Thursday, December 3, 2009


Chris here... First off, I'm sorry to everyone for not posting.  We're still in Haverstraw, NY, and it looks like we'll be spending the Winter here (in the snow and ice, and with the water turned off on the docks).  We're fine, but I've returned to work.  I'd love to post what's going on, but it's somewhat competitive in nature and, apparently, many people who work for my company's competitors read this blog.  Right now, we're still not 100% sure what the future holds for us, so I would suggest subscribing to the blog via e-mail using the link on the left hand side of the page.  Once we have any firm updates, we'll do a new post.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Chris here... Day two was another *almost* no brainer with a fairly quick run down to Haverstraw from Kingston.  So what made it an almost no brainer?  Well, our engine was up to its old tricks where it just didn't want to turn over due to a partial hydraulic lock.  It eventually did start, though, and we left at around 7:30am and made it to Haverstraw by 2:30pm or so.  The highlight of the day was Kristen's chicken soup and matzoh balls.  Yes, my wonderful Catholic wife made matzoh balls, and I so love her for that.  It was quite chilly out, and she made the soup in the pressure cooker, so it warmed us up from the inside out in a most wonderful fashion. 

We pulled into Haverstraw and were assigned our slip.  While Kristen and Casey cleaned up the boat and hooked up the shore power, I took care of signing us in and checking in with Samalot Marine - the shop that was recommended to us by a friend to look at our Yanmar (for those who asked - it's a 4JH3E).  I called my mother and two uncles, all of whom live within an hour of Haverstraw and wanted to visit us while we were here.

On Thursday, Walter (the mechanic from Samalot) showed up at around 10am.  We walked through all of the issues we've been having.  Every time we've had a mechanic on Pelican since our problems started cropping up, our engine has started right up.  We were absolutely sure the same thing would happen this time.  So.... switch in, turn, press the start button - and - it didn't start!  I don't think I've ever been so happy to NOT have our engine start!  Walter agreed with us - it sounded like a partial hydraulic lock. 

(I'm not going to go into a ton of detail in this section, so "getting from point A to point B in our diagnosis might not always make complete sense.  I am including it because a lot of people have been following our engine troubles and want to know.  Skip these paragraphs if you just want to read about what else we've been up to)

We brainstormed together on the best way to get the water our of the engine and to determine how it was getting there in the first place.  We ended up taking the hoses off of the mixing elbow, and out poured water.  We had already replaced the anti-siphon, but regardless of this we started disconnecting various pieces of the engine to trace the water issue.  Anyway, long story short, we seemed to be getting immense back pressure from the antisiphon and beyond, and since the tube is not that far above the waterline, we decided that we would move the valve portion higher on the boat.

On to one of our other issues - unburned fuel coming out of the exhaust.  The combination of the water and the unburned fuel, plus some oil loss and blue smoke, was making me think that we had a broken piston ring or worse.  This would require the entire engine to be pulled out of the boat to be overhauled.  Well, first, the mechanic pulled out all of the injectors and found that there was significant carbon buildup.  This could cause fuel to be sprayed in a poor pattern, restricting combustion.  He then did a compression check on all of the cylinders and found that they all showed decent compression.  The compression level of the first cylinder was somewhat lower than the rest, but it was still OK.  He reinstalled the injectors and bled the air out of the system and had us try to turn the engine over again.  After listening to the starter, he felt that it wasn't turning fast enough so he had us switch to the house batteries.  We did so, and he thought the starter sounded better.

Regarding the carbon buildup, we have been concerned about that all along.  Diesel engines are made to run fast and hot, and with the propeller we use (Gori) and its overdrive mode (which allows us to dial down the RPMs and still maintain speed), we don't run it fast and hot.  As a result, carbon doesn't burn off and builds up in the cylinders and injectors.

We also thought we were burning oil, but it may be due to the fact that the engine was overfilled.  Kristen did an oil change in Norfolk, and it's possible we didn't completely fill it there (although she's fairly confident, as am I, that it was filled).  If it wasn't, that could explain the oil we had to add en route from  Norfolk to NYC, and the oil we had to add in NYC.  Then, we next checked the oil while the engine was turned on in Albany, and you can't do that since it's circulating.  We added oil at that point in time.  When we left Albany, the oil was a 1/4" over full on the dipstick, but the boat had been sitting for two weeks since the engine was last run, so every last bit of oil had filled the pan.  Then we checked it again in Kingston, 12 hours after we had run it, and it showed a 1/4" UNDER full, so we thought we may have burning oil.  We then checked it again in Haverstraw, and the level hadn't changed.  So... we're not sure if we are burning oil or not, and if the engine WAS overfilled, it would naturally burn the oil.

So... the partial hydraulic lock MAY have been due to the fact that our antisiphon valve is too close to the waterline (only a few inches above).  The unburned fuel MAY be due to the fact that the carbon buildup is preventing a proper spray pattern within the cylinders.  The oil burning problem may not actually be having.  The starter MAY not be getting the proper cranking amps from the starting battery.  We really liked the mechanic because he didn't try to be a miracle worker and give us a false diagnosis, but rather pulled things apart and told us what he would recommend to try, and what to do if those things failed.

We now have a project list: 1) Raise the vented loop/antisiphon to a higher level, 2) Add treatment to the fuel to clean the injectors, 3) Run the engine at higher RPMs, and 4) Soundproof the engine compartment so running at higher RPMs doesn't keep us from being below.

One last note regarding the engine - we never checked the impeller to see if the water was possibly entering the system from the intake side.  Kristen's Dad pulled it today and we found that several of the vanes were curved in the opposite direction from the rest.  This could definitely cause problems.

So that leads me into fate.  As I've mentioned before (maybe?), my 97 year old grandpa was diagnosed several months back with Leukemia.  He was receiving blood transfusions, but a week ago he decided to stop doing them.  He came to terms with his mortality, and said it was time to move on.  This past weekend, he attended my cousin's wedding, and he had a huge smile on his face during the whole event.  Not only that, but he stayed until the end as opposed to leaving early on.  We were all very impressed, and very glad to have the time with him.  My assumption was that it would be the last time I would see him.  Kristen and I drove him back to his home that night, and saying goodbye to him took on a whole new meaning. 

My mother and uncles were supposed to visit us on Pelican on Thursday.  At around 12:30pm I received a call from my mother that my grandpa had taken a turn for the worse.  His blood pressure was rapidly dropping and he was in a lot of pain.  She suggested I come right over.  I called up my uncle who lives about 15 minues from Haverstraw and spoke with his wife, and she drove us to my grandpa's home.  All of my cousins, aunts, uncles, sister, mother, nieces, nephews, second cousins and other family showed up through the rest of the evening.  My grandpa was on morphine at this point, but he was still waking up every so often and we could communicate with him.  All of the grandkids and great-grandkids took turns going up to him and giving him hugs and kisses.  Each time he would put a smile on his face and react positively.

Throughout the night, we all stood watch over him, taking turns holding his hands (if you let go, he would become agitated and seek them out), rubbing his back, and talking to him.  My mother was constantly repeating, as she stood vigil over him, "It's OK.  Everything is OK.  You can go now."  The morphine caused continuous nightmares.  He kept sitting up and screaming "Help me! I'm paralyzed!", and we'd gently lower him down, hold his hands, stroke his back, and tell him that everything is OK.  That we're all there, and we're making sure that everything is fine.  At times, when he appeared to be in pain, we'd give him a dose of morphine.  At around 3am, he calmed down.  His legs stopped trembling and his nightmares appeared to have gone away.  This was the last time we heard him speak.

Kristen and I left the home at around 6am to get some sleep at my uncles.  We left my uncles at around 10am to head to the boat.  We had never told Poppi that we were staying over, as we hadn't expected to, and we needed to pick up some clothes.  We were on our way back from the boat at around 2pm when I got the call from my mother - my grandpa had passed away.  She said that he was peaceful and that it was gentle.  He took a last few labored breaths, and then just stopped.  The nurse had opened the window to my grandpa's room a couple of hours earlier.  She said that this would allow the angels to come in to take my grandpa to heaven.  I'm not a religious person, but I'd like to think that's true, and that he is now dancing away with my grandma in a much better place.

My grandpa was Jewish, and "Bashert" is the Yiddish word for fate. When people don't have an answer to why something happened, they say it's bashert. We've been travelling up and down the coast of the US and the Bahamas for almost a year now.  We've been in many ports and been both in touch and out of touch.  The day before my grandpa passed, we happened to be sitting 30 minutes away from him.  We happened to have left Albany on a certain day, and to have engine troubles leading us to stay in Haverstraw for an extra day.  We happened to of had to attend to business in Albany which led us up here in the first place.  None of these things were good on their own, but they came together to allow me to spend one extra day with my grandpa, and that is something that I will never regret.  It's bashert.

Tomorrow is the funeral.  I'd love to get up and speak about what my grandpa meant to me, but I know I'll be far too emotional.  My parents were divorced when I was only four, so my grandparents took care of me a lot of the time while my mother worked full time.  My grandfather has been a huge role model in my life, as some of my earliest memories, and ones I am most fond of, are of being at the textile factory he owned and watching all of the people who worked for him treat him with respect, and him, in turn, talking about their families and how happy he was to be able to employ them.  A lot of my approaches to running my business come from those memories - the people who work for me are like an extended family to me, and I care as much (actually probably much more) about their happiness and well being as I do about how much money they make for my company.  The memories I hold of my grandpa are good ones, full of family, richness of life, enjoying oneself while the opportunity is there and respecting those around you.  He was a man full of vigor almost to the end of his life, and a person who (in my eyes) didn't let adversity get the best of him.  He lived through the Great Depression, two world wars, the invention of the television and the computer, and me living on a sailboat (although he told me I was an idiot and crazy for doing it), and I love him dearly, and will miss him greatly, but I will always have the memories.

Good bye grandpa, and I'll see you again one day.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Day one and an excellent day it was

Chris here... We're here in Kingston, NY.  We're doing day hops down the Hudson since, while the buoys are lit, the river is narrow in this part and there is a LOT of debris (large trees, logs, lumber and other nasties).  We actually hit one board which went under the boat, but we don't think there was any damage as there were no vibrations that weren't there already.

We left this morning at around 7:30am.  We were originally going to head to Haverstraw in one shot, but it was cold out and we would not have arrived in Haverstraw until 10 or 11 tonight.  We thought that it might be nice to stop and take things a little slower in the cold, so here we are in Kingston at the Maritime Museum (again).  Pelican did great today, though.  It was wonderful being on the move again.  We've had a great time in Albany and wish we could stay longer (we truly do), but when they pull the docks out it makes it kind of difficult to maintain station.

Kristen made incredible sandwiches for lunch today (corned beef, provolone cheese and a hoagie roll, toasted, and then with cole slaw and mustard on top) so I'm hoping for more of the same tomorrow!  The kids pretty much stayed down below all day, watching movies and doing projects.  They had no interest in being in the cold.  Poppi (who is with us again) hung out in the cockpit and on the foredeck looking for logs.  Kristen worked on school planning for the kids since they keep pestering her to start school (perhaps pestering is a slightly too strong word).  Kristen bought a pressure cooker while we were in Albany, so tonight we're having chicken done in the cooker.  She's very excited about the pot.  Me?  I'm trying to stay out of the way of possible explosions, although she assures me that won't happen.  I wonder if it's time to call our insurance company?

Oh yes - a little patting myself on the back here.  When we docked they put us between two boats in a 47' spot (we're 40' long).  I docked like Captain Ron!  I spun Pelican into the current as we approached the dock, and then just placed her right in the spot without even having to put a spring line in place.  When I was done, we just gently bumped into the dock and you could step right off.  The woman who runs the museum/marina said I get the "Docking maneuvers of the year" award for my job bringing her in.  Kristen said her eyes had tears (as in crying for joy tears) when she stepped off of Pelican.  The reality?  I haven't docked Pelican for almost two months and I was completely freaking out as to how I would do!  I had visions of slamming nose first into the face of the dock and then plowing into all of the boats around us!  I figured I would top the whole maneuver off by having to do man overboard recoveries of everyone on board that fell off when I slammed into shore.  I won't tell anyone else my fears if you don't!  By the way, did I mention that one of the boats I had to dock between was a multi-million dollar 70 foot sailboat???

Tomorrow will be a long day - the current turns against us at around 11am-ish, so we'll be going slow for quite some time.  That's OK though - it's nice to be on the water.  When we get to Haverstraw we're going to get our engine checked out AGAIN to see if we can figure out what's going on with it.  It keeps developing different symptoms.

Chris Parker is predicting that by Sunday evening we may have winds from a favorable direction, albeit at 20kts or so.  I checked Sailflow and it shows Monday and Tuesday being pretty light wind days.  We just can't win - it's either 30 knots and on the nose, or no wind and motoring.  Well, Monday is a long ways away, so anything can happen between now and then.  More tomorrow...

Monday, October 19, 2009

We're outta here!

Chris here... I had meant to write a post a few days ago, but it's been a whirlwind of activity around here. This past weekend we had my 20th high school reunion (surprisingly fun!), my cousin's wedding (I'm soooo happy for her) and my Mother's birthday (I won't say how many years). I don't think I need to tell you how insane the weekend was, but it was all good.

Anyway, I just thought I'd update you on our plans. They yank the docks out at the Albany Yacht Club on the 24th, so we need to move along. I reached out to a few places on the Hudson, but everybody is shutting their water off very soon due to freezing temps. On top of that, if we don't go south soon, we won't be able to go period. So - we're heading out tomorrow, Tuesday.

The current pseudo-itinerary is to head from here to Kingston, NY, then to Haverstraw, NY. In Haverstraw, we're going to have ANOTHER Yanmar mechanic take a look at our latest problems (eating oil, blue exhaust smoke and some fuel in the exhaust) which could potentially be pretty serious (piston blow by is on the list of possibilities, which would require removal of the engine and reboring of the cylinders). On the other hand, it may be nothing. Before everyone runs to "it's the head gasket", we're not seeing any oil in the coolant, nor are we losing coolant. I know that's not the ultimate test, but problems will generally show up there. Anyway, I'm not going to worry about it until a mechanic reviews it. Supposedly the Yanmar mechanic in Haverstraw is pretty good (I got a referral from someone I know).

From Haverstraw we'll head to NYC for a day or two. Then, because NYC is ridiculously expensive ("Winter Rates" don't kick in until November), we'll probably head to the Atlantic Highlands around Sandy Hook, NJ. There's a weather window that started today and goes through Wednesday, but we'll miss it. It's supposed to be blowing 30+ knots from the south for a while, so we'll hole up in New Jersey until we have a window to head to the Delaware River. Once we're in the river, we'll go to the C&D Canal, and then down the Chesapeake a little ways to Baltimore. We'll probably stay there for a little while.

Why Baltimore? Because I'm about to become a frequent flyer on Southwest Airlines. They have a direct flight to Albany, and I'm not ready to completely leave work yet. Things are going pretty well, but it's still important for me to be involved. Baltimore will be fun though - there's a great Aquarium, science center and lots of other stuff. We'll spend some time there, and then maybe head to Washington DC.

All I know right now, however, is that we untie our lines tomorrow and head south down the Hudson River. At least it's supposed to warm up to 60 degrees or so (balmy!). Follow along on the SPOT by clicking the link to the right...

We'll get a good post up soon with info on the boat show, this past weekend, etc. Thanks for your patience!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Feeling Melancholy, Always Reminders

Chris here... Sorry it's been so long since we last wrote. We'll get a post up shortly about our trip to the Annapolis Boat Show and our time with our cruising friends while there, and about the fact that we head out from Albany on the 20th, but I just want to share another story first.

As everyone who has been following our blog knows, our reasons for getting out cruising weren't all about seeing the world, or to take time off from work, or because we've had grandiose dreams for years about getting away from the grind. As a matter of fact, it was only five or six years ago that I even suggested to Kristen that we do this, and she had only sailed once before in her life before I made the suggestion.

The reason we're out cruising is because of family.

Today I had another not-so-gentle reminder of the importance of family. The nine year old son of one of my friends passed away from cancer two days ago (Click Here). There is a website dedicated to him at Here's an excerpt:

"Earlier today he started to have difficulty breathing and we knew he was getting really tired when he stopped allowing visitors we knew he really enjoyed talking with. Stacey and I stayed in bed with him as much as possible all day today. We took turns holding his head and stroking his brow or rubbing his back. He would open his eyes and stare lovingly at his Mom. We continued to tell him how much he was loved and how much we knew he loved us. We shared the postings and emails of friends. We promised to take care of James and each other and told him not to worry about us. At 6:20 PM he quietly stopped breathing. Dr Pearce waited a little bit and listened for heart beats or breathing sounds. Ben left us. He reached the end of the journey that he was on. At the time of his last breath Stacey and I were holding him. We are so blessed that his passing was gentle."

I don't even know what to say, except that I'm glad - no, far more than glad - that we're taking the time to spend with our kids and each other. Once again, life can throw you curve balls at any point. You never know what tomorrow can bring. You have to seize the moment the second you have the opportunity, and you have to reflect on what is truly important in your life. Yes, it's hard to untie the dock lines and cast off, but when you're surrounded by your family you have everything you will ever need.

"Donations may be made to the Ben Fund at HSBC Bank(494 Troy Schenectady Rd, Latham , NY 12110). Originally set up to help the family with medical bills, it will be renamed the Green Drakkoman Foundation and the funds will be used to help other families."

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Working, working and working more, but it's all good

(Kristen has a new entry below this one) Chris here... just thought I'd throw in my two cents on how things have been going. We're VERY excited to be moving to Washington DC, but we'll still be working our butts off. I think that things have been going well at the office, and I'm glad it doesn't have a lot to do with Kristen and I being there. Lots of activity was going on in the month of September, and that was all happening before we even arrived. October is similar - the level of activity is high. Sooooo.. I don't want to jinx things, but I'm feeling like things are heading in the right direction. We're starting to work on Federal business so Washington DC seems like an appropriate next stop. DC will also allow us to commute back to Albany via train, plane and automobile. We're getting back to cruising, but we're not getting fully back to cruising. We're enjoying the time back with customers and D&D staff and we plan to continue working hard for the foreseeable feature with trips back and forth.

And yes - as Kristen said - we're going to be very busy over the next couple of weeks. I slacked off on boat projects, and that will make it so some things, like getting new lifelines before we leave, difficult. Also, our engine seems to be acting up even more these days. While it seems to be starting fine these days, I fear we may have a blown head gasket. We get blue smoke out of the exhaust plus some unburned fuel, and we're eating oil at high rates. We're probably going to stop off at Haverstraw on our way down the Hudson and get it checked out - again.

So tomorrow is Kristen's birthday (October 5th) and I'm looking forward to making it a good day for her. I'll let y'all know how it turns out.

Getting back out there!

Kristen here - Today is Sunday 10/04/09. Tomorrow is my birthday!!! Ok, so now we have and end in sight! It looks like we're going to head out of here on October 20th. This weekend we went to my parents house for a birthday party. While there, we grabbed a bunch of our cold weather stuff. Hats, mitts and warmer clothes will be needed for the trip down. It's not too cold here right now, but when you get out on the ocean at night, it gets quite chilly! I'm envisioning the last time we headed down, and had to bundle up and use a heater in the cockpit at night! Of course that was in December and we'll be a little earlier than that this year.

The current plan is to head down to Washington DC and stay there for a while. Chris and I will work a bit from there, and we'll also bring the kids to the sights. I am super psyched to bring the kids around. They have never been to DC before and every time we pass by there, they want to stop and see stuff! Now we'll have 2 weeks or so to see everything! Why do I see boat school going out the window for that time?!

Oh, and that's the other thing. I ordered the kids school books for this year. I decided to use the same books that their school at home uses. I ordered used books from about 9 different suppliers, and they have been slowly trickling in through the mail. It looks like we'll end up doing about 30 weeks of school this year, which is much less than last year. It also looks like the public school books are MUCH simpler than the Calvert books they used last year. That was quite eye opening. So, I'm going to hang on to the Calvert books they didn't finish and use them if we finish the public school books early. They kids say they are excited to start school again, but when I gave them a project the other day I got a little bit of resistance. We were going the the Hudson 400 celebration, so I had each of them do a bit of research on Henry Hudson. They grumbled a bit, but still did the project.

On Friday, Kaitlin reminded me that I promised we would have her birthday party before we left. Next weekend we will be at the boat show, and the following weekend we will be at Chris's cousins wedding, and after that we are leaving. So the only free day was today! So on Friday we called her friends and invited everyone. It worked out well, and everyone was able to come. I'm so glad that Kaitlin got the chance to have a party at home with all her friends!

On Wednesday we leave for the boat show! The boat show is going to ROCK this year! A bunch of our cruising friends (sadly not all) are going to be there. And we're all staying on the same dock. We're going to be driving down, but we'll be staying on an empty boat. They kids are mega excited to see all of their cruising friends. It'll be like the Bahamas again! I really miss everyone and can't wait to see them again! Then we'll have to convince everyone to travel together again as well. Oh! and I'm going to buy the MEGA tub of Prisim Polish! That stuff is awesome!

We'll be at the boat show until Monday and then it's back to work. The following weekend is Chris's cousin's wedding, his 20 year high school reunion AND his Mother's birthday. That is going to be quite the weekend!

Now we're just going through the list in our heads of everything we need to do before we pull away from the dock. We have to get supplies that are easy to get with a car, stock up on food, and get project supplies. Oh yea, we never did get all those projects finished. We did however get our cap rail sanded and painted. Thanks to my dad for doing the sanding!!!!! I got 2 coats on the back half of the boat and 4 coats on the front. We need to have 6 coats total on both the front and back sections. Last week was rainy, so no painting got done. Hopefully this week will be sunnier!

So I think things are going to start getting a little crazy, but in a good way, from here on. I'll try to post more often as our cruising life gets back in order!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dutch Invasion!!!

Kristen here - Today is Monday 9/21/09. Nope, I didn't jump off a bridge after my last post. I was mad at the world and needed to vent. Thanks for listening. I figure what good is this blog if I don't say what I'm feeling. It would be kind of boring and fake. Cruising, like life, has its ups and downs and I'm gonna share them both.

This weekend we went to visit Chris's grandpa, my children's great grandpa. This guy is simply amazing. He is 97 years old and is still quite together. He can still remember everything and even read without glasses! He was in the hospital because he fell, and is having some other problems. The funny part was that he was upset because he was missing bingo back at the assisted living home. I'm glad we're here now and able to spend some time with him while we still can. Everything happens for a reason. He needs blood transfusions more and more frequently, so I'm guessing that his lucidity won't last much longer. I can only hope that we're in such good shape when we're 97!

On Sunday we had two birthday parties. I was so excited for double birthday cake day! Birthday cake is my absolute favorite. And if you pair it with chocolate ice cream I will just go nuts! I woke up that morning with a big smile and thought to myself, "MMmmmmmm today is double cake day!". Then I went for a four mile run in preparation for the massive amounts of cake.

The first party was for a friend of Kaitlin's. Her friend's dad is part owner of a Games2U van, and that was the party. The van is loaded with monitors and video screens. It also comes with outdoor laser tag, and a giant hamster ball. The hamster ball is the biggest attraction. Once that thing comes out it's all over. The kids don't want to do anything else. But can you blame them? It's a giant blow up ball with an inner chamber that you strap yourself to the inside and roll around in. The kids just go wild over it!

The next party was my brother's birthday. His children set up a restaurant and served everyone dinner. We had fresh mozzarella and tomatoes from their garden for an appetizer. There was a choice of quesadillas, lasagna, or burgers for dinner. Finally dessert was a sugar cookie with fresh whipped cream and blueberries! It wasn't cake, but my gosh it was super yummy! While we were there, we told them about our penny stove. They thought it would be a great project for my nephew's boy scout troop, and asked Casey if he could teach it to the group. Casey was a little worried about so many kids working with sharp cans and dremmel tools, but I think he was a little honored too. And, yes, we mentioned the explosion and they weren't even phased! I have a brave brother and sister-in-law

When the kids and I got back from my brothers house, we discovered quite a bit more boats at the yacht club. Chris said that while we were gone, and while he was at the laundromat, a fleet of Dutch boats arrived. Apparently they were going to dock a little farther up the river, next to Albany, but someone miscalculated and didn't take the bridge into consideration. Most of their ships wouldn't fit under it! Bonus for us though! These ships are simply amazing. They don't have keels under the ship, they have flat bottoms. Their keels are boards on the side of the boat that can be pulled up to enter shallow water.

Apparently the Dutch boats were shipped over here and then they sailed up the Hudson River to Albany. I think they're going to be here for a while, so if you're in the area, come down to the Yacht Club and check them out. They are beautiful! On the downside, there is a lot more competition for the showers in the morning now!

I find it kinda funny that Kaitlin is supposed to be studying New York history this year, particularly the Dutch and Colonial periods and already we've seen Dutch ships, gone to a Dutch museum, gone to the NY museum, and the Hudson museum in Kingston. All that and we haven't even started school yet! Although when I asked her how long ago Henry Hudson sailed here, she told me 4 years ago. I think she needs to pay a bit more attention at the museums!

Today was Monday and it was back to work. I kinda look forward to Mondays though. It's a whole week to get things done. Things are picking up, and work is getting accomplished. I have a good feeling that this is a turning point and things will only get better. Don't tell Chris I said that though, because he'll say I'm jinxing us!

Thanks to everyone for hanging in there even though we're not sailing. We'll be out on the high seas again soon enough I'm sure!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I'm still alive!

Kristen here - Today is Thursday 9/17/09. I've learned a lot since we've come back. I've learned that I hate sitting on by butt all day. I hate being indoors. I hate staring at a tiny computer screen. I hate driving to get my groceries. I hate not having time to do the things I enjoy. I hate being stressed and yelling at everyone because I have no patience. I hate being hyper emotional because I don't know what our future holds. I hate trying to figure out how I'm going to work full time and still home school the children. But most of all, more that all these things put together times a million, I hate not being with my husband and kids all the time.

The fact that this is so heart wrenching to deal with tells me that families were meant to be together like we have been. Even after a few days of being apart, Casey and Kaitlin said they hate not being with us. I felt the same way. I try to tell myself that this is not forever, it is only temporary. We used to live like this, we can do it again for a while. We've only been gone for 8 months. Snap out of it.

At the office, when I'm sitting at my desk, every time I hear footsteps I hope it's one of the kids coming to see me. I can chat with them for a bit, but then I have to ask them to return to the training room so I can work. They've been spending most of their time in the training room, playing on the computers. We also have an x-box set up in the kitchen area. Tomorrow I think I'll bring some school books for them to peruse.

We're still in the process of obtaining this years school books. As soon as we get them we'll officially start school.

I think back to when we went to the last Annapolis boat show. We went to a cruising family seminar. I sat and listened to one family talk about how it was no problem to transition from a cruising life back to a land life. I remember thinking at the time that they were insane. I was right. Either that or they were being paid off! When we visited our friends from AllyCat after they returned home, they said they were having trouble being back as well. Now I understand.

I miss the simple life. There were few choices, so you rarely had to choose. OK, so there was the occasional life threatening storm, but its worth it. We had to pull together, deal with the storm and then it was over. Now the threats are more complex and dealing with them is out of our control and they go on forever. There is no definitive end. Now there is no satellite weather showing when the cloud will pass over you. Come to think of it, there is no warning when the cloud will hit either.

I guess I can't expect sympathy. Everyone has to work, it's a fact of life. But to have found happiness and have it ripped away from you is difficult. When we left I was at my wits end. Maybe that's why I wanted to go so badly. Then I found a life where I didn't have to exercise my butt off at 6 in the morning to remain skinny. I could sit and read a book for more than 5 minutes and not fall asleep. And even if I did fall asleep it was OK. My husband was happy. The children were learning, happy, and being active. Now its back to wits end again.

The good side? I've learned that Chris is truly a changed man. He is much happier dealing with all of this than I ever dreamed he would be. Our trip really has changed him. I would almost go so far as to say he has become an optimist! Well maybe not that big of a change, but he has a better outlook on life than he used to. It's funny because I used to be the positive one, and Chris would be the one planning on the world coming to an end. Now I'm the one curled up in a little ball, and he's the one saying that I'm crazy and everything will be fine.

Time will tell, and it's nothing short of "H E double hockey sticks" working and waiting to see what happens. And even if we end up stopping here, I will always be grateful for the life changing opportunity we have had. But that won't happen, and I know we'll be back out there soon!!!!!!!!!

On the lighter side, Casey and I made this totally awesome camp stove this past weekend! If you go to and look up penny stove you'll find it. It really works and it's free to make. So far we've roasted marshmallows and crescent rolls dipped in cinnamon sugar over it. The thing is truly amazing, and it collapses into the size of a three inch tall juicy juice can! Oh, and we only blew it up once. Remember...not *too* much fuel in the priming area.

So life isn't too miserable. We're having fun still when we can. I apologize for not writing, but it's much easier to ignore everything rather than hash it all out again here. Keep your fingers crossed, and stimulate the economy! Poke it hard if you have to! Buy a car! And if you know of anyone who needs an IT solution in the upstate NY and surrounding area, send them to Buy a router! We need to keep sailing!

I'm working on it...

Chris here... Amazing how much work it is to work! We're leaving every morning at 8 or 8:30, and then we don't get back until 6:30 or 7 every night. I apologize for the lack of blog entries. I'm working on getting Kristen to do one soon, but I'll update y'all shortly if she doesn't. Real quick - we're still plugging away but things are starting to come together at the office. We MAY be able to get out of here at some point, but we're still looking at October at the earliest. We may be chasing everyone down the waterway in the snow again, but at least we're hoping to be back out.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Hello all! Chris here! What a couple of weeks it has been. Kristen and I have been mostly full time at the office, and we've been working to keep the kids somewhat entertained during the entire time. Between hanging out with friends, going to Kristen's parent's house and sitting them in our office break room with the XBox, pool table, air hockey and other fun stuff, we've covered everything except for school. It's been a couple of weeks since we last sat them down with their schoolbooks, but we figure that we can call it Summer break.

We're holed up at the Albany Yacht Club for the next few weeks. It's a good place with decent facilities and the people there have been nice to talk to. What more can you ask? It's been kind of strange having two cars (we left them in the care of one of the people from my office when we left) when we're mostly used to walking or using public transportation in most places. I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing - when you have so much accessible to you, you feel like you need to take advantage of it. I think it was a wonderful decision to bring Pelican up here since coming home to her always puts a smile on our faces. Also, having her here allows us (and Poppi) to do some work on her, such as refinishing the cap rail, and maintenance on our dinghy outboards and generator.

Speaking of maintenance, we found a small problem when we were in Norfolk. Apparently, since we haven't used it since we left Florida in February, the cap on our holding tank pump out (which allows us to get rid of all of our stored "waste products" without pumping them out to the surrounding water, a necessity when you're in closed waters such as the Hudson River) was frozen shut. We tried a million different things, including the use of our gentle persuader (rubber mallet) and our not-so-gentle persuader (hammer) and it just wouldn't budge. We almost used heat from our propane torch until we remembered that the tank would be full of methane gas. Probably not a good idea to put fire near that! Anyway, we ordered a new cap and took the old one off the end of the hose from the holding tank and gave it to Poppi to try to open. From what he told us, it took heating it to red hot and then banging on it with a sledgehammer to finally open it! When he did, he found that the "stainless steel" cap was completely rusted at the base of its threads! Knowing that there are a few varieties of stainless, he took it to his trusty magnet and found that the cap was magnetic. Apparently, it was most likely 304 stainless, which can rust, as opposed to 316, which doesn't. Unfortunately, the new cap we bought is slightly smaller than the old one, so we'll have to epoxy the old spot and drill new holes. Oh well - no boat project is easy.

Getting back to work has been interesting. I find the parallels in cruising and business to be amazing! I'll share with y'all a few things that cruising has taught me over the last nine months. I apologize in advance for possibly coming across as preachy, but when I find a soapbox I enjoy standing on it.

Lesson one: Always be ready to change. I posted on my Facebook account the other day that "Meeting about change is not the same thing as changing." Over the past couple of weeks I've noticed a big aversion to change at my organization. Everyone wants to talk about it, but few step up and embrace it. Decision making goes right along with this too - everyone wants to talk about the fact that a decision has to be made, but nobody wants to be the one to do it. I used to be the same exact way, but cruising has changed that for me. In the fairly unprotected waters of the Bahamas we'd listen to Chris Parker's weather forecasts on a daily basis. When arriving at most islands, we'd want to stay for several days, but every so often Chris would forecast nasty weather or wind arriving in a couple of days. We were always ready to pull up our anchor within 5-10 minutes and to move to a different location. If we didn't make an immediate decision, and we weren't willing to change our location, we'd potentially put ourselves in danger. If we waited to make the decision, the opportunity to change would pass us by and it would be too late. In business, we tend to be the same way - we have meeting after meeting about what we need to do, but the opportunity to take advantage of a situation often passes us by before we seize a hold of it.

Lesson two - Always be prepared, always have the right tools - and know how to use them - to understand your situation, and always hope for the best but prepare for the worst. A couple of weeks ago we got hit by a storm packing 70mph winds. We knew it was coming since we had been watching it all afternoon on our Sirius satellite weather system. We had contacted the Coast Guard to ask them what to expect and they told us 12mph-15mph winds. Looking at all of the reds, oranges and yellows, and all of the lightning strikes, showing on the satellite display, we knew it was going to be much worse than that. We hoped we would be wrong, but we decided to prepare for the worst. We shortened our sails. We tied everything down. We discussed in great detail what everyone's roles were if we got hit badly. And then it hit, but we were ready so we all knew what to do and nothing was damaged, and we weren't hurt. We had prepared. In business, all to often I find people surprised when something happens - we don't get a purchase order in when expected, we don't get paid on time, someone calls in sick on the day of an important meeting. We need to spend more time preparing for the unexpected. We need to understand the tools we have available to us to predict what we don't see today. We need to get the tools we don't yet have.

Which leads me into lesson 3 - Communications is key. Do you think if I had kept my mouth shut when I first saw the storm on the Sirius that we would have made it through? Do you think that if I didn't call out wind speeds and what Pelican was doing while we had 70mph winds pushing us along that we would have survived? I can say the answer to both questions is a qualified "NO". As soon as I saw that we were on a course to potential danger, I spoke up. That enabled the rest of the crew (Kristen and Poppi) to also watch the storm and allowed us to have the opportunity to prepare. There was no reason to weather it myself - everyone who would have a part in our path through it needed to be involved as soon as the I saw the danger. Likewise, if I didn't share with Kristen and Poppi how Pelican was steering and what the windspeed was doing they wouldn't have been able to adjust the sails accordingly and we could have easily broken our rig. Instead, we communicated everything, to a fault, before and during the storm. In business, people often see that an organization is having an issue with something - whether it's customer service related, employee related, financial related, short-term or long-term, is irrelevant. It is absolutely critical that everyone in a business speak up as soon as they identify an issue, large or small, to give the people there the opportunity to fix it. Period. There is absolutely no excuse for anyone at any level to keep their mouth shut. I actually run my business this way, with communications occurring at all levels, from myself down, and I expect from my engineers and account team up.

Lesson four - control only what you can, and don't let the things you can't control get you down. Weather, wind, waves, etc. are all things you can't control. There is absolutely no reason to let things you can't control upset you. There's nothing you can do about them, so why freak out? One of the most overused phrases these days is "it is what it is", but I think it's fairly accurate in most cases. So you can't go to the next island right away. So you miss an event that you wanted to attend. Oh well! The only thing you can affect is the future, not the past (unless you're the press), so why get in the dumps about it? Business is the same way. So you lost a deal - find a new one. So an employee quit - use it as an opportunity to find someone better. So business sucks - figure out why, and fix it! You can feel sorry for yourself, or you figure out a way to make things better.

Last but not least, one of the most important lessons I think - lesson five - A day is what you make of it. If you pay attention to lesson four and don't let everything bug you, you can keep your days incredibly positive. Everyone keeps asking me how I can be so jovial every day, considering that our business is having issues, we're taking a break from our cruise, and we have to work again every day. If I let it get me down, every day would just, well, suck! I have no interest in every day sucking, so I enter each day with a positive attitude. I walk into my office with a big smile on my face, and I do my darndest to keep it there all day. It is absolutely amazing how infectious a positive attitude can be!

So - we're here, we're working on making our company better, and we know we can make it happen if we listen to our own rules. We still need to find a ton of new business to get things better, but we're working hard to make it happen. By the way - I'm looking for new "Linked In" buddies, so look up "Chris Labatt-Simon" and "Kristen Labatt-Simon" on Linked In and send us an invite! Talk to y'all soon!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Reminders, Reminders

Chris here... Well, we made it to Albany! We left on Sunday morning and arrived at the Albany Yacht Club by 4:30pm. I had actually planned on arriving late evening, at around 7 or 8pm, as the current was supposed to be against us the whole way. By around 2pm we managed to break out of the ebb tide and our speed rapidly increased, allowing us to arrive in Albany in time for dinner.

We arrive in Albany with mixed emotions. On the one hand, it's wonderful to see our friends, family and co-workers. On the other hand, we had expected to be cruising, without stopping in the middle, until at least August of 2010. They pull the docks out of the water here around the first or second week of October, so we're really hoping to get things on track with our business by then. I'm not sure what we'll do if we can't.

On Monday morning, Chad, the person who I promoted to President of our company, arrived at the Yacht Club to pick us up. One advantage of being here is that we never sold my cars, so we have two cars to use. One of them is a little sports car and isn't very good in the rain, but somehow we'll manage to make do (that was me being a little sarcastic).

So Chad picked us up and brought both Kristen and I to our office. The kids stayed behind with Poppi, who brought them up to his house later in the day. Kristen and I dove right into work with an 8:30 combined sales and engineering meeting, and we worked hard throughout the day until we left to pick up the kids at 5pm. The good news is that it looks like there's lots of opportunity to change things up. Obviously, things aren't working the way we're doing them right now, which is the reason we're here. Chad and company have been doing a great job, but they've been staring at the problems for too long. Kristen and I can take an outside view and see things we can immediately affect, and we're already implementing changes after only having been at the office for two days.

Today, we once again worked throughout the day, and I called an impromptu brain storming session for 5pm. I'd like our company to focus its efforts more, so I invited everyone who works there to participate in an ad hoc session to define our focus. Casey called while we were in the meeting and said that he and Kaitlin could stay at Kristen's parents for the night, so we told him that would work out well since we didn't know how long we'd be. Kristen's parents live about an hour from our office, so it would be pretty late before we got there, and then back to the boat. Kristen and I were both tired, so we thought it might be nice to have an evening to ourselves with a nice dinner out.

So we left the office and started heading to a great Mediterranean restaurant near where Pelican is. On the way, we once again spoke to Casey who told us that both of Kristen's parents seemed somewhat exhausted. We had discussed a few weeks ago as to what it would mean to be back here working, but the realization hit us that it meant we couldn't spend nearly as much time with our kids. Our conversation rapidly degraded into an emotional discussion of how we'd balance work, time with the kids, schoolwork and sanity. We need to make sure the kids school continues, and we can't make latch-key kids out of them, leaving them alone on the boat each day. At the same time, we realized it would be unfair (and logistically tough) to have Kristen's parents watch them every day. After spending almost every day with Casey and Kaitlin for the last nine months, is was heartwrenching to realize that we couldn't continue that while we were here. Unfortunately, we still don't have a good answer as to what we're going to do. If we want to return to cruising by October, Kristen and I both have a lot on our plates, but we'll have to sacrifice our family and sanity to make it happen. On the other hand, if we don't do that, there's a good possibility we won't get back to a life that's never been happier.

It was during this discussion that I realized that a nice dinner out was the last thing we were interested in. It would have been miserable, with the two of us just staring at each other and knowing that tough decisions are coming. I decided that Chinese Food and a movie seemed much more palatable at this time, so I turned the car around and we headed to our favorite Chinese Restaurant (Yip's) for some takeout.

While there we sat down at the bar and talked with Yip's owner, Jimmy. I asked how he was doing and he said that things are OK, but just OK. Apparently, he handed over control of his restaurant to his nephew a year ago, hoping to greatly reduce his time working, and then the stock market tanked. As a result he's working full time, and then some, still.

A little bit later two women walked by the bar (it's right at the entrance/exit of the restaurant). They stopped to talk to Jimmy, and he asked how they were doing. "Well, I'm battling both brain cancer and lung cancer," one of the women remarked. "I feel good though," she continued. Kristen and I looked at each other and both realized that our troubles were almost selfish in nature in comparison to what this woman had to deal with on a daily basis. We've been incredibly fortunate to have even nine months of cruising together as a family, and we're strong enough to figure out what needs to happen, and then to make it happen. There are reminders everywhere that life is short and that you need to seize the opportunities as they arise, and we've been good at that so far. We are very fortunate for that. Hearing the woman's matter of fact voice, mentioning her terminal illnesses in casual conversation as if she was discussing the weather, were a stark reminder of just how lucky we are.

With that, we will get our company on the track to strength, we will get back to cruising, we will be strong as a family, and we will continue to follow our dream.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Haverstraw to Kingston

Kristen here - Today is Saturday 8/22/09. We had yet another exciting journey up from Haverstraw. Chris checked the weather on Friday morning and it was decision time once again. There were supposed to be thunderstorms in the afternoon. I looked around at the sky and there were dark clouds hanging above us. I think they're following us. Chris has this theory that the farther our journey is, the worse the storm will be. With that reasoning Haverstraw to Kingston shouldn't be all that bad. I figured that things couldn't get all that bad on the Hudson, at least compared to the ocean!

I voted for leaving and we did so around 8:30. It was a bit cloudy but overall the morning was uneventful. I napped for a while in the morning while Chris and Poppi steered the boat.

Oh! I forgot to mention that the boat had it's old starting problem again when we left NYC. It started after a minute or so, but had the same problem that we encountered while we were in the Bahamas. Poppi, Chris and I have been brainstorming about what the problem could be, and now we have a bunch of new ideas and projects to tackle. The engine had been working just fine ever since I installed the new anti-siphon valve, so we thought that had been the problem. Maybe it was and this was just a fluke, or maybe it wasn't. We'll wait and see if it happens again.

There are a couple of other things I forgot to mention about our time in Norfolk. First was our wonderful visit with some blog readers. Chris, Karen and their three sons came to see the boat and then we all went to their house for dinner. Our kids had a blast sitting on a real couch and playing video games. We took a look at their catamaran and talked about cruising. They are planning on cruising in the next few years. Their kids seemed to have other ideas though. We had an awesome time just sitting and talking for hours. Thanks so much guys, and we hope you get out there soon!

The other thing we forgot to mention was our ride on the American Rover in Norfolk. This was a beautiful tall ship that was docked right in front of us. We watched the captain and crew go out many times during our stay, and got to know them. The captain invited Pelican and Miakoda to go for a ride. We had an amazing time. The tall ship actually put up all its sails and turned off the engine. We sailed up the Elizabeth river and learned about the sights. Chris talked to the Captain for the whole ride. On the sail back, there was a roving guitar player and singer that sang and entertained the kids. One of the crew taught Kaitlin, Ally and Emma about knots and kept them generally entertained. We had the most amazing time, and that's coming from people who are getting a bit tired of boat rides!

Ok, back to our trip to Kingston. Once again Chris pointed out a storm on the satellite weather. It was about 20 miles to our west and moving north. If it kept its path it would continue to run parallel to us for a while. There was a slight easterly component that was bringing it closer to us, but not too quickly. Oh god, I thought, not again!

So for a half hour or so we watched the path of the storm and tried to figure out if we would beat it to Kingston. We were trying to make it to the Hudson River Maritime Museum which is up Roundout Creek which branches off the Hudson. My guess, with our luck, is that the storm would hit us just as we entered the creek. With less maneuvering ability, that would be a big problem. If it hit us on the Hudson we would have much more room to head into or away from the wind. I decided that we should find a safe haven as soon as possible.

We passed a marina and gave them a call. No luck. They only had four feet at their docks. At this point we can see the line of clouds running parallel to us. A slight rumble of thunder is heard off in the distance. A little way up the river I can see some sailboat masts docked and moored. With the binoculars we can see that it is the Poughkeepsie Yacht Club. We gave them a call and explained our situation. They said we could take a mooring at no charge for a couple of hours to ride the storm out. Thanks!

Oh, and we had also called ahead to the Kingston Maritime Museum to reserve a spot there. We still had hope that we would be reaching there sometime that afternoon. The way this storm looked though, once it hit us, we would be stuck in it for a while. It was quite long and skinny, but it was traveling in the same direction as us.

So we grabbed the mooring and I sat and watched the storm approach. While we were waiting, the guy on the boat moored next to us hopped in his dinghy and came over. He informed us that a storm was approaching. LOL! We showed him our satellite weather. We talked about storms with him, and he informed us that boats had been hit by lightning at the yacht club before. "Come to think of it", he said "one was on this mooring". "Great!" I thought to myself. The storm appeared over the mountain on the west side of the Hudson. Big black clouds and, once again, multiple lightning strikes were seen to the north and south of us. We were all up top watching the storm and generally joking around about our tendencies to get into these situations. Yup, after a while it just becomes comical!

Then we saw the wall of heavy rain approaching. Up to this point we were ALL huddled in the lee side of the boat under the dodger. This was no small feat to squeeze into this last dry area of the cockpit. While laughing uncontrollably, we all started screaming and scrambling to get below before the heavier rain drenched us. While below we watched a movie until the rain subsided. I don't know what it is, but for some reason I like to be up top when storms are going on. I am always amazed by the power they hold. This time, though, I have had enough of watching storms and getting drenched.

Before the movie was even over, the heavy rain and thunder and wind stopped and we were left with just a drizzle. It was around 6:00 PM, so we decided to push on to Kingston. The rest of the journey was uneventful, and we made our left turn from the Hudson to Roundout Creek. Once we entered the creek, I knew we had made the right decision to stop earlier. This was a deep but narrow area. The dock we were assigned to tie up to ran parallel to the shore. The thing that made it interesting was that it ended about 4 feet from a bridge that was lower than our mast. Hope we make it on the first try! Once again, Chris did an excellent job of bringing us in and we made it to the dock with our mast in one piece! YAY! Also, he managed to miss the antique steamboat docked about 20 feet behind us. Talk about your tricky parallel parking jobs!

The steamboat was one of 5 that were here for the museum's annual steamboat day. The next day, Saturday, we decided to hang out to see the steamboats, the museum and explore the town. The museum had many displays about Henry Hudson and the Halfmoon. There were actually three Halfmoons since the first one was used by Hudson. The last of which sails up and down the Hudson today. It also had exhibits of ice boats, steamships, steam engines, brick making and ice making. We talked with one of the steamship builders whose boat was docked behind us. He had built two small steamships and was thinking about building one more. He gave us a tour of his engine and answered a ton of questions. Casey seemed quite fascinated by the whole thing. The engine was completely exposed so you could see all the moving parts. Water, steam and oil were squirting out from various areas of the engine. It was quite a sight to see.

In the morning, before we went out for the day, our carbon monoxide detector went off. This was quite odd because we didn't have anything running that produces carbon monoxide. The only thing we could think of was the exhaust from the steam ship that could be blowing into our boat. We went over and talked to one of the captains and asked if their exhaust produced carbon monoxide. "No more than a burning fire", he said. We aired out the boat a bit and left the hatch open. After a while the alarm went off and stayed off. We're chalking it up to the steamship exhaust.

After going to the museum, we decided to walk up the creek a bit and look for an old lock and waterfall. We heard someone mention earlier that those sights were up the creek no more than 1/2 mile. After a mile or so we gave up and headed back towards the boat. I had seen a Stewart's shopping bag earlier, and so we got talking about Stewart's. Chris looked it up on his GPS and we found that there was one .6 miles away. Well, that must have been as the crow flies, because I think we ended up walking another mile, most of which was up hill! It was worth it though! We had the best ice cream ever! Chris and Casey even got make your own sundaes! It was another mile back to the boat, so we figured we had earned it.

Well, half the reason we decided to stay today was because there was a 70% chance of thunderstorms. And you know what? It didn't storm even once! Go figure. You just gotta love our luck. Chris says there is only a 20% chance tomorrow, so I'm sure we'll get hit by a tornado or something. Next stop Albany!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Norfolk to NYC (Super long entry)

Kristen here – Today is Monday 8/17/09. At just before midnight I came up to start my watch. Chris said he was thankful I woke up on my own because he was starting to fall asleep. That’s early for him. I’m currently watching a blinking red light off our starboard side. A blinking red light means buoy, but there is no buoy in that position on the chart. It could be a ship getting obscured and unobscured by waves, but the waves aren’t that big. Whatever it is, I’ll sure be glad when it is behind us.

This morning we left at 8:00 and went across the Elizabeth River to get fuel. Our marina didn’t have a fuel dock. After topping off our tanks, we headed out. Today the weather was beautiful. It was sunny, warm and breezy. As always I’ve been a bit nervous about this trip for the past few days. Nothing constant, but every once in a while I get a flash of worry or some sort of bad image in my head. As we headed out, I didn’t feel it. The day was too nice for anything to go wrong.

As we approached the bridge marking the barrier between ocean and bay I thought I saw large breaking waves. Then my heart started to flutter. Here we go again! When we got a little closer I realized I had been mistaken and the ocean was quite calm. One foot rollers with a five second period surrounded us for miles. It was a beautiful sight.

That red blinking light is off our starboard rear now. I still have no idea what it is. Sometimes it seems to blink brighter. Other times it is just a small red speck.

As we’re heading out of the channel past the bridge and into the ocean, I look over my left shoulder and see a coast guard boat coming up behind us, and I mean RIGHT behind us. I remember from other people’s accounts that they like you to maintain your same heading and speed, so I threw us onto autopilot. When they were next to us, one of them asked when the last time we were boarded was. Chris told them that we had never been boarded before. And with that, our first coast guard inspection commenced.

At about 11:50, I held my tongue as their boat bumped against my newly polished hull. These are the men who will risk their lives to rescue us when called upon. They have nothing but my utmost respect.

[Chris here - she may have held her tongue to the Coasties, but she immediately blurted out to me - "They better not scuff all the work I did on the hull!!!". I was a little nervous about getting a "Safety Check" as I've heard numerous people talk about how meticulous the Coast Guard can be. I had all sorts of visions of fines and mistakes going through my head. What if I couldn't get the life jackets out quickly? Would we get fined for not having them close enough? I was pretty sure our flares were not expired, but not completely sure. I had lots of thoughts running through my head. As they approached, I threw on a big smile, opened up our side gate and said "Welcome aboard Pelican!"]

As they went through their checklist, I was not nervous. Chris is Mr. Safety and definitely has everything to be compliant and then some.

Chris did a great job finding PFD’s that were buried in the shower, garbage placards, air horns, and flares. He answered all the questions and we scored 100% for safety. YAY!! No tickets for us.

[Chris here... What Kristen didn't see was me throwing everything out of our shower storage area while I insanely dug for our buried cheap orange life jackets! As soon as he asked for the jackets, I started the "clock".. I've heard of people having problems when they can't get to the jackets in time. We normally wear our auto-inflate jackets but they only count if you're wearing them, so we had to grab our "USCG safety inspection/use in the dinghy to meet requirements" lifejackets. We actually told them that we'd never wear them as opposed to our inflatables, and they heartily agreed - they wouldn't either, but the law is the law. When the kids heard we were being boarded, they actually grabbed their lifejackets and put them on while below! When I ran by them, I noticed they were wearing them and wondered why. Then the coasties asked to see our flares, so I pulled out our ditch bag and they kind of realized at that point that we were somewhat well equipped. I started randomly grabbing flares out - hmmm, this one's expired, and so is this one, but then I found my newest stash of parachute flares and SOLAS flares, and they don't expire until 2012! Yippee! By the way, you need a "Garbage Disposal Plan" on board that says what you will do with your garbage. It's acceptable to grab a blank sheet of paper and handwrite "We will throw out all trash in the appropriate receptacles upon arrival at a dock". Who knew?]

We’ve read horror stories about the USCG giving people a really hard time, but these guys were quite nice. We welcomed them aboard, and I believe that made all the difference. Some people think it is a violation of our rights for the USCG to inspect a personal vessel. The fire department doesn’t randomly inspect your house, right? I understand that point of view, but don’t agree with it. We’ve been hightailing it into a harbor in the very worst of storms and watched the coast guard on the way out. On Lake Champlain they talked us through a bad storm until we were safe. I have no qualms with the USCG at all. Oh yea, and they didn’t even leave a single mark on the hull!

[Chris again... Once again, I think that once he saw me pull out the organized binder with all of the boat information, the ditch bag, etc., he knew we were OK. By the end, he was just asking me questions like - "Do you have an oil placard? Where is it?" I'd ask him if he wanted to see it, and he'd just say not to worry about it. This was after he already saw our garbage placard.]

We took pictures of the guys, thanked them for their service and sent them on their way. Oddly enough, about ½ hour later another different coast guard boat started pulling up aside us. We yelled that we were just inspected ½ hour ago! They waved and drove away. Too funny!

[Chris here... If by waved, Kristen means that we held them at bay using a small caliber machine gun mounted on the bow while the kids lobbed flash-bangs at them.. OK, maybe too far fetched.]

The blinking red light is far gone, and now I am watching a solid white light in front of me. It is most definitely a ship. It must be either very small or very far off because it isn’t showing up on my radar. Every time I look up it has moved about a foot along the horizon. That seems to be quite fast. Therefore, I’m going with a big ship that will cross well in front of us. Just a couple of minutes have passed and it has already moved past my bow and over to our port side.

With our new fish cutting table, thanks to Poppi, we are able to fish once again! Today we caught three fish! None of them made it to the table though. One was too small, and the other two jumped off the hook. All of them were small bluefish.

We passed through a few pods of dolphins, but none of them decided to swim with us. I hope that happens at some point on this trip for Poppi to see.

At 2:30 AM Casey popped his head up to report a funny noise coming from the engine. Chris and Poppi got up, listened to it for a while and tried tightening the alternator belt. I went down and tried touching various engine parts to see if they were vibrating. The noise sounded like an electrical zapping, a vibration or a broom swishing kind of sound. Nobody could figure it out, so for now we’ll just have to keep an eye…err ear on it.

Poppi came up at 3:30 and I told him it was still too early. He wasn’t due until 4AM. At 4AM I went below and woke Casey up. He wanted to do the watch with Poppi.

I went to bed at 4AM and had the best sleep while under way ever. Knowing that Poppi, Chris and Casey were at the helm was very reassuring. The seas were still calm, so I was able to sleep in the forward berth. Having it all to myself, I sprawled out to the fullest extent. What a treat!

[Chris here... notice a pattern here? This was the start of both Poppi's and my sleep deprivation. Overnight we passed by the base of Delaware River, a major shipping channel. When Poppi first came on watch he commented that he couldn't see a ship to our right on the radar. I hit the "Zoom Out" button, and all of a sudden FIVE ships popped up on radar. After talking to Poppi and Casey after I slept for a couple of hours, they said they were glad when we were past the shipping lanes!]

Hunger and waves woke me up on Tuesday morning. The seas had picked up some and the boat was rolling a bit. They were coming from behind, so it was a rolling motion instead of an up and down pounding motion. I got up and made fried eggs and buttered toast for everyone.

[Chris here... Fried eggs and buttered toast from a woman who completed an Ironman??? Something must have been wrong here...]

During the day the waves continued to build. By the afternoon we had 5-7 footers coming from behind us. I was getting a bit more nervous and a bit less playful. We have dealt with this before, but when the seas build things become serious. It’s not the 5-7 footers that scare me, it’s the thought that they might get even bigger. The more we deal with big waves, though the less nervous I get. It used to be the 5-7 footers that scared the living daylights out of me. Now I’m fine with them. And you know what? If they get bigger we’ll deal with it. It’s just a lot less fun than a laid back, sit and enjoy a beer kind of trip.

Dinner on Tuesday night was interesting. The gimbaled stove was rocking to its fullest extent. I cooked up some pasta and vegetables. A jar of sauce was rolling back and forth on the counter waiting to be used. When everything was done cooking, I opened the jar of sauce and, not thinking, set it back on the counter. It only took a second before it hit the edge and started pouring onto the floor. Vodka sauce was everywhere. Luckily I caught it before we didn’t have enough for our dinner. Let me just say that Vodka sauce is very slippery and it is hard to get out from between your toes!

Just before dinner, Chris pointed out a storm on the Sirius satellite weather. It spanned the whole northern portion of the east coast. It was decision making time once again. I just love making these decisions. It seems that every time we come to this point we choose the wrong path. Last time we chose to head in and we got nailed as we were entering the Ponce De Leon inlet. Our friend that stayed out on the ocean said it wasn’t that bad. So, this time we chose to stay out. We had plenty of time to make it to Barnegat, but that inlet is known to be shoaly and only to be entered if you have local knowledge. The next inlet north was Manasquan which we wouldn’t be able to reach in time.

We began the preparations. It was 6:00 and the storm was about 30 miles away. Sirius showed it moving our direction at about 12 knots. That gives us about three hours. By this time, thank goodness, the waves had died down quite a bit. The winds were coming from the south, and we had traveled to a point where there was land to the south, blocking the wind and lessening the seas.

Our weather forecaster said there would be storms, but nothing that packed a punch. Winds were likely to stay around 12-15 knots. But when you look at the Sirius weather and see large areas of red (worst intensity) you begin to doubt.

At 7:00 Chris, Poppi and I all donned our foul weather gear. We checked the deck to make sure everything was tied down. The storm was now 20 miles away. Two hours to go. I lay down in the cockpit to get some rest. If the storm wasn’t bad, I would need to be rested for my 12:00 watch.

[Chris here... it was at this point I resigned myself to being up for the rest of the trip. I had only gotten about 3-4 hours of sleep the night before, none of it continuous, and I didn't nap during the day.]

Chris called the Coast Guard and asked what kind of wind was being reported at the leading edge of the storm. They said that NOAA was reporting 12-15 knots. I was napping in the cockpit at the time and gave out a small cheer.

[Chris here... one thing you learn VERY quickly when cruising is that the leading edge of a storm usually carries the biggest winds and the most lightning. In other words, it's the worst part of a storm. Normally, you should try to turn in a direction that will let the leading edge pass by you, preferring to allow a tail section to hit you instead. In this case, the leading edge was enourmous, and unless we could put a 1000hp engine into Pelican real quick, there was no way we were getting out of its way. Also, while the reds/oranges/yellows on the Sirius are a good indication of heavy weather, they aren't always perfect. Sometimes there is just a large amount of high level water density, and it shows up as orange or red. So, when the Coasties said the leading edge was 12-15kts I figured we should hope for the best but still plan for the worst. I figured we might get hit by some 30-40kt winds.]

At 8:00 the kids put themselves to bed. Chris, Poppi and I went over what we would do if high winds hit. The plan was to let out our Genoa just a smidge and heave to. This is a very common and extremely effective storm tactic. Basically you let out the sail at the bow of your boat while steering the rudder in the opposite direction. The two opposing forces balance the boat even in the very worst of wind and waves.

Part of our preparation was to reef the main sail. I don’t remember exactly when we did it, but at the time the seas were still pretty high. In order to reef or decrease the size of the main sail, we have to turn into the wind. This is particularly fun when the waves are large. With the waves behind us, we have to first turn so we are parallel to them and finally facing them. For the brief moment you are parallel to the waves, the boat rocks back and forth quite a bit.

Poppi and I got the lines ready and Chris began the turn. When we were headed into the wind I let the sail down a bit and tightened the reef lines. Half way through this procedure the oil pressure light came on. This is much like the check oil light on your car. When it comes on you MUST turn off the engine. This was the worst possible time for this to happen. In order to continue reefing the sail, we had to keep the boat facing into the wind. Normally we use the motor for that. Now it had to be accomplished in high seas with a sail that was loose and half down. Chris did an excellent job building up some speed and bringing the boat back into the wind. With no motor, I only had a few seconds to finish reefing. While doing this, Poppi went below to check the engine. I was extremely scared because I didn’t think we could sail the boat with a loose mainsail. I thought we were dead in the water. As it turns out, you can!

[Chris here... Kristen learned to have faith at that moment. I kept telling her not to worry - we're a sailboat first, and a powerboat if we need to be. Even with a partially reefed main drooping all over the place, all you have to do is turn down, get some speed, and then you can bring your nose back into the wind for a bit. The problem is that heading into the wind provides no lift on your sails. In other words, they can't push you forward, so eventually (very quickly) your speed drops to zero, you lose control, and you have to turn the boat in the appropriate direction to get some wind in the sails. Anyway, it was a bit tough keeping the boat in the wind, helping Kristen reef the main and keeping everyone calm at the same time, but we managed it. We guessed that if the storm hit us, we'd have winds in the 40kt range, so we put two reefs in the mainsail, bringing it down to about 65% of its normal size. We had talked a lot about heaving to, but I knew in my head that once the wind hit us there was no way we were going to be able to release just a small portion of our genoa (front sail). If we let out too much, the boat would be out of control. I was resigned to the fact that we'd be running if we didn't get the genoa out before the wind hit, but I refrained from speaking my thoughts.]

Poppi reported that we were quite low on oil and he added two quarts. We started the engine and no oil pressure light came on. As an added bonus, the funny zapping noise stopped as well.

So now we’re coming up to 8:30 and the storm is seven miles away. The three of us are awake and ready. This could be nothing, or it could be really, really bad. We continue to talk about what to do in different situations. We’re sticking with the heaving to tactic. The lines for the genny are untied and ready. Chris is steering and I am manning the main sheet. This is the line that controls the angle of the main sail. If we get slammed with a gust of wind, I need to let the sail out to spill the wind off.

Now it is 9:00. We still don’t know what is about to hit us. I’m grasping to the earlier 12-15 knot forecast. But, based on our past experiences and the satellite weather, my gut says be ready. The seas are about 2-3 feet, calm by our standards. Chris says that the red portion of the storm is upon us. Our sail is double reefed and we can bring it down to a third reef if it becomes necessary. We have gone over heave to procedures. “Ninety degrees is out to sea.” I keep repeating to myself. If we need to run downwind and lose visibility, we need to remember which way is away from land. We have two ships in sight. One is a faint white light and another is a larger yellowish light. They are quite a distance off and not too much of a worry. They move fast though, so we need to keep track of them. If the rain gets heavy, the radar can’t see the ships through the raindrops. We will have to rely on our eyes.

[Chris here... the problem with the ship's location is that they were on a marked ship approach/departing lane to and from New York City. In other words, right this second we had two ships out there, but it could rapidly increase. We have radar on board, which we heavily rely upon when it's dark out or it's foggy, but when you have heavy rain the radar beams just bounce off of it and the screen is just filled with returns. In other words, when the rain hits, all you can see is the rain on the radar - not other ships. If we had to turn to run out to sea, we would potentially cross that sea lane after about 5 miles. With heavier winds, that 5 miles could be within 45 or less minutes, and that's a lot of time for new ships to show up. Anyway, it was just one of many thoughts going through my head. I was a nervous wreck as I watched the storm approach, as the unknown scares the, well it scares me.]

Up to this point we have been watching the lightning all around us. Oh yes…I forgot to mention the lightning. There was no thunder yet. This tells us that the lightning is far away. Knowing it was no threat at the time, we could enjoy the show. Poppi and I saw three streaks run across the sky at the same time, flashing rapidly 3-5 times in a row. These were strikes where someone could say, “Whoah!” and it would still be going when you turned your head. There were tons of cloud to ground strikes over whatever city was to our left. It was all heading our way. We were prepared and ready.

[Chris here... Prepared and ready is a relative term. So is "enjoy the show". I was watching the frequency, duration and brightness of the lightning and knew that it was more than deadly. When there's a streak, and you have enough time to turn to someone else on the boat and say "Look at that!" and they can still see it, you know you're in for a treat!]

It was sometime after 9PM, I’m not quite sure exactly when. Chris said, “Here comes the wind.” With about a second pause between each number he calls out, “Twenty, thirty, forty.” Between thirty and forty knots I let out the main sail. Chris said, “Don’t let it out too far.” By this time I had let our mainsail almost all the way out. We were in the thick of the storm. I was holding on to the mainsheet ready to let it out the last couple of feet if we needed to. “We’re running now!” Chris yelled. All of our preparations to heave to were out the window. According to our wind meter, the wind was blowing at 50 knots (almost 60mph). There was no way we would be able to let the genny out now. I prayed that this was the worst of it.

[Guess who here! The wind hit us like a freight train. I barely had time to count it up to let Kristen know what was going on. It also shifted by about 120 degrees from where it was originally blowing. As I mentioned earlier, I knew there wasn't any way we'd be able to pull the front sail out safely. We could have done it, but it would have probably put us in more danger than running. We were fortunate that the seas were fairly low (2-4ft), otherwise running might have been a difficult option. When the wind first hit us, we had our mainsail sheeted in fairly hard (almost centered on the boat). As you come off the wind (turn away from the wind direction), you need to ease your sails out to let them catch the wind from behind you. The wind hit, and Pelican wanted to round up (head directly into the wind) due to the power in the sail. This is a natural state for a sailboat, but I had no interest in heading directly into 60mph winds. As I mentioned earlier, when you head directly into the wind, your boat eventually stops moving forward, and you lose control. Also, the sails and lines flog all over the place, potentially damaging themselves or other things around them. I couldn't imagine what our sails and lines flogging in 60mph winds would be like. Unfortunately, with the sail in so far, I couldn't get Pelican to turn downwind.

I yelled for Kristen to ease the main out and for Poppi to drop the traveller. This accomplished two things. Dropping the traveller changes the twist on the sail, making it so that more wind spills over the trailing edge. Letting the main out allowed me to turn the boat to keep the wind behind us. I've had people ask us why you run with a storm (i.e. keep the wind on your back). Think of it this way. You're a runner. There's a 10mph wind and you can run at 6mph. If you run facing the wind, it's like there's a 16mph wind hitting you, right? Now turn around and run at the same speed. Now it feels like there's a 4mph wind behind you. Running with the wind behind you reduces the forces on your boat and what's called the "Apparent Wind Speed", or the speed you "feel" when you account for your angle to the wind and your boat speed.]

Chris was holding on to the wheel and keeping the wind behind us. “Our boat speed is 8.4 knots.“ he announced. Darn, he broke the old record of 7.2 knots that I previously held. “8.4 knots,” I thought. Holy Cow that’s fast!

[Chris again... I saw 9.1kts at one point in time, but it was a quick blip and not sustained. This is WELL over the theoretical hull speed of our Passport 40. I just find it amazing that we only had a small smidgen of sail out and we were exceeding hull speed. I hate to say it, especially since we were in a somewhat dangerous situation, but I wanted to let out a bunch of WHOOPS of excitement while we were surfing downwind.]

“Where are those ships?” Chris said. Poppi and I looked around and saw nothing. If they got hit by lightening they would have generators for lights. The waves or wind must be obscuring them. There was no rain yet. We kept watching for them with no luck. “Don’t worry,” I told Chris. “They were far off”.

Flashes of lightning started hitting around us. They were so bright in the darkness that it would take a second to get your bearings after they hit. We heard the crack of thunder seconds after the flashes. They were close. Luckily they never hit too close. Not once do I remember a flash and a boom of thunder at the same exact time.

I yelled to Chris, “If you head to the left, we’ll spill some more wind off the sail.” It was more of a question than a statement. I was trying to figure out what we would do if the wind got any stronger. I don’t remember what his reply was. The boat was doing fine and I was scared, but not worried about our current situation. The wind seemed to be holding at 40-50 knots.

[Chris, yet again... did I mention the whoops I wanted to do? There aren't many times you get to surf in, what we thought at the time, 40-50 knots of wind with waves that aren't huge. Spill more wind off the sail? There was nothing we could do, other than to put a third reef in, that wouldn't damage Pelican or put us in (more) danger. I don't think I responded to Kristen. The only issue I had was that spray from the foam being generated by the wind kept coating our wood covered wheel and it made it really difficult to get a grip. I should have put my gloves on.]

We were all completely focused on our tasks. With the wind behind us and the sail almost completely out, I had to be ready for the accidental jibe. If the wind suddenly shifted, there is a chance the boom could wildly swing to the other side of the boat. If this happened with 50 knots of wind pushing the boom, it would most likely break something. I stood ready to pull in the main sheet to slow the sing of the boom and then quickly but gently let it out before the wind pushed the boat over. Thanks to Chris’s expert steering I never had to deal with an accidental jibe.

[OK... moving forward, those little brackets mean "Chris here...". Anyway, "most likely break something" is a bit of an understatement. Literally, in the blink of an eye, the boom would have swung 140 degrees effectively carrying thousands of pounds of pressure. The possibility of breaking our boom, rigging and ripping our traveller off the deck would have been VERY high. I can't say my steering was "expert" though - Pelican pretty much told me where she wanted to go, and if the two of us disagreed we'd make adjustments to the sails until we came into agreement. A few times I had to hold onto the wheel for dear life to keep us headed in the right direction, but for the majority of the time Pelican was awesome - just tracked straight, and felt more like a sports car than a Volvo.]

After what seemed like 5 minutes I announced that the winds seemed to be dying down. Chris said that the red area had passed, but there was still a yellow area heading for us. I thought we were back to 5-10 knot winds when Chris said we were down to 25 knots. I looked at my watch and it was 10:30. At least an hour had gone by.

We stayed ready, but relaxed just a tiny bit. The worst was over. We made it. We left the sail up and gently sailed along for a while. In the distance the two ships appeared again. Chris gave us the stats. Max sustained wind was 48.4 knots. Max boat speed was 8.4 knots, but he swears he saw 9 at one point. Things didn’t go exactly as planned but everything turned out OK.

As a side note, later the next day we were explaining our ordeal and telling about the 50 knot winds. “But wait a minute,” Chris said. “That was apparent wind.” We forgot that our knot meter was broken. The wind we were measuring was actual wind minus our boat speed. Because we were traveling in the same direction as the wind it measures less. So the true wind speed was our measurement plus the speed of the boat. That puts the actual wind speed at 60 knots. That is 70 miles per hour. Holy Cow! I have read stories about people caught in winds like that and wondered how they could possibly have dealt with it. Now I know. You just do. There is no choice. You call upon your experience and knowledge and crew and hope for the best.

[We found out later that they clocked winds of over 80mph in Central Park, New York City! Apparently, numerous trees were blown down, and they took over 1,000 lightning strikes in the city.]

For the rest of the night we went over the whole ordeal. We talked about what we did wrong and right, what we could have done if things became worse, and how fortunate we were. We each took turns sleeping a bit once the adrenaline loosened its hold.

[After being up for 36 hours with a total of about 3 hours of sleep, I zonked!]

As we approached the entrance to NY harbor, the ship traffic started to build. Two heavily lit boats were approaching us on the port side. As the first one went by, Poppi and I noticed something in the water. It looked like and overturned boat with two people standing on it. The charts showed no buoys there, and whatever it was was completely unlit. The second boat went by it and turned around. It circled the object once. We could tell that it was two poles sticking up with some sort of cone lying on its side between them. We guessed that it was some sort of debris from the storm. The other boat never called the obstruction in to the coast guard. We thought about going back to check it out, but I deemed it too dangerous. Once the lit up ship left, it was pitch black again and you couldn’t see the object. If we hit it, we would be putting ourselves in danger. We decided to keep our course. We had had enough excitement for the night.

Our entrance into NY harbor was without incident. We stayed just outside the shipping channel, and let three to four huge container ships pass on our port side. When we approached the Statue of Liberty at about 6AM, I roused Poppi and the kids. At 6:30 we docked at Liberty Landing marina. It was good to land.

[As Kristen mentioned, we slow-goed it the rest of the way in. We sailed for a while with just the double reefed main, going about 4kts or so. I later turned on the engine as the wind died down to 5-10kts and we didn't feel like getting the sails all out after the excitement the night before. The marina opened at 6:30, so I timed it so we pulled up to the docks as they were opening. Going through NY Harbor very slowly is strange. There were dozens of ships, work boats, tugs, ferries and water taxis all zipping about, and trying to keep all of the traffic straight was tough in the dark. Fortunately, there was some light pollution so you could see the size of the vessels. One note for people going through the Ambrose Channel approach to New York City - the ships REALLY appreciate you doing securite calls to let them know your position and intentions. We had about 8 ships pass us in the channel, and every one of them made contact with us and actually turned for us to keep on the opposite side of the channel. The wakes on these ships can easily swamp your vessel if you're too close.]

As we were tying up, the catamaran next to us yells over, “Wow, I can’t even tell where that gouge was!” Keep in mind that I haven’t slept all night and my brain is working quite slowly. I think I gave them a funny look and said, “Huh?” They said that they read our blog and knew who we were. How cool is that! We’re famous!

[The boat was Charlotte-Ann, another kid boat (I put a link to their blog on our page here). They are working their way south, so be sure to say hi to them from Pelican if you see them!]

After winding down for a few minutes, I went over and said hi to them. They were on their way down from Canada and had a girl that was two days younger than Kaitlin and a younger son. Too bad we were heading in opposite directions.

Chris and I headed off to bed and Poppi did something with the kids. At 12:30 we headed into the city for lunch. I was dying for a NYC hot dog, and Casey was eager for a gyro. A $31 water taxi ride later we were in the city. We hit Barnes and Noble, the Apple store, FAO Schwartz and American Girl Place. Kaitlin was in heaven. She has wanted to go to American Girl Place for years. $20 for subway passes and another $31 to get back to our boat, yea, we won’t be coming back tomorrow! We did have a great afternoon though.

[Liberty Landing Marina was $4/foot! That's a ridiculous price considering how run down their bathrooms/showers are and the fact that they really don't have anything other than location. Factoring in the cost of the water taxi, I think we'd actually stay at North Cove Marina at $6/ft in the future - it would have been cheaper. A number of people said to just go to the 79th St boat basin, but the continuous wakes in New York Harbor and on the Hudson are incredible. I don't think we would have slept a wink on a mooring there, and we really needed the sleep after the storm the night before.]

That night we had the best sleep ever. Poppi woke me up this morning (Thursday) with a big squeeze of my nose. Ouch! “Remember when I used to do that when you were little?” he said. “I think I blocked that out.” I replied. He said that Chris wanted to get going soon because of the tide. I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep. Chris told me earlier that we needed to be underway before 10AM. It was currently only around 7:30. I toyed with the idea of getting up and going for a run. That didn’t happen. At about 8:00 I got up and we got underway.

We had a rapid journey up the Hudson River with the flood tide assisting us. At one point we almost hit 10 knots. We were due to arrive at Haverstraw Marina around noon and decided to stop there. We could push a bit further north, but we needed to take it easy.

[How small is the cruising world? As we passed by the 79th St. Boat Basin I heard "79th Street Boat Basin, Catamaran Naughty Naughty". We had met a Naughty Naughty in Georgetown, Bahamas, so I quick raised them on the radio and it was indeed the same boat! Unfortunately, we were on the edge of reception range, so we couldn't talk much, but it was just neat to hear a familiar boat so far from where we met them.]

Now it is 11PM on Thursday and I am just finishing typing this entry. Chris wants to add his two cents before I post it so I will try to hurry him along!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

We made it!

Chris here... After a somewhat eventful passage, we made it to NYC safely and are ensconced in our slip at Liberty Landing Marina. We'll post more about the passage later - it will make for interesting reading I'm sure. For now, it's time to sleep!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Heading to NYC

Chris here... Saturday was a wonderful day filled with random acts of generosity by former strangers, now friends. I'll let Kristen fill in the details, but we had a wonderful afternoon on the American Rover, an excursion sailboat located at the Waterside Marina, and then having dinner with a family who are blog followers, for now, and cruisers in the next couple of years - Chris and Karen. In addition, Poppi, Kristen's Dad, arrived yesterday afternoon to help us bring Pelican on the next leg of our journey.

Tomorrow, Monday, we head for New York City. It's about 280nm away, so I'm estimating that if we leave at around 9am or so, we should arrive to Liberty Landing Marina on Wednesday afternoon. As always, follow along on our SPOT tracker by clicking the "Track Us" link to the right. It will be great to have Poppi aboard as that will give us some extra sleep at night.

Tomorrow morning we'll head across the river from the marina we're at and go to a different marina, get fuel, and then head out to the open ocean. The weather forecast shows light winds from the north for most of the day on Monday, then 10-15 Monday to Tuesday, then 15-25 Tuesday to Wednesday, depending on how far off the coast we are. I plan on staying within 10-15nm of the coast, and I'm hoping for some actual sailing on the way north once the wind picks up. Waves are supposed to be 1-2ft to start, and then 2-4ft later on. That means 2-4ft to start, and 4-8ft later on. Rule of thumb - double the wave estimates and you'll be good.

Once in NYC, we'll probably catch a good night's sleep, and then continue our trek north for 3 more days (stopping overnight) to Albany. I've lined us up a slip at the Albany Yacht Club for the next month, so that will be our base of operations.

One other thing I would like to mention. Seven years ago last night (August 15, 2002) at around 9pm a terrible, awful thing happened. A good friend of mine - Shawn Chandler - passed away in his hotel room in Virginia. He was about 30 years old. He worked for me, and I had sent him to training. He didn't show up to class on the last day and his hotel room door was locked from the inside, so the police were called to break down the door. They found him in his room, having died from a heart defect. Through a chain of events and because I didn't want her hearing from a stranger, I volunteered to tell his wife, his widow, what happened. I'll never, ever, ever, get the screams and cries of anguish and sorrow out of my head - ever. I still hear them on a regular basis. Unfortunately, I screwed up royally with taking care of his wife, and she and I are no longer communicating. I wish it was different, but it is what it is. I still check in on her through friends, and I understand she is doing well.

Anyway, Shawn is a big reason we're out here. His passing really made me understand how important it is to seize hold of the time that you have available, today, in the here and now. You never know what is going to happen tomorrow, so if there's something you've always wanted to do - go do it. It's easy to say you don't have time, but understand that if you don't make time, you may never have the chance. Even with the problems I'm facing today, I still count my blessings every day for the fact that I have a wonderful family, good friends, and have been lucky enough to get out for a while and follow one of my life's dreams. Yes, it may or may not come to an end shortly, but it's still amazing.

So - here are your marching orders. First, find me new business. Then - I want everyone to start writing down the things they really want to do during their lifetime, and to pick one of them and go do it within the next month. Don't pick the easiest one on the list, and don't pick the hardest, but make something happen in your life that's extraordinary - follow a dream.