Saturday, May 31, 2014

Outside Noank, CT

We left City Island in very light winds and a favorable current and mostly drifted our way eastward in Long Island Sound.  It was Memorial Day weekend and the sun was out, along with every person owning a boat in the local area.  The radio chatter was constant, we were repeatedly waked out by power boats in a hurry, and had to pay attention to several sailboats tacking about in the light winds.  At the end of the day, we nudged our way into a tiny little cove called "Eaton's Neck", home of a Coast Guard Station and a perfectly protected anchorage for the night.  We grilled out for the last time and watched a pretty sunset.  We will miss this.

The next morning had wind!  It was a down wind run, but we poled out the jib and ran wing and wing for awhile and the wind increased in the afternoon, so we were able to make it all the way into Old Saybrook just as the sun was setting.  Our friend Eric passed us in his SeaTow boat, while towing another boat, and we admired his speed.  We stayed in Old Saybrook a few days, waiting out a wind shift and nasty front before gearing up for the final leg of our journey.

We had a great time on pizza and brownie night with the Dussaults, Dustin was a fantastic helper and loved "taking a tour" of the boat.  Chris tackled some varnish so Navigator will be looking her best and we liked the hamburgers from Jack Rabbits so much, we went twice!  The front that passed had us bouncing around the dock strong enough to need more fenders, so Kellee "borrowed" some that were not being used further down the dock and they did the trick.  We put them back, tied off even better than they were before.

Today we made our last sail under sunny (but still chilly) skies, full canvas and dropped the anchor for the last time in West Cove of Fisher's Island.  Tomorrow we will motor over to Spicer's Marina and begin the next phase of adventures, but our adventures with Navigator are quickly coming to a close.  The beautiful weather allowed for some bonus drone flight time and we have been very impressed with its ability to bounce back after the crash.  One of the motors is a little wacky, and we did have a close call with the rigging, but it has been worth its weight in gold.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

New York City

After leaving Cape May, our plan was to head direct to New York City, but the weather forecasters seemed like they didn't have a good handle on the atmosphere that day, so we diverted to Atlantic City when foul winds arrived.

We stayed two days in Atlantic City waiting for the winds, and really enjoyed seeing all the streets from the game "Monopoly." We also walked around the boardwalks and saw the recovery from Hurricane Sandy.

Finally, we got our chance to head offshore (for the last time) to NYC, and we made it into Ambrose Channel around midnight, dropping anchor in a place we've both spent time on aboard our CG ships. On the next fair tide the following day, we headed into the Upper Bay and sailed by the Statue of Liberty, then rode a wicked flood current up the East River, through Hell Gate, and into Long Island Sound.  We found a nice marina in the Bronx where we've spent a couple days working on the boat, as well as taking a day to head into Manhattan.

In town, we spent some time at the Strand Book Store, and had lunch at Kellee's favorite place, Max Brenner's Chocolate Restaurant...delicious.  We also toured the 9-11 Memorial and just hit a few spots that we've enjoyed in the past like Chelsea and Union Square.

Today we're waiting for a fair wind to carry us into Long Island Sound and on to Connecticut...we plan to arrive in Noank, CT next Sunday to end the sabbatical.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Cape May, NJ

We've really been making miles to the north over the past couple weeks, and the temperature definitely shows it! After leaving Elizabeth City, we transited the Dismal Swamp Canal, one of the oldest canals between Virginia and North Carolina.  We were able to make a cool time-lapse/aerial video montage from the trip that got reposted on some popular websites, however I crashed the drone during the last flight.

Luckily, it hit a few trees on its fall from the sky, so the landing wasn't too hard.  Unluckily, the landing was in the water.  However, after drying it out and leaving the vital parts in bags of rice overnight, we re-assembled the drone over the course of a couple days and she flies again!  Wonderful Chinese engineering.

Our next stop was a port call in Chesapeake, Virginia with our friends Rob and Leah, who took us out on their new sport fishing boat to a cool cove off the ICW.  It was a great feeling cruising the waters at 28 knots instead of our normal 4-5.  We also met their cute dog Otis, and returned to the Hibachi place we ate at nearly 2 years ago...I  just can't get over how the guy makes a volcano out of onions!

Since we're on the move up the coast and the clock is ticking, we wanted to close the distance to Connecticut to a reasonable distance for our last couple weeks of adventuring.  So, when the weather presented a good opportunity, we headed back to sea.  Correction: when the National Weather Service predicted a good opportunity, we headed back to sea.  The first day was great. The second day we got our butts handed to us in pretty snotty conditions off the Delaware Bay.  However, we made it into Cape May, NJ without too much trouble late yesterday, and all heavy weather was forgotten as we chowed on some Blue Plate Specials at a local watering hole as the wind howled outside and we caught up with our friend OG over dinner.

This week we'll do a few boat projects and await the next weather opportunity to head to New York City.  From there, its just a few short hops along Long Island Sound to the end point of this voyage: Noank, Connecticut, around June 2nd or so.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Elizabeth City, NC

Last night was the coldest yet, so we opted to spend the day here in the friendly E-city.  As we motored up the ICW yesterday, we passed the Coast Guard air station and saw several aircraft buzzing about, and there was a definite sense of pride.  That feeling continued as we visited the local museum which has a whole CG wing and we got to watch the footage from one of the rescue helicopters during their mission to save the crew of the Bounty.  It was strange, as we hadn't heard of the tragedy until we arrived in the virgin islands, we left the US in the wake of Sandy.  And now we're back, and two years of history has happened.  Where did the time go?  And did I mention it's cold?!

Our trip to Charleston was pleasant.  Our guest crew enjoyed himself, and to quote, "this is the most relaxing offshore trip I've ever had!"  The extra person helped us all sleep a little more, and made all the jobs easier and more fun, so much so that Chris got some good flying time in on the drone and some great aerial footage of Navigator.   Lots of wildlife on this trip, manatee, dolphin, turtles, even some sunfish and several birds.

The marina in Charleston had strong current (almost 3 knots!) so we slept until slack and then moored up, took showers and Kathy arrived in time for the fun.  We toured Charleston and ate some ridiculously good food.  We were so stuffed we didn't need to eat again until we arrived at the Cape Fear River.  That trip was light winds, but a nice if a bit chilly overnight with a few dolphin visits.

We had to get in before a front came through, and we just made it to a safe berth in Wrightsville Beach.  It started raining right after Kellee got back from a shoreside seafood place with yummy mahi tacos.  Crazy lightening and thunderstorms overnight but it cleared enough the next day to venture over to Wilmington by taxi.

Wilmington was a cool town to explore, we had a delicious lunch by the river and inadvertently walked into the middle of a street filming a scene for "Max Steel".  It was cool to watch the whole production for a few minutes, so we'll keep an eye out for when that movie comes out, maybe we'll see ourselves walking on the street!

We headed offshore again to Morehead City and that trip was wind-less, 60 mind numbing miles of motoring.  Not what the wind forecast and we got in later than planned so it was dark and the current was strong, so we opted to anchor until morning instead of finding a pier.  We had officially come full circle, back to familiar ground and there was a sense of accomplishment and also of anticipation.  Another milestone achieved.

Unfortunately, since Morehead City, we have motored 150 statute miles up the ICW with not a lot of wind, lots of crab pots and one night with a swarm of mosquitoes that left their little sperm dots of blue on EVERY surface and forced us to do a scrub down when we stopped for fuel in the small town of Belhaven.  This inland stretch of the ICW is not the way we came down and other than the drone of the motor, have enjoyed the rivers and swamps of coastal North Carolina.  We even passed CG Station Hobucken, which neither of us had ever heard of, and saw the crew out wrangling a tree out of the middle of the river to keep the waterway clear.

We arrived in Elizabeth City under darkening skies and ordered Papa Johns Pizza delivery to the dock just as the rain started.  I swear, pizza never tasted so good.  Today we biked the town and met a new friend, Ron, who has followed our journey on our blog and videos; he stopped by to say hello and deliver some delicious brownies and hopes to have his own Pacific Seacraft one day soon.

Tomorrow we enter the Dismal Swamp, another new stretch of territory that sounds ominous but looks pretty, and should be in Norfolk in a few days.  We're looking forward to seeing the Coles again, it seems like our rendezvous in Grenada was so long ago!