It’s All Downhill From Here

Wednesday September 19, 2012

 

Five weeks into the trip and I’d have to say that yesterday was the least productive day (for myself at least) for the whole trip. The storm that was forecast and the one that kept us in Manhattan for an extra few days came through. The early afternoon wasn’t too bad, the sky was overcast and the winds were higher than normal, but nothing we’d hadn’t been exposed to before. Since I knew we probably wouldn’t be making it off the boat I thought it would be a great chance to pull out my laptop and finally get some work done. Let’s just say that when you’re in a city like this, everything else gets neglected. So sitting on the sette I was trying to focus on my screen and type but the normally rolly mooring that we’re at happened to be extra rolly due to the winds from the incoming storm coming in and it was a constant rocking from side to side. My stomach didn’t handle it too well but I figured like just like when we’re traveling, if I could make it above deck for some fresh air I’d feel much better. Hooking the laptop on to an extension cord I sat in the cockpit finally able to focus on my screen without getting sick. Just when I felt like I was getting things done a heavy enough sprinkle came in and forced me below.

 Of course the laptop now had to be put away and I figured since I was useless below deck I might as well lie down in the v-berth and relax, maybe try to settle my stomach. Iron stomach Matt though thought that the day stuck on the boat would be the perfect time to finish getting the watermaker installed since we had just gotten the last necessary parts from hardware stores in the past week or so and now he had a whole day on his hands for projects below deck. Stuffed into the cramped aft cabin he was able to work without issue as the boat tossed to and fro. Although I knew he was working on this it must have drifted out of my consciousness while I was relaxing (napping) up front and after a few hours he came up to wake me. “Try this” he urged and put a mug of water in front of me. I took a few sips and sleepily questioned, “Is this something to make me feel better?”. “Nope”, he replied, “It’s Hudson River water”. Not that it tasted salty or in any way different than the water that came out of our faucet, but it was too late to do a spit take because that’s what I would have done had I found out that Hudson River water crossed my lips. Later finding out about it one of my friends said, “You know there’s condoms constantly floating down there, right?”. I had not known at the time (luckily we didn’t see them clogging up our dinghy ride) but I knew this was not ‘clean’ water. I only felt slightly better after Matt told me he had already drank two full glasses before my two sips.

 The storm progressively got worse as the day moved on and the worst of it came around 7:00 at night, just after it had gotten dark out. The winds were whipping up to 40 knots and there was blinding rain anywhere you looked. I’m pretty sure our mooring may have dragged a little bit because we were a lot closer to shore than either of us had remembered before. And finally when I had moved myself from the bouncy v-berth to the settee in the salon (when will I learn??!!) the storm was gone. The rains and wind vanished and we actually seemed calmer than normal. After an extra 20 minutes sprawled on the settee I was even able to move and make a salad for dinner. When we were sure it wasn’t coming back we moved back to the v-berth to watch a movie. From 8:00 on it was actually a pretty relaxing evening and just what we needed after running around for miles and miles the past few days.

 Getting up this morning we didn’t have any intention of leaving first thing since winds and waves weren’t forecasted to completely settle until the early afternoon, plus we only had a 12 mile journey over to Sandy Hook, NJ to spend the night before braving the ocean. The reason for stopping here is because once we get on the Atlantic we’re going straight for Cape May in one shot which is basically taking the whole state of Jersey, top to bottom, all in one sail. We know it’s going to be an overnight, probably 32 hours or so, and don’t want to get there in the middle of the night. Figuring that we normally go 4 knots for the 110 mile journey that should put us there around 4 pm, and if we happen to increase past that 4 knot speed we still have plenty of daylight to fall back on.

 With still a few hours left in Manhattan we didn’t have big plans or landmarks to see, just tying up a few loose ends before traveling again like stocking up on the last bit of groceries and getting to McDonalds one more time for wifi. Since my stomach had been so upset the day before and we were headed for bays that day where we didn’t know what the waves would be like I used a scopoalmine patch to make sure I didn’t get sick again. These are something I had gotten a ton of back when I had great insurance and had used once or twice without issue. Open the envelope, peel the patch off and stick it behind my ear, all set. I finished getting ready to go out and locked up the boat while Matt lowered the dinghy. Stepping into the sun I noticed my right eye seemed a little blurry but figured I had rubbed my eye and my contact had become misplaced. It happens from time to time but normally moves back into place in just a minute or two. Matt asked if I wanted to go back and check it but I said I was fine. Then while dinghying over he would point out things for me to look at (“That huge sailboat from Battery Park is here!” or “Check out that boat’s headsail, doesn’t like it did well in the storm” which was sad because this boat’s sail had been ripped to shreds by the wind and the poor owner had not come back to discover it yet.) and each time I’d try to look up into the light my eyes would water and I’d be forced to look at the floor of the dinghy again because it was too painful. Tying up at the dingy dock he wanted to get a closer look at Timoneer, the 120 ft sailboat we had seen at Battery Park, and we walked down the dock toward it. Every time he’d try to get me to focus on something it was just blindingly bright and I’d have to keep my eyes down on the dock.

 Going back to the office to pay for our last two nights and getting nausous just standing in the doorway I realized what all my wacky symptoms were coming from, the seasickness patch I had just put on. I had read reviews online that some people had adverse effects and by wearing the patch it actually brought out some of the symptoms you were trying to avoid. Some of the big ones listed were nausea and blurred vision. Right away I took the patch off and figured I’d be back to my old self within 30 minutes. Besides, I hadn’t even been feeling bad when I put it on. During the walk over to our home corner things weren’t getting better at all but I figured it was because we were outside in the sun and once I was inside again I’d feel much better. Getting into McDonalds I took a seat at a chair next to the electrical outlet and got to work. The lights weren’t bothering me as much but everything was still very blurred. Accidentally catching my reflection in a mirror next to me I noticed my pupils were completely enlarged. Probably as bad or worse than when you visit the optometrist and they put those drops in. No wonder my vision was so blurry and it was painful to be out in the sunlight. My eyes had no way to shut any of it out. I wasn’t too nervous because the patch had been off less than an hour and I figured it just needed time I finished my work there and we went next door to Trader Joe’s. That was a little amusing though because Matt would turn to me and ask “Have you seen where the eggs are?” and I’d have to reply, “I can’t see anything”. For any of you who do wear contacts, it was like if you were wandering around town without them on. Everything was fuzzy and only legible if it was six inches from my face.

 Back on the boat there was no time to be wasted before leaving and the engine was already on before I could put away the groceries. I had really been looking to see the whole skyline of New York from the water and was completely disappointed that this was the one day I could barely see anything. Determined not to miss it I dug through all our sunglasses and found a pair that looked at if they were a an infomercial one size fits all. I had no idea how they made it on to our boat but I threw them on. At first they were rose colored glasses (literally) but after a few minutes the colors faded back to their normal hue. We made our way down the rest of the Hudson and into New York Harbor and I was able to see it in perfection. It really does look a lot different from the water than while you’re walking down the streets. Somehow larger and smaller at the same time. The scale of the buildings looked huge from the river since we could see the tops of them now which we hadn’t been able to do from the street, yet at the same time we were passing it all by so quickly and with a little distance between you, it was almost possible to see from one end to the other. Walking through the streets, tunneling under the city in the subway, and now passing it by on the water it feels like we’ve had the full New York experience. Even if we travel all the way around the world I don’t think we’ll ever find a city quite like this one. Not only has it been the highlight of our trip but visiting here for these few days has been one of the best experiences of my life.

 Getting past the last part of the financial district we saw where the East River meets the Hudson (and a glance at the Brooklyn Bridge) with Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty coming up on our right. We hadn’t been interested at stopping at either location for a closer look but it was still fun and interesting to see them from where we were. Getting further into the bay the commercial traffic was crazy and the AIS on our chartplotter had lights flashing in every direction. What we noticed though while coming up on most barges heading the opposite direction as us is that they were all anchored. At 4:00 in the afternoon. We assumed it must have something to do with fighting current and were just happy that they were easier to navigate while not moving. Just after getting under the xx bridge it was time to start making the turn toward Sandy Hook. Because of lots of shoals in the area I made sure to follow the well marked channel into the anchorage. The area was large and many other boats were already hooked for the night. Dropping our anchor with still a little over an hour of daylight we took advantage of that and our calm little bay to fire up the grill again with pork tenderloin and roasted red potatoes. It’s funny how in one afternoon you can go from city life back to cruising life and not bat an eye. Besides yesterday we hadn’t eaten on the boat once while in the city and now we were back to fending for ourselves and the transition was completely normal.

 We’re looking at an 8 am departure tomorrow and will finally be able to call ourselves ocean sailors. Wish us luck!!

Rocking my blind man glasses.

Leaving the 79th St Boat Basin behind.

 

 

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The Frying Pan

Monday September 17, 2012

With the extra time on our hands we were determined to get our 3 buck Chucks from Trader Joe’s before we left the city. Being smart enough to know our legs couldn’t handle the walk all the way down to 14th St and then back with bags full of wine we stopped by the subway station to purchase Metro passed and hopped on hoping we were going the right direction. We must have been on an express route, and after stopping at 42nd St the next stop along the way was 14th St and we got off. We still had no idea where on 14th the Trader Joe’s was, and this also happened to be the one day we left the phone on the boat. Walking a few blocks we figured it would be smarter to ask someone on the street. Stopping a guy while passing through a cross walk he told us to go a few blocks up to 18th and we’d find it there. Even though that logic didn’t make sense at all we trusted him and kept following that road up, and by the time we got to 20th we still had not seen a Trader Joe’s. Walking into a bar on that corner I asked the bartender and he goes, “Oh yeah, there’s one on 14th and Irving, that’s the only one around here”. We still don’t know if the first guy was clueless or just thought it was fun to point tourist in the completely wrong direction. Once we did find the store we saw there was one specifically for food and one for wine. Going to get what we came for we walked in the wine store and saw top to bottom shelves of wine encasing the entire place.

 Noticing there was a wide selection and not all just store brand items this time there we searched out the 3 buck Chuck and found it near the back of the store. There was a decent selection reds and whites plus one blush. Even though we had gone a far distance to get here I knew Matt wasn’t much of a wine drinker and thought we’d walk out with maybe 6 bottles, 8 at max. Loving wine myself (I’ll never turn down a glass if offered) I was estatic when he said, “I was thinking we’d mix and match for a total of 16 bottles”. Woohoo, I was going on a wine shopping spree!! From the whites we picked a few Pinto Grigios and a few Sauvignon Blancs. Always a fan of White Zinfandel I threw a few of those in the cart as well, and for the reds we mixed between Merlot and Shiraz. When checking out, the sixteen bottles with tax came to about $52. Macy’s move over, I think I’ve found my new favorite store.

 Taking the subway back was a little more complicated since we took the red line down and were now getting on at green. Trying to read the maps while speeding down the tracks (and still not trying to stand out as a tourist) I figured Times Square had to have a connecting line since the red stopped there before and we got off at that stop once we got to it. My little bit of street smarts paid off and we did find the red line taking us back to 72nd St. Not even sure where to store the wine once back on the boat we left it in it’s bags and got ready for drinks with our reader, Bill, who had emailed a few days ago. Since him and his wife Grace live in Manhattan I was going to let the experts pick the place and they landed on The Frying Pan, a Lightship with an an old railroad barge attached that acts as a seasonal Bar/Grill, located on the Hudson River at 23rd St (or Pier 66). We were meeting at 7:00 since they both had to work that day and because the two of us were determined to find one of those really cheap pizza deals along the way we left at 5:30 just to make sure we’d get to the Frying Pan on time.

 Getting all the way to Lincoln Center and finding nothing we hopped over to Columbus Ave and followed that south. Once we got to 53rd St we saw the sign we were looking for (or something close) ‘Grand Opening: 2 Slices & Soda or Water $2.75’. Jackpot! It was everything I hopped it would be, but too bad I didn’t realize until I had finished eating that I didn’t eat it the ‘New York’ way by folding the large slice in half before eating. With 45 minutes on the clock and 30 minutes to go we thought we could rush through on foot instead of taking the subway to get to drinks. Plus the subway gave us a greater chance of getting lost and really being late. Hoofing it as quick as we could we made it to the restaurant only 5 or so minutes late. Waiting for us in the back in an area sheltered from the wind was Bill, and he stood up to greet us as we came in. Just a few minutes later his wife Grace sat down with us after refilling their drinks from the bar and we all sat around getting to know each other. They were our age, have a Sabre two feet larger than ours, and are planning to go cruising as well in the next few years. The guys talked about boat things as they always do while Grace and I focused more on the cruising lifestyle and how each of us had gotten into sailing as well as our thoughts on cruising. They are a great couple that we have so much in common with and I’m so happy we had the chance to meet. Before we could even really get to know each other though it was 10:00 and the bar was shutting down. In New York City? The good news is these two are planning to be at the Annapolis Boat Show in a few weeks, which we’ll definitely be at, and Grace and I are already talking about discussing cruising more over a few Painkillers. Sounds like a plan to me.

 After walking up a few blocks from the river they tucked into a cab to go home while Matt and I tucked into McDonald’s for a late night snack. Nothing like a McChicken and a large coffee at 10:30 at night to satisfy you. Yes, coffee, finally!! And they’re only $1 in NY. Did I mention I love this city? Treating ourselves to a subway ride back we found the tunnels of the city are much more desolate at this time of night but we still didn’t see any crazies out and about. We got to our home corner and walked the familiar path back to the basin where the restaurant there was closed as well. So much for the city that never sleeps. Still love it though.

A bottle of wine that’s $2 cheaper than the chocolate?  Gotta love that!

xx

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A Walk In The Park

Sunday September 16, 2012

Checking the weather today we learned that there are some bad storms coming in on Tuesday that will make traveling very hard, so we’ve extended our time in/near Manhattan. We’re still debating on if we should stay on the mooring for a rather cheap nightly fare or if we should travel the few miles to Sandy Hook, NJ just before we get into the Atlantic and hole up there for a few days. The city is sounding so much more interesting right now. The morning didn’t have a lot going for us today, knowing we might have a few more days in the city we weren’t as ambitious and gave ourselves most of the day to relax. One of the things that we did want to take care of though on this lazy day was a little bit of provisioning. Our friends on Water Music told us they visited Trader Joe’s on 14th St and were able to stock up on wine for $3 a bottle, or 3 buck Chuck as they called it. We had seen a Trader Joe’s at our home corner and made a mission to make it there. Before heading in to get groceries though I forced Matt in for a stop at McDonalds so I could do a few updates to the website (this wifi through our phone only is staring to drive me crazy) and while checking our Facebook account I saw I had a message from a guy Bill that lives in New York, also owns a Sabre, and wanted to get together while we were in town. I shot him a message back that we should be in town for a few more days and would love to meet up. I just felt bad that he had sent the message three days prior and this was the first time I had access to it. Did I mention I hate our internet situation right now?

 Walking next door into Trader Joe’s we didn’t know what to expect as we had never been in one before, they didn’t have them in West Michigan. Picking up a basket we browsed the aisles for the few necessary things and quickly found out that 80% of what’s inside Trader Joe’s is store brand. Prices seemed good though and we quickly filled the basket. Then looking through the beer section we kept an eye out for the wine but didn’t see anything. Figuring they kept the wine on a different floor we went back up the escalator to search for it there. No wine. So then we went back down. After walking the whole store three times we still couldn’t find it and eventually asked the store clerk who told us they didn’t carry it at that location, we’d have to go to the 14th St location. Good thing we were getting extra time on our hands with the unexpected delay in departure. Getting into the checkout line which reached all the way back to produce we were quickly ushered into one of 20 cashier stands and then back on the streets. The wine would have to wait another day.

 Depositing the groceries back on the boat we were back on the streets for another evening of walking. Deciding not to go to our home corner we turned north to see what kinds of things we would find as we remembered seeing lots of interesting restaurants on our lost stroll back the first night when we had overshot 79th St. Walking up Amsterdam there were indeed a lot of restaurants, but none of the same ones we remembered seeing before. Not discouraged since it wasn’t dinner time we kept wandering until the streets started looking a little worn down and cut over to WCP which we followed up to 96th Ave and realized there wasn’t much to see anymore, so we went in to the park. My goal was to check out the Upper East Side and see what the fuss was all about, so we took the most direct path we could find through the park. Having seen a little bit of 5th Ave running parallel to the park our first night out we passed through a few more streets headed east until we came to Park Ave. According to my NY geography, this is where all the big money was supposedly sitting. I think we had popped out of the park too far north and the buildings were still a little run down, but the further south we headed the nicer they became.

 Had I thought about this a little better before I left the boat I may have changed my attire a little bit, as this is the day I decided to go casual and was in cut off jeans and flip flops. Not quite Park Avenue material. The sweater may have saved me a little since every time we’d pass someone on the street they’d smile and nod, almost as if we belonged. Or Matt’s long hair and beard made him look like a celebrity incognito and they thought they were just passing by some rockstar and his hipster girlfriend. Getting back down to 72nd it was getting later and once again I was really ready for food, which we knew we wouldn’t find in our price range in this area. Passing by a few designer stores (the first Ralph Lauren Purple Label I’d ever seen a brick and mortar building for) we went back in the park so we could come out near Amsterdam again and get some food. Just a few minutes after entering the park I thought I spotted the boat house off to my right. Dragging Matt off to the side path we meandered to the area and walked passed a few times, in envy of everyone with food and drinks in their hands.

Having now taken ourselves completely off the main road we had been using to walk though the park we continued on the small path we were on until it opened up once again into Bethesda Fountain, a very popular area of central park often portrayed in movies and tv shows. The sun had just set and it was casting hues of orange and pink all over the area with hints of blue still in the sky. Even though the area was somewhat crowded it seemed still and serene at the same time. Taking a seat on one of the benches to the side we watched friends gather and gondolas pass through on the lake next to us. We sat there until it grew almost completely dark and then walked up the staircase back to a main road. I had known the whole time that we needed to continue right, but Matt began walking straight (thinking it was the correct way out) and I followed him since that craving for food didn’t seem as necessary anymore. While we walked we came up on the sound of music with a large crowd of people gathering around it. What we found was a bongo-type drum circle with a few others playing homemade type instruments. Inside the circle were all different kinds of people dancing to the music. One was a girl in an authentic Spanish or Latin American type dress, one was a guy in a ripped up tank top with pads on his knees, and best of all, an older man wearing a coconut bra and a tutu. His beard was dyed in neon shades of yellow and orange, and his little white dog was dressed to matched. This circle took all kinds. At different times people would exit and enter the circle and it was kind of a free for all for whoever wanted to join.

 Continuing down the park a little further there was another musical session going for whoever wanted to join. This one had music playing out of a boombox and different areas for different things. In the center was a spot for couples or singles to dance, off to one side was an area for anyone on rollerblades, and the other side was reserved for hulla hoopers who were using ones that lit up in the dark and flashed every color of the rainbow. Someone had really put some thought into this area and had skates, rollerblades and hula hoops for rent, plus copies of the CD playing for sale. When we first passed by the park at night on Friday it looked like a place you did not enter after the sun went down, but after tonight it seemed like the place to be after dark. After getting to the edge of the park and exiting on Central Park Ave instead of Central Park West like was the original intent (good thing Matt has me around to navigate) we found our way back to our home corner and then cut off on another street to find a restaurant. Wandering down a good 10-15 blocks we didn’t see anything appealing and went back to a semi-fine Italian restaurant we had already passed. Getting sat outside right next to the sidewalk we browsed the menu but nothing sounded even remotely appetizing, and on top of that, this was one of the restaurants where all the entrees started at over $20. Neither of us felt like shelling out a ton of money for something we weren’t even going to enjoy so while no one was looking (and before a waiter had even come) we slid out the crack onto the sidewalk and walked away. Is it still considered dining and ditching if you’ve only taken a few sips of the water the busser brought you?

 Realizing this street had nothing for us we took the next cross street we came to and decided to go back to Amsterdam where we knew there would be at least something halfway decent that we’d also be able to afford. Before we could even turn the corner onto Amsterdam there was a restaurant housed there called the Amsterdam Ale House. Sounded promising. Checking out the menu they actually had sandwiches under $15, and with a name like the Ale House you knew they had to have some good brews. For the second night in a row, just by dumb luck we had found a restaurant with some of the best food we had ever tasted. Matt had the pulled pork sandwich and I went with the portabello and goat cheese. Absolutely delicious and it came with one of my favorite sides ever, sweet potato fries. Definitely worth the wait and the extra few miles. Stuffed and tired we were dinghying back to the boat when we passed by our friends on Between the Sheets who had just got in that morning and were moored a few balls down from us. Since there looked to be life aboard we stopped by to say hi and also had the chance to meet John’s wife and daughter. Turns out they really do exist. Sitting and chatting for a few minutes I found out that a ‘small’ glass of wine to John meant completely topped off and in talking to his wife Cathy found out they were high school sweethearts just like Matt and I. Awwww. Since she had a long day of traveling we didn’t stay too long but it was nice to put a personality to the face. And with two more days in the city I’m sure I’ll be able to catch up with her again and get some more dirt I can use against John.

xx

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Bright Lights, Big City

Saturday September 15, 2012

I don’t know what’s wrong with us, but when we woke up today and started moving around the cabin without any soreness to our legs we thought we had lucked out and the 20 miles we put on our feet yesterday had no lasting effect on us. Feeling so spry we thought today would be a good day to tackle the Museum of Natural History. That was number one on Matt’s list of things to do in New York City and I was quite interested in seeing it as well. Assuming we’d have another 80 degree day I threw on a dress and we were out the door. Before we could even get on shore to find out our legs had no in face recovered from the previous day I smashed my knee hard into the dinghy dock while jumping off to tie up. Not looking like a good start to the day. I wasn’t going to let it get me down though and I limped through the streets on our way to the museum. Having skipped breakfast though again we knew we needed to eat before wandering around a museum and I happened to ‘find’ $20 (took from my secret stash) that morning. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend that money than at Grays Papaya. With hot dogs and papaya juice in our stomachs we made our way to the Museum of Natural History and paid the suggested price, which I never understand because it makes it sound like a bartering process. Either way we had our tickets and went into see the animals from Africa first.

 Standing in front of the lions we were reading the plaque on the side when one of the security guards came over to ask if we had a camera on us. Even though the hundreds of other visitors next to us were snapping away on theirs we assumed for a moment you weren’t allowed to bring them in (which we did) and we were about to get in trouble. Shaking our heads no we thought he’d move on to the next people when he started saying, “Well that’s too bad because sometimes when I stand here I just see things that would work great in a photo. If you had a camera on you I’d be able to capture it”. Realizing we were not actually in trouble Matt turns to me and says, “Wait, don’t you have the camera on you somewhere?”. I handed it to him while the security guard instructed me to climb over the wooden partition meant to keep people away from the exhibits and told me to crouch down and put my hands up against the glass at certain angles. He’d snap a few photos and then move me to another area, reposition me, and take more. Then he passed the camera back and thanked us for our time. Matt told me that after we left the couple behind us started doing the same thing at every exhibit in the hall. Apparently we were the only people the security guard offered it for.

Not going in any kind of order we bounced from hall to hall, briefly finding maps and choosing exhibits based on that. It was sometime after learning the history of man in Asia and South America that we realized our legs could not handle all day here. So instead of reading every plaque at every display we started walking through and only looking at the objects and doing no reading. Seeing another map we pinned down about three more exhibits we really wanted to see that day and made our way towards them. On the way up a flight of stairs to the dinosaurs we passed the cafe with coffee aromas wafting through again. What has it been with my coffee cravings lately? Anything with an automatic drip will send me running toward it as our french press has not made morning coffee a ritual lately. More clean-up than I want to mess with on a daily basis, but the cravings are still there. I digress. Back to the dinosaurs, this was probably our favorite exhibit by far. In addition to many skeletons of extinct dinosaurs and other species it also contained skeletons of animals around today. This is the kind of stuff I love. The science and dissection of how things work, I was in heaven. My legs however were not. By this point they had basically given out and Matt was feeling the hurt too. Resting for a bit on a bench we wound our way down to the Rose Space Center and kept pushing ourselves on in the name of education. One note on this area, the heliosphere  in the center is pretty amazing…the information surrounding it…not so much. Either we were in the wrong area or this spot didn’t have much to offer because the only information we could find were things such as ‘if this heliosphere were the size of a blood cell, this ceramic replica in front of you would be the size of a bacteria attacking it’. Now that I read it again, it actually does sound a lot more interesting, I think we were just too tired to appreciate it at the time.

Having spent only two and a half hours in the museum we knew we couldn’t make it any further and exited the building to relax on a bench outside. Although we were still hopeful that ‘we’d go back in an hour’, we both knew it wouldn’t happen. Accepting that fact we went back to the boat for some much needed R&R. Napping and just resting we got ourselves ready to go back out and experience the city at night. We knew we wanted to make to to Time Square again to see all the lights and night and we also wanted to eat out for once. As in, this would be our first time in a restaurant with a server since we left on this trip. Walking over to what we like to call our home corner now of 72nd & Broadway we headed south. Putting dinner first on our list we knew all day we wanted Mexican, but every place we researched on our phone was way out of our budget. Most of the early night went like this: Walk up to a restaurant, look at the menu sitting out front, shake our heads at each other and move on to the next place. It was getting to the point that if we could find a place with entrees starting under $20 we might consider it. After going to every place on the phone and failing we just started walking up to any random restaurant on the street and browsing their menu. $17 for a cheeseburger? No thanks. Just as we were about to give up and go inside the next place we found regardless of the menu items or price we walked around a corner and found a cute little Mexican restaurant sitting there; Arriba Arriba. Looking at the menu outside it appeared fairly cheap and we were sold. The atmosphere was nice, although a little dark and a bit loud. Not a place I’d recommend for a first date but it suited us just fine. The salsa they served was amazing and the portions were huge. Plus the server was very friendly and even got super excited when I randomly picked his favorite beer off the menu. I think we were headed toward BFF territory in his mind.

Getting back to Broadway we followed it until the streets opened up into lights again. There was so much activity going on, from the hundreds of other tourist just milling around to the street performers trying to make a buck. Taking a seat on this large staircase sitting in the middle we just sat for a few minutes, looking at all the billboards and watching the city pass us by. Then getting back to the main square in the center of the streets we could see all the people around us jumping around and moving their arms around like they were on camera. Looking up we saw a large screen displaying a male and female character for a dunk tank, and behind them was a camera showing the crowd in the square. Based on our proximity to all the people waving their arms we assumed we had to be near enough to be on the screen as well and kept searching out our faces. It was like a backwards round of Where’s Waldo. Almost ready to give up I finally spotted us at the edge and pulled Matt in closer so he could be in on the action as well. After being entertained by that for a good 5-10 minutes we went over to check out the street performers. There were lots of Statue of Liberties, silver and gold moving statues, and surprisingly three Elmos. Then while walking by one of the tv productions companies (I can’t remember which one) we spotted a large crowd gathered around someone all trying to take photos. Possible celebrity sighting? We inched in closer just as a young woman was thrown back out of the crowd yelling “You a liar!!, You a liar!!, You’s a fake!” and looked like she was seriously ready to kick some but. Really curious to see the imposter she was so upset at we kept moving forward although I couldn’t make anything out through the crowd. Finally moving our sight up to the cameras, iPhones, and iPads being held above this person we could see the image of supposedly Snoop Dogg (or Snoop Lion now) reflected on them. One glace and we could tell he didn’t look like the real thing either.

Making our way off the square my bum knee was acting up again and we started the walk back to our home corner. Although we still did considerably a lot today it feels like nothing compared to all the ground we covered yesterday (literally). Only one more day in Manhattan before we’re off to Jersey, hope we find a great way to spend it. Now back to the boat to pop some Aleve and pass out.

View from our mooring into the city.

Gotta love the security guard at the museum for taking these.

See any familiar faces off to the side?

 

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Finding And Then Occupying Wall Street

Friday September 14, 2012

We’re on Wall Street!

As I mentioned a few posts ago, we blew half our monthly budget for September by getting the mast put back up and all the things that went along with it. So you might be asking yourself How are they going to afford to stay in New York City? Marinas in the city are around $3/foot per night and even Jersey is at least $2. The only way we could afford it is because at the 79th St Boat Basin they offer transient mooring balls for $30/night. This we could squeeze into the budget. Our plans were set to stay three nights, but upon reading a friends blog (Maryl @ Water Music) the previous day she mentioned how they tired to get a ball but were kicked off and ended up having to pay the exorbitant fees for a slip at the marina. We were in a panic. There was no way afford that but also didn’t want to skip the city. Worst part about reading the blog as well is she didn’t mention why they were kicked off. In a fury I was typing a comment on her post to see if she could reply to us about what the issue was. There was no response that night. (They didn’t have internet at the time)

Still departing this morning as we normally would have we got a message back about where they had their problem. It turns out there are only about 10 transient balls, all yellow, and the rest were for permanent owners. At the time they had grabbed a white one and since all the yellow balls were taken they were forced into a slip if they wanted to stay. We were praying there would be at least one yellow ball open when we got there. Armed with this new knowledge we were only an hour from the basin when we saw a few boats begin to come up behind us in the river. What if they were going to the basin? What if they beat us and stole the only open ball? We were not going to let that happen. Throwing all of our power behind the engine we zoomed ahead and left them in our dust. Getting close enough to the basin now to start making out some of the moorings I was sent to the bow with a boat hook and a pair of binoculars to keep an eye out for anything open. At first all I could see were white ones, and then a little further down I could start to see yellow ones here and there. All of them had boats attached and I was getting a little discouraged . Suddenly one of the boat attached to a transient ball swung to the side and revealed an open one behind it. Matt saw it at the same time I did and kept going at it with full power even though there were no boats near us anymore. Coming up behind it I swung the boat hook in the water and grabbed the lines and attached them to our bow. I was so excited that I started jumping on the deck and pumping my fists into the air. We had managed to get the only open mooring.

Coming up on the George Washington Bridge. Very beautiful architectural design.

Calling into the marina office we let them know we had arrived and quickly got ready so we could go in to pay them and tour the city. As we were standing in the office to fill out paper work and check in I looked at a small map on the wall with the vicinity of the basin to areas in the city. Looking a little closer I realized that we were only a few blocks from Central Park. Let me tell you right now, I can be a little blonde sometimes and my geography can way off. In my head I was thinking that Streets and Avenues in NYC were the same thing and that 5th Ave would be prime real estate. So with that logic and being on 79th I figured we’d be waaaay out in a dodgy section of town. Not the case at all, we were sitting on the Upper West Side. Once we got out and started walking the third street in we hit was Broadway. Also sitting on the corner there (of 72nd & Broadway) was Gray’s Papaya, on the list of seriously three things I wanted to hit up while in the city, one of the others being Central Park. Since it was lunch time and we had not eaten all day I figured it was fate…except one thing. Due to an issue with our debit card we haven’t been able to take out cash since we left, and had literally $5 in our pockets. We assumed everything but street vendors would take credit but that is not the case. Sadly Grays Papaya would only happen if we found a way to get more cash.

Continuing our walk down 72nd St we went a few more blocks down and dead ended into Central Park West Ave. with a convenient entrance right into the park. We must have looked like tourist to the guys sitting on rickshaws who wanted to take us around the park and pounced on us as soon as we walked up, but may have passed for natives as a group of tourist asked us how to get to Strawberry Fields. We took a walk all the way around the pond while I searched for The Boat House which happened to be in a completely different area, and while walking narrow paths and ducking under trees it sort of had a zoo atmosphere complete with exhibits such as squirrels mating. Wanting to get out into the concrete jungle we left the park and figured we’d still have plenty of time to see it. Stepping back on to CPW we walked further south while keeping an eye out for anyone famous. No sightings in the Central Park area.

Our mooring was directly on the opposite side of this building.

When the park and the avenue ended we were dropped out right by Broadway and figured that would be a good street to continue on. Part of it was wandering and taking in sights and the other part was a search for food. I was hungry enough that I wanted food NOW, I didn’t care if it was McDonald’s or Burger King. Matt was stuck on the idea that we needed to eat somewhere we didn’t have back at home. And it still had to take credit and still be inexpensive. The search was on. We’d look up and down streets for anything new and abruptly the sidewalks opened and there were crowds of people in the middle of the street. We had just stumbled into Times Square. Neither of us had searched it beforehand or knew where it was, so it was a fun little bit of serendipity that we happened upon it. It was the middle of a bright sunny day, but the lights from billboards were still blazing in every direction. Standing around and taking it all in we promised we’d have to see it again at night. But right now food was still a top priority on my mind. Going just a few block further from Times Square we found a Potbelly Sandwich Shop and since neither of us has been to one we rushed in the door.

After getting back on the street it was 3:30 in the afternoon and we still didn’t have any real plans for the day. Matt really wanted to see Wall Street and searched on his phone to see how far it was, about 4 miles. My legs were already a little tired but I couldn’t think of another time we’d be this far through midtown and resolved that we may as well keep going. When the street numbers began to fall off I assumed that meant we were getting close. Nope, gotta keep walking through Tribeca and Greenwich Village and a bunch of other places that I originally had no idea where they were located. Today was a lesson in New York geography for sure. Still not exactly sure where we were going we dead ended into a construction zone for the new Freedom Towers being constructed. I remember coming here with my parents 14 years ago when the Twin Towers were around and I’ll stare up to the top of them getting dizzy. I’m really glad something so beautiful is being raised as a memorial.

One of the new Freedom Towers going up.

Crossing a freeway and then realizing it was taking us in the opposite direction we wanted to be in we crossed back and landed at the World Financial Center. Trying to get our bearing on the Google Map on our phone we decided to take a short cut through the building. Even though it was extremely hot out and I had just been wishing for a cold beer the smell of Starbucks wafted through the area and I could not have been craving anything more at the moment. I miss easy coffee. Passing the Starbucks by we exited the double doors and found ourselves in front of a marina. A very fancy one. It was The North Cove, the most exclusive mega yacht marina in Manhattan located in Batter City Park. Also one of the things I had wanted to see in NYC, although I originally had no idea where it was (again). Another bit of serendipity for the day. Taking a few minutes to amble through the area we took in all the mega yachts that we’d probably be seeing again in the Caribbean, although just like now, will probably have no association with the owners or even the crew. Then walking out to the waterfront you could see the Statue of Liberty in the distance. If I could have spent the rest of the day here I would have but Matt was pointing at his watch and reminding me we needed to get a move on. We hand’t found Wall Street yet, and there was still the walk back of about 8 miles.

North Cove Marina at Battery Park (no mega yachts shown, although there were a few).

On a real mission now just to get to Wall Street we became those tourist with map in our hand, matching street names and pointing in the direction we needed to go. One thing I did not want to do while in the city was stand out as a tourist, but at this point I didn’t care anymore. The sooner we found Wall Street the sooner we could start the long walk back and rest again. Leaving The North Cove we were on a street that housed the 9/11 Memorial and there were people lined up around the block. I hadn’t even thought about the fact that we were there only three days after the anniversary. Again, if we had time it’s something we really would have liked to do, but it was so late in the afternoon I doubt we could have still gotten in that day anyway. Continuing on with our map we managed to get turned around about five more times but eventually made it to Wall Street. Speaking of anniversaries, we were there almost exactly one year after the Occupy Wall Street movement. We wandered around for a little bit and took note of the sights, and also how 90% of the men leaving the buildings seemed to owned a nice suit that fit them right. Come on guys, you’re supposed to be the creme de la creme!! Next thing to do on the list was find the Charging Bull. We knew it had to be in the area but still managed to get turned down about three wrong streets before finding our way according to Google Maps. But even when they said we were right on top of it we couldn’t see anything. Just as we were about to get really frustrated with the map a truck pulled out of the way and presented the bull right behind it. As things always are in movies, we thought it would be a lot bigger but were still excited to see it. There was a large area fenced off around it which allowed people to line up and then stand in front of the bull to have their photo taken. We didn’t want to go through that process and just took a few photos of ourselves with swarms of people behind us. Oh well, still proof we were there!

At this point we were finally allowed to move in a direction closer to the boat instead of away from it. We didn’t take the same street down as we took up, but for the life of me I can not remember which one it was (and I think it was Broadway we took almost all the way down). Luckily at this point my legs were starting to go numb and the walk back wasn’t feeling as bad. At some point we jumped on 5th Ave and went through a more trendy area than we had come down on. There were also signs on the street advertising two slices of pizza and a pop for $5 and my mouth was watering. Cash only though….. of course. A few more streets down we were waiting at a light to cross the road and I looked over and saw a booth that was in the same shape as the Flatiron building. Then I looked further over and saw the intersection was in a Y shape, which tipped me off and I looked up. Yup, we had stumbled across the Flatiron building itself, one of the things that would have been cool to see but wasn’t in my list of must haves. This was turning into the best day ever.

Flatiron Building

Remaining on a northerly course we took a quick side trip to give a call to our bank (cash issue should be resolved in 3-5 days) and then hopped back on 5th. A few more streets up and we floundered onto yet another New York landmark, Rockefeller Center. This was a very fun stop for both of us as we are completely in love with the NBC series, 30 Rock. We wandered around the area looking as touristy as possible and even went inside 30 Rockefeller Center for a better look. I kept waiting for Tina Fey to walk through the lobby so I could be that annoying fan that jumps out and tells her how much I loved her book and her show but she never appeared.

Rockefeller Center

Really ready to start getting back we followed 5th Ave until it hit Central Park. Stopping into a restaurant really quick we grabbed a few slices of pizza and a beer before hitting the road again. We had been walking for at least six hours at this point (I’ve taken out the time we used sitting for lunch and dinner) and I just wanted to crawl on the boat and into bed. Matt had other ideas though and wanted to walk down the East side of Central Park so he could get a look at the Guggenheim. I don’t know how he talked me into it but I agreed to follow him, my feet trudging every step of the day. Before we could even get 10 blocks up I was starting to think my body would fail me and contemplated walking through the park to get back home. We hadn’t felt any sense of danger at all yet through the day, but looking into the dark shady area, neither of us wanted to chance it. I thought I had resigned myself to at least five more miles of walking when we came up to what looked like a well lit path through the park. I looked at Matt but he still shook his head no. Getting only 10 steps further we heard loud music coming from that area and turned to see what I was. I begged Matt to let us go in, stating that the music probably had a large crowd around it and there was a very small chance we’d get mugged. He finally caved and we headed into the park. There were people scattered here and there on blankets on the ground, enjoying the weekend with their friends. It was a beautiful night out, clear and in the low 70’s now, and I could see why they’d want to be out. With the music getting louder we followed the path and could start to see what looked like an outdoor concert hall. Remembering posters we had seen all around town that day we realized that it was a Ben’s Fold Five concert. Right out in the park. Although we couldn’t see the stage we could still hear everything perfectly and took a seat on the cement next to a grassy knoll where others came out to enjoy the music. What were the odds that we would find something like this? We must have gotten there really late because after sitting through two songs (didn’t hear Brick) the concert ended and people started milling out of the area. Following their lead we made our way through the rest of the park full of crowds and feeling completely safe.

Forgetting what street we had originally come out on that morning we just went down 79th Street all the way to the Hudson to try and get back to the basin. After crossing over a loop in the street that didn’t have any sidewalk we found stairs going down and were dropped right into the middle of a very busy restaurant housed in front of the basin. Weaving our way through the patrons we made our way out of the outdoor area the only way we knew how, and that was walking through the middle of it to get to the pedestrian road lining the river. Jumping in the dinghy we made it back to the boat just after 10:00. Wanting to celebrate the occasion of making it to the city we pulled some seats up to the bow and I cracked open our Kraken to enjoy a nite cap while taking in the city lights from the boat. We had been gone nine hours overall and walked over 20 miles. In addition to the areas listed we also saw Parsons School for Design, NYU, and so many others that I can’t even remember anymore. There were a few celebrity sightings that day, Russel Simmons for me and I think we took in so many sights in one day that we could leave in the morning and I’d be satisfied. All I can say is I love you New York City. I love you, I love you, I love you.

 

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At Worlds End

Thursday September 13, 2012

Don’t feel so special Johnny Depp, we found Worlds End as well.

Now that we had our mast back up and were technically a sailboat again we could have done a little sailing down the Hudson but continued to motor on. When we left in the morning we were surrounded by the Catskill Mountains which were large rolling hills filled with trees. The change of scenery was nice and we finally began to feel like we were in a new place, seeing things we didn’t see on a daily basis in our normal lives. And now that we had space again in the cabin (the 9.9 motor and the table were no longer on the floor) Matt was gung ho about cleaning and organizing. This suited me just fine since it was mandatory that I stay behind the wheel. Using autopilot and having the Nook in my hand was just an added bonus. As he started to clear out our tool bag which was a nightmare to find anything when you needed it, he also decided to switch around where half our things are stored. I think the only things that didn’t get moved were my clothes and the food.

 While enjoying my ‘couldn’t put down’ book I’d steal glances up every 60-90 seconds to make sure we were keeping course and change the autopilot accordingly. For the first few hours it was only hills surrounding us and then occasionally they would be spotted with small homes. The further we continued south though, the larger the homes would grow. It went from ‘Oh look, shack’ to ‘Oh look, homes’ to ‘Oh look, really nice homes’ and by the time we got to Kingston there were mansions surrounding us. It was the most scenic day we’ve had so far and Matt missed almost all of it while he was cleaning below.

The time we were coming upon the nice homes was also the time the sun was getting low and we needed to start thinking of a place to anchor for the night. We were in between Waterway Guides at the moment and relying on Skipper Bob’s Handbook all our information. Just as I pulled it out to have a look I saw that we were coming up on a harbor listed, but it was only 4:30 and we still wanted to get a few more hours in. Searching ahead further there were two places listed in the 10-15 mile range that we wanted to hit that night, but both were restaurants that you could tie up to overnight should you choose to dine there. Their lobster and crab menus were more than our macaroni budget could afford and we’d have to pass them by. What I did see though was another sailboat that we had been a few miles behind all day and figured they’d have to anchor as well so we should follow them and see where they ended up.

Trying to catch up to them I started cutting corners and (safely) hugging buoys instead of traveling down the middle of the river. Still taking time to appreciate the mega mansions and estates in Poughkeepsie we tailed this boat until the sun went down and they were still going. I’m not a huge fan of navigating channels and rivers in the dark but we had no choice to keep going as well since the banks at this point of the river went from 90 ft to 5 ft in just a few seconds. After another hour when there was barely enough light in the sky to see, our lead boat noticed another boat anchored off to the side and cut over to join it. Inspecting our charts the area didn’t look big enough to hold three boats and we continued on. Just a mile or two past that when things were getting really dark I kept seeing a signal on our AIS but could not see the boat listed headed toward us in the water. Getting really confused and curious I brought up the AIS data on it and found out it was a 56 ft pleasure cruiser and when we finally made out it’s lights in the dark we could see it was anchored off to the side. Consulting the charts once again it looked like a good area and we dropped anchor in the dark, setting it into the muddy ground.

Getting an early start the next morning we wanted to get to a listed anchorage about 20 miles north of NYC to ensure we could then make it there decently early Friday. In a racing mood still I was cutting corners again trying to make this passage as short as possible. We were still surrounded by large granite hills full of trees with McMansions dotted across them. Just five miles in from where we had anchored was Pollepel Island with the ruins of Bannerman Castle. The years and weather had had taken their toll on the building but there are still tours of the castle and the island. After passing that I was checking the winding river on the chartplotter to see how to cut the angles best when I saw that we were coming up on what was called Worlds End. It seems to me that you would associate that name with some desolate place that was gray and dark but this area had gorgeous rocky bluffs and a nice bay for marinas. Still haven’t been able to figure that one out yet.

Just after we went through Worlds End we came up on one of the places Matt was most excited about seeing, West Point. When we came up to it from the north end of the river it didn’t look like much, and definitely not as historically important as it’s supposed to be. I snapped a few photos of a church and a statue that were barely visible, and sat back, a little disappointed. But after rounding a sharp corner the original building from 1802 was sprawled out across the river and was actually a little breathtaking. Way to redeem yourself West Point!!

The rest of the afternoon didn’t have a lot to offer, a few large bridges and and a big bay. Many of the other sailboats out that day were going along with full sails up, but we were tired and didn’t want to have to go through the work of raising ours. Plus at the end of the bay was the spot we were anchoring for the night. After dropping hook at 4:00 it was nice to finally be able to relax and I sat in the cockpit enjoying a margarita. There was also free time to download new photos and generally not have to be glued to the wheel. Since we also had plenty of daylight left I was able to grill a nice dinner of bbq chicken which was a nice upgrade from the can of soup we made the other night at twilight. Debating on cleaning up in the Hudson or taking a cockpit shower I chickened out at the last minute and resorted to a late night cockpit shower. All that’s left now is an early bed time and heading to New York City first thing in the morning!!

 

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What Comes Down Must Go Up

Wednesday September 12, 2012

All I can say when I write this is the past few days did not go as we hoped they would. It didn’t have anything to do with the marina or the people working on our mast, they were better than we could have asked for, but this was all us. Making sure to be out and about as soon as the marina opened at 8 am on Monday morning we talked to the owner Mike who showed us around, and explained to him what our plans over the next day or two would be. There was no one else waiting for their mast to go up or down so he assured that it was no rush for us to get out. After hearing that UPS normally delivered around noon we used the extra free time to take advantage of the showers and wifi. Just after 11:30 we heard an annoucement on the speakers that our package was in and went to pick it up. As we came in to get it Mike mentioned that his crew was about to break for lunch and when they got back they’d be able to take the mast from our deck and lay it on the dock for the two of us to replace the old standing rigging with what had just come in. The really annoying part of the whole situation is the original rigging is just fine. When we had the survey done on the boat at the time we purchased it we also had a separate inspection for the rigging and it was termed good condition. But he we are spending $800 to !!replace it because we don’t have a piece of paper with a specific date of the last time it was replaced and no one will insure us outside of the Bahamas unless we can prove our rigging is less than ten years old. So now it’s out with the good and in with the better.

 When the mast was placed on the deck we’d take a certain section and measure it against it’s replacement to make sure they were the same size. Things were going great for all of the side stays, they were matching and going on smoothly. Things were going so well that we decided to take a break and treat ourselves to a Coke from the vending machine (only $1 for 20 oz!!). When it was time to replace the backstay we measured it, it matched, and so we went to put the new one in. Piece of cake, we were looking at finishing early that evening, having the mast put up in the morning and we’d be out of the marina by noon. Then when trying to attach the new backstay the new xx wasn’t long enough and we couldn’t get the pin through where it attached at the mast. Ok, that’s a problem, but we could continue with the current backstay until we’re pulled out of the water in a few months and replace it then. Moving on to the forestay Matt noticed that the xx coming with the new rigging was meant for boats built after 1990, and we’re an ’89. Jumping on the phone and talking to the company we ordered our rigging from he placed and order for another one specific to our boat and was assured that the mast could still go up with this piece and we’d be able to replace it at our leisure (but wouldn’t have use of the headsail until it was completed). Just to make sure it got to us right away we asked for it to be shipped priority altogether for a cost of $80. Another little hiccup, but we were still on track to get the mast up the next morning.

After that issue was semi-resolved we went back to the dock to complete what work we could do on the forestay. As we lined the old one up with the new one to measure and cut, Matt asked me to grab some pieces from one of the dock and bring them to the other end. He was rummaging through them and goes “Where’s the cone for the swagless fitting?”. “I don’t know”, I replied, “I brought over everything there was”. Apparently this cone was a very vital piece and we coudln’t attach the forestay without it. Spening the next 45 minutes searching up one end of the dock and down the other it was nowhere to be seen. Normally we would have been able to treat it like the backstay and replace it at another time but since we had cut the current one that was now a no go. Freaking out because we’d literally be stuck here until we could find that cone or get a new one (and now there were 2 boats lined up behind us to have work done to their mast) we thought of any possible solution. Although the marina we were at had a pretty extensive list of parts they could get for you, ours was such an obscure size that there would be no option but to order a new one and have it shipped. Knowing that most overnight items have to be shipped by 2 or 3 in the afternoon and it was now quarter to five we thought we’d be stuck at the marina for two more days waiting. Getting on the phone Matt called a distributor on the west coast that has worked with him in the past and luckily for us the guy was able to get a new part out in the mail that night to arrive the next morning….for $60 in shipping alone. This mast raising was shaping up to be very expensive. Going back to any other projects we could work on at the moment it was almost 9:00 and pitch black out when Matt decided we could call it a day and finally make dinner.

It was another early morning again as there were yet more projects to be worked on before the mast could go up. We spent the first part of the morning polishing the hull and getting it shiny and then I assisted Matt with other small projects until the cone for the swagless fitting came in just before lunch. Talking to Mike they said they’d come by around 2:00 to get the mast raised. Working in the meantime we got the new cone and fitting attached to the new forestay and even had a little free time until we waited for the crane to be ready for us. Mike sent over two of his best guys, Gary and Josh, to help get the mast raised and back into the boat. I had the easy job of standing out of the way for the first few minutes until the mast was vertical and about to come down. Then while Matt was in the cabin directing the position until it was in the mast step I was up on deck moving the forestay to the bow as the mast slowly came back down. Everything was successful and we were officially a sailboat once again.

Since we still had a lot of projects to do before we could leave (and were still waiting on one more part) the crew moved us to another dock so the next boat in line could get their mast lowered. I thought the hardest part of the day was now over and we’d be able to spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing. Wrong. Oh so wrong. I knew we’d have to get the lines run once again to the cockpit, and that was an easy enough project, but what I didn’t take into account was tensioning all of the new rigging. This took hours. Not only did we have to get it to a certain percentage, but how the rigging is tensioned also can pull on the mast and when we thought we had it just right the first time we looked up and saw the mast was begining too far back and then too far to starboard, so then it was redone. At least this day ended at 7:30, and that was an improvement. We were now technically ready to leave, as in we wouldn’t have any issues with the boat or the rigging, but had to stay one more night while waiting for the retaining cone for the fitting for the furling.

One more morning at the marina and we decided to use it to wash both the clothes and our boat. While Matt started spraying down the boat I grabbed our very full laundry basket and made my way to the washer & dryer by the office. Let’s not say that I was trying to get out of washing the boat, but there were some very serious stains on our clothes that needed lots of attention. It still wasn’t enough to get me out of the wash though and as soon as the quarters were inserted I was back at the boat with a scrub brush shoved in my hand. We worked on getting the deck spotless and I was excused once more to switch loads. When the boat was clean and the clothes were almost done we had nothing left on our list to do. I took advantage of the internet time and may have spent a lot of that time checking out a new group I was invited to on Facebook, ‘Women Who Sail’ (thanks again Verena for the invite!). Then checking back at the office we found the retaining cone had come in and went to attach it to the furler. Guess what? Exact replica of the one we had, there had been no reason to order a new one. I don’t think we would have been too upset if it was just the cost of the extra part we were out, but that coupled with an extra unnecessary night at the marina did not put us in the best of moods as far as the budget was concerned.

Ready to get on the move again before we could do any more damage we waited for a mega yacht to vacate so we could get into the fuel dock and pump out station. When both of those were taken care of we cashed out and were ready to go. Cost for the mast plus three nights at the marina, pump out and 11 gallons of diesel? $470.02. Add that to the two parts we had ordered and shipped and that was half of our monthly budget. The crew at Riverview was great, friendly, helpful, and we would absolutely recommend for anyone to go there. And like I mentioned at the beginning, everything that didn’t go right was all our fault. But we were ready to get out of dodge before we could spend another dime.

 

Mast is on the dock and ready for new rigging.

This lost little piece cost us $102 to replace!!

And the mast is back up! (mostly)

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Cata-Cola

Sunday September 9, 2012

Even though we had only spent two and a half days in Waterford it felt weird to be on the move again. Our next destination is Catskills, NY where we’ll get our mast put back up and where our standing rigging will be coming in tomorrow. Passing through the last two locks there were still a few tugs remaining and a pretty big crowd as well. They also must have thought that locking was really interesting because each time we entered one a crowd would gather to watch. The people standing right by us would ask where we were from and where we were going, and I think we disappointed one big U of M fan since we don’t follow sports at all. Then when leaving the lock all the people at the far end would wave to us and I’d wave back, somehow reverting to the Ms America cupped hand rotating wave which must have been left over from my very short lived pagent career ( I participated in one when I was sixteen. Came in third runner up, woohoo!!). Then before we knew it we were done with the canal and deposited into the Hudson River.

 The trip down to Catskill was only 40 miles and would take 6-8 hours. We passed through Troy and Albany but after that any kind of scenery fell away and we were left with the same views we had on the canal. The good thing is that the Hudson is much wider than the canal and you could set the autopilot and distract yourself for a few minutes before changing it a few degrees here or there. I should have been smart and used this time to do some writing on my laptop and make sure the site would be caught up as soon as I had wifi again, but reading from my nook sounded so much more tempting and I went with the latter. I apologize for being so far behind, but I also blame Jodi Piccoult for writing books that are so damn good.

The hours passed and I was content sitting behind the wheel and reading when the dark clouds in the distance kept coming closer and closer and finally blocked the sun. One thing I have noticed about this state, and I don’t know how or why it’s different than Michigan, but if you’re in the sun you’re burning up and if you’re in the shade you’re freezing. As soon as the clouds settled over us I was back into jeans and a fleece. Twenty minutes later there were a few drops of rain here and there, and ten minutes after that the winds were blowing heavy raindrops into my face. Navigating around the Hudson Athens lighthouse I could barely see in front of me and almost as soon as it came it was gone. Watching the mist rise from the water and trees we could start to make out some very large houses on the hills. Our charts showed that we were passing through Hudson and right after we went under the Rip Van Winkle bridge ahead of us we’d be at our stop.

Since it was six o’clock on a Sunday there was no one at Riverview Marina when we pulled up, but Matt having talked to them earlier said we should pull up in front of the blue and yellow crane and they would be there in the morning to help us. Tying off we took a little walk into town to see what Catskill had to offer. There was a nice little main street with lots of shops, many of them already closed due to the time of night. While strolling the street we’d see these sculptures at each corner, a cat in a standing or sitting position, and each decorated to a different artist’s liking. There was one dressed in mid-evil armor, one as part of a Harley Davidson motorcycle, and our favorite, one as a Coca-Cola dispenser. But this clever artist had changed the name from Coca-Cola to Cata-Cola. The head remained that of a normal cat but the body was painted red with a dispenser for bottles of ‘Cat Coke’ in the front. Matt, being a Coca-cola addict and deprived of it for quite awhile, was having a field day looking at it and rambling how we needed to start collecting Coca-Cola memorabilia. At that I pulled him away to the equally appetizing Chinese restaurant a few doors down, tempting him with sesame chicken. It seemed to do the trick and a few minutes later we were walking down the street with an order in our hands. Now we get to spend the rest of the night relaxing and hoping that our rigging comes in early enough tomorrow so we can get work done and not take up prime real estate at the marina.

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The Erie Canal Roast Of Between The Sheets

Saturday September 8, 2012

Since we were not the only people planning on taking advantage of the free dockage at Waterford and now were not able to because of the tug rally, there were a few boats building up in our little area just before Lock 3. While brushing our teeth yesterday morning there was a friendly ‘hello’ through the companionway and we looked out to see Andy and John from s/v Between the Sheets standing there on their bikes. They were tied up on the other side of the canal but when they had seen our boat they came by to invite us to share in a roast they’d be cooking the next night. Good food and great company? That was a quick and obvious yes.

 Knowing there were thunderstorms predicted all day today we didn’t have much of a plan when we got up other than to hang around the boat and get a few projects done. Getting to my ‘pink’ chores of doing the dishes and straightening up I realized we had nothing to bring to dinner. When talking to the guys the other night we said we’d bring a salad, but looking through the chill box we definitely did not have the ingredients. Since the sky was only patchy with clouds at the moment we hoofed it into the Hannaford’s in town to do a little shopping. I don’t know why I threw salad out there since I never make them. Racking my brain I tried to remember what went into a basic house salad, but even my years of waitressing were letting me down. I could have done the pre-packaged bit, but those never appeared fresh. Perusing the deli area we spotted potatoe salad, pasta salad (still salads, right?) and edamame salad. Wait a second…I had a recipe for edamame salad on the boat from the wife of Lockmaster 29 who so graciously fed us one night, and I had half the ingredients on the boat. Snatching up the last few items we checked out and headed back.

Getting ready to prepare my ‘salad’ I could not find the recipe anywhere. I knew I should have typed it into my computer as soon as I received it! I still had a pretty good recollection of what was in it from when I had eaten it, and Ileen, the master behind it, had thoroughly gone over it with me as well. Pulling out cans of corn and beans from the belly of Serendip I paired them with my recent purchase and went to work. Just getting started on this Matt realized in the middle of his project of changing the oil that he had no new filters on board. I suggested he borrow Andy’s bike, who had moved their boat next to ours that morning, and quickly run in town to get one. It wasn’t even 15 minutes after he’d gone that I was standing at the galley and felt an icy chill blow through the hatch. I didn’t even have to look outside to know what was coming and was able to close all hatches and portholes just before a torrential downpour started. It wasn’t letting up at all and 30 minutes later I heard the rustle of boars at the companionway as Matt climbed in soaked to the bone and said, “I realized just as I was pulling up that there’s a poncho in my backpack” although from the looks of him I think we both knew the only thing the poncho would have done was slow him down on his bike ride back.

He finished up his project while I taste tested mine, and while both of us had not even thought about getting ourselves ready for the night we heard the sound of a fog horn blow followed by “Supper!!”. Since this was going to be a proper dinner we had planned on making oursleves proper but at the sound of the horn we rushed to get out of there as soon as possible. Shirts were quickly thrown under the iron, hairbrushes run through hair, and we tried to juggle our food, wine, beer and cups in our arms as we rushed off Serendip and next door to Between the Sheets. As we stepped on board there were two other couples already there, Chris and Elizabeth of s/v Groovin, and Dennis and Christine of s/v Chances. We soon found out that we were the only Americans in a flotilla of Canadians as we got to know the other couples a little better. Before I could even finish the margarita I came over with and move onto the Merlot, Andy came out of the companion way to display the roast he had spent the afternoon working on, topped with bacon and drizzled with maple syrup. A true Canadian meal. Ladies were ushered down below first and in front of me was a spread of roast, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, dinner rolls, and a large pile of desserts that I couldn’t even think of at the moment. It was like Thanksgiving in September and I piled my plate while trying to hold back the drool.

As all 8 of us squeezed into the cockpit to enjoy our meals we were joined by two more cruisers trapped between the locks, Phil and Maryl from s/v Water Music (yup, also from Canada). Around this time the rain was letting up and the sun was going down, setting fire to the sky. Plates were cleared, wine was filled, and the tray of desserts was brought out. It contained mini chocolate and strawberry tarts, cannolies, and a few other things I couldn’t make out in the candle light. When those were almost gone Chris jumped up to run to Groovin down the pier and grab his guitar. Matt and I smiled at each other for a moment because we thought we might be treated to the camping scene in ‘Role Models’ with an unsuccessful version of Kumbaya, but when Chris came back he blew us away with a perfect version of Heart of Gold, harmonica and all. Then we smiled at each other in a ‘Can you believe this? This Rocks!!’ kind of way. It was like the summer camp that neither of us had been too, but even better because there was classic music and beer and wine were being served. Request for songs were being taken and as we all sang along I teased Andy who was sitting right next to me that my voiced was being drowned out by his. Big mistake. After that comment I was forced to pick a song and sing a solo to everyone on board. He didn’t know any Katy Perry or Taylor Swift, so I reverted to my high school choir final of Hotel California and the others helped me out when I’d forget the lyrics.

Joining us for the music was John’s wife Cathy, and he had her set up on his tablet using Skype. After being passed around to say hello to everyone she was propped up against one of the winches to enjoy the music. After an hour the couples started leaving one by one. First was Phil and Maryl to get an early start on the morning and not long after them was Christine and Dennis. The remaining six of us stayed for awhile longer, enjoying our wines and Chris’ music. Andy tried to get a round of blues started but him and Chris seemed to be the only one that could come up with lyrics on the spot. Once Groovin had left with their guitar John brought out his iPod to introduce us to his favorite music, mostly country. I’ll give him that since he worked on a farm for 35 years although as soon as he let me have a go at it I was furiously shuffling to find a new genre. Landing on Semi-Sonic’s ‘Closing Time’ we all finished our rounds and the two of us cleared off Between the Sheets, ending our first boat roast and one that will be very hard to beat.

Drool worthy, right?

John Martin, talking to his wife Cathy.

Enjoying good friends and music.

Roastmaster Andy.

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Simply Capital, My Dear

Friday September 7, 2012

Since we were going to be stuck in one spot for a few days I didn’t want to be stuck in one spot and asked if we could take the bus into Albany. Our guidebook told us there were busses that ran between Waterford and Albany for only $1.50 per person each way. Getting a late start to the day a little after noon we had our backpack filled with my laptop and a few other essentials, and were on our way. Riding the bus is a bit of a new experience for us. Matt has never done it in his life and I’ve only done it once. Seeing the number 85 already sitting at the stop we sprinted to it to find out that no one was on it, not even the driver. It was air conditioned though and in the already 80 degree heat we stepped on and started to look over the fares. Just as we were browsing the driver came sprinting up yelling at us, apparently upset that we stepped onto his empty bus. We just explained that we’d never ridden before and were checking out the fares and from that point he was very helpful in telling us where to transfer and what number to get on next to make our way to Albany. We’d have to ride his bus to Troy and then connect through one more bus to get there. Since Matt also wanted to sneak in a visit to West Marine along the way and we’d we doing a few changes we each got the all day pass for $4/person.

 A few minutes later the bus departed and we were still the only ones on. Pulling out a few pamphlets of maps and schedules from behind the driver we browsed this route and the next to make sure we knew where to go. The schedule was showing a one hour wait from the time we arrived in Troy until the next bus we needed would depart. Going past the part of Troy that we had visited the day before by just crossing the Hudson the driver took us further and further into the ghetto. The two of us looked at each other thinking that we’d be dropped off any second and spend the next hour trying to ‘fit in’ to a place that we clearly didn’t. Had we looked like we did on normal cruising days this would have been much easier, our clothes would be wrinkled and two days old, hair would be a mess, and we’d be muttering to ourselves that things just aren’t the way they used to be. Imagine our relief when a few block later the abandoned buildings turned into a renovated metropolitan area. The pulled up to our stop and we were in the heart of downtown. Surrounding us were parks and statues and galleries. Yes, an hour here would be just fine. Before we could get around to actually seeing anything the phone was out again and Matt was checking bus routes to the West Marine. Although I would have preferred a stop there at the end of the day so we weren’t lugging around any heavy bags we also didn’t want to chance that they’d be closed on our way home. The next bus there was leaving in 15 minutes and back to the bus stop we walked. I was a little sad not to be able to experience Troy anymore since it looked really nice, but I was promised Panera to make up for it since there happened to be one right next to WM. I’m so easy.

The next bus took us back on the outskirts of town and to a shopping complex that housed West Marine, Home Depot, Walmart, Sam’s Club…ect. There was no way this was going to be a quick stop. Already being 2 in the afternoon I wondered if we’d still make it to Albany at all. WM went exactly how I knew it would. ‘I need to get this…but we should also look at these…oh, check these out’. The backpack slowly filled up. I did get the lunch at Panera I was promised along with 30 minutes of wifi. Next on the list was Home Depot which was just supposed to be a stop for parts to make an oil pump, but the items started piling up there as well. It was all things we did need, but by the time we left there it was closing on 4:00 and we could barely close the backpack. It would have been easy enough to call it a day and head back to the boat, relax and do a little reading, but I was determined to make it to the capital. Checking the bus schedule on our phone once again we walked through the shopping complex to wait for our third bus today. Not knowing anything about Albany we didn’t know the best stop to get off but figured Empire Square sounded good enough. Passing down the list of bird named streets (Lark, Dove, Swan) we pulled the chain at Eagle and stepped off in front of a lot of legislative-looking buildings. Standing back in awe for a few minutes at their size and detail (remember, all that we’ve been looking at for the past two weeks is trees and cement walls) we probably looked like the local field trip group but without the group.

Spying an odd shaped structure off to the side we wandered over there to check it out. Getting closer and seeing what looked like a tour bus out front I assumed it was some kind of music/performing arts venue and was proved right once we got close enough to look at the billboards out front. It’s called The Egg, and aptly named since that’s exactly what it looked like. In the same area was a reflection pond with a Calder sculpture in the middle (GR still has the biggest!) and just past that was a museum.. For 30 minutes we walked around that area and tried to get some free entertainment and knowledge by peering through all the windows at the museum. There was about an hour left before we had to leave to avoid riding the bus at night. Only seeing office buildings around I asked Matt what direction he wanted to head and he replied that a beer sounded good. I thought I had seen some a few blocks back on Lark or Dove, but that would mean walking 2-3 city blocks. And as much as I hate to admit it, at this point in the day after traveling around for five hours and 20 pounds of boat necessities strapped to our back, that was too far to travel for a beer. Not when the bus station was only a few hundred feet away and there were already plans to drink Between the Sheets that night. Getting on the bus once more (that $4 pass really paid off!) it wasn’t until we were resigned to head back that we passed through the bar district of town. Oooooof course. Since there was still one more stop that had to be made to purchase drinks for that night we got off at the Rite Aid which was selling 30 packs of Budweiser for only $19. Settling on Michelob Light (which we prefer much more) for the same price we were back on the street, beer in hand, while we waited at the bus stop. Suddenly, we were ‘those’ people. Waiting and waiting we did not see the bus coming around the corner. It was only a mile to the end of the line and neither of us wanted to carry a 30 pack all that way as well as the extra mile from the stop to the boat but it was beginning to look like we could be in that spot all night if we didn’t. Every few minutes we’d look behind our shoulder to see if it was coming up behind us as we walked but there was nothing. Until we were 50 feet from the end of the line. Then it pulled up next to us and mockingly opened it’s doors.

Getting dropped off in Troy.

This Calder has nothing on Grand Rapids’!

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