I write this from a marina in Cape May, New Jersey; day three of our little odyssey. We finally left New York after two weeks of non-stop activity since our last day of work. Below is a partial list of all the last-minute stuff we did while getting ready to sail away from life-as-we’ve-known-it.
- Deb stuffed the boat with provisions. It turns out we have 5” of unused space under all our settee drawers; tall enough to hold cans of tomatoes or 12-packs of beer or boxes of wine (we’re not proud).
- We went out to see our close and talented pal Derek Bishop perform the songs of Stevie Nicks at a cabaret.
- We ordered and received many many deliveries of equipment and spares.
- The partners from our office generously took us out for a bittersweet dinner (the atmosphere, not the food).
- We dined at the 21 Club on an old gift certificate from my parents. We were joined by our very good friends and fellow sailors Yvonne and Onat. Eve and Onat have been incredibly helpful throughout all our preparations with everything from lending us their car after we sold ours to hosting dinner and movie nights to distract us from our anxieties and generally offering an endless supply of positive reinforcement. I hope you have friends like Eve and Onat.
- We sold our car.
- I Installed the Single Sideband Radio. All the components are in and connected. I have yet to fire it up and test it though.
- We spent a lovely evening in a bar. We announced to friends that we’d be hanging out if anybody wanted to stop by and let us offer proper farewells. Many did. We’re lucky folks.
- We designed, ordered, and received our boat cards! Thanks to my brother Jeremy for the help converting my line drawing to an Illustrator file.
- In addition to facility with the Adobe Creative Suite, Jeremy is also a welder (and woodworker and builder of motorcycles). We had earlier designed a stainless steel companionway security screen, but couldn’t find any fabricator interested in such a small project. We sent Jeremy the drawing and he and a neighbor banged it out in their garages. Fits perfectly!
- We spent an evening at Deb’s parent’s place joined by her sisters and their families, as well as Eve and Onat, for a farewell dinner.
- We cancelled insurance, EZPass, and Netflix.
Many of these deserve a post of their own, but let’s put the prep behind us and forge onto more recent events. We finally cast off the afternoon of 17 October, after spending the morning changing the fuel and oil filters and doing a final load of laundry. Eve and Onat were there to document our departure.
Our first leg was short; just a three-hour run to Atlantic Highlands in Sandy Hook Bay, NJ. It was short, but rough, with winds gusting to 30 knots. We left partly because we just wanted to get off the dock, ready or not. Mostly, we wanted to attend a dinner party hosted by the most hospitable Brian and Joe, fellow boaters of the power variety. Dinner was a largely all-boater affair with folks from our sailing club, the Knickerbocker Sailing Association. Being boat people (i.e.: fun, supportive), everybody offered us best wishes and helpful suggestions. Brian and Joe even got us a cake.
The next morning Eve drove us down to the marina where we, along with Onat, took the launch out to Delancey’s mooring for the first real leg of the trip to Cape May, NJ. Much like the trip down, the first three hours were a slog around Sandy Hook, with 25 knot winds from the northwest and all the fetch of Raritan Bay to build waves. Once we got around the hook and headed south, things got much easier. We raised the double-reefed main and a scrap of jib, shut off the engine, and were instantly zipping along at nearly 8 knots. The wind was steady on our starboard quarter and the NJ coast, only about five miles away, kept the following seas manageable.
Manageable, but cold. We shipped the windward cockpit enclosure panels, which made a world of difference, but the temperature was in the low-30s and after the initial excitement wore off and the sky darkened, the cold seeped in through our foul weather gear pretty quickly.
As we approached midnight, the three of us fell into a routine: The helmsman sat at the helm (genius, I know). The on-deck crew sat bundled in blankets on a folding seatback cushion tucked into the least windy corner of the cockpit, making sure the helmsman stayed awake (Around 3am, while in the on-deck chair, I announced to Deb that I was about to perform a scene-by-scene plot summary of the original Star Wars, with commentary, which, for the next hour, I did.) The third crew stripped off their outer layer and curled up in the master berth for some rest. Every hour or two, we’d rotate positions. Lucy Cat spent the evening monitoring the situation among pillows and blankets in the main saloon.
In this way we made it to Cape May. It was a happily uneventful trip, only requiring the occasional headsail adjustments to react to increasingly failing wind. Yvonne, who drove down from Jersey City, met us at the dock to pick up her man. After washing down the very salty boat, we enjoyed a late lunch of Deb’s coq-au-vin in the cockpit. We hugged our good friends and sent them home with promises to connect in warmer locations soon.