AFEICA HELD HOSTAGE BY NYCS

The two boats got through Locks 21 and 22. Thank you, thank you Mister Superintendent. After leaving Lock 22 John picked up his speed and headed out into Oneida Lake. He was going to make his 0705 flight in the morning to Fort Myers. We could still see them on the lake but could not keep up with them. Brian and I decided that we would head for the same marina, Winter Harbor in Brewerton, NY. It was a sunny day but still cool. We actually got our Mustang float coats on again. The wind and waves picked up and we were motoring into the waves, Brian was worried about the mast shifting on the boat so he added a few more straps. Once we crossed the lake and got into the protection of the islands and into the canal things settled down.

We were just about 1/2 hour or so behind Our Time. In fact they were still at the fuel dock. We needed to fill our tank and the gerry cans. Even though Brian had made a walk to the gas station in Rome with one can, everything needed to be topped up. Both diesel and water. Then John and Gail moved inside the harbor and we were told we could remain at the fuel dock. We got there just in time the hours in the marina are around 0830 to 1600 sharp. The ladies in the office stuck around to check us in. Brian went into the office to tell them we wanted fuel. They let him know which pump to use. Now, I did not mention this before, but I think that it is the coolest thing that most pumps along the Hudson River and the Canal are self-serve. Hmmm do you think that would work at the City Marina? At least you could fuel up after the staff goes home at the end of their shift. What a novel idea.

We fuelled up and ran up to the office to register. Brian had talked to John the first trip up and he asked if we would like to join them for dinner at a restaurant. Boy would we. Beside all of the amenities Winter Harbor also has two courtesy cars. Undecided if we would stay in Winter Harbor one night or two they ran instead of paying the bill we would wait until the morning. Brian did buy a Winter Harbor t-shirt though.

After hot showers, we met John and Gail at 1800 to go to dinner. It was about a 7 mile drive to another town. Once again there is nothing in Brewerton. The ladies in the office recommended the Coppertop in Cicero, NY. The time limit on the courtesy car is 1 hour, but we figured that if the office suggested the restaurant, we were good to go. Dinner was very enjoyable and we got to know Gail and John a little better. Very nice folks. The waitress accommodated us with two checks which was awesome. Brian went to take out his credit card and he did not have it. This is a common occurrence lately. He uses it and doesn’t put it back in his wallet. And then he panics. He last used it in the office, had on different pants so it must be on the boat. Oh well, just use the other one. It needs to be kept active anyway. I’ll let him tell you the Winter Harbor Credit Card Story. You must remember to ask him.

We got back a little after 2000 and said our good byes to John. We did not see him in the morning, but promised to see Gail before we left.

It was chilly again in the morning thank goodness we had electricity and could plug in the heater. The locks were still closed. Period. No coaxing will change the status. We decided to remain at Winter Harbor another night. We borrowed a car and made a trip to Cicero to the Walmart for a few groceries. We managed to get there and back in the allotted hour. I made a huge pot of bean soup for our dinner. Just before dinner Gail came for a walk to visit with Stanley. We told her that our plan was to leave in the morning and tie up at the wall by Lock 23. Maybe, just maybe they would let us through. We said we would see her in the morning before pulling out.

We checked the Notice to Mariners on Wednesday morning. Nothing had changed. We were going anyway. At 0900 we checked out of the marina, said our good-byes to Gail and Stanley gave her some soup for her lunch and left to move the 1 mile to Lock 23. By this time Brian had gotten to know Tim the Lockmaster over the phone pretty well. We tied up and he went to formally introduce himself in person and see if there was any change in the lock status. The walls at the Locks are free but once again there is no Wi-Fi, no water or electricity, no washrooms. It is actually very peaceful at Lock 23. I compared it to being in the middle of the woods. There were no trains nor was there any street noise, just people fishing off the walls. Not too crowded though. The locals don’t bother you at all either. So, we just relaxed and read. So we were on the wall for the night. Thursday morning the status was the same. Brian tried his hand at fishing and caught a couple of blue gills. Some of the locals were fishing with bow and arrows. One of the guys actually caught a big sheephead and kept it. We spent Thursday night at Lock 23.

Friday morning Brian went to have coffee with Tim when he came on shift. He went to check on the canal status. He came back to the boat and I was having coffee. I figured it was a good day to make some bread. We were out and I wanted to warm things up, it was another dreary cold day. Just as I started the get thing measured and out. Brian yelled we’re leaving untied us and jumped on the boat. The Superintendent was there and they were opening Lock 23 for us and another boat. We could get as far as Phoenix, NY on the Oswego River and go to the free dock there. The other boat was heading to Lake Ontario anyway and that was his route and it was open. Tim waved and said good–bye and you’ll like Phoenix. It’s a nice little town. Nothing would open until Tuesday.

 

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ROME, NEW YORK

At 0630 on Thursday, May 15th AFEICA and Our Time cast off our lines and continued our journey west along the Erie Canal. We had not seen any other boat traffic going up or down along the way. Brian and I commented that we thought that it was unusual. We did notice though, that any marina or boat yard we passed, most of the boats were still under shrink wrap. What the what? Our boats are in the water and these  boats are still on the hard. I guess it is too far north for these boaters. Canadians are more hearty or is it because home is further south than where we are now?  It was the Canadian May 2-4 long weekend coming up and WYC was having their Shakedown Cruise at Holiday Harbour. Oh well, we missed it but hope to be home by the US Memorial Day Weekend.

Somewhere along the canal Gail radioed us to say that she had an email from NYCS Notice to Mariners that Lock 20 to Lock 22 were closed due to flooding in the canal. Since the locks were only open until 1700 anyway, we would get through Lock 19 and 20 and tie up on the wall just past Lock 20. We had read that this was a good place to tie up in our paperwork. Decision made and we all agreed. Just about 2 miles before the lock a huge powerboat, Dalou requested to pass us. We were all heading to the same lock and didn’t know what difference it made, so we let him pass. He was in the lock and tied to the starboard side of his boat. AFEICA entered the lock with Our Time very close behind. We had been using a starboard tie all day except at Lock 13 where we were advised it would be a port tie. When we got up near the stern of Dalou there were no ropes for us to catch and no pipes to put a line around. Brian quick put the boat in reverse almost crashing into Our Time. It was a scramble to change the fenders and move ahead enough to get Our Time in behind us and while we tried to move to the other side the Dink hit the wall of the lock. John wasn’t even tied up yet and the gates closed. It was after 1700 and the lockmaster was suppose to be off shift. In the previous lock the wind came up and I had a little trouble hanging on to the rope. So, it was suggested that I loop the rope around the cleat on the bow to help me out. So, that is what I did in Lock 19. It was a 20 foot lift. So you can guess what happened next. Brian started to pull out of the lock and I forgot to let go of the rope on the cleat. What else could go wrong in Lock 19. The bow hit the wall and Brian had a meltdown. I got the rope off the cleat. We managed to look like a couple of amateurs. One more lock to go. Lock guy at 19 said that they were waiting at 20 to get us through. The wall to tie up was just beyond the lock. All of us were tired and ready to call it a day. Except, as we were exiting the lock we asked the lockmaster about staying at the wall and his reply was “I wouldn’t recommend it. Tie up at the wall in Rome. It is about 5 miles up.” Did he know something we didn’t? There was no harm done to either the Dink or the bow fittings, by the way.

So we radioed John and Gail with the information. We carried on to Rome. The Active Captain application on the iPad indicated that there was electricity on the old dock but very difficult to get on and off the boats there. There was new a “floating” dock at the west end but no power. We did not like the looks of the old dock so we chose the new dock that was not floating, by the way and did not have power. Our Time pulled in behind us. Both boats were tied up and we enjoyed our safe arrival beverages in the park along side of the boats.

Locks 21 and 22 were closed until further notice. The water was rising, the canals were flooding and more rain was expected. We put extra lines and fenders on the boats and tucked in for the night. Rome is one of those places where there are no washrooms or marina facilities. Oh yea, we were out of propane again. I had to pull out the butane burner again. It rained all night. In the morning Brian called the Chamber of Commerce to see if there was anywhere that did propane fills. We can’t just do an exchange because the propane locker will only accommodate one size 11 lb. tank. Success, Ace Hardware was about half a mile away and did fills. Brian grabbed the tank and walked over the walkway where the river was pounding over the dam into the canal. He headed in the direction of the hardware and there it was, a U-Haul right across the street that did fills. I couldn’t believe how quick he got back. He was soaked, but we had propane and we could heat the cabin. It was a good day to bake to keep the cabin warm. One loaf of bread and one loaf of banana bread. One loaf will only fit in the over at a time, so it was great. I had the oven or stove going all day, well not all day. Both boats got their oil changed on Friday. That should do AFEICA until we get back to Windsor.

The next morning, Friday, Notice to Mariners from NYCS was not encouraging. John and Gail have internet on their boat. The locks were closed until further notice. That Lock 19 Lockmaster did know something. The problem was that John had to catch a flight out of Syracuse on Tuesday morning at 0705 for a flight to Fort Myers to pick up his car. That meant getting to Winter Harbor in Brewerton, NY was imperative. If he had to, he would leave Gail in Rome with Stanley on the boat; it would be a cost of $100.00 for the taxi ride. It was the same cost for a car rental. None of us liked the idea of leaving Gail there on her own. If the locks opened AFEICA would carry on through. If only we could get through Lock 20 thru 22. The boatyard was on the other side of Oneida Lake but before the next set of locks on the canal.

Cold and wet. When we woke up on Saturday morning it was 48°F (that’s 8.9°C for those that prefer metric) in the cabin. We were getting dripped on by water in the cabin because the headliner was sweating so much. Brian decided finally to pull out the Honda generator so that we could plug in the ceramic heater and warm up and dry out the boat. The day was bright and sunny but in the mid 50’s. By the time coffee got made and the heater got going it was liveable. Previous to getting out the heater our small oil heat when it was burning would take some of the chill out of the cabin.

We decided to get off the boat and check out the area. Friday afternoon Brian had found a small Italian grocery store that had been there for 100 years and brought home some Italian salami. So that was our destination today. It turned out that we were docked in the neighbourhood that is designated as Little Italy. Not a good as Erie Street of course. Funny thing though, the main boulevard in Rome, NY is Erie.

Along the way we found a nice little stop for lunch called The Vigneto Bar & Grille. It had an outdoor café but the day was cool and we were still trying to warm up from being on the boat so we ate inside. It had great home made everything. Very typical Italian. I had a grilled Panini and the Captain had what else, chicken wings. After taking our order to the kitchen the waitress/barmaid brought us out some very nice pizza bites. The beer was cold and the coffee was good.

After lunch we made our way to the Italian Grocery. It was just what I expected. They had a variety of homemade pastas and stinky cheeses and a great deli counter. However we made no purchases. It reminded us of the old days of the Handy Place because it had been in the family for so long.

We got back to the boat and John and Gail were back from the Laundromat. There was no news from Notice to Mariners. Brian went to start up the generator again to get the heater going and had a problem. It wouldn’t start. Earlier today was the first time that it was used since Sail Away had it down in the Bahamas. Seems that gas tank really wasn’t full. So the Captain changed the oil and filled it with gasoline. No problem. It ran like a charm. I made an appetizer and the four of us sat on the dock enjoying cocktail hour. We would wait to see what tomorrow would bring. Would the locks open so we could be on our way?

Sunday morning, the answer is nope. The Locks 21 and 22 were still closed and will remain closed until further notice. But we didn’t have any more rain and the water flowing over the dam seemed to be lessening. Both John and Brian had telephone conversations with the Lockmaster. There was nothing he could do. Brian and I went for a walk again, this time we turned opposite to the way we went on Saturday. We actually found a small shopping plaza. Jackpot. We picked up a couple of items and headed back to the boat. Still nothing new on the Notice to Mariners. John’s Tuesday deadline was getting closer.

Monday morning the phone calls started up again. This time the Lockmaster at Lock 22 gave Brian the name and number of his supervisor. I am not sure just the sequence of things, but between John and Brian their pleas to get through the locks were heard. We were told that they would open 21 and 22 for us. But we would travel Oneida Lake at our own risk. It was just after 0900. We had to move. John would lead the way today. They could travel faster than us. Finally, we were moving.

 

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WATERFORD, NEW YORK – “FLIGHT OF FIVE”

The Locks at this time of year are only open from 0700 to 1700. I believe that changes after the Memorial Holiday weekend. We were in good shape as we were the first boat lined up to enter the lock when it opened. We entered Lock 2 at 0700 followed by a trawler, Our Time. There were a couple of other boats tied up to the wall who weren’t early risers, I guess. All of the fender and lines were set up on the portside so we just left them there.

Last evening, Brian walked the dock and met John and Gail Thomassen the owners of Our Time, well they weren’t the owners anymore. John and Gail are Loopers and they are travelling with their 3 year old Golden Lab named Stanley. They belong to the America’s Great Loop Cruiser’s Association (AGLCA). They did the Great Loop 8 years ago when they retired from their home building business in Bobcaygeon, Ontario. They are both retired from jobs as air traffic controllers at Toronto International Airport where they met. After they married, Gail had to quit for obvious reasons, husband and wife could not work together. John continued as a controller until their business required him full time. For the last few years they have had the boat in Fort Meyers at Legacy Marina. So, they advertised Our Time on the AGLCA website and sold her. When the new owner actually made 2 trips to Florida to look at her, they knew they had a serious buyer. Part of the closing was that John and Gail had to get the boat as far as Winter Harbor in Brewerton, New York. This would be their last boat ride on Our Time.

So Our Time pulled into the lock behind us and the gate closed. This time there were ropes hanging in the lock, all I had to do was grab a line and hold on. This was another lift up. Everything went as it should, the gate opened and we were on our way. I started to walk back to the cockpit and the Captain said to me “Where are you going? Get ready for the next lock.” I turned around and sure enough Lock 3 was right there. Now I get why this section of the locks is called the Flight of Five. There are 5 locks in a row that lift the boat up a total of 150 feet in the distance of 1.5 miles. Statute miles that is. Boaters cannot overnight in the Flight of Five, you can stop but you must go through the five locks. Those are the rules. We got through in the allowed 1.5 hours. You cannot go faster than the specified time or the Lockmasters will hold you up anyway.  The next lock number 7 was 11 miles away. Now can I have my coffee? John called on the VHF, laughing he said “You can have your breakfast now.” That is exactly what I planned, but I didn’t get the dishes done before the next lift of Lock 7. This is a piece of cake now. I’m like an old pro.

Brian radioed Our Time to ask if they wanted to make a pass since they would be faster than us. They declined saying that they would just follow us and enjoy their last ride.

There aren’t many facilities along the Erie Canal. We didn’t really want to be paying marina fees each night so we looked ahead in the paperwork that we had to determine where there was diesel fuel available and where we can tie up to a wall. There will be no more anchoring for this part of the trip. Not all of the marinas along the way carry diesel fuel either, only gas. So we picked fuel and overnight stops out ahead of time.

There are 34 locks in the Erie Canal for 338 miles. The locks lift up over the mountains and then it is a motor boat ride across Oneida Lake and then drop down to Lake Erie. There are also other canals in the New York Canal System for a total of 524 miles. Our 10 day pass, which we thought would give up plenty of leeway, was $37.50.

Fonda, NY was the destination for the first day. Fonda was a town between Lock 12 and 13. The place to tie up there was at Fonda Terminal Wall. By the time both boats tied up we were all pooped. The time was 1730 and we all stepped off to stretch our legs. Stanley was really happy. No sooner did we settle in and we heard a huge roar. There were County Fairgrounds across the street and they were doing race car trials. This went on until after dark. Also, there are the usual trains that go by every 30 minutes or so. No amenities here, no electricity, no water, no washrooms and hence no showers, just a free wall.

Brian could not resist the draw of the motor madness calling to him. After his usual safe arrival beverage, he wandered over to the Fairgrounds to see what was going on. I stayed behind to start dinner. Well, we decided that the “Mighty Hot Dog” was on the menu for this evening. An Easy, Peasy dinner for the night. The trip turned out to be worthwhile; Brian found a Chip Wagon and brought back some fries to go with the dogs. He also got entertained by two of the car owners. They were fighting about how one of the guys always cheats with his cars. The other guy was going to “Beat his competitor’s Ass”.

We discussed with John and Gail about departure time the next day and they were going to follow AFEICA once again. We would leave at 0630 for Lock 13 that was about a mile or so away. We were going to travel from Lock 13 to Lock 22. Then we would wait for a good weather window to cross Oneida Lake which is 29 miles across to Lock 23. At least that was the plan.

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SAILBOAT RIGGER ON MY RESUME?

The Hudson River Valley has some very beautiful scenery. It was lovely going through the mountains. We passed West Point Academy and on the Stadium roof they had written in block letters “Beat Air Force” when AFEICA passed going south it was “Beat Navy”. The one thing that stood out was the amount of train traffic, passenger and cargo. It seems that there is one every 30 minutes blowing its whistle. Most of the passenger trains are empty, whether they are heading into or out of New York. The tracks along the river bed are not even 100 yards from the shoreline. They are very noisy and loud. I had mention along the way to someone about how disturbing this was. Most people are of the opinion that this is what has killed the small towns along the water. There is not one person that thinks the trains have been good for the economy. The towns are like ghost towns that you see in old black and white films. Sometimes I think that Kathy Bates or Jack Nicholson may come around the corner. There are no amenities, no gas stations, no convenience stores, restaurants, drug stores, no libraries just boarded up store fronts and houses. Sometimes you will find a bar with a dog or cat or both where the sign on the door states “Sorta Kinda Open”. Wow, small town America.

We left Saugerties on Esopus Creek and made the 35 mile run to Castleton-on-Hudson and arrived at the dock and tied up by 1300.

The first order of business was to see if the mast supports that were left there in the fall were still stored behind the Club. Yes, they were still where Chris and Brian had left them. That was huge; we would not have to build another support system. Immediately, Brian started to pull the rig apart in preparation of pulling the mast. But wait, it wasn’t long before the Club Stewart came out of the Club and said “Captain, would you like to come and register before you start your work?” Oops. He went inside and paid for dockage $54.00 and the use of the gin pole $50.00. Now, we were cleared to work. We got the entire rig taken apart, pulled all of the pins, all of the lines we could wrapped up, did everything we could to the point of actually pulling out the mast. Nope, we weren’t quite ready for a break yet. The next thing was to move the supports out of the storage area. I wonder just how many other boats had piled their supports on top of the ones we had to dig out. As it turned out it wasn’t as bad as we thought. O.K. now can we take a break? We went into the bar for a drink.

There seemed to be a lot of activity around the Club, fisherman and club members at the bar. Alright, this is a good sign. Chances are there will be some bodies around in the morning to help with the mast. We couldn’t be that lucky. There was not a soul around. We were on our own. It was very scary but we got it done. I wish there had been someone there to take a picture. We got everything secured. It had taken just about 2 hours to complete the job. AFEICA now looks like a spider web. The boom is sitting on the port deck along with the jerry cans and there are straps and ropes running everywhere making it difficult to navigate up and down the decks. I’ll have to watch my step. Very proud of ourselves we left Castleton-on-Hudson by noon.

I thought we could relax (our nerves were shot) and enjoy the trip to Waterford where the Erie Canal and the start of the locks. We decided to stay at the Waterford Harbor Visitors Center on the dock in Waterford for the night. Relax? Boy was I mistaken.

I had another first of the day. The first one being taking down the mast, now it was time for my first lock experience. Oh crap. I wasn’t prepared for it but Lock 01 was in Troy, NY before the visitor center in Waterford.  I had read it somewhere and it was in the back of my mind. All of a sudden, the Captain was giving orders. Get out the docklines. Get out the fender boards. Get out the fenders. Get out the boathooks. Get out the work gloves. The lock was about 1 mile away, I could see it. My first lock did not have ropes hanging to grab on to. It was a lift up about 14 feet with pipes to wrap a line around. Of course my position is on the bow where it is my job to make sure that the mast that is hanging over the bow of the boat does not get hung up on the wall of the lock. Did I mention that now instead of the boat being 37.5 feet in length, it is now 55 feet in length? So it took me a while to get co-ordinated enough to move the line up the poles and fend the bow off the wall and watch the end of the mast. Waterford was still 3 miles away. I was really glad to tie up on the wall in Waterford right next to Lock 2. We still had to walk one mile to the grocery store before calling it a day. It was a very full day.

 

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CAPE MAY, NEW JERSEY TO SAUGERTIES, NEW YORK

We had the anchor up and left Reedy Island by 0630. There is still a chill in the air in the morning so in addition to our regular clothing, we are both in hats, gloves, socks and usually 2 jackets, the top jacket being a windbreaker. It seems to help quite a bit when we double up to keep out the wind. The sun was shining and we put out the headsail to help us along. The debris in the water is terrible because of the spring run-off. The two of us are on the look out constantly. Because of the height of the mast it was necessary for us to take the outside passage to the anchorage at Cape May. By the time we got the anchor down at 1445 the weather had turned on us. It was blowing, wet and miserable. Brian was surprised that many of the sport fishing boats were still on the hard. When he and Chris were here in the fall there was a lot of boat traffic. We anchored in about the same spot right off of the Coast Guard Station. It was not a peaceful anchorage.

We checked the charts and cruising guides and picked a destination for the next day so that we would not have to stop in New York City. Brian wanted to avoid it completely. It was not a great experience that he and Chris had there in the fall. We thought that a good place to stop would be near Little Egg Inlet behind Fish Island before we headed to Sandy Hook. That would get us in the anchorage nice and early. It is our goal to be anchored by 1500 so that we can relax, have dinner and get to bed early to be fresh for the next leg of the trip. We have been trying to keep to around 50 NM a day.

On May 8th we had the anchor up again by 0630 and headed for Fish Island. Well, the channel was well marked, and the charts showed us the way and it was high tide. Everything in our favour. Not. We tried 3 times to enter that anchorage. A sport fishing boat went by us and rocked the heck out of us and tides and current were once again fighting each other. Hit bottom a few times, actually went aground. Finally, after a good hour we decided that this was not a good place to be. So we bit the bullet and pulled out and headed for Sandy Hook, New Jersey. We had no choice but to do the off-shore overnight that we were trying to avoid. It seems that the buoys are still off station at Fish Island since hurricane Sandy.

So we headed out to the next destination in our trip. The wind died and the clouds rolled in bringing with them rain and fog. We never did see Atlantic City. We both had full rain gear on including boots for warmth and to keep dry. The seas were pretty rough. Before we had tried the entrance to Fish Island, time a little yellow Warbler, we think, landed on the cabin top. He checked us out and rode with us for a while. He looked pretty tired. He jumped from one line to another and after about hitchhiking and checking us out for an hour or so he flew off. I said he was good luck, so much for that superstition. As the afternoon wore on, around dinner time, he returned this time with his mate. It was pretty cold and miserable and we had changed from our foul weather jackets to our floatcoat/survivor jackets. The little birds got themselves up into the ignition compartment and hunkered down in there for the warmth from the lights. I wondered if she was going to start nesting or laying eggs or something. After a while the male bird fell out of the compartment and on to the cockpit floor. Brian picked him up and put him back in and went a got a small piece of duct tape to keep the door of the compartment from bouncing open. It wasn’t too long after that, it was dark by this time the female was on the cockpit floor hopping around. We couldn’t figure out how she wiggled her way out. Brian picked her up and went to put her back in and her mate was no longer with us. He had died. Brian gave him a burial a sea. She stayed with us for a while hopping around the cockpit floor. We were afraid to step on her in the dark. By this time the fog was lifting a little and we could make out some of the lights on the Jersey Shore.

We had made contact with another sailboat that had AIS and he reported that there was a barge that was going to cross our paths. It was about 5 mile off. We had a reprieve from the fog for a while and then it started to roll in and much thicker. We lost sight of the other boat and the shore and there was a shrimp boat heading out of the channel. The shrimp boat was blowing a fog horn and we were blowing a fog horn. It was the second time that day I was shaking in my boots, literally. We just could not even pick up the glow from the lights or the sound of the bell from the buoys until we were about 15 feet away from them. You had to set the auto-pilot and trust it the steer the course. Fog is very disorienting. Between the GPS and the Garmin Bluechart application on the iPad we were able to follow the channel we wanted, there were 2 or 3. I said I will direct us into the anchorage and we will drop the anchor down on the anchor on the chart. That’s what we did. The time was 0215 the next day from the time we started. Viability was still zero and nerves shattered. We went below, striped out of our wet gear and then before we could go to bed, we had to get the little lady bird out of the cabin. We thought she had flown away and there she was hunkered down nice and warm in the aft cabin. We would not move the next day. It was still foggy and rainy and we were exhausted and a day ahead of schedule because we had gone overnight.

In the morning the fog had lifted somewhat. When we looked out about 100 yards off the starboard side of the boat there were a bunch of fish (oyster) stakes. We have no idea how we ever missed them in the fog. We were also right off of another Coast Guard Station. We never saw it.

The fog having dissipated we were on our way at 0730 on May 10th. It was Saturday morning and we figured that the boat traffic going through New York Harbor should be somewhat lighter than when it is a weekday. Surely, it couldn’t be as heavy as when the boat came through in the fall. By the time we hit the channel heading towards the Verranzo-Narrows Bridge we were in pea soup again. We could see Yellow Buoy “A” and circled it for one and a half hours before the fog cleared where we could see the bridge. Finally, we went under the bridge and could make out the Statue of Liberty, motored passed Ellis Island. Brian pointed out the marina where he and Chris spent part of a night. Brian had it in his head that our destination for the day was Newburgh Yacht Club where they stayed on the trip down. The dockage was no charge for yacht club members and there were showers there. Finally, since we had not been anywhere since leaving Annapolis that we could have one. The tides and currents were not working with us and we finally hit Newburgh on Hudson after dark it was 2045. We pulled into the same slip that the boat occupied on the trip south, tied up and went looking for a club member so we could check in. The Club House was wide open all of the lights were on and there was nobody home. We made a visit upstairs to the privately run restaurant, Pamela’s, and had a beverage at the bar. Spoke with Pamela and she would call one of the Board of Directors and have them come out. Brian said not to bother and we would catch up with someone in the morning. By the time we paid the tab, draft beer was $5.00 each, and went back downstairs the club was in darkness and locked up tight. We went back to the boat and tucked in for the night. I slept in until 0730 and Brian was out kicking keels, as he calls it. He ran into a club member, Moon, who he had met previously. On the trip down, he and Chris had enjoyed few cocktails with him. I met Moon a little while later and said that there must be a story behind the name. He just smiled and said “Do you remember the cartoon character Moon Mullins? Well my last name is Mullins.” He does resemble the character too. He offered to make us breakfast in the Club and we declined. After a nice long shower and fuelling up we were on our way at 0945. We wanted one more stop before taking out the mast. I chose the town of Saugerties on Esopus Creek. We liked it. The anchor was down by 1530, the sun was shining and it was a great spot.

Next stop Castleton-on-Hudson.

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CRABPOTS!

They’re everywhere, they’re everywhere! Fish trap areas and structures, crab pots, lobster traps and fishing boats and oyster beds. I don’t know how anyone can pleasure boat in the Chesapeake Bay. It is next to impossible to navigate without two people being on the watch at all times.

After spending a very quiet night in Mill Creek at Solomon’s Island we left the anchorage before any fishing boats we out and about. It’s not a wonder it was called Mill Creek. It was a still as a mill pond. Good thing we left early, as it was we had to dodge around fishing boats. Funny thing, the recreational fishermen on the Chesapeake think they have the right of way.

As we approached Annapolis we could see a huge fleet of sailboats. I could tell that there were several classes of boats racing. Naturally, we travelled around the race courses. We wondered if our good friend Alan Johnson would be there racing. Once we put the anchor down in Spa Creek beyond the Spa Creek Bridge, Brian called Carol and she confirmed that Alan and D’Arcy Fuller were both in Annapolis racing on a Melges. Carol texted Alan and we left him a voice message. Unfortunately, he did not check until he got to the Baltimore Airport and it wasn’t possible for us to rendezvous. In the meanwhile the wind had freshened considerably and listening to the weather station the next day didn’t sound very favourable. Winds out of the northwest and anywhere from 20 to 25 gusts. We have experienced that and that really means anywhere from 30 to 35 winds gusts. We decided to stay 2 nights in Annapolis.

Tuesday morning we had to get a bridge opening before 7 am after that it is shut down until after 0930 and we wanted to get moving early. We thought it would be the time to fuel up before continuing up the Chesapeake. We caught the bridge for the 0700 opening and we to the fuel dock for a pump out, water and fuel. Brian did our pump out and filled the water tanks. Then we waited and waited and waited, finally at 0805 we figured that the fuel attendant did not start until 0900, so we left. There were not hours of business posted on the door. I had asked one of the water taxi captains the night previous when the fuel docks were open and he didn’t know, but thought it was 0800 or 0900. It obviously wasn’t 0800.

We expected the worse on the Chesapeake and were very pleasantly surprised. The Bay was like a mill pond, there was very little boat traffic. We only saw one freighter and no crab pots. Our experience was very different from the one Chris Eagen and Brian had from the C & D Canal to Annapolis.

It was a very long day. After leaving Annapolis, we travelled up the Chesapeake, across the C & D Canal to Summit North Yacht Club. SNYC was where we finally refuelled and filled 3 gerry cans. We pulled out of SMYC and carried on through the Canal and into Delaware Bay, motored to Port Penn where we anchored off of Canada Beach for the night. We got the anchor down about 1830 got dinner on the go as quickly as we could. Lights out at 2100. We wanted to catch the tide and current as it was flowing out. We were headed for Cape May tomorrow.

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NORTH ALONG THE INTERCOASTAL WATERWAY

As I start to write this post we are crossing the Chesapeake Bay and headed to Deltaville, VA to Fishing Bay. We have completed the 1095 mile journey up the Intercostal Waterway. Well, not actually 1095 miles because we entered the Florida mainland at Fort Pierce which is Mile 964.8. It is 1095 miles from Mile 0 at Norfolk, VA to Key Biscayne, FL. These are statute miles.

Friday morning, April 4th we arrived at Vero Beach around 1100. Ken had called Customs and Border Patrol from Fort Pierce and we were instructed to call again once we had arrived at our next destination. So once we took a mooring, well Sail Away took a mooring and we rafted off of them and registered with the office we went about reporting in with CBP. Wouldn’t you know that we all had to report in person at the CBP office at the airport in Fort Pierce? So we arrange to have Enterprise Car Rentals pick us up so we could drive the 15 miles back to Fort Pierce and check in with Customs and apply for our cruising permit so we would be able to travel in the United States and bring the boat home. We did look into having the boat trucked back to Michigan and it was cost prohibitive. So we jumped through all the hoops required to get our permits. Just like the Windsor Detroit Area and the Great Lakes, every State and Jurisdiction interprets the rules differently. You are at their mercy. So you just bite the bullet and go with what they want.

We spent three nights in Vero Beach at the Municipal Marina. While we had use of the car we provisioned. I was a real treat to go to a grocery store that it wasn’t $6.00 for a box of crackers. We actually hit 2 grocery stores. A Super Wal-Mart and then later on a Publix. We were in heaven. On Monday morning we left Vero Beach and headed out. The next time we would be at a marina would be in St. Augustine.

Our trip north is all motoring. The winds have been mostly out of the north. We have had some rain, actually we have seen more rain and had bad weather since we arrived on the mainland than we saw in the 3 months in the Bahamas.

For anyone following along our overnight stops since arriving at Fort Pierce include;

April 4 – 7       Vero Beach                             Mooring

April 7             NASA Causeway Bridge          Anchorage

April 8             Rockhouse Creek                    Anchorage

April 9             Fort Matanzas                        Anchorage

April 10 – 11   St. Augustine                           Mooring

April 12 – 15   Jacksonville Landing               Dock    Side Trip down the St. Johns River

April 15 – 18    Cumberland Island, GA           Anchorage

April 18           Jekyll Island                             Anchorage

April 19           Crescent River                                    Anchorage

April 20           Queen Bess Creek                   Anchorage

April 21           Skull Creek, SC                                    Anchorage

April 22           Charleston                               Anchorage

April 23           Georgetown                            Anchorage

April 24           North Myrtle Beach                Dock at Harbourgate Marina

April 25           Carolina Beach, NC                 Anchorage

April 26           Mile Hammock Bay                Anchorage

April 27           Beaufort (Bowfort)                 Anchorage

April 28           Pungo Creek                            Anchorage

April 29           Pasquotank River                    Anchorage at Elizabeth City

April 30           Elizabeth’s Dock                      Private Dock

May 1              Hospital Point, VA                   Anchorage Norfolk, VA

May 2              Fishing Bay                              Dock at Fishing Bay Yacht Club

We enjoyed our time in St. Augustine. We were able to walk around the Old St. Augustine. We were there Thursday and Friday night. When we made our reservation, we were told that they were very busy that weekend as the Blessing of the Fleet was being held on Sunday and the bridge would be closed for several hours so we would have to pull out early. Saturday we had a very long run to Jacksonville Landing and we did not arrive until after 1900. There was a festival that weekend and their Sailpast too. The wall to tie up was full, fortunately, Ken and Jeanne knew another cruising boat and we were able to raft off of Tangara. Rafting is mandatory at Jacksonville Landing where they expect the 3rd and 5th boats on the raft to tie to the wall. So you better have long docklines. Sunday Brian and I rented a car a drove down to Boynton Beach to pick up our car. Brian decided to store the car at Green Cove Springs the marina where Sail Away is put on the hard until next fall.

We have had two rather difficult sound crossings. Cumberland Sound and Albemarle Sound. We fought the wind, waves, tides and currents and the 4 elements fought each other. Albemarle Sound is when you make a decision whether you will take the Virginia Cut Route or the Dismal Swamp Canal Route. We wanted to see the Dismal Sound as it was closed when Brian and Rick made the trip south because of duckweed. By taking the Dismal Swamp we missed Coinjock, VA. There is a restaurant there that is famous for their Prime Rib Dinner. We could hear everyone on the VHF talking about making dinner reservations.

The day after leaving Jacksonville Landing we ran out of propane in the big tank and were not able to refill until we reached Harbourgate and not before a one mile walk to a place that sold propane. Thank goodness I had purchased a single burner butane stove. I had picked up a few things in Jacksonville when we had the car but time was short and the next grocery stop was Beaufort. That was a 1.8 mile walk to the Piggly Wiggly and back with 4 loaded recycle grocery bags.

There are two locks in the Dismal Swamp Canal where there is only one lock in the Virginia Cut Route. Coming north the first lock raises the boat up 8 feet and the next lock lowers the boat down 10 feet. We stopped at the Dismal Swamp Welcome Center. It is about half way between the two locks. It also happens to be a rest area for Highway 70. It seems very strange to get off of the boat and there is a road on the other side of the building. The waterway is very narrow and shallow. About 50 feet across and we bumped our way along the bottom in many places. Just as we approached the last bridge that opens with the last lock the weather took a turn. Fortunately, there is a privately maintained dock that is located between the bridge and the lock. The dock is 200 ft. long and it is maintained by a Mr. Bill Spaur in honor of his wife, Elizabeth. Hence the name Elizabeth’s Dock. This has nothing to do with Elizabeth City where we stayed the previous night. There were 5 other boats already and one of the cruisers that we had met in several places along the way starting in Georgetown in the Exumas said we could raft alongside of them for the night. In the morning the Lock and Bridge Tender, his name is Robert, put out a light breakfast. He was very hospitable. While we were waiting for the lock to fill he gave me a history lesson about the Dismal Swamp Canal. He also happens to own his own tour company. He was also giving lessons on conch blowing. Of the 6 boats that stayed at Elizabeth’s Dock Blue Heaven, the boat we rafted off of, and AFEICA were the only ones to leave.

It was a short run Hospital Point in Norfolk. We had the anchor down about 1100 and we let the wind blow. We would have liked to put the dinghy down and visit a couple of other boats that came into the harbour but it would have been a pretty wet ride. We had another early night, lights out about 2100.

We left Norfolk this morning about 0630 and arrived at Fishing Bay Yacht Club at 1415. The FBYC is on a large property like Ford Yacht Club and it has many buildings. FBYC has slips on both sides of a point of land and no real access to any shopping. The club is run very much like North Star Sail Club and has all of the same amenities. The manager’s name is Dixon Cole and we found him on the riding lawn mower. He was very welcoming and thanked us for stopping to visit. Hot showers tonight, hooray! Sometimes it’s a week or so between them, too bad you can’t store them up, and a good night’s sleep.

Brian’s plan is to be at Solomons Island Area Saturday night and then on Sunday he would like to be in Annapolis, MD.

 

 

 

Posted in Bimini and Beyond | Leave a comment