Burlington and Beyond!

We left off our last post with our intention of flying home on Friday night (6/21) but Delta had other plans.  The delayed flight was going to be so late that we would miss our connection in Atlanta and no other flights were available. We were rebooked to an early morning flight on Saturday and returned back to the marina for another night on Island Office.  We flew home Saturday morning and had a wonderful weekend with family and friends. Denise was able to get a haircut, a pedicure and a few runs in with her family & friends. Mark was able to get his new notebook computer set up and we all shared a nice dinner with his mom, sister and brother-in-law.

We attempted to leave home and fly back to the boat on Tuesday evening, but once again a delayed flight and the connection to Burlington had to be rescheduled to an early flight on Wednesday morning.  This just meant another night in our dirt-home bed and a few more things done before returning to the boat.  As luck would have it, flight attendant friend (Susan) was on our outbound out of Orlando on Wednesday morning and she treated us like we were in First Class!

Flight Attendant Susan

Flight Attendant Susan

Once back on the boat, the adventures continued:

Burlington, VT (Wednesday, 6/26):
Once we landed at Burlington airport, we picked up a rental car as we had some provisioning to do before entering Canada. We also wanted to explore some of the area surrounding Burlington that required a car as they were too far to walk or bike.

Rental car in Burlington

Notice the license plates on the rental car

We returned to the boat pretty tired from the early morning flight and all the weekend activities. We had time to do a little work, talk to some of the local boaters, and take a quick nap.  It was now hot but not for long; in the late afternoon a weather front came through with fierce winds and rain.  And just like in FL, after the storm passed, we were treated to a lovely sunset and clearer skies.

Sunset over Lake C after the storm

Sunset over Lake C after the storm

Burlington, VT (Thursday, 6/27):
Today was a day of adventure and one where we got to play “tourist”.  We used the rental car to go to Stowe and the surrounding mountains.

Highway to Stowe

Highway to Stowe

But first we stopped in the town of Waterbury, where we visited the Cold Hollow Cider Mill.  We got to see how they make apple cider (and other products) by pressing Macintosh Apples, filtering, pasteurizing and then bottling the product.  We also got to taste some apple cider donuts which were delicious!

We had wanted to tour the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream plant that was nearby, but production was shut-down for a week of Preventative Maintenance. They would still take your money for a tour, but you would not see any ice cream being manufactured, so we passed on this excursion.

From there we headed to Stowe Village.  We walked around the downtown looking at the buildings and architecture, and browsed through some of the stores.  We then headed up Mountain Road, stopping along the way to check out the covered pedestrian bridge and the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church.

Once up Mountain Road we stopped at the Smuggler’s Notch Visitors Center and talked to the guide there. We discussed things to do in the area, most of which involved hiking. However, we were not equipped with hiking boots (only our Keene sandals) so that limited some of what we were going to be able to do.

Near the visitor’s center we walked to the nearby wetland areas and saw the “Smugglers Notch” pass and a wetland area where beavers build dams that keep the ecosystem in check.

We then continued up Mountain Road to a place near Sterling Pond (too rough for us to hike to in sandals) and stopped to look at the rock formations.

Near Smuggler's Notch and Sterling Pond

Near Smugglers Notch and Sterling Pond

We then went down Mountain Rd to Bingham Falls, which we had passed along the way up the mountain.  It was quite a hike down along the falls and we could really only get a few glimpses of the falls. The path down was steep and full of rocks, and a lot of the edge was roped off as the soil was wet and unstable.  We got to a point where we did not feel comfortable going any further, so we never made it all the way down to the bottom to see the full affect, and we still had to hike all the way back up to the car. It was a good work out, but would have been more fun if we had the right shoes.

Bingham Falls

Bingham Falls

Steep climb up rocks at Bingham Falls

Steep climb up rocks at Bingham Falls

By the time we got back to the car it was way past a normal lunch hour, and the apple cider donuts were no longer sustaining us. We drove down Mountain Road and headed to the von Trapp Lodge for some lunch. The lodge is owned by the von Trapp family, who settled here after fleeing Austria during the German occupation. We all know this story from The Sound of Music.  However, not everyone knows that the family still owns and runs this now resort in Vermont.  In addition to the main lodging complex, there is pool and recreation area, timeshare villas, a bakery-delicatessen and a “Brewery & Bierhall”.  The views from the main lodge are spectacular and worth the drive if for no other reason.  We ended up eating a late lunch at the Brewery & Bierhall and learned we had just missed Johannes the youngest of the original von Trapp family. He is in his 80’s now, but frequents the Bierhall which is decorated throughout with his safari big-game trophies.

We left the von Trapp Bierhall and headed back to Burlington, stopping along the way at Cabot Cheese farm store in Waterbury where we got to sample and purchase some Vermont cheese.

Cabot Cheese farm store

Cabot Cheese farm store

We then headed to West Marine and Costco for our last stock-up before going into Canada.  We returned back to the boat for the evening and for a quiet light meal aboard our floating home.

Burlington, VT (Friday, 6/28):
Mark started the day washing the port side of the boat hull.  There was still the foam residue since the flooding in Vergennes, and we had not had time to do it before leaving for home.  Since we were in a slip with long finger piers, he took advantage of it and managed to get the one side done.  Then we moved the boat to a new slip as we had extended our original planned departure but it was the only way the marina could accommodate our extension.  The new slip was only a few away from the existing one, but was on a starboard tie, so we had to move fenders and lines.  This afforded Mark the opportunity to then wash the other side of the hull.

IO in second slip

IO in second slip

But the deck, top and cockpit would have to wait as we were in a race against time: by 9:00 am we had to get the rental car off the street parking, or put more money in the meter, which is done via a phone app. Who knew that parking fees would move into the 21st century?  But if you don’t have a smartphone; the meters still take coins.  Since there was no way we were going to make it, we just added more money for 30 extra minutes.  We did have places to go, however, and so we had to get moving to get our errands done and in time to get the car back to the airport by noon.

So off we went to a liquor store (more pre-Canadian provisioning), then to the grocery store being careful not to overbuy. There are several items that are on our usual shopping list that we cannot take into Canada. We remembered apples and fruits with seeds or pits from the Loop trip in 2015. However, a local boater we met in the marina also advised that peppers (red, green, jalapeno, etc.) all have to be cut up and have the seeds removed, or they will not be allowed in.  But we still needed milk, yogurt and other items that we can’t keep large quantities of in our small refrigerator.  We will pick up the other items at a grocery store as soon as we get into Canada.

Once this was done, Denise was dropped at the marina while Mark returned the rental car to the airport and caught an Uber back to the boat – all in time for lunch.  We then spent the entire afternoon doing work for clients, attending to some business issues, and writing a proposal for another project for an existing client.  We like that repeat business!

In the evening we decided to explore the downtown area, including Church Street, a pedestrian-only street with all kinds of restaurants and shops.  While there are the usual places (Starbucks, Eddie Bauer, etc.) there are also many local shops and that is what makes it so interesting.  There was much to see and on a Friday night the sidewalk cafés were full and the street performers were out.

We ate dinner at “The Farmhouse”, a place Nancy & Rob (“Misty”) had recommended to us (along with a slew of other places to eat).  There was a long wait inside the restaurant, but we got an outdoor table in the beer garden.  Although forecasted to rain, it seemed to have held off so we were able to enjoy a delicious farm-to-table meal and had fun watching all the people.

Afterwards, we walked further up Church Street and here we saw former Presidential candidate Howard Dean (DEM) talking to some of his friends.  Mark recognized his voice and was pretty sure it was him, so we nonchalantly turned around to get a second look.

Howard Dean on Church St.

Howard Dean on Church St.

After that we walked around some of the other streets and then meandered back down the hill to the marina, stopping for an ice cream at the Burlington Bay Market which was located right up the hill from the marina.

Walking back to the boat we stopped to talk to some of the boaters who had come during the day. The marina was packed and almost all of the boats were from the Montreal area. It provided a good opportunity for Denise to practice a little bit of her (awful) French, and for us to glean information from those who flock south to this beautiful place every year.  And the rain never came and we were treated to a spectacular sunset once again.

Sunset on Lake C

Sunset on Lake C

Burlington, VT (Saturday, 6/29):
Denise finally had the opportunity to go for a run and was hopeful to get in some good distance. The venue was perfect as there is a long flat bike and pedestrian path that follows the shoreline of the lake. It is nirvana for runners and there were many out with the same idea. However, her right leg and back continues to plague her and after 3 miles she had to quit.  But along the way she passed by the new marina, a skate park, the Sailing Center, a campground and cemetery.  And the views of the NY Adirondack Mountains across the lake were spectacular.

Once back on the boat, the chore list was handed out by the captain. He would be cleaning the rest of the boat on the outside while the Admiral would scrub the inside. So we buckled down and were hard at work, all the while watching the usual daily activities in this busy marina.  In addition to cruisers coming and going, there is the tour boat “Spirit of Ethan Allen” that goes out at least 5 times a day. There is also a charter sailboat business that has two “Friendship” class sloops that takes people out.  And at the pier next to the marina is the ferry dock which takes cars, bikes and pedestrians over to the “NY side” of the lake.

The marina also has a restaurant and bar (“Splash”) and many people come down to the water to eat or drink there. As it is a community marina, there are Adirondack chairs on the dock, and many people come just to see the sun set.  Likewise local boaters pull up for a drink or a dinner, or to have fun with friends.

Also along the waterfront and near the south docks of the marina is the museum known as the Echo. It is mostly a children’s museum, but also has a 3-d movie theater in it. Next door to it a University of Vermont Energy Research lab, and across from the Echo is the train station and Bob’s Ice Cream. If you continue south between the marina and the ferry dock there is a special piece of land that houses a Navy Memorial.  The US Navy was born on Lake Champlain and this memorial is here to honor the men and women who served in the US Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Maritime Academy.

After our boat chores and showers, we walked back into town and to the Cathedral of St. Joseph.  Here they have a 4:00 pm mass that they unfortunately had to have in the basement chapel. The marble staircase leading up the main sanctuary was undergoing a 4-month renovation and restoration project, rendering the main church inaccessible for mass participants. While we were grateful for a church in walking distance, we felt cheated when after mass we had the opportunity to see the main sanctuary. How can you not be inspired in this place!

In the evening, we were finally able to meet up with friends Wendy & Bruce.  They came to the boat for cocktails and brought some treasures of Vermont Cheese and beer. What a great gesture!  We walked up the hill to Church St. where they had made reservations at a French bistro restaurant (also recommended by friends on “Misty”).  Although we wanted to eat outside (café-style), they seated us upstairs and at a window table.  This worked to our advantage as the rain finally came and we did not have to get wet. We had a wonderful meal and enjoyed our time getting to know each other better. It is too funny that we live 4 streets apart in Winter Park, but had to see each other here in Burlington.  It was a fun evening and we are so glad we got to know these fine people.

Burlington, VT (Sunday, 6/30):
It rained all night long with some hard rain and blowing wind out of the North. The temperature dropped again into the low 60’s and the day was beautiful.  We hung out around the boat and the docks for a while and then decided to go to the LL Bean store near Church St. in hopes of replacing Denise’s backpack.  But first we wanted some lunch so we went to Uncle Henry’s (recommended by “Misty”) and had a terrific meal.  It was so filling that neither of us were hungry for dinner later in the evening.

We did some window shopping, nixed the back pack, but found Denise a dress at another (local Canadian) store, and walked back to the boat. We then planned an itinerary for the next several days and Mark shopped for fuel to top off before going into Canada.  Denise spent time doing major cataloging of pictures and we talked with family on the phone.

We have enjoyed our time in Burlington and find this area is so interesting. There is so much to do and see, and there is always some activity going on.  Politics aside, this is a great city to put on the radar and come visit, although it is probably better in the summer when the lake is not frozen with ice.  Here are some other pictures from our time in Burlington:

Tomorrow we are leaving and heading north.  We would love to hang out here longer, but we have other places we want to go and see, and Canada is calling.

Stave Island, VT (Monday, 7/1):
We left our slip early and headed to the marina service dock for a pump-out just as the marina opened.  We were assisted by the usual summer helpers and were not there long before saying goodbye to Burlington. We headed south for 2 miles then to Shelburne Yacht Basin to take on fuel at the cheapest price in the area.  It would be 9:30 before we finally set out and headed north, but we were not going far so it didn’t matter too much.

Our destination is a privately owned island where the owners generously maintain a few mooring balls for guests. You are not allowed to go ashore, but the scenery and view is spectacular.  We learned of this place from a local when we were in Burlington and decided to check it out.  When we arrived there was another sailboat in the cove, but there were several other empty moorings and we chose the one that was furthest away from land.  There was a man working on the floating docks on shore, and a sailboat was tied to the owner’s fixed wall dock. There was almost no wind and since it was not a weekend there was little boat traffic (or jet skis) creating rocking wakes.  However, it was hot and very buggy, so eventually we had to crank up the generator and turn on the air conditioner.

We spent the entire afternoon planning our next week and abandoning our previous itinerary in favor of spending more time in Canada.  We changed and made future marina reservations that will take us through the Chambly Canal, the Richelieu River, into the St .Lawrence River and a weekend in Quebec City. Denise also worked on cataloging pictures and writing this latest blog.

In late afternoon a local kayaker (named “Mark”) came by and talked with us for a while. He had his sailboat on the other side of the island and told us about his plans to retire and do some cruising, but not the Great Loop.

Kayaker "Mark"

Kayaker “Mark”

We then watched a down-east boat come into the cove and pick up the mooring that the sailboat originally had.  Then the man from shore took his dinghy out to this boat and then eventually back to his sailboat on the dock.   He left, but the Downeast boat stayed for the night.  We watched all this while speculating on who these people were and did either of them own the house and property with such a spectacular view.

Cove at Stave Island

Cove at Stave Island

Meanwhile Mark grilled a few burgers on the barbeque for dinner and eventually when the sun started to set we were able to turn off the generator.  We were hopeful for a great sunset and seeing lots of stars (a main reason for anchoring), but a cloud cover came in and squashed both of these ideas.  As soon as it was dark we turned in for the evening, hoping to get a good night’s sleep.

Rouses Point, VT – Gaines Marina (Tuesday, 7/2):
During the night the wind kicked up and turned our boat in all kinds of directions on the mooring.  The waves were banging loudly against the hull and caused a rolling action that was uncomfortable, keeping us up and down all night.  Just before dawn the wind settled down and things were calm enough for us to sleep in and get some rest.

The Downeast boat left the anchorage at 8:00 am and we considered taking the dinghy out to explore around the island, especially with no one around. But we were anxious to get to a place where we could do some work and make preparations before entering into Canada.

So by 8:30 we left Stave Island and headed north, passing Valcour Island and Isle La Motte (with a shrine to St. Anne); they will have to wait for another time.  Along the way the lake narrows and we watched the Adirondack Mountains fade to hills and eventually to more flat land.  The same was true on the Vermont side, but far away we could catch glimpses of the White Mountains on the horizons.  The wind had picked up, but since it was out of the south the one foot waves were not uncomfortable, and they eventually faded as the land mass grew closer.

Approaching Gaines Marina

Approaching Gaines Marina

We pulled into the fuel dock at Gaines marina, only to top off the tank before heading into Canada. Then we pulled into our slip and began working on all the things we had to do. There was client work and business related items, as well as confirming upcoming marina reservations.  Denise also worked on the blog and downloading & cataloging pictures.

This marina sits less than one mile from the Canadian border and is full of Canadians who come to the Lake for the summer.  It is a big marina with a mooring field and winter storage, as well as many marine services.  But it sits in the town of Rouses Point which is about 30 miles north of Plattsburgh, NY and is a small but lovely town. The library and Catholic Church are directly across the street from the marina, and the pharma giant Pfizer has a plant 2 blocks away.

Gaines Marina buildings

Gaines Marina buildings Catholic church in background

For dinner we walked to a mostly-Italian restaurant called Angelo’s that was nothing special, but inexpensive and good.  The walk allowed us to see some of the houses in the neighborhood around the marina. It took about 15-minutes each way, but most of it was along the water and we didn’t mind the much-needed exercise.

After we got back from dinner we were visited by Gold Loopers Darcy & Wally (“Summertime”).  They live in inland Maine, but are leaving their boat here after having completed a cruise through the Thousand Islands. They have been through the Chambly locks and Richelieu River and shared some good information with us.  We appreciated their information and we agreed to stay in touch via our mutual blogs. And then we were treated to a great sunset.

Sunset over Gaines Marina

Sunset over Gaines Marina

Throughout the day today we met several Canadians and all are very friendly.  Some speak little English but still try to communicate and others are fluent in both English and French. Unlike when we were Ontario and everyone spoke English, people from Quebec speak French first.  We soon will be like them not fluent in the language of the land, but sharing all things boating.

Since we accelerated our schedule from previous plans, tomorrow we will be leaving the USA and entering Canada.  We will miss our nation’s’ birthday celebration on July 4th, but we will fly the American flag proudly.  We will still have email and cell phone access and should be able to stay in touch with everyone as usual.

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office.

Fun at the Forts!

Fort Edward, NY (Father’s Day – Sunday 6/16):
Today we left Shady Harbor Marina, but stopped first to get a pump-out before heading north to waters where they charge for this necessary activity. There is a requirement that your overboard discharge system must be disabled so as not to “dump” anything in the fresh waters of Lake Champlain, So you would think they would incentive the desired behavior and provide “free” pump-out locations everywhere on the lake. There are some, but they are few and far between.

Once we had an empty holding tank, we left New Baltimore, passing the villages of Coeymans and Ravena on our way north. We had passed by this area several times by car and now it was nice to see it from the water.

Coeymans Landing Marina

Coeymans Landing Marina

Port of Coeymans

Port of Coeymans

We had overcast skies and rain was expected throughout the day. It was cool and there was little wind, with few other boaters on the water. We didn’t care as this just meant there would be fewer boats to slow down for passes and almost no kayakers and rowers. Soon we came to the Port of Albany and cruised past downtown areas of Albany, Rensselaer, and Troy, NY; home of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). We got to see the newly developed Starbucks Island across the canal from the Troy down docks, now being rebuilt after years of being in limbo since hurricane Irene took them out.

 

Rensselaer

Rensselaer

Starbuck Island - Troy

Starbuck Island – Troy

Rebuilding Troy waterfront

Rebuilding Troy waterfront

We then approached the Troy Lock; the only Federal lock that we will go through on this Loop. Federal locks fall under the jurisdiction of the Army Corps of Engineers, which is different than the Champlain Canal, which is part of the New York Canal System; a state authority.   Here we had to wait about 10 minutes for the lock to be made ready for us, even though there was no other boater in either direction. While waiting, it started to rain.

Approaching Troy Lock & Dam

Approaching Troy Lock & Dam

We locked through without incident, and soon cruised past the town of Waterford, NY and where Loopers were on the wall and waiting to start the Erie Canal; we continued north and entered Lock C1 the Champlain Canal.  We continued on through 6 more locks and the Croker Reef (Flood Control) Guard Gate before coming to Ft. Edward – passing up possible stops in Mechanicville and Schuylerville in order to allow for more time on Lake Champlain tomorrow when the weather is forecasted to be better.  Here are some pictures from our journey through the locks:

 

 

 

Around 3:30 we finally entered the canal that runs parallel to Lock C7 to take us to the free dock wall in Fort Edward.  At arrival we found it to be completely empty and we had our choice of where to park our Island Office.  It is a nice park area with free power and water, and a restroom facility less than 50 yards away. We were tired and wet and glad to be in such nice free accommodations.

Mark at Fort Edward Yacht Basin

Mark at Fort Edward Yacht Basin

Earlier in the day we had made reservations for dinner at the Anvil Inn, a place located in the village of Fort Edward that came highly recommended from Brian Donovan at Shady Harbor, as well as other cruising friends.  The restaurant was about ½ mile walk from the boat and the rain had mostly stopped, so it was not a bad trek.  The place was packed as it was Father’s Day and the service was really slow, but the food was good and we were too tired to care.  By the time we were ready to leave it had started to sprinkle again and we had to walk back to the boat in the rain; thank goodness for our excellent large golf umbrella!

 

Fort Edward was originally named Fort Nicholson and was a strategic fort due to its location between the Hudson and Champlain River valleys.  It has been around since 1709 and although there is no real fort to tour here there is a remnants and an historical marker on Rogers Island (the land across the canal from the dock). There is also an old Fort House Museum at the Fort Edward Historical Association located in the village of Fort Edward. 

Chipman’s Point, VT (Monday, 6/17):
We woke up in Fort Edward to a completely different day than yesterday. The sun was shining and it was beautiful out.  Denise went for a short out-and-back run around a mostly residential section of town. She passed the Irving manufacturing plant near the park (they make Scotties tissues here), local businesses, the American Legion post, and a lot of kids walking to school. Yes, they are still in session here, but this is their last week.  She turned back and passed by the town’s information center, the police station, Canal Street Marketplace, and then the Underwood Park to finish up the run.  This is a very cute town and we liked our stay here.

 

 

 

While she was gone, Mark hosed the dirt off the boat and filled our water tank.  With such a beautiful day we could now see more of the houses that were on the spit of land on the other side of the canal (Roger’s Island).  We noticed a dog on the shore; the best deterrent for the Canadian geese that would otherwise mess up the place. But we would laugh as we kept expecting him to bark or at least move.

House across from Fort Edward Yacht Basin

House across from Fort Edward Yacht Basin

Before leaving the Fort Edward lock (C7), Mark called the Lockmaster to make sure they were operating. We were asked yesterday at lock C6 how far we would be going because at this lock (C7) had issues with the water levels and they had closed the lock.  However, this morning they were open so we left our free dock and said good-bye to the village of Fort Edward.   We were able to enter the lock almost immediately and locked through without any concerns.

Approaching Lock C7

Approaching Lock C7

Shortly after leaving the lock the canal passed by a residential area and there we saw our Florida friend’s boat “Salty” at a private dock. At SHM Jonathan had mentioned they would be leaving the boat to go on a side trip via car.  And here it was:

Salty

Salty

We continued north completing the last few locks in the Champlain Canal, passing the town of Whitehall and officially entering Lake Champlain.

 

Leaving Lock C12 - Entering Lake Champlain

Leaving Lock C12 – Entering Lake Champlain

Here the lake is more like a river in that it is narrow and winding. In some parts there are low lying areas filled with reeds and grass, reminding us of parts of the ICW in South Carolina. However, here there are mountains in the background; the Adirondack Mountains of NY to the west and the Green Mountains of Vermont to the east.  In fact the state line runs right through the middle of the lake. So technically, today we entered Vermont and we boated in and out of each of these states all day.  The views were spectacular and the pictures do not do it justice, but here is what it looked like:

Looking north on Lake Champlain

Looking north on Lake Champlain

We had targeted an anchorage south of Fort Ticonderoga for the night, just under the gun turrets.  However we attempted numerous times to anchor and could not get it to hold as there were just too many weeds.  The reviews of this area had warned of this, so we were not surprised.

Fort Ticonderoga from south anchorage area

Fort Ticonderoga from south anchorage area

Finally, in frustration and because it was close to 5 pm, we decided to see if we could get into Chipman’s Point Marina just 2 miles south of the Fort.  We had been told of this place as a suggested place to stay from some local boaters Andy & Barbara (“Mellow-Ways”) at SHM.  They were able to take us and by 5:45 we were all tied up and secured in one of their transient slips.

This marina is right on the lake and there is no wake protection from passing boats. However, it is still early in the season here and at night no one is on the water. It was a very peaceful place with spectacular views.  This family-owned business is located in a building that is on the historic register and is OLD.  They have kept track of the high water marks on the steps leading up the combo marina office-ships store-general store, etc.  The restrooms showers and washers are on the 2nd floor and the owner (Pat) lives on the 3rd floor.

 

We had planned on having dinner that night aboard the boat, so we settled in for a home cooked meal from our freezer. We also got treated to a beautiful sunset and a spectacular full moon rising to our south over Lake Champlain.

Dinner onboard

Dinner onboard

Sunset over Chipman Point Marina

Sunset over Chipman Point Marina

Full moon at Chipman's Point Marina

Full moon at Chipman’s Point Marina

Fort Ticonderoga Anchorage, Ft T, NY (Tuesday, 6/18):
We debated about where to go next, but Denise really wanted to go to Fort Ticonderoga and the best place to do this without a car was to go to the anchorage north of the fort that had been identified in Active Captain.  So, we left Chipman’s Point and headed there hoping for the best, but with a contingency plan of other destinations further up the lake.  We arrived in no time and we were able to set the anchor on the first attempt.  We then took the dinghy to the nearby NY state park that has a dock and boat ramp; located near the cable ferry terminal.

Public dock & ramp - NY side

Public dock & ramp – NY side

IO at Fort Ticonderoga anchorage

IO at Fort Ticonderoga anchorage

First we talked with “Ashley” a young college girl who was sitting under a tent and was there to provide information to anyone coming into the park; fisherman, cruisers, etc., including those who take the ferry. She told us the ferry costs $1.50 per person and $12 per car each way; $18 round trip.  Since the nearest bridge across the lake is miles away, this is sometimes the only alternative to get from Vermont to New York (or vice versa).

Cable Ferry

Cable Ferry

We left the park and walked a mile + up the road to the fort entrance. We had to wait in line with the cars to gain access and pay the fee, and then walked another half mile of tree lined dirt road to get to the Welcome Center.

 

By the time we got to the fort were hungry and it was lunch time. So we grabbed a bite to eat first, and then toured the fort and the museum displays throughout.  Although the place was not crowded, it was full of middle-school kids who were on class trips for the last week of school.

 

After a few hours we had seen all there was to see, and we were not going to wait around another 45 minutes for the next guided tour to start. We decided to leave and made the trek back down the dirt road, past the newly planted corn fields (which they use for a corn maze in the fall), past the guard gate, the railroad track and back to the boat ramp.

Signage near Ferry and Public dock

Signage near Ferry and Public dock

We said goodbye to Ashley, then took our dinghy back to the boat where we both took a much needed nap!  The long days of daylight and short nights of sleep were taking its toll.

Fort Ticonderoga was originally called Fort Carillon and was a strategic stronghold to protect the trade routes between the British-controlled Hudson River Valley and the French-controlled Saint Lawrence River Valley in the mid 1700’s.  It is has history in both the French and Indian war and the American Revolution where the Battle of Fort Ticonderoga was the first victory and set the stage for overall victory from the British.  You can learn more here.

Our evening was spent enjoying the beauty of the surrounding area, especially after the cable ferry stopped at 7:00 pm.  We also did some computer work until the batteries died, and not wanting to disturb the peace we opted to not turn on the generator to power them.  We had a light supper of cheese and crackers and then watched another episode of Game of Thrones.

VT side - at sunset @ Ft. T anchorage

VT side – at sunset @ Ft. T anchorage

 

Vergennes, VT (Wednesday, 6/19)
Early in the morning Denise got up and turned on the generator to make some coffee and power up the computers, cell phones, laptops, etc.  It was early, but she got a great sunrise over the Vermont shoreline.

Sunrise over VT - Ft T Anchorage

Sunrise over VT – Ft T Anchorage

All this changed soon thereafter as it became overcast and stayed that way the rest of the day.  But that didn’t stop us from proceeding on our adventure.  Our destination was the town of Vergennes (pronounced like “virgins”) which we had read about in a cruising book, and been told about by Andy & Barbara (“Mellow-Ways”) from SHM. Both had suggested calling ahead to make sure there is room on the free docks as they fill up fast in the summer.  So, Mark did call the city manager who advised that the floating docks had not yet been put in due to the high water this year. However, there are boats that are tying directly to the wall and we were welcome to do that. Having done this before we felt confident that we could make this work, or anchor in the basin if necessary.  The free dock has limited power and only room for a few boats, so we knew we were taking a chance that it might not work out.

We headed north on Lake Champlain passing the very visible paper mill (NY side), the numerous farms on both sides, the Crown Point Bridge, the Champlain Memorial Lighthouse, and the NY town of Fort Henry.

 

 

An hour later we turned right at Otter Creek, heading east for 7 miles up the small waterway that was like something out of Disney’s Jungle Cruise.  It is sparsely populated with a few homes scattered throughout and some small private docks.  There was lots of different types of birds, and no one else on the water; we saw only two small fishing boats along the way.

 

Eventually we came into the area where we could see one boat on the north dock wall, and as we came around the corner, the entire basin was revealed.  At the head were the waterfalls and to our right was an empty fixed dock (the south docks). And although no other boats were present there, our preference was the north wall. We were not sure if we would be able to stay here, but with some help from David (“Sovereignty”) from the boat at the dock, we were able to tie up in front of his boat and face the waterfalls.

 

Also present was “Matt”, a friend of Andy and Barbara’s (“Mellow-ways”) who lives in the red house right next door to the park and dock wall.  We had tried to call him before making our way down the creek as instructed, but did not receive any answer.  Fortunately, it all worked out and we were able to meet him and learn a little bit more about the area and the set up for this free dock.  He was able to show Mark the electrical hookup (very unconventional) and with the splitter we were able to secure a single 30 amp service; just enough to power the refrigerator, freezer and outlets. If we wanted to cook or put on the ice maker or hot water heater, we would have to put these back on the ship batteries.  But it all worked out and we were set for at least one night.

Matt's house at Vergennes

Matt’s house at Vergennes

Deciding this, we made dinner reservations for the Black Sheep Bistro in town. It is a French restaurant that had been recommended by Brian at SHM, as well as Andy & Barbara so we knew we had to try it out.  But first there was work to be done and client phone calls to return.  While doing this, another boat came into the basin and tied up at the south dock. They were later joined by another small house boat, but that boat did not stay more than an hour.

All around us the rain was threatening, but never came. There were dark clouds to our north and west, but it remained overcast. It also got hot and muggy so we did some electrical juggling to allow for us to put on a single air conditioner and remain cool. Eventually, we decided to go explore the town in advance of dinner and in hopes of beating the next band of rain arrived.

We walked up a pretty steep hill which is all residential, but where there were three chickens running wild ahead of us.  It was about a half mile before we came to Main Street and turned left where all the shops and restaurants are found.  Here we walked through some of the stores which were still open (most closed at 5 pm) and then up the hill before turning around and going back to the restaurant for dinner.

We arrived a little early for our reservation, but we were seated right away. Immediately we ordered the escargot and some wine, while deciding on our entrées of stuffed pork tenderloin (Mark) and chicken breasts with brie & bacon (Denise).  The entrées come with mashed potatoes AND French fries that were hot and super delicious; not your ordinary combination.  The whole meal was very good and filling, so we took a pass when it came to dessert – although the mixed berry cobbler sounded enticing.  We finished up our meal and headed back to the boat, carrying the umbrella, which we ended up not needing.

In the evening, we were treated to the illuminated waterfalls that is a big draw in this area. While not quite as impressive as the water & music show in Grand Haven, MI. it was fun nonetheless.

Lighted falls at dusk

Lighted falls at dusk

Vergennes, VT (Thursday, 6/20):
Despite staying up late last night, Denise still woke up with the sun but decided not to go for a run.  The hills in this town are challenging enough just to walk, and the body was not feeling up to the task. After Mark got up and we had breakfast, we set up for a working day aboard Island Office.  There were client calls scheduled and work to be done. There were also pictures to catalog and an update to the blog that needed to get posted.

In the morning we noticed the city workers were in the park near the dock and they were working on the water system.  Mark went out and talked with them and they advised that the water on the docks was now good for use, but suggested we let it run for a few minutes before using it as the lines have been idle for a while.

Around 10:00 a.m. is began to rain and it did not stop until late in the afternoon. Sometimes it rained really hard and we could barely hear conversations due to the pounding rain against the roof of the boat.  But through it all the wind was very calm, which was a good thing.

Also throughout the day we were in communication with our friend Wendy (and husband Bruce) who have a house in Charlotte, VT. We met them at a mutual friend’s house over Christmas and were hoping to be able to get together with them while we are up here. Locals are always the best source of information of what to do and see, so we have been anxious to meet up with them.  Due to scheduling, her errands and the horrible weather, we opted to reschedule our meeting until next week when we are back from our FL trip and in Burlington.

In late afternoon Mark went out to check on the water around the boat and discovered a major clog of debris between our boat and the dock. Additionally, the pressure from waterfalls was creating a large bit of foam and it was contributing to the clog.  Using the boat hook he was able to free a large bit of it to keep the stream flowing. He also discovered hundreds of tiny snails that were attaching to the boat hull, fenders, lines and rails. Not wanting them to get into our thru-hulls (and creating problems for us down the way) he took the water hose and washed them all off.

Mark hosing off the snails

Mark hosing off the snails

While he was doing this Dave and Trisha (“Sovereignty”) from the boat behind us also came out and tried to free up the mess that had now washed down between their boat and the dock.  Seeing what was going on, Matt came out from his house bringing a shovel and eventually an iron rake to assist us.

We finally had it all cleaned out and went back in the boat to prepare and eat dinner on board.  In the meantime the water level was rising and we had to adjust our fenders as our boat increased in height from the wall.  Across the way, we watched the water overtake the fixed docks on the south shore, and saw the Carver boat rise over the dock.  It is scary.

Carver over south docks

Carver over south docks

After dinner we went back out and cleaned another clog away from the dock and again adjusted lines. The water kept rising and the Carver boat on the south dock left to find another place down the creek to spend the evening.  As it was getting dark, we repositioned the fenders and helped “Sovereignty” leave the dock and anchor in the middle of the creek and just off our stern.  We too devised a plan as to what to do should we be forced to leave the dock in the dark.  We did not want to have to do this, but we also didn’t want to have a hole punched in our boat by the metal poles on the dock wall.

In the meantime the foam built up around the hull of the boat, and even some moved up to the foredeck.  By now the current was running so viciously that it was carrying the debris away from the boat, but we could hear all kinds of stuff hitting the hull.  It was unnerving!  We disconnected our power from the shore post as we watched the water creep up the road that runs near the dock.

We continued to monitor the situation all night long; checking every hour and estimating how long we could hold out before we had to leave the dock. Our hope was we could make it until it got light and then we could leave and go all the way to Burlington without having to anchor somewhere.

Burlington, VT (Friday, 6/21):
It was a long sleepless night for both of us.  Sunrise was scheduled for 5:03 a.m., but we both were up early and as soon as it was light enough we made preparations to leave.  Finally, we pulled away from the dock, with great effort, trying not to hit “Sovereignty” or a rock on either shore.

We were screaming down the creek with the current pushing us along.  It took us half the time to go down the creek as it did to make it up the creek on Wednesday, and we had to dodge all kinds of debris in the process.  Mark did an excellent job of steering us past the hazards while Denise cleared up deck, putting all the lines and fenders in the cockpit; they were covered with foam and bugs and we didn’t want to stow them until they got hosed off with fresh water.

We exited Otter Creek and out to Lake Champlain with 20 kts of wind on our nose and a good size chop on the water.  The further north we moved the more the Lake widens and the waves picked up from the unobstructed area with which they could build.  It was NOT FUN, but tolerable knowing we only had 20 more miles to go.

Eventually we were able to tuck behind a small island and then moved into Burlington Bay which has some protection from the north wind.  Additionally, there is a breakwater, but the high water on Lake Champlain this year makes this less effective as it is almost covered.

Once inside the Breakwater we contacted the Community Boathouse Marina (CBM – Burlington’s Municipal marina), and confirmed our previously identified slip was available.  We pulled into the slip and was assisted with a tie-up by the dockhand, and it was only 8:15 a.m.   Denise still had not had time for a cup of coffee!

We were met by Loopers Nancy & Rob (“Misty”) who were a few slips away from us and were surprised to see them still here. They were going to leave yesterday, but the heavy rains kept them in port. However, they were leaving today but not before we had a chance to talk a while and get caught up since our time together at SHM.

Once the boat was secure, Mark hosed the bugs and foam residue off the boat while Denise took care of cleaning up the inside.  After that we went to the dockmaster’s office to get the marina information and confirm our arrangements.  We would be leaving the boat and wanted to make sure it was in good hands; hearing they have a security guard at night and marina staff that checks all boats twice a day for line adjustments gave us some peace of mind.

IO at Community Boathouse Marina (CBM)

IO at Community Boathouse Marina (CBM)

Today we are leaving to fly home for a long weekend, coming back to the boat early next week.  We have a late afternoon flight, giving us time to get some things accomplished; like publishing this blog update (Denise) taking clothes to the cleaners (Mark) and readying the boat for our absence.

This is a beautiful place and we are anxious to explore this city and surrounding areas when we return. Here are some pictures for now:

Western view from marina office

Western view from marina office

We will pick up our blog when we return next week. Until then stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office.

 

 

 

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office.

Uneventful but Eventful Week!

Shady Harbor Marina (SHM) – New Baltimore, NY (Tuesday, 6/11 – Friday 6/14):
There was little adventure this week, but most of it dealt with Mark’s traveling to and from the client site.  He did finally manage to make it to Palm Springs, CA on Monday afternoon after multiple schedule changes and a cancelled flight.  He survived all that, and the 114° heat before having to travel again on Wednesday; this time to Chicago without incident.  Finally on Friday he wrapped up work there and got back to the boat and Shady Harbor after midnight.

Meanwhile, Denise had a productive and quiet week. There was another run in the hills of New Baltimore, phone calls with clients and software reps, a backlog of emails to address, and many boat chores to handle.  She spent almost one entire day waxing and polishing the inside of the boat and another entire day reading trade and newspaper articles that have been onboard since leaving on the trip.  Throw in time to prep food for a few lunches and dinners, a few loads of laundry, phone calls with family members and friends, and the week flew by.

All awhile there were intermittent conversations with many of the Loopers, other cruisers in the marina, and the locals.  On Tuesday most of the remaining Loopers left, including Sue & Greg (“Lucky Me”) and with it all the evening “docktails”.  By Wednesday, a few new Loopers came in, but the marina was mostly quiet. The yard-staff were putting boats in the water and working on maintenance for others. Some Looper boats were left here while the owners left including Dorothy & Terry (“Magic”), and Brian (“Kitumba”).  Still remaining waiting on the return of his wife Terry was Richard (“Avalon”) and Herb (“Phantom”) who was going to head back down the Hudson later this week and on to Maine where we hope to catch up to him in the fall.  By Thursday new Loopers had come into the marina, but none in the quantity of last weekend.  Denise got to meet Scott & Donna (“Aleka”) who were from Portsmouth, NH and Gregg & Sonia (“Golden Daze”), live-a-boards on a Fleming.

And of course throughout this week, the temperature changed each day and throughout the day. It is hard to believe that on Wednesday it was 48° in the morning and by Friday night it was nearly 70° at 8:00 pm. From long pants to shorts in 24 hours and from rain to sunshine all in one day.  But at least it wasn’t the 114° of Palm Springs or the 90° as in Central Florida.

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Other excitement this week included watching the boats that cruise past the marina on their way up and down the Hudson River.  These are not small boats. There are either tugs pushing barges or large freighters hauling all kinds of raw materials and metals.  They are either on their way to or from Albany, which in addition to being the state capital, is a large industrial city as we will see when we pass by there on Sunday.

Also this week we got notified that the Surf Rider Restaurant in Poquoson, VA where we stayed in May, had a fire and was a total loss. Once we heard this news we made contact with our friends Jeff & Gail (“YOLO”) who were docked next to us when we were there.  They were on the boat at the time, and told us only two boats in the marina were impacted, one was the buy boat “Linda Carroll”. They watched the whole thing from the bow of their boat and sent us this: Fortunately, no one was hurt, the boats salvageable, and the restaurant will rebuild.

Fire at Surf Rider in Poquoson

Shady Harbor Marina (SHM) – New Baltimore, NY (Saturday 6/15):
On Saturday we did some laundry, Mark changed out the zincs on the boat engine and adjusted the tv hanger that had been slipping down preventing us to stow it – required for when we are underway. We also inflated two of the large fender balls for use in the locks we will go through tomorrow.

In the afternoon we used the marina loaner car and went to the 4:30 mass at St. Patrick’s. Father Scott remembered us as the “boating people” and thanked us for returning. He also invited us to watch his YouTube videos, but not before giving us a wonderful blessing for safe travels.

Once back at the marina we went to the Boathouse restaurant for dinner, and ate at the bar.  The bartender Samantha (aka “Sammy”) remembered us and even remembered and immediately brought Denise a Michelob Ultra without even asking; Mark later ordered a beer too. We each had salads with fish (Salmon for Mark, Tuna for Denise) and a wonderful time talking with Sammy. When we left, we received hugs from Cathy (owner Brian’s wife) and some of the staff whom over the last week and half we have come to know as friends.

Dinner at the Boathouse

Dinner at the Boathouse

We then walked out to the dock to find Brian on his boat (“Corporate Approved”) and talking with his local friends.  We got some suggestions on where to go on Lake Champlain and talked about boating.  Finally we left with a warm goodbye and a great big bear hug from him.  Hopefully, our paths will cross sometime next fall when he moves his boat to warmer waters for the winter.

Saying goodbye to Brian

Saying goodbye to Brian

We returned to the boat to put out this blog and to again watch the movie “A Star is Born”. Tomorrow we will leave Shady Harbor and make our way north and into the Champlain Canal.

We will miss this wonderful place we have called “home” for the last 9 days.

Friday Evening at SHM

Friday Evening at SHM

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office.

Pig Roast Weekend!

It is hard to believe that Friday was only 3 days ago as we packed in a lot of things over the weekend.  Here is how our adventures unfolded:

Shady Harbor Marina (SHM) – New Baltimore, NY (Friday, 6/7):
Before leaving RYB and Kingston, Denise found a place to get in a short, but hilly run.  Who knew there was a large mobile home (aka “double wide”) park just up the street from the marina? There was even a street named “Florida” that required exploration.  Here are some pictures from the run:

Anxious to get underway, we left the dock shortly after Denise got back from her run, with Mark doing the deck cleanup and Denise doing the driving.  We passed by downtown Kingston, out the breakwater, and headed north up the Hudson River.

It was a beautiful day and we were so happy to have good weather enabling us to see so much, including the Catskill Mountains, the houses that line both sides of the river, and some very interesting lighthouses along the way.  We passed under two large bridges and the hamlets of Saugerties and Catskill before coming into an area called “Middle Ground Flats”.  Here the channel is divided by a series of barrier islands with the hamlets of Athens on the west side and Hudson on the east side (and home of the Hudson Power Boat Association).  The islands themselves are used for recreational camping or trail blazing, but are quite small and forested.  We also had to dodge a bit of debris coming down from the lakes and canals north of us.

Hudson Power Boat Assn

Hudson Power Boat Association

As this is a major shipping thoroughfare, we sometimes had to negotiate our way around a handful of passing barges who take up the entire channel. It is a good thing that here the river is wide and outside the channel is deep enough for us to get out of their way.

Passing barges

Passing barges

Soon we came up to the tip of Houghtaling Island where a large anchorage lies to its east as the channel heads west. Many cruisers anchor here and then dinghy into New Baltimore.  It was shortly after passing this area (and less than a mile from Shady Harbor Marina) that we were approached and boarded by the USCG for a “routine” inspection.  They asked us to continue motoring as they completed their inspection, and we showed them all the requisite items on our boat (PFDs, fire extinguishers, waste management plan, etc.).  They were very nice and since we complied with everything, they finished their paperwork and in 20 minutes we were on our way.  Mark thinks they were using us as a training exercise; Denise thinks it is that they loved our boat and really just wanted to see the inside.

Coast Guard boarding

Coast Guard boarding

Almost immediately thereafter we approached Shady Harbor Marina (SHM), contacted them on the radio, and got our assignment to be on the North dock for the week.  Their very competent staff was there to help tie up the boat and with the help of other Loopers, we were settled in no time.  It wasn’t long before owner Brian Donovan came down the docks looking for us and gave us a big bear hug.  What a welcome!

Approaching Shady Harbor

Approaching Shady Harbor

We ate lunch and then checked in at the marina office. Here we were presented with flyer of the planned schedule of activities for “Boater Appreciation Weekend”.  While we knew of the pig roast on Sunday, we had no idea there was a whole weekend of fun planned.  Learning of this, we were so glad we decided to come here and not stop at Catskill as we had originally planned.

In the afternoon, Mark washed the boat while Denise took on other domestic tasks, including preparing a shopping list for tomorrow’s errands.  Meanwhile other Loopers began coming into SHM, some of whom we knew and others we did not. At 5:00 pm there was the usual “docktails”, but instead of it being actually on a dock, it was in the large covered picnic area.  There were at least 20 boats on some version of the Great Loop, Triangle Loop, or Down East Loop with more expected by Sunday’s pig roast.  It was loads of fun to catch up with people we had previously met coming up the east coast, as well as meeting new people. There were introductions to all led by Herb (“Phantom”),  and a few announcements about the weekend activities that have been organized by Sue (“Lucky Me”) in concert with the marina’s pig roast.

Mark & Brian Donovan

Mark & Brian Donovan

Herb at Friday Docktails

Herb at Friday Docktails

Jonathan & Rosa ("Salty")

Jonathan & Rosa (“Salty”)

The socializing was still going on 1.5 hours later when we had to leave for our dinner as we had reservations at the Boathouse Grill; the restaurant at the marina. We had made plans to dine with Peter and Sue (“Osprey”) from Cape Cod as we wanted time with them before they leave (tomorrow) as we will not see them again until October. We enjoyed our time getting to know them better, and our food was delicious. However, the restaurant and bar was overwhelmed with all the Loopers and locals, so our service was slow.  Plus, the restaurant had live entertainment which also brought the crowds.  By the time we left, the bar was packed and it was hard to get past all the people. On the walk back to the boat we were stopped a handful of times to talk with other Loopers, finally making our way back to Island Office to go to bed.

with Pete & Sue ("Osprey")

with Pete & Sue (“Osprey”)

Shady Harbor Marina (SHM) – New Baltimore, NY (Saturday, 6/8):
Every day the sun keeps rising a little earlier and every day Denise wakes up a little earlier. Today was no different but enabled the capture of a great sunrise over the Hudson River.

Sunrise at Shady Harbor

Sunrise at Shady Harbor

In the morning we went to the marina to sign up for the loaner car. Because of the number of Loopers, they were limiting the time to 1 hour today, but we only needed 10 minutes to go pick up a reserved rental car from the Ford dealership in the nearby town of Ravena. Fortunately, the next person on the list had not shown up and we were able to use the car and get back in time for the morning festivities.

First there was the annual raising of the flags; a tradition of all yacht clubs at the official start of their season. SHM is the hosting location for the Awenke Yacht Club and today was their “opening day”.

There was also a “blessing of the fleet” given by a local Progressive-Catholic (not Roman Catholic) Bishop.  However, it took him a long time to get started and then he went up and down every dock, starting with the south dock. Once we realized we were going to have to wait at least 45 minutes for him to get to our boat, we decided to leave for our errands.

So we headed out for the 30 minute drive on the NY thruway to Albany and went first to West Marine. Here we returned the extra set of burgee clips for credit; we were not going to use them as we don’t want to lose another burgee (see story here).  We then grabbed a quick lunch at a nearby Panera, then on to Supercuts for Mark to get a haircut.  From there we went to Fresh Market, Wal-Mart and Hannaford’s (Supermarket), all within a 5 mile radius of each other. We then headed back to the marina and arrived to find that our boat had been blessed during our absence and we have the proof.

Blessing of boat certificate

Blessing of boat certificate

We then meet up with Jackie and Jim (“Dona Pacem”) as we offered to take them to mass since we had the car.  The four of us attended the 4:30 vigil at St. Patrick’s in nearby Ravena.  Although an older congregation, the young priest was very expressive and by his enthusiasm we could tell he loves what he does.  It was a small but beautiful church and a new one for us to attend.

We then headed back to the marina to participate in the nightly “docktails” which had just started when we arrived.  Once again the fellowship and socialization was fun and since new Loopers arrived today there were new faces to meet.

Jackie & Jim ("Dona Pacem")

Jackie & Jim (“Dona Pacem”)

Having spent the day out, we had nothing planned for dinner and ordered a “to go” pizza from the Boathouse Grille. Once again the restaurant was packed and the 20 minute wait turned to 40 minutes before we picked it up and took it back to the boat to eat it.

One of the great thing about being in higher latitudes in the summer is the sun comes up early and sets late.  But when you wake up with the sun it makes for a very long day.  We had intentions of going back up to the picnic area where a bonfire had been lit and the movie “Captain Ron” was being shown. However, Denise could not keep her eyes open and crashed at 9:15 pm and Mark shortly thereafter.

Shady Harbor Marina (SHM) – New Baltimore, NY (Sunday, 6/9):
Despite an area full of hills and the pain her right leg still plaguing her, Denise got up for an early run. With no traffic early on Sunday morning, she managed to find a route near houses that overlooked the Hudson River south of the marina.

Once back at the boat she was stunned to see Mark already up; after all it was just 7:00 a.m. and since we went to mass last night he didn’t have to get up.  But there were a few things he wanted to get done before leaving and he had a few people he wanted to say good-by to as he would not see them again.

Meanwhile, Denise attended the “Looper Ladies” morning discussion, coordinated by Sue (“Lucky Me”) a first time Looper but definite leader of all things social.  Most of the women participated in the unlimited mimosas, but since she would be driving, Denise refrained from such celebrations. However, she did enjoy meeting a few new women, several of whom were long-time cruisers.  It was a fun event and she was glad she went, albeit for a short time.

We then took the rental car and drove Mark to Albany airport. However, on the way he got a notification that his flight had been delayed and that he would be leaving almost an hour late. This gave us time to have lunch together before dropping him off. Denise then headed back to the marina, and along the way was trying to devise a plan to get the rental car turned in before the end of the day. Although it had been rented until Monday there was no need to keep it and we could therefore save one-day’s rental. Since they were not open on Sunday, the Ford dealer had a drop box to enable this. But the trick was to find someone to get the marina loaner car, meet her and then take her back.

Having not solved this issue while in route, she returned to the marina. After some communications with other Loopers, it was discovered that the car was signed out to Steve (“United 771”) who was in the town of Ravena running an errand.  With Jackie’s (“Dona Pacem”) help and a few text messages later she secured a pick-up at the dealer and a ride back to the marina.  Come to find out we had met Steve (but not his wife Cathy) in Cape May when their boat was next door to “Balahula”.  Their boat was named after the flight in which they met; Cathy was the flight attendant and Steve told her that day he was going to marry her.  He did just that and they have been married over 32 years.

Cathy & Steve ("United 771")

Cathy & Steve (“United 771”)

Once back at the marina Denise finished preparing a side dish to bring to the pig roast, which was scheduled to begin at 4:00. However, the afternoon festivities started at 2:00 pm with steamed clams on the barbeque and live music by the “Doug Leiby Trio”; a local band that was excellent and who played all afternoon into the evening.

"Doug Leiby Trio"

“Doug Leiby Trio”

During this time everyone was socializing and getting to know one another. Sitting at a picnic table with a handful of people Denise was talking with Celeste and Ken (“God’s Grace”) about mutual friends in Orlando; Celeste graduated high school the same year as Denise.  It was then that she learned that Ken is actually the brother of one of her classmates – who he himself is a captain of a private yacht and whom we had connected with in South Florida during our Great Loop. It was an unbelievable coincidence and truly is a small world.

Denise & Ken Freeman

Denise & Ken Freeman

After dinner, many people sat around a bonfire talking, and tonight Denise stuck around to participate in the laughter and fun.  Finally around 9:00 she went back to the boat for the night.  Here are some pictures from this event:

Meanwhile, Mark’s flight got delayed and rerouted twice in his attempt to get to Palm Springs. Finally he secured a hotel room in Phoenix (where he got routed through) for the night, and will fly the last part of his trip in the morning.

Shady Harbor Marina (SHM) – New Baltimore, NY (Monday, 6/10):
Today, Denise stayed pretty much hunkered down on the boat getting some work done, cataloging the weekend’s pictures, and getting a blog written.  She did find some time in the morning to speak with a few Loopers, but many of them have left the marina and have headed north to begin the journey on the canals.

In the afternoon Sue (“Lucky Me”) organized a pot-luck dinner for the evening; she would provide the chicken for barbeque and everyone was to bring a side dish to share. Rain was forecasted for the late afternoon, but since the grills and table were under the canopy it would still go on.  So now Denise had to bring something and was glad for the purchase of extra Romaine lettuce on Saturday; a Caesar Salad would be the dish of choice.

Despite the high winds at first, followed by drizzle and then all out rain, the remaining Loopers gathered under the tent and shared a terrific dinner together.  Everyone had fun and thanked Sue for doing such a great job and bringing us all together.  She and Greg will be leaving tomorrow and will be missed.

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Rainy evening in the marina

Meanwhile, Mark spent the day flying the not-so-friendly skies. Due to the GPS tracking issue on the CRJ – the type plane he was supposed to take from Phoenix to Palm Springs, his morning flight had been canceled late last night and he was rerouted taking him through Salt Lake City. It would be almost noon CA time before he would arrive at the client site, but he finally did do so safely.  Then it was late for Denise when he finally got a chance to call. Thankfully, this trip is only 2 days in CA and one day in Chicago so the time change difference will be for only a few days.  Before long the week will be out and he will be back on the boat, but not before Denise gets her long list of “honey do” items completed.

There is a reason why we like so many cruisers like this marina.  Aside from its location on the Hudson River, it has great facilities and lots of fun things to do. Here are a few pictures:

turtles sunning on jetty at low tide

turtles sunning on jetty at low tide

IO at Shady Harbor

IO at Shady Harbor

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office.

Rondout Respite!

Kingston, NY (Thursday, 6/6):
Today was a day that most people would call boring; we called it peaceful and productive.  We literally spent the whole day doing work, cataloging pictures, publishing the last blog and doing research on Lake Champlain and all points north.  Yesterday we received information that the first 5 locks on the Champlain canal were now open, and today we got notice that others have also opened.  Hopefully all the debris will wash out over the next week or so and we won’t have to play “dodge” with branches, limbs and even whole trees that wash out with the current.

Most of our Looper friends are now ahead of us by a day or two, but many are staying at Shady Harbor Marina for the weekend and we will see them when we get there tomorrow (Friday).  Others like San & Lisa (“Panacea”) have moved further north and are preparing for the left turn at Waterford and on to the Erie Canal.

We will be staying at Shady Harbor for a while as Mark has to travel next week to see a client and Denise will stay with the boat. There is a list of boat chores that requires attention, a cruising guide to plow through, and some much needed downtime.  Of course there will be socializing with the Loopers who stop by all week long.

Rondout Yacht Basin is a very family-oriented place with play areas for kids, a small RV park, and a bar for the adults; however, it is only open on the weekends.  It is near a small neighborhood with old homes and mobile home development up the hill.  It is showing its age and needs some work that hopefully the new owners (since we were here last) are going to do.  Here are some pictures from the area:

There are still many boats “on the hard” here and have not been put in the water for the season; one we spotted was this Back Cove 37.

"Rocinante" at RYB

“Rocinante” at RYB

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office.

Kicking up fun in Kingston!

Kingston, NY (Wednesday, 6/5):
Today we planned to leave Poughkeepsie Yacht Club, but since our next stop was only 8 miles away, we were in no hurry to get there.  Plus, the current was running against us, so the later we left the better.

Taking advantage of this delay, Denise went for a run; after all it was Global Running Day!  The yacht club is located in a fairly rural area and there is a gravel road about a half-mile long that takes you out to the two-lane highway with no shoulder. Not a good running area. Fortunately, one of the club members had told her about a neighboring townhouse development that you can get to from a side gravel road and that is the path she took.  The route out was pretty simple, but required going over the train tracks and up a huge hill where she spooked two deer who took off before a picture could be taken.  From there she ran up the hill to the highway, then back down to the side road and on to run through the very hilly new development.  After two loops there and back down the hill she returned to the PYC to finish a short, but good workout.  Here are some pictures from the run:

While waiting for the current to change Mark was able to get some towels washed and dried while Denise published the last blog update.  We also had a chance to say hello to Loopers John & Susan (“Sunset Drifter”) who also stayed at PYC. We first met them in Beaufort, NC and initially didn’t realize they were on their boat at the club as it was on the north dock and we were on the south dock. In any case, we had a short conversation before we had to say goodbye as it was time to leave.

A note about PYC: we really liked our stay at this place. Even though it is somewhat remote, we had numerous offers by club members to take us into Hyde Park, or to take us anywhere. We received all kinds of suggestions on where to go in Kingston, along Lake Champlain and even in the neighboring town of Rhinebeck.  We really appreciate all this local knowledge and try to get wherever we can.  We also loved the wildlife we got to see while here, including the bald eagles that would perch on the deadwood tree near the club. But the people of this club are the best and made us feel so welcome.  We will not forget them and now consider them our friends.

Bald eagle at PYC

Bald eagle at PYC

Finally, it was time to head north.  We left the dock with Rob’s help and without issue, heading past Esopus Island, the boats at Norrie State Park on the eastern shore, and The Mount Bruderhof Community on the western shore.

Along the way we passed the Esopus Meadows Lighthouse and rounded Sturgeon point where a train was headed north.

As we approached the entrance to Rondout Creek and the famous lighthouse that marks its northern breakwater, the Rip Van Winkle tour boat was leaving the harbor.  As soon as it got out into the Hudson River, at least 10 law enforcement boats approached it from the North and proceeded to surround it. It was obvious there was some type of training exercise going on and the wakes of all the boats kicked up the waves a bit.

Rondout Lighthouse

Rondout Lighthouse

Rip Van Winkle

Rip Van Winkle

We passed the breakwater and began making our way passed the town of Kingston to our north.

Entering Kingston

Entering Kingston

Here there were Looper and other cruiser boats at the docks of various establishments, including the Hudson River Maritime Museum, a restaurant, and the city marina.  One boat we saw was “Salty” whom we knew from our Great Loop adventure in 2015. Also on the dock were our friends on “Balahula” and “Steadfast”.

We continued up the Rondout Creek to Rondout Yacht Basin on the side, and pulled up to a face dock with a side-tie. This was perfect because it enabled us to easily launch the dinghy to take it back across the creek to go into town. The biggest disadvantage to this marina is it is not in walking distance to Kingston, but it is protected and nicer than the downtown docks.

Approaching RYB

Approaching RYB

As we were settling the boat we were approached by a Looper, Mike (“Blue Sky”) who came over to introduce himself. He and his wife had just moved to Orlando- area from Texas and immediately started their Loop adventure. We agreed to stop by later and talk with them if time permits. Since we are planning on being here two nights, that should not be an issue.

We then checked in with the marina office, met the people from the boat behind us on the dock, and then launched the dinghy; we wanted to get to see some of the town of Kingston before the forecasted rain comes in the evening.  We were not sure where we could tie up the dinghy without having to pay the $10 dock fee at the city docks, but while seeking out friends on “Balahula” we were invited to tie to the stern of “Magic”, a couple we met in Atlantic City in 2017.  At first we could not remember where we had initially met, but later we reviewed the notes on their boat card to confirm.  Terry (aka “Captain Crusty”) and his wife Dorothy are also doing the Down East Loop. We thanked them for the tie-up and agreed that all us DE Loopers should get together at Shady Harbor marina next week and compare itineraries and notes.

We found Joe & Barbara (“Balahula”) who were with Brian & Michelle (“Kitumba”) at a nearby patio bar having a drink. They were making plans to go up the Rondout creek in their dinghy, but we wanted to go see the town so we passed on the offer to join them. We made plans to connect up for dinner later in the evening, and then headed down the Riverwalk.  We walked down past the Hudson River Maritime Museum and up to the Ole Savannah restaurant where some Looper stay to take advantage of their “free dock with meal” program.  Our goal was to meet up with Jonathan and Rosa (“Salty”) as well as other Loopers.

We first met Jonathan in Apalachicola in 2015, and then saw them when we were at anchorage in Cumberland Island, GA in 2017 on our way to Maine. We have followed their adventures as they are on their 4th Great Loop and were originally going to do the DE Loop like us this year. However their boat is a C-Dory and not really geared for the big water of the St. Lawrence and so they have abandoned this plan.  We talked with them for a little while as well as other Loopers Janice & Steve (“Nomadic Spirit”) and Kelly & Pam (“Bahama Voyager”) and then continued with our walk around town.

"Salty" at Ole Savannah dock

“Salty” at Ole Savannah dock

Catching up with Loopers at Ole Savannah - "Salty", "Nomadic Spirit" & "Bahama Voyager"

Catching up with Loopers at Ole Savannah – “Salty”, “Nomadic Spirit” & “Bahama Voyager”

Looper boats at Kingston city marina

Looper boats at Kingston city marina

The town of Kingston is mostly a dead town. There are several good restaurants and a few shops, but most were closed, even at 4:00 in the afternoon. There is evidence of plans for revitalization, but there is also evidence of businesses that tried to make it here and were not successful.  Here are some pictures from this adventure.

We decided to return back to our boat to get showers and tuck in before the threatening rain started.  We knew we could take an Uber cab to get to dinner, once location and time was known.  Once back at the boat, we spent some time talking to our dock mates behind us. Adrian & Stephanie (“Royal Winds”) have a home near the NY shores of Lake Champlain, and a second home in Titusville, FL. We spent time discussing membership in MTOA and cruising up to Quebec and along the St. Lawrence River. Their information was most helpful and we agree to call them if we make it near where they live.

The rain never did come in the evening, but we still took an Uber to meet Barbara & Joe (“Balahula”) and Brian & Michelle (“Kitumba”) for outside dining at Savona Trattoria in Kingston. We had a lot of fun laughing and sharing stories of our travels and enjoying a delicious meal.  After dinner Brian and Michelle gave us a ride back in their dinghy as their boat was also at RYB. We thanked them and wished them safe travels as they were headed north tomorrow.  We will most likely see them this weekend at Shady Harbor Marina along with all the other Loopers who will be there for the weekend festivities and Sunday’s pig roast.

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office.

Happy on the Hudson!

Croton-on-Hudson, NY (Friday, 5/31):
The day started with Denise going for a run along the path that follows the Hudson River north for about 1.25 miles. She then turned around and ran past the marina and along the path in front of the condominiums that align the shore until she ran out of path. She turned around and headed back to the marina only logging a little more than 3 miles; something is better than nothing.

We spent the rest of the day working on cataloging pictures, writing the last blog, handling work items, and helping clients. Denise prepared some notes for our Looper friends heading up the Hudson and into Canada and published it to them.  We also had to deal with some financial decisions related to Denise’s retirement funds, and finally got them resolved this afternoon. However, one of the items required us to have a document notarized and mailed into them with a short deadline.  So, tomorrow we will have to add this to our list of “errands” to run.

In the meantime our friends Jackie & Jim (“Dona Pacem”) came into the marina, as well as several Looper boats whom we did not know. As we encountered each one, we introduced ourselves to them, swapped boat cards and discussed our mutual itineraries.  In the afternoon we were invited aboard one of these boats; “At Ease” – a boat we had heard of and had not yet met, but for whom we have mutual friends. Ben & Chantale were great hosts and on their boat we had a chance to meet other Loopers.  However, everyone we met today were first-time Loopers and all heading up the Hudson to take the Erie Canal like we did 4 years ago. None were doing the Down East Loop like us and all were anxious to make their way north and into the Erie Canal.

We however, were not in any hurry because the route we are taking through the Champlain Canal is still closed. The rains north of us have caused high water levels on the lake and the Army Corp of Engineers (ACOE) won’t open the canals if it is not safe for boaters. The Erie and Oswego Canals are ok, but not the Champlain Canal. Fortunately, we have 2 weeks before we will be trying to get up to Lake Champlain, and we agreed we would take it slow to see a few new places as we make our way north.

We finished the day with a quiet dinner on the boat and watched another episode of Game of Thrones.

Croton-on-Hudson, NY (Saturday, 6/1):
In the morning we took care of a few boat chores, then Mark went and picked up the rental car from Enterprise; just a ½ mile away. He was able to get a van which enabled us to take more than just another couple to dinner. We had already made plans with San & Lisa (“Panacea”) and invited Jackie & Jim (“Dona Pacem”) to join us.

But first we had some errands to run.  We drove to the nearest Walmart Supercenter (not just any Walmart) which was 25 miles away.  Mark had a few things he wanted that only a Supercenter would likely carry, and this gave us options for other shopping. The UPS store near our marina did not have a notary available on Saturday, but we were able to find a Credit Union right near the Walmart and they were able to help us out.

On the way back to Croton on the Hudson, we took a different road that enabled us to stop at a Macy’s in Yorktown Heights.  Mark needed an extra dress shirt to take on his business trip in a few weeks as it will be a longer trip than what he had packed.  This adventure took us on the Taconic State Parkway and past the Donald J. Trump State Park. It was a beautiful drive and allowed us to see a part of New York we otherwise would have missed.

On the way back to the marina, we stopped and visited Croton Gorge Park and the New Croton Dam; a place we had put on our “must see” list while visiting here.  The dam is very tall and is fed by the reservoir that is a source of water for NYC.  This is a very cool place and you can learn more about it here.

 

After a full day out and about, we returned to our boat and stowed our purchases.  As we were getting our things put up, Loopers and other cruisers started to gather on the dock behind us for an impromptu “docktails” event.  Here we got to meet some new people who came into the marina while we were out.  The event didn’t last long as people had dinner plans, including us.  Jackie & Jim decided not to dine out with us, but San and Lisa (“Panacea”) were still up for it. So the 4 of us drove to Croton Grill, located in the village up the hill from the marina.  Although more of a pub then restaurant, we had good food and a fun time getting to know in this couple from California a little bit better.

After dinner, we went back to our boat where Denise worked very late into the evening to update our latest blog post.

 Croton-on-Hudson, NY (Sunday, 6/2):
Because we had the car we drove with Jackie & Jim (“Dona Pacem”) to mass at Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church. It was nice to be able to share our faith with another fellow cruiser, especially ones from our home state.

After mass the four of us had breakfast at the Croton Colonial Diner and Restaurant where we had eaten on Father’s Day, 2015. The food was just as good, the price was reasonable and the company was terrific.

Instead of going directly back to the marina, we went to the Shop Rite grocery store. It is a large grocery store with a full bakery, and good-size deli, meat, and seafood counters.  They also had an amazing selection of cheeses, many from New York dairies.  We picked up a few items and then headed back to the boat to stow our items.

Later in the afternoon we walked into the Village of Croton on Hudson to celebrate their “Summerfest 2019”. It was a small town event and we enjoyed all that it had to offer. In addition to tents for food and drink offerings by the local restaurants and bars, there other businesses as well including: dance companies, insurance companies, real estate agencies, home building or remodeling firms, jewelry, and other such places.  A Cub Scout troop had a tent where they had a grown-up version of “Operation” – a project put together by the scouts.

Operation for grown ups

Operation for grown ups

There was even a travel agency specializing in Walt Disney World vacations offering a chance to win a free trip. We laughed with the owner and offered NOT to participate in the drawing.

WDW Travel company

WDW Travel company

And there was even a parade with a drum and fife group and the town EMS and Police force represented. We had arrived just as things were getting under way and stayed about 2 hours until it got crowded too hot.  We walked back to the boat to cool off and enjoy a relaxing afternoon.  Here are some pictures from this outing:

 

While we were gone new Looper and non-Looper boats had arrived at the marina. One such boat was “Osprey” from Barnstable – Cape Cod who were parked across the dock from us.  We had a chance to meet Sue and Pete and discuss cruising the New England waters. We also encountered Cate on “Steadfast”, (and husband Bill) whom we had met at the MTOA Rendezvous in Fort Pierce in April 2018.  It always amazes us how we run into other cruisers in faraway places.

In the early evening we invited Jackie & Jim (“Dona Pacem”) and Sue & Pete (“Osprey”) to come to our boat for docktails. A few other cruisers also stopped by but only briefly. It was a fun way to end our time at this spot. We had a quiet dinner aboard and tried to watch some tv, but the winds turned fierce and rocked all the boats in the marina. While there is a protective barrier, it is not a full breakwater and a large west wind creates a surge that builds as it moves across Haverstraw Bay.  Unable to go below without getting sick, Denise fell asleep on the settee in the main salon; it was just too bouncy in our stateroom.  Around 11:30 it settled down enough and she was able to move where she finally fell back asleep.

Here are some other pictures of the areas around our marina:

Half Moon Bay Marina

Half Moon Bay Marina

Marina Office - Condo facilities

Marina Office – Condo facilities

Condominiums

Condominiums

 Poughkeepsie Yacht Club – north of Poughkeepsie, NY (Monday, 6/3)
The high winds of last night brought in a drop in temperature and when we woke it was in the low 50’s.  We literally went from hot and wearing shorts to cold and wearing long pants in under 12 hours.

Denise wanted to take advantage of the cooler temperatures and went for a run following the path along the Hudson that she ran two days before. Here she separately encountered fellow cruisers Sue (“Osprey”) and Cate (“Steadfast”) who were also out for a run/race-walking, respectively.

Although calm initially, the wind picked up again as morning wore on. Everyone in the marina was complaining about the surge and how no one slept well the previous night. We were glad we were leaving and moving on to another destination. Half Moon Bay is a nice place to stay and convenient to many things. But if the wind is bad, or if there is a lot of boat traffic (jet skis, etc.) on the bay, it can be an uncomfortable place to stay.

In mid-morning Mark returned the rental car, but not before dropping Bill & Cate (“Steadfast”) to pick up one they had rented. Denise went with him to go back to Shop Rite for a few items, he then dropped her back at the marina and then went on to return the car. Enterprise gave him a ride back to the marina.

We then prepared our boat and left our slip at C Half Moon Bay marina. But first we went for a pump-out, where Mark had to deal with docking the boat in the ever increasing winds. Once done with this chore, we cruised 4 miles across Haverstraw Bay and stopped at Panco for a fuel stop. Because it was in a protected cove, it was easier to pull up to the dock.

We left Panco after filling the tank full and headed north, right into the cold North wind. We cruised past the Stony Point Lighthouse to our west and passed the Indian Point Energy Center (aka Nuclear Power plant) to our east.

We then headed up into the most beautiful parts of the Hudson River. It was very windy, but we knew eventually the high mountains of the Hudson Highlands would eventually block the wind.  Soon we rounded the bend at Jones Point and spotted the Bear Mountain Bridge ahead and passed by Bear Mountain; a beautiful mountain covered in granite rock and lush greenery.

Approaching Bear Mountain Bridge

Approaching Bear Mountain Bridge

Bear Mountain

Bear Mountain

Immediately afterward we came into the area of the US Military Academy at West Point. Its large buildings sitting high up on the western cliffs overlooking the Hudson should be enough to intimidate any enemy.  It is an impressive site and we were in awe of it, even though we have been here before.

After rounding West Point to our left and Constitution Island to our right, we continued up the Hudson.

Here there is beauty in the mountains on both sides and continued to block the cold wind. We passed the town of Cold Stream to our east and Storm King Mountain to our west. Here this mountain peak reaches 1355 feet above river and is at the northern end of the area known as Hudson River Highlands section.

Storm King Mountain

Storm King Mountain

From there the Hudson opens up to a large bay and the wind was once again cold and on our nose.  We rounded an island known as “Bannerman’s Island”. Frank Bannerman was a munitions dealer who built a replica of medieval castle in the early 1900s as a summer resort. In the 1960’s it became part of the NY Park system, but because of deteriorating conditions it has since been abandoned. Today all that remains are some remnants of the old building.

We continued north and cruised past the town of Newburgh (west side) and under the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge.

Newburgh-Beacon (I84) Bridge

Newburgh-Beacon (I84) Bridge

We then made our way to Poughkeepsie and under the Mid-Hudson Suspension Bridge and the now Pedestrian Bridge that was formerly a Conrail railroad bridge at 212 feet high. Too bad our nephew Ryan wasn’t in town, he attends Vassar College but has already gone home to Winter Park for the summer.

After leaving the town of Poughkeepsie, the hills on both sides of the river turn rural, containing religious retreat centers, small hamlets, and even some mansions; the most famous being the Roosevelt and the Vanderbilt estates on the eastern shore.  These appear shortly after the monstrous main building on the campus of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).

Along the river’s shoreline we passed by a few boat clubs and small boat marinas, and eventually we came to the Poughkeepsie Yacht Club; our home for the next two days.

PYC

PYC

We had called several days ago and attempted to make reservations but they don’t take them; it is a first-come first-serve marina for transients. We were assured there would be room for us as most of the members boats were still waiting to be put in the water for the season. As we approached the club we contacted them on the phone and as luck would have it, we were able to actually pick our desired slip. We chose one that was several slips in from the river hoping the sailboats in the end slips would help to buffer from the passing boat traffic headed up and down the river.  As we approached the dock we were helped by several club members; it was welcomed assistance as the wind was really blowing.

After we got the boat settled and met a few of the members, we walked up to the PYC clubhouse to register. The people here were so inviting and friendly and not like your typical east-coast stuffy clubs. It is a very friendly place and their warmth and hospitality reminded us of the generosity of those at GKYC.

One of the benefits of this club is that they offer free laundry. After we got a tour of the place we put together two loads and managed to get them washed and dried before the weekly club meeting in the evening.

Like GKYC this club has no formal dining room and only hosts catered dinners for specific events.  It is also in a remote area and is not easy to walk to any of the Hyde Park or Rhinebeck restaurants; it would require a cab.  However, we were more than happy to eat dinner on the boat and just enjoy the scenery of the place.  The wind eventually died down and it became very calm. We were the only ones on our boat and the only ripple we felt was when a tow captain and barge went by ever so slowly.  It truly is a beautiful place and we got treated to a spectacular sunset…. and of course the horns from the passing trains

Sunset at PYC

Sunset at PYC

Poughkeepsie Yacht Club – north of Poughkeepsie, NY (Tuesday, 6/4)
Today we barely left the boat, and never left the marina. First of all it was really cold this morning; 44° at 5:30 am. Secondly, we got to do another load of laundry in the morning pretty much before anyone showed up.

But also because it is really a pretty place, and there are lots of friendly folks at the Yacht Club to talk with, which Denise spent a good amount of the day doing.

Our “host” yesterday and one of the friendliest club members is a guy named Rob. He helped us in yesterday and kind of acts as the manager of the place. He is a retired navy pilot who owns real estate here in NY, and has some property in FL.  We had a lot in common as we were in Jacksonville at the same time; as when he was stationed at Cecil Field.

Rob at PYC

Rob at PYC

Denise also met Frank, another member who was doing some welding on the club’s travel lift. He is a structural engineer and works in Manhattan usually, but was taking a “paperwork” day. Not only does he help design the skyscrapers in Manhattan, he loves climbing up on the steel to solve the problems they encounter. He also used to rock climb in his earlier years. (Sorry no picture).

Almost all the work at the club is done by the members, including grounds keeping and necessary repairs.  The docks are taken out of the water for the winter as the River ices here, and then they are put back in for the spring. Many of the members’ boats are still on the hard and we watched them put a few in the water yesterday.  They also use a small barge to remove the large pieces of debris that accumulate in the water around the marina during this time of year.  This year is especially heavy due to the large amount of rain and now the canals have opened and all this debris flows right into the PYC.

Working barge at PYC

Working barge at PYC

Around lunch time we started to see the “Looper” boats pass by us. Many had been at Half Moon Bay and were headed to Kingston or parts north of us for the night.  It was fun to see them all pass, and we took pictures of a few of them, including “Panacea” and “Dona Pacem”.

The rest of the day was spent working, cataloging the many pictures taken, doing office work, conference calls with clients and associates, and ordering s few boat spare parts.  Mark also ordered us another desktop server for the home office as the one we use as a backup is on its last leg and has shut down twice in the last week. We are grateful for our neighbor Mark M, who has gone into our house and restarted for us while we have been gone. This is a reminder to us that we could not do this if it wasn’t for the generosity of our family and friends, and for that we are truly grateful.

Tomorrow we will leave for Kingston and Rondout Yacht Basin, which is a short 8 miles away.  Therefore, we probably won’t leave until noon when the river current is in our favor and all the Loopers that are leaving have cleared out.

Here are a few more pictures from PYC:

Investment Banker Home near PYC

Investment Banker Home near PYC

Train crossing near PYC

Train crossing near PYC

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office.

Enjoying the Empire State!

Staten Island, NY (Saturday, 5/25):
They say the worst thing cruising is having a schedule, and now we had a destination where we had to be by a certain date. So looking at a small weather window to get up the New Jersey coast, and knowing we needed to leave time up the Hudson River for bad weather, we left Cape May early in the morning. The wind was going to calm down throughout the day so we took a chance and headed offshore through the inlet.

Coast Guard Station - Cape May

Coast Guard Station – Leaving Cape May

Immediately coming out of the inlet, the wind tore loose our brand new AGLCA burgee and the new clips Mark had just installed.  We were happy we only ‘tried them out’ on the one burgee first.  We will take the other set back to West Marine for a full refund.

Once out of the inlet we expected the waves to settle down a bit, but they did not.  The seas were confused with the wind shift and the chop made things very miserable; we did not see ourselves spending 6 hours bouncing in 2 foot seas with an occasional 4-footer.  We adjusted course and headed into Absecon Inlet at Atlantic City. Once through the inlet we entered into the ICW and headed north.

Entering AICW at Atlantic City

Entering AICW at Atlantic City

We have done this part of New Jersey before and knew of the shallow spots.  We also had a rising tide, making it favorable for us to get through the shallower areas without too much trouble.  But it was a holiday weekend and there were tons of fishing boats, who love to hang out in the middle of the channel that required us to slow down.

We continued up the ICW for several hours, slowing when we had to pass fishing boats or slow trawlers.  By the time we got up to Barnegat Bay there were so many boats on the water that the waves from their wakes were almost as big as those offshore. It was a crazy, but we were still able to cruise along at 20 knots most of the time.  Periodically the temperature sensor would go off and Mark would check the engine temperature, only to find it in normal range.

Near Seaside Heights on AICW

Near Seaside Heights on AICW

As we were approaching Manasquan we had to go through the Point Pleasant Canal. Here the current was now against us and there were many small boats that were heading in an opposite direction causing the wave action to be like a washing machine.  It was a challenge to navigate the very narrow channel but Captain Mark did a fabulous job and before long we were in the Manasquan River.

Waves & Boat traffic in Point Pleasant Canal

Waves & Boat traffic in Point Pleasant Canal

We were not anxious to stop here as the weather forecast for the coming days would have us sit a few days, so we decided that we would go out the inlet and “poke our nose” out and see how it was. If it was too rough we would turn around and find dockage for the night, but if tolerable we would continue offshore for the last 20+ miles.  Exiting the inlet was quite bouncy but once out of the swells of an incoming tide, we settled into a fairly comfortable ride.  The seas and wind were mostly from behind so the boat did not get tossed around.  We knew we could make it around Sandy Hook and into Raritan Bay within 90 minutes so we continued on.

We cruised up the New Jersey shore passing Asbury Park and other familiar sites, including the NYC skyline. It still is amazing that you can see this more than 20 miles offshore.

NYC Skyline from 20 miles out

NYC Skyline from 20 miles out

We crossed Raritan Bay without issue and entered Great Kills Harbor and the Great Kills Yacht Club (GKYC) marina to a warm welcome by John Calascibetta, AGLCA Harbor Host and now our good friend. He assisted us with the tie-up along with Loopers Mike & Kathleen (“Apres Sail”) whom we then met.  We were glad we made the decision to continue on offshore and get that last large passage behind us, even though it was a very long and tedious day.

But it was worth it as the GKYC threw us a party! Hahahahaha!

GKYC Opening Day Party

GKYC Opening Day Party

Not really, it was “Opening Day” of the season for the yacht club and they had a huge barbecue.  It is a free event and we were invited by John C. to attend.  We had not yet had showers, but went to enjoy the friendship of many members, including John C, his wife Juliette and others who made us feel really welcome.  We also got to see John Scarcella, who is a Gold Looper and whom we met during our Great Loop adventure in 2015.

Julie and John C.

Julie and John C.

 

We stayed for a few free beers, food and dessert, and then went back to the boat for showers and then turned in for the night.

Staten Island, NY (Sunday, 5/26):
The sun woke us up early but we were still tired from yesterday. Nevertheless, we got up and walked to St. Clare’s Catholic Church for the 8:30 am mass, a church we had visited before. This church is beautiful and is a neighborhood gem, just under a mile and up the hill from the GKYC.

After mass we headed back towards the marina, passing the local fire station but took a detour to go to Frank & Sal’s; a local Italian market that has lots of fresh meats, cheeses, a bakery and many imported goods.  It has a small produce section as well.  So we picked up a few things for our lunches and walked back to the boat.

Pictures from the local fire station:

Mark was anxious to get all the salt off the boat from yesterday, so he proceeded to give the boat a good washing.  Periodically he would be interrupted by one of the locals who wanted to know about our good-looking boat. Meanwhile Denise was doing research on future destinations and cataloging photos from the day before.

After lunch the Harbor had their annual “Blessing of the Fleet” which included a boat parade and the ceremonial water salute by the USCG. We got to see all of this off the end of the dock at GKYC.

Later that day San & Lisa (“Panacea”) came into GKYC, despite the high winds. We helped them tie up to the dock and socialized with them a bit.  We spent the rest of the day hanging around the boat. We talked with family, worked on the blog updates and communicated with friends on “Dona Pacem” and “Balahula” who were both still in Cape May.

We also became enthralled with a family of swans we had been watching since we arrived.  Initially we had only seen the parents, but today we got to see the whole clan; mom, dad and their 5 cygnets. They were just learning to venture out with mom close at hand.  The dad made his way to near our dock and even right after the swim platform.  It was such a delight to see nature in its full glory.

Swans on the marina

Swans in the marina

Family of swans - GKYC

Family of swans – GKYC

We were not up for going out for dinner so we ate some leftovers from the freezer and Mark convinced Denise to begin watching the “Game of Thrones” as he wanted to watch it all over again. So now we had something to keep us occupied as there are 10 years’ worth of this show. Maybe by the time we get home in November we will be finished with it.

New York, NY (Monday, Memorial Day 5/27):
Today was a very fun day and we crossed a few things off our list of “must do in NYC” activities that we have never done.  The plan was to make it a “free” day, where the only thing we spent money on was food and transportation (subway/Metro fares).

We started early taking an Uber to the Staten Island Ferry dock. The Staten Island ferry is free and a “must do” item (√) and takes you to the eastern end of NYC, not far from the Financial District.

NYC from SI Ferry

NYC from SI Ferry

Here Mark had found a diner for us to have a big breakfast, NYC-style at Squires Diner.

Squires Diner for breakfast

Squires Diner for breakfast

From here we walked a few blocks north and picked up the staircase to walk up to the base of the Brooklyn Bridge.  We spent the next hour or so walking across the Brooklyn Bridge (√) and taking in all the sights. It was a beautiful sunny day and many people were out walking the bridge or on their boats in the waters below.

Stairs to the bridge

Stairs to the bridge

 

From the bridge we walked a few blocks in Brooklyn (another area we wish to explore more someday) and picked up the subway to take us back to Manhattan.

Next on the list was Chelsea Market (√). Had we not had a big breakfast, we would have found a place to eat here as there are lots of options.  We walked around through some of the shops, and eventually Mark got a rest break while Denise did some browsing.

Inside Chelsea Market

Inside Chelsea Market

From there we went a few blocks north and picked up the High Line (√). This is a pedestrian walk that was converted as such from the old raised railway line.  It is nicely landscaped and has art sculptures periodically scattered throughout.  We even saw a multi-language replica of Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture; the original we saw at the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine.

Us on the High Line

Us on the High Line

The benefit of the High Line is that you can walk North and South through a large part of Manhattan without having to cross at street intersections. Normally this would have been a huge time saver, but with the warm and sunny weather, the High Line was packed with people.  We did take it for a long while, getting off near a subway station and taking it uptown towards the piers where the US Navy boats were supposed to be for Fleet Week.  However, Mark had miscalculated and we were much farther north than we needed to be.  As a reprieve from our tired feet we found Frank Mac’s Pub where we had a beer and ate a late lunch.

Lunch at Frank Mac's Pub

Lunch at Frank Mac’s Pub

Once refueled and ready to go, we headed back south to the Hudson River and the piers to see the boats in for Fleet Week.  We passed by the USS Intrepid and a Sub that are permanently docked here, and then on to see the USS New York.  We considered getting in the long line for the free viewing, but when we learned that closed-toe shoes were required to board the boat, we nixed the idea. We could still go to the pier, but decided to spend our now dwindling time in NYC to do other things.

We then took a subway (actually two – had to change lines) to get us to Grand Central Station (√). Denise had never been here and was so amazed at the scale of the place.  First of all, the main terminal is much larger (HUGE) than is revealed in any movie or tv shot.  But, it also consists of several levels below the main terminal, including a large “food court” type of area.  Here there are several bars, restaurants, and various other places where you can buy ice cream, smoothies, donuts, and health food. Off the main terminal are side corridors to take you to the various train and subway tracks, all of which are well laid out and easy to follow on a map, as well as stores to shop. The Apple Store here is like none other.

Main Terminal - Grand Central Station

Main Terminal – Grand Central Station

But the architecture and details are what makes this place so special. From the large chandeliers, to the rosettes in the stone, to the painted ceiling; it is a work of art into itself and is a national treasure. Everyone should see this very special place.

At Grand Central Station Main Terminal

At Grand Central Station Main Terminal

Finally, we were spent and done with NYC.  We took a subway back to the ferry terminal and took the ferry back to Staten Island.  But we had to get back to GKYC and opted for the “local” approach: we took a train from the Ferry terminal.  It actually took about the same amount of time as the Uber, but only cost $2.60 each instead of $36.  However, we still had to walk the mile back down the hill to GKYC.  When all was said and done, we had walked over 10 miles today.

Step Count for the day

When we arrived back at the boat we saw that our friends on Dona Pacem had come up from Cape May and were in the slip right next to us.   We had a chance to say hello, discuss plans for the upcoming days and then we got onboard Island Office in for the evening. We were spent but had time for a quick snack and an episode of “Game of Thrones” before sleep took over.

 Staten Island, NY (Tuesday, 5/28):
The morning was spent with Denise did some itinerary planning for the rest of the Hudson River, and Mark doing some work for a client.  We had made plans for a lunch date with our New Jersey Looper friends Evelyn & Clark (“Sunset Delight”) who came by around noon to pick us up.  We went to a place near GKYC called Andrew’s Diner and had a great lunch with plenty of leftovers to take back to the boat.  After lunch, they came to the boat as we wanted to get their knowledge about Lake Champlain and the canals to the St. Lawrence River. They were full of great insight and hints and we really appreciated the time they spent with us.

with Evelyn & Clark ("Sunset Delight")

with Evelyn & Clark (“Sunset Delight”)

When we had returned to the boat, we noticed that Panacea had left and Balahula had come into end dock where Panacea had been.  They had met Evelyn & Clark from their mutual time together at Faro Blanco Marina in Marathon, FL over the winter, so it was fun to see them reconnect.  Aw the cruising/Looper life!

Shortly after they left, the rain started, but only lightly and intermittently. The weather forecast called for severe thunderstorms later in the evening and we did not want to get caught in it by trying to go out for dinner. So, we ordered a pizza for delivery and had it delivered right before the hard rain set in.  And when it did start it was horrendous.  We had huge gusts of wind and drenching rain, followed by hail. Then we heard the weather alert alarms: we were under a tornado warnings. At one point Denise wondered if we shouldn’t leave the boat to the safety of the GKYC clubhouse, but it was too dangerous to go outside. Additionally, Mark was on the phone with tech support for a software company; his computer had taken a crash while in the process of updating software and it was not looking good – so we really couldn’t go anywhere anyway.

Eventually the most sever of the weather passed, Mark was able to restore his computer to a workable unit and we settled into another episode or two of “Game of Thrones” for the night.  However, it continued to rain off and on all night.

Staten Island, NY (Wednesday, 5/29):
When we woke up in the morning it did rain initially, but stopped early on. However, it remained overcast and foggy making it an ugly-looking day.

Morning fog in harbor

Morning fog in harbor

We also realized that sometime during the early morning hours the power had gone out at GKYC. We turned on the generator right away.  We were worried that the items in the freezer and fridge may have been compromised but learned it had not been off long before we discovered it, so all was ok.  And the power did come back on before we had a chance to finish breakfast.  We also learned that during the storm last night three funnel clouds were reported near the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, just a few miles from us. This is very scary when you are on a boat and we felt very lucky to have had no storm related issues.

As previously scheduled last Friday, “Gary” the Cummins Engine repair guy showed up at 8:00. He went to work troubleshooting and trying to determine the source of our temperature sensor issues with Mark watching everything he did. He was able to determine that the source of the problem was related to the connector the sensor plugs into and not the new sensor.  Gary replaced the connector and reassembled with the sensor that Zimmerman Marine had replaced.  He ran tests on this and also did an “in-warranty” upgrade to clamps on the fuel line holders, preventing a future issue from developing there.  Denise helped out by turning on and off the engine as requested, while the guys were in the engine room. It was a group effort.

Once all the testing and monitoring was satisfactory, we took the boat out for a sea trial. We untied from the dock and headed out onto Raritan Bay which was awash with choppy waves due to the wind.  Mark opened the throttle to its maximum (2900 RPM) and had us slamming the waves, which was not fun for Denise.  Gary hung out in the back of the boat watching all his monitoring equipment and holding on tightly.  The entire time the temperature did exactly as it was supposed to and indicated the problem had been fixed.  We were delighted he had actually found a problem and now it had been solved.

 

Once back at GKYC, we said goodbye to Gary and had lunch.  We felt pretty good about the repair and made plans for leaving and heading up the Hudson River.  We made plans for the weekend, including marina reservations at Half-moon Bay on the Hudson River, and a tentative schedule for follow-on days all the way to New Baltimore, NY.

Once again the evening weather forecast was for heavy rain and thunderstorms.  We had made plans for dinner with Barbara and Joe (“Balahula”), and two other Looper couples to go to Coles – a restaurant we had eaten at several other times and was about a ¼ mile from GKYC.  As the afternoon wore on the other two couples ended up cancelling for different reasons, and we opted to go early in order to prevent getting caught in the now approaching thunderstorms.  All throughout dinner it rained and stormed, but we were safely enjoying good food and good company.  We stretched out our time to as long as possible and finally when it let up we walked back to the boat, dodging the raindrops and the puddles pouring water down the street storm drains.

Barb & Joe dodging puddles and rain drops

Barb & Joe dodging puddles and rain drops

Once back on the boat we queued up another two episodes of “Game of Thrones” and watched while cataloging pictures and working on this blog.

Croton-on-Hudson, NY (Thursday, 5/30):
Woke up to a very cool morning with temperatures in the mid 50’s.  It was so calm in the harbor, and we looked for our swan family who were out again with the cygnets.

Denise wanted to go for a run, but her right foot was bothering her from the walking in NYC and decided that rest is what it required.  We watched as the boat “At Ease” left the mooring field in the harbor early, but we were not in a hurry and wanted to wait as late as possible to time the outgoing current of the Hudson.

In the meantime fog rolled in and so we waited a little longer for some of it to burn off.  After waiting a bit and none of it did, we finally left GKYC with the radar on.  It was foggy, but not near as bad as we have seen in Maine.  Before leaving we received a warm send off from our friends Joe & Barbara (“Balahula”) and Jim & a “virtual” Jackie (“Dona Pacem”).

Joe, Barb, Jim & Jackie (virtually) at the Goodbye

Joe, Barb, Jim & Jackie (virtually) at the Goodbye

Foggy Raritan Bay

Foggy Raritan Bay

Once out on Raritan Bay we were blocked by Staten Island so there was little waves and we were able to shoot across it in no time.  Before long we went under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, passing Fort Wadsworth and entering New York Harbor. Denise commented to Mark that it was just a short 6 months ago that she ran on the top of the bridge during the start of the NYC Marathon, albeit in much sunnier conditions. 

The New York Harbor was full of barges either underway or at anchor, and for the first time the cloud ceiling was so low we could barely see the top of the skyscrapers.  However, with such weather there were hardly any pleasure craft out to negotiate around, just the usual ferries and tows.

barges in NY Harbor

barges in NY Harbor

NYC in the clouds

NYC in the clouds

We turned around the battery area and made our way north up the Hudson River, taking in all the sights along the way. Included in this was some of the most interesting of architecture:

Briefly the fog burned off and we got to see some interesting sites along the Hudson River, as well as the beautiful places that is so underrated and unknown by so many. 

Paddle wheel scultpture on dock

Paddle wheel sculpture on dock

Floating advertising on the Hudson River

Floating advertising on the Hudson River

Riverside Church - Manhattan

Riverside Church – Manhattan

We passed under the George Washington Bridge and made our way north, leaving behind the state of New Jersey which had been along the port side of us.

Leaving GW Bridge

Leaving GW Bridge

We came up the Tappan Zee Bridge (I-275) and had to slow down considerably as they were still working on this project. Four years ago when we came through this way they were just starting construction on the new bridge; now they were taking down the old one. Your federal tax dollars at work!

 

Deconstructing Tappan Zee Bridge

Deconstructing Tappan Zee Bridge

Finishing touches on the new Tappan Zee Bridge

Finishing touches on the new Tappan Zee Bridge

New Tappan Zee Bridge

New Tappan Zee Bridge

We passed this work boat (the “Jeanne II”) as we left the Tappan Zee in our wake:

Workboat "Jeanne II"

Workboat “Jeanne II”

Just after the bridge we passed several Looper boats of whom we had heard about, including “At Ease”.  We knew they were most likely headed to the same place as us and thought we could connect with them after we arrived.  All of this took place as we passed Tarrytown and the community of Sleepy Hollow (made famous from the writings by Washington Irving).

Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse

Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse

And even though it was a bit foggy and we were far away, there was no mistaking Sing-Sing, the NY state penitentiary made famous in movies and tv that we cruised by shortly thereafter. Soon we approached Croton Point and contacted Dockmaster Steve at Half Moon Bay. He was excited that we were the first of many boats that would be coming in and met us at the dock to assist with tie up.

The marina sits behind a break wall of sorts, blocking some of the boat wakes, but not all.  So on a really windy day or if there is a lot of boat traffic, we were still going to rock. We were put into a slip that faced this wall and allowed the bow to take the brunt of the motion.

IO at Half Moon Bay

After settling the boat and getting all the marina information, we went for a walk. We wanted to check out a new market that had opened called “Apple Farm”. It is a regional chain grocery store with a big fresh produce section, a meat and deli counter and a seafood counter.  It is not large, but was perfect for the few items we needed to round out our lunches and dinner.

Apple Farm

Apple Farm

We also walked to the other shopping plaza to check out the Italian market “A&S fine foods” where we purchased a salad to have for dinner and a couple of meatballs for a later meal.  Here we were disappointed to see that the barbeque joint we really liked had closed and the unit was up for rent.

We returned to the boat in time for Mark to get in a few phone calls and for us to purchase our plane tickets home in June.  Mark also purchased a new notebook computer for delivery when we are home in June. After 7 years it was time for him to get a new one and not have to deal with a potential disaster again.

Once again afternoon & evening thunderstorms were forecasted and they arrived as schedule at 5 pm.  We had already made plans to eat on board, finishing off the leftover pizza and new salad from the Italian market.  And while cataloging pictures and completing a write-up of notes for other Loopers, we watched another two episodes of “Game of Thrones”.

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office.

Cape May Companions!

Cape May, NJ (Wednesday, 5/22):
It was early when we left the Rock Hall Landing Marina; only the commercial fishing boats were up and out before us. The sun had just come up and we made our way around the harbor, passing the bait shop, a restaurant and another marina where we saw the P.E. Pruitt “buyboat” (like the ones we saw in Poquoson, VA).

We left the harbor and breakwater wall, and turned towards the Chesapeake, for our last day on this great body of water until the fall.  There was a little bit of north wind, but it would soon be blocked by the high terrain of the shores on both sides of this part of Maryland.

Soon we entered the Elk River where the Chesapeake ends and it feeds into the Chesapeake & Delaware (C&D) Canal.  This is a very pretty area with homes, farms, a few small marinas on both sides of the water, and a state park on the western shore.

As we entered the C&D canal we passed our friends on “Dona Pacem”. They were headed to Delaware City to set up for making a Delaware River passage on Thursday, as we had originally planned.  We spoke with them on the VHF for a bit, then continued on our way.  We were also being followed by a beautiful Hinkley, which looks like a Sabre or Back Cove initially until they pass you.  It is a beautiful boat, but much more expensive than our floating home.

Passing Dona Pacem on C&D - Hinkley following

Passing Dona Pacem – Hinkley following

As we made our way up the C&D canal we passed the Dann Marine Towing docks (a now-familiar site) and approached the bridge at Chesapeake City.  There were a few Looper boats there at the yacht basin docks, but they were too far away to see if we knew any of them. At this point we also crossed the state line, leaving Maryland behind and entering into Delaware.

Approaching bridge near Chesapeake City

Approaching bridge near Chesapeake City

The C&D canal is only about 12 miles and it took no time for us to make our way to the end and the entrance onto the Delaware River.  It was a beautiful day on the water so we called Delaware City and canceled our reservations for the night there, and pressed on as planned to Cape May.  We first confirmed with South Jersey Marina (SJM) that we could arrive a day earlier than planned.

We cruised past the Hope Creek Nuclear Power Facility and the Ship John (also called Jack) Light that marks a shoal area mid-channel. And now we had entered the state of New Jersey; our 7th state since leaving on 4/8. We were on a straight shot to the Cape May Canal entrance and it was calm enough to sit back and enjoy a pleasant day on the Delaware.  We even saw a whole school of dolphins swimming in with the incoming tide, which we were now fighting a bit.

Everything would have been perfect except the heat sensor alarm continued to plague us, going off about every 30 minutes or so. Mark would go into the engine room, check the actual temperature with a heat gun and confirm it was acceptable.  He also started proactively adding coolant to the system. Our plan was to get to Cape May where we will have days to work on the issue.

Just before noon we entered the Cape May Canal and were relieved that we had successfully crossed the Delaware without any rough water. We passed the ferry terminal to our port, and Looper boat “Corkscrew” to our starboard and came up on the research vessel “Shakari”.  Due to oncoming boat traffic and the upcoming railway bridge, we decided not to try and pass them. It had been reported that this past weekend the railway bridge fender had broken off and fallen in the water, blocking the canal.  But we inquired about it at the SJ M ahead of time and it was reported that all was ok to pass on the north-side opening.

Meanwhile we had been calculating our fuel consumption and trying to determine where it would be best to purchase.  Everything in NJ was going to get expensive and we did not have enough to get us up the Jersey coast and to Atlantic Highlands or Sandy Hook.  Denise had been calling around all the Cape May and NYC fuel stops to get pricing.  It takes some low-level math to determine the best price as most offer discounts for volume, cash, club affiliations (BoatUS, MTOA, Loopers, etc.) and some include sales tax, while others do not.  After doing all the calculations, we decided to stop at Miss Chris Marina on the Spicer Creek Canal, just before the Cape May Harbor. We had stopped here before and knew that it can shallow in this creek, but it was near high tide and we had plenty of depth.  We pulled in, took on some fuel and headed back out in under 30 minutes.

Mark took us through the Cape May Harbor and into SJM where the assistant dockmaster and dockhands assisted us with a tie up. The current was running fast, and their instructions on how to approach for a starboard side-tie was excellent.  We were now parked directly behind Loopers on “Corkscrew”, who made it to the marina before us as we stopped for fuel.  Tom, the assistant dockmaster told us they were going to move us to the other side of the berth once the tide changed, as “Corkscrew” would be leaving in the morning. With the current running so fast, there was no way we would be able to dock the boat on the other side. Plus they were still doing minor repairs on the dock that needed to be completed before we could berth there.

IO in first slip - SJ Marina

IO in first slip – SJ Marina

We tied up the boat, ate a late lunch and then checked in at the marina office.  Shortly thereafter the crew who helped us dock pulled our boat to the other side of the berth and now gave us a port-side tie up.

IO in second slip - SJ Marina

IO in second slip – SJ Marina

In the meantime our friends on “Dona Pacem” pulled into the marina. They too decided to take advantage of a great weather day and ditched their Delaware City plans as well.  They informed us that “Balahula” had also come into Cape May, but they were staying at Utsch’s Marina right around the corner.

About that time Barbara on “Balahula” sent us a text message for a dinner invite along with “Dona Pacem”.  We gleefully accepted, offering to bring an appetizer, even though it meant walking over to Utsch’s.

During this time, Mark did some troubleshooting on the temperature sensor. He had received some inputs from the Cummins Owners tech support site, and had spoken with Max from Zimmerman Marine.  A couple of the electrical tests he could not do because he did not have connectors that were small enough. But with Amazon Prime, all things are possible and he ordered these for delivery Friday morning. There was nothing more that he could do today and since we were not going anywhere for a few days, it was ok for now.

Soon it was time to walk over to “Balahula” for dinner.  Barbara and Joe had cooked a delicious meal of pork tenderloin, baked stuffed potatoes and bread. Jackie and Jim brought a salad and we had an appetizer.  We talked and laughed through dinner, then watched Jeopardy as the reigning champ (James) won another big day and on his way to a total winnings of $2 million.

Before long it was time to say good night and head back to the boat. Upon returning Denise did a quick check of email and received notice that a business associate she knew from a professional association had passed away earlier in the month. Over the years “Jim” and his wife had become friends of ours, sharing plants, a love of cooking, and even recipes. Although he was in his 80’s and in pretty good health, his death was sudden and unexpected.  Denise will surely miss him, and is grateful for the last sushi lunch they shared together.

Cape May, NJ (Thursday, 5/23):
As usual, Denise was up as soon as the sun came up and she went for a run down through the town of Cape May.  She ran past the church we have visited before (Our Lady Star of the Sea) and through the Washington pedestrian mall to the shore.  Here she jumped on the pathway leading all the way down to the point, but stopped just short of it to take the requisite picture of the “Cape May Boat”.

Beach sign

Cape May Boat

It was a bit windy and the seas on the Atlantic Ocean were choppy.  It’s a good thing we were not planning to go anywhere again today and the forecast was for them to increase and be from the north. That would not be conducive to smooth passage to Staten Island, 120 miles to our north.

The weather all day was fluky, with clouds for the morning, then clearing skies, and storms expected in the afternoon/evening.  It was a good day to hunker down on the boat and get some things done. First was to take advantage of the great facilities here and do laundry.  Mark even helped fold clothes and carry them back to the boat.

Laundry day

Laundry day

In the afternoon Denise called her friend Jim’s wife to express condolences and see how she was doing.  They talked for a while and she promised to go see her when they return to Winter Park in the fall. She also notified several past and present associates from their professional association over the last 20 years.

Denise also began reading a cruising book about Lake Champlain and the canals leading to the St. Lawrence.  We were trying to decide where would be the best place for her to stay while Mark was gone, and where to leave the boat for the weekend in June (6/22) when we would be home for 4 days.  We bounced around several options and finally decided to leave the boat in Burlington, VT.  We secured a slip at the marina right downtown that got good reviews and is 4 miles from the airport.  Mark was also able to finalized his travel schedule for the Palm Springs client; now going to Palm Springs and Chicago the week of 6/9. He will fly out of Albany, and it means we will miss the Pig Roast at Shady Harbor, after all. However, Denise will be spending the whole week there and will more than make up for it. She might actually get a (non-cruising guide) book read while he is gone.

Last night while having dinner, we learned from Jackie & Jim that a place right near the marina (C-View Inn) had weeknight happy hour specials in their pub, and that tonight they were having $2 sliders.  We made plans to walk over with Jackie and Jim, and rendezvous with Barbara, Joe and friends of theirs who were visiting. We arrived early as it ends at 6:00 and were grateful for Barbara & Joe who had already secured a large table for all of us. This let us get our order in before the 6:00 cut off. It didn’t take long for the place to get crowded and people hovering for seats even when the happy hour was over.  But most probably this was because it had started to storm outside. We really enjoyed the food and the company was lots of fun.

About the time we were finishing dinner, the skies cleared up and on our walk back to the marina we were treated to a double-rainbow.

Double rainbow

Double rainbow

Then later, we got to see the reflection of the sunset as it painted a spectacular sky over the eastern end of the marina.

Sunset sky over marina

Sunset sky over marina

Sunset sky over marina

Sunset sky over marina

We finished off the evening with some tv watching and picture cataloging, hoping desperately to get the blog published. Unfortunately, the internet was too slow, and we were too tired so it would have to wait until morning.

Cape May, NJ (Friday, 5/24):
Our day started with Denise getting the last blog update published, and Mark anxiously awaiting delivery of the necessary tools to continue troubleshooting the heat sensor. In the meantime he did a few other boat chores like installing new flag holders for our burgees and replacing the old windshield wiper blades with new ones.

New flag pendants

New flag pendants

After lunch the tools came and Mark was able to go to work testing with Denise helping out by turning on and off the engine. His first test was on the sensor and he was able to determine that in fact it was not working. What is unknown is if this was working initially when replaced by Zimmerman Marine, (ZM) or if something else (main wire harness) had since shorted it out.  Mark talked with Max at ZM and he was going to see if he could get us more answers. Max did agree to refund the fees for the parts and the labor portion of this issue and provided some suggestions on what else could be done. However, at this point we needed an experienced Cummins mechanic to come to the boat and do this.  Mark did the best he could to try to determine, but this is not his forte.

Mark then contacted a yacht broker whom we know from this area (Hank from Sandy Hook) to see if he knew of a Cummins mechanic in the New Jersey and Staten Island areas. He contacted one and scheduled them to be at Great Kills Yacht Club next Wednesday; after all it is a holiday weekend and they are all booked for Tuesday.  This issue should not prohibit us from moving the boat to Staten Island tomorrow as planned, we will just have to be vigilant on checking the engine temperature like we did on Wednesday crossing the Delaware.  Should any issues develop that prevent this, we can turn into one of several inlets (Atlantic City, Manasquan, etc.), and even call TowBoatUS – we have been there, done that before too!  But tomorrow the weather is going to be the only day in the next week for us to head north and into the Empire State.

After 4:00 we checked the latest weather forecast and were encouraged that tomorrow was still holding for an early departure out of Cape May.  With this information, we went to the marina office to pay the bill and say good-bye to the great staff.

Between yesterday and today a few more boats came into the marina, all waiting for the weather to break in order to head north. These included a sailboat from Florida, a Sabre (“Deplorable”), and a Marlow yacht. It also included Looper friends on “Panacea” we met at Alligator River Marina, who also intend to head north tomorrow.

After two nights of full socialization, we opted for a quiet dinner just the two of us. Even though the marina will take you anywhere in Cape May, we decided on dinner at “Lucky Bones” which is located across the street.  We ate there in 2015 and knew it was good and wanted to go back.  Since it was before 6:00 pm we were seated right away. We felt “lucky” as with the holiday weekend everything was getting busy and when we finished there was a line outside.

When we returned to the marina we noticed a lot more people had come down to their boats for the weekend. The summer was starting and people were looking forward to the boating season here.  As we were walking to our boat we ran into Jackie, Jim, Barbara & Joe.   We ended up hanging out on the marina patio in the comfortable outdoor furniture and talking for a long time.

During this time the owners of the Sabre (“Deplorable”) came by and we chatted with them. They are headed home to Plymouth, MA after a winter in Florida.  They brazenly came up the coast of Delaware (offshore) on Thursday when seas were rough.  They are also leaving tomorrow to head north and we intend to follow them, as long as we can keep up; they cruise faster than us at 24 knots.

Finally, we said good night and promised to see our new friends on “Dona Pacem” and “Balahula” at Great Kills Yacht Club in a few days.

Here are some other pictures of the South Jersey Marina:

South Jersey Marina

South Jersey Marina

A tiny cruise line boat

A tiny cruise line boat

South Jersey Marina

South Jersey Marina

South Jersey Marina

South Jersey Marina

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office.

Reunion in Annapolis!

Annapolis/Eastport, MD (Saturday, 5/18):
We left Olverson’s Marina as planned and headed out onto the Potomac River in absolutely ideal conditions. It was very flat and all the fishing boats were out.  It was going to be a beautiful day on the water and all sorts of boaters were out, including the solar-powered trimaran we saw in Daytona Beach on 4/8.

We had the current running in our favor, so in now time we entered the Chesapeake Bay and turned north.  It was flat and calm, but we were now fighting a small, current.  We were also now going to be in the state of Maryland, our 5th state on this wonderful adventure.

Wolf Trap Lighthouse

Wolf Trap Lighthouse on the Chesapeake

We cruised past the beaches and coastline of the western shore, and soon past the mouth of the Patuxent River.  Normally we would turn in here to spend time in Solomons, but we were bypassing this location on this trip.

Pax River Entrance

Pax River Entrance

Cove Point Lighthouse & Calvert Cliffs

Cove Point Lighthouse & Calvert Cliffs

We continued north running close to the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal at Cove Point, and near Calvert Cliffs State Park; a 30 mile-long stretch of fossil-laden clay strata and beach.

LNG Facility

LNG Facility

Just north of this area is a place called Herring Bay.  At the south end of the bay is a resort area called Herrington Harbor South, where we headed as an intermediary stop to get some fuel. Mark had been shopping prices and this was the best offer around, even though it meant a short diversion from the straight shot up the coast.  As we entered the channel there were numerous sailboats out to enjoy the beautiful day, even though there was very light wind.  We pulled into the fuel dock, filled our tanks, got a pump out and were on our way in no time.  We did notice the marina here was a very nice place and have put it on our list of “places to visit” again.