Completing the Circle

Written October 10 – 14, 2022

I must apologize for leaving those of you that followed our trip hanging. So many things were happening that I just did not have the extra energy bits to do a post. I believe I left you as we were leaving New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Leaving New Bedford

We knew we were going to have to find a place to hunker down when Fiona passed, but where? Do we get as close to NYC as possible to wait it out, hang on the north shore, or choose the south shore. It is about 200 miles from New Bedford to New York City, so that is 3 full travel days for us. Fiona would interrupt that somewhere, or we could get to NYC. We decided to get close to NYC before Fiona so after she passed we could make tracks down the coast as we needed to be in the mid-Chesapeake by Oct 5th. We had a hop down to an anchorage at Fishers Island (New York), south of New London, forgoing Newport, Mystic and all the other “must see” boating stops along the way. That hurt, but had to be done as stopping there would not get us far enough along our path before Fiona arrived.

Apparently the community of Fishers Island is rather closed, but there is a small grocery and ice cream shop. We just hung on the boat. These are the modest houses. There were some GIANT houses as well.

New Haven

I don’t think most cruisers make this a stop and frankly the marina/mooring/anchorage options are limited. However, it is an easy bike ride from the port along the water front and to town where Yale is right in the middle We’ve finally gone to Yale! We never thought they would accept us, but…. oh wait, we just visited the campus. Very pretty campus with lots of old, cool buildings. We just wandered a bit and enjoyed taking it in.

I do wonder if I’d freeze learning and living in these buildings.

We definitely wanted to visit the Yale University Art Gallery (the Peabody , the other we wanted to visit was closed for renovations). Wow! Our guide book said this was one of America’s great museums and it is pretty amazing. I guess that is what endowments and rich and influential alumni can do for you. We spent 4 or 5 hours there but could have spent more,

The Roman, Greek, etc, etc area. Dont forget the Etruscans and others as well. Some rather amazing mosaics and sculpture here.
I love this piece! A Jester by Marx Reichlich. Austrian painter. Created around 1520! This does not seem like most of the work I see from the 1500’s. A quick Google search tells that most of his work is religious in nature as I would have expected. Stylistically, this is so fun.
Now isn’t this fun? By Joan Miro, 1968. Girl Escaping. I’ve always liked Miro.
I love the richness in this piece by Martin Wong, “La Vida” from 1988.
I was intrigued by these wood carvings, many by Moshood Olusomo Bamigboye from Nigeria. It is actually a mask for the Epa Festival. The mask has a subtitle of “You can look at it all Day” as it contains musicians, birds, a horse, priests, rulers, mothers and more. They remind me of Native American Pueblo Story Tellers, some of which can be quite complex in their depictions.

After the museum, we had a very filling Cuban meal (there are lots of good food options in new Haven) and headed back to the boat. We really enjoyed New Haven.

Hightailing it to Port Washington

One thing Jim and I have learned on this trip is that we can travel in yuckier weather than we thought with, in most cases, bearable comfort. Fiona was still heading up the Atlantic headed for Canada, far off shore, but still sucking LOTS of wind off the mainland into her realm. We were really going to start seeing the winds on this travel day as Fiona moved north. Our strategy was if we left early enough, crossed and and hung on the southern shore of Long Island Sound, then we’d have some wind protection as the winds were coming from the south most of the day. Later, they would move out of the northwest, but we’d be close to our destination.

I KNEW we would have a rough start, but getting out of the breakwaters and crossing to the south shore was one of our rougher runs… ever. It was constant 20 – 30 knot winds on our bow against the waves giving us 3 – 5 foot waves pounding us. A very rough ride. Not fun and the kitties were very unhappy with us. It is sad that we cannot explain to the kittens when they are scared. Although the 4 hours was not pleasant, the boat was never at risk. The boat definitely can handle much more than we want to.

This was actually from a couple days before in Long Island Sound. The water was only medium rocky. But, the dolphins likes it!

Finally, the winds stopped and the water was flat. We did have several rain squalls but they were not a problem for us. Wow! How nice! After we were lulled into, all is good, in a flash, 50 knot winds out of the northwest. Fiona was definitely on the other side of Long Island (although quite far out to sea).

It is so hard to get a picture of what the weather and waves were like. (And commonly when it is at its worst, I am occupied either physically or mentally elsewhere.) This is prior to the strong winds as the squalls were moving by on each side.

Jim who had been napping woke to see the boat listing quite nicely to port. Rincon was quite stable, just being pushed a good 5 degrees to port. We kept waiting for the waves to pick up as they now had the width of Long Island Sound to build, but they did not. We really di not understand that, but are very happy they did not. We motored through that for about an hour and tucked into a marina in Port Washington, a town with enough to keep us interested and close enough to NYC if we wanted to take the train.

Waiting out Fiona

We ended up in Port Washington for 3 days waiting for Fiona to pass and the waters to calm in the Atlantic. With any storm, it takes a day or two for the waters to calm, but Fiona was so big, she really churned things up. 10 – 12 foot waves. Nope. 6 – 8 foot waves. Nope. 4 – 6 foot waves. Nope. 2 – 4 foot waves, with long periods. Yup, this will work. So, we days in Port Washington, then through NYC to lower New York harbor (Atlantic Highlands) to prep for a long day down the New Jersey Shore.

Port Washington Fun

Jim and I are members of several boating “clubs” and they all have something called Harbor Hosts. These are folks you can call for advice or help, or just to say “hi.” One of these groups in the Krogen Cruisers, the group for owners of our brand of boat. Jim, the social one, always contacts the harbor hosts when we know of one along the way. Einar and Ruth were happy we contacted them and we met to “inspect each others boats.” One of those things boat owners do. We ended up getting together with them several times and had a wonderful time with them in Port Washington.

We also took several bike rides and visited the Sands Point Preserve for a little bird watching and walk through the woods and along the beach. This place was owned by Jay Gould, one of the railroad magnets, then Guggenheim’s and finally Nassau County, NY. Pretty spot, but too bad the Guggenheim’s did not endow it when they gave it to the County.

The birding was only OK, but the forest was quite pretty. I loved the relationship between this tree and rock. Quite the hug.
Walking the beach. We didn’t do much beach walking on this trip. That is New Rochelle (we think) across the Sound.
Hempstsead House, one of the 4 homes at Sands Point. Built in 1912, it was quite grand when in use. Unfortunately, it is in need of lots of repair inside and out and from what we could see in the windows has no furnishings. A long way for this home to come back to the opulences of the 20’s.

Completing the Circle

When one does these loop sort of things and you finish it, it is called “crossing your wake.” The Down East Loop which is the name for what we just did “officially” starts and ends in New York harbor. To complete it, we have to go through the East River. We’ve only got about 20 NM from Port Washington to New York harbor.

The East River is interesting as it is the only river with no headwaters (or something like that.) It is a natural river that connects Long Island Sound and New York Harbor. These two bodies of water are not terribly close to each other and thus have very different tidal schedules. Therefore, the currents can rush through here at something like 5 knots. Add to that all the ferries, other traffic and … get ready, float planes (really!) and the waters can be a bit of a challenge. The last piece to complete our loop!

Hells Gate is near where the Harlem and East River meet. Lots of current from both, strong tides and as much as a 5 knot current. One of those places you have to time your passage for best result. Leave Port Washington, 1 hour after high tide there to time through Hells Gate.
The United Nations. The UN was in session the days before we passed through and at times the entire East River is closed to all water traffic. You would only get a days notice of closures (or possibly less) and thus it made planning difficult. As we waited out Fiona, the General Assembly ended and restrictions were lifted
We were really not expecting to see float planes taking off on the East River! Really? And, you may have noticed the helicopter a couple pics back. Every form of transpo is used here!
Manhattan from New York Harbor. To the left, the Hudson River where we left, to the right, the East River where we returned.

For the “official loop”, New York to New York, here are some stats:

Days on the Loop: 119 with 65 days in Canada and 56 in US waters. We left New York City of June 1st and arrived back on September 26th.

Miles Traveled 3101 statute miles, 2695 nautical miles

Top Speed, 14.8 knots at a spot on the St Lawrence. We had several others where we did over 14 knots, but typically travel at about 8 – 8.5 knots.

These numbers are for our New York to New York trip. Folks ask if we’d do it again, of course, but we have other things to do!

As we move into the lower harbor, the HMS Queen Elizabeth. The British have apparently invaded again. We had heard announcements on the radio the she was in the harbor and that we needed to keep our distance. We thought it would be a yacht, not a carrier.

Headed for the Barn

But, we are not “home” yet. We still had to get back to Deltaville, Virginia where we started our journey and wanted to leave the boat and our truck and trailer are.

Day one. We leave Atlantic Highlands, NJ, just south of NYC at 4 AM to make the 15 hour run down the New Jersey Coast to Cape May at the tip of the Delmarva Peninsula. There are not many places to stop on this route and where we can stop we don’t like. So, one day it is for us. Weather, still a bit rocky and 15 hours of waves and constant wind is tiring. Not as bad as Long Island Sound thank God. Anchor in a spot we have used two times before. We usually like to mix things up, but when making tracks, go for what you know.

Day two. Leave Cape May at 7 am and head up the Delaware Bay. Yup, waves on our nose. We knew that the current and wind would be opposite each other, making for a rough ride until the current began to align with the wind. The kitties again were quite upset with us although Chicha has gotten her sea legs such that she does not throw up.

Our plan is to continue through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal into the Chesapeake and head up the Sassafras River to Georgetown. Unsettled weather is expected on the Chesapeake for the next week. Our Krogen event mid-Chesapeake is a week away. How will we get there as we are bad-Chesapeake weather shy. Our very worst and first bad weather experience was in the Chesapeake.

The Sassafras

We had always wanted to go up this river but had not, so now was the time. We knew there were a couple interesting things to do, but were not sure how to spend a week. We visit the Mt. Harmon Plantation which is a tidewater plantation close to where some of Jim’s ancestors lived during similar times. An interesting place but not quite up to the task of telling the earlier settler stories. A lovely day in any case and an interesting visit.

The plantation dates to 1651 and has had a confusion of successive owners. The home was restored to the1760 – 1810 period with hand painted silk wallpaper from Japan. Apparently common at the time. The restoration was done by Marguerite du Pont de Villiers Boden, a descendent of some of the plantation owners and now endowed in a private foundation.
As a tea drinker, I want a little tea box like this one! None of the furnishings are original, but all are period correct, collected from around the world for the place.
There are lots of pretty wild grounds with trails for walking and birding. Originally 350 acres granted to Godfrey Harmon by Caecilius Calvert, the second Lord Baltimore, the plantation grew and shrunk with various owners and is now about 200 acres.

Swimming down the Chesapeake

While we hanging in Georgetown, we are talking quite a bit with the folks in Solomons where our Rendezvous is. There are a few boats there already, with 40 expected. If the weather gets too bad, the marina will not let us dock all the boats in rendezvous formation as the docks may not be strong enough. So the question is, how many boats can come pre-Rendezvous and will the marina allow it in any case. Back and forth multiple times and they decide if we come the next day, three days earlier for us, they can take us. The weather looks like it might be bearable and we chat with a few folks we know who have boated lots on the Chesapeake and we decide to go for it. It is a long day, 83 nm and earlier is better for the winds this day, so we leave it at 6 am while it is still dark. This is a fairly narrow and shallow river where we’ve got to run an hour back to the Chesapeake. But, we’ve got our charts and our track coming into Georgetown, so if we use all our tools, we’ll be OK getting out

We took the dinghy to Mt Harmon Plantation as the waters close by are pretty shallow and Rincon would not have liked it. The whole Sassafras is quite shallow but has a decent channel that is well marked. One definitely cannot cut corners.

It is dead calm in Georgetown when we leave as expected (a good hurricane hole) and we make it down the river with no incident. Winds are not bad at this point. The thing that is interesting on the Chesapeake is that obviously, the current comes in and out twice a day, but there is also a bit of a circular motion to those currents and wide and narrow spots that impact it as well. And, with over 80 nm to do, you will be against and with the current both at points during the day. Planning which winds and currents you want can be a challenge. The winds were behind us all day at 20 – 30 knots, pushing us down and we played the currents sufficiently that we did not have much wave action on our bow. We just wallowed and swam the whole way for 10 hours. Once again, the kittens did not like this. It was a whole new boat movement they did not know, nor like.

heading to the Kent Narrows Bridge. Slide left, slide right. So nice the winds was always at our back.

We made it before the winds really picked up (all day it was a steady 20 – 25 knots) and got tied up safe and sound. If we had not made this run, the next several days looked much worse and I would have fretted about the weather and how to get there the whole time. We celebrated my birthday in Solomons, with a naval museum visit and the Krogen folks providing a surprise cake on my birthday and then Jim and I having a nice dinner out the next.

Part of my birthday fun. I flew an F14 at the Pax River Naval Air Museum. I only crashed 3 or 4 times and never got a clean landing. Pilot material I am not.

You are getting lots of weather, wave and travel info, but that is primarily what has occupied our thoughts over the past week or so. it can be very tiring.

The final Steps

We spent nearly a week at the Krogen Rendezvous. We met many Krogen owners we did not know, rekindled relationships with folks we had met last year or during our travels and gave a presentation on our Down East Loop. A busy week with so much interaction and good information shared and learned.

Some of the boats at the Rendezvous. There were about 40 boats in all. We were “zippered in” with about 11 other boats between two floating docks, bow to bow with our swim platforms to the docks. Each boat is tied to the one next to it and to the docks.
Coming into the Rendezvous in Solomons with Pax River Naval Air Station in the background. One sees lots of osprey and cormorants all the time on navigation marks, but I’ve never seen an eagle, much less two.

We then took a day hanging on the hook in an isolated spot thinking about what is to come. We have been traveling for nearly 8 months, the longest we’ve been gone from New Mexico by far at any point in our lives. We have to winterize the boat before heading home and pack up all our extraneous food and clothing. I have a 7 page detailed list of tasks that must be accomplished to ensure the boat is safe over the winter. We are in a marina in Deltaville trying to work through that list and awaiting repairs to the pilings under where the hoist lifts the boat out of the water. Although this seems like a big setback, in reality, we are 5 days at best away from being ready to pull the boat. So, we work away, although not in as organized of a fashion as we’d like.

Our decompression spot on Mills Creek. Just what we needed!

Final thoughts for now

It always takes some time to process a trip, especially such a long one. We were forced to do a bit of that processing due to our presentation at the Krogen Rendezvous. It was a challenging trip (we like that!) where we saw so many interesting things and experienced the nuances in topography and culture of differences from one place to the next. Traveling at such a slow speed (think school zone speed), you really have time to see those small differences. We’ve made several new friends, some of which I know we’ll keep in contact with, boat or no boat. I will attempt to put together a slide presentation posted on YouTube once ready so you can see some of our travels beyond these posts. That will not happen until we get back to New Mexico. Best guess, we’ll be in our Santa Fe home about the 22 of October or perhaps a bit later. Wish us luck in getting through our work list!