Sunday, July 31, 2005


Today our son John came with his family. John, Cheryl, Nick, Sara, Katelyn and Victoria over all. For all but the small girls, it was their first look at the boat.

John is freshly returned from his annual 6 week retraining trip to El Paso. Every year he returns with lots of new Air Force lore. Good for him and good for the US Air Force. It's wonderful to see the enthusiasm of our men in uniform, especially when those men are family.

There was no wind yet again. We motored to our favorite place with the Eagles again, and swam. Everyone got a turn doing what they like best so we all had fun. The girls were very impressed by the eagles and by the trains that pass nearby at high speed.

Returning to the dock, I had a hard time getting into my spot because of the current. After 4 unsuccessful passes I stopped to re-think the approach. The dock is at a 45 degree angle to the current. Finally I switched the fenders to the other side and approached from the other direction and it worked OK.

It was a very fun day.

Dad takes a swim

Exploring the interior

Saturday, July 30, 2005

And Now For Something Completely Different

Today was very different. Tom and Charlene Schaffer invited us up to their camp on Lake George. We spent several hours touring the lake in their new speedboat.

Lake George has always been beautiful and it still is. Especially in the northern half above the narrows. There are fewer people and the nature is nicer up there. We swam. The water was 80F, and delightful.

Touring in a speedboat is sure different than sailing. We covered in an hour a distance that would have been a day's sail. Thank you Tom and Charlene. It was a great day.

Libby, Tom and Charlene launching on Lake George

Friday, July 29, 2005

Farewell to Tarwathie

Farewell to Tarwathie
Words and Music by Judy Collins

Farewell to Tarwathie
Adieu Mormond Hill
And the dear land of Crimmond
I bid you farewell
I'm bound off for Greenland
And ready to sail
In hopes to find riches
In hunting the whale

Farewell to my comrades
For a while we must part
And likewise the dear lass
Who first won my heart
The cold coast of Greenland
My love will not chill
And the longer my absence
More loving she'll feel

Our ship is well rigged
And she's ready to sail
The crew they are anxious
To follow the whale
Where the icebergs do float
And the stormy winds blow
Where the land and the ocean
Is covered with snow

The cold coast of Greenland
Is barren and bare
No see time nor harvest
Is ever known there
And the birds here sing sweetly
In mountain and dale
But there's no bird in Greenland
To sing to the whale

There is no habitation
For a man to live there
And the king of that country
Is the fierce Greenland bear
And there'll be no temptation
To tarry long there
With our ship under full
We will homeward repair

Farewell to Tarwathie
Adieu Mormond Hill
And the dear land of Crimmond
I bid you farewell
I'm bound off for Greenland
And ready to sail
In hopes to find riches
In hunting the whale


Today our friend John Undrill came to sail with us. He brought his grandson Grayson. We had a nice time, despite very little wind.

After some hours we ended up in our now favorite local spot, Schodack Creek where the eagles are. Grayson fished while the rest of us searched for bald eagles. We succeeded. We saw one catching something from the river, two more sitting in trees, one soaring on a thermal current, and another one standing on the beach. What a delight to see that nature.

Shady Dealings

Shady Harbor Marina, N 42 27 W73 47

(07/29/05) Not much has been happening here so I’ve been lax in writing.

Tuesday Libby brought Katelyn and Victoria, our two youngest granddaughters for a visit. Katelyn is 6 and Victoria is 4. There was no wind so we couldn’t sail. Instead we swam in the marina pool. After that we had to scratch a bit to find things to keep them from getting bored. I tried telling bedtime stories, but every story I knew they already heard.

In the end I found the key. It was so simple. We have a so-called sun shower. It is a plastic bag that you fill with water, and then haul up in the air above your head. A hose and a shower head hang down. I let the girls squirt water on the deck then scrub it with the broom. That was all they needed to keep happy.

Yesterday Glen Kaatz and Pete Lemme came down for an evening sail after work. There was no wind, but we did motor to Schodack creek to look for the eagles. Sure enough we saw one of the bald eagles. Of course the real purpose was to show off Tarwathie. Ithink they were suitably impressed.

Monday, July 25, 2005


Shady Harbor Marina, N 42 27 W73 47

We told people at the open house that our plans are changing yet again. Our house still isn't sold and a contributing factor to that is that we've been unavailable so much of the time in person or by phone. We need to delay to stay near the house, and we're already nearly too late to make it past Chicago before winter.

The new plan is to stay in the Hudson for a few weeks, then to move up to Lake Champlain for a month or two, perhaps from Champlain back to the Chesapeake. In any case, next November we'll sail for the Virgin Islands. The books say that November is the optimum time for that passage. November is after the last hurricane yet (hopefully) before the winter nor'easter storms that come up the east coast.

The first concrete step in that plan was to rent a slip at Shady Harbor Marina about 15 miles south of Albany. Today, Fred Muller helped me to sail from Albany to Shady Harbor, while Libby drove our car here. We had a very fun trip and Fred seemed to enjoy it almost as much as Pete Vonie enjoyed the sail up the Hudson. A side benefit is that we're only a mile or so from those four eagles. We saw two of the eagles today.

A benefit of the new plan is that we'll be closer longer and we have a chance to see those of you who missed the open house.

Tomorrow the forecast is for 96 degrees F (36 C) and high humidity. Sounds very uncomfortable. The marina has a very nice swimming pool and I'll bet that we use it.

So, for the next few months we'll be partly on the boat and partly on land. I promise to write blog articles but only for those days on the boat.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Blogging from Panera

Great Day

The Open House
Albany Yacht Club, N42 39 W73 45

The open house was a resounding success from our point of view. We had 20 guests. Everyone enjoyed themselves, especially Libby and I. Even better, the 20 didn't all come at the same time so we didn't heel Tarwathie over very much.

Thank you all for comming. It meant a lot to us. One of the hardest things about our decision to tour the world is that we'll have so little contact with dear friends and family.

I promised several times yesterday to never stop blogging, so I guess I'll have to keep the promise. That is another way to extend contact with friends and family, albeit indirectly.

I'll post pictures of the Open House soon.

Today (Sunday) is our 40th wedding anniversery, so Libby and I are off celebrating. First stop was a Panera Bread Store for some coffee and blogging. The picture is of Libby and I writing this blog telling you that we're taking the picture. (explanation, old hackers love recursive humor).

Round About

Kingston Point Again
Kingston Point on the Hudson River, N41 55 W73 58

(7/20/05) Today was oppressively hot and humid right from the start. After breakfasting in Kingston, we headed out to the Hudson again, anchored behind the breakwater and swam. The cool water felt great. This is the same spot were Pete Vonie and I anchored last week.

In the afternoon we motored over to Rhinecliff, across the Hudson and took Jenny to the Amtrak station. She left her truck at the train station in Rensallear so it should work out fine.

Tomorrow morning we sail at first light with the tide north again to Albany and to prep for the open house (open boat?).

Retracing Steps
Schodack Creek, N42 27 W73 46

(7/21/05) There was no wind today so we had to motor up the river. Weekdays it’s very quiet. The exception is when big cruisers go by without slowing down and reducing their wake. It seems that 25% of powerboat owner up here know that they’re supposed to slow down when passing a slow boat. In the ICW in Florida it was more like 75%. We tried giving them the palms-down slow-down signal as they pass, but they just reply with a wave. It’s almost comical how ignorant they are.

We’re in the place where the bald eagles nest, and yes we saw eagles again.

Closing the Circle
Albany Yacht Club, N42 39 W73 45

(7/22/05) Today we scrubbed and cleaned in preparation for the open house. Then we motored up to Albany. It was unbearably hot under the noonday sun.

It should be a fun day tomorrow. Friends who have been
reading the blog will get to see Tarwathie. We get time with friends we haven’t seen in a long while.

We had dinner tonight with the Albany Yacht Club members. It was interesting. Libby and I would be below average age if we were members.

We met Bill and Cora Ann, two transients like us. They have a homemade houseboat that they use on the Hudson and the Mohawk. It’s powered by a small 8 HP outboard. Their boat is called Vagabond. Vagabond is a good object lesson for those who say they can’t afford to cruise because of the high cost. You don’t need to be a rich man to enjoy yourself with a boat. Congratulations Bill and Cora Ann.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Open House

Redoing The Hudson
Schodack Creek, N42 27 W73 46
(6/18/05) Last night we went back to the house to sleep. First time in a while that I slept on shore. It felt weird. I kept wanting to check the anchor lines.

Jennifer joined us this morning and we went back to the boat. We were about to get underway when a thunderstorm passed over. Cleverly, we decided to wait it out rather than sail in the rain. Cleverly after 30 minutes the rain stopped and we steamed away from downtown Albany. We weren't as clever as we thought. Within a half hour we got hit with a much bigger thunderstorm while in the middle of the river. We had lots of lightning and sheets of rain. Visibility went down to 200 feet. The winds were moderate. None of us are afraid of lightning on the boat so we weren't scared.

I never really saw rain fall in sheets before. It is visually very distinctive. It makes me wonder about the physics of it. Why sheets? Do wind gusts concentrate the drops on the leading boundary?

We heard on the radio that they were declaring flood emergencies in nearby communities because they got so much rain.

Eventually the storm passed and we sailed on to Schodack Creek. The creek is wide and deep for about 4 miles before it meets the Hudson. It's a beautiful and isolated spot. We encountered a family of 4 bald eagles about a mile up the creek and we've been trying desperately to snap a good picture of them.

The only intrusions on the tranquility of the place are the Amtrak trains. They pass every half hour or so only 30 meters away from us. Fortunately Libby and Jenny and I are all very attuned to railroad noises so we hardly notice them. Our residences in Potsdam, Scotia, Schenectady, Västerås, and Essex Junction all had nearby train tracks.

Open House
Catskill NY
(6/19/05) We put in to Catskill for lunch and to find the Internet at the library. We're posting now from the library.

Here's an invitation to our open house. I sent email invitations to everyone in the Albany area I had email addresses for. However, all blog readers are welcome, email invitation or not.

You are invited Open House on Tarwathie with the Mills
The Mills are passing by the Albany area en route to places unknown. Alas there are not enough days to invite all of our friends for a day's sail and dinner. Neither can we fit everyone onboard at the same time. Our solution is to hold an open house. We sincerely hope that you'll be able to come and check us out.

Time: Saturday, July 23, 2005 12 noon until 7 PM.

Place: Albany Yacht Club. (See below for directions)
Please R.S.V.P to Jennifer Mills at

Casual Dress

Pot luck: Please bring a cold dish to share. Use disposable containers or a container that you plan to bring home. We'll provide beer, wine, soft drinks and ice.

Please no gifts. We have very little space onboard for stuff. The pleasure of your company is all the gift we need.

Albany Yacht club is in the city of Rensselaer, on the east bank of the Hudson just south of the Dunn Memorial Bridge and . Approaching from the North or West off the bridge you will be on Broadway or on Route 9. There is a sign in the driveway that says Albany Yacht Club. Park in the large parking lot in the southwest corner. In no case should you park in the places marked "Commodore" or "Vice Commodore" The consequences could be drastic.

If on Broadway, Head south on Broadway to the intersection of Columbia Street (RT9 RT20) Continue past Columbia and turn right into a driveway only 50 feet past the intersection. There is a sign in the driveway that says Albany Yacht Club. Park in the large parking lot in the southwest corner. In no case should you park in the places marked "Commodore" or "Vice Commodore" The consequences could be drastic.

If on Route 9. Turn right (south) on Broadway, then turn right into a driveway only 50 feet from the intersection. There is a sign in the driveway that says Albany Yacht Club.

Parking: Park in the large parking lot in the southwest corner. In no case should you park in the places marked "Commodore" or "Vice Commodore" The consequences could be drastic.

Tarwathie is likely to be the only sailboat on the docks so it should be easy to spot. If challenged by yacht club members, you should say that you're a guest of the transient vessel Tarwathie.

Map To Albany Yacht Club

Sunday, July 17, 2005


Mate For A Day
Kingston Point on the Hudson River, N41 55 W73 58

(7/15/05) Today we did a crew swap. My buddy (and fire chief) Pete Vonie came down to join me for the trip to Albany. Libby drove back to do more cleaning and gardening in preparation for a showing of the house on Sunday. Pete is a long time sailor but he had no experience on blue water or blue water boats. Also, Pete has been following my blog the whole time. So, naturally he was dying to actually see Tarwathie.

When Pete arrived Libby and I were on our way to the Maritime Museum so we continued. There's a lot of interesting stuff in this museum. River boats and equipment. Even a 45-foot iceboat that used to race over 100 miles per hour!

We decided not to try to sail much today, having a late start and since there was no wind and there was oppressive heat and humidity. We explored up Rondout Creek a few miles, but we chose to go back to the Hudson to anchor. We're 200 meters from charming 19th century lighthouse at Kingston Point. We swam and relaxed to escape the heat. Around supper time a thunderstorm passed which cooled things off some.

Our plan is to sail to Albany by Sunday. There may not be a place to stop there. The Erie Canal is closed because of a broken lock and the boats are piled up near Albany waiting to enter the canal. Oh well.
River Day
Coxsackie Island, N44 22 W73 48

(7/16/05) There was just enough wind today to make a very pleasant sail. We motored only 2 hours and sailed for 8 hours. Pete had a good time. Exploring a new territory and navigating around all the hazards, aids and traffic is a fun experience.
We anchored for the night just short of my goal of Schodack creek. I'm afraid that if we get too close to Albany we'll run into hoards of boats waiting for the canal to re-open. Tomorrow as we continue north, I have no idea where we'll be able to stop.

The anchorage is nice. There are only two other boats here, a trawler and a Tanzer 31. I never saw a Tanzer 31 before. Nice boat.

It's been great having Pete onboard. Pete's not only a friend but also a long time sailor. Therefore we can have fun talking shop about sailing and boats all day. Pete really loves Tarwathie, and of course that's a great way to get on the captain's good side.

Hello Albany
Albany Yacht Club, N42 39 W73 45
(7/17/05) Pete and I just arrived in Albany. Word is that the canal is re-opened so many of the boats waiting will be gone.
We decided to put in at Albany Yacht Club instead of Troy City Dock to avoid two drawbridges. When I go back south for more sailing or to unstep the mast, I won't have to bother with the bridges.

Libby and I intend to hold an open house on the boat in the Albany area probably later this week. Keep posted here on the blog for a notice of when and where for the open house. I'll also try to email friends in the Albany area to invite them.

Tomorrow, our daughter Jennifer is coming from Vermont. We’ll sail with here for a few days, down the Hudson again. How far to be determined.

Friday, July 15, 2005

SV Misty Isle

Sunset off Virginia Beach, VA

Soldier's Memorial, Liberty Park

Approaching Liberty Island

Cape May

Invasion of the City Planners

Kingston NY, N41 55 W73 59

(6/14/05) We moved the boat from a marina to the city dock today. On the city side of the creek it's lots of fun. Shops and cafes. Libby was able to walk to a farmers market and buy fresh vegetables. All this time without posting blogs we were also unable to buy groceries. We ran out of fruit and vegetables long ago.
We also learned about local history that was totally new to us. In the 19th century there was a canal that connected Pennsylvania with the Hudson River. It was built to haul coal to New York City. The last part of the canal and the terminus was Rondout Creek. Therefore there were lots of businesses established there to serve the boats and boaters. What remains today is largely the remnants of 19th century glory. Sort of like Schenectady.
After supper we took a stroll around the town. We saw a group of civic leaders getting a tour of the waterfront area. I think the tour guide was the mayor of Kingston and the visiting leaders were from Vermont. That's because the visitors drove vans with Cabot Cheese logos painted on the side.
We first saw them at the visitor's center parking lot. It looked very funny because 15 well dressed people were standing in a parking lot looking around and pointing at various things in the parking lot. I mean how many things are there to point at in a parking lot. You can point to a painted line, a car, and a lamppost. Thereafter there's nothing different to point at. Yet here there were a dozen people excitedly pointing and gesturing at the parking lot. They looked like a gaggle of bird watchers released in an ornithological paradise.
We encountered the same group at the Maritime Museum and again later down by the creek where Libby and I were sitting eating ice cream. There was another parking lot here and as the group approached they started pointing again. Soon they were in the middle of the parking lot pointing and gesturing in every direction. Watching them made me giggly.
My theory is that they must be city planners and that parking lots just bring out their repressed city planning urges. Try the experiment yourself. If you know any city planners, arrange to take them to a parking lot and see if they feel compelled to point. If they do, let me know and I'll submit an article to The Journal of Bizarre Behavior.
By the way, I already have an article in that journal but not under my own name. Let me tell you the story. One night I went with my fire department buddies down to the Charlton Fire House where they held a three-hour safety course conducted by the local power company Niagara Mohawk. The instructor was a lineman who had responded to many emergency calls. The instructor told this story.
"One day in Albany we got a call about the smell of gas in a house. We responded right away. When we got there we asked the lady who answered the door how long the smell had been there. "Since yesterday," she said. "Yesterday!" we exclaimed, "Why didn't you call us earlier?" She replied, "Well when the smell first came my husband rushed upstairs to log onto the Internet to surf to find out what to do about a gas leak. I haven't heard from him since."
I loved that story and one day I posted it on the Risks Forum, a newsletter about computer-related risks. I got an email the next week from a man asking my permission to post that story to The Journal of Bizarre Behavior.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Long Time No Post

Sorry. It's been more than a week before we found an Internet connection. Lots of interesting blog articles since then. See below, in chronological order.

Up the Creek
Smith Creek, N38 07 W76 25

(7/2/05) Anger! Rage! My new GPS toy came without the power cord. I can't connect it to the 12 volt supply. I called the store in Paramus NJ where we bought it on the way down here. Sure enough, the cord is in the store.

I booked a place at Greenwich Marina, NJ for next Wednesday. The boat store promised to FEDEX the cord to me care of the marina.

We returned the car and left the marina around noon. We didn't go very far away. We're at anchor in Smith Creek, not to far from the marina. We're hoping that our friends Bill and Martha will come back to their boat so we can all go out to diner.

We spent the afternoon swimming in the creek. Dick got tangled with a jellyfish and got a slight sting in the leg.

Tonight, we'll have a near grandstand seat for fireworks.

The weather forecast for the next 5 days is winds less than 10 knots. It will be very slow going.

In the Bay, N38 46 W76 47
(7/3/05) As forecast, the winds were very light. By 5PM, we only made 22 miles. Just around then the wind died entirely and we were invaded by biting flies. Those flies drive Libby wild. She feels itchy all over.

I decided to throw in the towel and anchor in the Pawtuxet River. I soon changed my mind though and decided to motor for a few hours till dark. I'm glad I did because 30 minutes later a fresh new breeze came. This breeze wasn't forecast. It was 15 knots from the starboard beam. We're going to sail all night and if this breeze holds for 12 hours we'll be 75 nm farther than if we had anchored. Given the light winds, that's a gain of 3 days. Sounds like a definite case of make hay while the sun shines. Besides its fun. Tarwathie flew at up to 7 knots on this wind. Great fun.

We were also treated to fine fireworks shows just after dark. I could see them on both sides of the bay. One might think that they would interfere with night navigation given all those red and green lights. In this case, there were so many fireworks shows that I could just point the boat to where there were no fireworks. That had to be the bay.

Now it's 23:30 and we're sailing past Annapolis and expect to pass the Bay Bridge at 01:45. I must keep a sharp eye for traffic. There are ships and cruise ships every 30 minutes or so.

Long Hot Day
Bohemia River, N39 29 W75 56

(6/4/05) Well, last night turned out to be quite a ride. Before the wind died around 03:30 we sailed another 60 nautical miles. Today was another hot, humid, still day. We had to motor the entire day. Boring.

We're just 2 miles from the entrance to the C&D canal. By tomorrow, we should be in Delaware Bay.

According to the chart, the Bohemia River is 7 feet deep, but according to my depth sounder it's only 5.6 feet; too shallow for us. Paradoxically, there's a big marina in there with about 100 sailboats. Must be that those people only come and go at high tide? I can't imagine renting a slip with that restriction, but I never lived on the seashore.

According to the radio both sides have millions of dollars to spend on TV ads for and against the supreme court nominee. I guess there's no chance of it ever being non-political ever again. How stupid of us Americans. We claim to believe in democracy, yet we promote antidemocratic courts.

Buttoned Up
Delaware Bay, N39 20 W75 28

(6/5/05) This morning we zipped right through the C&D canal with a 2.5 knot current with us instead of against us. I was afraid that the current would turn against us before we reached the end but such was not the case.

I'd like to take credit for my brilliant seamanship planning that traverse vis a vis the tidal current, but alas I can not blog a lie. It was mostly good luck. I looked at Reeds Tidal Tables last night but I couldn't get anything useful out of it.

When we got to the Delaware side about 11:15, there was no wind. Sigh, we started motoring south. Soon we were alongside the Salem/Hope Creek Nuclear Plant and a big squall came along. In a flash I fiddled with sails and radar and we spun around. When I looked up nothing but rain could be seen in any direction. I couldn't even tell which way were pointing. Also, within a 10-minute span at least a half dozen things broke or went awry and Libby got seasick. The waves in the bay are shorter and steeper than those in the ocean. Our best speed with both sail and motor was 0.0 knots. That's right, zero. Who was it that coined the phrase, "Hours of boredom followed by moments of terror?"

On the third try, I found the right combination of sails to stabilize the boat and let us make progress once again. But after only a couple of hours of that, we heard the Coast Guard on channel 16. They said, "Securite securite securite. All vessels are advised to find safe harbor immediately and go below because of severe lighting storms approaching. Heavy rain and 45 knot winds are expected." All vessels! Wow! We complied immediately.

We put in, set anchor, and I secured everything above deck for a storm. However, around here there is no safe harbor. There are only two safe anchorages in 55 miles on Delaware Bay. As I write, we are anchored near the bank of the river in 9 feet of water. We're secure, but we have no shelter from wind and waves. It will likely be an uncomfortable night.

UPDATE 4 HOURS LATER: The storm turned out to be a false alarm. The deadline passed and the sun was out. I decided to pull anchor and head for Cohancey Creek on the other (NJ) side of the bay and about 5 miles down. We're 1 mile inside the creek now, sheltered from wind and waves. The night should be more peaceful.

The Tiller Master Autopilot stopped working. It got rained on is the only reason I can think of. If it's that sensitive to water, it's kind of
useless to have onboard. I'll see if it functions again after drying for a day or two.

Greenwich Boatworks, N39 23 W 75 21

(6/6/05) We motored up the creek this morning to the marina.

Bad News: This is not a fancy place, but they charge $2/foot per night. That's the highest price we paid so far. Even Charleston City Marina with all those servants only charged $1.75. The cruising guide book says that the price at this marina is $1.25.

Good news: The missing power cable for the new GPS was waiting for me when I arrived.

Bad news. The power cable worked, and the GPS powered up OK. I went to install the chip with charts for the whole USA, and alas, they sold me an empty package. No chip. The store promised to FEDEX it for me to get tomorrow.

More bad/good news: The GPS gave a screen message, "GPS MODULE NOT RESPONDING." :( I called the customer service 800 number, and even before I got to the menu the recording said, "If your GPS says "GPS MODULE NOT RESPONDING, do the following ? " It worked.

More good news: I asked for a diesel mechanic to work on the engine-cooling problem. They sent Harry. Harry first tried the simple thing, tighten the alternator belt. Then he tried cleaning the heat exchanger. That was my theory. It was already very clean. Then we decided to remove the thermostat. To do that we had to remove the coolant header tank, something I dreaded. Harry did it no problem. We removed the thermostat. In a test we could run 2,300 RPM without exceeding 200 degrees. Better than ever before. Harry accomplished more in 2-3 hours labor than the mechanic in Florida accomplished in 20 hours.

If the engine holds up, we should no problem with the tidal currents in NYC harbor. First chance I'll check the offshore weather. If it sounds decent we set sail for NYC.
Our decision point will be at Cape May NJ. We'll probably pass there late tomorrow night.

Harry is also a very interesting guy. He sailed around the world twice himself. He did it on his father's boat as a youth. What a great background. Too bad we can't get to know him better. I bet he has lots of swell stories.

Patience, Bah
Greenwich Boatworks, N39 23 W 75 21

(07/07/05) My plan for today was to depart after the FEDEX package was to arrive by 10AM. When it didn't come by 13:00, I called FEDEX. They said it would be there absolutely positively by 16:30. 16:30! FEDEX sure isn't what it used to be.

The package did come, but so late in the day that I was fit to be tied. I decided that it was too late in the day to leave, so I had to pay another $64 to stay at the marina another night. Actually the whole truth was that tropical storm Camille was passing in the night and that influenced my decision. The winds wouldn't be bad but the rain would be torrential. That doesn't sound like the fun part of sailing.

By the end of the day, I heard Libby also utter the phrase, "I hate being patient."

p.s. I plugged the missing chip into the Lowrance GPS and it worked. Now I have the coastal charts for the whole USA, including Alaska, the canals, the Great Lakes, major rivers, and even Champlain. It does not have Sacandaga Lake. It's remarkable. I see all buoys and markers, depths, channels, and the notations. It shows almost everything that's on the paper charts. I can also get it to plot the tidal currents for where I am for today or for any other date. Like paper charts, it colors deep-water white and shallow water blue. However, the paper charts define shallow as 20 feet, but the electronic one I configured to color only depths below 6 feet as shallow. That's more appropriate for my boat.

I can't yet attest to the accuracy of the electronic charts. In the past few months I've found nearly one error per day in the paper charts, mostly in buoy numbers. One can buy thick books called "Notices to Mariners" listing all the changes you should make to your charts, but I can't imagine anyone other than a mapmaker actually doing all that work. It makes clear the pressing need to convert all charts from all countries into a single database. That would permit all changes and corrections to be entered only once, and disseminated to all users. Copyrights, and the fees earned by the cartographers, are the biggest obstacles to creating such a database.

Paper charts will be printed on-demand covering your needs for the next few days. Perhaps soon, a necessary accessory for a blue water boat will be one of those large format HP plotters. More likely, the advent of digital re-writeable paper using magnetized balls will come along just in time. Because of lightning, paper charts will always be necessary. A single electromagnetic pulse can fry all the electronics onboard. Hmm, come to think of it, the pulse would also flip the magnetized balls in the digital paper; so much for that idea.

It's Been a Great Day Until Now
Cape May, NJ, N38 57 W74 53

(6/8/05) This morning we had to exercise still more patience. Tropical Storm Camille was still hanging around. Nearby places were getting hit with as much as 10 inches of rain in a couple of hours. I sat around the marina for a while talking with Harry about Joshua Slocumb. We have that in common, that Captain Slocumb is our hero. We also agreed that the Captain must have stretched his stories in a few places. Tsk tsk.

Finally, about 13:30 we left Greenwich bound for Cape May. The plan was to decide when passing Cape May whether to put in for the night or to sail on for New York. The winds were brisk, 26 knots, and the temperature was in the 50s. We put up only the jib. No mainsail was needed in those conditions.

Libby got all excited as helmsman because we were sailing so fast. The new fancy GPS system said that our peak speed for the day was 9.74 knots. That's pretty good for a boat with a theoretical maximum of 6.5 knots.

Whoops, when I went to set the Monitor self-steering, I found that it was broken. The rack jumped out of the pinion. This is not the first time. The same thing happened in Mosquito Bay in Florida. I didn't want to try to repair it as sea in those conditions, so we decided to put into Cape May harbor for a 5 minute repair.

We got here by going through the Cape May canal. The canal is NJ style. Both banks are lined with wire mesh. Every quarter mile there is a stairway that leads down from the road into the water. No place for boats to stop or to swim at the bottom of the stairs. We figure that the locals send people to sleep with the fishes down those stairs.

There are two bridges over the canal with only 55-foot clearance. The lowest bridge we went under until now was 65 feet. Tarwathie's mast is 50 feet above the water and there are antennas and other stuff that stick up higher than that. 55 should be plenty of room in theory. The thing that makes this theory hard is the perspective angle. Looking up at the top of the mast from the deck of the boat, there is no angle for depth perception. Therefore it appears certain that the mast will crash into the bridge. Even the 156-foot Chesapeake Bay Bridge looked to me like a collision. Going under the 55 footers was tough emotionally. Libby went below so she wouldn't have to watch.

The engine is running much better, or at least cooler, with the thermostat removed. We still can't get 100% of the power specified by the factory, but close. We're very pleased with the work Harry did on our engine.

Our new GPS said that if we continued for New York tonight that we'd arrive tomorrow, perhaps after dark. We don't want to do that in the dark, so we'll overnight here in Cape May.

Cape May Harbor is pretty. We decided to anchor where we saw lots of other sailboats anchored. Just as we reached the point to drop the anchor I put the engine in reverse, and bang! One of the jib sheets had dangled in the water, and it fouled the propeller. Darn. Another mishap. (Should I make a special blog page with links to all the mishap articles?) I've made that same error before on other boats, and it was only a matter of time before doing it on Tarwathie. I dove on the propeller and tugged at the rope, but it didn't help. I'm afraid that tomorrow I'll have to dive again with a knife in my teeth and saw off the fouled line. Sure it sounds glamorous like an Errol Flynn movie. My thoughts however aren't on glamour. I hate the idea of cutting one of our valuable sheets.

Cape May
Cape May, NJ, N38 57 W74 53

(7/09/05) I started right at 7:30 diving on the line fouled around the propeller shaft. In a few minutes a man appeared in a rubber dingy. His name is Ed. Ed and his wife have been sailing the world for 5 years. (Wish I could get his whole story.) Ed brought his snorkel and mask and helped me. We cut it loose in 10 minutes. A thousand thanks Ed. What great people we meet out here.

Another 10 minutes and the Monitor self-steering was fixed too. Now we're ready to leave except that we don't have an appropriate starboard jib sheet. Sigh. We launched the dingy and I paddled away in search of one. Neither West Marine nor another store had what I need (5/8 inch double braid.) Therefore, I bought a 64-foot length of ½ inch nylon 3-strand instead. It's the wrong kind of line, but it only costs 38 cents per foot instead of $2.00 per foot. We'll use it for something else later. When back in Albany I'll order the exact type and length of line we need from the catalog.

I'm ashamed to say that we went all the way through the Chesapeake and Delaware without once sampling the seafood or the crabs at a restaurant. We made up for that tonight at a nice restaurant overlooking the harbor.

At sunset, Libby and I sat on the forward deck enjoying the harbor scenery. It's sure different and more interesting than our front yard in West Charlton. A fishing boat had its outriggers stuck down. With those down it can't fit under the bridge. Two men were out on the end of the 40 foot outrigger working on the problem. We watched them with binoculars figuring that they might either dunk themselves or catapult themselves into low earth orbit. Then we hear odd chatter on the radio.

Channel 16 clammer: Two Mile Bridge, hold the bridge open fishing vessel coming out.
Channel 16 bridge operator: Two Mile Bridge on channel thirteen.
Channel 13: silent
Channel 16 clammer: Two Mile Bridge, fishing vessel. Hold the bridge open
Channel 16 bridge operator: Call on one three.
Channel 13: silent.
Channel 16 clammer: Fishing vessel. Hold the bridge. Here we come.
Channel 16 bridge operator: Change your channel to one three. [louder] Change [pause] to [pause] channel [pause] thirteen.
Channel 13: silent

We could see a 60-foot clammer (fishing vessel) pass under the open bridge.

Channel 16 new voice: Hey! That clammer just hit your bridge.
Channel 16 bridge operator: You were told to change to channel 13 ? fool.

[That exchange was confusing. I believe that a third party came on the radio, but the bridge operator thought he was replying to the clammer.]

5 minutes pass. The bridge is still open. The clammer is stopped dead in the water.

Channel 13 clammer: Heh heh, sorry for the miscommunications.

10 minutes pass. The bridge is still open. The clammer turned around and went back under the bridge.

Channel 13 police boat: This is the state police. What is the damage?
Channel 13 bridge operator: The bridge appears to be operational.
Channel 13 police boat: What is your action plan?
Channel 13 bridge operator: I'll put it down and notify the appropriate people.
Channel 13 police boat: OK, we're going to go have a talk with the captain.

Meanwhile, the first fishing boat gave up on the outriggers, turned around and headed back out to sea.

Like I said, more interesting than our front yard.

Toward NYC
Jersey Coast, N39 34 W74 07

(7/10/05) We've been having a very pleasant day sailing northward. We've been staying five to ten miles off the New Jersey coast. We had, gentle winds, one-foot seas, and not many other boats.

The GPS says that we should reach New York Harbor at 07:30 tomorrow morning. We'll see. The wind is likely to drop to zero in the night.

We saw dolphins this afternoon. I didn't expect them this far north.

The only excitement of the day came when I saw a whale watching boat abruptly stop near us. I thought we might see a whale. Alas, nothing.

I heard the quote of the day on NPR. They were interviewing a guy about Hurricane Dennis and how the winds dropped from 140 to 105 mph before hitting land. He said. "It's like the difference between getting hit by an 18 wheeler, or getting hit by a freight train." That man has a way with words.

I presumed that New York Harbor post 911 would be a hostile minefield of restrictions and "Don't go here," signs. Libby's eagle eye saw something I missed. There is a designated anchorage and dinghy landing right behind Liberty Island. If possible we'll try for that tomorrow. We can anchor in the shadow of the Statue Of Liberty. Classy address.

The biggest expense of the day was charts. Last month I called Bluewater Sailing, my chart provider and told them I have a gap in chart coverage from Cape May to NYC. They sent three 3x4 foot charts for $22 each. Each will be used for about 8 hours as we go past, then stowed away forever. The waste of money irritates me.

Greetings From The Center Of The Universe
Liberty Island, N40 42 W74 04

(7/11/05) We're anchored behind Liberty Island and looking at the Statue of Liberty. Wall Street is within spitting distance, so it's fair to claim that this place is the center of the (known) universe.

The sail up was nice. 27 hours anchor-to-anchor Cape May to New York.

This morning around 6AM I had free entertainment as we passed Sandy Hook NJ. It appeared to be a Greenpeace intervention. I saw two cabin cruisers, each with an inappropriate number of people (~30) standing on the aft deck. They appeared to be harassing a fishing boat. They would stop in front of the fisherman and block his way. The fisherman would turn and move several hundred yards away, and then the cruisers would move to block him again.

I wasn't close enough to look into the Greenpeacer's eyes to assess their souls. They sure are strange people though. There were no baby seals in sight so I have no idea what the protest was about.

That scene was something else I would never see in West Charlton.

I'm going to try to find a grocery store on shore, and maybe a place to post my blog backlog. If I find a high-speed connection I'll post some pictures too.

The Hudson is Beautiful
Pollepel Island, NY, N40 40 W74 03

(07/12/05) Too bad, there was no place to buy groceries or send email from Liberty Park. The only entrance/exit to the park was to the NJ Turnpike.

Today's start was really slow. We motored out at 7AM and it took us 30 minutes to move 1000 feet from Liberty Island to Ellis Island. Wind and current were against us and the East River was pumping out swells and swirls holding us captive. Soon however we escaped the East River and the wind changed, and eventually the current changed. We kept picking up more and more speed.

Libby had the helm and she gave me the most fun tour of Manhattan I ever had, albeit only the part with the view from the Hudson. We didn't have must trouble from river traffic. I called Pete Lemme from about 14th street and asked him to post to the blog for me. Thank you Pete.

The relics of glories past, the American Lines pier and the Cunard Lines pier, were melancholy. The berth of the New liner SS United States (Is that the right name?) was grim. The erected a huge scaffold around the slip and hung from it wire mesh screens. The screens we guess were to prevent people from throwing bombs on board.

Going by the USS Intrepid, (the aircraft carrier on display), we got a surprise. A Concorde airplane was sitting beside Intrepid on a barge. In front of that was a submarine with a 1940's style cruise missile ready for launch on the deck. It must have been a memento of the post war years. If my memory is correct, it was called the Regulus or the Romulus missile.

By 11 we were at 42nd street, by 1300 we were at the George Washington Bridge, by 1500 at the Tappan Zee Bridge and by 1900 we were at West Point. All together we did 50 miles today. We were under sail for 10 of the 13 hours. The current was against us for 5 hours and with us for 8 hours. I was especially happy to go past downtown NY under sail. I thought of all those envious office workers looking at us from their windows.

I thought I'd be clever and try WiFi email from the boat as we went by Manhattan. It was a bust. I got dozens of WiFi signals, but each of them for only 30 seconds or so because we were mobile. I couldn't succeed in connecting with any of them.

Tonight we're anchored behind Pollepel Island. If you ride the train from Rensalleer to NYC you know this place well. It's the island near the shore with a ruin of a seemingly medieval castle. Bannerman Castle to be exact. When you ride by on the train the ruin really catches your attention.

I must say that the lower Hudson has the most beautiful maritime scenery I've ever seen in the USA or Europe. Only Norway's Fjords beat it. I really recommend that each of you try sometime to take a summer trip by water from Albany to New York City. I promise you'll love it. If you ride the train, you get glimpses of it, but from the river it's spectacular. There are several tiny communities on the river's east bank, seemingly accessible only by train. They look absolutely lovely.

Rondout Creek
Kingston NY, N41 55 W73 59

(7/13/05) In my head, I've begun to think of the crazy tugboat driver who nearly ran me down as Crazy Ivan (see the 6/20/05 blog). Tonight I encountered Yosemite Sam. After dark around 22:30 I went up on deck to see if things were secure. After all I was in tight quarters. I was anchored in 18 feet of water but surrounded with 4 foot shoals in three directions. In addition, some of the concrete parts of the castle ruins were sticking out of the water less than 100 feet away. In addition, the wind was blowing one way and the current pushing the other. I felt insecure.

Anyhow, when I was up on deck I heard the sound of a boat motor. I looked up just in time to see a 20 foot runabout pass between me and the island. That's not the place to be. It is about ¼ mile from the river channel, and it is only 1 foot deep and peppered with submerged piles and ruins. Sure enough I heard the boat strike one of the submerged piles. THUMP. He didn't stop or slow down. He continued straight across another ½ mile of water that the charts say are too shallow to navigate. I watched him go. About 2000 meters down river, he stopped his engines and turned off his navigation lights. I guess he was drifting. 30 minutes later he started his engine, drove ½ mile back upstream then shut down again. I think the captain must have been into the juice if you know what I mean. I call him Yosemite Sam.

We stopped for lunch in Newburg. Free docks for restaurant patrons. More than lunch thought we wanted groceries and a place to post blog articles. Darn, if neither grocery store nor email site was within walking distance. I'm beginning to realize how few grocery stores we have remaining in this country and how few of them are accessible without a car.

Libby is getting noticeably more skilled day-by-day at boat operational tasks. It should help her relax more if she feels more in command.

Tonight we put in on a creek off the river. The place is alive and looks very bohemian. There are outdoor cafes everywhere, 8 marinas, and I think some kind of big theater or performing arts center. It reminds me a little of Copenhagen. Kingston is less than 100 clicks from Schenectady where we lived for so many years. It is remarkable that we never heard about this place.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Greetings from the Big Apple

Pete Lemme reports that Dick and Libby called as they were passing by 14th Street in New York Harbor. Their want everyone to know that they are fine and on their way up the river. They spent the night anchored along side the Statue of Liberty. They may make it to the Albany area by Friday (July 15).

Friday, July 08, 2005

Cape May

Update from Jennifer:

Mom and dad reported today that they are in Cape May, NJ and everything is fine.
Unfortunately, no Internet access.
Update to follow soon!


Saturday, July 02, 2005

Back Onboard

Point Lookout Marina,  N38 06.96 W76 24.02
(7/1/05) Well we made it back.  I was so glad to see Tarwathie sitting there in the slip.  When we left her the last thing I did was to close the seacocks (remember in an earlier blog I resolved never to leave her for an extended time with the seacocks open.)   Our seacocks have a locking screw plus the actual valve lever.  When I unlocked one of them and moved the lever, I noticed a trickle of water coming in.   Uh Oh that could sink the boat.  When I screwed the lock back down the leak stopped.  However I had to leave then having faith that the leak wouldn't restart.   My outlook on hard experience versus theory had changes since becoming a salt.   Engineers have to have great faith in theory.  One wouldn't get far as an electrical engineer if one doubted Ohm's law when confronting each new circuit. 
The chores at home are done.  Libby and I both worked hard, and we also started repeating our mantra, "We'll get through this."  Recall the earlier blog on determination and perseverance.  
It sounds like the sale of the house to the first buyer can't be rescued.   Kathy, our real estate lady, is on the case though and she'll be showing the house again as early as today.
It took about 12 hours to drive down here from West Charlton.  We came through Tony Soprano territory and Delaware this time, but it wasn't much faster than using I81 and I88 to go through Harrisburg.   However, today is the Friday before The Fourth of July, and we were lucky not to hit the bad traffic congestion they announced on the radio.
We also splurged on the first really expensive and unnecessary toy for the boat.  We bought a GPS chart plotter, and a chip that covers all the coastal and inland waters of the USA including Alaska.  It was a real bargain, costing $600.  Any other brand that I've seen would have cost more than $5,000 for a comparable electronics, plus the charts on ROM.   If it works well, I'll feel very clever for having bought it.  The down side is that we taught ourselves to use paper charts, and we don't really need the electronic one at all.  Oh well, we have to spoil ourselves once in a while (I should have said I have to spoil myself.  Libby's choice of an expensive luxury would probably not have been an electronic map.)
Met a new couple at the marina tonight.  Chris and Kathryn have a 39 foot trawler.  It's beautiful, especially the woodwork.  It's also roomy, even has a laundry room with washer and dryer.  Chris showed me the engine room.  Twin 300 hp engines, plus a 20 Kw generator plus a 5 Kw generator, plus 6 feet of headroom.  They used to sail a Pearson 39 so they understand well the difference between sailing and power boating.  They use the boat only on the Chesapeake.