Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tiffany Rose has Landed!! July 22

The alarm goes off at 4:30 and we start getting into motion. Could this really be the day that this journey comes to an end? The weather says Go. After the sun is up we carefully wind our way out of the creek at Wilson and head into the lake. The water is nice, the wind is fairly light to start and we can't see much at all. The fog is hovering along the shore. Out towards the lake the visibility seems to be a few miles, but less than a mile from shore and we lose sight of land. It doesn't seem dangerous so we throttle up to a blazing 6 knots and set the GPS for the Burlington bridge 41 nautical miles away. With the wind behind us our speed started to pickup and we were making very good progress with both sails in flight. A couple of hours in and we came up to that very significant landmark - the Canadian border. The three of us had our Canada shirts on, and as Christopher loves to do, we did a countdown and sang a great rendition of O Canada!..all the while keeping a sharp eye on the temperature gauge. Before noon we were getting close to the bridge, but still couldn't see it through the fog. It persisted the whole time. And then there it was! Woo-hoo! And it looked like we could get the sails down in time to make the 1 o'clock bridge opening.

Burlington bridge finally in site
Shortly after 1 we were making our final approach to Lasalle Park marina, 952 engine hours, 33 gigabytes of pictures, 309 days and 4, 240 miles after we left last September. What an odd feeling. This was it after all. In the next few minutes we will be into a totally different life again. I think we may need re-entry therapy. A deep breath and lets make the final approach. Christopher is a bit beside himself now, so excited to be arriving home! As we round the bend into the marina Grandma, my sister Carolyn and niece Jessica are on shore waving balloons and a "welcome home" banner! There are hugs and kisses all around and a loving warm feeling that made it feel great to come home to. Christopher was really hoping for a welcome back party and in the evening he was not disappointed, complete with a Toast to the adventurers! Here is a video Carolyn took of Tiffany Rose arriving.

A triumphant Christopher's first steps in Canada!

Greeting at the dock

...And so ends this chapter of adventure for the crew of Tiffany Rose. It has truly been amazing, and then some. The places and experiences have been very powerful. Christopher has risen to many challenges and has made us very proud every nautical mile along the way. As novice sailors we have learned an awful lot, have been scared to death at times and have giggled with glee at our accomplishments. What stands out most though is the connections we made with some tremendous people along the way. That shared sense of living on the water creates instant bonds that often seem to grow by the minute and we are extremely grateful to have been graced by so many. The email support has also been much appreciated from begining to end.We even met new people just through this blog - very cool! Thank you everyone for sharing this experience with us in your own way! As Shirley and I looked at each other after being on land she said "Hmm, now that we know what we are doing, wouldn't it be fun to do it again?"...

A long quick repair July 21

Tiffany Rose out of action, waiting for a diagnoses

Very keen to check into this loss of coolant problem, we got up before 7am thinking that, as with many marinas we have been at, they would be up and running around then. Not a soul around. 8am still quiet. 9am hmm - where is everybody? I asked some guy who was on another boat and he said "They usually open around 9 or 9:30...guess it depends how they feel." In the meantime, I have some things apart trying to figure it out. No hose seems to be leaking so that narrows it down - may very well be a leaking heat exchanger, but I've never taken one apart. Around 9:30 I found someone milling around the back work area. He came to have a look and said he'd have to send the other guy over, it is more his area of expertise. This was now starting to look like a long drawn out process. Around 10:30 the other guy arrives and not long after two of them show up to check it out. They discover the same thing that the leak is from the heat exchanger, but didn't know if they could fix it. Ooo, maybe an even longer process. As it turned out it was a small hole and they were able to repair and test it. YES! We are in business and will be able to move over to another sailing club where some other folks we met were going to be. Shirley and Christopher have been exploring around Wilson gathering the requisite pictures of the area and return to the good news.

In goes the repaired heat exchanger and off go the mechanics. I happily poor in a bunch of antifreeze eager to run and test. But I need not start it up to test it. Alas my keen visual analysis of the situation reveals all the antifreeze coming out from the back where the heat exchanger is. Arrrgh! Now to find those guys again. Moving on soon is not looking good now. In they come again and discover that the hardest to reach hose was not attached well. Fixed again. But now I am out of fresh antifreeze to test it out, and there is none in the marina. Luckily one of the guys was going to town and he picked some up.

Test again. Success! Start up the engine to test it under pressure. So far so good. Yikes - overheating!! Now it is afternoon and they are busy doing other things. My guess it is an airlock in the system, which is hard to get out because of the long run from the engine to the hot water heater. I work on it myself the rest of the day...and into the evening. At 4pm I go to the office to pay the bill and guess what - everybody is gone and the place is dark and locked. By 8:30 it finally gets worked out and the final, final test has the engine running just fine!

Looks like we can depart in the morning now, better check the forecast again.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Just because we're close to home, doesn't mean there isn't adventure July 18- 20

Planning the route west on Lake Ontario.

After we said goodbye to Kim we had a another look at the weather forecast. We would be heading into brisk winds right on our nose and the waves would be high. Tomorrow's forecast looked more promising, the winds and waves would be diminishing during the day. We decided to rest up in Sodus Bay and make Sunday a longer travel day. We walked over to the marina where we had first 'met' Tiffany Rose and generally had a walk down memory lane remembering what it was like when we thought that maybe just maybe we could do a trip like this.

Sunday morning we headed out bright and early thinking it might be a bit of a slog early on but expecting the wind and waves to subside as the forecast promised. It had not been unusual on this trip for us to put in the occasional day where we'd go between 50 and 60 miles, so that's what we had in mind with Oak Orchard being our destination. When a good portion of the morning had passed and we had still not reached Pultneyville, which is only 10 miles from Sodus, we began to revise our plan. Rochester at half the distance would be enough of a challenge. Not really making progress motoring into the wind, we shut off the engine and sailed back and forth through the wind. It didn't move us that much faster toward our destination but at least it felt fast! The waves kept getting bigger and bigger and we were feeling quite weather beaten by the time we saw the entrance to the Rochester harbour. We radioed the Rochester Yacht club and they said they had a slip for us. The slip we were directed into was too narrow for Tiffany Rose and we got stuck between the dock and the piling. Another slip was found and we wiggled out of the tight spot and settled in the wider slip. A few hours later, the boat Wing It arrived. (We had met them as we finished the canal. It is a new boat that they bought in NYC and they had their mast stepped the same day we did.) We went to help with their lines but the slip they were assigned was too tight for them, as was the next one. If at first you don't succeed, try try again. The third one fit.

Tow Boat US taking Tiffany Rose to Wilson, NY

Monday's forecast was a good one and we hoped that this time it was right. But we were conservative and just planned to go to Oak Orchard. It was a beautiful day. The lake was calm and the wind was light. As it was right on our nose we motored into it with the main sail up, where it could help any time we veered off the wind. After a while the wind shifted enough for us to unfurl the genoa. The wind was too light to make much progress by sail alone but it boosted the engine speed up nicely. The next thing you know is it's near noon and we're right by Oak Orchard. Why stop now? Such a nice day. On to Olcott.
Christopher enjoyed his turns at the helm. (video below)Most of the time there has always been one of us holding the wheel but today the wind was just right for him to go it alone with just a "Go a little to starboard" (or to port) suggestion from us every now then .

We were about 8 miles from Olcott when we heard and felt a thud, thud, thud. Even though we were in deep water, it appeared we had hit a log. Usually this is a bad thing. It turned out to be one of those"what a good thing that happened then" things. Dave went below to check that everything was ok around where the propeller shaft enters the boat. (A bad hit could lead to taking on water or other perils.) Turned out everything was fine in that regard, but totally unrelated, all of the engine coolant was in the engine bilge. The engine hadn't started to overheat yet, but if that thud hadn't had him look below then we may not have realized that we had no coolant until it was too late. So, we turned off the engine and sailed along while Dave started looking for the leak. Still a beautiful day, but the wind was quite light and we were only going about 2 1/2 knots. Now, Olcott seemed far away.
Dave couldn't find the leak and it seemed too risky to turn the engine on. We knew we could keep sailing to Olcott, but with the wind this light out on the lake we knew there would be none in the sheltered harbour. We have the Tow Boat US insurance, so we thought we'd call them. Down south there was one in every port it seemed. We were surprised to find out it would have to come out from Rochester. So we kept sailing, waiting for them to call us back. Dave started researching repair places and found one in Wilson which is 5 miles past Olcott. He called them and found out where we could dock if we ever got there. Finally we got a call back from Tow Boat US, they would be there in 2-3 hours. So, we did what we could do, kept sailing along at 2 1/2 knots. We were in good company. There is a big race on right now called the Lake Ontario 300 where boats race around the whole lake without stopping. A few were near by us and they weren't moving quickly either.
After we ate supper we noticed that very faintly in the distance we could see the CN tower. It was very exciting! By the time the Tow Boat got to us we had actually sailed past Olcott. It was an interesting experience for us to be towed to a dock. An interesting one for the Tow Boat man and his family as well. They had never been to Wilson. Between us we found the marina and the spot we were to dock in, we think. (By this time the marina was closed).

So here we are only 41 nautical miles from the Burlington Bridge. So close! We'll have to see tomorrow what needs to be done and when we can move on. We'll be home soon......just not sure how soon.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Looking across to Canada! and Sailor Kim! July 17

Christopher enjoying the company of another fine lady friend, Kim!

We can hardly believe that as we poke our bow out of Oswego harbour we are looking across the Lake to Canada. If the end of this journey didn't seem close before, it sure does now! We organized our morning and got Kim's bike all settled in for the start of our travels west along the U.S. side of Lake Ontario. With a good wind in the forecast we had to make sure the bike wouldn't be flying around the boat. Soon after we set out we realized the wind was indeed good, however it was right on the nose. After a couple of tacks we decided to make a little more progress and let the engine take over our propulsion into the wind for a while. But we didn't want Kim's on the water experience to be just motoring. Luckily the wind shifted and we were able to fly full sails and cut the engine...that beautiful sound of silence. Then it was Kim's turn to take the helm and, as her first time ever, she performed like a pro. She would occasionaly lose track of where we were going but out in the lake there is nothing to run into! (see the video clip below)

In control at the helm!

A Full Circle for Tiffany Rose...
By mid afternoon we sailed into our destination - the Sodus Bay Yacht Club in Sodus Bay. For Tiffany Rose this must have felt very familiar because this was her place since she was bought new in 1991. It created a bit of interest in many of the club members as they all knew this boat. One of these members was Eric on the boat Otis from Sodus. We met Eric down in Georgia at Jerkyll Island, so it was great to see him here. When he learned that Kim was planning to bike back to Oswego he went home and dug out some maps of local back roads that would make for a nicer bike ride. Another cruising friend comes through with a generous act of kindness!
Eric on Board showing Kim some better bike routes (note the magnifier Kim needs to use...)

We went for a walk around Sodus Point, which is bustling this weekend with a big fishing event. After a boat BBQ chicken supper we relaxed in the cockpit, kept out of the occasional rain shower and showed Kim a typical cruising evening - drinking and chatting with the water lapping against the side of the boat. Her visit, much like Dan's in Chesapeake Bay, was one of those "in the moment" events. She contacted us a few days earlier and asked where we would be in a few days, and then said "I'll be there". And next thing we knew, there she was. Tomorrow morning she will peddle off into the sunrise and we will decide what our next move will be.

The final 'step' July 16

Christopher winching up the jib halyard.

The lock starts at 7am and the marina starts stepping masts at 8, so we were up and through the lock as shortly after 7 as we could be. (The water intake made it through this time in fine form. Yay!) We docked in front of the gin pole (crane) at the Oswego Marina and started untying the million and one ropes we had securing the mast to the cradle so that we would be ready when Bernie from the marina was ready. Bernie does a lot of these mast stepping and unsteppings for canal travellers so we were happy to let him run the show and did as we were told when we were told. Before we knew it, that part of the job was done and the rest of the rigging was up to us. We took a deep breath because in the fall down in Catskill it had taken us a full day and a half to feel that everything was ready for us to sail away. After walking Tiffany Rose ahead to the fuel dock to fuel up and pumpout, we powered up our semi sailboat (mast but no boom or sails yet) and went to a slip in the marina. By supper time we were feeling ahead of the game with the boom and both sails up and the cradle dismantled. The night before we had met a couple from Etobicoke who were bringing home a new 42 foot Catalina from New York City. Previously they had owned a 34 ft Catalina about the same vintage as Tiffany Rose. While they were having their mast stepped we took advantage of their expertise by asking their advice frequently.
After supper as the sun was setting we tried to fine tune the furler for the jib. After a few attempts we realized our only option was to take the jib right down and start over. So, not as far ahead of our fall time line but still ahead. We took stock of what still needed to be done in the morning, and the jobs were small so it looks like we could leave tomorrow.
Our friend Kim Fournier arrived. She lives in Gatineau and had wanted to do a leg with us on the lake. We couldn't tell her for sure where that first leg would end so didn't know how she could get back to her car in Oswego. "Is there room for my bike on the boat?" What a good idea, we'll make room. When we only travel about 6 m.p.h. I guess she could be pretty confident that we wouldn't get too far away in one day.
Before we could let her park her car for the night though you can guess what we asked. The grocery store that is too far to walk to is open 24 hours, we need some fresh stuff, and juice and...... would you mind? No problem. So a late night trip to Price Chopper was underway in no time then off to bed to see what tomorrow brings.

Locking down to Oswego July 15

Christopher fending off the stern in the lock.
Laurean, Christopher and Mom beside the canal between Lock 7 and 8.
We headed into Lock 1 of the Oswego Canal at the same time as Y Knot. We had noticed the evening before that the downstream side of the lock had a lot of debris. Knowing our problem with our water intake, Y Knot offered to exit ahead of us to plow through the clump first. Shortly aftering exiting however we knew our intake was blocked again. There didn't seem to be a docking option in sight so we were contemplating dropping the anchor when Cam from Y Knot offered over the radio to circle back and we tie up to them. So that's what we did. That let us shut the engine off so Dave could perform his magic on the thru hull. Success! Started up the engine, cast off from Y Knot and off we went. Locks 2 and 3 were great! There is no Lock 4. Shortly after Lock 5, Dave started exhibiting the same body language that told me we were blocked again. (Worried glances at the heat guage, constantly craning his neck over the stern to see no water flowing, looking around for a docking location.) Back came Y Knot. "We'll have to stop meeting this way." After we were clear again, we all headed off for Lock 6. Locks 6, 7 and 8 are very close together but there is a nice wall to tie to overnight between Locks 7 and 8 and that was our plan. After Lock 6 I stayed up at my locking position at the bow because lock 7 was right there. I was suspicious however by the sound of the engine being put into neutral, then back into gear that we had probably taken in gluck again. (I decided not to look back for the body language clues, hoping that the 'no news is good news' or 'ignorance is bliss' theories might play out.) Right away we were into Lock 7 then out and heading to the wall for the night. When we were secure there and the engine was off, Dave confirmed my suspicions. Oh well, the day's travels are over, there's time to clear the block now and there is only 1 more lock to go.
Later we took a walk past Lock 8 and down to the marina to check on the arrangements for having the mast stepped (put back up) in the morning.
After supper, Laurean (Y Knot) stopped by to have Christopher join her for her evening walk. I don't know who picked the route but I do know that upon their return, Laureen knew exactly where the marina is that Tiffany Rose is going to tomorrow.
After we leave Oswego we will part ways with Y Knot. They bought their boat in Florida and this trip is their 'taking the boat home' trip. They will be crossing the lake to the Trent Severn to head to Sault St. Marie for arrangements to transport the boat to Vancouver. All former sailors, we have valued their advice, friendship and helpfulness.
This trip has been an amazing experience in that regard. The friendships made along the way we will keep in our hearts forever.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A nice visit and more lock ‘fun’. July 12 –14

Uncle George came for a visit in Utica

Cam and Laurean on Y Knot - and Christopher with a new hat from Vancouver!

Sunday morning we set out to wrestle with a few more locks and hopefully meet up after that with my brother George. After stopping at the St. Johnsville Marina for fuel, pump out and water we called George at home in Brockville to let him know that we were aiming for the dock in Utica.
When you are going up in a lock the force and flow of the water as it is filling sometimes makes it a good workout just holding the boat in place. There’s a constant ‘push me, pull you” motion going on where one minute you are pushing off the wall trying to keep the mast from scraping the side, then the next minute the current is pushing the bow out and I’m afraid I might lose it and let the boat swing right around. Some locks are more vigorous than others and by the time we were at lock 19 I was ready for a peaceful one. Oops!….the boat hook (an essential lock tool) is floating away………let go of the rope, mad scramble, retrieve boat hook, grab ropes again before the water current starts.‘Phew’! Or……. not ‘phew’, apparently a pump in the lock was broken and the ride up was rougher than usual. I rate the lock as difficult if I hear myself swearing under my breath. I’m afraid that time I heard the words right out loud.
Leaving the lock we were really hoping the dock in Utica would have a free space. Just then, George called, he had made it to Utica, and had found the dock and thought there was space. The Canadian trawler ‘Y Knot’ from Vancouver was ahead of us, and they pulled in first and radioed that they would pull ahead to make room for us. So we pulled in with Cam, Stan and Laurean from Y Knot and George there to grab our dock lines. A nice end to the day’s travel.
Christopher was excited to see Uncle George. Once we organized ourselves for leaving the boat, we piled into George’s car to do Christopher’s favourite thing….watch trains. The Utica train station is quite nice. We ate dinner there and we had a chance to catch up with George, and Christopher got to get what we think will be his last viewing of trains on this trip. After supper George dropped us back at the dock and headed back to Brockville. It sure was nice of him to drive down all that way for the day to visit.
Monday, we set out to do our last lock going up. After that we started down. After we left the 2nd lock down Dave realized that we must have got something in the water intake as we left the lock. That needs attention fairly promptly so we radioed back to the lockmaster who told us where we could dock. After a quite a bit of trying most of the tricks Dave knew to clear it the water started to flow again so we cautiously headed off. When we got to Sylvan Beach at the east end of Lake Oneida the wind was howling and the waves were high. The trip on Lake Oneida is 20 miles long and a sailboat with the mast down can’t go in those conditions. So we looked for a place to tie up on the wall provided by the town. There were our guardian angels from Y Knot, waving us in to a spot.
Sylvan Beach is a nice resort town and the three of us enjoyed a game of mini golf. We had a nice visit on Y Knot in the evening.
We were up Tuesday at 4 am hoping we could get across the lake before the wind picked up. It was actually after 5 when we left. By halfway across you could feel the wind building and we were glad we hadn’t left any later. We travelled past Brewerton and down Lock 23, only to have to circle back to a wall to deal with the blocked water intake again. As Stan on Y Knot says… “There seems to be a pattern here.” Our water intake seems to have a thing with the down locks. Only 7 to go!
We turned off the Erie Canal and headed north into the Oswego Canal. The dock in Phoenix is nice and there is free electricity and water here, so we stopped to leave the rest of the locks for another day.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Up, up up we go! And a musical visit July 9-11

Docked at Lock 8

Jamming by the Erie Canal -we even sang the Erie canal song

July 9th is Grandma's birthday - Happy Birthday Grandma!!

On the morning of the 9th, we left the dock in Waterford and lined up for the Waterford flight with 3 other boats. What an awesome set of locks! It is like taking an elevator up a waterfall in 5 rides. By the fifth one you are up pretty high and get a good look over the valley. And so our series of locks through the Erie canal has started. It didn't take long to get the hang of it again although we did remember quickly that it is a lot easier to be going down than up, and the first couple of days of this is all up.

On Thursday night we tied up at lock 8. It is a good wall to tie up to and we had the pleasant company of another Canadian boat. On Friday we continued the climb through to lock number 15 at Fort Plain. At Fort Plain we planned to stay an extra day to have some company. Chris and Divya from the sailboat Maggie M came to visit from Amherst, Massachusets. We had met them in Marathon and started jamming together and have continued the friendship. They left their boat in Chesapeake Bay and are home for the summer. Chris brought his guitar and Divya her angelic voice and we had a wonderful time playing and singing. Then we all went out to dinner with some other friends of theirs who live in the area. It was amazing that we were able to coordinate this rendezvous and it was sure worth it!

The mast is down, on to Waterford July 7 and 8, 2009

Big stick coming down!

In Waterford, ready for the canal.

The next morning we were up early to try to have everything ready for when it was our turn. The other boat waiting there was having their mast put back up, ready to head south. They were from France. Dave was busy making sure the cradle was in the right spot and secure enough to handle the load and Christopher and I were doing the support jobs, like removing the not too essential pieces of rigging. When it was our turn, Christopher moved into his photographer position and Dave and I did as we were told to help as the crane pulled the mast out and placed it on the cradle. Thankfully there were two marina folks there and the man from France as well, as at one point it seemed the mast came precariously close to the water.
The rest of the day was spent securing the mast to the cradle, cleaning, deflating and packing away SeaJay 2 our faithful dinghy, generally trying to find a place for everything and making sure we could still move around as needed on the boat around the somewhat awkward structure.
We had noticed on our trip up the Hudson that motorboats were not as likely to give you a gentle pass as they had been on the intracoastal waterway and that some of the wakes had been pretty scary. Feeling somewhat vulnerable carrying the mast down, we left at 5 am hoping to avoid most motorboat traffic. This meant going against the current but we thought that the solitude on the river was worth it. We were about 15 minutes out when the fog surrounded us. The computer man on the weather radio said it would lift around 7am. Darn. What to do? Go back to the dock? We could see the markers behind us but not in front. So we slowly headed back to one and circled around discussing our options. Then the route ahead of us became more visible and we decided to forge ahead, having only been delayed by 10 to 15 minutes. We saw 1 motorboat around 7:30 and then not again until mid morning. Two of them were approaching at what looked like a dangerous speed for us, so we radioed them to see if they could slow down. One was very nice and passed us as with as little wake as possible. The other guy seemed to speed up and giggle with glee as he sped by. Tiffany Rose bucked and rocked back and forth and we held our breath hoping our cradle would hold. We survived.
When we arrived at Waterford, which is the start of the Erie Canal, we were lucky to be able to dock at the free floating dock that has electricity and water.

North up the Hudson to Catskill July 5 and 6, 2009

Leaving the city behind.

Y Knot (trawler from Vancouver) and another boat at anchor at Polopel Island.

Train view from anchorage.

We let go of the mooring ball before 6:30 Sunday morning so we could catch the tidal current going north on the Hudson River. We kept turning around to see the skyline of NYC getting smaller and smaller. The mountain scenery on both sides of the river was spectacular. In the fall we had noticed that it was pretty but it had been overcast the days we were travelling. Sunday the weather was beautiful and with the recent rains everything was very green. While in the city Christopher had been disappointed that the trains all ran underground. Not far north though they emerged into daylight and he was treated to a steady stream of commuter and Amtrak trains on the east side of the river and the occasional freight on the west. As we got near West Point Christopher reminded us that our first anchoring spot on the trip was coming up soon, and that he expected we would anchor there again. It is a spot at Polepel Island where there are ruins of the Bannerman castle, but the real attraction for him is the prime train viewing location. As we inched our way into the spot we were feeling very reflective and nostalgic. This spot had been our first anchor spot on the trip (and our first time anchoring overnight on Tiffany Rose) and now after too-many-to-count nights spent at anchor it very well could be our last on this trip. (Our upcoming route through the canal and the south shore of Lake Ontario do not offer very many anchoring possibilities.) We sat in the cockpit as the day wound down and savoured the moment (and of course, the frequent train traffic).
Next morning we were pulling the anchor up just a little later than Sunday to again ride the tidal current north to Catskill. We pulled into Riverview Marina early afternoon, and once secured at the dock we anxiously went to search out the pile of lumber where we had left our wood for the cradle to carry the mast through the canal. Last fall the instructions had been to label it, put date of return on it, and no guarantees but they would try to keep it. We found our bundle of wood, every piece still there! If it had not been there it would have meant a lot of work measuring, cutting and constructing, not to mention about the problem of obtaining the wood. Mike, the marina owner told us others weren’t so lucky and there had been quite a scene when one boat owner arrived to find his wood being used on another boat.
Jeannette and Bill from the boat Myosotis, who we had rafted with at Vero Beach in January, live on their boat just a few minutes up the creek. Late afternoon they dropped by for a quick visit. By then we had stuff everywhere in preparation for unstepping the mast the next day. “Where will we store the sails? How about the floorboards for the dinghy? How did we do this last fall? My, this seems like a lot of work.” Later that evening Jeannette returned with their truck to take me grocery shopping. A real luxury and a generous gift. So of course I bought all the heavy things that we would like to have but avoid when we have to carry the groceries ourselves!
That night Dave and I shared the v-berth with the mainsail and genoa (big jib), hoping that by tomorrow our amnesia about where they had been stored last fall would clear up.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Steve and Syl in New York July 4th

It was just like the song, " the'd think it was the 4th of July..." And to make it more fun Steve and Syl were coming to NYC to celebrate their 30th anniversary! Once again we were on the subway downtown to meet them at their hotel. While there we took them up on their offer of a shower in luxury, which we haven't seen in a while.
A hot shower and relaxing in Uncle Steve and Auntie Syl's hotel.

Time Square tourists

Having only this one day together before we set sail again we packed in a few more things. A tour around times square and then on the subway to Central park. This time we went to see the Dakota - John Lennon's appartment where he was shot - another day the music died. Across the street from the Dakota we wandered through the section of Central Park renamed Strawberry Fields. After this nice stroll on a beautiful sunny afternoon we headed down 79th street to the marina and stopped at the Boat Basin Cafe for supper. The police presence in the area was pretty encompassing. They were out in full force working crowd control for the big fireworks show.

Catching up on Tiffany Rose before the fireworks.

After supper we hopped into the dinghy and ferried out to Tiffany Rose to take our ring side seats. It was fun to have Steve and Syl back on the boat after spending a week together in the Florida Keys in March. Much different environment hanging out on the Hudson River in NYC!
After dark the show started. At first we were dissapointed as it seemed like it was very far down the river and hard to see, and then KAPOW, as Christopher says, the big show started. Five barges just down from us started sending off what was advertised as "the biggest in the country". It was pretty spectacular and being so close the sound added to the wow. Boats were all over the place and we were treated to one sail boat of minstrals cruising around the mooring field playing and singing, and a wee bit of drinking as well. There are lots of youtube videos of the fireworks at

Then it was back in the dinghy for a night ride to shore and a big goodbye - see you soon! They will be here for another few days while we head up to Catskill to take the mast down in preparation to venture into the Erie Canal.

New York action June30-July 3

Spending a full week in New York was a good idea, and even then we are just hitting a few hot spots for us. After sailing by the Statue of Liberty twice we had to take the ferry over and land on the island. It was fun to do especially since Christopher had just done some boating school exams which included questions about the statue. Being up close was good but seeing her from the water as we sailed by was more exciting. The trip over also included stopping at Ellis Island. This is the place where all immigrants were processed a hundred years ago. The displays there are really informative on what the conditions were like and what the people had to go through to live in "the land of the free". And we thought we were on a big adventure. Can't imagine being on the adventure these people undertook.
Then we were off to one of Christopher's key spots - Grand Central Station. The big Daddy of train stations. It is a beautiful large station but there are no good train viewing spots we found out. Everything on rails downtown is underground and doesn't show up for miles down the line. Security doesn't like non ticket holders to go down to the platforms but we just had to sneak in and get some good looks at trains arriving and departing.
Supper at grand Central Station

Next it was to the Bronx Zoo. A train conductor told us that Wednesdays were free days at the Zoo. So not being people who will pass up a deal like that we boarded the subway again and zipped over to the Bronx. It is quite a large and impressive zoo with all the regular zoo inhabitants. A highlight for Christopher was at the tigers. They are viewed through a glass wall and he worked his way to the front. Of course the tigers were behind a log lying down barely in sight. But then one got up, strolled across the area for a drink and then went back to lie down - but this time he lay down right up against the glass in front of Christopher. Click-Click goes the camera!

It was a big line up on free day at the zoo.

Another tip we received was that the museum of Natural History was also free, and it was an easy walk from the marina. We spent half a day there and could have spent a week at least. Some of the displays are the original ones from the early 1900's which was interesting because the displays can be museum pieces themselves. The whole place was intriguing and we spent most of the time with the dinosaurs, the ocean and Asia.

Ground Zero was another place we wanted to get to. Not much to see there - which is the striking thing about it. The gap in the city that was once filled with two massive buildings and the people in them is striking in its emptiness and what that emptiness means. Right now there is a big rebuild going on so construction is consuming the ground level. There is a small display beside the local firehall and there is a guided tour you can take. But really it is just looking at nothing that has the most impact.

The gap in the soul of the city at ground zero.

Visiting all these areas has meant a tremendous amount of walking. Christopher has been at the forefront of it all and by Friday it was time for him to get new shoes. His others, which were new in March, had worn right through. Maybe we have walked as far as we have travelled by boat! Should have brought a pedometer. Now it is time to get ready for visitors!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

New York City - Larger than Life, June 28- June 30

Dodging an overloaded Ferry in NY Harbour

The Castle in Central Park from the Great Lawn

By one of the small Central Park Lakes

Larger than life. That’s what New York City has been like. We left the anchorage on Staten Island on Sunday morning and thought that the wind and the tide would help us along up the Hudson River. Wrong on both accounts. The wind was on our nose and the current was wanting to push us back out into the ocean. Good thing we didn’t have too far to go. As we approached the grand Verrazano Bridge that connects Staten Island to Brooklyn, Lady Liberty came into view. This is the view that new immigrants or soldiers returning from war in years past would see as they approached the promised land or were finally returning back home. Even though we came by here in the fall it was still quite stunning. We sailed as close as we could, dodging the many tour boats as well as the fast Staten Island ferries going back and forth. To our right the skyline of Manhatten dominated our view and we slowly bounced our way past and up to the 79th Street boat basin to a take a mooring. In October we only had one night here before we blasted off heading south. This time we plan to spend a week taking in the action of the Big Apple.

Our first visit stop was to walk a few blocks up the road from the marina to Central Park. Shirley and I had both learned about Central Park back in university and how it was a model of park planning. Walking around the sections we had time for we both felt that it is even better than we had thought. We were there on a beautiful Sunday afternoon and so it was crawling with people, but we never felt crowded out. The park is so large and laid out so beautifully that it always felt relaxing. Apparently it was in disrepair in the 70s and 80s but now it is in fabulous shape. Everywhere we looked there were people walking, cycling, playing all kinds of games, rowing row boats, sailing toy boats, riding horse and buggies and just lying in the sun. And no one seemed to be in anyone elses way.
New York has done a good job of creating peaceful places in this busy city. Further downtown we came across Bryant Park in the business area. It is a nicely treed park almost full of little tables and chairs with people reading and talking everywhere. And then there is Time Square. Out on the pavement there are many lawn chairs scattered around, just there for people to sit on and gawk at the sites. The rest of Time Square looks just like it does in movies or commercials - surrounded by huge gawdy ads! But it is fun. Such a contrast to the peaceful and serene areas we have been used to. The other contrast is our experience of being on the mooring ball here. In the thick of the Hudson River with no protection we get bounced around in a wild fashion. It is hard to be on the boat in the day time when there is traffic on the river because we are constantly thrown around. It even makes getting in the dinghy an adventure in itself!

More NYC to come... (our internet connection here is very intermittent)

Relaxing in Time Square

The bustle and the lights of Time Square