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