Saturday, November 11, 2006

Liberty State Park to Sandy Hook, NJ

18.1 nm
Wind: S 10-15 knots
Seas: 2-3 feet
Maximum speed: 6 knots
Average speed: 3.5 knots
Latitude: 40°25.13’N
Longitude: 074°01.39’W

It was a rough day today and I’m exhausted. I’m not sure how much that has to do with sailing and how much it had to do with cumulative exhaustion without a real break. We’ve had one day off since we’ve started, but we really haven’t had any downtime. Mainly what’s bothering me is the lack of cleanliness. I’ve been reading Lin Pardey’s The Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew, and she devotes a whole chapter to the need of self-sufficiency when it comes to showering. At one point, when they were on Serraffyn, she goes to a tuberculosis sanitarium to shower, rather than trying to do it on the boat. So when they built their second boat, Taliesin, one non-negotiable was a built-in bathtub.

It’s a pretty bizarre requirement, I must admit, but it does seem brilliant, not just for cleanliness, but in order to have a place to dump all the wet stuff that accumulates on a boat. As it is, all our wet stuff gets dragged all over the place, fouling everything else up. Let me tell you one thing—I wish we had a bathtub on Secret right now. If I have to go one more day, I’m heating water up on the stove and washing my hair in the cockpit. The scratching has become compulsion. I feel like an orangutan at the zoo. Karl’s dandruff looks like snow. Our current state of filth does not seem healthy in any respect.

But today was a huge milestone. Coming out the other side of New York Harbor was insanity. I can’t believe with all the hubbub about Hell Gate, no one warned us about the shipping out the other end. Hell Gate was nothing compared to trying to leave the city. There were oil barges everywhere, mainly anchored or moored, but looking like huge hulking buildings blocking our way. I started counting them at one point, but lost count after twenty. Amid all of that were the crazy tourist ferries running back and forth to the Statue of Liberty, the Staten Island Ferry, fishing boats, powerboats, and sailboats, all throwing wakes, that threw up even more water than was already being disturbed by the currents and eddies where the East River met the Hudson River met the bay. It was very stressful.

We had intended to sail today, and hoisted the main so that we could motor-sail most of the day, but ended up using the diesel the whole way here, just because of timing. We ended up leaving late today, at around noon, because of both our late night last night and the tides, which didn’t turn until about two. By the time we got some place we felt comfortable sailing, it seemed smarter to rely on the diesel to get us to this unfamiliar anchorage before dark. It doesn’t help that we just ran into people who haven’t even used their sails yet.

I must say, though, I’m very impressed that anyone in New York sails at all. There were all sorts of local sailboats out there today, with full sail up, zipping around in between the oil barges. I don’t think I’d exactly call that pleasure boating. We even saw a kayaker, out in the middle of all the chaos! Karl’s done some crazy kayaking, but waves are one thing. I don’t think there’s any way one of those huge ships would be able to stop for a kayaker.

We made it, though. Anchoring here was tricky—we’re in the middle of a blank spot in the mooring field. A storm’s supposed to be heading our way, so we may end up stuck here a couple of days. Hopefully we can get some showers, at long last! They’re supposed to have some at the yacht club here, but again, we’re not members. There are also mooring buoys available here for $40 a pop. I’m hoping that not buying one of those doesn’t preclude us from having access to facilities.

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