November 8 to 16, 2021
When you’re in America, you KNOW you’re in America, you can’t forget it, there are flags everywhere! But today I learned that in the boating world, there are 2 American flags allowed; the regular flag, and the “Yacht Ensign”, which looks like this :
Back to our story… Leaving Cape Cod, we motored (yep, no wind) to our next stop : Sakonnet Point, RI. We barely made it before sunset, which gave us quite an amazing show of the grandiose panorama as we were approaching the bay. It reminded us of the Nova Scotia coast that we left not too long ago. Except, there were way more boats around here. Both on the water, as well as in the bays and inlets. In Nova Scotia, when looking at a bay on the map, we could pretty much pick exactly where we wanted to drop the anchor, because if there was one or two other boats, it was a crowded place. In New England, dropping an anchor in a bay is not an option. The protected spots are completely filled with mooring balls… like a beautiful artsy tapestry. We were given instructions to find mooring #4, at dawn. We did it!
Next day, Connecticut. Feels good to check 3 states in 3 days! This time we were able to sail a bit more, but it was a smooth ride. Our friends Aline and Gaël had advised us to go to Mystic, and stop at the Marine Museum (and Marina), which is apparently a must stop. Unfortunately, the museum was closed Monday through Wednesday (the days we could have been there), and the price of the marina had gone way up since their last visit… Seems like the price of marinas all suffered a major increase (probably another covid side-effect, who knows). So… since we had to stop for 3 nights to recharge our batteries and get decent WiFi for my work obligations, Mystic was not a reasonable option. 545$ vs. 303$ for the New London Crocker’s Boatyard Marina. We ended up in New London, CT.
At the entrance of the New London harbor, there is a lighthouse : New London Ledge. It looks more like a mansion, or a school, or a bank maybe? But it’s a lighthouse.
And we also saw from further away (when we were crossing to Long Island) another lighthouse that looks like a mansion: Stratford Shoal, the most haunted lighthouse in Connecticut!
The boatyard was curiously nested in a kind of cove, behind a railroad bridge. What we found curious about it, is that the sole purpose of the bridge is to let pleasure boaters in and out of the marina. I guess it’s similar to the lock in Downtown Quebec city Port. Anyway, it’s a really well protected place.
We stopped here for 2 days, other than working, we spent some time visiting the city, tasting some good food, looking at other boats, chatting with other sailors who were all in the process of winterizing their boats… Brrrrr… Oh and we also saw this amazing replica of Columbia, a Schooner from the early 1920’s. The only difference is that the new one is a steel hull. It’s in such perfect shape, not a single square inch of varnish missing. It must take a huge team to maintain that boat…
It’s funny how it’s the end of the season everywhere we go. When we were back in Quebec city in October, our friends already had their boats on the hard. When we arrived in Halifax, the marina was more than halfway emptied, boats were being pulled out every day. When we were in Shelburne, we helped them take the floating docks out of the water. And since we are in New England, the mooring fields are empty, and we had a hard time finding an open marina… Should we start to worry or hurry?
Next stop, Long Island! We leave New London, hoist the sails, and race through ‘the race’ (an area at the entrance of the long island sound where the current can be significant). We were flying at 8-9 kt with the wind on the beam, started with full main sail and genoa, downgraded to the jib, took a reef, then another reef… And we did the reverse exercise as the wind slowed down in the late afternoon. We made it to our target destination (Mt Sinai) just before sunset, again. The days are getting shorter and shorter…
Next morning I hosted a webinar from our mooring, in the cockpit! It was a beautiful sunny day. We left as soon as the webinar was over, we had to go to Port Washington to hide from weather. This time, we knew we were not going to make it before sunset… but it was ok, the ride was so smooth, broad reaching all the way, looking at the multicolored NY skyline appearing slowly on the horizon.
Port Washington, another stop suggested by Connie and Tony, Sage’s previous owners (they always have great suggestions!) We were lucky that the water taxi guys still had a few moorings in the water at this time of year, as they are in the process of removing everything for winter. Fortunately, with over 200 moorings in the bay, it takes them a while to do them all, which buys us some valuable time! The mooring is 25$/day, and the water taxi is included in the price! What a deal! The dinghy can stay on deck, and we can get to shore anytime between 8am and sunset (1630).
The weather is getting kinda cranky since we are in NY. We get storms passing by almost every day, with 35kt gusts that last almost half the day. We doubled our lines and always have an anchor alarm turned on. But Remy is worried anyway… he’s worried that we are going to pull the mooring off the bottom (ok, it happened before), or that we are going to break a bow line, or that the cleat will rip off the deck, or what else… he’s in a loop of endless worries. So he makes plans B, C, D, E, F, G, H… just in case. And he wonders why he’s not sleeping well. Well…!
So to change our minds, we made a funny weather video!
After the storm comes the Sunshine! It’s amazing how the weather can change from one hour to another. So at the first opportunity, Christian and I took a water taxi ride to the grocery store to stack up! On the way back, the water taxi told us that the Indian Restaurant in town was one of the best in the world! We took notes.
Next day, same kind of situation, but it was sunny in the morning, and stormy in the afternoon. Remy and I went to shore in the morning, and came back at noon to check on the boat during the storm. Christian, on the other hand, had the unfortunate adventure of breaking a tooth a few days ago, so he went to the dentist for a quick fix. When he walked out of there, not only was he many many dollars poorer, but the storm had started, and the water taxi was “done for the day”. I called them and explained the situation, the water taxi said “Ok, let me check the weather and call you back” So I told Christian to go hide in a shop, so he doesn’t fly off the dock in the meantime. He decided to hide in the Indian Restaurant. When the water taxi called back, I told him that Christian was hiding in the Indian Restaurant. He said “Is he eating? Or is he just having a drink?” I said I don’t know, I would need to text him. He replied right away “No problem, I’ll go see him in the restaurant right now” and he hung up. I wasn’t sure what his plan was, but he seemed to have one! In the end, he wanted to make sure Christian had time to eat his lunch and came back to pick him up an hour later, even if it was after sunset (and the storm was still blowing), and brought him back to Sage safely. Some people just have superhero personalities.
I woke up the following morning and did my little windy routine, looking at the wind forecast for the next few days, just to see if anything changed overnight. Oh ho! Indeed it changed, and a window just opened up for us to leave on Tuesday! Think fast, it’s Sunday morning, the wind is calm today, but it’s blowing 35 tomorrow, we still have about 35 miles to go around New York, and the tide is high in Hell’s Gate NOW! GUYS! WE GOTTA GO NOW!!! We got dressed up, started the engine, and left our mooring immediately, heading towards East River and its multiple bridges in the middle of the biggest city on the east coast.
The current was favorable (thanks to our improvised perfect timing!) so we almost made it to the very end of the river before the tide reversed. It was very interesting to see the city from the water, cross different neighborhoods, see people running around, traffic buzzing, ferries in all directions, etc.
The statue of Liberty was the icing on the cake (or the “cherry on the sundae” as we say in french) at the end of the river. We did a little detour for a few pictures, but sorry Tony, we were not able to anchor behind it as you suggested. The weather was going to be way too rough the next day. We were also due for a battery recharge (and showers)… So we ended up at the Miramar Yacht Club in Brooklyn, which by the way, is a really welcoming club! We were greeted by David, the new commodore, and a few of the club members, who were all on the dock to wave at us from far away (the place is not that easy to find), grab our lines, and offer us vodka as soon as the boat was secured on the dock. We spent a nice evening with them, offered our leftover Canadian Vodka, tasted some awesome Russian Vodka, and shared many sailing stories with laughter and friendliness. What an awesome crowd. While in Brooklyn we also tasted some great bagels, walked around this multicultural neighbourhood, saw a lot of swans, seagulls and ducks, and bought a nice cheap of mits to fit over my sailing gloves (yep, stupid me, I packed 3 bathing suits, but not a single pair of mits in my bag…)
At night our master cook Christian made some awesome tacos, and then we spent an hour brainstorming how we would manage to get out of our very narrow slip without damage. Let me explain the topo…
We had strong winds on the beam from the dockside (west) and a piling to avoid downwind (east). The worry was that we would hit the piling as we backup from the dock, because there was very little clearance between the piling and the beam of the boat. The question was how are we going to backup safely, with only 2 of us on the dock? We were planning to leave at 0400, so getting extra hands was not an option. It took us lots of drawings, scenarios, hypothesis, counter-hypothesis and lots of time… But here’s what we came up with (excuse my basic google view sketch-up) :
We left 2 lines on the dock in order to keep us close to the dock while backing up slowly. We gave those 2 lines some slack gradually as the boat was moving back, making sure the boat was kept parallel to the dock. When the beam was close enough to the piling, we released the stern line first (prop walk keeps the stern to port), then the bow line, as we gave a good throttle to move quickly out of there everyone jumped on board, and we were out without touching the piling. Yay!!!! Sometimes planning a docking maneuver is well worth the effort!