The nano lives!
Monthly Archives: September 2012
First he was coming, then he wasn’t, and then he came. Yippee! Our son came to see us and meet Escape Velocity on what turned out to be a way too long trek. He flew to Pittsburgh on business (where he and his wife also have a house) on Tuesday, worked like a dog Wednesday and Thursday, then drove to New York, managing to get comprehensively lost and delayed getting to Nyack. No matter. We gave him the tour and a Dark and Stormy and the rest of the family brought pizza for dinner. And of course it was windy and choppy but this time no one got sick. And of course no one took a picture.
Saturday Drew tore into all the fix-it projects that have been piling up. First he fixed the washer.
Then he and Jack set about snaking wires to install more 12volt outlets on board, especially in the cockpit where we use an iPad for navigation and up til now we’ve had a cord dangerously draped across the footwell because the 12volt outlet is across the cockpit from where we need it.
Drew also disconnected and removed the unused TV monitor in our cabin and we’re hoping he has time to trace and check all our antenna wires, since we suspect many of our GPS and radio issues are antenna-related.
We just wish we weren’t doing this in 18-20 knots of wind and river chop. Could we just have a calm day once in a while, for crying out loud?
While the men tear up the boat I’m staying out of the way and baking a cinnamon crumb cake. I’m watching the sky and it looks like a storm is moving in.
Through the fog of my barely cognizant brain I heard a familiar sequence of sounds.
Click, bing, plop!
I was vaguely aware that I was standing. That’s a start. It was very dark. Ok, and dear reader I confess I’ve achieved an age where it’s a rare night that I don’t find myself standing at the toilet several times a night. The law of averages dictates that we go with another bathroom break.
Now, Marce and I find that the best way to fall asleep is to clip our ipod nanos to our T-shirts, ear buds plugged in, and listen to audio books while drifting off to la la land.
I’ve managed to knock the clip of my Nano off of my T-shirt,(click) while my Nano spinning through the air, unplugged itself faster than Eric Clapton (no sound effect)…or rather, think of that song “Cocaine” because that’s what was beginning to erupt in my brain, bouncing off the porcelain bowl (bing) and plop!
I’d love to be able to say that I’ve never done this before…but I can’t. You just know that time is of the essence, there is no time for delicate tools. I found it, but that sucker was really wedged down in there. I ran down the companionway, up 3 steps, across the bridge deck, tripping over Izzy, down 3 steps smashing my toes on the bulkhead leading into the guest cabin, where I keep my emergency nano retrieval tools, wheeled around and hit the bridge deck at an age adjusted blistering pace. This time Izzy heard me coming and adroitly darted to the last available foot space before the 3 steps, as we tumbled down into our cabin (nothing broken) I may have sworn at that moment because Marce finally woke up — why suffer alone? — with some encouraging words such as could you keep it down? No I couldn’t keep it down, I was in crisis mode!
Lets just say Yr. Hmbl. Capt. with great dexterity, displaying calmness in command, fished the nano out. Marce, having awakened by this time is pretty good at drying out damp electronics, took over with some kind of secret recipe for rejuvenating drowned Apple products this time using sushi rice instead of basmati. Hope springs eternal. Maybe this time I’ll try a different color.
That’s life on the water.
Things have been a little more hectic than we’d like around here. I thought we’d have time for a few leisurely bike rides, some quality shopping time with my sister, quiet cocktail hours in the cockpit watching the sun go down. Instead it’s been either stormy or rolly in the anchorage, with the added frustration that our dinghy outboard, which has never been completely reliable, has gotten worse. It no longer idles, and that means whenever we go anywhere we have to go full throttle toward the dock, then cut the engine at the last minute with the hopes that we can grab something before the current washes us out of reach. In that case we grab the oars and paddle like crazy people until we can secure ourselves to the dock. I’m sure we present endless amusement to everyone on land who can see us.
The upshot is that when people come to the boat we give them a carnival ride of a trip, from getting into the dinghy at the tight squeeze of a dinghy dock at the club, to the bouncy surf that always seems to blow up just as we leave to pick up guests, to the fire drill of grabbing the dinghy falls as we hurtle into the bridge deck, to the circus act of getting non-boaty guests from the dinghy into the boat. Outboard problems aside, there must be an easier way!
The day after the storm we saw this poor damaged boat being towed to the yard as we had coffee in the cockpit.
After the storm we all needed a break from the boat, so we loaded Izzy into her carrier and took her ashore where Nancy and Dave picked us up and took us to a day of R&R at their house. We mostly just hung out, although we also washed the cockpit cushion covers and Nancy mended one of them.
Izzy was so happy to be on dry land. She explored the house and yard, and danced around with happy-cat tail, a rare sight on the boat.
When we got back to the boat, she once again stared wistfully at the trees and shrubs on shore. Poor Izzy!
Later that evening we had a great visit by my niece and her friend. They brought us dinner and we ate in the cockpit, despite the early autumn chill. We were so happy to have some alone time with Emily. It’s been a long since we’ve had a chance to just be together and get caught up on each other’s lives. They didn’t even mind the thrill ride of the wonky dinghy in the dark. Ah, youth.
Thursday was the farmers market. It’s a small market, but they had some fine bluegrass musicians for shopping entertainment, and we bought far more than we needed or could eat in a week. Still, it was nice to get fresh locally grown produce, fresh cheese and baked goods.
We invited Nancy and Dave and two old friends to join us for dinner, our first party of six aboard Escape Velocity. And sure enough, the day that was supposed to be mostly sunny and calm turned cold and windy so that the transport of people to EV was borderline harrowing for our guests. We managed to eke out cocktail hour and dinner, but by dessert time some of our guests were feeling a little queasy and we had to cut it short and get them back to land. We hope that in calmer waters and with a reliable dinghy outboard we’ll be able to give our guests a better EV experience.
For our last couple of days here in New York we plan to take advantage of Nancy and Dave’s Excellent Family Taxi Service for shopping and provisioning, as well as cram the remaining hours with quality together time. As excited as we are to head for Annapolis and the boat show and friends there, we’re sad to leave the familiar comfort of our family and surrogate home. No amount of time together is enough and I treasure every minute with my sister and her family. They’re as enthusiastic as we are about our adventure and that means the world to us.
When you start getting email from sailing friends asking what are you going to do about the storm, you take notice. We are up the Hudson river but we’re still quite exposed. Well anchored in decent holding with 100′ of chain out but just the same we’re exposed to anything but a westerly blow which is the direction last weeks intense but short lived storm blew in from.
Marce checked the iPad and yep, it was a monster, covering the entire eastern seaboard. Our options were limited. I don’t know why we couldn’t come up with a marina in the area but we couldn’t and we were told most of the moorings were on the light side. We thought maybe we could run up the river a few miles and find something to hide behind in a South South East blow. We decided to use the Escape Velocity method, which is to wait and see what it’s like in the morning.
We were thrown out of bed in the morning. This storm couldn’t wait to get at us. Instead of 10-15 we were already in the 20 plus range. Time to hunker down and take its best. It never let up. We had constant 30 to 48 kts all day and late into the night. For hours on end we watched the sailboats jump and corkscrew around on their moorings, knowing full well that we were doing the same. Some boats ripped their sail covers and started to unfurl their sails. Equipment like radar domes and antennas were hanging off several boats.
After 4pm the wind and waves intensified and sitting in the drivers seat I would have sworn we were sailing in a blow offshore, not the Hudson River! We registered 50 plus for hours touching 77 briefly! That’s when I noticed a ketch had anchored off our port bow. He must have thought that we knew something that he didn’t. I’m sure he thought that this is nuts but he stuck it out along side us.
Just at the height of all of this we noticed several ambulances converge on the marina that allows us to use their dinghy dock and the tell tale blue lights of the rescue boat fired up. I really wouldn’t want to go out on a night like this. Don’t know the outcome but there were some brave lads in that boat.
Finally heavy rains came, thankfully without the promised tornado, and the winds began to moderate by 9:30pm. By 10:30 pm we were resting at anchor somewhere near our original spot. All is forgiven.
We heard about the Hudson River Swim for Life from the guy who swims past our boat every couple of days. He suggested we volunteer but for the first few days of life here in Nyack we were so busy running errands and doing boat chores that we couldn’t imagine having time. But then we realized that the swim benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and we knew we had to do something in honor of our friend Craig on Anything Goes.
I sent an email to the volunteer coordinator offering our help. She responded immediately and said she would forward our email to the boat captain. The next day he called and said our boat would be a big help as a stationary waypoint somewhere in the middle of the 3-mile swim. The evening before the event they called and we discussed where we should anchor. They wanted us just west of the shipping channel and south of the swim channel. They figured if a ship came through during the swim, they could hold up the swimmers at our boat until it passed. We looked at the chart and checked the tide and current tables and made a waypoint where we are currently anchored so we can return to the same perfect spot. We were very excited, and we talked my swimmer brother-in-law into coming along early the next morning.
We woke up while it was still dark to high winds and a serious chop in the river. Oh no! All week the mornings have been calm and warm but Saturday morning was a mess. Dave called us from the car about 7 am to let us know he was on the way and we didn’t know if we could even launch the dinghy to go get him. We managed to pick him up at the dock, and as usual, he came with fresh flagels, cream cheese and lox. Yum!
We ate a quick breakfast then raised the anchor and headed south toward the Tappan Zee bridge. As we cleared the mooring field I peered through the binoculars trying to spot the boats setting the buoys for the swim route across the river. Nothing. Hmmm. The boat captain told me the night before they would be in a meeting until 8:30 and it was just past that, so I dialed his number.
“It’s Marce on Escape Velocity,” I said. “Are we still on?” I could hear much talking and commotion in the background.
“Oh no! I should have called you.”
Bummer. They’d had to cancel because the conditions weren’t safe and they were trying to see if they could salvage the event. We turned around and re-anchored in our spot. I felt sorry for the organizers, the sponsors and most of all the swimmers and kayakers who had trained for the event. We were very disappointed, too, and we told them to give us a call if it got rescheduled.
Our fun plan for the day was shot so Dave invited us to their house. My sister was at an all-day quilt show so we did a lot of just hanging out. We took advantage of their shower, their wifi and their fully stocked refrigerator, and Dave chauffeured us to a couple of stores and to Trader Joe’s for some reprovisioning. Apparently he still wasn’t sick of us and invited us to stay for dinner. All day the three of us were doing the sailor’s lurch after the bouncy morning on the boat.
We got home well after dark. We hadn’t expected to be out that late and came back to a boat with no anchor light and a hungry cat. We need to keep those things in mind in the future.
We awoke to another perfect day. How do they do it? We had breakfast in the cockpit, then dinghied ashore to retrieve our bikes. We hadn’t ridden since Block Island so we thought we’d take it easy on ourselves and rode the four miles along River Road into Piermont then stopped at Bunbury’s Cafe for a pick-me-up.
As we sat there enjoying our coffee and pastries we reminisced about the great trail we’ve ridden many times. But where was it? And could we get there from here? We knew it was high above us halfway up the mountain. We consulted the map on my phone and headed out, wandering through the streets of Piermont trying to orient ourselves to the map on the phone. We asked someone in the street if she knew where the bike trail was. She looked around, then pointed vaguely up the steep street behind her. “Up there somewhere.”
We made our way up and up and up, but the street stopped halfway up the hill and turned back down. I looked at the map again. It showed the trail right next to us. But where? We looked up, and recognized at once the familiar terrain, some 60 feet above us in dense woods. Just before the street crested the hill there was a set of wide stone steps leading up to a steep path up through the woods. We couldn’t see from below, but the map told us that would lead to the trail.
Jack easily carried his light bike up the steps and disappeared into the woods. It took me several tries but I finally got my 40-lb. beater up each step and onto the path and shoved the beast toward the trail. We were greeted by the familiar Piermont Train Station where the Old Erie Path crosses Hudson Terrace. Success!
The Old Erie Path is the middle segment of a three-part trail that runs from Tappan to Nyack. It connects to the Joseph B. Clarke Trail to the south and the Raymond G. Esposito Trail to the north. We joined in the middle — and best — part, through deep woods halfway up the Palisades with expansive views of the Hudson River whenever there was an opening in the canopy and intimate views of houses and back yards below us and more houses further up the cliff above us.
The trail is mostly rough packed dirt and gravel, occasionally narrow, with no barrier at the edge of the steep hillside.
Sometimes the houses are so deep in the trees and so high above us that we can’t see them at all, but we see the beautiful Adirondack style pathways that lead up from the trail.
This one has a drawbridge!
Eventually the trail starts to widen and slope down towards Nyack. It did us both good to be in the woods and to stretch our legs for a while.
We were expecting Nancy and Dave for the afternoon and dinner so we stopped at the wine store to pick up some refreshment then rode back to the dock, locked up the bikes and went home.
We learned almost as soon as we moved aboard Escape Velocity that we’d be noticed. We’ll be walking around town and someone will ask, “Are you guys from that yellow catamaran?” or we’ll introduce ourselves and point to the boat and say, “We’re from that boat out there” and be greeted with, “Yes, I know. We saw you out on deck.” I guess it’s hard to sneak a 40-foot catamaran with yellow canvas in the back end of town and escape attention.
We had another peaceful night and woke up to another gorgeous day. With nothing to do and nowhere to go we did a few boat chores in the morning, then called brother-in-law Dave and made a date to meet at the farmers market after lunch.
It seemed like a good day to take the bikes ashore but of course as soon as we made the decision the wind kicked up and increased the degree of difficulty a few points. We managed nonetheless, and lifted the bikes onto the nearby yacht club dock and locked them up behind the building.
We met Dave at the market and bought some beautiful produce and cheese and bread, then went for coffee until Dave’s parking time was up. Jack and I moseyed back to the boat for some quality reading time, enjoying this magnificent view of the palisades.
It never gets old.