Wednesday, June 29, 2016

June 27-June 28 Kingston, NY to Hook Mountain Anchorage

We left Kingston bright and early with many things unstowed or unfinished. We just had to go. The wind forecast was for a SSW wind, 10-15 knots, and the tide started going out at 8:00. The wind was not favorable by any means, but we were anxious to put hours on the engine. Throughout the morning the heat increased and so did the wind, whitecaps formed and began to spray across the deck. I busied myself organizing the boat and stowing our last purchases while Max focused on the engine. He discovered a small oil leak. Not enough to worry too much. Later we began hearing a subtle, sporadic whistling sound. Max told me he was sure it was the alternator belt. I thought to myself that I would never have known that and asked him how he did. He said that that's the only thing that makes that kind of noise. I guess I now know that too now. We decided to anchor and fix it, but before we had the chance to, it went away and we decided the engine had a few things to work out too.

When we left Max's parents on the dock at 8:30, we were anxious to set off on this familiar trip down the Hudson. There were so many reasons to stay busy, and we did, but the occasional smile at each other across the cockpit belied that this trip to NYC was different. We were actually setting off, and our dream was reality. By the time we passed Poughkeepsie we were shoeless and shirtless in the shade of the bimini, watching the barges pass and the grand estates of the Hudson roll by, lush and green.

It became obvious early that the hard dodger we built would be priceless. The protection it offers from the wind is dramatic and one only needs to lean beyond its shelter to feel a rush of wind that would necessitate another layer if it weren't there. All day we found reasons to celebrate this particular addition to Tortuga. Right now I am enjoying its shade and using the companionway hatch as a writing desk. I've opened the dodger window so that I can feel the warm exhaust of the engine on my feet and a cool breeze on my face. I am sure this will be my favorite writing spot.

At 12:30 we passed under the Newburgh-Beacon bridge and an hour later Bannerman's Island came into view. This small island in the Hudson, with its strange castle ruins, has enchanted me since I was a kid. Bannerman, an apparent madman, must have been a predecessor to the Hudson Valley eccentrics we know so well. Max tells me he was an arms dealer and that he mixed into the foundation the weapons that he couldn't sell. Today his island looks overcome by trees and growth, the fantastical ruins popping out here and there as the earth tries to claim his peculiar dream. Max and I keep listening for the engine's whistle, but it really is gone.

The day passed quickly and by 6:30 we found an anchorage north of the Tappan Zee at the base of Hook Mountain. Just as we secured the hook, it started raining considerably. We were able to stay inside the dodger and take notes on how wet the cockpit could get and scheme about ways to change that for the future. Max made a dinner of shrimp and rice while I took pictures of our anchorage. Hook Mountain is a heavily quarried part of the Pallisades that rises 728 ft above the river. The rock is striated in gray and browns with stripes of mustard. At the base there is a small stone house made of the same colors, camouflaged against the cliff face. We went to sleep in a state of absolute happiness, looking around at the warm colors of the main salon and guessing about which of our friends would meet us at Chelsea Piers the next night.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Until We Meet Again, Hudson Valley!

In the morning we set sail for NYC. High tide is at 7 and the wind forecast is for 10-15 knots of wind from the SSW. We should be able to ride the current right down to a comfortable anchorage north of the city, before completing the journey on Tuesday morning. Our hope is to arrive at Marina Max, Chelsea Piers, at around 1 o'clock for yet another bon voyage party. We are excited to see our city friends, Brooklyn roommates, and my esteemed colleagues from the New York Harbor School!

Upstate we have had two gatherings of our amazing community to celebrate our departure.  I have so much history with so many people here and it has been so fulfilling to show them around the boat. Last night they came out to support us at Hideaway Marina- people I have sailed with for over 15 years, the talented craftsmen who have helped us answer so many questions, my brother who taught me to sail, and many shipmates with whom I have gone on smaller adventures. Max and I have been prepared for our journey by this wonderful place and these wonderful people. Thanks to Iliana and Vince, especially, for helping us party. Enjoy the pics...

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Last Things

In the midst of what is practical, all the things that need to be done, I realize the magnitude of this journey. I don't know what waits for us, and thinking about that is like trying to remember a word or a name, my mind tries and slips. I know that things will calm down, way down, and soon we will find ourselves alone in a great and endless landscape. I think of the sunset, the night watch, and the stars that will follow. I trust I will begin to remember their shapes and stories. I think of the storms and trust that at some point I will feel comfortable with them, undaunted by the dropping barometer. What a feeling that would be. I think of Max and realize that I trust him completely. That is my favorite feeling.

These days are filled with last things. New York City is gone, our roommates, the cat (he decided not to join us), the subway commute, riding over the Brooklyn Bridge in the morning. All my rooms have emptied of objects and filled with echo, my classroom at the Harbor School, our bedroom in Bedstuy, chapters closing in rapid succession. Upstate we are making lists and checking them off, day after day. We have finally confessed to each other that we are sick of working on the boat and want to leave.

The boat is ready, packed to the gills with endless provisions. Sam's Club, Aldi, Best Buy. I have never been so sick of shopping. When I finish writing this I will drive back to Target. A few last things-extra battery for camera, 2 gallons of distilled water, drinks for kids at the BBQ later. The truth is though, and we remind ourselves often, there isn't anything we don't have that will really matter.

Our first leg is from Locust Point Marina, in the Bronx, to Bermuda, 654 nm to the southeast. Conservatively, it should take a week. I feel like I don't know the boat that well, how she will move or how many miles we will log, what sail configuration we will use, and so forth. I am most excited about learning these things. This first trip will reveal a lot, and I am sure change a few things.

In any free time we have, we soak up the local Hudson Valley life.  As we drove away from Brooklyn, pushing slowly through the BQE traffic for the last time, the dappled shade of the Hudson Valley welcomed us. This was my favorite moment in the last week. We have found time for a cold swim in the Catskills, a camp fire by the river, and many beers at the China Rose in Rhinecliff. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love this place and this community. Keenly aware of how it will be missed in the following year, I am off to Target.