Watch Out Wildwood

On Thursday we made it safely to the marina in Wildwood, NJ where we will keep the boat until the end of October.  The marina is only a 15 minute drive from Mitchell’s sister so we are looking forward to spending a lot of time with them when not working on the boat.   

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Last night we invited the four of them over for their first meal on Sea Major.  Afterwards we played a game of Ticket To Ride and found out that 6’4” Hank could indeed sleep on the boat.  He, Michelle and Lucy declined our sleepover offer, but Sylvia spent the night in the vee berth. 

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Sylvia is adapting to boat life very quickly and has already proven to be a great deck hand.  Last night she worked the winch to help lower the dinghy into the water.  And this morning she helped us wash both Sea Major and Sea Minor!   

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Tomorrow, Mitchell and I are leaving to go get my car that we left in RI.  I will then head back to Columbus to spend time with my family and meet my brand new niece.  (Hang in there Meg … keep that bun in the oven for a few more days!)  Mitchell is going to stay in NJ to work on the boat and I will join him again in a few weeks. 

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Firsts

As we made our way from Sandy Hook to Barnegat, NJ we encountered 4 “firsts.”

1. We flew the spinnaker.

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2.  Mitchell captured a sea creature and examined it under his microscope.

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3. Mitchell caught a sunflower with his fishing pole that was trolling behind the boat while sailing.  Just imagine the disappointment when he realized that it wasn’t a fish!

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4. Mitchell (finally) caught a fish that we could eat!  He caught it off the side of the boat once we were anchored. The townies at the end of the dock cheered for him!  Per my request, he gave it a proper death by pouring rum over the gills instead of clubbing it with the winch handle.   (Perry and Gayle- Thanks for the cutting board!)

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What A View

Today Mitchell and I motored down the East River (map).  This is the river that separates Long Island from Manhattan.   Along the way we passed under 7 bridges; were escorted past the UN building by a Coast Guard boat with machine guns; and got as close as we could to Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty.

While near Ellis and Liberty Islands, I thought about how my grandmother (Mary Petrozzi) must have felt as she saw Lady Liberty for the first time after crossing the Atlantic Ocean from Italy to join her family in America at the age of 14.   The sight leaves you speechless.

NYC skyline in the distance

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UN building and our Coast Guard escort

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Brooklyn Bridge

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One World Trade Tower

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Ellis Island

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Statue of Liberty

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This one’s for you Grandma!

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New York, New York

This morning we left a peaceful anchorage of Port Jefferson, NY on Long Island.  Little did we know that we were in for such an eventful day!  The first half of the day was extremely pleasant with perfect wind in the direction that we needed (for once).  We made great progress with both sails up- doing almost 8 kts (about 9 mph) with assistance from a favorable current.

Then around noon we noticed that some rain was headed our way.   We had big plans for that rain, i.e. catch some in our Home Depot buckets for cleaning and showers on deck.  Well, that didn’t pan out.  We ended up staying in the cockpit trying to steer through it with limited visibility and lots of boats around us.  In hopes of “seeing” the other boats, we turned on the radar and (much to Mitchell’s excitement) instead picked up the storm.  We were able to turn on a feature on our Garmin radar that allowed us to see the heavy pockets of rain as they passed north through Long Island Sound, and to be sure that was what we were seeing, we sailed through some of them!  No water spouts thank God!

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As fast as the rain had come it ended, and we were bombarded by a ton of wind and waves.  We spent the next 4 hours motoring directly into the wind (20-40 kts. = 23-46 mph) and 4 foot waves.  The frustrating thing was that we were only doing about 2 kts (2.3 mph) since we couldn’t put up the sails to help us get to where we needed to go and our once favorable current switched directions on us and was now working against us!  Luckily, all the while, we could see the NYC skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge, so, we felt like we were getting somewhere.

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To say the least, we were super excited once we made it safely (but covered from head to toe in salt water) to the anchorage near Rat Island, NY.   Our plan is to go through the East River (map) tomorrow and anchor right next to Ellis Island.  There is one minor glitch with this plan however.  The UN general assembly is meeting this week and the East River may be shut down as a security precaution.  It is a long way back around Long Island so we hope we are able to proceed as planned!

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NYC in the distance

A Block Island Adventure!

On the advice of several people we headed to Block Island, RI (Thanks Jon and Perry!).  We anchored in about 25 feet of water and backed down hard on our anchor anticipating the oncoming weather.  When we anchored, however, the water was calm and glassy.  We dinghied ashore and had a nice time walking some of Block Island’s 25 miles of trails through picturesque surroundings.  It was pleasant, but after the long sail/motor from Newport we were tired and headed to bed at around 9 p.m.!

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Well, as predicted, the weather picked up during the night.  It was predicted to be 20 kts of wind with gusts up to 25 kts.  We measured 30-40 kts at the mast head, but after Martha’s Vineyard we knew what to expect, or so we thought!  Around 12 am Mitchell got up to check the anchor and noticed a sailboat, Joli Bateaux, approaching from astern (sailing terms).  This moron decided it was a good idea to anchor 30 feet off our bow in 30+ kts of wind (this is no lie, he was directly up wind about 30 feet)!  As the Murrays can attest, Mitchell does not like to be crowded at anchorage!  He radioed the guy and explained that we had 120 feet of rode (sailing terms) out and that he was anchored over top of our anchor which presented us with a dangerous situation in that we could not pull our anchor up if things went south.  The man was unwilling to anchor elsewhere even though it was a weekday in the off season and the anchorage was practically empty.  If we only had a camera capable of taking night pictures you would see the absurd position we were put in!  After contacting Joli Bateaux by VHF, we were contacted by a motor vessel that had this sailboat drag anchor and hit him not once but twice!

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So here we were in 30+ kts of wind, unable to weigh anchor, with a sailboat who obviously can’t anchor, 30 feet off our bow, who would not move.  What a nightmare!!!!!  Well, after passive aggressively shining a 1,000,000 candle power spot light on the guy on and off for about an hour we went below to get out of the cold and wind. You can imagine what happened next.  About twenty minutes later, we heard the bang of Joli Bateaux hitting out bow.  Mitchell ran up to fend the boat off and through his heroic action saved my life, our ship, and the adventure!

Joli Bateaux, with help from Mitchell, slid past Sea Major and Sea Minor without inflicting any other damage until his anchor met our anchor!  You read that right, this guy’s anchor could not hold in the sand and mud at the bottom of the bay, but wound up wrapped up in ours.  Mitchell yelled over to the guy that he had fouled our anchor and that his rode was potentially inflicting damage to the underside of our vessel but Joli Bateaux didn’t care.  There was nothing we could do.  We had to wait until the harbormaster came in at 9 am to request assistance and luckily our anchor held not only us but Joli Bateaux as well through the high winds that continued all night long.

At 9 am we were ready to weigh anchor and radioed the Harbor master to ask that he come out to help fend Joli Bateaux off other boats in the case that we freed her from our ground tackle and hers did not hold.  He came out and we began to pull up our anchor snubber.  Joli Bateaux’s anchor had worked its way to within 5 feet of the surface along our snubber and primary rode.  Joli Bateaux is a Catalina 380, about the same size as Sea Major, and yet she had a tiny 20-30 pound delta anchor!!  This guy had no business anchoring anywhere but on a calm day in a shallow bay for a sandwich!  He was trying to hold in a blow with a lunch hook!  Mitchell managed to untangle Joli Bateaux’s anchor from our snubber and we began bringing in our anchor chain.  We got right up on top of our anchor and it would not budge off the bottom!  We really had to work to get it to unset from the mud and weeds.  Our anchor was able to hold Sea Major AND Joli Bateaux through some pretty nasty weather!

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After unsetting the anchor we decided to get a mooring (sailing terms).  We were able to pick one up on the first try even with the wind still blowing, but decided to move after we saw how close we were to another mooring ball.  We picked up the second mooring on the first try and have been there since!  We saw Joli Bateaux in the distance, anchor still out, moving quickly across the anchorage!  He pulled up his anchor and spent the next 30-40 minutes trying to pick up a mooring ball.  It was very comical only because he was nowhere near us!

In the end, when we were safe on our mooring, we went ashore for a walk around town and some lunch.  Mitchell panicked and ordered a hotdog.   We were able to laugh at our misadventure and complain only about a minor chip in the bow that we will have repaired and turn into that guy’s insurance (we will not know if any other damage was caused to the bottom until we inspect), but after our sleepless night we were exhausted and soon headed back to the boat for a nap.

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Mitchell plotted our course for our cruise down Long Island Sound and I caught some shuteye.  When I awoke we dinghied back to shore, cleaned the bottom of the dingy on the beach, and headed to The Oars for some food and drinks.  The Oars is the Block Island equivalent of The Jackalope at our old marina on Lake Erie, only Mitchell doesn’t have a nasty reputation for ordering girly drinks at this one yet!

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One Year

Today Mitchell and I celebrated our one year anniversary.   It has been quite a year and we both feel very lucky to have ended up with each other!!

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Thankfully, last September 15th was much more fun than today.  Why?  Well let me explain how we spent the day.  Last night, we found a wonderful little facility at one of the piers in Newport, RI.  It has a public dinghy dock, laundry, showers, WiFi, bathroom, tables, a TV, vending machines, lockers and a bookshelf of used books.  And to add to all of that, it is located in the basement of an old Armory (just like the Columbus Cultural Arts Center where we got married).

8:30 a.m. — To start the day, we took the laundry, shower stuff and trash to the Maritime Center.  We loaded the laundry in two overpriced washing machines ($4 each) and headed to the showers.  Mitchell and I both enjoyed 7 minute showers for $1.75 each and then threw the clothes in the dryers ($3 each).  While waiting, Mitchell bought me a used book for $0.50 and some animal crackers!  After realizing the dryers that we used didn’t work, we moved the clothes and paid another $6.  When the laundry was finally done, we rented two ($3 each) lockers and headed to the Boat Show.  But in the end the thirty dollars for laundry and a shower was the cheapest thing we did all day.

12:00 noon — At the boat show, we bought each other anniversary gifts.  Mitchell purchased me 80 feet of ¼ in. low-stretch nylon rope and 20 feet of floating rope.  I bought Mitchell a hook for the anchor chain.  And all we had to do was pay our $40 to get into the show!

5:30 p.m. — After heading back to the boat to check on it, we dinghied ashore again to go grocery shopping.  Mitchell brought his backpacking pack and carried out provision for the next two weeks on his back.  I only had to carry the eggs and bread (I know what you are thinking, she is the luckiest girl in the world)!

Now that it is 8:30 p.m., we are going to have a romantic dinner of Velveeta Shells and Cheese and go to bed.

Tomorrow we are going to sail to Block Island.  Once there, we plan to relax for the next few days and celebrate our anniversary the right way with store bough pizza and two liter bottles of soda!

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The Simple Life

Yesterday we made our way to Cuttyhunk Island.  Gosnold is a town in Massachusetts off of Cape Cod encompassing the nine Elizabeth Islands, including Cuttyhunk Island, Naushon Island,Pasque Island, Nashawena Island and some adjacent smaller islands that stretch out from Woods Hole village of Falmouth (map).  It is a very small island with only 100 people living there year round.  Boaters visit the island because of its charm, quaint houses and abundance of nature.  The island is within sight of the famed cliffs of Martha’s Vineyard and Mitchell got out the binoculars to try and observe some of the natural beauty that bathes on the shores below the cliffs.  He was disappointed to say the least.

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Mitchell and I took the dinghy ashore to walk around the island.  The island seems like a wonderful place to slow down and just enjoy life.  It has a one room elementary school, a church, an inn, a market (which is now only open on the weekends), and a few other stores down by the dock.  Cuttyhunk is also known for its floating Raw Bar.  During the day, the guys on the Raw Bar boat will motor around and you can buy fresh sea food right from your boat, and yes, it is raw!  We only had $13 on us and could not afford anything they had to offer, but the friendly staff offered us a line of credit with the boat being held as collateral.  We declined the offer.

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Mitchell and I spent the evening walking along the two of the ten roads on the island and got to see the sunset from atop a hill.  While waiting to see the green flash, which we didn’t, Mitchell went temporarily blind from staring into the sun.  He may have burned his retinas, but until Obama Care kicks in we won’t know for sure.

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Danger – Cliffs Ahead

Today we enjoyed a whole day ashore at Martha’s Vineyard (map).  We rode the bus to the western most part of the island to see the Aquinnah Cliffs.  It is here that Wampanoag Indians still live and have shops and restaurants that seem to do quite well but not well enough to offer free restrooms (we had to pay $0.50.).  We ate lunch at the top of the cliffs and then walked down to the beach for a different perspective on the natural beauty we had witnessed from the top.  Boy were we in for a different perspective on natural beauty!  Apparently there is a “no tan line” rule at this beach and a minimum age of, oh, around fifty!  Needless to say, we didn’t get many photos of the cliffs from the beach.  From the top, the cliffs, lighthouse and beach were beautiful.  

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After our morning at the cliffs and peek show, we headed to Oak Bluffs.  This is the northeast part of the island and is known for its gingerbread cottages.  The houses were whimsical and multicolored- most were built around 1870.  They were all very cool to see but I don’t think we would like to live in one.  The maintenance would be a nightmare and the one we did see for sale didn’t even have time period correct ivy in the front lawn!   

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Once back on the boat, we were saluted by the neighboring ship.  It is an impressive wooden schooner.  As we made our way below, we were startled by a loud BOOM.  We turned around to see the schooner shooting off their cannons.  We could hear the report echoing off of Martha’s Vineyard.  

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