Sunday turned out to be a nice day - not incredibly warm, but the wind was down and our full enclosure created somewhat of a greenhouse effect. I would highly recommend that ANYONE cruising get a fully enclosed cockpit - even in the Bahamanian sun it was great to reduce the heat and protect us from rain. In the cold it's even better. We never even really needed to run our portable propane cockpit heater, although Kristen did turn it on just because she likes to be toasty. She would have used it in the Bahamas if we had brought it with us.
|Statue of Liberty|
Some people prefer to enter the Hell Gate area when there is no current (i.e. slack). Liking a little adventure on a sailboat, however, I prefer entering Hell Gate with a full on current in the direction I'm going. To make this happen, you enter the East River just as the current turns slack, and the current picks up as you go along.
|Tug traversing the East River|
|Traversing Hell Gate at 10.3 Knots|
Going through Hell Gate ended up being pretty sane. We got stuck behind a tug going slower than us (we had about a 4kt current in our favor, so add our 6.3kts of boat speed and we were doing about 10.3kts over ground - not our fastest, but still fun for a 26 year old sailboat!) so we had to throttle back some. With the currents and the turns through the gate you really don't want to pass anyone. I'm glad we did this since as the tug approached the exit from the gate he slewed sideways some from the riptides. Exiting the gate we had to stay behind the tug for quite some time as there was a lot of BIG oncoming traffic. That's OK though - we're a sailboat, even if we're motoring. Relax, take it easy, and enjoy being out on the water.
|Leaving NYC behind|
|Stamford appears a bit empty|
Here's where the dance and logistics got fun. Our car was in Haverstraw, our kids needed to get home for school the next day, and we were in Stamford - not even our final destination. Our good friend Dan from Haverstraw drove our car to Stamford for us and met us at the marina. Another friend, Robyn, came along for the ride. A few minutes after they showed up my mother, who lives in Stamford, also showed up. We all hung out in Pelican's cockpit for a few minutes, and then Kristen departed back to Haverstraw with the kids, Dan and Robyn. I was able to convince Dan and Robyn to make the drive back to Stamford, so as soon as Kristen dropped them off they turned around and came back. While Kristen drove back to Albany with the kids, Dan, Robyn, my mother and I all went to an All You Can Eat Sushi place in Stamford (Sushi X). $20 for all you can eat sushi, kitchen appetizers, udon, tempura and more! How can you beat it?? This is one thing we could never get in the Bahamas unless you caught it yourself - cheap sushi.
Robyn and Dan ended up staying for a few more hours and we ended up finishing a bottle of Rum. Well, actually, pretty much just Robyn and I started and finished the bottle of rum. Kind of scary! Kristen got back at around 10 or 11 and proceeded to open a new bottle. Dan didn't drink, so at about midnight he and Robyn took off back to Haverstraw. It's always nice to hang out with friends!
The next morning it was just Kristen and I and we headed for Branford. This was a fairly easy 38nm jaunt - exit Stamford Harbor, turn east, go 15nm, turn slightly north, and then go another 20nm, then turn toward the Branford River. It was another great day out, and the weather cooperated well. Our only issue was dodging lobster pots - many of which were black (scum from being out all season?) and difficult to see. We ran over one, but it didn't catch. We certainly weren't interested in diving on our prop in 45-50 degree water!
Dutch Wharf Boatyard is an interesting place. It resides on a quiet river off the Long Island Sound. To access it you have to follow a fairly narrow channel showing on our chart with depths of six feet - Pelican drawing six feet. Speaking with Dutch Wharf, however, we knew that the depths were closer to eight or nine feet at low tide. Regardless, it's nicer to enter the harbor when it's mid or high tide, and that's what we did.
|Entering Branford River|
As we approached Dutch Wharf I realized that we had a 1kt current or so moving with us upstream so I contacted Dutch Wharf and they had a couple of people waiting for us at the docks. The slips are perpendicular to the current so it can be somewhat tricky entering them. It's kind of like a controlled crash - you have to turn your boat sideways about 20 feet or so before getting to your slip, let the current carry you along, and then floor it to get forward momentum as you close in. It often seems like you're going to slam your bow into the boat in the next slip over, but if you don't do this you'll miss your slip and be in a world of hurt. Anyway, I was able to line up well, zoom in and perform a solid, yet gentle, landing. We tied up, checked in and then relaxed. We were a day late due to the weather, but that was OK.
|Sunset from our slip in Branford|
After Winterizing we packed up box after box of "stuff" from Pelican and moved it through the driving rain to our car. We had decided to get as much off of Pelican as possible so we could give her a huge cleaning in the Spring. I'm not even kidding - our waterline was changed by over four inches once everything was off! Overall, not a fun day, but definitely a productive one.
Pelican has now been hauled and her mast removed. She should also be shrinkwrapped by now. We have a lot of work to do on her over the Winter. The boatyard will be fixing an issue with the rudder cage that is known to Passport boats (it's pretty corroded through) and we'll be doing some work on the mast (new wiring, cleaning up some corrosion, etc.). We might also take the opportunity to do a little work on the teak decks.
Several people have asked why we moved Pelican all the way to Branford, CT instead of having the work done at Haverstraw. It has nothing to do with a concern over the quality at Haverstraw. Two years ago when it was recommended that we use Dutch Wharf to get some work done to Pelican we dropped her off in October. They had estimated that the work would cost about $9k. A few days later we decided to go cruising and asked them if they could complete the repairs in two weeks as opposed to taking the entire Winter like we had originally given to them. They were able to, and as we were about to pull away from their docks the owner came running up to me with an envelope. "What's this?" I asked. "Well, the work didn't come out to $9k so it's a partial refund." I was amazed and delighted. The work was done very well (these guys don't just repair boats - they build new wooden ones from scratch and completely renovate older vessels), done in record time and it was done well. That's why we use Dutch Wharf and recommend them to everyone.
Here are a few pictures for everyone's enjoyment of some of the boats at the Dutch Wharf yard. You may get an idea of the type of work they do by looking at these vessels. I'll try to post some updates over the Winter.
|Can't forget Pelican!|