Tuesday, October 28, 2014


We spent a long time in Port Washington, NY. It got kind of normal, if I want to go way out on a descriptive limb. The arrival into Manhassett bay from Long Island Sound 2 weeks ago was pretty traumatic for me. We didn't get to the mouth of the bay until 11 at night, and the rain had started about sunset. Just squalls, as Sipsey would say, but for a few minutes we'd be totally blinded by rain, then back out into the regular dark for 15 minutes before the next one hit. Of course Murphy's law says that the wind was directly down the bay from our anchorage towards us. Our AIS transceiver was awfully nice that night, telling us when the barges were coming while still hidden by islands and rain. They pop out of the dark in a very unsettling way, and they can't stop, or turn, and they go lots faster than we do. So we dodged the barges and motor-sailed down the bay, where we dropped the anchor at the first opportunity, instead of wandering around the mooring field at 1:00 am. I fell asleep pretty much a wreck, and slept for a long time.

After 2 weeks of being there, I want to share some of what our life is like swinging from the hook.

We now sleep in the V berth, which Jenn told you all about, and it's awesome. The fore-mast runs through the v-berth and on windy days it creaks, and the unused running backstays bang on the mast. Think of a drum in your bedroom, with someone else banging on it. We tie off the spare halyard, and the regular halyard, and one of the backstays, so usually there isn't any noise, but that just makes the occasional noise even worse.

We get up, me around dawn, Jenn a little later, usually when I've heated water, and sometimes not until I actually make coffee, but I don't drink coffee, so I don't really know what I'm doing, so I don't do it very often. It's on my long list of things to be better at.

If the wind is blowing hard (which it did a lot in Port Washington, irritatingly) we try to stay on the boat until the waves die down. Rowing the dinghy in waves more than a few inches high is irritating. I need to be better at that too. However, occasionally we plan things with other humans, and that involves going out when I might not otherwise do it. I rowed Sipsey and Maryam out to the boat one day in waves I wouldn't normally cruise around in.

Wyatt is pretty good about holding still in the dinghy
Before we left I rowed in to land with 2 empty jerry jugs of gasoline and 8 of water. Our jugs are 3 gallons each, so they are easy to carry and move, but we have a bunch of them. Fortunately, that was the first time we'd bought gas since Blue Hill, ME, which was cool.

There are constantly boat projects to be done. A boat is a remarkably harsh environment for, well, anything. There are almost infinite quantities of sun, salt water, and motion, and in concert they can destroy just about anything in short order. Fabric and electronics are prime victims. So we do anything we can to prevent chafe and protect expensive things. And some things just need to be replaced and re-covered every so often. So we have chores that never end. And everything is packed into the smallest space possible, since cubic feet are so valuable on a boat.

The East River Shenanigans

After 11 days in Port Washington, we weighed anchor to sail into the Big Apple Oct 27th in the indian summer warm afternoon air. We prepared ourselves for more strong current, a different kind of NYC traffic and to test our shiny new power supply. 

We motor sailed (sails up, motor on) out Manhasset Bay into Long Island Sound, propeller and power supply humming along nicely and didn't encounter too much traffic along our route, well, not until we entered the heart of the East River after Rikers Island, NYC's main jail complex (it's the NYC Alcatrez). If you look at the MooreBetter Map, you can imagine the importance of timing the current properly with all the twists and turns. In these narrow waterways, strong currents are an understatement. 

As we floated through two stressful 90 degree turns just after the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge towards Roosevelt Island, we had Aletheia whitewater sailing through the river at nearly 7mph! This was also at the strongest point of the current (about 2-3 hours after the start of the ebb current (or current in our favor) according to dear Eldridge!). It was a phenomenal site to witness the water white cap and boil over due to the current's direction and the narrowness of the water's path. We cruised past the streets of NY, waving to all the high rise buildings, watching the sleepless city dance about her business as if no one was watching, and observing the movement and noises from a much different, slow-paced perspective. 

After passing under the Brooklyn Bridge, hearts pounding, we felt like a cork bobbing through the river, being thrashed between the wakes of tugboats & barges, ferries and water taxis too numerous to count, carefully avoiding a Norwegian cruise ship and watching the armageddon-like helicopter tours entering and exiting the city right off one of the many piers lining FDR Drive. Slowly making our way through the East River and across the Hudson River into New Jersey was a very over-stimulating experience, one we'll not soon forget!

Hopefully some of the photos will do our trip justice. Although being there in the moment is a much different experience than seeing the water frozen in time through photos, here are some pictures from our sail through the city.

First site of NYC outside Manhasset Bay

Lighthouse at the start of the ebb current
Entrance into the East River at Throgs Neck Bridge
Prison Boat across from Riker's Island
Riker's Island - NYC main jail complex
Approaching the Queensboro Bridge
Crazy entrance into Hell Gate! Do you see the water boiling here on the flat surface?
Whitewater sailing under the Queensboro Bridge 
Approaching the north end of Roosevelt Island. Do you also see the water boiling here, flat surfaces to the left?!
Roosevelt Island on the left, NYC on the right
East River on a beautiful day
Down the river we go

Trash barge we are staying far away from!
Manhattan Bridge and the Freedom Tower to the right 

Edge of Lower Manhattan
Staten Island Ferry and one coming right at us!
And of course, a cruise ship!
Our destination...Lady Liberty!

Approaching our serene anchorage and made it across the Hudson River
Famous Wall Street
Today's line at Trader Joe's - wowwee!
Love to all,
Jenn & Nate

Monday, October 20, 2014

Latest Adventure: Currents

We've had to deal with some interesting, and new to me, challenges, namely currents. This is one of the many variables in the sailing equation that non-sailors likely don't take into consideration when they think of “Hey, let's go sailing”. I know because I am one of those people!

We left Provincetown, MA on Oct 11, 22NM from the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal. We left at sunset specifically to catch the Buzzard Bay ebb current (water traveling out or southwest in our case) through the Cape Cod Canal. Sailing at a good clip through Cape Cod Bay, we significantly reefed (lowered) both sails 10 miles from the canal to sail slower in order to enter the canal with the proper current direction at the right time – honestly, who knew?! It's not like we can put on the brakes and wait! We consulted our handy and valuable Eldridge Tide & PilotBook for 2014 (courtesy of s/v Coot) to plan our timing. 

At 12:55AM, the current was scheduled to shift from a NE flood to a SW ebb. This means we want to be at the entrance when the shift occurs so we can “ride the canal wave”. We approached the mouth of the canal at 1:00AM. Awesome timing on my husband's part – I take no credit. Soon after we arrived we were still being pushed by the current away from the entrance so we dare not enter. We turned and bobbed for a good half hour which got me in a tizzy thinking maybe we read the book incorrectly, got the time of day wrong or the information wasn't correct. Did we have to bob until the next ebb current which wouldn't occur for another 12 hours?! Turns out it takes roughly an hour for the tide to turn and come through the 8 mile canal. At 1:45am the current shifted and we pointed Aletheia right down the gullet. Phew!

From what I've learned, you're only allowed to motorsail in the canal if you remain on the same tack otherwise, engine only! We kept the sails up and kicked on the motor. It was an amazing sight to see (or not see). We had dense fog about ¼ mile that seemed to hover just above our masts, it was incredibly eery. We could see stars about the mastheads but barely the lampposts on either narrow bank! Thanks to our handy navigation chart, we managed to steer our way through the center of the channel through some pretty strong and swirly currents. Being in the canal is like floating down a river and unless you're moving through the water (with current going with you) you don't have any control over your steering. We came out the other side of Buzzards Bay, unscathed, at 3:15AM and continued our downwind sail towards Block Island, RI the following afternoon. 

Not having much experience with currents, this made me realize that sailing isn't just about just raising sail and simply going like I'd prefer. There is so much more that needs to be considered including the timing of ebb and flood schedules of a particular area, time of day, wind direction & strength, and ultimately, the direction you'd like to point. Otherwise, with poor timing, you'll be fighting many variables. For me, I felt trapped in The Sound knowing we should only sail at certain times of day, using the currents to our advantage which means not getting to our desired destination in what feels like a timely manner. In our case, it doesn't really matter when we arrive. I struggled with this concept through the Sound. I like schedules. I like planning. I like knowing where I'll be at a certain time. Sailing throws these notions out the window and demands you to just be where you are. We're both learning a great deal of patience aboard Aletheia.

Coming through Long Island Sound we strategized currents to be in our favor and even anchored a couple nights to avoid any ebbs (current against us). When we leave Port Washington in near a week, we'll time the current into the East River through New York City with the help of our dear friend, Eldridge. It's all an equation that takes planning, favorable winds and a ready crew to find the best combination to make the most comfortable sail possible. 

Here are some photos from the last week:

BoatWorks: the family car
Sailing into Block Island...Browns beat the Steelers this day!
Appraching warm and lovely Block Island
Happy Birthday Gigi!
Great Salt Pond, B.I. sunset
Leaving Block Island
Approaching The Race into Long Island Sound - great sailing!

Happy Skipper!
At anchor for the night
Yoyo and mackerel lures
Morning after arriving in Port Washington, NY
Freedom Tower
Lady Liberty to the left
Drinks all around!
My morning run down Battery Park esplanade
Love to all,
Jenn & Nate

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Freshwater rinse today!

After our 70NM sail into Port Washington/Manhasset Bay, New York late last night, we threw on our bathing suits and stood in the rainstorm that fell on us this morning. What a glorious feeling, cold, but glorious, to rinse the last week of saltwater from our bodies. Aletheia enjoyed it too!

We're sitting on the hook enjoying the sounds of the city and coming down from being on the boat for the last six days straight. We left Provincetown on Sat, 10/11 for an interesting overnight sail through the Cape Cod Canal current (more on that tomorrow!), stopped overnight in Block Island, RI, and took a couple days to get down Long Island Sound, also with its own set of currents! We found some nice anchorages along the way and didn't make any overnight sails this leg of the trip. 

We've already met some great people along our adventure and a few sailing couples that are making a similar route south that we continue to reunite with at random anchorages. The sailing community seems very intimate when you start to meet up with the same sailors in the same waters in the same anchorages; it's very cool! One soon-to-be retired couple whom we meet in Block Island told us of their plans to "sail off into the sunset" upon retirement next year. They stopped by Aletheia after meeting us on land and gifted us with a bottle of white wine to wish us well on our travels. Maybe we helped inspire them a bit!

We finally met another junk rig couple and plan to have a sundowner (happy hour drink, whatever you prefer to call it) with them this evening.

We plan to visit friends in Manhattan, Battery Park, etc over the course of the next 5-7 days. We will also be looking into an additional engine solution while here.

Love to all,
Jenn & Nate

Friday, October 10, 2014


We got this gift upon arriving into Cape Cod Bay including a 5kt wind to push us into our dark anchorage.
Sunset on it's way to Colorado!
How did we get so lucky to have such great connections?! We stayed in a lovely seaside condo last night; I made a sausage-Italian parsley pasta dinner not long before crawling into bed for a superb night's sleep. Peter and I went on a 5 mile run (yahoo!) this morning around the quaint town as the streets were beginning to stir.

P-town is a charming little town that can mesmerize tourists into buying a summer cottage. Art galleries, hat, soap and homemade ice cream shops line the main strip. The town reminds me of a book I'm reading, Cocaine Nights (J.G Ballard), a murder mystery novel set in Gibraltar where the streets transform when the sun goes down in a dystopian-like community. Where art and tourism has taken over the fishing industry. Where people's wild side shines under bar lights. Locals awake in the morning from their drug-induced comas to work out. Where people live behind sunglasses and sunscreen. And where people retire to hide their true identity. P-town is as close to my imagination as this book gets!

Here are a few pics from Provincetown, MA:

Gloucester to Provincetown crew!
"The Cape" (similar to a superhero's cape) - this windvane is a well-oiled machine!
End to a great sailing day!
View from the condo into Cape Cod Bay
Lunch with the boys!
Love to all,
Nate & Jenn


I've learned in the last couple months that you typically have a desired destination that you'd like to reach, but occasionally you don't end up reaching due to weather or other unpredictable situations. So, we always state that we are headed towards a particular destination. However, in this case, we did make our desired port - Gloucester, MA (harbor off Cape Ann).

We had a great stay in Gloucester and Boston with visits from Nate's family, visiting family and being a tourist in the city. Below are some highlights and pictures from our Boston (aka BeanTown) visit:
  • Sunny & Nat came to visit for the day bringing Hobbit wood, a new corian countertop, sewing supplies and a fitted sheet for our trapezoid bed
  • We walked around Gloucester (pronounced by the locals as "Glosta") on a beautiful fall day to visit the Fisherman's Memorial: a permanent memorial to honor the 5,300 fishermen lost at sea within the first 3 centuries of the town's history.
  • We took the T into Boston to have dinner with newlyweds, Doug & Elissa - it was really nice to spend time with them in a relaxed environment because weddings are not conducive to spending time with the bride & groom!
  • We toured the Freedom Trail, Boston Aquarium and wandered Harvard with Nate's dad - it was wonderful to be a tourist, I have to say!
  • We had a great overnight visit in Cambridge with Nate's dad and new friends that we met in Homer, AK this past summer.
It's rather exciting to visit a new place via sailboat, look for new things to do and determine how to get somewhere (on foot or train) to explore the area. It's like we've earned our stripes and able to greatly enjoy the destination until we decide to move towards another place just as interesting as winds and temperatures dictate.

Here are some pictures from our time spent in the Boston area, including our improved galley!
Our completed galley - let us cook you dinner sometime!

Wyatt alleviating his sailboat legs
Bright red church door caught my attention
Fisherman's Memorial
Tea with Bears in Gloucester
We think it's an after-school sailing lesson in our anchorage
Big commuter rail into Boston

Morning run in Gloucester
Post-run breakfast on Aletheia
Hanging out in Boston Commons
Starting the Freedom Trail

with Peter & Carol - thanks for the hospitality!
Signs of a great dinner party 
Harvard campus - chess anyone?
Pretty day in Boston
Boston Aquarium
Love to all,
Nate & Jenn