Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Beginning of a New Voyage

Greenport, NY

Yesterday afternoon I said goodbye to Strong's Yacht Center and Mattituck Inlet and we set sail to round Orient Point, enter Gardiners Bay and anchor outside the town of Greenport. With me is Lisa, able-bodied crew who sailed on Intermezzo from Isla Mujeres to New Bern, NC last summer. She arrived a few days ago, braving travel in these days of COVID to help me sail Intermezzo on this new voyage.

I'm going to write this post in two parts. This first part will cover the start of the trip, the second will be a prequel, a more technical post filling in the two-plus weeks time between launching the boat and our departure.

We got up early yesterday to attack a pre-departure checklist which included stowing tools and other boat work items, washing down the decks and settling my account at Strong's. As I walked back through the boatyard from the office after paying my bill, I felt a little sad to be leaving. I had spent over a month on the dock here at the end of last summer and almost a month this time. I made friends with the boatyard  workers, watched ospreys raise their young, got in tune with daily turning of the tides, went for runs along nearby country roads and enjoyed the solitude of having the place to myself evenings and nights.

One of my favorite prompts for contemplative meditation is "the last time". There will be moments in everyone's life when it is the last time for being somewhere, seeing someone, experiencing something. Maybe it isn't the last time, but maybe it is. When I pause to consider this when I am doing something, it often makes my experience much more poignant and meaningful and I often feel more appreciative and grateful. So, as I walked back through Strong's to the boat, I considered that it might be the last time I am ever in this place again. And I felt so grateful for having found such a beautiful, friendly and supportive spot for Intermezzo to spend the past 10 months.

My bittersweet feelings of farewell gave way to excitement of beginning a new trip as we slipped the dock lines and headed out Mattituck Inlet into the Long Island Sound. The wind was blowing gently from the west as we turned east towards Orient Point, putting us on a dead downwind point of sail. I put the main and jib wing-on-wing and we glided along at almost four knots. The weather was cool, mostly sunny, with the line of a cold front off in the distance to the northeast.

About halfway to Orient, the wind suddenly shifted almost 180 degrees to come right at us, right on the nose. The story of my sailing life. And just for fun, we had a 1.5 knot foul current flowing against us. So, I switched on the engines and motored until I could make the turn south to round Orient Point Light and head into Gardiners Bay. Though I half expected the wind would shift to be against me again, it took pity on me and didn't. We enjoyed a nice reach with light easterly winds all the way to the anchorage as the sun set and a thunderstorm was building ahead of us.

I figure it might be helpul to provide a little geographic orientation for those not familiar with the Long Island waters we're in. Long Island sticks out into the Atlantic to about 100 nm east of New York City. About two thirds of the way out, it splits into two forks, like a fish's tail. The end of the north fork is Orient Point, the end of the south fork is Montauk Point.  Between these two forks are Gardiners and the two Peconic Bays, Little and Great. That's where we're going to be sailing for the next week or so. Yesterday, we sailed from the outside of the north fork, around it's tip and then along the inside, the south shore of the north fork. Between us and the north shore of the south fork is Shelter Island. We'll be heading there soon.

Last evening we dropped anchor in Pipes Cove, just west of the historic town and harbor of Greenport. I enjoyed my first rum sundowner followed by a nice dinner of braised cod over sautéed vegetables.  The thunderstorm never got on top of us, but it did drop some heavy rain for a while. The cold fronts passing through right now really chill things down, highs in the low 70's and low's in the 60's. Lisa, a warm weather sailor, is suffering and complaining. I'm enjoying the free air conditioning, knowing how hot and humid it can be here.

It felt so good yesterday to be sailing again. I know this boat as well as I know my own body and I love being reconnected with the wind, water, weather and the marine environment. I sometimes wonder when I might give up this nomadic lifestyle for something more stable and grounded. I'm reminded that it's not time for that, yet. It's time to continue loving my life on the water.

Toasting the beginning of a new voyage with a Montauk Summer Ale

Rounding Orient Point Light, the Orient Point - New London ferry in the background

Pipes Cove anchorage, Greenport to the left, Shelter Island to the right

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Return to Intermezzo

Intermezzo floats again!

I'm back on Intermezzo at Strong's Yacht Center in Mattituck, NY. I arrived a week and a half ago and set to work preparing the boat for launch after being stored on the hard since September. Now we're in the water and once all systems brought up to seaworthy condition, my plan is for a leisurely cruise up to Maine for the summer and then head south in the fall. A new voyage.

I had originally planned on returning to Intermezzoin late April but a pandemic happened. I waited until COVID-19 infections in Suffolk County had significantly declined and there was plenty of hospital capacity. I considered the risks of traveling and decided that it was reasonably safe if I took appropriate precautions. I really wanted to get the boat opened up after sitting all winter under shrinkwrap. So, I booked a flight, packed my bags, said goodbye to land life and boarded a plan last Wednesday morning.

The airport was eerily empty and my flight was uneventful. I had a full row of seats to myself and the other passengers and crew seemed to be taking precautions seriously. Wearing a N95 mask for over six hours straight was pretty uncomfortable and I gained greater appreciation for health care workers who have to wear masks plus more PPE for much longer periods. I landed at JFK around 6 pm and picked up my rental car, wiping down the steering wheel, controls, handles and seat with disinfectant wipes. It felt more like I was undergoing a medical procedure than traveling.

I drove out to Mattituck, stopping for a take-out dinner along the way and arriving at the boat around 8:30 pm. The boat was dirty on the outside, but amazingly clean inside. Strong's staff was kind enough to hang a half dozen DampRid bags around the boat and they seemed to have really helped keep the boat fresh and free from any mold. Quite a big improvement compared to opening up the boat after storage over a tropical summer in Costa Rica and having to deal with a major mold remediation project.

I spent my first day back exchanging my airport rental car for a cheaper local agency one, going grocery shopping and washing the exterior of the boat. The next day I flushed out the non-toxic antifreeze in the domestic water system, which took longer than it should have. I had to track down a blockage in the hot water piping on the port hull which turned out to be caused by sediment from the water heater lodging in a sink fixture.

To get the boat ready for launch I had to fix the propellers, repair damage to both bows, paint the sail drives, paint the bottom, and swap the anchor chain end-for-end.

One of the Gori propellers was not folding and unfolding properly. It turned out to be a slighly bent blade. I took it to Bossler & Swezey, a propeller shop in Bellport. At first they refused to work on it, telling me that they didn't do folding propellers. I looked at them with surprise and disbelief, like a patient who goes to the emergency room and is denied treatment. I protested, saying something about the law of the sea and offering assistance to a mariner in distress. They relented and took in my injured propeller but with the agreement that I wouldn't hold them responsible if they damaged it further. They ended up dong great work for a very reasonable price and returned the prop as good as new, polished to a beautiful golden shine.

When I took the prop off for the repair, I discovered that the flexible hub bushing had disintegrated into little pieces of rubber. This bushing is like a cushion between the prop and shaft, protecting both from damage due to impact. I figure I must have hit something or wrapped a line so badly that the bushing broke and then ground itself apart over many, many miles of motoring. Fortunately the propeller still works without this bushing and the granulated rubber packed itself tightly inside the hub, effectively reforming itself and providing some protection.

Not so with the other prop. The hub bushing broke into four large pieces and the propeller was wiggling around on the shaft, functional but not good for the prop or the sail drive. These bushings are easy to replace but, boy, are they expensive. They are a just a bit of molded rubber, about the size of mini-donut, but cost $160 each! Replacing these plus the three tiny rubber flexible stops that cushion the blade when it opens set me back almost $400 for the two propellers. Ouch.

Both bows of the boat had been damaged by the anchor chain dragging against them a few times while being raised in challenging conditions. The gelcoat was chipped and cracked, deep enough in some places to expose the fiberglass laminate. I ground down the ships, routed out the cracks and filled them with epoxy. I faired the repairs, applied a coat of resin to smooth them out and then finished with three coats of Interlux Interprotect epoxy barrier rather than gelcoat. Better than new.

The one mistake I made when repairing the bow had nothing to do with the work, but rather, my food. I was very clever and extended the pot life of the very expensive epoxy barrier coat by putting my paint container in the freezer between coats. Well, it turns out the fumes from this paint are heavier than air and sunk from the freezer into the refrigerator where they enveloped all my food. It also turns out that cheese and chocolate absorb these fumes, maybe something to do with fat content. As do plastic surfaces and containers. I had to throw out all my cheese and my beloved chocolate cookies as they tasted truly terrible and were probably not very healthy to ingest.  Even after wiping out the whole fridge and washing all the containers, it still smelled faintly of paint for a couple of days.

Painting the sail drives was pretty easy, though this time I applied three coats of Interlux Primocon epoxy primer prior to the aluminum-compatible anti-fouling Trilux 33 finish coat. My experience has been that the Trilux goes away pretty quickly and I want something to continue protecting the aluminum sail drives from corrosion after the finish coat was worn away.

Painting the bottom was really easy for me because I had the yard do it. Two coats of black Petit Hydrocoat with an extra coat at the bows, leading edges of the keels and the rudders where the ablative paint wears away more quickly. My last bottom job was in March 2017, applied in Puerto Chiapas, Mexico and it held up really well. The paint came from Comex and I don't want to know what was in it that made it last so long. I hope the Hydrocoat does as well.

I dropped the anchor chain onto the pavement and laid it out to inspect it and remark it for length. That 300 feet of 3/8 inch chain is heavy to move around, especially in the blazing sun! It was a more strenuous and tiring job than I thought it would be. About half the galvanizing along about half the chain's length has worn off over the past six years of use. By swapping the chain ends, the half with nearly new galvanizing is now the working portion of the chain.

Just before launching I looked over the engines carefully, checked the oil and coolant levels, and bolted down the covers of the raw water pumps that I had left cracked open during storage, a lesson learned from past pump failures. Then I stuck the raw water intake hose into a bucket of water and ran each engine for a few minutes to make sure all was good. Both engines started right away and ran smoothly.

Saturday morning, Intermezzo was hoisted up on the Travelift and lowered gently into Mattituck Inlet waters. I'm back on the same dock that I was last summer, enjoying watching geese, swans, ducks and other waterfowl and my favorites, the ospreys. When I left here last September, the ospreys had taught their young to fish and fly and were departing for their winter homes. Now I'm watching them tending to their nests, not sure if they have eggs or chicks in them, nature's cycle continuing on.

I have about another week and a half of work to do to finish up projects that are best done at the dock. Then I'm going to head into the waters between the two forks  at the end of Long Island, Gardiners, Little Peconic and Great Peconic Bays. Before that, I might venture across the sound to Old Saybrook to visit my sister and family in Connecticut for a couple of days.  We'll see how things go.

It feels good to be back on board my floating home.

Returning to Intermezzo waiting on the hard

Two old, one new flexible hub bushings for propellers

Bow damage

Intermezzo back in the water on Mattituck Inlet

Friday, August 16, 2019

The End of The Voyage

It's over.

The Voyage has come to its end at Strong's Yacht Center on Mattituck Creek on the north shore of Long Island. Intermezzo and I sailed 13,400 nautical miles since leaving San Francisco in October 2015.

It feels like a lot, sometimes too much. I can hardly distinguish individual memories of all that passed, it's more like kaleidoscope of experiences that are now a part of who I am, experiences that will influence who I will be.

So much of this Voyage felt like I was going uphill. So much time enduring, soldiering along, wrestling with thoughts and feelings, as winds and waves seemed to be telling me to go back, to give up. But I wouldn't. I couldn't, even if meant I was moving away from people and places that I love. I gave up much to gain much.

Don't get me wrong, there was plenty of peace, happiness and beauty along the way that I will never forget and for which I will always be grateful. I now know the ocean intimately, as a place in which I humbly belong. Sunrises, sunsets, dolphins, birds, the motion of Intermezzo in the water, all sorts of weather. The richness of all that was can't be described in words, though I've tried mightily.

I'm to end The Voyage without fanfare as it allows me to honor the entire journey rather than focus on celebrating its completion. I'm glad Renee was with me to finish together what we started together. She's been soldiering on against winds and waves of a different nature for a long time now and the last few weeks were a nice break for her.

I'll be living aboard Intermezzo for the next month, getting the boat ready for a long period of storage on the hard.  I'm sure more thoughts and memories about The Voyage will come up as I do so. I'll continue to share them here.

An intermezzo is a light performance between the main acts of a play. The previous act seems far behind me now. I have only just started conceiving the next act, the set still needs to be built, the curtain isn't ready to rise yet. But my sailing intermezzo is over.

Mattituck Creek, Intermezzo's home for a while

The End of The Voyage, Intermezzo docked at Strong's Yacht Center. A great boat that has taken good care of us.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Hell's Gate Into Long Island Sound

August 12
Long Island Sound

Yesterday morning we sailed goodbye to Christina, Nate and Maddie and hello to my sister Alison and nephew Griffin, then cast off to sail up the East River and into Long Island Sound.

It was a bumpy start, with wakes from heavy marine traffic bounced us, reflected off the seawalls on each side of the river, to come back and bounce us again, and then the reflections reflecting to hit us again, all while new wakes were being generated. It was a relief to enter a wider portion of the river with much less traffic north of the Williamsburg Bridge.

The day was unusually cool for August, sunny with puff ball clouds and variable winds. The river was blue-green, much cleaner than I remember it being when I was a kid. People now jet ski in the East River; when I was young I think you might have dissolved if you fell into it and if that didn’t happen, struck a multitude of horrible looking floating objects. I am so grateful for the Clean Water Act, now a generation old. The waters all along the US coast have been remarkably clean, very little trash, lots of fish and wildlife, the wetlands looking healthy, even if they are still being encroached upon. The implementation of that law has been a remarkable environmental success that I have witnessed firsthand. We should never forget that or allow it to be compromised in the name of “de-regulation”. It has made our part of the world healthier and more beautiful, and set an example for other countries.

As we sailed north, pushed along by a fair current, the tall congestion of buildings of Manhattan’s Battery gave way to plain, brown nondescript mid-rise apartments. The Brooklyn shore shifted from gentrified residential neighborhoods to old industrial areas that are just beginning to gentrify.  It’s time to accept that manufacturing is not coming back to Brooklyn for those that hope that protective tariffs will drive such a renaissance.

To get to the Long Island Sound, we needed to pass through Hell’s Gate, where the East River narrows just pass its junction with the Harlem River at Wards Island. Hell’s Gate. On par with Dismal Swamp as a place name in my book, but offering potentially even more moral drama. As we approached our entry portal to Hell, we were shaken by a deep, growling rumble from the Triborough Bridge above, an ominous warning of what lay ahead. Hell’s gate was a swirling maelstrom of strong currents, whirlpools and tidal waves. Well, strong currents and some eddies, at least. Then our noses were assaulted by the putrid odor of rotting souls, which might have actually been the septic odor of an upwind sewage treatment plant. As we exited the gate of Hell, which should be a relief to those who have been taught it’s a one-way trip, we breathed a sigh of relief and some welcome fresh air as we left the sewage treatment plant downwind behind us.

The wind started to build as the East River opened up into the Long Island Sound and we soon had the sails up. There were several other sail boats near us, which to me is the definition of sailing race. I was soon hopping about the boat, checking sail trim, winching in sheets, tweaking the traveler, considering tactics as my crew and passengers looked on in admiration and amazement at my sailing prowess. I beat every boat that I raced, whether they knew they were racing me or not. I figured there might be a trophy waiting for me at the Port Washington Yacht Club as I turned into Manhasset Bay.

We dropped anchor just outside the mooring field off of Port Washington and took the dingy to the town dock. Alison treated us to a nice dinner and then we walked with her and Griffin the the train station where they caught a train back to Manhattan where there car was parked, to drive back home to Connecticut on the other side of the Sound.

Another great day with family on the water, a chance to share a tiny bit of The Voyage with them before it comes to an end soon.

We’re now heading to Setauket, about halfway to our final destination. We’ll anchor there and probably stay through tomorrow as bad weather, rain and thunderstorms, is in the forecast.

Old Brooklyn industry, new Brooklyn residence 
I like that they preserved these old Brooklyn dockside cranes and painted them such a nice color

Hell's Gate! 
Still water in the morning, Manhasset Bay

Execution Rock on Long Island Sound.  Not far from Hell's Gate.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Family Days in NYC

We are enjoying family visitors here in Brooklyn since arriving in New York Harbor at 10 a.m.

Friday morning. Renee's daughter, Christina, her husband, Nate, and daughter Maddie arrived by train from the Washington DC area on Friday night and have been staying on the boat. Three year old Maddie has told me many times that she "really likes this boat" and I think it's true. She has explored every nook and cranny, jumped on the trampoline, been lowered down hatches, and pretended to drive the boat from the helm seat. I'm enjoying her enthusiasm with an eye towards a future crew member for my geriatric sailing days.

Yesterday, my daughter Hannah, who resides here in Brooklyn,  her friend Westin, visiting from California, and my Dad, from Long Island, joined the boat for a daysail around the Statue of Liberty and under the Brooklyn Bridge. It was a beautiful day, sunny, cool, and breezy, marred only by me gouging the port bow on the dock after forgetting we had a rare port stern attached to the boat when I tried to leave the slip. My pride suffered more than the boat, but I have added gel coat repair to the top of Intermezzo's to-do list. Everyone enjoyed the scenic cruise. From me at the helm, it was a bit frenetic with lots of boat traffic, security zones to avoid around landmarks, shallow water and all the while the din of sightseeing helicopters overhead.

Our passage from Cape May to New York Harbor was glorious. We sailed almost the whole way, mostly downwind with gentle following seas in beautiful weather, day and night. I felt like I had paid the price of admission to this beautiful time under sail, after so many miles, so many hours of bashing upwind against waves, the engines droning on as they burned up diesel fuel.

My previous post covered the beginning of the passage, weighing anchor and motoring in the early morning to enter the Atlantic Ocean and round Cape May. The wind was fluky until around noon, we raised and lowered sails in various combinations in the morning until finally catching a light breeze to barely sail under the Code 0 dead downwind. The day was sunny, with a bright blue sea, Intermezzo rising and falling on the long swells coming from the southeast as we headed north.

Later in the afternoon, the wind gained strength, we rolled up the Code 0 to hoist the main and unfurl the jib to sail wing-on-wing on a deep reach, making good speed.  The ocean was now speckled with white foam, the swells distinctly rippled by the wind. A cool breeze blew in through the salon door from astern, the sun shining with puffy cumulus clouds along the shoreline and ahead.

Renee caught a big sierra (Spanish mackerel), the first fish landed on Intermezzo on the Atlantic. We had it cleaned and chilling the freezer quickly. Renee was very happy and we enjoyed eating the front half of the fish for dinner that night and the back half for lunch with family yesterday.

The wind was blowing 20+ knots, so we put a second reef in the main before sunset, doing so while sailing downwind rather than turning upwind as is usually done. We hauled mainsheet in to get the sail clear of the shroud. We took turns, Renee easing the halyard a foot at a time, then me cranking in the reefing line to bring down the clew the same distance. Step by step, we lowered the sail until I could secure the reefing cringle at the tack and then we tightened everything up, eased the main sheet and were back to easy sailing. Sweet!

During the night the wind shifted to the west and we hauled the sheets in to sail on a close reach. Having two reefs in the main seemed to really help us point and reduced the leeway we usually suffer from when sailing upwind. I'm going to try sailing this way again, see if I've discovered a better way to sail the boat.

At midnight, the wind died and we had to start an engine. But only until 0200, when the wind picked up again and we were back to sailing nicely along. Just before sunrise, we had to drop the sails and start the engines to have the maneuverability required to navigate upwind through the narrow channel and heavy ship traffic into New York Harbor.

As we approached New York City, the lights of the Verrazzano Narrow's Bridge and Manhattan skyline shining in the distance, I felt an upwelling of emotion, feelings of elation and accomplishment. I did it! I sailed my boat from San Francisco to New York. All those miles bashing upwind, the mechanical problems and boat repairs, the challenges of relationships, dealing with my own personal struggles and weaknesses- it felt like a lot. A lot of miles, a lot of days, a lot of problem solving, a lot of perseverance...with some fun and enjoyment mixed in! I felt grateful to Renee, Jeanne, Marc, Marci, Hannah, Luther, Roy, Pete, John, Kim, Josh, Christine, Lisa, Katherine, Forrest and Amy, the people who sailed on Intermezzo and helped get me and the boat this far. It was a powerful moment of acknowledgment. A simple, pure pride of completing something. A complex, melange of feelings from the memories of ups and downs of the journey.

Our entrance into New York Harbor was delightful, a brilliant morning sun, a fresh cool breeze. There was quite a bit of traffic- ships, tugs and barges, ferries, water taxis, pleasure craft- it didn't pose any problem. We were surrounded by the iconic landmarks of New York City- the tall, serrated city skyline,  the inspiring, precious Statue of Liberty, the elegant Brooklyn Bridge, pumpkin-orange Staten Island ferries.

We docked at the One 15 Brooklyn Marina, the most expensive marina on The Voyage. The location is great, in the nice Brooklyn Heights neighborhood, alongside the Brooklyn Greenway Park, a beautiful view of Manhattan. The marina itself is bare minimum, thought. Just slips in a basin with frequent surges from East River traffic- no restrooms, no showers, no laundry...nothing. Across the river is the heliport for sightseeing helicopters, half a dozen or more buzzing in the sky, their noise reminding me of soundtracks to Vietnam War movies.  Despite the hardships, we're enjoying the view, the convenient location and we're comfortable on the boat.

This afternoon, Christina and family depart and my sister Alison and nephew Griffin arrive to sail with us up the East River and into Long Island Sound. We'll anchor in Manhasset Bay off of the town of Port Washington this evening.

Night passage along the Delaware & Chesapeake Canal (described in previous post)

Delightful sailing deep downwind, wing-on-wing

Renee kills her first Atlantic fish, a delicious sierra, big enough for two meals

My last ocean night watch of The Voyage

Surreal sunrise illumination of the New York City skyline

The Verrazzano Narrows Bridge. I watched this bridge being built as a very young child. I believe it was part of what inspired me to become an engineer.

Intermezzo docked in Brooklyn 

Nighttime scenery from the back of the boat

Maddie playing with boat safety gear

Pre-sail family lunch featuring the back half of Renee's sierra

Daysail around the Statue of Liberty

Hannah enjoying a sail in her home town

Christina, Maddie and Nate lounging forward on Intermezzo

Washington Roebling's Brooklyn Bridge. Do you know his wife Emily oversaw the construction of the bridge when he fell ill?

New York Harbor panorama

Thursday, August 8, 2019

On Our Way to New York City

August 8
Rounding Cape May

We're on the ocean, on our way to New York City.

We weighed anchor early this morning, very cool out after the cold front that passed through last night. The sky above was clear, the deck of the boat wet from rain and dew.

As I hauled up the anchor, I noted that this will be the last ocean passage of The Voyage. The philosopher/scientist Sam Harris teaches a lesson about last times. There is a last time for everything. There will be a last time you do something. Pausing to note this often reveals significance, poignancy and brings up feelings one might not experience in a lesser state of awareness. This morning I am reminded of my love for the ocean, that it is my place for solitude, being present in the moment, living life fully.

We are motoring on one engine with the mainsail up in light winds, a very gentle swell from the southeast. It's a swell, not wind chop, and it's not on the nose. I'm so happy. We'll follow the coastline about five miles offshore to the entry to New York Harbor. Winds are expected to pick up this afternoon and it looks like good sailing conditions for most of our passage. I hope so.

Yesterday was a long day. We left the city dock at midnight, timing our departure to catch favorable currents and arrive at our anchorage at the mouth of Delaware Bay before the high winds and thunderstorms forecasted for the afternoon.

The night air was cool and moist, but warm enough to wear just shorts and a T-shirt. We headed east on the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, lights on each bank, light streetlights, showing the way. I piloted the boat solo so Renee could get some sleep. I had checked the vertical clearances of all the bridges, power lines, even an overhead pipeline crossing the canal and though double the height of Intermezzo's mast, the optical illusion of impending collision of mast top and structure looking up was even more pronounced at night, alone at the helm. We went fast, over 8 knots on one engine with a strong current pushing us along.

Conditions changed as we exited the canal and entered the Delaware River around 0200. Lots of lighted buoys, lights, shoreline, shoals. Radar helped a lot to make sense of it all and fix our position. Now we had wind on the nose (as usual) and a foul 2 knot current against us. The night sky was partly cloudy with lightning flashes from a thunderstorm offshore to the east.

It was a bouncy night. Renee came on watch at 0400. It was her first overnight passage since joining the boat, she's still "got it" in terms of being in charge of the boat on her watch, but had difficulty sleeping so was a bit tired. I slept well despite the bouncing, a skill from plenty of practice.

We arrived at Lewes, Delaware around 1100 and dropped anchor a few hundred yards off the beach, just outside a sailing race course set up for kids who were earnestly sailing a mix of small boats. Lewes is located on the eastern shore of the Delaware Bay mouth, on Cape Henlopen, to the southwest and opposite Cape May, New Jersey. It is a small town with a long beachfront on the bay and a canal running through it, accessible from the bay through an inlet.

Early in the afternoon, we heard cries for help and saw a mom and son on paddle boards who were caught in strong wind and current and couldn't get back to shore. We launched the dinghy and "rescued" them. Good deed done for the day, I poured myself a dram of rum. Later, after a much needed nap, I had a nice run on the beach.

Around 1800, the storm we had been waiting for arrived. It was a powerful one, very cool air, strong winds from the north putting us on a lee shore. Our trusty Rocna anchor held without any problem, but we were beam on to the seas, causing violent rolling of the boat, enough that I had to empty a cabinet that couldn't seem to hold its contents. Lightning strikes threatened, but nothing came close to us. The weather service issued a warning for waterspouts, too! That would have been interesting. Renee was a bit spooked, not used to East Coast squalls like this. I was concerned, mostly about being on a lee shore with little room to get out of trouble if the anchor dragged, but it seemed like things could be a lot worse. The evening sky turned really dark and rained really hard, the rain flattening the waves, which gave some relief to the rolling. By 2100 it was all over, the winds blowing gently from the south, the seas calm, the air cool and refreshing. Time to go to bed for this morning's early wake up.

Our passage to the NY harbor entrance should take us a little over 24 hours. Then we'll proceed through The Narrows and up the East River where we will take a slip in a fancy marina in Brooklyn, near the Brooklyn Bridge. Renee's daughter and family will be visiting us and I expect a visit from my own daughter, who lives in Brooklyn.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Sassafras River, Chesapeake & Delaware Canal

Intermezzo is lying at the free city dock in Chesapeake City along the Chesapeake & Delaware canal. We'll be here until about midnight tonight when we'll leave to transit the canal, enter Delaware Bay and head to Cape May and the entrance to the Atlantic Ocean. Our departure is timed to avoid strong opposing currents in the canal and bay and reach our anchorage near Cape May before strong forecasted southerly winds start blowing on Wednesday afternoon.

We spent last night at a peaceful anchorage near the mouth of the Sasafrass River. Along the way there we crossed under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, the largest bridge since heading out under the Golden Gate in San Francisco. The geology and topology of the shoreline changed as we moved northward. Flat beaches changed to steep cliffs, sandy shores giving way to soft sandstone. The bay looks more like a lake here to me.

Small resorts lined the shores at the mouth of the Sassafras, little beaches with umbrellas and lounge chairs.  It was overcast with no wind, the water flat calmed as we entered the river. It felt a bit like the calm before the storm, though no storm ever materialized.

After dropping anchor close in along in a secluded area along river's south bank, we did some birdwatching, which included sighting a couple of bald eagles, and had a light session of yoga on the front deck.

The night was cool and peaceful, the boat perfectly still in flat calm waters.

This morning we continued north to the entrance of the C&D Canal, encountering a fair amount of barge traffic. We spotted a couple more bald eagles along the way. It's warm, thunderclouds are brewing all around us.

We'll relax here, walk around town, have dinner at the nearby Chesapeake Inn and then slip our docklines around midnight. I hope the weather forecasts are accurate this time. If we encounter strong southerlies in the Delaware Bay with an ebb current, we will be in for a slow, bumpy, bashing ride south.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge, largest bridge Intermezzo has passed under since the Golden Gate

Shoreline of the northern Chesapeake Bay, near the Sassafrass River

Waterfowl convening at a fish pen. I counted ten ospreys here.

Entrance to the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal