Moving closer carries an eager anticipation the colder weather can’t dampen. Once we get to Sandy Hook, weather permitting the trip ends in two days. Long Island Sound can be a lovely sail or motor-sail (yah, when?) or a miserable pounding into wind and waves where you feel lucky to plod along at 5kts!
New York harbor is always a happening place, although on this trip we saw the least activity of our six trips. After a refreshing 12 hours of blissful sleep we headed up Chapel Hill Channel toward the Verrazano (how about that for a horse’s name?) Bridge. Heard the CG call container ship Dubai Express (Hong Kong) to discuss boarding arrangements for the required document check.
One World Trade was to have the top spire placed on the day before, but the wind didn’t cooperate so we thought maybe this morning; but no. We took photos anyway just in case, but later read that the top was placed on May 2.
The 130-yr old Brooklyn Bridge was receiving a facelift. Fortunately she was built with enough foresight and height to allow for ships much taller than we to pass under easily. The bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the U.S. and among the longest suspension bridges in the world. Designed by a German immigrant to be six times stronger than needed, the Brooklyn Bridge remains standing long after others built around the same time have crumbled into history.
A one to two knot and increasing, current was boosting our speed as we headed up the East River. Hell Gate would be at max flood (NE to LIS) around 11:30 making our 11am passage still quite swift. The tugs and their charges seem to avoid the hour around max flood and max ebb losing control would not be a fun experience during that time. We hit 13.4kts going under a bridge just past the Gate.
Controlling our timing with the current is one thing, the wind, another entirely. A forecast, claimed by all our sources, of SE proved wrong, damn wrong. NE was the order of the day- and hey, that’s exactly the way we are headed. Now, add in wind at 16- 20 kts and you have unhappy Ortolan crew! A promise of switching to SE in the afternoon occurred at 6pm, just before we anchored off Pleasure Beach by the Bridgeport entrance channel. The ferries to Port Jefferson on Long Island, NY slide by here and a fleet of oyster fishermen reside at the nearby docks, but none of that was any trouble. Anchoring was. We thought 20ft was too much, so why not try 30ft! Do the math, 30ft needs about 150ft of scope (all chain for us). Overnight conditions would be calm, which is typical although not always so. Of our 250ft of chain about half of it is horribly rusted. Last summer we switched it around so that the most used rusting half would become the seldom used half. After 125 ft had gone out and through the windlass, our shipwreck museum quality chain came out and the windlass started making a funny noise. Stop the presses. The cover/guard part on the top had loosened- mostly thanks to extra vibration from the rusted chain. An easy fix, then we completed the process by clipping on the bridle.
Now can I take a shower? Well, yes but while I did that Russ would be replacing the belt on the port engine water pump which was starting to shred; failure would be imminent. Stuff like this greatly boosts my desire to be back home in Deep River.
Wednesday- ah 50 more miles to go. We got moving by 6:45, greeted the incoming ferry and picked up a favorable current. The oyster fishing boats were out just a short ways the shallower waters. Spent the day motor-sailing and sailing as the NNE wind shifted to SE. Our ETA to the marina was 2:30. The only thing in our way, short of boat trouble, was the Old Lyme Draw, the Amtrak bascule bridge over the CT River. Excuse me? Did I hear that right? The Old Lyme Draw is closed for emergency repairs? Well, that’s what the message sounded like and we think we heard that it would open 3 times a day with one opening around 3pm. Checked with our marina and Dee confirmed an opening between 2:55-3:29, in between trains; that time we could manage to. Recall that the week before we left last October, the bridge had been closed for repairs.
The poor Dock & Dine. Irene came through and wrecked havoc. The well-known Old Saybrook establishment had just re-opened last summer, then bam, Sandy hits. Even the old mini-golf next door would be getting a make-over.
We call the bridge, oh this guy is royally dead pan. We assure him we’ll be up at the bridge for 3pm- I mean we are in sight 1 mile away. A train passes at 3pm- looking good… we wait and wait until I just have to call, “Old Lyme Draw. Ortolan.” Then we hear the next train as he tell us after the next train. Jeez, he could have originally told us that after the two trains passed over, then the bridge would open. A few small boats were out and enjoying the warm sunny day; we were the only boat waiting which made maneuvering easier. Finally at 3:10 the horn sounds. We get our nose lined up and wait, our eyes glued to the spot where the bridge will disconnect from the fixed section. Oh, you meant to tell us that the emergency lift system is in use and the bridge will raise extremely slowly, as in this will take 10 mins? Oh, right. Three Amtrak dudes in orange jackets are present to make this happen and I guess just enjoy the scenery otherwise. Once the bridge appears to have stopped, the bridge tender tells us, “it’s yours for the taking, catamaran.” “You’ve got 65ft, just hug the west side.” We zoom through, looking back to watch the s l o w closing. No wonder the opening time is a 30 minute window. Hailed our thanks and wishes for a speedy repair (a part is coming from CA), no reply from Mr. Grumpy.
Yippee! One more hour to go. The current helps us along and we marvel at the lack of debris and the somewhat clear river water. A far cry from 2011 when after massive winter snowfall up north, half of VT’s fallen branches made their way through CT. We think we know which is mooring #2 but none have the second pennant we requested. We’d taken the bridle off and along with it the big clip we use, so I hurry to get that back on, making sure I don’t tumble in over the stays in the process. Lovin’ those headsets more every day. The pennant has a float with a whip to let you grab it with your hands, but this whip makes it harder for us. We have to pick it up (and mind you it’s moving around) in the exact way to allow me to get it inside the dolphin stay on the port side (the starboard has an add’l line that makes that side even more difficult), so with our bridle clip we just need to get it from the center and attach the clip to the loop at the end of the pennant. That done, we switch places and Russ runs our long black lines from the cleats through the eye loop so we are doubly secured and can snug up a bit closer to the ball. With the second pennant (soon we hope) we can get even closer and not swing too far into the channel.
Yes, good to be home. Thursday we’ll eat our customary “return breakfast” with David, catching up on nephew news and such. Bonny waits for us outside her winter home and we can’t wait to start tackling all those errands.