I haven’t posted in a while. Not for lack of thoughts. Or lack of writing. But somehow I never felt grounded in “Alembic Adventures” enough to post. This is supposed to be Alembic’s adventures, right? Well, Bill and I have had many adventures since May, but most have been off Alembic. We have spent time with our kids, my family, Bill’s family, CBHS colleagues, NxStage colleagues, friends from Maine and friends further afield. We have stayed at our two dwellings, Camp Weigel at Mt Abram and the Beach House in South Portland, as well as in a boatyard, in a tent, in Colorado, in hotel rooms, and on many friends’ sofas.
Now that we have been aboard exactly one week, I’m getting in the groove. Leaving Portland three weeks ago didn’t really feel like we had begun cruising because we still had some land travel to enjoy.
We left Alembic anchored in Boston to go see Lindsay in her first triathlon and to stay with the Wilsons who are the annual trophy winners of this race.
Then I rented a car in Newport to take another visit to my parents in Connecticut.
So, my return to Newport, and the drop off of the rental car felt like our starting point, one week ago.
First, we set sail for Long Island Sound. What a perfect trip sailing with our sails full and the current pushing us along. Some day we will have to spend more time in this special area and fully appreciate the many harbors. Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Block Island, and Shelter Island each have unique appeal for us, and we long to visit them again. Sailing past Point Judith and Green Hill beach brought back crazy memories of my teen years hanging out at our cottage with family and on the beaches for late night bonfires. Friends and family along the Connecticut shore have been so welcoming in the past and we plan to visit each of them again soon.
This year, however, we sailed right on through to New York City. Well, almost. After twenty hours of perfect conditions (except I couldn’t sleep), we entered Port Washington and dropped anchor at 4am. Fully rested after 4 hours of sleep, we motored over to the moorings that we couldn’t see in the pitch dark. These moorings are free for two days and are very close to a dinghy dock. Not many things are free in NYC!
Taking the train into the city was fun, which surprised me. Usually, we are not city folk. Hicks from Maine are rarely considered cosmopolitan. This time, we traveled one hour by train, then took the subway to Penn Station, and walked through Central Park to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Deciding that we needed a full month of daily visits to take it all in, we left after four hours, feeling saturated with amazing culture and Art.
The following day, Rob Ross, Bill’s college roommate, picked us up and drove us to his beautiful home in Great Neck Long Island. What a great guy. How many people do you know marry their college sweetheart, start working with Dad right out of college, and 32 years later still have the same wife (and their three talented daughters), same job, same boss (84 year old Dad), same neighborhood, and same tennis and sailing buddies?! Dad sets the tone with the whole “work hard, play hard” theme as he dashes off every weekend to their cottage on Shelter Island to hang out with the ROMEO’s (Retired Old Men Eating Out!) While visiting their home which they share, I noticed that Gerry’s hands were a bit darkened by years of working on motors, but his killer smile and sharp intellect reminded me that a lifetime of sticking to what matters is good medicine.
Transiting Hell’s Gate in NYC went blissfully smoother this year, compared with last. Last year the US Coast Guard insisted we drop anchor in the middle of the tight channel because the Pope was in town and the whole canal was closed for security for a few more hours. We, and the other umpteen boats they ushered over to the edge, were clinging to our anchors, praying they would hold with the raging currents. This year, we flew through, sometimes at over 11 knots! And right through New York harbor, with zero cruise ships, zero tankers, and only a few fast ferries far from us. Weird. Maybe Tuesday is NYC slow day. Note to self: travel on Tuesdays not Fridays!
Since our NYC transit went so smoothly, we decided to keep on going, right on to Cape May. The wind nearly died, so it was a motor boat ride with SW winds of only about 5-10 knots. We hurried along, knowing that lingering out there would result in facing the next day’s forecast of very strong easterlies, kicking up large seas. At 6am the next day, we ducked into Cape May harbor just in time. 25 knot gusts piped up, causing many of us to start spinning around on our anchors as the currents and the winds fought for control of us. Three hours of sleep wasn’t enough, but we knew that this wind was only going to build, so we raised anchor again and charged on through the Cape May Canal into Delaware Bay. Winds were gusting well over thirty knots for most of the day, giving us a boisterous ride under sail.
Maybe I was just tired, but I felt uncomfortable sailing in the dark, into another canal, and docking at a place we’ve never seen. But Bill insisted that all of the other anchorages wouldn’t afford protection from these winds. He was right. And docking at the North Summit Marina was easy. The spotlight worked this time, so we could see the tiny harbor and the welcoming docks. Tying up and sleeping twelve hours was so satisfying.
Waking up in a strange marina put me instantly into cruising mode. Here we were, knowing no one, but nestled among so many boats. Despite the dreary weather, I liked the neighborhood! Soon, a cruising neighbor knocked on our hull and invited us to breakfast on their boat. Dwayne and Carla, on Foreign Affair, a Catalina 38, had been in radio contact with us in the Atlantic as we sailed from New York City to Cape May and through the Delaware Bay. They had taken pictures of Alembic, as we had of their boat, and we became “radio friends”. This is what cruising is all about: traveling and meeting people everywhere you go, learning about new territory, new weather patterns, new cultures, helping others as you go along, and opening up your heart and mind to vast new experiences. I’m ready.