Sunday, November 11, 2012


Is the storm over yet????
    Steph here.  Wednesday… The morning after….felt like Mt. Ararat on day forty one.  The sky was gray and all nature’s color was washed out by the rainfall. Residual wind and damp diminished the appeal of venturing out. Although we were dry, we were still a thousand miles north of where we wanted to be and much too cold. Cabin fever and a curiosity to see the aftermath drove us to debark and walkabout anyway.  Looking over at Scott’s house, water still lay on the surface here and there. All the boats survived, including a sailboat left on a mooring in the river.
The receding waters

Scott's house

Atop Mt. Ararat
     Scott, the owner/operator of Hancock Harbor Marina and Bait Box Restaurant, has collected lots of marine memorabilia and has the room to display it. The operation is well run, but unlike many marinas, it has the ambiance of a general store. As Don told us before we arrived, “it needs a coat of paint.” The most surprising artifact we saw when we first arrived was a beached UFO. Now we had a chance to visit it up close. Somebody’s fantasy beach house I imagine, crafted in fiberglass. Other fiberglass derelicts appear to be modular cabanas out of the fifties.  Most of the other artifacts pertain to the waterman’s way of life on the river and the bay. Oyster rakes, wooden crab boats, fisherman’s floating cabins, old anchors, net floats, skiffs and crab pot buoys are scattered around making the walkabout an adventure in history and culture.
Martin houses for resident insect hunters

Judy getting "grounded" with the large quartz crystal in the pile

Na-nu, Na-nu!

Floating fishing cabin

Capsized Skiff

Crab boat restoration

Old timer
      As the day wore on, boaters came down to survey the results of the storm. Nick on an adjoining boat offered to take us shopping and on a local tour to boot, an offer we could not refuse.      We drove through marshes and flat open farm fields, many studded with windrows and blocks of ornamental trees, both functional in place and available for market. It seems that Greenwich, New Jersey was one of the earliest settlements in the Garden State.  The locals have called it Green-Witch ever since before the revolution. The Yacht Club’s burgee depicts a green silhouette of a witch on a broom stick. The town has a monument to its own Tea Party, held not long after the one in Boston we all learned about in school. They refused to use the British pronunciation of their town to this day. Besides the Tea Party monument, the village boasts some lovely old homes, Colonial, Victorian and assorted others. Nick tells us that despite being in the middle of nowhere, real estate in the village is pricey.  Charm has its costs.
Greenwich house 1

Greenwich houses 2

Greenwich house 3

Greenwich's Tea Party monument
     Next stop was Bridgeton, the Cumberland County Seat. It got its name from the fact that it could only be accessed by bridge from any direction, understandable in this low agricultural country. Nick took us to Wal-Mart where we found two small (less than 12 amp draw) electric heaters, then to Shop-Rite for a few more items. On the return trip, the tide was up and several of the roads back to the marina were under water.
Road out- can't go that way!
     Back on the boat, we took out the two 200Watt “personal” heaters and plugged them in.  They had the effect of a small fan blowing over a 150Watt bulb. You’d be surprised how welcoming that was. Earlier, Judy had asked me “At what temperature can you see your breath?” We were finding out in our real life science experiment.
    Thursday… Lee on “Brisa” came by and brought us a 1500Watt electric heater and a heavy extension cord to use. We had been using a lighter extension cord strung up on poppets to keep it out of high water. Scott kindly kept the power to the electrical posts in the yard operating with a large generator. What blessings, unlike millions of other people we had power most of the time and the big heater really took the bite out of the otherwise chilly cabin. Yeah, we actually got to take off several layers of clothes and were comfortable!
     The weather was a little less dreary and we continued to recommission Bentaña. We had returned odds and ends on deck on Wednesday, and today we bent the three sails back on and ready to sail. Judy went up the mizzen mast to untie the blades on the wind generator.
Hobie looking for his Mama!
      Down at the dock, “Little Fin” the crabber was returning with baskets full of “Hurricane Crabs.” The Captain said the season was coming to a close and the storm provided an abundant catch. I asked if I could buy some, and wound up with half a bushel of mixed he-crabs and she-crabs, enough for two dinners for two. I brought them up to the boat to show Judy and Hobie. Judy was skeptical and Hobie was reticent. That evening we steamed half the crabs and enjoyed picking out the sweet meat along with leftover pea soup, hearty seafarer’s fare. I steamed the balance after dinner and chilled them for tomorrow’s pickin’.

What ARE those things, Dad?

A hearty meal
     Judy here:  Friday was our launch day.  The guys came with a bucket loader to move the pilings out of the way that had floated over to Nick’s boat.  Hobie was fascinated! Then they used the bucket loader to pull out the rebar stakes that had been installed for tying down during the hurricane.  Hobie was vibrating with excitement until they put the power to the bucket and the noise ramped up.  He skittered away to hide, then popped out again as soon as the noise receded.
Bentaña just "hangin' around..."
The travel lift came to pick up Bentaña and the three of us debarked (Hobie in his carrier) to join the parade to the launch site.  It was cool and blustery.  She was splashed with no problems and we headed for the main dock where we were going to spend the night tied up (and plugged in so we could use the big heater!)  We took on fuel and got a lesson on cleaning crab NJ style.  Apparently, in MD, the entire crab is cooked and you clean it out before you eat it.  In NJ, the crab is cleaned prior to cooking and it is much easier to find the parts you are supposed to eat! Personally, eating crab from the shell when you are hungry is very unsatisfying because it takes so long to get a minute piece of crab out of the shell.
Lee from “Brisa” had told us to leave 30 minutes before low tide to head for the C & D Canal and Annapolis.  So Friday night we tied everything down, stowed everything below and started a pot of oatmeal so it would be ready in the morning.  Low tide was at 0745 on Saturday, so we planned to leave at 0715.  We actually got off the dock at 0749 and started the next leg of our adventure!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

3-3 Hurricane Sandy

    Judy here- “So, where would YOU go in a hurricane?”  Nicki and Franz said that we could stay on their mooring, but being in a shallow creek and not knowing the conditions of other boats’ moorings, and having heard about what happened when other hurricanes had hit Cape May, we were not comfortable with that option.  They also suggested going north on Delaware Bay to the Cohansey River and either getting hauled or going far upriver to anchor and ride out the storm.  As Dick said, “Yeah, the Cohansey is great!  Nice and deep and if you drag, you just end up in the reeds, no damage to the boat!” We decided to see if we could get hauled….Nicki and Franz again came to the rescue and made arrangements for us to contact Don Burton, the Commodore for the Greenwich Yacht Club. He works at Hancock Harbor Marina and graciously made a reservation for us!  As all these arrangements were being made, we received a call from sister Deni saying that Dad had fallen and was in the hospital but seemed ok and was under observation.  Another thing to worry about!

     OK, so now to get there.  We were still in the rental car headed back to Cape May.  After some missed exits and some wrong turns, we got back to the area, found the ShopRite Supermarket (thank goodness for smart phones) and stocked up for the blow.  We finally got back to the boat and stowed our goodies.  We played with the GoPro cameras and put them on to charge. We also dealt with the starting battery.  The old one had died and had lots of residue in the battery box.  We were not sure if it was acid or residue from the cleaning of the transmission fluid flood last year.  We had picked up a new battery and wanted to install it, which we did, sans battery box. It was a very short night…we had to get up early to return the rental car, take the old battery to West Marine and get out of the creek before the tide got too low. 

     At 1040 Friday, October 26, we left the loaned dingy at the dock and headed out of the creek into the Cape May Canal.  When we got into Delaware Bay, we had a favorable current to go up to the Cohansey.  We motorsailed for a while, then the wind died. We arrived at the mouth of the Cohansey about 1700 hours (5 pm) and to the marina at about 1745.  The Cohansey River is an unexpected delight. The weather is lovely and the anticipated storm is only a far off thought as we motored up this winding waterway, slithering like a serpent through an endless marshland of reeds. About a few hundred feet wide, the water is deep and the current, forced to turn this way and that around the horseshoe bends, roils and ripples the surface. The view is primeval except for the cluster of masts we see up river. A few more twists and turns and the Hancock Harbor Marina (& Bait Box Restaurant) hoves into view.

We were met at the dock by Don and a couple others who quickly snubbed our lines in the ripping current.  We had a quiet night and planned to get hauled the next day.  We found out that cell service and internet were spotty….Don said that is why they like it here!  Heheh. (Don said we might be last, as most of the boats were coming out for the season and they didn’t want to block us in.)

     Saturday was a busy day.  (0830 that morning, Scott, the Marina owner says, “You’re next, The first boat isn’t ready and we need to get you in while we have enough water at the travel lift.”) We got hauled and put on stands and then our work began.  We took all the sails off before it got too windy.  We took everything off deck that we could and put it inside the boat.  Good thing I had built a shelf in the V-berth over the summer.  It gave us room for everything and we can still move around.  We attached all the halyards to the rail so they would not get chaffed.  Steph hauled me up the mizzen mast so I could tie the blades on the wind generator so it would not overheat in the expected high winds.  It got dark and cool, so we decided to finish any remaining stuff on Sunday. 

Sunday we secured the Crew Overboard pole and horseshoe and put the life raft in the cockpit.  Steph tied the boat down to the rebar stakes that were driven into the ground for our use. At high tide Sunday morning, the water was already in the boat storage area. We were ready for the storm (ready as we could be…spotty weather guesses put our homeport of Nyack in worse shape than us.)  Now, if we could just contact people to say we are ok!!!!  It started to rain around 1700 (5 pm) and the wind started to build.  We took the dodger down expecting high winds before morning.  We are plugged in to shore power, at least until the power goes out.  We watched a movie on the computer and decided to have a movie marathon until the power goes out.

As I write this, it is Monday, October 29 about 3 pm.  It has been rainy and windy all day.  So far the maximum gust has been 32kts.  We still have power. The forecast is for sustained 40-55 mph winds and gusts from 65-85 mph through tomorrow early afternoon.  It is chilly, pouring and getting windier!  All the camera batteries are charged and the computer is plugged in to be fully charged.  Our phones keep using their charge quickly as they are always looking for reception.

Steph here-  We are boat bound, with the random spatter of wind driven rain on deck above. In jackets and winter hats we are like Jonah in the whale. In the dim light, preserving our power for when the lines go dead. I’m alternating between crossword puzzles and “Snow Crash,” a novel on my kindle. The entertainment center lilting with classical guitar music and Sergeant Pepper CDs. Everything we really need is right here… it’s just a waiting game. The forecasts have the strongest winds overnight tonight and decreasing tomorrow. The astrological high tides (full moon effect) will heighten coastal flooding and the wind will clock around from north to the west and then south as the eye passes.  The Halloween tie-in is not lost on the media, dubbing this, “Frankenstorm” as the hurricane is supposed to combine with a storm coming from the west. All the forecasts we get with our limited wi-fi and smart phone service tell us that we are at ground zero (once again,) but Nyack, our home port on the Hudson is expected to get a serious hit.  While Judy’s Droid keeps chirping thoughts and prayers from our NBC family
and our blog and Facebook friends, it is they who will need the prayers in the coming hours.

Judy here—Hobie,our furry child, has cabin fever and had been running around all day, until we put his bed on the table and he is curled up next to his papa and mama.  He wants to go outside, but each time he gets to the top of the companionway and we open the hatch, the rain and wind get him and he changes his mind. Smart cat!  We put 5 gallon buckets in the cockpit to catch rainwater.  I wonder how much will get in them if it is raining sideways?

We are thinking about our family and friends and hoping for their safety. Many people are aboard boats.  Our friends at Nyack Boat Club didn’t have time to get their boats out of the water and the winds are supposed to be higher there with a higher storm surge.  We have friends who live near rivers and other bodies of water and we fervently hope everyone makes it through the storm safely and stays dry!

Steph here- Monday afternoon, 1600 The boat is being buffeted by the rising winds…talk about shivering your timbers!  I am anticipating the exponential force of the rising winds, predicted to peak here at two in the morning, to keep us awake all night. Forecasts call for 40 - 60kts with gusts around 80 kts. At about 1900, the winds howl softens and a look at the anemometer says down to 22 kts from the high thirties.  A couple of hours later it’s down to 11kts and shifting to the west. We realize we are in the hurricane’s eye.  Judy finds a radar view on her phone which confirms this.  The theory is that the south east quadrant of a cyclonic feature is the weakest. Ergo we may have gone through the worst of it.  Of course it’s only a theory, like gravity and evolution (sic.) There is still a lunar high tide and wind blowing up river instead of down to contend with.  Boats were made to be most stable on the water where the keel counterbalances pressure on the topsides, rig and masts. On static poppets (a funner term than jack stands;) on sodden marshland; in a place where no hurricane’s eye has passed in historic memory; it’s a crap shoot. 

     A Disney feature, “Prince of Persia” on the laptop, followed by a couple of episodes of “Weeds,” some hot soup and it’s mm’m good and to bed, perchance to sleep. The sound of rising winds and some vibration from the buffeting don’t keep me from a sound sleep, although Judy tells me the rock and rattle kept her awake………..Meanwhile, in the Lower Hudson Valley


    As far as we know, no one had died or been injured, but from the various networks, e-mails and phone calls, our home club, our summer home has suffered severe damage. Twenty or more boats have broken free of their mooring and gone ashore, gone aground or gone missing. These include Lou Spitz’s “Ripple Effect;” Jeff Levy’s wooden ketch “Green Heron;” Rich Gressle’s “Xin Hang” Commodore Vin Landers’ “Carte Blanche;” Larry Dolan’s “Colleen II;” Jon Carriel’s “Velut Luna;” Nick  Lemonis’ “Andiamo;” Vin Landers Jr.s’ “Idyllic;” Stephen Iser’s  “Sahara;” the Yanneli‘s “Standish;” The Shaw’s “Shaw Thing;” and others not yet reported.  Our good friends’ Dave Otterbein’s “Breakaway” and Morris Azar’s “Race Riot” both were knocked off their poppets at a marina up river by free boats washed ashore. They both had newly painted hulls.  We hope they have no more than a few scrapes.  Apparently many more boats have been damaged or lost. Our clubhouse has lost its porch (prime real estate, home of the Porch Pirates and the Rocking Chair fleet,) the floating docks messed up (Destroyed?) Some images I’ve gotten are “the banks of the Tappan Zee are lined with washed up boats” and “Boats were knocked off their stands at Petersen’s, Patsy’s and Stony Point Marinas.  So long as no one was lost or injured, we will survive, but for countless friends this is a true tragedy.

Bulletin..Just got off the phone with Lee Luce, editor of our club’s “Tell Tale,” and the picture is more grim than we had heard. The club will be posting photos and stories on its website, and hopefully individuals will post their stories and pictures on the Nyack Boat Club page on Facebook. The monthly meeting and annual election scheduled for Thursday will be moved to the Nyack Library as our clubhouse is unsafe.  There is no power in Nyack as we speak. ======Added later, At Commodore Quinn’s request, the photos should be considered private. Please consider the feelings of those whose loss is a personal tragedy.

     We also mourn the loss of the Hollywood star, H.M.S. Bounty, sunk off Cape Hatteress, the Graveyard of the Atlantic. Fourteen crew rescued but Captain and one mate missing or dead. Judy and I had sailed on her at the Rockland Bicentennial Parade of Tall Ships.  On a foggy drizzly day, the Captain encouraged every tourist on board to go “up and over.”  That is, climb the ratlines to the tops, through or around the lubber’s hole and back down to the deck on the other side. Many of us celebrants did just that, a special highlight of the trip.

     She was built for the title role in the Marlon Brando version of the historic event and scripted to be torched and sunk as per history. When Brando learned of the fiery fate of his co-star, he threatened to walk off the unfinished filming.  Needless to say, a body-double (miniature, no doubt,) played the part and she survived a few more decades till taken by the sea.

     It would be inaccurate to say our experience was a non-event, but our anticipation, anxiety, preparation and labor, (with a little shaking-up thrown in,) was insignificant compared to the fate of those we have heard from, and the millions of others whose lives have taken a sudden turn and will long remember HURRICANE SANDY the FRANKENSTORM.
The travellift at Hancock Harbor Marina

Bentaña getting a lift to her spot and being braced

Taking battens out of the main sail so it could be folded

Pre-Sandy astronomical high tide already over the banks

Bentaña all blocked and tied down

Sandy's potential track was actually a bit further south

Midnight winds....44.5 knots

The radar just after the eye went over us. We are right in the middle
where the orange person is.

Receding waters

Note the pilings which floated over to Nick's boat

Hobie learned how to get under the covers for security and warmth

The highest speed our wind instrument clocked..54.4 knots or about 60 mph

3-2 Finally Headed South


     Judy here--We had a lovely motor down the Hudson (wind was on the nose) and reached speeds of 9.5 kts with the current.  It is amazing what a clean prop and clean bottom (as well as a favorable current) will get you in speed.  We arrived at The Statue of Liberty and followed Dick’s suggestions on how to get into the little known anchorage west of the statue. It was a nail biting experience in the dark as the channel is only about 60 feet wide, the markers are unlit and the current kept trying to push us out of the channel. There was a heavy swell out of the SE, but in the anchorage it was as still as a pond.

     We rafted up with “Endeavor”, gave our wonderful friend Dick a hug, and got out the grill to cook our 3 lamb steaks which we shared with Dick.  Hobie made himself right at home on “Endeavor” and investigated every nook and cranny he could reach.  (This was his first venture stepping off Bentaña by himself.)  Our dinner and libations were in a relaxed mood and it felt SOOOO GOOD finally to be on the way!

     Saturday we spent the day drying out all our wet clothes and gear and doing…boat projects!  Dick is an engineer and helped us brace up the davits and worked on the windlass.  The day was lovely, warm and relaxing.  We dined together again and made Stone Soup. It was very tasty!

     Our friend Lou Spitz had given us the name and number of some folks on another boat “Northern Lights”**- go figure!- who were also headed south.  They were at Liberty Landing Marina and travelling with “Serenity”. (**Northern Light was the name of our Tartan 30).  We three headed south the next morning (Sunday) about 0800 and “Endeavor” headed for Long Island Sound and Rhode Island. 

     After slaloming through the commercial traffic in Upper and Lower NY Harbor, we got out onto the ocean and had a lovely “reach down the beach” to Cape May.  Our wind was 10-15 kts out of the west and we were making 7 kts over ground with all three sails flying.  Our speed kept increasing, so we dropped the main before dark.  The wind built and we continued to gobble up the distance to our destination, so we finally dropped all sails and motored slowly to arrive at Cape May inlet at sunrise instead of in the dark.  What an absolute pleasure to have our autopilot working! Thanks, Daryl!!! We figured it did not like the name Otto, so we renamed it Fritz.  We went in and anchored by the Coast Guard Station.  It was low tide and we could not get to our friends’ mooring as the creek was too shallow.

     About 1130 Monday morning we weighed anchor and went to Nicki and Franz’s mooring in Cape Island Creek at Schellenger’s Landing.  Franz came out to get us in their dingy and we spent a lovely afternoon and evening together doing errands, talking sailing and eating. What fun!  They are heading south also and their boat was already in Norfolk, VA.  Luckily they were home to finish up all the last minute stuff and we were able to get together.  They are lovely people and we are so lucky to have met them two years ago. The next day, Tuesday, we spent the day aboard relaxing and cleaning.  Nicki and Franz joined us for dinner aboard and we had another wonderful evening together.

    Steph had an appointment in NYC on Thursday, so on Wednesday, October 24 (our 30th wedding anniversary) we rented a car, took a short tour around the “Painted Ladies” of Cape May,  drove to brother Lew’s home in Manhattan, unloaded Hobie and our stuff and went to Brooklyn to niece Anna and Pete’s for dinner.  Anna was our flower girl at the wedding.  We got to see their lovely home in Brooklyn and had a great dinner and had the extra surprise of seeing niece Becki too!  Anna and Pete’s boys were sleeping, but Wolfie heard us arrive and came up to say “Hi!”

     The appointment complete, we headed to Rockland County and West Marine to pick up our anniversary present.  I got us a pair of GoPro Cameras, so hopefully we will get some good footage that we can post when we have enough bandwidth.  Hobie had some paperwork at the Vet so we stopped there to pick it up and headed back to Cape May.

     We had been watching the forecasts and tracks for Hurricane Sandy and figured it was time to “get out of Dodge” so to speak.  We called Nicki and Franz and asked where they would go if they were in our boat (pun intended.)
Rafted up with Endeavor and drying out!

Judy and Dick in the cockpit and Lady Liberty hiding in the trees

Hobie in his harness and tether..Sailor Boy!

In Cape May with friends Franz and Nicki--Hobie begging

Steph rowing the tender to Sea Bird III.

A Cape May "Painted Lady"

And another

Anniversary dinner with Anna, Pete, brother Lew and Judy