This trip is for the birds

From that title you might be thinking that much of our wanderings so far since leaving CT have been fowl- but not foul by any means! So allow me to deviate from my usual chronological postings while I present “Feathered Friends – a Short Story or Two”.

Anchored in San Domingo Creek at St Michael’s we saw an eagle land on a nearby osprey nest; not a common sight at all. He hung out there for quite some time and seemed to be pondering the nest; certainly he sat in judgment as only a majestic bird can.

Inspector Eagle Eyes here; “I’m afraid this osprey nest isn’t up to par”

 

I’m thinking, I’m thinking

 

Ok, giving it one more look. But …nah

Anchored at Solomon’s. So it happened again, I look out the front window to see this hawk (haven’t seen a hawk in ages) come down from the trees, wings flapping. When I saw a small rabbit make a clean get away I figured the hawk missed, but well, not so.

He sat there, so I grabbed my camera and got this shot. Just as I snapped a second shot, he flew off.

Anchored up Back Creek- watched as this guy swooped down from the trees. Saw a rabbit dash out from the bushes over the grass and to safety. But he/she sat there for several minutes. We wondered.

When I downloaded the photos, it became clear that the rabbit was not the prey; an unlucky squirrel was the target.

Seconds later he takes off as I’m getting off the next shot and wow- look- got a squirrel and was waiting for it to expire before flying off.

Absolutely one of my most lucky shots ever. Usually I’m seconds too late. Still, a new camera is in our near future.

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Birthday Love on Sept 16

Have I mentioned how gloomy the Delaware usually is when we travel it? Not sure why and others say the same. Today had a one hour delay due to fog, with improving conditions as time and distance progressed. Overall a calm and pleasant trip up to Delaware City Marina- so yes, a seemingly small birthday gift and one I was very pleased to receive.

Uh oh. too foggy to leave the anchorage

Crabby Dick’s was having a party for me, but we opted for dinner at Lewinsky’s on Clinton where the French 75s are quite strong!

Birthday Party!!

 

Along the C&D Canal. Fresh paint since last fall

Along the C&D Canal heading to Havre de Grace from Delaware City Marina

We stayed two nights, eager to get to Havre de Grace where Goll’s (old-fashioned) Bakery awaited us. This time we used the marina’s courtesy van to make a provisioning run.

Dinner was a price point down from our typical choice, at La Cucina, a few blocks walk away. Pizza won out as that gives us either lunch leftovers or another dinner.  The revolving glass dessert case did its job and we ended up sharing a dessert which I think was chocolate/cheesecake layer cake. Yes, very tasty.

Second time we’ve seen this in the past 3 days- what is the meaning?

A boat docked ahead of us at Delaware City Marina had a doll just like this one above, tied near the stern. Ok, odd. Then we saw this one in Havre de Grace; baffled now. Anyone want to posit an idea?

Thar She Blows!

You will have to trust me; I saw it happen.

I heard it and turned quickly, just in time to see two humpbacks slip under the surface. But then they obliged me by surfacing again and my slow shooter caught this:

Two humpback whales within 1 mile of NJ shore

We made good time from Sandy Hook, NJ to Cape May with smooth waters close to shore; the only sign of Irma was the noticeable, albeit gentle, swell coming in from the southeast. Today’s  111 nm trip was as close to perfect as you could get without actually being perfect.

A few dolphin sightings confirmed we were indeed offshore, but still quite close to shore.

Flat calm on the trip to Cape May- at mid day

 

Paddle boarding in the gentle incoming swells off the breakwater at Cape May entrance channel

Happy to be done with this long jump. But when I think back to our time with s/v Ortolan, the trip would have been an overnight or two to get us from Sandy Hook to Norfolk, VA. I like being on the “dark side” again. 🙂

So long Lake Champlain. Hello Sandy Hook.

Eagles.  Note the leaves have begun to change

Departure day (Sept 5 ) was a short one that enabled a shorter day to Whitehall. Getting spoiled with half days of traveling. 🙂 This half day allowed us to stop off Crown Point Park for the night, which was on our bucket list.

Crown Pt left, Chimney Pt right. Overcast all day, by 5pm the sky began to clear

Wednesday’s travel down to Whitehall, NY; in a word- glorious. Eagles, herons, egrets, few other boats, no commercial traffic and only one lock right at Whitehall.

Headed South to Whitehall. Egret waits for the right time

Twin Sisters snugged up to her old spot at the north end of the terminal wall. With visions of breakfast at Historic Grounds with a side of laundry and a haircut for Russ, we felt fortified to handle leaving the Lake and family behind.

Unexpected entertainment at Whitehall, added to the fun. Until the pouring rain and thunderstorms arrived that is.

Kingfisher at Whitehall Terminal wall. Looks like a youngster.

 

Kingfisher didn’t have good luck fishing from the wall, sooo

That didn’t work out, so he had one more spot to try.

Bird’s trying every perch! Maybe up high he could see the fishies better.

A generous block up from Historic Grounds (yes I gorged on a popover!) is the cutest darn laundromat all decorated with vintage laundry/cleaning items. Next door is a tanning salon with a space occupied by an experienced hairstylist/barber.

The one-woman town welcoming person, Elizabeth, had stopped by the evening we arrived and tipped us off to the salon; she also took our bag of trash as the park next to the docks is “carry in, carry out.”

Waiting for Russ at Prime Cuts, looking next door into laundry

We taunted the rain and took a daring walk across the train tracks to the other section of town and look who we met!!

Sasquatch and friend. The question is: “who’s got the better stance?”

 

Who remembers S&H Green stamps?  My grandmother collected them and I think I ended up with a full book.

We stopped again at Fort Edward despite the rickety, low floating docks. We had to scare off a flock of ducks which I was able to do with great success using my new Sasquatch moves.

Good morning fog at Ft Edward

 

Green Heron on old lifting thing at Fort Edward

Only once on the combined trip north and south, did we meet up with a barge underway while in confined waters. Easy peasy when it’s coming out of the lock, we had warning and a spot to wait.

Glad we met up here where had pullover room.

More foggy the next morn at Mechanicville, NY

 

Mechanicville- some creature, a racoon? -took that welcome mat literally

Paddle tour boat stopped briefly at Mechanicville.

And off she goes

Next to Lock C5 at Northumberland. Sorry, out of order as this is north of Mechanicville. Oh well.

Between Mechanicville and Waterford there’s only two locks. M/V Gypsy was also at Mechanicville, headed south so we had company in the locks.

We found that dropping down in the locks was always smoother than going up. This made the trip south less stressful because eight of the eleven locks between Whitehall and Waterford drop you down.

Lock C1. Our 2nd and final of the short trip to Waterford

 

m/y Gypsy from AZ did Locks C2 and C1 with us, docking at Waterford. Both trips we had another power behind us in C1 and C2

Our one night stay in Waterford (intersection of the Erie Canal and Hudson) was very productive. Lunch at Don & Paul’s, then Hannaford for provisions and McGreiveys for outdoor dinner.

In the “small world” category, one the boats docked closer to the lock (E1) walked over and asked if we’d been hauled out at Seaport Marine last summer. Well, yes! I’m not sure if we spoke to one another then (maybe he and Russ did) but he remembered we’d been there “a while.”

We gave m/v Gypsy some tips about the old canal towpath and museum and headed off the next morning once the fog cleared.

We’d been keeping a slow pace thanks to the ultimately destructive Hurricane Irma.  A window showed itself for mid-Sept and we intended to take it. Sandy Hook is only a two-day trip from Waterford in Twins; three in Ortolan unless we did loonnggg days. If the window shut we had two backup plans.

One more lock south of Waterford and that’s the Troy Federal Lock. This time we were prepared with a boat hook to grab the ladder and a line for Russ to put around the vertical pipe.

These lock walls are much smoother than the Champlain Canal lock walls.

Imagine our surprise to come upon m/v Real Mountie anchored at Albany. Don’t think we’d read reviews of a single anchorage or mooring field that didn’t contain one written by Real Mountie. They weren’t super recent nor old and most contained some history or back story which is just great to have. Sometimes that’s enough info but in some cases Russ searched for more and that made it even better. So, the surprise was to see the boat at all, not that she was anchored . 🙂

Albany: we spot m/v Real Mountie– the helpful writer of tons of Lake Champlain ActiveCaptain reviews

 

Eye-catching in Albany. Think we’re gonna need that Uhaul in November.

 

On the Hudson, 2 hrs N of Kingston we pass this tug and barge. So long the tug wouldn’t fit in the photo

 

Hudson, heading south. Approaching Bannerman Arsenal- the first Army/Navy surplus warehouse.

On the trip north I took a close-up of the arsenal but didn’t know much about it. As we passed by this time, Russ checked Wikipedia and boy what an interesting read. You can click here for the whole story but here’s the short version:

Francis Bannerman VI, was born in 1851, in Northern Ireland, and emigrated to the United States with his parents in 1854.  The family moved to Brooklyn in 1858 and began a military surplus business in 1865 purchasing surplus military equipment at the close of the Civil War.  The business bought weapons directly from the Spanish government before it evacuated Cuba; and then purchased over 90 percent of the Spanish guns, ammunition, and equipment captured by the United States military and auctioned off by the United States government.  Bannerman’s illustrated mail order catalog expanded to 300 pages; and became a reference for collectors of antique military equipment.

Francis purchased the island in November 1900, for use as a storage facility for his growing surplus business. He began to build an arsenal on Pollepel Island. Bannerman designed the buildings himself.  He also built another castle in a smaller scale on top of the island near the main structure as a residence, often using items from his surplus collection for decorative touches. The castle, clearly visible from the shore of the river, served as a giant advertisement for his business. On the side of the castle facing the western bank of the Hudson, Bannerman cast the legend “Bannerman’s Island Arsenal” into the wall.

Construction stopped when he died in 1918. In 1920, 200 tons of shells and powder exploded, destroying a portion of the complex.  After the sinking of the ferryboat Pollepel, which had served the island, in a storm in 1950, the Arsenal and island were essentially left vacant.

The island and buildings were bought by New York State in 1967. After the old military merchandise was removed, tours of the island were given in 1968. But in 1969, fire devastated the Arsenal and the island was placed off-limits to the public.

Since then, more walls have collapsed, such damage reported by a motorist and Metro-North officials. Remember how close the tracks are to the shoreline.

But here’s the very interesting tidbit of recent:

On April 19, 2015, the island was the destination of a kayak trip taken by Angelika Graswald and her fiancé, Vincent Viafore. Vincent did not return, and Angelika was charged with his murder. On July 24, 2017, she pled guilty to criminally negligent homicide. 

I remember the story and seeing the recent news story about her pleading guilty. Never had any idea where on the Hudson the kayak trip took place.

Kingston- once an active commercial port

Fuel was needed before heading offshore to Cape May so we stopped at Rondout Yacht Basin in Kingston for diesel.

Tour boat Rip Van Winkle at Kingston. Was about time to see a reference to old Rip.

The Tappan Zee was coming together nicely with more spans in place since early August.

Watch out for that spinning crane !

And when isn’t New York Harbor a bustling waterway? The city that never sleeps, right?

Lower Hudson closing in on Miss Liberty- sailing club, tour and dinner boat (far left), ferry and tug & barge

Seems that everyone wanted to be on the water.

Daring paddle boarders in the harbor

 

Ellis Island

 

Ms Liberty and a Park Police boat as we motor by

 

Anthem of the Seas- wow! Not my idea of attractive.

We’d gotten word from m/v Tapestry (a 58′ Kadey-Krogen) that the offshore conditions just sucked today. That agreed with the forecast though and we hoped that Friday, Sept 15 would be better as “promised.”

Heading out of NY Harbor toward the Verrazano Bridge and Sandy Hook NJ

 

 

 

 

Anchored at Kingsland Bay

Where did the mountains go?

Sunday, September 3 we dropped our mooring lines for the last time and headed into Kingsland Bay about two miles south. The wind was going to pick up from the SW, and why be uncomfortable when you can be very comfortable!  The State Park was even more perfect in that we could land the dinghy and get ashore. Thus, Benj could enter the park and we could pick him up. No launching the dinghy in heavy seas and sloshing about trying to raise it later which would be our fate at the marina.

We executed the perfect plan; Benj would arrive around 10am when the park opened bringing delicious and fresh donuts from The Bagel Deli (next door to the Co-Op) for the three of us to enjoy as a mid-morning treat. Vermont State Parks charge $4 pp fee; that was the only downside- but hey, he’s worth it!!

Donuts!! and Benj too

After we finished extolling the virtues of freshly delivered donuts, somehow we managed to get our butts in gear and head in for that necessary grocery trip. The day was still cool and the park just beginning to fill.

Anchored in scenic Kingsland Bay

Since we’d be returning with three instead of one, we paid for Russ and I and explained our situation to the attendant. These cruisers, always with some strange story.

So, here’s our story…

The dinghy dock was adequate. The stairs up to the lawn roped off so we had to do a bit of climbing around. Yep, just trying to get our money’s worth here!

My two best guys!

Benj hung around for a while 🙂  We did the farewell thing 😦   Russ brought Benj ashore and we were left to being incredibly grateful for such a superb month in Lake Champlain. For those who may read this hoping to learn about the Lake’s anchorages, places to visit, etc, we have likely done a half-assed job but the other half was spent on land in great company of family and friends.

We didn’t get up to Mallets Bay, nor to Burlington by boat, but we did get to all the other places we wanted.

A little added scenery. By next morning he’d slowly dragged back so far that he’d be out of this picture

And so dear reader we come to the end of our second year in Twin Sisters for a total of seven full years since we became wandering nomads. To recount: 4 years on s/v Ortolan a Maine Cat 41 catamaran, 1 year in a motorhome and 2 years in this PDQ34 power cat.

I know these chart photos would have been more helpful at the beginning of our Hudson/Lake Champlain trip, but what can I say except better late than never?

We began just to the right of the spiral, traveled left (west) down the East River, rounded the tip of Manhattan and north up the Hudson river. The first lock we came to was at Troy, just south of Waterford where the Erie Canal takes you west across upstate New York, or the Champlain Canal (still the Hudson at times) brings you in Lake Champlain.

Chart: Hudson River to Waterford

 

Charts:Waterford to Lower Lake; Vergennes into Canada

Here’s a few stats from this cruising year which began Sept 20, 2016 in Mystic CT and ended Sept 4, 2017, a short 350-day year. Each “year” varies depending on when we begin our trip south.

Nautical miles: 4,188 or 4,927 land miles.  570 of those nautical miles took us to places we had never before explored by water, namely north of Manhattan!

Of the 350 days, we spent 135 at anchor, with the remaining days somewhat equally split between moorings and docks. I’m pretty sure that PDQ Year2 was a lower than usual percentage of nights at anchor; Hurricane Matthew and the Hudson/Lake Champlain trip adding more to the mooring/dockage side of the equation.

We sit in amazement at how seven years have flown by. This coming year, “PDQ Year3” looks to be similar to others with a few differences; one will be far fewer postings!! Haven’t you seen and heard it all already? Aren’t there over 500 posts you can read if you want to? I look back once in a while and always find one I don’t remember writing.

Yes, I’ll probably post a bunch of photos about the trip back down from the Lake, but even if posts are scarce, know that we are alive, cruising and counting our many blessings. 🙂

25 Son Trips Around the Sun

Beginning of Otter Creek

September 2, 2017. A quarter century old this son of ours. So happy for all the time we’ve shared with him and Lily this trip. Some higher power looked favorably upon us for Saturday, as it was a lovely, light wind day stuck in between days not so pleasant. We’d planned a short boat ride. This would be Lily’s first ride aboard Twin Sisters and with a bit of ginger and calm conditions she was confident (mostly!) that motion sickness wouldn’t come aboard!

We offer proof below that Lily not only survived the outing but she was smiling! Maybe due to Benj or the Swell (a modern take on a wine spritzer from the founder of Deep Edy). 🙂

Opening birthday gifts on the mooring

Tonight’s chosen dining establishment was in… guess which town? Or should I say small city? Yes, Vergennes, at the Black Sheep. Our table was by the entrance with a view out to the sidewalk and street.

No cocktail menu and the dinner menu is of moderate length with appetizers all the same price and so too with entrees. The bistro is small and it makes sense they are trying to keep things simple as well as local. So Lily turns to me and asks if I could suggest a gin based drink. Umm… and with a recall memory that astounded me, I offered, “How about a French 75?” Here we are in Vergennes, and well, a classy drink would surely be part of the bartender’s repertoire. The woman attending to us at the moment was in fact the bartender (she also seemed to be in charge) and I had to describe the drink (which I’d quickly checked online first after Lily and I talked). The happy ending is that Lily enjoyed the cocktail and the bartender has a new libation to offer.

Happy 25th Benj. The Black Sheep in Vergennes. French 75s for the ladies, Manhattans for the men.

A walk down to the falls felt in order and Russ said that they’d be lit up. Not as lit up as we’d hoped, but we did get to show where we had landed the dinghy.

Our dearly beloved amazing drivers returned us to the marina where we bid a heartfelt farewell to Lily, but only a goodnight to Benj who we’d see one last time on Monday, Labor Day. Sunday’s weather would keep us on board and Monday looked breezy still, but sunny and cool. Autumn coming soon me thinks.

 

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum & Sea Planes

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, s/v Philadelphia II one of the exhibits

The weather forecast for our likely last full week in the Lake was a mix of sunny & calm and windy & chilly.  A few miles further south than where we anchored for Otter Creek was Mile Point and there you could dinghy ashore to visit the Maritime Museum on Basin Harbor Rd, Vergennes. Tuesday was the day.

A classic

The LCMM comprises five exhibit buildings, a working replica 1776 gunboat Philadelphia II, several large outside displays and workshop sheds. A program called Lake Adventure Camp is offered too. The campus layout is comfy and the buildings don’t appear large at first but boy they are packed full of just about everything you’d want to know about Lake history, heritage and happenings of old.

Not easy trying to work as team when all are newbies!

At the welcome center we learned that a teacher group was here today, so that explained who was in the row boats.

Portion of Lake Champlain Maritime Museum campus

At the Watercraft Center the 1902 ice yacht Storm King stole the show and the entire two stories! She is the centerpiece in a large collection of dugout and bark canoes, kayaks, rowing skiffs and other small watercraft used over the years on the Lake.

Storm King is too huge to fit into a camera shot

 

Storm King; the velvet seat made her very fancy for this type of vessel

 

Lovin’ the CT- VT connection

 

 This looks to be one way to hunt for Champ!!

 

Boats, docks and the teacher group who got to row, row, row your boat!

When you step aboard the Philadelphia II you are back in 1776. The man who awaits you dressed in period clothing is worth the price of admission (although the museum cost is low). He has more knowledge about the Revolutionary War era in this area especially, than 50 people combined. Just fascinating to listen, ask questions and try to absorb even a smidgen more than the brain can hold.  The topic of how people slept was very interesting and something I hadn’t ever fully considered although I knew people didn’t always sleep in comfy beds back in 1776.

While aboard, the men slept in shifts- ok they take turns got that. But they would sleep basically sitting up and leaning back into the guy behind them, sorta like fallen dominoes. When people were traveling – rebel colonists, regular citizens, etc, it was common to sleep at the base of a tree or better yet in the space where two trunks were joined, put your wool blanket under your butt and fold it over and around you. Even when at home, the sleeping position was only a partial recline. Beds were smaller back then, plus the typical diet often caused acid reflux, so best not to be fully reclined.

 

Gunboat kettle pot cooking

Wednesday we fueled up, got pumped out and thanked again for calling about s/v Sunset Breeze, and learned why this marina chooses to pump the fuel for you. Basically, it’s the liability and the fines assessed for a spill or for not reporting a spill.  If they pump the fuel there’s no question as to who is responsible. Good timing, as the price was going up with Friday’s delivery, thanks to Harvey.

 

Wednesday, at the fuel dock I got a close look of the sunken barge in the still waters

The prior marina owners used sunken barges to protect the outer floating docks that lie left and right of the long fuel dock. Warning buoys mark the area but accidents do happen. Not sure what course of action will be allowed once they more fully break up and fall apart.

 

On the other side of the fuel dock is another sunken barge that has become more visible since we arrived

Sea planes were a regular event and every time, even with less-than-perfect conditions, no crashing into the dock.

Here we go again. Another day another seaplane

Fueling up. See the man sitting on the wing?

Incoming! At bit more wave action for this sea plane

All aboard! Very fully loaded, liftoff took noticeable effort

One time the plane had to back off from the end and I missed a good shot of the pilot standing on a float, paddling to get far enough off the dock so he could turn.

Stay tuned for just a bit more of our Lake Champlain visit.