Ship's Log


June 16, 2008:

We're more like Ike and Tina Turner than we thought after all!  The saga of the mast repair continues......


When we got the estimate for transporting the mast to South Amboy on a tractor trailer, the dollar amount made us fall down and completely black out!   When we regained consciousness, we decided to revert to our original plan and bring it there ourselves, convenience and timetable be damned.  The chunk of money saved would be much better used upgrading the boat, or just added to the cruising kitty for a couple of months' budget.  So, this past weekend, we brought it down there. We lived to tell the story, and it turned out to be fun!




The master plan on paper.

We had our marina use their crane to lay the mast on three jackstands that we'd strategically placed on our deck, and we used eight heavy duty ratchet straps from Home Depot to secure it down nice and tight. We were pretty concerned about this aspect of the plan, since we'd heard a horror story about a couple who tried the same thing and lost their mast over the side while underway, with one person nearly killed trying to save it.  

But once we had everything tightened down, it was clear that it our mast was not going anywhere and we relaxed.  
       
Something is different here.

The boat was quite a spectacle, and drew lots of witty comments from the marina peanut gallery:  "the yard stepped your mast the wrong way!" "that's a really long boom!" and "going sailing, are you?".  Several small children, obviously wise beyond their years, appeared to be frightened at the sight of us.



 Our mast lies horizontally, while the masts of two small sailboats behind us make us look like a ketch.  
The New Jersey Turnpike presides majestically behind us.

At 7:00 the next morning, we fired up the engine and rode the ebbing tide down the Hudson, under the Verazanno Bridge and into the Raritan Bay. It was such fun just to be away from the dock, and we made way better time than we expected.  We were out on the water for the first time in 2008, and it was a beautiful day!

It takes practically forever to load, but you can click here for a video snippet of us underway!

Since Lockwood Boat Works is tucked in a shallow creek, we couldn't approach them until high tide, so we tested out our anchoring skills and dropped the hook for some lunch and a nap.  




 

When we were sure the tide was high enough to accomodate our 6 feet of draft, we proceeded cautiously through the shallow channel (only 2 feet deep in places at low tide!) and into the beautiful salt marshes of Morgan Creek.  We were relieved that Lockwood Boat Works really lived up to the hype-- it's the most organized, spotlessly clean, environmentally sensitive boatyard we've ever been in, and Bill Lockwood expertly lifted our mast off the boat.  He was even nice enough to let us stay in his personal slip for the evening.  



The crane gets ready to lift.

We got up with the birds the next morning and slipped through the shallows just after high tide.  We decided to head over to the far side of Sandy Hook and anchor in the Atlantic while we waited for the tide to reverse and help propel us back home.  Alicia practiced some cooking underway and whipped up some pancakes as we motored eastward.  Food always tastes better in salty air!

 

Pancaking in progress.

We anchored for a bit in the ocean and stared out to sea.  We could see drifting fishing boats all around us, and the sky and ocean were lavender  in the light fog.  We had hoped to take turns swimming around the boat, but the water was a very chilly 67 degrees and a red tide had clouded the water with algae, so our swimsuits went back in the dresser drawer.  As it became time to start for home, the drizzle was becoming a shower, so we hooked up the autopilot controls inside the main cabin.   If things got messy outside, we'd be able to steer from our living room!

And it certainly did get a little ugly for a while.   We ran through a thunderstorm, keeping watch from SARABANDE's large deckhouse portlights with binoculars and adjusting our course accordingly, all while staying nice and dry!  Including the windows in the companionway doors, we have an almost 360 degree view of our surroundings from the deckhouse, minus a blind spot directly in front of the bow, which we ventured outside to check every few minutes.

It was nice to be inside away from the pelting rain and wind while still maintaining a lookout, but this technique wouldn't work at sea in a real storm. Offshore, we'll have to put shutters over the portlights and hatchboards in the companionway to protect them from getting smashed in by waves, so our 360 view indoors would be reduced to nothing.  But in instances like this, it's quite a luxury!


 Busta Rhymes, the ultimate mariner, sleeps her way through the storm.

The storm was over after about 40 minutes, and we arrived back in our slip a couple of hours later feeling tired and happy.  We've resolved that if our mast takes a long time to get fixed, we'll still take little powerboat cruises like this one in the meantime.  We look ridiculous, but we can still learn things by anchoring in different settings, manuevering the boat through tricky passes under power, and just being away from home in general.

It's certainly better to just get out there than to sit at the dock and complain that we never leave!  And when we are sailing in (hopefully) a couple of weeks, we'll be all the more ready to go places.




 



Things Figured Out This Weekend:

* strapping the mast to the deck is not as huge a deal as we thought it would be.

* our 43-year-old diesel engine ran smoothly and trouble-free for 4 hard hours straight, two days in a row.  We will continue to lavish it with attention and care, but this small test gave us some faith in its capabilities (knock wood).

* the old, crusty-looking windlass did not need help or break down-- shockingly, it drew up our 30KG anchor without complaining.  We'll give it a tune up to be safe, but it's a nice suprise that it works.

* also a nice suprise, the washdown hose for rinsing bottom gunk off the anchor works once you open a certain valve!  We were expecting to have to use a bucket and brush to clean the muck off.  Hooray for valve discoveries and daintier hands!

* we figured out how to set the alarm on our GPS to go off if our anchor drags and we start drifting.  Fancy pantsy!

* the new golf cart battery system works.  The fridge stayed cold and voltage remained strong while we were at anchor. Gold stars for Brian!
 
    
 
More pictures of the whole thing are here.  We hope you're all happy and well and enjoying the summery weather!  Happy birthdays to our lovely and talented dear friends Michael Johnson (6/13) and Carly Lukas (6/16) and to Alicia's crazy, fantastic brother Tommy "Hip, Hip Jorge!" Collins (6/20).

Take care,
AMC & BWN


               


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