Finally, after delays for reasons, some good and some not so good, Pandora finally hit the water (gently) last week in Norwalk CT. For reasons of economy, I have kept her in a yard that is a bit off the beaten path (RE: on the other side of the 95 bridge in Norwalk) for a number of years now. That doesn’t sound like a big deal except that the bridge has a vertical clearance of 61′ at high water while Pandora’s mast is 63′ plus gear, antennas and the like. Yes, not a big difference but that two plus feet makes a smashing lot of difference if we were to hit the bridge.
Well, the answer is to pass under the bridge at low tide. Duhh… With 7′ of tide in Western LI Sound, that’s not a biggie, it just takes a bit of planning. And, there are two other bridges that must open prior to even getting to the “short” bridge. HOWEVER, the day prior to the launch, the yard owner stopped by to tell me that there was work being done on the 95 highway bridge and that there was a scaffolding under the mid span, where I needed to pass under, that restricted the vertical height to 62′ at LOW TIDE. Not good.
After much back and forth, the 95-bridge-worker-men agreed that they would pull up the cables that were in the way at mid span to be sure that there would be enough vertical height for me to pass under. Well, that sounded reasonable, at the 11th hour, so it seemed that we were ready.
Before getting back to the bridge issue, let me digress to mention a bit about the unconventional crane that launched Pandora. It’s an 80 ton capacity behemoth, painted a lovely color of red. To me it seemed better suited to be the main character in a children’s book than the workhorse in a boat yard. And, I have to say that watching her be picked up gave me a pause. Yikes, it looked precarious.
In the water and without a scratch. Oh yea, I should mention that at low tide, this area is just a mud flat so she had to go in at the tippy top of high tide.
Anyway, Pandora ended up in the water without incident and on Friday morning, to coincide with dead low we were off. Oh yea, we almost weren’t off as Pandora was hard aground in the mud. It wasn’t until after much back and forth along with enthusiastic pushing from three yard guys that we were able to power off. Never a dull moment. So off to the bridge we went.
As we approached the bridge we could see that some of the cables were not pulled up fully so my helper/crew gesticulated wildly for me to head more to the left where the cables seemed a bit higher. Indeed, it was VERY, VERY CLOSE as the VHF antenna, the highest part of gear on the top of the mast, plinked from cable to cable as we passed under the bridge ever-soo-slooowly. My heart was just pounding, as I had visions of all my gear being sheared off of the top of the mast, but we made it. After that fun was over we passed through two more bridges, a Metro North train bridge that required an appointment with dispatch and eight guys to open it. I have to believe that moving through that bridge cost over $1,000 in labor. Amazing! After those two bridges calling the Norwalk bridge tender to get the third bridge to open was a piece of cake. No issues there. Finally, out in the harbor and on our way.
There’s no doubt that we will have plenty of practice with bridges as we head down the ICW this fall. More to come on that. Perhaps I should drop a tape from the top of the mast to confirm exactly how tall the rig is. Yea, a good idea.
Our run from Norwalk took us up to Mystic where Pandora will be for about a month prior to moving her to Wickford RI and on to Maine. The weekend also included a wonderful rendezvous with fellow Corinthians at the Watch Hill Yacht Club. What a great way to start the season aboard Pandora. And, yes, we even were able to sail for a few hours. It was a picture perfect day out on LI Sound.
After a night in Mystic aboard we headed to Watch Hill and our rendezvous at the Watch Hill Yacht Club. The yacht club has a great view of the harbor to the west. Here’s the entrance. The entire clubhouse is out on pilings, above the water. Access to this wonderful place is just another reason that being a member of The Corinthians is a good idea.
On Sunday morning, I stopped at the Ocean House, a wonderful resort up on the hill overlooking the ocean and harbor, for coffee and a leisurely read of the NY Times. How decadent.
What a grand entrance. The Ocean House was designed to look very much like the grand structure that it replaced. A wonderful piece of work. Brenda and I will be visiting for lunch in a few weeks. Dinner would be terrific, I am sure, but it’s a bit out of our price range. We can also afford to indulge in a cup of coffee on the veranda.