A Stay in New Jersey and Big Day #3
Other than the brief post on Tuesday about starting our passage to Montauk, it has been weeks since our last post, and I’ve been grinding on the best way to summarize the more notable points of this period.
Well, first and foremost, if you’re reading this it means we’ve made it safely to Montauk, NY. More on that later . . . first, the stop in New Jersey.
I will cover this in headline form since much of it is of great interest to us but may be of limited interest to a lot of others, so:
Of the 26 nights we were in NJ, we slept in our house 3 of them. We stayed on the boat the rest of the time because it is more “home” than our home, just because it is still new to us. However, we did spend those few days making it more homey and taking advantage of the unlimited supply of hot water . . . I’m talking long, hot showers. I was so decadent that when I shampooed my hair I lathered, rinsed and then, just because I could, I repeated. The laundry was also taken advantage of with great gusto. Plus it was good to see the piano again. But we longed to be on the boat, so that’s where we stayed while parked in a lovely marina where Frank had a slip many years ago.
We packed five weeks worth of activity into three, including:
– Five visits from family members
– Six visits from friends
– Two overnight trips out of town (by car – GASP!)
– A visit to see our Mamas (You gotta see your Mama!)
– One funeral (Ems next door neighbor in Bethlehem and good buddy, Irene. Hope you and Norbert and doing the polka together again!)
– Two services at my former church to sing in the choir (2nd Sunday they coerced, uhm uh conned, er uh, asked me to accompany the choir on a piece that was one of our signature concert pieces – I love seeing a classically trained group singing Gospel!)
As if that weren’t an exciting enough itinerary, Frank had a health scare and visit to the doctor complete with 2 scans. Bottom line: all is well. (Many of you know Frank is a throat cancer survivor – 9 years) . . . end of the story: he has a crooked esophagus. No biggie and nothing needs to be done. I have been writing a song in my head that I hear being sung by Jimmy Buffet. Goes something like this . . .
“Oh I have a crooked esophagus,
Can’t tell you why or how.
Just what that means ain’t a hill of beans.
Just means that I should eat soft chow.”
Or something like that. It still needs work. Don’t judge.
I joke, but it made for some tense days in our third week, so the visits with family and friends were a great distraction. And we met a GREAT doctor who will have a special place in our hearts forever. She was the best.
So as much as we were chomping at the bit to leave, we were stuck until we got the all clear. We got the all clear on Monday, June 24th at 9:43 a.m. After rejoicing for a bit, we looked at the weather forecast to start plotting our escape. An hour later, we decided that our only weather window (without having to stay in the marina for another full week) was to leave in less than 24 hours. That launched us into a great cloud of scurrying around to prep, provision, make another trip to the house, figure out how to ditch our cars and get back to the boat to be ready for a 6am departure. So that’s what we did.
Here are some pictures of some of Eleanor Q’s visitors and time in the marina and some of the fun we had while in town. . . (by the way, and you clever folks may have already figured this out – if you click on a picture you will get the larger version of it if desired . . . those of you under 40 may not need to avail yourselves of this feature.)
With all of THAT behind us, the focus shifted to BIG DAY #3 and our 30+ hour passage . . . which is nothing to sneeze at! A quick review, we had 3 ‘Big Days” that we looked forward to: Big Day #1: Moving onto the Boat – check. Big Day #2: Taking the lines with us and leaving Annapolis – check. So THIS was Big Day #3: The REAL beginning of our cruising days with a passage towards New England for the summer. YAHOO!
Big Day #3 began on Tuesday at 6a.m. and ended Wednesday at about noon. Yeah, I know. That’s more than a day. I TOLD you it was a big day! Don’t get picky on me.
If you had more than two people or if both were very experienced crew who do this kind of passage all the time, you would actually get opportunities to sleep. But we knew we both wanted to be in the cockpit the whole time and figured we would relieve each other and take catnaps, which is what we did. (Frank’s were little bitty kitten naps. Mine were large Maine Coon Cat naps.) Anyway, here’s the overview of what it was like: The weather was pretty good, the winds were good for more than half of the trip, the temperature change from day to night with wind and humidity called for everything form bathing suits midday to all the layers we could find complete with socks and hats and big coats overnight. It is an open cockpit, so no hiding from the elements except for the canvas canopy that covers part of the area. The ocean was acting like an ocean . . . a little rocky and rolly – which doesn’t stop at any time. I’m so used to the Chesapeake Bay which is very calm by comparison. At one point I said something innocently like, “Are these kind of bigger swells?” I derserved the answer I got, which was, “They’re waves. It’s the ocean. The ocean has those, you know?” I had it coming to me.
So I will speak mostly for myself here as I describe the different feelings I had throughout the trip:
6am – 11am: This is pretty exciting! How cool cruising along the coastline like this. Atlantic City is pretty from out here. I’ll be happy when we get enough wind to sail and can turn the engine off, but we’re making good time and this is cool.
11am – 4pm: Ahhhh. No engine. Just the sails. This is nice. Nee
d to go put some more sunscreen on. I like our 2 hour shift plan. I’ll grab the sandwiches out of the fridge. All is well. How long have we been out here, anyway? Are we a third of the way there yet? How far away from land are we? Oh wow . . . we don’t have cell service anymore, or internet. Huh.
4pm – 7pm: Oh great. There was just a marine forecast on the VHF radio for severe storms hitting New York around 5:30. Is that going to come right at us? Is that lightning I see in the distance? Is that dark path of sky going north of us or south of us? Really . . . we’re 40 miles off shore? How interesting . . . Well let’s pull up the Weather Channel and look at the radar map. Oh yeah, we have no internet or cell service. Forgot. Argh.
7pm – 9pm: Thank goodness we dodged those storms. Being that far offshore worked in our favor and we missed ’em. Beautiful. Pretty sky! I can’t finish my chili. Yeah, I feel fine . . . but where are the saltines?
9pm – 11pm: It’s dark. I can’t see anything. I know you have to dim the screens so you can keep your night vision, but you have the screen so dim I can’t even READ THE FRICKIN’ CHARTS. Why are you doing my job? You’re behind the wheel, I’ll pull out the stay sail. I CAN’T PULL OUT THE STAYSAIL; I CAN’T SEE WHICH LINE IS THE STAYSAIL! THIS SUCKS! I have NO night vision . . . grrrrrrrr… . Why doesn’t the wind come around 20 more degrees so we can sail a straight line to Montauk? We’re 60 miles off shore!
11:pm – Midnight: The moon is coming up! Huzzah! You’re right – it’s amazing how much you can see out here at night. I’m so glad I put that little flashlight in my pocket . . . that’s all I needed to feel a little less frustrated. My night vision took a while to kick in. This is pretty amazing out here! Can you believe we’ve had the engine off and been sailing for 12 hours now? Which constellation is that?
Midnight – 1:00am: Happy Anniversary. I couldn’t think of a better place or way to spend it than on our boat in the moonlight together. (So much better than going to dinner at Chef Olla’s! Inside joke . . . forgive me.) This is really so wonderful . . . I’ll go lay down for the next couple of hours and relieve you around 4:00? Sure, that works. I can’t imagine I’ll get much sleep out here like this . . .
1:00am – 2:30am: . . . zzzzzzzzzzzz…
2:30am – 3:00am: Crap, is that lightning in the distance? Which way do you think it’s headed? Do you need your foul weather gear?
3am – 4:30am: Another storm averted. Excellent. I’ve got this for a while. You shut your eyes. Wow, this is beautiful. Frank’s asleep (sort of). I’m at the wheel, it’s the middle of the night, the moon is shining, I’m listening to great music . . . life is really good.
4:30am – 5:45am – I’ll lay down for a little while again, but I don’t think I’ll sleep . . . zzzzzzzzzzz . . . I missed SUNRISE?? Quick, where’s the sunrise playlist?? (Thanks to those of you who offered great suggestions to add to that, by the way!)
5:45 – 7:00: Okay, we’re only going 5.4 knots, the wind is dying out, and we’re no longer aimed at Montauk just because we don’t want to motor. Okay, that’s sailing. So we’ll have to jibe in a while. That’s fine. This is all still good. Long day and night . . . kind of tired . . . but this is good. I’m going to put another layer of clothes on. I can’t listen to the 70s station anymore. They just played Michael Jackson’s “Ben” and “It’s the Last Song I’ll Ever Write For You.” If they play “Brandy” we’ll have a three-fer for most annoying songs of all times.
7:00am – 9:00am: Okay, this is ridiculous. Can we PLEASE just start the engine and get there already? Thank goodness. Now we’re making some progress! Are we there yet? Yeah, I’ll take it for a while. Go rest. I know; just don’t hit anything. Got it.
9:00am – 11:00am – Hey, we’re actually almost there1 This is great!! Hey, LAND HO!
11:00am – Noon: Montauk Point! There’s the lighthouse! We’ll be at anchor in less than an hour! I can’t wait to take a shower! We made it!
Noon – We have this whole lake to ourselves. This is great! I’m SOOOO glad we’re here. Happy Anniversary.
And Frank from 1:00pm – 4:00pm: . . . zzzzzzzZZZZZZZZzzzzzz . . .
Here are some shots of our exit out of New Jersey, our passage and our arrival in Montauk:
Montauk is beautiful and we love it. We plan to stay here for several days, then spend a few days exploring more of “The Fishtail” of Long Island. More on that next blog. It was amazing, exhausting and a definite feeling of accomplishment. And now I have one overnighter under my belt! A friend compared it to earning a merit badge. I agree, Jimmy. I agree.