Exploring New England

Life is proving interesting with frustrating and unsuspecting challenges! “But wait,” I hear you say… “that is life!” Yes, Mark likes a challenge. Me – not so much! Let me tell you more.

Bushranger has been prepared for the winterising process: the Bimini and canvass removed, the cushions and fenders stowed, decks swabbed, internals cleaned, laundry completed.

Mark has been trying for two days to find a rental car to have for a week. To no avail. It seems when Hurricane Ida swept up the east coast, she hovered over Mamaroneck and completely flooded the city and surrounds. This meant the residents of the area had their cars rendered inoperable and hence, through insurance, used about 10,000 rental cars. This meant, none for us. I know… unbelievable!

But wait, there’s more.

Mark finally tracked down a company, not once, but twice receiving written and verbal confirmation of his booking of a car. On a gut feeling he called to double reconfirm, only to be told “Oh no, sir! I don’t know why you were told we had a car when we don’t”. At this point Mark had a major sense of humour failure. To wrap up this saga – we took an Uber to LaGuardia Airport (second attempt, as the first Uber driver said he couldn’t drive all that way) to pick up a car. Almost had another sense of humour failure when told to choose any car in the car spaces from 600 to 610. When we located the area – – – there were no cars in those spaces. Back we went to the office. The god of challenges was smirking. No problem – just had to get a car from the cleaning guys. On checkout, Mark noticed the car was not full of petrol.

But wait, the god of challenges was smirking again.

Typing in our address to get back to Mamaroneck, a 25 minute drive, we wondered why we were heading in the direction of Manhattan. Our 25 minute drive became over an hour as we were directed over the Roosevelt Bridge into Manhattan, through Harlem and out the Bronx. The car was using the ‘deep and hidden’ preferences of the previous driver. It was a real eye-opener of a ride.

We decided to stay Friday night on Bushranger. Now bags are packed, food is in a cooler bag. The day is heating up and we want to hit the road. I wondered what was keeping Mark who went to put the bags in the car. Mark returned, almost a broken man. He had spent the time away trying to figure out how to open the boot (trunk). The god of challenges almost had us, until I thought of googling the answer. I am pretty sure Mark said an expletive!

New England, here we come! Thought we would start by driving to the gorgeous port of Greenwich. Wealth here is on show, big time. Thought we would add to the economy by having a cup of coffee. Big mistake! We drove round and round and round trying to find a car park. Finally, found one only to stand in line for a projected 30 minute wait. Nah – not worth it! Headed out and down the I95 to a not so salubrious part to find coffee. Was that god of challenges grinning?

We learnt our lesson of not deviating from the interstate. We thought the I95 was too congested and slow. We turned on to the Boston Post Road – big mistake! It was going to add 2 hours to our trip, stopping every couple of blocks at traffic lights. So, after 30 minutes we humbly made our way back on the I95.

A lunch stop in Old Saybrook

We finally made it to Providence, Rhode Island, 4 hours after we set out. We had driven in four states: NY, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. We were looking forward to the infamous fall colours of the foliage, only to find the colours have not started to change yet. (Bugger!)

Today, we did a road trip to Cape Cod and surrounds. No fall foliage colours, but the scenery was gorgeous. The architecture in these places is stunning and Old England in nature with stone walls and skinny country lanes over hung with green tree tunnels. I saw a deer standing by the side of the road. We kept to the scenic byways.

Our first stop was the Cape Cod Canal, a 7–mile canal joining Buzzards Bay in the Long Island Sound to Cape Cod Bay in the Atlantic Ocean. I was really keen to visit the Visitors Centre to read up on the history (and have a cup of coffee). Should have heard the chuckle! Visitors Centre was closed until further notice. (Bugger, again!)

No problem! Go with the flow… We set our sights for Onset, an historic 1800s Victorian waterfront village, complete with café and ice cream. 

Next stop: Mattapoisett for lunch. This gorgeous stop with its narrow streets, white picket fences, beautiful gardens and weathered shingle homes has a Nantucket feel without the ferry ride. On the advice of the waitress, we drove to the lighthouse.

On the advice of a shopkeeper, we took a truly beautiful route via South Dartmouth and South Westport to New Bedford. We visited the whale museum and the cobblestone district. 

We stumbled across the chapel of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

Today was a lovely day of exploration, even if the chuckles of the god of challenges could be heard.

Such is Life!

New Home in Mamaroneck, NY

So, things have not turned out like we had planned… but that is the nature of boating!

With a few necessary items having been delayed and requiring onward shipping (still not received), plus rain forecast for the next five or so days, plus being at least two weeks behind schedule on where we would like to be in Long Island Sound, plus and most importantly – wanting to be available for Claire and Brad at the shortest possible notice… for all these reasons we have decided to winterise Bushranger early.

We had a short sail yesterday to Mamaroneck on the northern shores of Long Island Sound. This is  really a delightful gem, three miles from the Connecticut border and 15 miles from NYC, and most importantly, 20 minutes by car from LaGuardia Airport.

Having made the decision this morning, we spoke to the yacht yard manager and service manager, both of whom filled us with confidence in looking after our old girl. We spent this afternoon dismantling the eisenglass and Bimini, cleaning and stowing both. Tomorrow we tackle the antennas, dinghy, refuelling and inverter repair. Bushranger is going to be hauled out of the water and shrink-wrapped. This is to protect her against the snow and ice and freezing conditions they experience in winter in these parts.

On Friday we will farewell Bushranger and hopefully return next year. This sailing season has been short – no complaints. We have enjoyed the challenges, the sea air in our faces, and especially the people we have met along the way. We have been blown away by unexpected kindnesses.

We will commence exploring the towns and seaports on the north shore of Long Island Sound by car until 1 October when we hope to surprise our grandson, Ben, for his 8th birthday. That is, unless required earlier by Claire.

Shall end this blog post with some interesting and amusing American sayings:

Acclimate instead of acclimatise (I know it has crept into the Australian vernacular).

Gunkholing which translates in Aussie to dropping the anchor or mooring out.

Birding which translates to bird watching, not what Mark thought as ‘looking for girls’ when a teenager!

And my favourite is muddling which is short for using a pestle and mortar.

Don’t you just love language? Who knew there were so many variations in the English language?

Thanks for the photo – Mary Silverstein from Exhale

Such is Life!

NY here we come… and go! 

Deciding to put the inverter ‘crisis’ in abeyance (or denial), on Wednesday 15 September we rode the Staten Island Ferry passing the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island to Manhattan. Our objective – to walk the High Line – a disused freight train rail spur on the west side which is elevated above the street and now turned into a pedestrian walkway. It has cultivated gardens to entice bees and butterflies and wends it way very closely between buildings. No social distancing here! Can look straight into apartments and offices. We had lunch on the High Line with glimpses of the Hudson River.

That part was great, but the getting back to Great Kills was tortuous. In high humidity and temperature, what should have been a ‘short’ walk and express bus back, turned into a 2 hour walk, then metro from Grand Central to Staten Island Ferry to Staten Island train to Uber ride back to the boat. Ah… the best laid plans…

Long Island Sound… we’re here!

Sailing the Upper NY Bay is exciting, exhilarating and hopefully, once in a lifetime experience.

Once under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge we danced with and dodged the big ships, ferries and barges. We sailed by Governors Island on starboard and The Battery on port.

We entered the East River and began our journey of ducking under seven bridges, beginning with the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges and ending with Throgs Neck Bridge.

We sailed past the UN building and Roosevelt Island, judging our transit of Hell Gate (confluence with the Harlem River) at slack tide. Further on we passed Rikers Island – the home to NYC main jail complex. It looks desolate and forbidding. We spotted LaGuardia Airport situated in Queens. On past Hart Island, located in the Bronx, which has such a rich history: army training for coloured troops; prisoner of war camp during the Civil War; potters field where over 1 million people were buried; quarantine station; psychiatric hospital and sanitarium. And the island is only 1 mile x .33 mile!

Now we are enjoying the delights of Manhasset Bay on Long Island Sound.

We are also enjoying the reunion with Rick and Mary on Exhale. We first met Rick and Mary on the Tenn-Tom in 2018. We have enjoyed their hospitality on their boat and in their Fort Meyer’s home. They are great friends who help with troubleshooting problems and provide moral and physical support when needed.

We have a hoot when we are together. Tomorrow they head for Baltimore. But tonight, we dine aboard Exhale and will make wonderful memories.

Such is Life!

We have a problem, NY

Actually, we have a few! But the major one is our inverter. That means no power. Yikes! It is Mark’s turn to say a few expletives.

We made it to Great Kills Yacht Club on Staten Island after a gloriously smooth North Atlantic sail. After chatting to our neighbours we came inside the cabin to a burnt electrical smell. After investigation Mark isolated the problem to a burnt out inverter. Panic stations! No coffee, no microwave, no oven, no anything and batteries slowly losing charge… Can’t stay aboard. All enquiries for marine electricians resulted in everyone is overbooked and can’t see us for a couple of weeks. Mark made numerous enquiries to get a replacement inverter… ALL out of stock! Unbelievable (and more expletives)!

Then a lovely New Yorker, John, came aboard. He provided us with a charger so that two of the three house batteries could be charged. This means we can stay on board. He would not take payment for the charger and returned later in the evening to help out. We were totally blown away with his thoughtfulness and help.

At our next marina in Long Island Sound we will seek professional help from marine electricians. We will also meet up with Rick and Mary – who will be coming to our rescue with boating knowledge par excellence. (No pressure Rick)

Yesterday, we completed our slow and steady progress through the New Jersey ICW. It provided a few challenges which on reflection, we are quite proud to have born and come out the other side unscathed. We saw some lovely sites, felt the thrill of sailing in busy, skinny channels, and lived to tell the tale of sailing in less than desirable depths of water. We traversed the Point Pleasant Canal, a raging, swirling mass of water, akin to being in rapids and then spewed out into the lovely Manasquan River. We entered the North Atlantic Ocean via the scenic Manasquan Inlet at slack water, deciding to forego the exhilarating 4 knot current! 

Just when I thought the nail-biting stuff was over… I broke two fingernails today.

And we still have to sail through Hell Gate!

Such is Life!

What a day!

It started off well enough.

We awakened to Bushranger gently swinging on a steadfast anchor in a calm basin, surrounded by lush marshes. We enjoyed a cooked breakfast as the sun rose above Atlantic City.

Then I ran aground! 

Mark was busy washing mud from the anchor and 60 feet of chain, when he decided to leave the cleaning and takeover the helm. He did, but we didn’t move! I hadn’t realised the bow was aground when the sensors read 6 feet of water. Bummer!

Next was the excruciating exit passage from the basin. We had timed departure on the rising tide, 2 hours after low tide. There was suppose to be 1.5 feet of tide. Bushranger draws 4ft. We exited with the gauges reading 4ft 2 inches. Did I mention I gnawed two fingernails and I may have said a few expletives I don’t usually say!

On through Absecon Bay – a huge waterlogged incredibly shallow estuary that required constant attention. Wind buffeted us the whole crossing. Swirling waters and eddies flowed, and at times, white caps were whipped up. There were lots of bird life and many marshy islands. The zig zag, narrow channel through was excruciating for me, but a welcome challenge for Mark.

The scenery improved when we reached Long Island, NJ. Houses are magnificent with boats moored out front. The channel here was so close to the homes, we could have asked for a cup of coffee as we passed.

Then we entered Barnegat Bay… I thought we had been wind blasted in Absecon Bay! That was nothing compared to Barnegat Bay. This bay is big and although not as shallow as Absecon Bay, we stuck to the channel. At this point I will make an observation about the people in this part of New Jersey. EVERYONE has a boat. And everyone who doesn’t have a boat has a friend with a boat. And every boat is faster and noisier and throws up a wake that tosses Bushranger outrageously.

Now we are in a marina in Tom’s River – in a slip a far cry from Cape May!!!

Did I have fun today? Yeah (apart from my fingernails)! Am I tired? You bet! Did Mark have fun? Absolutely!

Such is Life!

Hello Atlantic City

So long Cape May. We left 7.00am.

Travelled six hours under horrendous conditions, battling huge seas and buffeting winds!

Spotted pods of dolphins frolicking along our route. Spied fish herding jellyfish for a feed. Provided a perch for a straggler who decided to join us a mile off the New Jersey coast. And he made himself quite at home!

Crept ever closer to the monolithic beacons of Atlantic City.

There was no accommodation at any of the marinas due to a boat show in town. So we tootled past the casino and now reside very comfortably at an anchorage in Rum Point Basin.

We will just enjoy the light show for tonight!

Such is Life!

Wrapping up Cape May

We are coming to the end of our layover in Cape May. The weather prevented us from heading out into the Atlantic Ocean and travelling up the New Jersey coastline to Atlantic City. 

On a recommendation we stayed at South Jersey Marina, providing a whole new level in luxurious bathhouse amenities. 

Whilst here in this very pretty and well appointed marina, we have experienced buffeting winds and thunderstorms. We put the time to good use – painting the last remaining section of decking, and even walking to a West Marine store on the rainy day to replenish boat maintenance gear.

In fact, Cape May is so flat and incredibly easy to explore on foot. This is such an interesting place. The town of Cape May has the largest collection of Victorian architecture in the USA and has been declared a National Historic Landmark. Victorian architecture equates to turrets, porches, gingerbread mansions and gorgeous gardens. Each house is a delight. Streets are virtual tree-tunnels. Lush greenery and colourful blossoms abound.

We walked along the boardwalk (which was actually a concrete promenade), soaking up the sun and beach air.

We’ve dined like kings. Promenaded like Europeans. Gawked like tourists. It is now time to move on.

Cape May, you are one colourful and delightful town.

Such is Life!

Hoverworked and Hunderappreciated

G’day, ‘Arry ‘ear.

I am Bushranger’s hairconditioning system. That’s air conditioning with a ‘h’. I ‘ave trouble with me haitches. I am one of the hunsung ’eros of this vessel. One of the most maligned parts. Loved and ‘ated by equal parts.

You ‘ave probably ‘eard about the ‘eat and ‘umidity on the Chesapeake. You might not ‘ave ‘eard about my job in keeping the crew comfortable, keeping their accommodation ‘alf way ‘abitable.

What ‘appens when we dock after a long passage and harduous docking procedure? “Put on the hair”, she cries. ‘E rushes to comply.

And that’s it! I go to work (actually there are two of us but we work as a team and the haft cabin unit let’s me do the talking – it has a lisp). We ‘uff and we puff to get the temperature down. What reward? Nothing! Hanxious gazes at the temperature and ‘umidity displays. “Is it working?”

They forget, this crew. I remember the Tennessee River in April. Sleet! What was the call back then? “Put on the hair!” And I’m expected to conjure up ‘eat from freezing cold.

But we do our bit, we hairconditioners. Don’t listen to that raucous dinghy ‘anging off the back, haccusing us of the easy hindoor life, or that grumpy stick-in-the mud, hanchor, ‘anging off the bow. We the hairconditioning department are the ‘ardest workers on this vessel with the least hacclaim – until now.

Signing off now
‘Arry, the hairconditioner

PS. I just ‘eard that the ‘olding tank might want a word soon. Wouldn’t ‘old your breath on that!

Such is Life!

Cape May, New Jersey

Packed grab bag ✅

Packed dinghy saddle bag with safety/emergency equipment ✅

Dosed up on sea sick tablets ✅

Covered safety and emergency procedures ✅

Leaving Delaware City Marina

All systems go! At 8.55am on a glorious 27C day wth light airs and smooth waters, we set sail down the Delaware River and on into the Delaware Bay. The voyage took 8 hours and 7 minutes and at times we reached over 11 mph!

On our way we passed Salem Nuclear Power Plant on the New Jersey side of the bay. 

And the John Ship Shoal lighthouse which does not light up at all, but rather sends out eerie horn signals. From a distance this lighthouse looks like Cinderella’s fairytale castle.

We were passed by a large work rig. And met quite a few large ships inbound.

Halfway down the bay we were met by countless small pleasure craft sailing their way up to the C&D Canal. At times we felt like a salmon heading in the wrong direction. 

We gained a boat moustache in the murky brown water – most unbecoming! And somehow we attracted the most diabolical blood sucking flies who just refused to die – over, and over, and over again! We finished the bug repellant spray and they still kept coming. 

Now, after negotiating the shallow and narrow Cape May Canal with innumerable speedboats and fishing boats streaking by, we found our berth at the pretty South Jersey Marina, where we shall reside until the effects of Hurricane Larry settle down.

Such is Life!

Dashing to Delaware City

The current in the upper reaches of the Chesapeake Bay can be exhilarating. Approaching the C&D Canal (Chesapeake and Delaware Canal links Chesapeake Bay to Delaware Bay), Bushranger topped speeds in excess of 9 mph. We searched for protective eye glasses and seatbelts in our safety equipment. A fellow looper took photos of us in our speedy transit of the canal. We actually created a bow wave!

Photo courtesy of Jenny Lynn Girvan in Melody in Sea.

The C&D Canal is 14 miles long with a tow path its entire length. Along a section is a duck hunting range. I hoped the gunmen aimed really high, especially when I saw the duck hides down low on water level. Cyclists and joggers regularly overtook us, as did occasionally walkers!

To pass the time we admired the different bridge shapes spanning the canal.

We arrived at Delaware City (all of eight by six blocks) about 12.30pm. In the narrow creek in which the marina is situated, we are tied to a long floating wharf, stern to bow with other boats. If someone sneezes we can pass a tissue across easily! Upon arrival, we (and every other boat) were deftly swivelled around via a bowline by the marina staff. This is to allow boats to exit the creek going ahead, not backing out. Currents are pretty swift here, as well. A very slick operation – no boat stuck like in the Suez Canal.

We dined on garlic tonight with some tasty seafood. Luckily we both ate the same dish. We met our very friendly bow neighbours who invited us onboard their Marine Trader.

Now for decision time: do we sail to Cape May tomorrow or not? We’ll sleep on it.

Such is Life!