Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lady Liberty in the mIst and please don't sink at the dock

I love New York City from the water. I think it is so exciting to approach from any of the 3 major directions (Narrows, Hudson and East River). It was a little extra exciting for us as we entered the Sandy Hook Channel at around 3:30am in darkness and clouds closing in. Mark was at the wheel, Richard and I were navigating and Mary was on lookout. Ships and buoys were alternately materializing and disappearing in the mist to our eyes and mercifully staying reliably visible on radar.

By now, we had learned how to work Channel 13 and hailed a 'securite' call announcing our inbound progress in the Sandy Hook Channel. We were immediately hailed by a super tanker heading out of Raritan that he was 30 minutes out. We told him we would stay to the far right side of
the channel. He thanked us and when he was at the other end of our channel he hailed us again, we found his lights, stayed on our side and watched in awe as the biggest ship yet glided past us in the misty dark. It was kind of cool to have such a textbook communication and crossing.

By 4:30ish when darkness was fading, the mist was getting thicker and we needed all eyes open as we headed for a small connecting channel with some unlit buoys. By then all 8 of us were on deck working out the route (our little unlit buoys were our only guide to stay away from some significant shoals and shallow spots).

Though I really wanted to stay up for the final approach, James had gotten some sleep and sense enough to convince me to do the same. They woke me just as the Statue of Liberty became visible. My grandmother, Anne Prince (Rozalia's daughter who was
with Rozalia on the SS Madonna that sailed from Constantinople to Ellis Island) used to cry when she saw the Statue of Liberty. For her it symbolized the opportunity that her (my) family took to make a better life for themselves here in the US (than in Russia). And though I generally do not tend toward tears, I, along with everyone else on the boat, could not keep my eyes off her as we sailed north toward Ellis and Battery Park in Manhattan.

What is especially unique about seeing NYC from the water are the glimpses you get down the streets and avenues and the stepped back perspective. And the nice thing about
NY Harbor is that it is deep everywhere so you really only need to worry about getting mowed down by one of the Staten Island (or zillion other) ferries. Sadly, NY was the get off point for
Richard and Mary who had to get back to Bristol, RI (and win some races on the beautiful Herreshoff boat Richard captains). First though we opened the champagne Mary had gotten in Annapolis and toasted to the trip, the boat and the project before nosing
up to a dock around the same latitude of Penn Station and literally dropping them off.

Trash-wise, I have to say that by now we were seeing a fair amount. Mostly evidence of people snacking and mostly plastic or foil packaging - bottles, wrappers, bags, cups. It was especially dense around tide lines and along the edges of the river. All of this kind of info we get prepares us for when we return with American Promise and are fully on the hunt (rather than bee-lining for repairs).

The wind was light and from the north so we motored up the Hudson. It was beautiful. The farther north we got, the better the weather. The Palisades are gorgeous, West Point striking and the lighthouses and huge mansions along the banks postcard worthy. We anchored on the east side of the river near Kingston in a pink sunset, funky looking clouds, a delicious dinner and lovely company. And as a bonus the Rocna anchor we used for the first time caught early and held fast all night through the tide change. Yeah Rocna (with everything else, having that go stress-free was nice).

Despite a healthy amount of condensation, Mark and I slept on deck (in sleeping bags - finally cool enough for sleeping bags). So nice. Again with the light northerly for our last day but it was sunny and smooth as we motored on to Albany. I had a treat in the form of 45 minutes up the mast. I am afraid of snakes but not of heights and loved it up there.

We stayed drama free to the Albany Yacht Club for a re-fueling (the boat did an impressive 1.27 gallons/hour for the trip) and pump-out and lovely smooth docking at Scarano's. And then we heard the sound of water. Not nice water lapping on the hull, a stream. From below decks.

It was the stuffing box doing it's best to sink us right at the dock. It took James, Ernie and Mark an hour (90F by now of course) to sort out the problem and stop the leak. And then the bilge pump got a good work-out removing all the Hudson River water that had invaded. If we had been waffling on the decision to pull out before, that did it and we had a word with the Scarano's to organize a haul/storage so we could address the structural and system issues that we had discovered on the way.

Our crew were amazing sweating away as we removed a lot of gear from the boat and wrestled sails below. Back to my parents for the best showers ever, a big BBQ, some Tour de France and early to bed.

We got everyone more or less where they needed to go the next day. James and Mark flew to BWI for cars, I drove the Reuters home, picked up Hickory and Smudge (our Newfies) and headed back to NY and the boat.

We are so grateful for the time, expertise, no drama, competence and great attitudes and friendship of Richard, Mary, Mark, Ernie, Bette and my dad, Allan. We could not have organized a better crew for that particularly eventful trip. We have pulled out so we can address all of the issues and make the boat one that is ready for a crew with a mix of experience so we can focus on collecting trash and the experience of sailing with total confidence in the boat and her systems.

1 comment:

  1. What a great story, felt like I was riding along with you. I love seeing what you folks are doing. I started spending time at the local beaches here in southern Maine looking at the trash people leave behind, and that washes in. I started a blog of my own on what I'm finding & learning: It's sobering, this plastic world we're now living in. But it's nice to see folks learning about it, and tackling it. Thanks for your work!