Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Oyster Bay Photos

Started out in hazy dead calm and put the sail up to tease the breeze. He showed up and after morning snacks filled the sail enough to move us across the sound. Tony from ROCKING the BOAT came along for the ride and got a boatbuilding lesson in the cabin along the way. SILENT MAID has been a true home, classroom, shelter in the storms and wonderful boat. Made it over to Oyster bay on an easy reach in about six hours. Polished off the day with a great meal by cabin candle light (flashlight pointed at the cabintop works well) and ended it by evening blogging in the cockpit. Computers with batteries are wonderful. The next day was somewhat less than stellar weather, rained the whole time and I was not well. Not seasick this time but very queasy. I do like sailing in the rain, and making hot food for the crew. Eldridge's gave the best time for passing through Hell's gate, so we were on a timetable to make the optimum passage. I got to take us through again. Seems like there are a dozen bridges to navigate down the East River. I actually plotted the trip on my car GPS. You can see the sky quit dripping by the time we made port in Jersey City after sailing through the NYC ferry gauntlet.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

NYC Here We Come

Oyster Bay to NYC.
Had a great sail over from Greenwich to Oyster bay. Raced with a classic boat series on Saturday and Sunday in increasing winds. Won both races, across the line first on Sat and Sun. Sailed with different schooner girls both days. Had a nice tour of the Whaling Museum. Interesting bifurcated mission there. History and ongoing species preservation.
As usual meal planning is interesting since you never know what the weather will be and how many people will be there. This trip we had varying lunches because of the racing, but breakfast and dinners were mostly just the crew. I cooked breakfasts of blueberry pancakes, canadian bacon, tomato & egg sammies, and western scrambled eggs with tomato coulis. Dinners included salad, veg, starch and protein along with a bit of dessert each time. We had chicken and noodles, with snap beans, pumpkin chili and rice and broccoli, pasta with chicken, mushroom and onion gravy Of course snacks and fruit every day in the afternoon.
Rain began Sunday night and persevered all day on Monday while we we sailing, finally clearing on Monday evening.The wind was good and blowing our way. Sailed off the mooring ( we had picked up the mooring unter sail twice, made us proud, then muffed it on the last try. 2 out of three) and tacked out of the harbor ro head to NYC. Visibility was not great, constant mist or rain all day, kept the nav lights on. When you are so self contained like we are, it is easy to think you are alone in the world until rational thought reminds you that there are tugs and tows out there to watch for. It was the seas that made this trip memorable. The swell overpowered whatever meds were left in the patch and I wasn't up to my usual jovial self. JS'Back is amazing kind and always says something nice at these times. The waves were fun to watch though and the guys had a workout steering in the morning.
Did I ever mention that MAID will "surf" waves in a kind of seven ton volume vessel way. URCHIN will do the same thing. It is exhillarating. There is a moment where the following wave picks up the stern of the boat and she starts to accelerate down the slope. Steering is critical here. The wind is up; we have two or three reefs in because she is all ready pressed to hull speed. She throws a wide white roll from her bow and then the wave moves ahead of her and the incline reverses. She slows a bit, does a little round up as the breeze presses her over, and the helmsman gives her a little shimmy to get back on course. This action repeats over and over as we run down the Sound against the tide. At Execution Rock light the action diminishes as the sound narrows and the land blocks and absorbs some of the energy. It is still raining quite hard, we are all wet through and through so I make a hot lunch of grilled swiss and turkey sandwiches, mac n' cheese, and chicken noodle soup. We kind of eat in shifts underway like this, and I wash up as the food dissapears. If we were going to be racing, I would have made lunch at breakfast time, so it would be ready to hand out on the downwind leg, but underway we just kind of wait and see, so the food can match the moment.
We get into the East river and begin the transit under all the bridges to Manhattan Island. At the upper end the ebb starts so we have the tide with us. I am feeling much better as the swell has dissapeared and the water is almost flat. Reefs come out leaving us with one in. We try sailing alone, but the squirrely current and shifty winds deny, so SILENT MAID becomes Not-So-Silent and we motor sail past Rocking the Boat (hope they did well with the "Round Manhattan" fundraising row.) Past South Street Seaport and the financial district. We drop the sail in front of Lady Liberty and motor past the ferry traffic to Jersey City to the marina and disembarkation.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Oyster Bay Too

Raced SONNET again today. Passed her a bit, got passed a bit. She popped her spinnaker and got it under control enough to cross the line first. The spinnaker puts her in another class.

Oyster Bay

had a nice reach over to Oyster Bay from Greenwich, CT with Tony from Rocking the Boat. This is a great boat building and on-the-water program for kids in New York. Yesterday we raced a Classic series with the OakCliff Sailing Center. Got line honors, first back to the mark, but don't really know how we placed yet. Great fireworks last night which we had a ringside seat for. First time I've ever seen them from the water. Don't know why or what they were for.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Getting Started

Getting to the boat. All this stuff has to get back on the boat from the trailer. We have already carried it down to the dock. At least here we have a dock, and not a bulkhead or mooring both of which require more gymnastics with the supplies. We change the sail from racing to cruising. Jamaica missteps and we pull him out and send him to change his wet duds. There is no support boat for this leg, so we'll race with the cruising (small sail) because the racing one is so big, there is no place to stow it to take it with us. Seabags, ditch bags, foul weather gear (we will be glad of this later), PFDs, Food, fuel, water, all has to be secured in its place. Our floating shelter is small, but artfully arranged. It keeps us warm, comfortable and dry (mostly). There is water underfoot all the time. This is a wooden boat, so there is usually a bit of water in the bilge. There is about five tenths of an inch of cedar wood between us and the sea. That is a pretty thin shell beneath us and the things that might like to eat us. Sometimes I like to pull up a cabin sole board and look at the planks and imagine what might be on the other side.

There are bilge pumps which suck the water out from under and pipe it to the centerboard case where it rejoins the sea. One of them has a sticky float so I watch for the sparkle of the rising bilge water and move the float by hand before it tops the cabin sole. The guys stow the boat's gear. Each gravitates to the tasks they like or the next one on the list, which ever comes first. We all are continually adapting to each others desires about how and where things go. Now I am stowing fresh fruit & veg in the starboard aft drawer rather than hanging it in a net. This time I use plastic bins to keep it from shifting to much in a seaway and getting bruised. The next forward drawer has plates and tableware, the next locker has extra foulies and batteries. Drawers on the port side have the toolbox, first aid kit, and bosun items. John reclaims the dinghy, Jamaica tops off the water, and Pete stows the anchors and lines. The double companion ways make these chores get along in a timely fashion. Before dark, (just because it is easier to see) I begin dinner, making green beans, fresh ravioli, and a nice green salad and bread.


The cabin is just that a cabin, not in the woods but on the water. We have everything we need, plus some extras for the boat. She needs tools for fixing, water, grease and varnish, diesel fuel for her engine, and lines and tackle to either keep her going or make her secure. Her engine provides us with locomotion, charges her batteries (two systems; one to run the cabin, lights, head, glow plug, navigation, electronics and pumps, the other battery system is just to start the engine.) Her sail, one very big one, gets us where we are going at about five to ten miles an hour. It is a good pace to see the world. We sail around islands, discovering fresh views, checking out details with binoculars, counting off the miles as we tick off buoy numbers.
I have always liked maps. I've loved getting the aerial photos of places I like from the town, so Google Earth is a real joy. Even so, the view from the water (flatland) is so different and hard to discern. For instance, Point Judith looks very pointy and sharp on a chart, yet sailing around her, she seems soft and rounded, rocky and going on for a long space. Partially this is scale, but I think it is mostly view point. Even though the weiw is limited to a few degrees above the horizon, the character and personality of each place is a separate and intact memory, not easily lost. It is a joy to approach a remembered headland or special place from a new vantage, recognize and feel the connection from before. Even better to be able to share that place with friends.

Back to the cabin. It is warm wood and cream paint. It has a new deadlight in the hatch and four operable port holes for light. Most of the illumination comes in from the two companionways which we keep open most of the time. They create a whole wall of the cabin when shut, so open they let in a big slice of sky, sail, and cockpit. It makes the cockpit part of the the room too, like a split level or a loft. Mostly I can stand up everywhere. The cabin is divided longitudinally down the center by the massive centerboard case. Our table leaves hange from it, ready when we are at anchor or on a mooring to serve as an almost, but never really, level space. Last year there was no table and the top of the case was smooth wood. This year it has two fiddles running down its length, requiring more care to climb over. Space is at a premium when we are all in the cabin, but not uncomfortably so. That is why I climb over it sometimes, to preserve a shipmates personal space. The fiddles are good though, they keep stuff from sliding off, and do collect bits that might otherwise end up in the nav station (God forbid) or in the bilges, worse.

Day in the Life of the Boat

Being a shipmate requires selflessness, humor, passion (for some things and not others), camaraderie, love of nature and her wiles, and trust. Of all of these, trust is the most important. Trust the skipper to do right by the ship and her owner, keeping the good of the crew forefront. The crew trusts the ship and her skipper and each other.
The ship is well designed, carefully built and maintained. Her layout of cockpit and cabin maximize comfort and safety since she carries a micro-home and transportation system on a dangerous and ever-changing plane. One thing about ship board life is motion; always moving, yaw, roll, and pitch, sometimes with greater frequency or amplitude than others, but never stopping. Along with movement, comes chafe and stress. Parts wear out or break, corrosion occurs, so inspection must be a priority. The crew must be alert and share information well, along with taking instruction to heart.
With that out of the way, the pictures will show a kind of list of what happens in a day of passage from one place to another. It is almost impossible to get everything in but here goes.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

S boats


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Indian Harbor YC

Indian Harbor Yacht Club. Old and beautiful.

Praxilla, on of the boats in our class.

Riding out on the launch with our pick up crew, Ed, Mien, and Pete, (and me)

Woodenboat Classic yacht regatta.

boats going out to the start. That is TICONDEROGA in the center.

Crew coming in.

Dressed for dinner

SILENT MAID took line honors and 2nd on corrected time.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Not royalty, rather butterflies. We must be on their migration route. We were moored at Indian Harbor Yacht Club in Greenwich CT. About a hundred monarch butterflies have flown past us in twos. They seem to fly in pairs about two feet above the water. Amazing they can make any head way against the breeze which was quite stiff.

Not as stiff as last night when John S'Bach saw 50.4 kts. on the true wind speed Ockam. It was a wild ride. Got the sail down as lightning showed and the breeze built. We had a strike quite close (about 20 yards on the port beam) to us. I was steering with one hand. Then just motored into the waves. Water whipped up like that is a truly awesome spectacle. MOVIE The four eyes guys were constantly wiping their glasses off, while the rest of us wiped our eyes and blinked a lot. Between the spray and the rain and hail it was hard to see at all. SILENT MAID shouldered her way through the crashing surf. Down below, the cacophony was intense, like being inside a big drum.
Spent the morning drying as much cabin stuff as possible. Mast boot leaks and we carried a lot of moisture down with us on our foulies.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Duel

Photos taken by Peter Byar at the TSCA Annual Messabout on Union Lake in Millville, NJ. If you like small boats; building, sailing, or rowing them Join our meetings - first Tuesday of the month RDCC. Check out the Facebook Page. The Delaware River Chapter of the Traditional Small Craft Association.