Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Two Weeks

We've been patiently waiting out weather in Sandy Hook, NJ for almost two weeks! Thankfully we're in a good, protected anchorage (ie. free!) with a nice beach and a couple towns somewhat nearby.

In order to keep our sanity we've been doing our best to try and make the most of our stay, finally completing tasks and projects that we've been waiting to do and getting out as much as possible.
Finally got that coat of Cetol on the exterior teak


Changed the oil and put the new alternator on the engine

Snorkeled for clams.
And threw them back once we found out we were in a restricted area. Darn.
Visited a nude don't want to see what was behind me when I took this picture.
Trust me.
Had a self-guided tour of a decommissioned army base on Sandy Hook 
Played with old ammo on the base
Finally got Ron to read!
And watched a lot of spectacular sunsets
But boy are our feet getting itchy, and our waterline is suffering the growth of sitting still for so long. It's time to go, and judging by the large influx of boats that just came into the anchorage, others are too! Now, the weather just needs to cooperate.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Don't Be Like Me

Gets kind of shallow here, especially at low tide. Don't go here.
I usually like to think that I have a pretty good sense of direction, despite some fairly regular evidence of the opposite.

So when we pulled up anchor the other day for a short jaunt I decided to just head out the way we've come and gone a couple times now. Except that it wasn't really  the same way. I wish I could blame it on the chartplotter being zoomed way in, but the truth is that I wasn't even looking at it. Pshhh, I don't need no stinking chartplotter!

The only difference was that before we'd gone around this little sandbar, but not this time, no siree. I was just eyeballing our way out and managed to wedge us right on the dumb thing. And just to be clear, there isn't actually any land sticking out of the water anymore thanks to Hurricane Sandy. I wasn't just driving toward land. That would be really dumb.

Ron got in the dinghy and we were able to reverse off it pretty easily. Now he just makes fun of me for yelling, "hey hunnnnnn, we're on bottom!". No harm, no foul???

Don't be like me. Learn how to drive.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The God's Honest Truth

Sandy Hook, NJ
Ready for some honesty? I hope so because it's ALL coming out here...and it ain't all puppies and rainbows.

Sometimes cruising sucks. Sometimes it feels like just about everything that can go wrong does and what doesn't weighs on your mind like it's a certainty that it will. Sometimes I think I'm getting an ulcer and Ron swears he's got an aneurysm or two. This is the hardest thing we've ever done.

For the last two months we have been battling mechanical/engine problems one after another, and sometimes multiple at the same time. It's always something. Let's just suffice it to say that the last solid month we've just been pushing ahead hoping it will get better.

We hit a wall the other day that made us look hard at what we're doing and what we want to do. We left Sandy Hook, NJ for our first ocean and overnight passage, it was the last window before getting stuck in NJ for at least the next week with high winds. Winds were forecasted to be SW at 5-10 kts and although we were nervous, we were ready to take it on. We headed out and before we knew it we were in South winds at 19 kts and fighting building seas. We pushed on. We had a fuse to the engine instrument panel go out that Ron had to redo. We pushed on.

For EIGHT HOURS we tacked back and forth in the wind and when we discovered that we'd only made it 20  of the 130 miles south we were both totally defeated. Worried about electrical issues, bouncing in building seas and getting nowhere we turned around...and made it back in 3 hrs. On top of that, Lexie was getting antsy and had reached the edge of her bladder's abilities. Add this to the constant stress we'd had for sometime and, well, let's just say that our lids BLEW! We lost it, to put it mildly.

By the time we made it back to the anchorage and dodged the fish traps and buoys I.Was.Done.

All I kept telling Ron was that this was supposed to be fun. And it most certainly wasn't fun now. And he agreed.

The next morning I cried bawled into my pancakes (no joke) as we talked about our options. Did we really want to continue? Would it be better to just ship the boat to Florida and be there already? Would shipping the boat be a waste of money when we got to Florida and still didn't like it? Should we ship it home? I JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN DAMMIT!

At one point I'm pretty sure I had Ron talked into storing the boat and going off in a car on a camping adventure around the country. Then we talked to Jim and Chris who wisely told us to not make any rash decisions and that they too had been in a spot like this. Everyone has. I had chatted with Jessica (from MJSailing) when she was going through tough times, I've read countless blogs about similar experiences by others but none of that mattered because I didn't Get it. I even apologized to Jessica (when I was telling her about our ordeal) for what was surely sub par advice and a severe lack of empathy on my part when she'd had "one of those days" and needed someone to talk to. I did not get it. And until you experience it, you won't either. Don't try. Just know that if you give this life a try you will get it at some point and it's going to feel like it's sucking the life out of you. But you'll recover (one way or another) and you'll be better for it.

It wasn't all bad: We caught our first fish AND Lexie peed on the boat!
Celebrate the small successes, it'll help keep you sane.
We have since decided to carry on (in case you were panicking). We've been stuck in Sandy Hook hiding from those high winds for the last week waiting our turn to try again, which isn't all bad, we're actually looking forward to moving on again....imagine that! I can't make any promises that we won't, in fact, take off for that camping trip at some point, but for now we're here, we've got our big girl/boy panties on and we're heading south!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

New York!

Coming in under the George Washington Bridge
Well friends, we've made it to New York! I'm still having a hard time believing it myself. We pulled up to the 79th St. Boat Basin and fortunately there were mooring balls available. We snagged one and made arrangements with the marina office and set out to check out the city. We're not really big city people (if you hadn't figured that out yet) and, although we're stopping, weren't sure how long we'd actually stay. Actually, Ron said he could blow right passed it and not stop at all and he'd be just fine with it. However, neither of us had been here before and what's the point in traveling if you're going to miss land marks like New York City?!? So we took a few days to take a look around.

9/11 Memorial
World Trade Center
Trinity Church
We even managed to ride the subway and not get lost!
There is SO much to see and do in the city and so many people going every direction at faster-than-light speeds that it was a bit overwhelming at first. We walked all over and saw some amazing sights, 90% of which I don't know a thing about but were still fun to see.
In front of Grand Banks, ready for some cocktails!
Easily our favorite part of being in New York was meeting up with Kelley and Jason from Sailing Chance, sipping some cocktails and having a grand old time on the Grand Banks with a front row seat of the NYC skyline! Having cruised for a couple years, they were full of fantastic stories, advice and encouragement. Unfortunately, it was a week night and both Kelley and Jason and we had to get back to our respective boats to let our dogs out or the party might have gotten pretty out of hand (like that would have been a bad thing). Either way, it was a fun evening and we're looking forward to meeting up with them somewhere sometime! 
Photo stolen from Sailing Chance's Facebook page ;)
After two days in the city Ron and I decided to head to South to Sandy Hook, NJ where we hoped to have a little more peace and quiet and a free anchorage waiting for us. So we said a temporary goodbye to Chris and Jim with plans to meet up somewhere along the way to the Boat Show in Annapolis, MD and headed out through New York Harbor. We dodged tour boats, ferries, freighters and all kinds of barges on one side and had by Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty on the other as we crossed the harbor. I would have loved the chance to get my history fix at Ellis Island, maybe next time!
Ellis Island
I could spend some serious time here!
Lots of anchored barges lined up...not so bad to navigate when they're not moving!
The Brooklyn Bridge looking up the East River
There she is!!!
A not so close up
By the way, we're now officially on the big briney, no-lexie-don't-drink-the-water OCEAN!! Now we know what people meant when they said salt water never dries and we're seeing first hand little bits of rust appearing on the boat. Getting ready for some new maintenance projects but all you have to do is take a deep breath of that salt air to make it all worth it!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

It Stinks. It Stinks Really Bad.

...I said to the sink.
(Sorry Tug Boat Captains...I don't really even know what this means-ha!)
Staying on top of boat maintenance is a pretty clutch duty. Wait too long and your stuck with something broken that may or may not be important and for which you may or may not have a spare for. If it is important and you don't have a spare, morale can quickly take a hit....I hate that!

So we try hard to stay on top of our maintenance. But sometimes we (I) slip up. Like just recently when we started noticing "this smell". It started out sporadically and became more frequent but I largely continued to ignore it (for shame!). That is until I heard the "glug glug". Yeah, I'm talking about the sink drain and whatever crawled in there and died.
The solution. I love an easy fix.

I know I've read from The Boat Galley that you should dump boiling water down the drain at least every month to help keep the small line clear and odor free, but I just kept thinking....well, I'm not sure what I was thinking. Because after just over two months of cruising it was a problem. Luckily, all I had to do was boil some water and dump it down each drain.
The culprit

There is plenty of  vital equipment that requires important, regular maintenance without exception but, take my word for it, even small and seemingly unimportant items like the sink just may bring a tear to your eye and a fresh wave of nausea to your stomach if left ignored. You have been warned.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Erie Canal Highlights

Leaving the Niagara River, entering the canal!
It seems like we were in the Erie Canal a lot longer than 10 days doesn't it?!? Well, it wasn't, but what is was was an experience! We really enjoyed the small towns and multiple free docks that we got to stop at but, honestly, my favorite stops were the ones we overnighted at the locks. We had big, grassy areas that Lexie could cut loose on that were private and peaceful (other than some train/traffic/cruise ship noise...which wasn't really that bad!) and FREE.
The towns were quaint, historic and filled with the nicest people offering their insider knowledge of the land. In fact, we were generally given so many pointers about where to eat or get ice cream (my favorite) that afterward Ron and I would look at each other and have no idea what was where. Was the ice cream place across the bridge or the really good breakfast place? But don't worry, we managed to find what we needed ;)

While there are plenty of people that transit the canal in less time, we decided to take the full 10 days of our pass in an effort to 1) see as much of the canal as possible, 2) get our money's worth from the fee (ha!) and 3) to keep from getting burnt out from motoring for hours on end day after day. And our plan worked pretty well, it wasn't until the last day or so that we started really itching to be done and then...boom we were done!

Instead of regaling you with every last detail of our trip, I'll save us both a lot of time (and me a lot of wracking my brain) and let the pictures do the talking - and stay tuned for a video of our Waterford Flight of Five transit.

Wouldn't this be even more of a sight
during peak fall colors??
Just a little engine work on the town wall in the rain
Lots of railroad bridges. And trains. For real.

Excited about his "throne"
Blue Herons around every corner
We went under this bridge with a train going over it.
Kind of creepy. And loud.
My favorite overnight stop. And I'm pretty sure Lexie's too.
Happy hour with friends
Always on the lookout for debris
Old aqueducts on the canal
Another lock stop. Also where the cruise ship came through.
Changing the anode to zinc for the saltwater
Lock 17: 40 ft drop (largest lock in the world)
Leaving lock 17. No swinging doors here but
we did get a refreshing shower from the lift gate!
One thing I wish that we could have done was check out more historical spots. There were parks on the canal with historical sites but the floating docks provided weren't big enough or deep enough for our boat and while in the towns it was so stinking hot that we really didn't have the desire to go take a hike and sweat any more than we already had all day long. Plus, we were stuck with the 10 day limit which meant that we had to keep moving every day too. Despite this, I'd still consider our Erie Canal transit a success and a very unique experience. So if you get the opportunity to check it out for yourself, take it!