Monthly Archives: September 2012

Down the coast of NJ on Saturday. Fingers crossed XXX.

While I have done overnights dozen’s of times over the years, Brenda hasn’t yet done an overnight of any consequence, and certainly not on the ocean.   The weather router, or should I say “weather hand holder” Chris Parker has been in touch for the last few days giving us updates as to what day will be the best to head down the coast. As of now, we sit behind the breakwater at Atlantic Highlands, after moving from inside of Sandy Hook to find a more sheltered anchorage early this morning.   We should have realized that the fast ferries from NYC that run till 23:30 hours kick up quite a swell that kept things interesting until late last night.

The weather forecast suggests that a weak cold front will come through tonight and will shift the winds from the south to the west/northwest at 10-15kts with higher gusts for all of Saturday and into Sunday.   This will allow ample time for us to get to Cape May (100 miles) and prepare for a run up the Delaware River, an additional 55 miles up from Cape May. They key will be for us to be in a safe place as of Tuesday as the winds are supposed to blow near gale force at that time so we certainly don’t want to be in unprotected waters when that happens.

The forecasted winds seem to suggest a departure shortly after dawn so that we can catch the ebb tide and favorable winds at Sandy Hook.  Id all goes well we will likely end up at Atlantic City or Cape May prior to when we are supposed to be there, ie: in the dark,  but I’d rather slow down than to have to motor sail to catch up. That’s about all that I know for now so stay tuned for more.  I expect that we will be underway shortly after first light.  Early bird captures the worm.

Also, we ran into some of our sailing buddies, here in Atlantic Highlands, Lynn and Russel of Blue Highway a great sailing couple from Naples Fl who we met in Maine a few summers ago.  They have made this run many times and I expect to be keeping in touch with them along the way.

We will continue to post our location as we move down the coast but before I break, I have to post some photos that our son Christopher took of us yesterday when we were making our way through NYC yesterday.   What a treat to have a shutter bug in the family. Nothing like a shot as we came through Hell’s Gate.  As Brenda spied Christopher for the first time she teared up.  I have to say that I was a bit teary as well.   What a thrill.As we headed down the East River.  So, are you tired of so many photos of Pandora?  Tough.  It’s my blog and I can put as many on of her as I want.   Here’s one where Pandora is more of a bit player, a panorama as we head down the East River.   This one is surely a keeper and I will have to blow it up for display at home when we return.  What a view. 

More to come as we make our way down the coast on Saturday.  Wish us luck and fair winds.


News Flash!!! Pandora outruns our son on his bike through New York!

Today Brenda and I headed through New York aboard Pandora and had a wonderful trip.  The last time Brenda and I made this trip together was 30 years ago on our 20′ Catboat.  That time it didn’t go well at all.  Had our son Rob been born at that time he would have called such a journey a “career limiting move” for my sailing with Brenda.  Imagine a 20’ boat with a 5hp diesel inboard heading through Hell’s Gate with the tide and spitting out into the Sandy Hook Bay with the full ebb tide and a strong SW wind kicking up a massive chop. Well, at least massive to a 20’ underpowered catboat.   Well, thank goodness it went well today as it took 30 years after the last trip for me to convince Brenda to give it a go again.   Happily, the circumstances were  very different today and even Brenda declared that she had a terrific time.   It wasn’t all about being aboard Pandora that made it a great trip for Brenda.  As this time our son Christopher (He wasn’t even born when she last did this trip) who lives on the upper west side in Manhattan, rode his bike over to the East River to greet us as we exited Hell’s Gate at the upper end of Roosevelt Island.   It was such a thrill to see him standing there on the bike path that Brenda and I both were quite choked up.  However, Brenda was able to hold herself together long enough to take dozens of photos of Chris taking pictures of her taking pictures of Chris…  Well y0u get the general idea.

I have gone through NY by boat many times over the years but to do it again, and under such wonderful circumstances, with Brenda was indeed a treat for me.  After “meeting up” with Christopher,uptown,  the plan was to race him down to the bottom tip of Manhattan and Battery Park.  So what happened you ask?   Wh won this big race?  Well,  Pandora wins by a mere ten minutes.  Glad that we had the tide with us.  I can’t believe that Christopher did it at all, and much less that fast.   We only waited at the Battery for about 10 minutes and then, there he was.  I expect that our wild waving and his shouting to us must have been quite a sight for the many tourists that were trying to figure out what the display was all about.

The race is on…

Here’s a few more of the 135 photos that Brenda and I took on the short and fast run down the East River.  Where do I begin?

The new Freedom Tower and my dad’s favorite bridge.  The Brooklyn Bridge, I guess that makes it my favorite too.  I still recall this same sight right after the twin towers came down.  I was running my last boat down to it’s winter home in Morgan Creek NJ and passed just a week or so after that tragedy.  Ths dark smoke and stench was terrible.

Brenda with the NYC skyline behind her.   What fun.

Can’t have to many pictures of our son Chris.  He would ride along, stop take pictures and ride some more.    It was so much fun to see him peddling along next to us.  So near and yet so far.

Always looking for a better shot, Christopher jumped the fence at the Battery.  I wonder what the tourists on shore next to him were thinking of our screaming and waving back and forth.  “those crazies are my parents, they have abandoned me for the high seas.  I won’t see them for months…  Isn’t this great!!!”  

Loads of traffic in the harbor.  I wonder who chose the color for the Staten Island Ferry?  I like it.  Not the sort of bold statement you would expect from a public bureaucrat .

How about the Statue of Liberty to salute our passing?Love this one.  What sweet lines.  Not!!!

The skyline fades into the distance.  It will be a long time till we pass through here again. 

So, what next?  Our weather router, Chris Parker, just told me that he recommends that we take a lay day here at Sandy Hook and ride a cold front with good NW winds down the coast on Saturday.    A great day of sailing?  Sounds good to me.


Away, finally and a visit to where it all started.

As planned, Brenda and I shoved off from Essex yesterday morning aboard Pandora.  Following a stop at the fuel dock for $4.50 per gal diesel (yikes) we headed out into Long Island Sound for our first day out on our journey to the Bahamas.  While that sounds like a daunting journey, someone suggested that we look at it as a series of day sails.  Sounds good to me.

As we were headed West yesterday I got a call from one of my oldest friends Chris Blossom , who asked if we’d like to visit Fayerweather Yacht Club in Black Rock CT for the night to hook up with him and his wife Pat.    What a terrific idea as FYC was the club that Brenda and I joined just after purchasing our very first boat, a 20′ Cape Cod catboat way back in the early 80s.

I immediately called our son Rob as well as my parents and invited them to join us at FYC for drinks and dinner.  Our friend Craig also joined us.    What a great time we had over pizza and beer.  Just like old times.  However the beers weren’t less than a dollar like when we were members.   I have to admit that I felt a bit “slow” this morning as I think that I killed some brain cells.  Hmm….

As we entered the harbor last evening around sunset, Brenda and I were struck by a massive jolt of deja-vu from the years that we had sailed a succession of boats out of that harbor.    Seeing the waterfront and light house at the entrance to the harbor brought us back some 30 years to a time when we were only in our 20s and living in Fairfield.

If that wasn’t jolting enough we were greeted by Chris’s grown son Travers, who runs the club launch and docks at FYC.    Here we were, aboard Pandora being greeted by the next generation and by someone who was about the same age we were when we first became members of the club.   Being the all powerful waterfront manager Travers even arranged for us to have a free night on the dock.  How wonderful.

It was only fitting that we have our photo taken aboard Pandora as we continue on with our voyage.  It seems like just a few years ago when we tied up to this same dock and headed out on voyages throughout New England.    So much has changed and yet seems very much the same.  However, the boat sure is a lot bigger.

This morning our friend Chris came down to the club and joined us or coffee prior to our departure further west in Long Island Sound.  What a great way to begin this new phase of our lives some 35 years and 5 boats later.  Were are really on our way.


Under way today and I can hardly believe it.

It’s September 11th and today is the best weather day for sailing this week.  With forecast winds from the North/North West, we should be able to make some distance toward New York.  I can’t decide quite what I feel about leaving on our trip on this particular day but off we go as the winds are to shift to the south west soon which will not be so great for making the westing we need to get to New York.

Our departure today is the result of years of planning and at least a few months of frantic running around getting all the details going, not counting the sale of our home in NJ and moving here to CT.

The next two weeks will take us through New York and down the New Jersey coast into the Delaware Bay and on to Annapolis for the SSCA gam and Annapolis Boat show.  After that we will bolt for Newport News and mile one of the Intra Coastal Waterway.

Yesterday was a particularly busy day that included suspending cable, picking up last minute supplies and putting the remaining gear aboard Pandora.  Actually, some gear went on and then was removed as there was just too much to cram aboard.   I am particularly glad that I raised the waterline a few inches two years ago as she is now riding lower than ever.  Here on the CT River, with the lighter fresh water, I would expect to see her ride lower on her lines but seeing so little bottom paint showing was alarming, for sure.  Hopefully, this will improve when we hit the heavier salt water of the Sound later today.  I am not too hopeful as we plan on taking on a tank full of water and diesel which will add another 1,000+ lbs to her weight.

Another interesting fact is that Pandora now has a slight starboard list, as opposed to a list to port.  The niggly port list has bugged me for years and it seems that I have overcompensated somewhat in my packing.  I guess that we will have to just drink more wine from port stores and straighten things up as best we can.  You just gotta do what you gotta do.

It’s been particularly nice that so many of our friends have been calling and dropping by to wish us well on our voyage which is very nice.  Living on the “runway from the Cape”, just off of 95 has made us a natural stopping point for those returning from vacation with stops to say HI lasting from 30 min to 4 days and this has made for a busy but fun last few weeks.  Brenda is a bit sad to be headed away from friends and family for so long but I am hopeful that the adventure will capture her imagination soon so that she enjoys the trip.

Well, it’s really very early, actually the middle of the night as I write this, and I should probably try to stop thinking about the trip and get back to bed.

On that note, our son Rob sent this photo of our grand dog last evening.  It seems that even Bosun is wishing us well.  It’s nice to know that we are on everyone’s minds.  Well, I am not completely convinced that Bosun was thinking about us when this photo was taken.  Hmm… However, he’s surely looking very patriotic, isn’t he?

How many tubes of toothpaste do you need on a SAGA 43?

That and many other burning details are very much on our minds as we count down the last week toward our departure.  Last evening Brenda and I headed out to Pandora, here in Essex, to put yet another load of “stuff” aboard.   I am disappointed that this photo doesn’t do justice to the quantity of things that we have brought aboard.

As is always the case, I tried to make everything aboard Pandora the most “fun” for Brenda so I combined it with “happy hour”.   Pretty tricky, yes?  Remember, “when Momma be happy, everyone be happy”.

Does Brenda look happy, glass of wine in hand,  surrounded by all the rubble?  While I stowed each item she logged it into the computer on location and quantity.  This little pile is just one of many that have graced the cabin sole of Pandora over the last few weeks.  We have been buying and stowing for weeks, no make that months.  We have been logging in each item as we stow it and the total now, of cataloged items only and not counting all of the hundreds of other many items aboard, stands at just under 500.  I am sure glad that I raised the waterline by  three inches two years ago.  In case you are wondering, it takes about 1,200 lbs to sink Pandora by about 3/4″ of an inch on the waterline.  So far, plenty of bottom paint still showing.   Fingers crossed that it will stay that way.

Oh yea, we have 8 tubes of toothpaste aboard as of now.   I am sure that you were wondering too.  However, I won’t bore you with the number of cans of soup, tuna, soda…

A great afternoon on the Connecticut River with our bud Jack.

Brenda and I, along with our son Christopher spent a wonderful afternoon with our friend Jack on Sunday aboard his Dyer 29 power boat.  Yes, we did spend some time on a “stinkpot”.  However, Jack is a fun guy and we thought that it would be nice to spend some time with him on the river.  No disappointment on that account.  What a nice afternoon it was.

Our son Christopher took some great photos of our journey which took us down the river toward Old Saybrook and up to Hamburg Cove, a wonderful little harbor about a mile north of Essex.   In spite of the busy Labor Day weekend, we were able to pick up a mooring in Hamburg and enjoyed a nice spread supplied by Brenda.

Jack’s boat, Three Musketeers is a real classic.  If you have to have a powerboat, instead of a sailboat, this is a very nice looking craft.   Classy.  No, it’s not the one on the left.  How about that wind shield?  It’s new this season.  Really, really nice.

We are not used to seeing a wake with this much “seething” going on.  It takes plenty of fuel to move along like this.   And, a proper ensign to boot.  None of those wimpy flags like are on so many boats.  Makes me proud to be an American!!!Brenda and I enjoying the scenery as it whizzed past.  Going faster than 7kts is a treat.  Nice to have along our own photographer. This was the view from our “living room” with Jack in Hamburg Cove.  Not too shabby.  Chris has been coming here with us since he was only a toddler.   We won’t talk about the view in the other direction that included dozens of boats on moorings. However, it’s a much better view than is available to most.   What a great spot. Nice “do” on my bride and first mate.   It’s a very different experience than being aboard Pandora.  Sort of like sitting on a movable back porch.  Brenda’s look reminds me of how Rene Zelwiger looked after her ride in a convertible in “Bridget Jones’s Diary”.   If you haven’t seen that movie, you should.  In spite of my best efforts, I couldn’t find a photo from that scene.  Forgive me.   I digress. I guess that you had to be there.

We headed back to the Essex Yacht Club for a drink on the deck.  Nice to see Pandora out in the anchorage if only for a week.   Not so close to the club but there she is, just right of center with the double headstay.  This is the one photo that Chris didn’t take.  Not so great but it is a great view.  Yes?

YIKES!!! Did someone say that we are headed out in only a week?  Yes, that’s right, we leave in just 7 days.   #%$&!!!   I’d better sign out and get packing!!!