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Thursday, June 20, 2024

New London to Mystic ball

Our last day in New London was perhaps our most busy. Officially it was a holiday, Juneteenth, so we could take advantage of having the workday off. 

Around 9 am we got together and scooted to the Submarine Force Museum in Groton. Well, Hannah, David, and Russ scooted, I Uber-ed since my back was acting up. But that got me a great ride with a resident of New London that told me the town it on the cusp of booming. You can catch a bullet train to NYC from there, and given the sprawl, that's a big win.

On top of the Nautilus, about to 
start our tour below.
The sub museum is the home of Nautilus, one of the first nuclear powered submarines. You get to tour it, which was really cool. The museum also has an interested movie about how subs have played a part in history and (of course) the wars. To our surprise it was nearly 45 minutes long, and quite engaging.

From there was came back to the vessels and shoved off. We can stay for free on the city dock for 72 hours, and the folks there are really friendly. There are showers and laundry facilities, but Russ and I took our bulk items (big bedding, for example) to the local laundromat which was a 12 minute walk away.

It was only about an hour's ride to Mystic. In the past we've stayed at the museum. This time we took balls south of town at a local yacht club, Mason's Island Yacht Club. Once settled we piled our scooters in our dinghies and headed to Mystic. Originally we hoped to do an escape room, but the venue got sold out (silly us didn't reserved a spot). We bummed around the quaint town instead, doing a little shopping then eating dinner in the downtown area.

Russ took this while on the i-95 bridge that allows pedestrians, bikes, 
and scooters to cross the Thames. That's how they got to the sub museum.
I don't feel that I missed much...

At the moment the rest of the northeast is having a heat wave. It will be close to 100 degrees in Boston today. But here, our high is around 85. So, lucky us!

We always see or learn something new while boating. Like this
dinghy dock. You don't tie to the dock, but rather the clothesline they
provide, then you move your tender away to make space for the 
next dinghy. Very clever, but we'd never seen a dock managed that way before.





Monday, June 17, 2024

Essex to New London, city dock wall

We spent a few days anchored and around Essex. The Safe Harbor Marina new the anchor had free water and pumpouts (noted for fellow boaters), something we all took advantage of before heading to New London.

Our last day on the Connecticut River we traveled up to Haddam and anchored. We all piled into a dinghy and went to Gillette Castle. We got there around 2:30, knowing they closed at 4 pm. However, there only did tours (you couldn't walk through on your own) and those all sold out by 1 pm. Bummer! It looked like a nifty place. It wasn't until we were leaving that we read why folks go there -- it's the Connecticut home of William Gillette, a playwright and actor, most known for playing and developing the character of Sherlock Holmes. All the iconic images of Holmes (deerstalker cap, cape, pipe, and "It's elementary, my dear fellow") were due to him. Maybe we'll be back someday. I added a note to "RESERVE TICKETS!"

Gillette Castle, of which we did NOT visit.

How we got to Gillette Castle, landing a dinghy on a nearby beach.

But that all became a distant memory when, around 7:30 pm, we piled into the dinghy again and headed up river to the Goodspeed Opera House where we saw a production of South Pacific. For a small, local theater it was a great show. Excellent actors, great singer, impressive dancing, and all to live music.

The white building is the Goodspeed Opera House. Darling venue, great show.
The had a dock at the opera but it was reserved for members. A small town dock
was right next to it. It all worked perfectly.

Saturday we charged down the Connecticut River and headed just east to the Thames River. Here, in the USA they say THames, not "Temz". Our destination was, of course, London. New London, that is.

Highwind and inQuest on the CT river.
Very large, and very fast ferries come and go from New London, creating massive wakes as they do. When we came into the area we didn't like the look of the closest mooring field with all the boats there bobbing from the water. We continued beyond to another anchorage only to spy another, smaller buoy field... totally lacking in any boats. Russ called the numbers listed to reserve, we hailed on the radio, but no one responded. The buoys looked good so we grabbed one then dropped the dingy to make for the nearby dock in hopes to find someone who knew if we could stay a while.

I happened to see a couple of women go into an office nearby so I asked if they knew anything about the buoys. They didn't, but offered, "You can just dock here." They gestured to all the space around the pier restaurant. "It's free!" Magic words. So we went back to the boat, texted Highwind the plan, and sidled next to City Dock Restaurant and Oyster Bar.

Inside Fort Trumbull. Completed in 1852, it has 
a lot of aesthetics taken from Egyptian archeology.
From here we all went out to eat and then enjoyed Fort Trumbull.

Been a busy couple of days.




Friday, June 14, 2024

Saybrook to Essex, anchor

Just a couple miles up the Connecticut River was Essex. In addition to being a darling town there's a yacht club that Hannah and David have reciprocity to dine at.

Originally we were going to grab some balls at said yacht club. As we approached, however, they hailed as asked, "Are you the catamaran?" "Yes." "We don't allow catamarans on the mooring balls." Thus we anchored out, just across the way. Saved us $60 a night, too. The dinner, however, was quite good.

There's a museum we wanted to see in Essex but it's hours didn't work with the working folks on Highwind. So we're hanging out, enjoying the weather, and we'll all do the museum Saturday before getting underway to head up the river to Haddam, CT, where we'll catch a show that evening.

This promises to be a lazy summer of little boat rides. Kinda new for us!

Our anchored vessels across the river

Essex, like much of the north east coast, is big on its Revolutionary
patriotism. They build battleships here for the war, in fact. With
July 4th being just a few weeks away, everything is decorated
in red, white, and blue. Even the street divider is "in colors".





Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Mattituck to Old Saybrook, ball

Since we were rafted onto Highwind we needed to leave before them. It was quite calm when we woke, so we wasted no time to check engines and be on our way, right around 6 am. The winds prediction said today would be calm, so a good day to cross the sound to get to the north shore.

Calm inside the moorings. It doesn't read well
in the picture, but it's got little space to 
maneuver a vessel around in, say, getting to a ball.
Once we followed our track out of the twisty river (a little easier given a higher tide) we were met with rolling 1 footers on our quarter bow. As we crossed the sound the wind picked up, but we headed into it mostly. As a result, the closer we got to land the more calm the water became.

Highwind left after us, around 7:45. We received a text from them that once they hit the sound the water was 2-3 footers on their beam. I'm a total wimp on bad water -- so glad we left early.

This mooring field is crazy dense. They have tried to get as many balls in the area as they can. The current was really strong when we came in, nearly 2-3 knots against us. Add to that a very skinny depth (in places we had 2 feet beneath us), and that makes for an interesting mooring experience.




Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Port Wash -> Port Jeff -> Mattituck, anchor

Two days of travel and we mostly crossed the whole Long Island. 

June 9

We did about 4-5 hours Jun 9 to get to Port Jefferson. A bit windy but it was on our stern. We also has an outgoing tide to pull us along nicely.

The ferry is coming into Port Jefferson.
It crosses the sound, connecting Port Jeff
with Bridgeport, CT. Hourly. Seems busy
all the time, too.
We've been to Port Jefferson before, a couple times now. The town is quite cute and full of touristy eateries and shops. The Farmer's Market was still going on when we arrive, so we all checked it out first thing. Then we scooted to an escape room and played not just 1 but 2 rooms of theirs. Both were the most difficult they had. We escaped both in time, but the 2nd with only 7 seconds to spare.

Then we all grilled various proteins on Highwind's stern and enjoyed a lovely evening.


We escaped! Twice!

June 10

Up and out early today, though only for a 3 hour trip. The Highwind crew needed to start work at 11 am, so we all wanted to be anchored long before then. Not an issue for Russ and I much as we get up early.

Windy, but sunny and clear. 
Made for a good ride, all in all.
Very windy morning, but it remained from the west so the ride swishy but not uncomfortable.

Once at the inlet, we needed to snake up the river to get to the official anchorage. This was a fairly narrow, quite twisty, and at times a very skinny route -- brought back all the memories of the ICW and why we no longer enjoy doing that for a month, each way.

For some reason we believed this anchorage was larger. Comments about it said "room enough for 50 boats." Maybe they meant Jet Skis. Or kayaks. Rafted together, our two vessels take up most the room we can see here.

Sunset in Mattituck


Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Staten Island to Port Washington. ball

While in Staten Island we were able to visit NYC a couple of times. We saw 2 shows, Dungeons and Dragons, which included audience participation with our phones -- very clever -- as well as Back to the Future, the Musical. The music was period, so when the story was 1985, so was the style of music, and in 1955, very much 1955 sounding! Yep, it included a Delorian! Really well done.

Of course we ate out, went to a museum, and explored the city by subway. Gotta love getting around in New York.

We decided it was time to move towards Long Island Sound. Unlike past seasons we have no real agenda or goal this year. It's been things like "cruise all the rivers" or "get to Maine" or "do the Triangle Loop". This year it's "play on Long Island Sound", which is quite open ended. No real destination or time frame. So we'll wander for a bit until September, then start our way back to Baltimore.

Lots of commuting by bus between SI and NYC.

Dungeons and Dragons! Actors play roles
and the audience helps them. We vote and assist
by our phones.

We spent some time at the new Mercer Museum.
An amazing sound and light and tech experience.

We saw Back to the Future, a Musical.

Also, there was much subway travel.
Which I truly enjoy.

We rode the Staten Island Ferry and took this pic as we did.

Manhattan in the mist. Also the lady and a ferry.
The trip to Port Washington, while short (only 4 hours), always keeps us on our toes. First we needed to get under the Verrazano Bridge, which is the narrowest point getting into the New York Harbor, and stuffed with traffic big and small. We had to play "boat Frogger" crossing to the other side of the channel between a parade of container ships and freighters.

The next challenge it getting to and through Hell's Gate. If you don't time it right you can see currents up to 5 knots, and you don't want those against you. Moreover, you're dodging the constant flow of commuter ferries that cruise at 25 knots and zip across, or back and forth, or beside you.

The first of many lighthouses we'll
see on the sound.
But we timed the current, leaving Staten Island around 1 pm, and managed to keep out of everyone's way. All in all a good trip.


Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Betterton->Cape May->Atlantic City->Staten Island

Good thing we broke this into 4 days because we kept  busy!

Betterton -> Cape May

Once we sent the "we're leaving now" text to our buddy boat, they too thought getting the journey done in 4 days was a good idea. They left Baltimore around 5 pm and jammed over to our anchorage. We rafted together and enjoyed the quiet night.

Bright an early the next day (around 6 am) they shoved off, heading to Delaware City for fuel. We took advantage of the large and calm bay to calibrate some of our instruments, something we do every couple of years. This is done by starting a program, then following their instructions; things like "move in a complete circle", or "point north", or "do a figure 8." Once done, we headed to the Delaware.

Heading up the Chesapeake went pretty quick since we caught a bit of tide. Once we left the canal that connects the two bays we had current against us and slammed to a crawl. But the day was nice, and the water calm, so we enjoyed the ride. Excellent trip.

We dropped the hook in Cape May at the same anchorage we used last year, Sunset Lake. It's not perfect -- tricky to get into, and lots of local boaters/jet skiers zipping around (quite a thing given it was a holiday weekend), but after dark it was ideal.

Cape May -> Atlantic City

The fog lifted just in time to see the AC skyline.
This would be the shortest day of our NYC run, only 5 hours. It was slowed, however, by a dense fog in the morning. We originally planned to head out at 6 am, but gave it an hour in hopes of it clearing. It didn't. So we all turned on our fog horns, fired up the radar, and slowly made our way back to the ocean. That bit was tricky -- despite the fog it was Saturday, and, by gum, fishermen are gonna fish! Highwind was ahead of us, and gave us updates as they progressed. "Two boats at marker 471," for example. There was also a bridge that we needed to get under that wasn't particularly wide or tall. Both vessels managed to get onto the Atlantic, and while still foggy, it wasn't nearly as intense. 

After a couple of hours the fog lifted. It was clear when we arrived in Atlantic City.

Crews in AC (starting at the bottom left and 
wrapping around the bar): Russ, Hannah, David,
me, Debbie, and Steve
Russ and I had been there a number of times but we always anchored there. The crew of Highwind typically stayed in a marina behind the Golden Nugget, one run by a state park. We decided to make it a thing -- stay at the marina and do a nice dinner together to celebrate being back on the water. Turned out another Endeavour crew from the vessel Gypsies Palace joined us in the marina. We noticed a number of people walking our dock, checking out these strange boats they'd never seen before and, heck, there were 3 of them!

Hannah made reservation at Nobu, a Japanese restaurant. The server there gave us the run down on what they had, then offered us a personalized chef's choice, based on our preferences. We snagged that! No thinking, just bring us food! It was mind-blowingly good. I give that place 2 thumbs up.

Atlantic City -> Staten Island

Clear dawn broke in AC. LET'S GO!
The predictions for the day were fog, all day long. Good water, but terrible visibility. However, when Russ and I got up at 5 am, it was crystal clear. We almost pounded on Highwind's door at that time and shouted "Let's Go!" But the clear skies held until we cast our lines at 6 am, and for the next 5 hours, making this the best run up the coast we've ever had. 

About half way up the coast the fog caught up with us. Not terribly difficult to manage, but whenever we crossed some inlet the traffic increased (holiday boaters wanting to do some offshore fishing, zipping in and out of the inlet). Many of those vessels do NOT have AIS so the only way to see them amidst the fog is to carefully watch the radar. And hope they too are watching to see us.

Fog isn't too hard to navigate if you have the right tools: AIS, Radar, and a fog horn. Which we do. But you still need to be more vigilante than on a clear day. For example, we might see small boats on radar, but we won't see a log in the water until we're right on it. Both of us remain in the helm in fog (sometimes Russ is on the bow so he can hear better, too). This way the pilot can concentrate on the chart plotter and other displays to see traffic while the other helps watch for anything dead ahead. It's not hard, but it's fatiguing, especially after several hours.

The view for about 4 hours.
We rounded the corner of Sandy Hook when we were hailed by a ship. They saw our AIS so they knew we were headed their way and that we needed to stay out clear. We opted to stay out of the channel to give them all the space. Even being just 150 feet from them we barely saw them (movie below).

As we continued into the harbor the fog cleared. By the time we grabbed a ball in Great Kills, we could see well.

Gypises Palace, Highwind, and we are all here. We all celebrated a tiring but uneventful day with a dinner at Cole's Dockside. 

And, we're just a bus ride away from NYC. 🍻

Russ slowed down the vid, but you can see what we saw.
We HEARD him, tho!



Thursday, May 23, 2024

Baltimore to Betterton, anchor

Technically we ended up on the Sassafras River, but the nearest town is Betterton. The plan had been to leave early, early, early tomorrow, then take 3 long and grueling days to get to NYC. For whatever reason, I really hated that plan this morning. 

We needed to fuel up -- a stop that notoriously takes and hour to do -- and to get to a cheaper fuel pump was another hour or so out of our way. So, what if we made today be fuel day, making it a shorter run while getting our "boating chops" back. We'd boat to Bowley's for fuel then got a few hours up the

Flat, flat, flat!

Chesapeake to an anchorage. That way we'd get both docking AND anchoring reflexes greased and ready to go.

Problem was, Russ was still waiting for a package, which was needed to complete a small project before we go.

I tapped my fingers for much of the morning. But by noon-ish we were ready to run. So we did.

The water couldn't have been better, almost glasslike. A little breezy at the dock, but nothing difficult. We headed up and over to the Sassafrass and solidly dropped the hook around 7:15.

I thought this was clever. The orange vessel brought
the larger boat to the dock to get fueled. You can see
a notch where the towed boat fits and is secured.
The engine is the round portal where the pilot is standing, and
he turns the entire engine (red railing) to make maneuvers.

Yay for us! We're underway!

The Dali. This is the vessel that collapsed the bridge. You can see
the damage on its bow. The very last thing that had to be done to open
the channel was free her, which they did with explosives.
Almost immediately, the channel was free for anyone to pass.





Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Back to boat life

Sometimes, it's tough to even get around
April 15th we moved back onto the boat. Russ had done a bunch of upgrades in the month before, but (as it is a boat) nothing goes smoothly or quickly, so things were still a mess. Mainly he worked on plumbing. It's a time waster, as no two tubes or fittings or threads or sizes match, so Russ would order, wait, then reorder, wait again, then test, then order... But over the first week back we managed to get things sorted and put away. 

AND I got a new toy: a dishwasher! Darling wee thing, too! Holds only a couple bowls or plates, a couple glasses, and silverware, but it cleans them with less water than we do, and does so in just 30 minutes (we can do 15 if there's "just one thing"). Bigger things of course we have to do by hand, like pots or big bowls. But we're down to doing dishes just once a day instead of 4 or 5 times a day. A serious game-changer! Additionally, there are no more dirty dishes constantly in the sink.

The white thing is the new dishwasher.
Running, with 29 minutes left.
Russ also re-did the whole house water, from how we drain our bow tank into the stern tank, to how the water-maker works, to how all incoming water gets filtered. He's been a busy boy. Oh, and he hates plumbing.

We've both taken these weeks to catch up on medical and dental stuff. We each finally got GPs, which I haven't had since we started boating. Baltimore makes a great dental location if you are a boater, since you tend to pass by on your way up and on your way back down, 6 months later. Our dentist is a 5 minutes walk from the marina.

The fire burned the lines so it drifted across
the channel into another slip.
Pic from Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner
Speaking of marinas, this has been a winter fraught with disaster in Baltimore. Firstly, our marina had a boat catch fire -- on our dock too! Our buddy boat, Highwind, was only 4 or 5 slips from the problem. Thankfully, there were no boats between them, so the fire didn't jump or spread. We were another 3 slips beyond, well out of harms way. We didn't even know it was happening until a friend (Jamie of No Rush in Florida) texted us saying he thought he saw our boat during the hooplah. We were, "Uh, what hooplah?!" The incident was covered in their local news.

The second disaster was seen around the world -- the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge. I'm sure you heard/saw/read all about it, so I won't spend time describing it. It hit this community hard, and will be an issue for years to come. They recently opened a channel for smaller boats, like ours, but there are only a few times a day you can go through. We don't intend on leaving until May, so we're hoping we'll have more options at that time. But getting underway may be a thing.

On a better note, we took a day to go to Fort McHenry. It's a thing we've gotten into, forts. Or as Russ likes to call them, obsolete defensive structures. This one is particularly interesting, since it's bombardment in 1814 resulted in the Star Spangled Banner. As such it's the only fort in the US that is also a shrine.

From McHenry you can see the bridge 
damage, and the vessel that hit it.

Sagamore Whiskey has been around for over 100
years. In fact, Maryland had more whiskey 
producers than Kentucky. Go figure.
After the fort we visited the Sagamore Distillery, and took their tour. Which was amazing! I've been on a number of tours before (mostly breweries) but this one was incredible. Largely due to our guide, who absolutely loved her job.