Chapter Two  August-September, 2003

 

We arrived in Stage Harbor (Chatham) August 15 at 1430.  On the approach, we saw a set of tan-bark sails in the distance, and low and behold!  There were Bernard and Judy, out for a daysail. Royalist never looked lovelier.  Now the cruising life begins in earnest, and we decided to spend some time in a warm, sunny harbor with our very best friends.  So we did.  We found a wonderful church on the Cape.  The Cape Cod Baptist (Baptist?!) Church welcomed us and provided weekly spiritual food.  The service is a bit different from what we’re used to at Litchfield Congregational, but it fed us nevertheless.

We had quite an unexpected treat when Sharon’s old friends Joyce and Ron visited with us in Chatham.  Ron, quite the fly fisherman, went fishing while Sharon and Joyce caught up with each other.  When he returned early in the afternoon, he came with a striper worthy of note.  It is especially noteworthy when you realize this 38-incher was caught in knee-deep water!  What a feast we had that night.  Thanks, Ron! 

We spent a great deal of time with Bernard and Judy, and found it difficult to leave when it was finally time.  Their hospitality is First Class (at Coach Prices, yet), and their friendship is unequalled.  No wonder we stayed on the Cape for so very long.

But, winter is coming, and it’s time to get south, so on September 16 we set sail, once again.  A sunny, warm day for a sail, and a beautiful, empty anchorage in Tarpaulin Cove.  Only one other boat in the anchorage!

  Next day, on to Tiverton, Rhode Island to have some last-minute canvas repairs done.  Tiverton turned out to be a great place to prepare for Hurricane Isabel, but she went farther west, and all we had to contend with was a few drops of rain.  We moved on to Stonington on September 20.

Stonington is pretty in the fall, and it was good to be back.  We’d kept Seraphim there at Dodson’s Boatyard since we bought her, and we enjoyed seeing some of the friends we made there.  We hadn’t been back since we left last October.   

A short day’s sail brought us to Old Saybrook for another repair job, this time to our new mizzen.  When we added the bimini, we raised the mizzen boom, so the sail had to be recut.  While anchored out waiting for the sailmaker to do his magic, Sharon went ashore to do some provisioning and Internet work; John stayed aboard to complete a small project or two.  While Sharon was gone, a front passed through, with high winds and HEAVY rains.  Sharon’s walk from library (Internet) to grocery to dock was just over two miles, and yes, she did get rained on!  But she’s a trooper, and dries out quickly.

On to Branford, Connecticut.  We disagreed with the cruising guide, and motored way up the Branford River to find an anchorage.  We found a pretty spot on a bend in the river, a short row into town.  In the morning, as we were preparing to leave, a fellow arrived via kayak.  Bill Storandt lives on the bend in the river, and this is the first time in 12 years that he’s seen a boat anchor in this spot.  So he came out to say Hello.  He is a writing professor at Yale, and writes occasionally for Cruising World.  Bill has spent the past 11 years cruising the Med, and is a wealth of knowledge.  We invited him aboard and spent a most enjoyable and informative two hours.

Now late departing, but thankful for the experience, we motorsailed to Port Jefferson, New York on Long Island.  Coming into a busy harbor in the dark is always interesting, but at Port Jeff, you get to do it while dodging the ferries.  Luckily for us, a ferry from Connecticut was arriving about the same time we were, and we just followed it into the harbor and on to an anchorage.  Next day we made the short trip to Oyster Bay, and gawked at the homes on Center Island.  These are big-league homes to say the least, and the cruising guide warned us not to attempt to land our dingy here.  Cruisers, it seems, are less than welcomed.  We were, however, able to anchor in the mooring field in Oyster Bay, and we had a couple of nice trips ashore.

In order to prepare for the “assault” on Hell Gate and New York City with a favorable tide, we moved to Hempsted Saturday night.

Sunday, September 28 we motored into the Big Apple.  Raining and cold, but thrilling nevertheless.  Under the Throgs Neck and Whitestone Bridges, alongside the FDR, looking up at the Chrysler Building where John worked once-upon-a-time, then under the East River bridges until, finally, the Brooklyn Bridge hove into view.  And what a view! 

We moored in the shadow of the Empire State Building at Chelsea Piers at West 17th Street, thanks to a lovely Going Away present from Bron Zienekinwicz.  Chelsea Piers is a great location from which to visit Manhattan.  Sharon was able to take her morning run down along the Hudson River via the newly-opened parks.  She could run all the way to the Battery (and beyond) without having to cross a street or worry about the traffic.  We needed groceries, and the marina directed us to Chelsea Markets on 8th Avenue at 14th Street.  What wonderful shops!  Meats, fish, produce, bakeries, kitchenware, you-name-it.  We looked around, and decided that if we did our provisioning here, our cruising kitty would be gone in a week.  So we “suffered” and went to D’Agostinos instead.  You should have seen us carrying $140 worth of groceries from D’Ags on 23rd Street between 8th and 9th Avenues all the way to West Street and 17th.  I’m still amazed by the strength of those plastic grocery bags.

While in the city, we did manage some time to do some shopping on Fifth Avenue, and visit some of Sharon’s old haunts in the garment district.  We even made a couple of stops at West Marine.

When we left the city October 1, we were able to get pretty close to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, but REALLY close to the Staten Island Ferry!  The view of the city off our stern was wonderful, and the bridge at the Verrazzano Narrows is a sight in itself.

On to Cape May and Annapolis.  But that is another chapter.

We’ve had some wonderful days sailing, some terrific sightseeing, and a few hairy situations (not many, really), but this whole section of our voyage has been all about friends.  Most everywhere we visited, we went to see old friends.  After leaving Bernard and Judy on the Cape, we had a chance to visit with Brad and Gerry, Ted and Portia, Dana and Tom and their girls, Sharon’s niece Heather and her friend Pete, Laura and Alvin, and Jon (minus Joan).  These friends we’ll never truly leave behind, but we won’t be seeing them as much as we had been.  They’ll be here forever, and they mean the world to us.  From now on, we’re mostly going to be making new friends as we travel south down the Intracoastal Waterway.  These new friends have a lot to live up to.

A Bientot!