Monday, July 19, 2010

Stay on your side of the channel.

The other watch was the first to handle the Delaware River. Luckily the radar worked great - we needed every bit of info concerning the location of the channel, the shoals it marked and the enormous ships that were going in and out. This photo to the right shows how well the radar worked - you can see a big ship out the starboard side window. Looking at the radar, you can see a target at 90 degrees. That is the same ship, right where it really was.

I have to admit that the other watch had to deal with most of the traffic overnight. And deal they did. We monitored VHF channels 16 (for emergencies) and 13 (which is the dedicated ship to ship channel).
We also had a device on the top of the mast that makes our signature on radar quite big. That meant that when a huge super tanker was still many miles away they could see us, call us on the radio and then yell at us to stay on our side of the channel. Or maybe I should say vehemently suggest rather than yell. The YP's got yelled at.

By the time our watch was on at midnight, most of the big ships had come or gone and we had a dark, wind on the nose but luckily low traffic few hours until we handed everything over to the other watch at 4am. Overall it was all very tricky navigation-wise and bouncy wave-wise and seemed like the current was always against us (literally not figuratively) but American Promise handled it all just fine and we were all very excited to get east of the last river/shoal buoy to take advantage of a southerly wind to take us up the coast.

We raised the main and # 2 jib (which is the second biggest) and sailed a broad reach course all day long. Ahhhhhhhh - right up the New Jersey coast with the thunderstorms staying on shore then clearing completely. We had been keeping our eyes open for trash along the way and were mostly finding bottles and chip bags (the usual). Our unusual find was a beach ball around 10 miles off the Jersey Shore. Richard was driving and we had a great plan to nab it... I had Mark's ankles and he was poised for the grab over the side... when our bow wave pushed the ball just out of reach. Argghh. The ball carried on and in that breeze hopefully stayed intact to land on a beach on the south shore of Long Island.

If we could have just left it at that - a beautiful downwind sail up the coast, I would be in Maine right now. But, as happens with boats, that was the time we discovered 2 gallons of hydraulic oil in the bilge (suspected major leak), that the water system that had worked at the dock no longer did despite the Reuter's best efforts (we had plenty of drinking water though), that the chart plotter was intermittent (not so dire as we were keeping track of our location and had a back-up GPS), that a thru-hull had lost a set screw (could sink a boat but was caught in time) and that the generator was not charging the batteries (could lose all electronics if something happened to the engine as well).

But again, the sail was a great one. A little lumpy on starboard (actually quite lumpy) but smooth like butter on port. I will admit to skipping dinner (looked great but we had been on starboard for a bit) and I was not the only one. The combo of the motion plus the extremely, everywhere smell of hydraulic oil was not one that generated a huge amount of enthusiasm for a big dinner. At the 8pm watch change we made a plan for approaching New York City (staying on the inside heading for the Sandy Hook channel, so exciting). We woke at midnight just as the breeze died, the main came down and the motor went back on. Unfortunately the swell did not get the memo and stayed up (so glad I skipped dinner).

Next entry will take us into New York Harbor and up the Hudson.

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