Great Friends at Great Kills!

Thursday (9/9) – Great Kills Yacht Club, Staten Island, NY

As expected the winds continued through the night and the forecasted rains joined in on the fun.  The slap of waves on the hull of our boat was so loud Denise moved to the settee in the main salon to try and sleep. It was only after putting on a movie (“Sleepless in Seattle”) that she was finally able to nod off and get some rest.  Mark too was a bit restless, but managed to get some shuteye still in the main stateroom.

In the morning, the rain subsided for a bit, but it continued off and on for most of the day.  We stayed pretty close to the boat doing work for clients, catching up on emails, cataloging pictures, and writing for the blog.  Mark also was able to schedule a diver to come and install the zinc on the boat shaft.  “Larry” showed up in the afternoon when the rain had abated and was able to complete the task as well as inspect the prop.  We had another successful year of dodging lobster pots in Maine and once again came through without any issues.

Diver “Larry”

For the last few months, John C has been working to upgrade the WIFI system and when we checked in yesterday was happy to report that it was nearly complete.  But we still had a few issues with it and the boat’s WIFI catcher, so when the installation guys showed up today, Mark was able to talk “techie” with them and get it resolved. We ended up having the best connection we have ever had here, making it an even better place to visit.

Today, was the 32nd anniversary of the day we said “I Do”, but since we were not really sure until yesterday where we would be, we had not made any big plans.  However, once we knew we would be in Staten Island, we made reservations for a nice dinner at Fiore Di Mare, a local restaurant on Mansion St., not far from GKYC.  We have never eaten here before, but some cruising friends who did so in the spring, highly recommended the place to us. We dodged the raindrops and walked up Mansion Street to the restaurant, wondering why we even needed a reservation; the place was nearly empty.

It was very nice and we had a mini celebration that we kept to ourselves, while enjoying some delicious food.  However, we noticed that the whole neighborhood was remarkably quiet compared to the crowds that are here in the early days of summer.  When we were here in June, even on a Thursday, these streets were very crowded and all the neighborhood is buzzing with cars and people.  That was not the scene tonight, and the restaurant was hardly busy.

A quiet Mansion Ave

After dinner we walked back to the boat and ended up streaming the movie “A Rainy Day in NY”. This was a quirky Woody Allen movie with multiple subplots, and we enjoyed it enough to stay up past our normal bedtime to see the ending.

Friday (9/10) – Great Kills Yacht Club, Staten Island, NY

Today was a beautiful day with warm temperatures but not too hot. However, it was very windy as the remnants of Hurricane Larry stirred up the waters off shore (6’ seas) and sent winds our way. We were not going anywhere for a few more days, so we decided to make use of the time and get some things done.

Morning on IO at GKYC

John C was kind enough to lend us his car, and we were able to go to the grocery store and get a few items.  A trip to any grocery store in this part of the country is an experience. No matter the time of day, they are always crowded, and with “Help Wanted” signs everywhere, there is insufficient help.  Every time we shop somewhere else, it has us longing for our favorite supermarket: Publix – where shopping really is a pleasure.

Once back on the boat, we got busy with work, cataloging pictures, writing on the blog, and handling a few personal items.  During the early afternoon the boat “High Spirit” pulled in behind us, and we met Bill and Barbara.  They too are headed south, but will be leaving their boat at Atlantic Yacht Basin in Chesapeake, VA for the winter. 

“High Spirits” at GKYC

In the evening, we decided to patronize our host club (GKYC) and go to the bar for socialization, postponing our usual happy hour.  The drinks here are very reasonably priced ($2 and $3 each) and they come with quite the punch. We went with Bill and Barb, and ended up meeting another local couple, Kevin & Cheryl (“Our Holiday”), whom we had spoken with on the dock as their boat is near ours. We ended up spending a lot of time talking with them about cruising, which they would like to do now that they are empty nesters.  The club was packed because tonight there was a “members meeting”: at 7:00 pm all the men (except Mark & Bill) left the bar and headed to the meeting room while all the women stayed behind. This is an old school club, but still warm and welcoming to all. 

With the party now broken up, we headed back to the boat for the night and took a look at the weather forecasts.  It still looked good for us to leave on Monday and run down the NJ coast, but the window was closing and we were starting to wonder if we would be able to leave as planned.

Saturday (9/11) – Great Kills Yacht Club, Staten Island, NY

This morning Denise went for a long run to a part of the Great Kills area that we have not yet explored; the state park that forms the north and east side of Great Kills Harbor. To do so, she had to first run along Hyland Ave. for about a mile, a busy main road with sidewalks. She took this to the park’s main entrance, then ran paths the rest of the way.  It was an out-and-back run to the end, passing the Great Kills Marina and a beach that overlooks Raritan Bay.  Here are some pictures from her running adventure:

Path in Great Kills Park

The weather today was pretty spectacular and we were wondering if we should have left today. However, once we checked the actual “observations” offshore, the  forecast of high winds and waves were proven to be accurate due to the effects of hurricane Larry; now downgraded but still a factor for Atlantic marine interests.  We were then happy we had stuck with our previously agreed to schedule of leaving Monday morning. Looking forward a few days out, we did see the window to leave slowly closing, and that if we didn’t leave on Monday, we may be stuck here for 4 or 5 more days.  John C informed us that he did have another boat coming south, and we would have to give up our dock for a mooring in the harbor if we did not leave as planned.  We were ok with that as a backup, but set our sights on heading south as planned if the forecast held.

It was a slightly laid back day with Mark doing some engine maintenance while Denise did some food prep for the week. We also found time to work on the blog and do some reading. Mark attempted to finish another book (without Denise interrupting him every 5 minutes) while Denise processed a series of articles that were in her reading queue.

We also had a chance to chat with several of the locals in the club about where they were on 9-11-2001.  Few people want to go to any of the local remembrances, and everyone knew someone killed that day. Their stories are compelling as this club has many retired members of FDNY, NYPD, and the various trades (plumbers, electricians, carpenters, etc.) who were in Manhattan on that day.

In the evening, Mark’s sister was hosting a birthday dinner at her home in Oviedo for his mother, who celebrates her 92nd birthday tomorrow (12th).  As we were unable to be there, we had scheduled a surprise Facetime chat with her. It was a lot of fun and we were grateful for niece Kaitlyn to be present on their end to help those who were more technically-challenged with this great feature.  We laughed and had a great time celebrating virtually, and his mom loved our joint gift: a new backup camera for her car – a terrific help for this very independent woman who still drives.

Sunday (9/12) – Great Kills Yacht Club, Staten Island, NY

Our day started with a one mile walk to St. Clair Catholic Church for the 8:00 am mass.  We have visited this church before, and love this parish the community.  It is also a beautiful church and they still had a memorial up inside the church, for those from their parish that died as a result of the events on 9-11.

Church of St. Clare
Inside Church of St. Clare
911 memorial inside Church of St. Clare
Flag of Honor – 911 tribute flags
Saw lots of these on way home from church

After mass we stopped by ““Frank & Sal’s on our way back to the boat.  This is a terrific Italian Deli that we have shopped at in the past.  They have a small produce section, a large meat counter, shelves with imported Italian food items (think pasta, olive oil, etc.) and a small bakery case with delicious cookies & pastry.  However, their deli is terrific with lots of precooked entrées, sides and every day specialties.  We came for tonight’s dinner and managed to leave with a few Italian cookies in the basket as well. (Note: we wrote about our visit here in the spring, which you can read about here).

Once back at the boat and after storing our purchases, we spent time on the phone with family and friends that we had not connected with in awhile.  It was great to hear what was going on with them, especially since we did not fly home for a weekend this summer as we have in year’s past. However, this still did not dispel Denise’s homesickness and readiness to be in her own home.

In the afternoon, Mark had some engine and other boat maintenance tasks which required him to lift the main salon floor.  Rather than being inconvenienced by this, Denise took her computer and went up to the GKYC Clubhouse to work where it was quiet. While she was there Bill (“High Spirits”) came by and said Mark had sent him for help with setting up PredictWind and AquaMaps on his iPhone. These are apps we use for weather forecasts and boat navigation. He is a very low-tech kind of guy and needed hand-holding through all the steps, as well as a tutorial on how to use the apps. For the next hour or so, Denise helped him and got to know him a little better. This is where we learned that he had never been married and that Barb has been his partner for the last 20+ years. They went boating on their first date and have been boating together ever since.

During this time the bar at the clubhouse was getting a little busy, and Bill offered to buy Denise a drink for all her efforts. Mark was called to come up and join us, and when he arrived we all discussed the weather forecast and outlook for tomorrow’s departure. Bill and Barb have a trawler and will cruise slower than us, but are only expecting to get to Cape May. On the other hand, we are looking to take advantage of the predicted flat afternoon on the Delaware River and go as far as Delaware City. However, we must first get down the New Jersey shore which will be the first 6 hours of our trip. Our mutual departure times were discussed (they would leave earlier by an hour) and then we walked back to our respective boats.

In the evening, we warmed up our “Frank & Sal’s” dinner and had a delicious meal on our boat.  We then spent time working (and finally) publishing a blog update, and for the first time in a long time we actually tuned in to watch the news of the world. Remarkably we were seeing an abomination unfolding in the Middle East, and 20 years later wondering if this will lead to another attack like those on 9-11.  We went to bed heartsick for the lives lost or forever changed because of this evil, and grateful for the warmth and generosity of the wonderful people at GKYC whom we consider friends.


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