Sunday, July 29, 2012

Great Kills, Staten Island, NY to Block Island, RI

We stayed at Great Kills Yacht Club for three nights waiting for the weather to improve.  Great Kills is a melting pot of many nationalities.  The Italian bartender at the Club was Carmine, who was short just like Carmine from the old TV show Laverne and Shirley.  A number of the members were Italian and Irish.  We rode our bikes to St. Claire’s church on Saturday evening.  The parishioners appeared to be of Italian descent, but the priest was from Ghana.  After church we rode to a nearby market for groceries.  It was a small market and I couldn’t find the dairy products, so I asked the butcher.  He did not speak English.  I then looked at the labels on all of the products and they were in Russian. 

 The only person in the entire store who spoke English was the Russian clerk at checkout.  We had dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant where the waiters were Russian and the cooks were Hispanic.  Very different from Morton, Illinois!
Staten Island:  Did you know that Staten Island belongs to New York, not New Jersey, because it was won in a sailboat race in the 1800’s?


0620 we left harbor with no wind and just rolling swells from the bay as we headed for the Verrazano Bridge into New York Harbor. 

 Because it was a Sunday morning, there was light traffic.  The view of the skyline and the Statue of Liberty were spectacular. 

We saw one cargo ship, one Staten Island Ferry and two Circle Line boats, so passage was easy for us. 

We passed the UN building and Riker’s Island (prison). 

The current was 4 mph in our favor as we headed up the East River.  This area can be very turbulent due to the many eddies and whirlpools from frequent depth changes in the bottom of the river.  Once we arrived at Hell’s Gate, the river became very turbulent for a short distance.   Fortunately, there was still very little river traffic. 
After arriving in Oyster Bay (Long Island Sound), we tied up to the dock at Oyster Bay Marine Center (OMYC).  We had reviewed the postings on Active Captain for marina prices.  This one was listed for $1.50 per foot…spectacular for this area…BUT…we didn’t read carefully.  That price was for a mooring ball.  The price at the dock was $4.50 per foot on weekends.  GULP!!
Tides here were 8 feet.

We moved to a mooring ball to save some $$$.  This was our first attempt to tie up to one and we had no problems.  OMYC owns four boats that are used to shuttle people from their mooring balls and anchorages to shore. 

 The staff at this marina was very accommodating.  They had lots of dock hands.  The wind picked up in the evening but subsided during the night. 


0545:  Since we departed before the marina opened, we motored to the gas dock and tied up in order to give Duke a morning walk.  We were gone before marina staff arrived.   After the walk, we headed out on the Sound to Essex, CT and the Nordic Tug Rendezvous.   Essex Island Marina is about 100 yards off the shore of Essex, CT.   No cars are allowed on the island, so a small ferry boat shuttles people on and off on demand. 

The town is filled with houses built in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s.  Each house on the main street has a placard with the original owner’s name and the date of construction.  Very quaint!
7/25/12-7/27/12:  The Rendezvous

Seminars were offered on a variety of topics.  Some were large group sessions and other breakouts.  We met a wonderful group of boaters from New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Maine.  The boat behind ours was NT-317, Simone, which we saw being built last January at the factory.  This boat is owned by Bob and Sue Baglini.


Eleven Nordic Tugs departed for Greenport, NY. Because there were so many of us, we waited an hour in the Greenport Harbor to finally dock the boat. On the marine radio, we were directed to our slip and told “Stern In”. We do not like stern in because we have only one engine and a bow thruster (no stern thruster). That makes turning more difficult. The fairway to our slip was very narrow and the docks were short.

The boats were too large for the slips and protruded out into the narrow fairway.
At the last minute, I handed the controls to Ron and said…”you do this one”.  The boat across from us had a large bow pulpit and we were being placed next to another Nordic Tug with little space between the two boats (and the winds were blowing us sideways into the tug).  With the help of the dock hands, we finally got situated.  After walking around this touristy little town, all of the tug owners (25 of us) were invited aboard Ben & Sue Wilde’s 52 foot tug for cocktails and appetizers.  Ben is the east coast Nordic Tug dealer.  Nice boat!!!!

It was raining and windy.  Even though we were bow out, I was apprehensive about getting out of this slip that was such a struggle to enter.  I took the helm and Ron placed a spring line on the boat so that we could pivot on the piling as I piloted the boat forward.  Ron yelled, “all lines off” as I cleared the boat in front of us by inches and avoided hitting the dock.  When I looked back, RON WAS IN THE WATER!  He had tried to jump aboard, but I had the stern too far off and he missed.  So I was on the boat ALONE!!  Fortunately John Feeney, another tug owner was on the dock.  Ron had somehow tied the stern line to the dock, so I moved the bow to the end of the adjacent dock and John tied the bow line there.  If there had been a boat in that slip, I’m not sure what we would have done.  Ron was uninjured.  After I stopped the engine, he climbed aboard via the swim platform.  While all this was happening, Joe (from Marjo) yelled as he pulled out of his slip…”your stern line is still tied to the dock”.  He didn’t see Ron in the water and thought that I was motoring out of the harbor with a line still tied.  He and Marge thought that I was going to take out the docks as I left.  In hindsight, it was humorous, but it could have been a disaster.

Little did we realize that the day was going to get even more interesting.  We arrived at Block Island after 4.5 hours.  Although we had called for reservations at Payne’s Dock, we were told just to let them know when we arrived.  Block Island is a harbor surrounded by a circle of land with only one entrance.  There are mooring fields everywhere.  Some are privately owned.  The public ones are light green with black lettering.  We tried to find an empty one, but all were filled, so we motored down to Payne’s.  Someone yelled from the front of a large boat, “Do you want to dock?”  We said, “Yes”, and he said “OK…back in to the dock here”.  When we looked, there was no dock.  It was behind and between some large boats.  He said, “Back in here!”  It was like threading a needle through an eye that was way too small. 

A dock hand or boat owner was on EVERY boat.  Ron took the helm and I tossed lines as instructed by the dock hands.  They told Ron every move needed to get the boat through the maze.  A large audience on the dock clapped when we got it to the dock.  Apparently this is NORMAL PROCEDURE since they raft all boats here.  As soon as we got in, ORCA, another tug was placed in the last available spot next to us.  We were happy that Brad and Alice were the ones who would be climbing on our boat to get to the docks.  We observed this procedure several times as other boats arrived.  The procedure reversed as boats left on Sunday morning.

  It is amazing that no one had any boat damage to their boats.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Long Beach Island, NJ to Great Kills Yacht Club, Staten Island, NY

We left with some wind behind us.  The concern in Barnegat Bay is shallow water.  Many loopers mentioned problems, but we had none.  After going through the Point Pleasant-Manasquan Canal, we turned upriver on the Manasquan toward Manasquan River Club.  Although we talked to them on the phone a few times, we still were unclear about entering their channel and finding the slip.  Their marina is a small peninsula with individual slips facing the land....there were no piers and no identifying numbers on the slips.  We called again and were directed to slip B55 which was a floating dock but required stern end toward shore.  WE ALWAYS GO BOW IN!   So Ron took the helm and started backing up, but we got stuck because this slip had silted in from lack of use.  A fellow boater helped us with the lines and we finally powered into the dock.  The heat index was 104, so about 4:30 we headed for the pool.  After 10 minutes, we noticed the storm approaching so we quickly went back to the boat.  While I boiled water for mac and cheese, the wind picked up to 40 mph and got pretty rocky.  After carefully draining the pot, we had a bouncy dinner.  The storm passed fairly quickly.

6/19/12 (Headed for Staten Island--Great Kills Yacht Club)
We always check numerous sources for weather before starting out for the day.  All predictions stated that winds in the Atlantic were 5-10 knots and the waves were 3 to 4.  This was a little more wave action than we like, but the forecast for the next 5 days progressively deteriorated.  Manasquan Inlet is the last of the ICW and you must go out.  We headed for the inlet at slack tide because this can be a very turbulent spot.  As soon as we left the inlet we were hit with constant 30 knot winds and seas of 4 to 5 feet with a period of 5 seconds.  Some waves were much higher.  The life jackets went on Duke and me immediately, and Ron's was next to him on the seat.  He did a great job of driving the boat and keeping the other two passengers ( Duke and Jan) from total panic.

  We had everything stowed inside cabinets except for a few magazines, pillows, paper towels which were on the seats in the galley.  When the waves were on our bow, we would sink into a wave and rise up on the next.  When the waves were quartering, we were slightly more comfortable.  When we had a beam sea, the boat would tilt down to the gunwale and then right itself.  It was the roughest ride of the loop so far. 

After some LARGE wave action, everything ended up on the floor.  The seat in our dingy came loose and nearly fell overboard...this is the seat to which we attach our motor, so we would have lost the motor if the seat had gone overboard.  One of the fenders tied up top broke one of the horn mounts.  So all in all....not a fun day! 
After rounding Sandy Hook, NJ, the water calmed down.  We are at Great Kills Yacht Club in a secure little harbor.  We arrived right before the rain started. 

God was watching over us today! 

We are able to stay at this Yacht Club because of the kindness of one of its members who has arranged for Great Loopers to stay ($2.00 per foot-cash)  without having a reciprocal agreement from another yacht club.  The weather has cooled significantly but it is raining and very windy.  We will be here until Sunday morning.  If the weather is good, we will head for the East River and Long Island Sound.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Viking Yacht Center to Long Island Beach, NJ

7/17/12  This morning we left Viking Yachting Center along with Ron's sister Denise and cousin Theresa, who decided to ride along.  The ride was only about 20 miles and the main reason for going to Long Beach Island was the diesel price of $3.15 per gallon at Beach Haven Yacht Club Marina.  We decided not to stay there, though, because of their fixed docks.  Instead, we went next door at Morrison's Beach Haven Marina for the nicer floating docks.....PRICEY!!  $3.00 per foot and there is not much here.  Long Beach Island is a very touristy area for people from New York, NJ, and Philly....thus the high prices.  Tomorrow we head for Manasquan about 45 miles north.

DC revisited

We saw this guy sitting outside the Capitol a few weeks ago and thought it was worth sharing......

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cape May to Viking Yacht Center, New Gretna, NJ


Friday the 13th.....we had planned to take the ICW today, but after hearing several warnings from locals about the shallow waters, we decided to take the ocean route.  Ron always plots our course on the chartplotter the night before a departure, but this late decision required some fast planning.  We checked the predicted wind/ wave situation and headed out.  Amazingly, the winds were 2 knots with gusts to 4 knots, so the water looked like glass.  The ocean swells were 2 to 3 feet with a period of 7 seconds, so it was a nice rolling ride.  Duke slept most of the way. After 4 hours, we turned in to Abescon Inlet at Atlantic City.

 Since it was still early, we decided to take that section of the ICW to New Gretna, which is the town next Little Egg Harbor where Ron's family lives.  We had checked out Viking Yachting Center when we were here at Christmas.  It is about an hour off the ICW, but it is a really nice marina ($1.50 per foot) with a pool.  They build Viking Yachts in the building nexxtx door.

Church (Theresa was lector), grocery shopping, and dinner at Brian's and Denise's. We are staying on the boat rather than with family because it is easier with Duke.

7/15, 7/16, 7/17...more time with family.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cape May

Rumor has it that New Jersey boaters can be thoughtless on the waterways. They offer no consideration as they "wake you" in small channels. This occurred in the first 10 minutes in Cape May Canal.

Ron's sister, brother-in-law, mother and cousin live an hour north of Cape May, so Denise, Brian, and grandson Logan came to visit and took us to dinner.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Rock Hall to Delaware City


We arrived at Rock Hall, a small, quaint town with a trolley(Rock Hall Landing Marina) .  The newly instituted trolley is pulled by a Jeep and was developed to assist transient boaters.  It costs $1.00 per person for a ride anywhere in town.  You can either call them or just catch a ride as they pass by.  On our trip to the grocery store, the driver offered to show us around.  He took us to all of the marinas and through the small downtown.  They are trying to promote business for the restaurants and shops.  Because it rained/stormed during the night, we decided to stay another day.

A familiar boat pulled in behind us this afternoon......John and Marsha on Kadadi.  We han't seen them since we were on the Tennessee River at the Rendezvous last fall.  The end of May, John fell off the top of his boat and broke his leg in 3 places.  The leg is healing nicely now, so they are trying to make up for lost time by traveling 90 miles a day. Going home to Canada.

Kadadi and Adagio both headed for the Delaware City Marina after passing through the C&D Canal which connects the Delaware to the Chesapeake.  If all goes well, we will head out Delaware Bay to Cape May, NJ in the morning.  This bay can have dangerous winds, currents, and tides, but the forecast for tomorrow is good. 

We had a pleasant ride down the bay (2's to 3's).  The last few miles of the ride turned out to be a bit bumpy as we turned into Cape May.  We passed the ferry terminal just minutes before one of the large ferrys pulled out into the channel.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


We went through Knapps Narrows and on to Annapolis.  On our way into Annapolis harbor, we wound through  some anchored ships, three regattas (30 boats each), and many power boats.  Severeal Navy sailboats withp plebes on board were practicing in the harbor.  One boat tacked right in front of us. 

We decided to stay at the Annapolis City Docks.  When we arrived, they told us the last slip was filled (first come/first served), so they placed in a side tie on the town wall. The city docks waterway is called Ego Alley....for a reason.  Both day and night, boats ride up and down this narrow waterway with a turnaround basin at the reminded us of hot rods cruising main street. 

 HOT!!! The temp is over 100 degrees and we have stifling humidity.  The entire country has been enveloped in this heat wave.  Crops are dying in the midwest. 

At 2am, our first night, Ron was awakened by a noise.  When he got up, he found a drunk on the bow of our boat having his picture taken by his buddy.  Ron convinced this young hispanic to get off the boat when he said "policia".  The boat behind us had called the police and they finally convinced these guys to leave in a car with their buddies.  We're just glad they didn't have guns!

Duke hates this town.  People walk up and down the sidewalk next to the boat day and night.  Cars cruise on one side and boats cruise by on the other.  There are many city noises (trucks) and no place to walk him close by.

We took a guided tour of the U.S. Naval Academy and learned the meaning on several sayings.
 1) "Don't let the cat out of the bag"  originated when flogging of midshipmen was allowed.  Cattails were used and kept in a pouch.  No one wanted the "cat" out of the bag.
2)  "Learning the ropes" originated when new plebes were required to learn the use of every rope on a large model ship at the Academy.
3)  The term Midshipman originated (on early ships) when the lowest level cabin boy was stationed in the middle.  His job was to run messages from the bow to the stern and back.

The plebes have been here only a week. Out of 1300 nominations, 1200 were accepted.  The campus is beautiful.  We couldn't tour the chapel because weddings occur there on Saturdays, but we plan to attend church there tomorrow.

  While touring the Naval Academy Museum, I got tired and sat down to wait for Ron.  When I looked up at the display case in front of me, there was a display on J. Paul Reason and his family.....we met Paul and Dianne in D.C. at the marina bar. 

Another marina nightmare:  The people on the 50 foot sailboat tied to the wall in front of us, came back to their boat at 2am and decided to crank up the music to full volume on their boat.  This went on for an hour so they could dance and party on board.  Thoughtless!

7/8/12  We attended mass at the Academy Chapel which holds over 2000 people.  There are several huge Tiffany windows in the building, and the crypt of John Paul Jones is in the basement.  It is the largest crypt I've ever seen.  The plebes sat on the left side of the sanctuary and the civilians and a few officers on the right.  The music was fabulous, the accoustics phenomenal, the pipe organ was incredible, and the voices of the plebe choir was amazing. 

After picking up a few things at the farmers' market, we took off again for the Eastern shore.

Back to the Chesapeake

After almost a week at Solomons, we decided to head to the Eastern Shore (Oxford, MD).  This place (Hinckley Yacht Services) is the same price as our last marina ($2.25 per foot)  but doesn't come close to it in quality.  It is a working marine yard.  The showers were not clean and the small pool closes at 5pm.  We had intended to stay two nights, but we will probably head for Annapolis (western shore) tomorrow.

Solomons, MD

The water was calm after last night's storm, so we headed out for Solomons.  On the way, we passed a restricted area for military operations.  This was clearly listed on  the chart as an area to avoid.  There were several naval boats there.  After we passed the area, we heard the naval vessels on Channel 16 calling some boats...asking them to clear the area for active gunfire.  Then we saw several military planes flying low.  Glad we missed that excitement.

  We arrived at Zahniser Marina (Solomons) early afternooon after winding through many fields of crabpots.  Will crabpots never cease???  We called Ken Shanley, whom we'd met at the fall AGLCA Rendezvous.  His newly purchased boat, a custom built 42 foot Cape Dory, was in a nearby marina.  Dinner with Ken and Ann was at Zahniser's Dry Dock Restaurant.  We had fun getting to know Ann, a former business teacher from Florida.  Ken and Ann plan to start the loop next year.


We attended church at Our Lady Star of the Sea which has an amazing view of Back Creek and boats passing by.

  Zahniser's Marina, which is super, has a gorgeous pool, great laundry and super showers.  Instead of giving you a loaner car, they take you where you want to go.  Two other ladies and I went to the grocery store together.  For dinner, Ken and Ann invited us for shrimp and salad on their boat--delicious. 

Pool day.  We then went to the BBQ place with Ken and Ann for their crabcake special ($9.95 for a large crabcake and two side dishes).  Very reasonable since most places are charging $17 and up for crabcakes. 

Chores:  laundry, more groceries, cleaning and a haircut.  Ron discovered a 26 foot Nordic Tug in the paint shop and got the boat name, Canvasback.  It belonged to Elliot and Joan Kocen.  Ron called them and they invited us for drinks at the Solomons Yacht Club and then dinner at DiGiovani's.  They were gracious hosts and we had a great time.  Solomons Yacht Club limits membership to 200, but they have a waiting list of at least 60 people.  While on the waiting list, those prospective members are allowed to attend all parties and can use the club.  Great idea!

7/4/12  I've met the most interesting people on the loop.  The cleaning lady in the laundry/shower area mentioned that she had written two published books.  I asked about them and she went to the storage closet and pulled out copies....both religious books. She had an abundant supply just in case someone wanted to purchase them.

Temps were near 100 and the water temp on Back Creek was 87.  We spent some time cooling off in the pool, took a dinghy ride,  and then went with Ken and Ann to the local fireworks.
These people were on their way to the fireworks show...any means they could find to get there. Great fireworks show!



After 90 miles on the Potomac, we pulled in to Tall Timbers Marina (17 miles from the opening to the Chesapeake).  This marina is on the Potomac's north side through a narrow entrance into a small open bay.  This is a mom and pop place and the docks are old, wooden and rickety. Hurricane Isabel had taken out their pool a few years back.  Since it was so hot, we decided to eat in the restaurant.  We met a couple from Holland who had sailed across the Atlantic 2 1/2 years ago to Venezuela and the Carribean and now the U.S.  They were anchored out in their 48 foot sailboat in the middle of the bay.  At 11:30pm, our boat started rocking violently and the wind was woke us up.  This was a  fast moving storm with 60+ mph  winds, lightning and thunder.  Channel 16 advised that everyone take shelter in a secure building.  We got the life jackets out and ready, but there was no way to safely exit the boat.  The waves were washing over the top of the dock and the wind was brutal.  Fortunately, we had 4 lines tied securely to the pilings. Duke and I hunkered down in the bow and waited for the storm to pass. Ron was vigilant and kept looking out at the lines. After 20 minutes, the water calmed down.  We kept looking at the bay to see if the sailboat had survived the storm,  but we couldn't see a thing.  The next morning we hailed them on the radio....they said it had been a very rough night, but they were OK.  This same storm affected DC.....3 million people without power.  Two people were killed in Virginia.  BAD STORM!  The worst we've ever encountered.  The dock the next morning...minus some boards.