the rain and we took advantage of it to swab the decks and get the salt and sand off.  Then came the wind and near zero visibility, but we quickly reefed down and energized the radar and put down the hatches to keep the torrential downpour out of the interior.  We got soaked, but it was comforting to see the boat handle so well in stronger winds.  After the front passed through, the wind picked up and shifted, forcing us to battle a headwind for the last few miles to anchorage.  We arrived just at dark and dropped the hook a stone's throw from the beach and from TOMKAT and enjoyed the tranquility of an anchorage with only half a dozen neighbors.  This quiet spot is a welcome change from the hustle and bustle of Block Island and we plan to hang out for at least a few more days.  The water is wonderful for swimming, we have internet on the boat and have been sharing meals with TOMKAT. Today we are venturing ashore, hoping to catch a glimpse of Billy Joel's boat building mecca, or at least pick up some supplies and enjoy a bike ride through Shelter Island.  Stay tuned for more pictures and video.