Monthly Archives: September 2019

Let the migration begin! I hope…

It’s been more than a year since Pandora has been in tropical waters and I am raring to head south again.  I have to admit, however, that I am a bit overwhelmed with the prospect of how much has to happen between now and next Saturday the 5th,  a week from now when I head to Annapolis for the boat show, the beginning of my south migration.

I’ll be there for several days before putting Pandora in a slip at a friend’s house and heading home until late October when I take her to Hampton VA to prepare for the Salty Dawg Rally to Antigua.

I decided, last minute, to put a windvane steering system on Pandora and that should be here later today.  I have been thinking about this for several years now and finally decided to push the button and order it from the UK late last week.  I’m excited about this it as it will provide for a non-electrical steering option which will save a lot of battery power and also offer an independent rudder on case my primary steering or electric autopilot fails.   The unit I chose is Hydrovane and I’ll be writing more about that as I do the install early next week.

I have heard that the unit is very simple and powerful and will solve a problem of steering failure that I have had over the years and worry about constantly when I am on passage.  I’ll admit that loosing my steering keeps me up at night and memories of the quadrant linkage on the autopilot breaking while surfing down 20′ waves two years ago is still a memory that is all too fresh.

I also decided to order a new jib, something that I have been putting off for a few years.  My jib still has near perfect shape compliments of the carbon tapes that hold things together but the dacron covering is showing real signs of sun damage and I am fearful that it might fall apart on passage which would be a big problem.

I did consider doing something to stabilize the fabric so I could get a few more years out of it but everyone that I spoke to said that it just wasn’t worth the expense so new sail it is.

While we were in France Pandora was in Stamford having a bit of work done on her waterline which wasn’t done quite right when she was painted a year ago.  When I picked her up last week I noticed that it was mostly right but that the aft section of the boot top on the starboard side is still a bit off, drooping slightly,   3/4″  low from where it should be.  It’s hard to see in this photo but is more obvious in person than in the photos.  When I went over it with the guy who did the actual painting, he confirmed that one side was indeed lower than the other.   On the port side, it’s fine. Anyway, I had the boat launched, correct or not, as I didn’t have time to leave her for another week.  I don’t know what will happen, but I still owe a small amount on the original job which can probably get it fixed elsewhere if required.

My friend Dick and I took the train to Stamford to pick her up and headed over to Northport for a few nights.  I had not been there for many years and still recall a time when Brenda and I, probably there on our 20′ Cape Cod sailboat, visited this restaurant for dinner and as we left, discovered that we didn’t have any money to pay.  I can’t recall if we had a credit card as it was over 30 years ago and we hadn’t even had kids then.  Anyway, we were mortified and expected that we’d be in the kitchen doing dishes to work off our debt.  However, they released us and we sent a check.   Dick and I had dinner there and this time I had no problem paying my bill.

Northport is a lovely town with a huge waterfront park.  On Saturday morning the town was jammed with several thousand runners in a 10k run,  less peaceful than this photo suggests. We also had a very nice visit to the Northport Yacht Club and a beautiful sunset.The next day we headed over to Oyster Bay, another spot that I haven’t visited for more years than I can count.  It’s a beautiful harbor lined with huge homes.

Perhaps the most famous of these huge residences, is this one, owned  by Billy Joel who purchased it in 2002 for $22,500,000 and famously got into a years long fight with the harbor commission as they would not allow him to build a dock.  As of 2007 he had decided to sell the house and put it on the market for $37,500,000 but I guess it didn’t sell as Zillow says that it isn’t on the market and was last sold when Joel purchased it. While there are a lot of docks on the harbor, there has been a moratorium on new dock construction due to the establishment of a nature conservancy that took place before Joel moved in.    In spite of his best efforts for years, he was not able to get the dock approved.

On Sunday Dick and I headed to Essex where Pandora will be for about a week before heading to Annapolis.   She looks good sitting on her mooring in the harbor. My brother Bill, who lives in PA recently purchased a runabout and brought it to Essex earlier this week.  We spent a few hours running around on the river which was great fun.  In particular, we headed to Selden creek, a favorite spot of mine, as we have been visiting the spot since the 80s.  The only boat we haven’t visited on is the current Pandora as she’s a bit too long to fit in the narrow creek.

The spot is lovely and Bill and I had a nice time sitting and watching the world go by. I can’t believe that summer is nearly over and it’s time to begin the migration south to warmer climes.

I’ll admit that the whole process of getting Pandora ready to make the run is a bit overwhelming but I guess everything will get done.  However, last fall I was also pretty confident and we ended up here for the winter.   Hmm…

Well, I’d better get cracking.  Let the migration begin…

Turning water into wine. Why bother…

Well, it’s over, Brenda and I are back home after two weeks in France and it’s time to begin focusing on Pandora’s run south to Antigua.  Of course, today I’ll have to pick her up from the Hinkley yard in Stamford where she was having her waterline “tweaked”.   From there she will be in Essex for about a week or so of provisioning and on to Annapolis for the sailboat show and then to Hampton VA to participate in the Salty Dawg Rally to Antigua.  For those of you that are familiar with my work in Antigua, I serve as port officer there for the rally and am responsible for all the arrival events for the fleet.

Normally, during a two week trip, I’d have put up a few posts but this trip was much more of a whirlwind than we are used to, changing hotels nearly every day and covering a lot of ground and of course, trying to keep up with two 30 somethings, our son Christopher and his partner Melody.  “Hey mom and dad, dinner was great, we are heading out for a 10 mile run before bed”.

I think I need a vacation!

Anyway, the trip was great fun, we saw a lot and now that I am back home I can’t really get my head around all that happened and put it down in a post.

However, as this supposed to be a blog is about boating stuff, I’ll focus on some of the boats we saw and there were plenty.

When we arrived in France, our first stop was to spend a few days in Paris.  We decided to sign up for a two day pass on one of the water taxis on the Seine and spent many hours walking along the river.  The amount of traffic on that part of the river was amazing.  This photo shows one of the tour boats that we went on.  They surely aren’t lookers, not even a little.  However, their design is clearly dictated by function and as passengers have to see everything there’s glass on the sides and top for maximum viewing suggesting more of a floating greenhouse than boat.

Beautiful views in every direction along the river.  Tour boats aside, loads of lovely boats, or should I say houseboats, some private homes and many serving as sort of B&B mini hotels rented out to tourists.  In some areas they were moored three deep.Often quite colorful.Loved this blue one.  My favorite color. Wonderful details. Interesting dinks including this one welded from steel. Beautiful lines but she could use a bit of paint.  What a great spot to tie up.  Many were moored in locations that offered with a great view of the Eiffel tower, like this one.
This houseboat featured another landmark from France although now in NY Harbor. There was an active police presence and it seemed that they were always going full tilt and leaving a big wake.  This was one of their more sedate moments. You can get all the way from the English Channel to the north and the Med to the south via the extensive canal system.  This is the entrance to a canal that heads all the way up to The English Channel.  A good part of this particular stretch of the canal is fully underground beneath city streets.  I saw some ventilation grates along road medians.  I wonder if they are lit?   I guess there must be some sort of canal traffic control as I doubt that there are any passing lanes.
There is a huge amount of commercial traffic. And the barges, all low enough to fit under the city bridges, often sport a vehicle and crane to help the crew get around, two in this case.  His and hers?  His and other his?  This one was on the back of a houseboat and it even has a cover to protect it from the elements.  Not sure how they’d get it on shore though.
This upscale tour boat had particularly beautiful lines.  Love the stern.  The views along the river were spectacular and that makes sense as when the city was built, water was the simplest way to get around.
And speaking of getting around.   This beautiful runabout featured two passengers in period clothing and a film crew.  Wonder what movie they were filming or was it just a sophisticated selfie stick.   “Frank, FRANK, put that stupid thing away.  We ALREADY have enough pictures!   And, WHO is that creep in the back of the boat anyway?”
And, where there is water there are bridges.Each more spectacular than the last. And, some really nice fountains. Complete with fleets of small boats. And this guy nearby feeding pigeons.   Obviously someone they knew and loved. And speaking of love, a custom in Paris is to purchase a lock, put your name, and that of your lover on it and “lock” your love to something.   Some places are so packed…You can’t believe so much love, I guess. And speaking of love.  The whole idea of the trip to France was brought up by Melody, our son’s partner, as they were invited to a wedding and asked us if we’d like to come along.  Oh boy, was Brenda on that idea.  I was the official photographer of Chris and Melody outside the church where the wedding was held.  We lurked outside waiting for the crowd to let out. The reception, we learned, was in, no kidding, a castle with a real live mote.  It was the family home of the bride’s grandmother who was too infirm to join in the party but watched from an upstairs window.

As we moved often from one hotel to the next, we were able to try many places in our two weeks on the road and I do mean on the road as we rented a car and put a lot of miles on it.   Anyway, we too spent time in a hotel with a mote.  How about this place?  George Washington might not have slept here but we did. We finished up our trip with a few more days in Paris and spent time in many cafes, actually more than one each day.  So much food to sample. Actually, so much food everywhere and beautifully displayed. Places to eat aboard. Places to eat on every street corner.  Parisians love to eat outdoors.
So did we.  Loved the hat on the chef who served us.  Our last dinner together in Paris before heading home Note the list to starboard in this photo.  The waiter too it seems.  After all that wine, and it’s cheaper than soda so why not, I had a bit of a list as well. Yes, in Paris wine costs about the same, sometimes less than soda so why not have wine?  And there are so many types to try we had a tough time deciding which to have.

In Paris, there’s no need to turn water in to wine, why bother, as it costs about the same amount as water and wine is so much more fun to drink.

Well, that’s about all I have to say right now.  Have to finish packing for a weekend aboard Pandora, meeting up with some friends in Oyster Bay.   It’ll be like old times, not that the “new times” are all that bad.

We did just return from Paris after all.  Just sayin…

A mad dash to the finish and off to Antigua, I hope…

It’s been a crazy few months and somehow it’s only two months now until I plan to head south to Antigua as part of the Salty Dawg Rally.

I am happy to say that my repairs to Pandora’s fuel tank seem to be holding and I  have not seen any evidence of further leaking.  I didn’t expect to see any leaks on the “repaired” tank but did wonder about my port tank which had some evidence of fuel under it.  I sopped up the small amount of fuel from under the tank and it appeared to be thicker and darker than fresh fuel.  It was also quite red as opposed to a pinkish color from dye that is added to fuel not taxed for road use, further suggesting that it’s been there for years.  After getting the small amount of fuel that had collected under that tank out, no more has shown up.  Fingers crossed that there won’t be a problem.

Last week I ran Pandora down to Stamford for what I hope will be the final adjustment to her paint job, the waterline.   When she was painted last summer, the summer of 2018 actually, I asked to have the aft waterline brought up a bit.  They did do that but didn’t adjust the rest of the waterline so it ended up wavy and not the same on both sides.

Getting it fixed has proven to be a bit challenging, coordinating schedules between me and the painter, but it’s being done now.   I understand that they do a lot of work at the Hinkley Yard in Stamford so I guess he worked out a deal on hauling and storage while Pandora is in the yard as I am not being charged this go-around.   Having her out of the water for now is good as I needed a place to put her for a while while we are away in France and it’s better to have her on the hard when she’s not in use.

Anyway, by mid September she should be all set for a winter in the tropics, I hope.

The run to Stamford was uneventful and it was a bit surreal to see her on the dock with a backdrop of office buildings before we headed to the train station and home. While she looks pretty big in that photo, she looks positively diminutive in this one, next to the big cat. I was told to leave Pandora in a slip near the lift and she was out of the water before I even called the next morning.  Here she is on the hard.  I sure hope that they put more supports under her and also add chains to keep them from slipping out.  Just sayin as it is hurricane season after all. 

So, this afternoon we head to France, Paris and Normandy for the next two weeks.  I am hopeful that there will be something nautical to post about while we are there.  However, Paris, where we will begin and end our trip isn’t exactly  known for boats, except perhaps pond boats on some of those reflecting pools.  Fingers crossed that there will be something to write about.  If not, I’ll think of something.

Oh yeah, remember the problem with the watermaker?  It turns out that all I needed to do was a “hard reset” on the computer controller and all is well again.  It took a while for me to get up the nerve to do this as it involved exposing the computer board and shorting two terminals, something that seemed potentially “terminal” to me.

Anyway, I did it and the unit is now working perfectly again.  As the boat is now on the hard for a month, I pickled the unit with propylene glycol and will start it up again when I am ready to head to Antigua.  In the mean time, I ordered some parts to set the unit up to be run manually in the event that the computer gets messed up again.

By setting up the manual override I will be able to run the unit even if the electronics aren’t functioning.  Actually, that’s the way it was set up on my last boat before I took it out and installed it on “new” Pandora.  It’s convenient to have the computer to run the unit automatically but when push comes to shove, it’s nice to know that I can just switch it on.  I’ll write about that when the bypass is settled and in place.

So, Pandora’s on the hard and we fly to Paris in a few hours.  Sounds like fun.  Hope there are some boats…

And, speaking of boats, with Pandora on the hard Brenda and I went for a ride in our little red car the other day and enjoyed a ride across the CT River on the Hadlyme Ferry, a short but sweet run across the river.  After nearly two years, I can’t believe that it’s nearly time to head to Antigua again.  Let’s hope that there isn’t some sort of catastrophic hurricane that gets in the way.

And speaking of hurricanes and hurricane Dorian bearing down on the Bahamas Abacos, it does give one pause for thoughts about how things can change in a moment when Mother Nature comes to call.    As I write this Dorian has been upgraded to a Cat 5, the strongest possible, a terrifying thought.

As I have mentioned, I am involved in the Salty Dawg Rally to Antigua.  Well, the rally also offers a second destination, in this case Marsh Harbor, Bahamas and that is exactly where the eye of Dorian is expected to make landfall in the next few hours.  With the storm surge expected to reach as high as 25′ and sustained winds near 150kts, it’s hard to imagine much surviving such a hit.

I do wonder if this storm will be a repeat performance of what happened in the BVIs a few years ago that led to a switch in destinations for the rally to Antigua.

This photo of Dorian is pretty sobering.  The “eye” is centered over Marsh Harbor so I expect that we will begin hearing more about the damage very soon.   Fortunately, Dorian is expected to turn to the NE and possibly not make landfall but there remains a lot of uncertainty about his path. While Pandora is in good shape to make the run to Antigua and crew is in place, I sure hope that nothing happens in the next two months to change the rules like Dorian is doing in the Bahamas as I write this post.

Bests laid plans or not, when all is said and done, it’s all about Mother Nature as she sets the rules.

Finger crossed…

Anyway, off to France.  Hope I find some boats.