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.