Friday, August 31, 2007

Time To Head South

Newport, Rhode Island
41 28.8N 71 19.4W

Well tomorrow we will set sail for the Caribbean, technically this will consist of retracing our steps down the east coast and then heading to the Bahamas, but we leave tomorrow bound south for the first time in a while so why not make it sound grand!

Since the last entry we have been to Block Island which sits in the Atlantic and in summer is a resort paradise, but I imagine in winter is a bit cold and windy! We cycled right round the island admiring the views and at night tried to sleep but the sheer number of boats anchored in the harbour made that hard, as all night they were dragging and crashing into each other, thankfully no one hit us, but I did see one huge smash at 3am, almost worth being awake for!

From there we sailed to Newport, we left in clear blue skies, and then about an hour out, we were down to 50m visibility and in a huge bank of fog. It was the first time we had experienced this, and thankfully we have a radar on Matsu as it made life much less stressful. We had a couple of huge boats come up behind us blowing fog horns, and the lack of viz makes you disorientated and fear the worst, so it was a great relief to be able to go below and see on the radar that in fact they were a couple of miles away and missing us. Similarly when we arrived in Newport harbour, radar and electronic charts make life very easy - glad I didn't just have a compass and a chart.

Newport was excellent, we toured the Van Der Bilt mansion which is as near to a European Palace as you can get in the USA. Absolutely enormous and every room so ornate and imposing. Half the rooms were built in France in a factory and then shipped in pieces to Newport for assembly in the mansion. For those of you doing renovations at the moment think about the fact that they built the entire 70 room mansion in 2 years - and I bet the fireplace in your study isn't from an Italian palace and shipped in especially! But I suppose limitless wealth helps to get things done.

We now have a plan of sorts, we will head back to New York for a week or so, then a quick trip back to Annapolis where we will do the final preparation for the Caribbean, and then as soon as hurricane season is over dash back to Florida and then work our way through the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to the West Indies. It all seems quite close now as we hope to be in the Bahamas by the end of November.

Of course like all good plans it will change tomorrow!
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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Long Island Sound & Visitors

Sag Harbour, New York
41 00.4N 72 16.9W

All well here, we have had a great couple of weeks cruising up Long Island Sound. We finally had some wind so have been able to sail, Paule and Louis have been to stay, we have been into NYC a couple of times to explore, and have annoyingly had to spend far too much time fixing diesel engines, as the generator - our supply of electricity, hot water and cold beer, has been playing up. Fingers crossed that is now fixed and we hope to sail off to Block Island and then to Newport, RI in the next week or so.

Long Island is an interesting place, the wealth on display is incredible, super yachts, massive mansions, Mercedes everywhere and small country towns with a Tiffany's, YSL etc etc on the main street. We had a great day out exploring the Hamptons, home to Steven Spielberg and many others, stunning picture postcard towns, clean, wooden houses and if you want water front expect to pay US$15- 25m even in times of down turn like now! If that's too much you can rent one for the summer for around US$250k. ( if you want to perve)

The weather is an interesting blend at present, either hot, sunny and gorgeous or grey, raining and genuinely cold, we really want to get to Newport but then it will definitely be time to turn southwards. The greyer the day the more inclined we are to read Caribbean crusing guides and plan the winter trip!

We have just uploaded a whole new gallery of photos too.
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Thursday, August 2, 2007

We Woke Up In A City That Never Sleeps!

Port Washington, New York
40 49.6N 73 42.9W

WOW! What a day. We left Sandy Hook early this morning and sailed/motored up to New York City. The first major landmark was the Verazzano Narrows Bridge, huge, spectacular and as soon as you go under it you can see the towers of Manhattan off in the distance.

As we progressed up the harbour through the commercial traffic the Statue Of Liberty started to come into view and then almost suddenly we were right there, astonishingly in the era of terrorism you can still sail right up to it, we were in company with another boat so spent quite a while motoring around in front of it for one of the great the photo opportunities of the world. It was very strange to be here, somewhere so familiar and have sailed there rather than flown.

The tides on the East River are pretty fierce, so we unfortunately had a to tear ourselves away, we motored on past Ellis Island and up to The Battery for more photographs and then right off the ferry terminal, 100 metres from Battery Park, our engine died! There we were no power, no wind, lots of ferries and commercial boats and four knots of current washing us towards the rocks! First job was to throw the anchor over which thankfully dug in and stopped us, next thing was to think how much money it would cost to get towed to a marina in NYC and pay for the repair bills. Nothing motivates like the back pocket so it was time for swearing and spanners.

Luckily I soon worked out that some idiot had turned off the port fuel tank valve in Atlantic City and not turned it on again (once I find out who sneaked onto the boat and did that he will be in dreadful trouble!) and so we had simply run out of fuel. I turned the tank back on, bled the fuel system, and a much sweatier, smellier but greatly relieved person emerged on deck to give Linda the good news. Meanwhile she had been sitting on deck watching ferries flash past 3 feet away swearing at the bloody idiots anchored in NYC, and waiting for the arrival of a SWAT team to take down the terrorists! We had radioed on Ch16 about ten times that we were immobilised, had called Coast Guard and Water Police but on one of the busiest harbours in the world not one response!

We lifted the anchor, which thankfully wasn't attached to any dead bodies and then returned to relaxed cruising as we motored under the Brooklyn Bridge, past the UN, the Empire State, Roosevelt Island etc etc and through the infamous Hell Gates and out into Long Island Sound. As an aside there is a ludicrous anti terrorism law saying you can't get within 150 yards of the UN building in a boat or they will intercept you and can use "lethal" force but you can drive underneath it in a truck on the public freeway! Thus the delegates are saved from yachties throwing stones at them (I am guessing a rocket launcher has a range over 150 yards) but are still subject to the threat of a truck bomb!

We are now in Port Washington, the town they filmed Meet The Parents in, and will stay here a few days while we explore New York City on foot and pick up the next set of visitors.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

We Can See New York!

Sandy Hook, New York
40 28.1N 74 00.8W

We left Cape May and went to Atlantic City, mainly to break the journey to New York as we still have no wind and the sound of the motor gets a bit much after a while. Hmmmm Atlantic City, "Vegas by the Sea" or "Southend by the Cultural Desert"?

The Trump Marina Casino was undoubtedly the best view of a way of life I wish I had remained ignorant of - thousands of badly dressed little old people, half of them on electric scooters or pushing Zimmer frames pouring cash into noisy pokie machines or queueing for the buffet. The fashions are truly horrific and half the people appear to be dressed like homeless people ie in whatever they could find, who would think to match business shoes and black socks with football shorts and singlet for a night at the high rollers table? In fairness some had made an effort - high waisted salmon pink pants with matching burgundy polo shirt with salmon pink trimming, topped off with running shoes, or how about an Eva Longoria style velvet track suit tight in all the right places to show off that hip replacement Hal paid for last fall (pun intended).

The Board Walk was slightly better, but I won't be including it in my new book "A Hundred Million Things To See Before You Die"

Last night we upped anchor and set sail (motor) for New York, we had a great trip under a full moon and even managed to sail for a few hours, caught a nice fish and arrived at Sandy Hook at 7am, as we rounded it, there was the Verazzano Narrows Bridge and off in the smog Manhattan. We will leave tomorrow morning for the trip to Manhattan and up the East River, and once at an internet connection post some photos to all the last few posts and the gallery.
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