Saturday, 27 July 2013

Munching Away on the Big Apple ….. July 2013

09 – 11 July:  Liberty Landing, New York – 40 41N 74 03W

Pounding the Pavements
It was great to be anchored in the Hudson River so close to the action, but we had a very bumpy night with the current whipping past at speed.  Still, we were in New York and it was time to explore.  We took the subway downtown and popped back up to ground level at Ground Zero

You don’t really have an appreciation for just how big the footprint of skyscrapers are until you see the emptiness that remains once they are gone. P7100110 Gosh this is a busy area -  construction is well underway to refill the space with more towering skyscrapers and a transport centre, roads are closed off, security is tight, tourism is booming: there were thousands of people milling around.  Access to the large Memorial Park honouring the victims of the 9/11 attack needs to be pre-booked online and confirmation printed off, guess we should have read the Lonely Planet first, but really - how many tourists in New York have printers with them anyway???

Skippers comment - I’m not a religious man and I’m no engineer, but I was struck by how a church and other old buildings just metres from ground zero were untouched when not one but both of these huge towers dropped like a stone within their own footprint …. maybe the Lord does indeed work in mysterious ways …. or maybe not … just saying !


The Financial District – then more, and more

After a much needed espresso break, and this is a good time to mention just how hard it is to find a decent espresso coffee (latte for us) in America, actually it is hard to find espresso at all.  Most cafes and delis have a line up of pre brewed coffees in thermos flasks on offer, just ghastly.  It really has become quite a challenge to satisfy our daily latte fix when we are off Balvenie.   And yes – we do have our own espresso machine onboard!!!   P7100117

Anyway …… next up was the Financial District with a walk down Wall Street and surrounding areas, followed by a detour along the East River to the Vietnam Veterans Plaza at which time the skies opened, very heavy rain fell and everyone disappeared.  We just donned our raincoats and carried on, through Battery Park and onto Broadway.
We walked for miles, through Chinatown and Soho then found a quiet street in Greenwich Village and stopped for a very well earned late lunch.


With our energy levels replenished we carried on through the leafy streets of Greenwich to Washington Square and then Fifth Avenue, classic apartment buildings line the avenue with very ritzy street level designer stores.  Rather a pleasant part of town! P7130041 Next up was Union Square with the excellent Greenmarket Farmers Market underway, some of the best looking and most varied produce we have ever seen – and right here in the middle of this huge city. 
With showers setting in again we called it a day and headed underground to the subway, back to 79th Street.   Back on the river the wind was whipping in from the bay and the tide was on the turn setting up a nasty chop - it was a long, wet and bumpy ride back to Balvenie.
Spending the Night with Lady Liberty

We decided one night of bouncing around was enough so we lifted anchor and set off back down the Hudson River, timing our crossing right on peak hour yet again!!  We headed towards the Statue of Liberty and turned into the shallow and compact anchorage at Liberty Landing in the Liberty State Park.   We were out of the current, the wind had eased and there was no traffic noise –  peace and comfort in New York! 

Sadly though there is no where to land the dinghy at Liberty Landing so it was just a pit stop, we got a peep of Manhattans lights at night and moved on in the morning with the tide up the East River to Long Island Sound.
DSC_2700    P7110005P7110016

An Action Packed 2 Days in New York!

Friday, 26 July 2013

The City That Never Sleeps ….. July 2013

08 – 09 July:  Hudson River, New York – 40 41N 74 03W

DSC_2564New York Harbour Tour

Only two weeks after leaving St Augustine and here we were in New York Harbour.  We spent one night down at the peaceful anchorage at Atlantic Highlands in New Jersey and took the opportunity to stock up on fresh provisions so we could concentrate on sightseeing while in the Big Apple.

We experienced our first taste of unsolicited American hospitality while packing all our groceries into our daypacks and carry bags – ready for the long walk back to the harbour.  A local lady asked if we were on a boat and offered us a ride back to the port, what a gem she was.  We have heard from cruiser friends that have been this way in previous years just how hospitable the east coast Americans are, we can now confirm it!

Sighting the Statue of Liberty

We left Atlantic Highlands early to take advantage of the favourable current to head north across the bay.  Conditions were perfect for our morning sightseeing tour of the New York City harbour - past Coney Island on our right with the Brooklyn skyline peeping out of the haze behind it,P7090079 Staten Island on our left with a parade of yellow ferries marching to and from the harbour, through the Verrazano Narrows where we dodged shipping that looked way too big to be in the Upper Harbour and then, the moment we had been waiting for, into sight came the Statue of Liberty, standing proud and bold, gleaming in the morning sun; quite a sight to behold from your own yacht.  

We did a few twirls round for photos, lucky to be in company with Bandit so we could photograph each other!  But it is a busy spot, the tour boats had already despatched sightseers ashore, yacht racing had commenced out of a nearby sailing club, ferries were tearing past in all directions and at all speeds; it certainly set the scene for New York – a busy, happening place, where the pace is full steam ahead !

Moseying Past Manhattan

We crossed over the Hudson River and motored up the western shore of Manhattan Island.  Neither of us have visited New York since 9/11, the skyline looked so different without the dominant Twin Towers overshadowing everything else.
DSC_2583 P7090105P7090103DSC_2592
Time to Hit the Streets

We arrived at the designated anchoring zone north of the 79th Street Boat Basin, dropped the hook, put on our “glad rags” and hit the ground running!!  A walk across the West Side saw us cross Broadway and eventually pop out at Central Park.  Time for a picnic lunch with the inquisitive squirrels in The Rambles (which should really be called The Maze), then it was on to the world famous Metropolitan Museum of ArtP7090107
Two words spring to mind to describe this museum - totally overwhelming!  We had both visited before, and we couldn’t begin to count how many museums and art gallery collections we have admired over the years, but it seems there is nothing you could find elsewhere in the world that isn’t also on display here. P7090099 It is simply outstanding, but the entrance fee should be for a week, it could easily take that long to do it justice.  We scanned as much as we could, stopped for highlights but with skippers attention span narrowing by the minute, three hours and we were done!  

Time to Collapse    

Late afternoon storm clouds were forming, thunder was rumbling, the wind was gusting and the tide was about to turn making the dinghy ride home against the current almost impossible.  Time to call it a day and head back to Balvenie.  It had certainly been an action packed day.  Happy hour drinks were poured and we sat back and watched the sights and sounds of the New York City skyline change as day turned to night. 

Passing the Statue of Liberty in Our Own Yacht – Simply Priceless

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Independence Day Celebrations at Sea ….. July 2013

03 – 08 July:  Atlantic Heights, New Jersey – 40 25N  74 01W

Celebrating the Rounding of Cape Hatteras!

P7050014Our departure from Beaufort, North Carolina went seamlessly.  We timed the tides and slack current perfectly which just happened to coincide with an early start at dawn, such a difference to our action packed arrival.  There are shallows to clear that protrude around 20 miles to the south, so it was a long motor to windward before we could finally bear away and start sailing north. 
Conditions were perfect, enough wind to fill skippers full sail plan, an almost flat sea and except for the occasional patch of sea mist we had clear skies and starry nights, now why can’t it always be like this? 

As a bonus we landed 2 good sized Mahi Mahi, but lost 2 large Tuna and then lost our trusty lure that we have been quite successful with this season.  For the first time in who knows how long, I cooked fresh fish at sea, we set the cockpit table and ate sitting down with glass of wine.  Such a change from normal passage fare (otherwise known as splodge) served in a plastic bowl with fork.


If taking this weather window meant missing July 4 celebrations then it was worth it.  Still, Mark saw plenty of fireworks ashore on his watch.P7060026

Another Dark Arrival!

We had originally planned to do an overnighter up past Hatteras then turn left and enter Chesapeake Bay, we had even thought that that might be as far as we would get this summer and were happy enough with that option.  But conditions at sea were so good we carried on past the entry for another night, then another day – still perfect conditions, at 2.15am on our 3rd night we entered the mouth of the Delaware River and anchored off the small town of Lewes.  4 arrivals into US ports, all at night!

Sleep,  Shop and Off Again

Even though our passage had been easy we are always sleep deprived, especially when doing coastal sailing as there is so much more traffic around, so we dropped the anchor and collapsed. P7060025 We couldn’t have a lazy morning though, we were desperately low on fresh produce and there was a Saturday morning Farmers Market ashore – just the ticket.

It was a long dinghy ride ashore and then a very long walk in the searing heat to the market, sadly the most disappointing ever visited – anywhere!  Still we scraped together enough food to stave off scurvy for a little while longer, enjoyed browsing around the excellent artists market, then found an outdoor cafe with plenty of shade by the canal and rewarded ourselves with lunch. P7090035

We’re On A Roll!!

The excellent weather was continuing so next morning it was anchor up, back out of the Delaware for another overnighter.  But there was a very big prize waiting at the end of this one, we were heading for New York

On leaving the Delaware we noticed 10’s, then 100’s, then probably 1000’s of rays, manta rays we think, the water was thick with them.  Sadly the water resembled mud so the photos just all look like brown sludge, but we have never seen anything like it – feeding on goodies in the river water maybe or migrating- who knows?

P7090032Back with Bandit

Just north of the Delaware is the small port of Cape May and as we were passing out popped Bandit with kiwis David and Brenda, last seen in Havana.  It was great to have our cruising buddies back out there with us as we headed to New York. 

Skipper immediately went from kicking back reading in the cockpit to full on race mode.  Scary really.  P7090038The intensity was cranked up but soon a look of perplexed disappointment was appearing on his face as he realized even with full sail we were unable to foot it with them as they slowly put a few miles on us. “Its because of our dirty bottom” he kept moaning.  Yeah right ….. I kept agreeing with him.  A morning arrival saw us sailing around the tip of Sandy Hook and down into the bay to the Atlantic Highlands anchorage for the night (only an hour or so behind Bandit!!).

We might technically be in New Jersey but we were in the greater New York Harbour.


Wednesday, 17 July 2013

History Around Every Corner ….. June 2013

11 June – 03 July: St Augustine Fl, to Beaufort NC – 34 42N 76 37W 

The Tale of the TurboP5120037

After we were towed into St Augustine with a seized turbo Skipper had a busy week trying to get Balvenie operational again.  The local Volvo dealer sent someone to us the following morning, and after going through all the checks Mark had already done he too confirmed that the cause of our problem was the seized turbo.  Suggestions were made of ordering a new turbo, but as this one was only 2 years old and we knew how much they cost I started searching online for an option of having it repaired.  And that was where I found Evergreen Turbos located in an inland town in Florida.


It was late on Saturday afternoon but Mark rung them just in case.  No luck, just the answerphone, never mind.  You can imagine our surprise when our phone went around 7pm with Charlie Brown at Evergreen Turbos calling us back.  We explained our problem, Charlie was confident he could fix it (he deals with all the blown turbos from the Nascar Racing in Daytona Beach) and suggested if we could hire a car the following day we could meet him halfway while he was visiting his mother.
Back online I found Budget, the only car hire company open on a Sunday in St Augustine,  a car was booked and we had a very pleasant Sunday drive around Florida!  3 days later we had the turbo back looking brand new,  absolute first class service.  Volvo returned to fit it and after quite some coaxing Olive the Volvo sprung back into life, such a feeling of immense relief.  So it was out of the very expensive marina and onto an affordable Municipal Mooring Buoy – bags were packed, perishable food given away and we flew home to New Zealand the next day.

P5140044The Oldest Town in America

St Augustine claims fame to being the oldest, continuously settled town in the USA.  First inhabited by the Spanish in the 1500’s, it has a long and interesting history over the centuries.  The town is immaculate and tourism is their main income.  It is maybe just a little too picture perfect, but they have done such an excellent job of preserving their heritage  it is better to see everything looking cute than some hideous carbuncle scaring  the setting.
We had our injectors removed and sent away for cleaning and resetting when we returned from New Zealand, so we weren’t going anywhere until they returned. This gave us plenty of time to enjoy the town - St Augustine is rather a pleasant place to be stuck.   We had a great night out with Pete and Kourtney who took us to a local music tribute concert, an interesting collection of local bands played the night away.

Back in Working Order

With Olive running smoothly again and a weather window of light south west winds for a few days it was time to move on, as far away from the hurricane belt as we could get.  We hoped the weather would hold and that we would have favourable conditions to get around Cape Hatteras and into the Chesapeake Bay.  Over 6 weeks after arriving in St Augustine we finally headed out of the inlet, pointed north east and raised the sails. 

Why Are the Forecasts Always Wrong?

We had a great sail the first day, then the wind died completely and we motored in sloppy seas, on and off the first night and most of the 2nd day. P6230001 The breeze was fickle so we sailed when we could, our steady forecast of 10 – 15 knots didn’t eventuate till mid afternoon on day three.  It was looking good to round Cape Hatteras the following day. 
By 6pm we had 20knots, at sunset 25knots, this was our last chance to turn into Beaufort, North Carolina.  We downloaded the weather gribs yet again and at the same time received an email from our friends on Bandit  who were watching the weather for us.   It was showing a period of over 30knots during the next day along the coast, not a good forecast for rounding Hatteras - we did the sensible thing and changed course for Beaufort. P6280007

Learning All About the Currents

The guide books show a deep shipping channel to access Beaufort Inlet, well lit and well marked.  The winds steadily increased throughout the night, the seas building behind us.  As we ran downwind heading straight for land we slowed down as much as we could to have a daytime arrival but it wasn’t to be, at 4am we entered the long shipping channel into Beaufort.

We had miscalculated the currents and thought we would have slack water, instead we had a raging river flowing out at us, a following sea and wind coming in with us -  not a mistake we will make again we hope!!! P6290009 It certainly made for an interesting landfall and kept us both on our toes, checking course, staying out of the shallows, avoiding channel markers, getting twirled round like ballet dancers in some of the whirl pools – and then we were through, into the inlet, calm water at last just as day broke, the things we do for fun … phew!

6 Nights in Sleepy Beaufort

The strong winds continued for days.  On day two we moved anchorage hoping to get closer to town.  We just couldn’t squeeze into the town anchorage, jammed full of small permanent yachts on moorings … we just weren’t going to fit.  We continued along Taylors Creek, a tiny waterway barely 100 feet wide in most places until we found a spot that was almost big enough for us, it had great shelter with tall trees to windward and dinghy access ashore, perfect - it was home for the next 5 nights.


We enjoyed our time in this sleepy little seaport, we went to the very good Maritime Museum, wandered all the streets, admired some beautiful homes, found a cafe that served excellent espresso, lunched in cafes hanging over the water, walked on nearby Carrot Island with the wild horses but mostly did small jobs inside as we sheltered from the wind and rain.

We Are Very Pleased We Didn’t Do Hatteras in Over 30 knots!

Time To Say Goodbye ….. May/June 2013

10 May - 10 June:  Home to Auckland, New Zealand

PC250094My Dad
Patrick Brian Moran 
08 Jan 1928 – 19 May 2013

While Mark worked hard on sorting out our broken engine after our arrival under tow into St Augustine, I was otherwise preoccupied - constantly in contact with my mother and sister back in New Zealand.  My Dad’s health was fading fast, at 85 he had had an excellent innings with very few setbacks until developing dementia in his early 80’s.  For the last year he has been in full time care in the Dementia Unit at the Retirement Village where Mum and Dad have an apartment.   
With Balvenie safely attached to a Municipal Mooring and our friends Pete and Kourtney off Norna keeping an eye on her, it was tickets booked, bags packed, transfer to Jacksonville Airport, flight to Charlotte – North Carolina, then the next flight to Los Angeles.  It was here we heard the sad news from home that Dad had slipped away during the night,   we were home 12 hours later.
Sad Occasion But Wonderful Reunion

The following week was a busy time.  My sister Denise and her husband Robert had already done a marvellous job of taking care of all the arrangements to be made.  Mum was holding it all together pretty well, with such a wonderful community at the Retirement Village to support her she barely had a moment to herself.

Our Dad was a quiet man, never one to join clubs or have a big circle of friends – he would have been truly overwhelmed by the turnout at his funeral. He was the last of his family, the youngest.  We were amazed that people had seen the funeral notice -  2 long lost cousins both in their 80’s, Dad’s nephew Bruce and his son, and a work colleague from 25 years ago had all seen the paper and came to pay their respects.
My cousin Carla along with her husband Brian and two daughters flew up from Wellington for the day, Mum and Dad 50th wedding AnniversaryMum and Dads longest friends Christine and Charlie drove all the way from Levin and my other cousin Andrea, her husband Kerry and my Aunty Jo drove up from Hamilton.  It was truly wonderful to have this chance to have a get together after many years.

But it didn’t  stop with family, a wonderful collection of friends also came to farewell Dad.  They say a funeral should be a celebration of life, thank you all for making such a sad occasion a special time for us.
The Days Flew By

Our time at home passed by quickly.  We caught up with friends as time allowed, Mark managed to slip in a couple of yacht races down at the Ponsonby Cruising Club and I spent as much time with Mum as I could, helping to sort out Dads affairs.
But we couldn’t stay long.  Balvenie was sitting in Florida and the official start to the Hurricane Season is 01 June, we needed to head back to America and get north as soon as we could.


Back to Balvenie

With as much done as we could do at home, it was time for another sad farewell to friends and family.  We flew on Air New Zealand back to Los Angeles, spent the night there then got a very early flight across to Atlanta, a connection onto Jacksonville and a prearranged shuttle down to St Augustine.  The marina kindly ferried us back out to Balvenie, she was sitting happily awaiting our return, no worse off from the effects of Tropical Storm Andrea which had passed through the previous week.
You May Have Gone Dad – But You Will Never Be Forgotten