In my ad for Chamois, I had mentioned something to the effect of “will deliver”. Funny how that became a sticky issue. My thought on that was: Once you buy the boat, I’ll deliver it for you if you want. Sounded like fun to me: An all expense paid final voyage aboard the Chamster. Well, that’s now how it worked out in the end, but never-the-less, I had a fun (read cold) trip delivering Chamois to Great Neck, NY for her new owner this week.
I had been watching the wind and weather for days… my new favorite site (think I mentioned this link before) www.passageweather.com showed favorable winds Sunday and Monday, but Tuesday’s forecast was 25-35kts from the Southwest i.e., “right on the nose” (a line that runs through my head often, from my favorite French Canadian sailor, Yves Gelinas). Initially, I figured well, I’ll get as far as I can by Monday night, and find myself a safe anchorage to hole up in for Tuesday, and just wait it out. Figured, if I did that, I might be in Great Neck by Wednesday, but more likely Thursday. Which meant we’d be closing the deal on Friday. I didn’t actually measure the distance, I just referred to my sail from Huntington to Martha’s Vineyard 10 months earlier which took 3 days… that was my benchmark.
Sunday was a cold morning, 25º actually. I had set my alarm for 0530, and awoke to a cold nose and visible breath. First things first, I fired up the kero stove and brushed my teeth. It was about 6:00 when I cast off the mooring line, and headed out of Vineyard Haven, the beginning of the end. It was a bright sunny day, and I wore long underwear, jeans, foulie bottom, 3 fleeces, foulie top, hat and gloves. I was warm enough while rigging lines, prepping for sea, and raising sails; but after that was done, and I settled into the routine I started to chill-out. Push-ups in the cockpit, squats and isometric shoulder exercises kept me warm for the duration.
I decided since it was not all that pleasurable being out in the cold, that I would maintain maximum speed. I instituted a new rule for this trip: If speed under sail alone fell below 5 kts, I would fire up the Yanmar, and motorsail at 5.5-6kts. I had 24 gallons of diesel aboard, more than enough to motor the entire way.
Motor sailing at nearly 6kts the majority of the day, I began to make some real progress. Block Island appeared at about 2pm – way to early to stop there I thought. So onward I pressed. I contemplated various anchorages… Montauk, Stonington, Greenpoint, Fishers Island. And I consulted Eldridge’s Tide and Pilot Book for the current predictions at The Race: the eastern end of Long Island Sound, where the current can run at up to 4 kts. I had a favorable current until 1900, and then again beginning at 0100. Certainly anchoring by 1900 was a good idea, as darkness, cold and a contrary current is one of my least favorite combinations. I decided to anchor on the North side of Fisher’s Island. Where I found a lee from the southerly wind, and an easy entrance/exit free of rocks and other obstacles.
With a belly full of pasta, bacon and salad, I set my alarm for 0300, in order to catch the majority of that favorable current, yet give myself 5-6 hrs of sleep ahead of another long day. But 0300 came all too soon, and in mid-dream of course. Never-the-less, I flew out of bed, excited to make the most of the favorable current. I hauled back on the cold wet chain, completely soaking my gloves, but the exercise kept me warm enough for the time being. I motored around the corner to a flashing disco waterway…. red flashes, white flashes, greens and yellows… The Race is rocky place, and the plethora of buoys, beacons and protective riff-raffs makes for exciting nightime naviguessing! I love navigating by Radar in situations like this, and find it far more useful than the GPS when coastal cruising at night or in fog, must be my visual/graphics obsession.
The wind was blowing nicely from the South at 0330, and I decided to set the main and jib. After setting the main with a single reef, I began hauling away on the jib. Oops, I fell backwards as the jib halyard became light all of a sudden… at the same time, the jib fell to the deck. Dammit! I guess in the darkness, I didn’t get the halyard on the jib properly, and she popped off. Well, can’t let the halyard swing around up there I thought, guess I’ll have to haul it to the top and find an alternate halyard to raise the jib with. Too bad the spinnaker halyard doesn’t go to the mast head. I ended up barber-hauling down the bottom two hanks of the jib, to make up for the lack of height on the “spinny-hally”… worked well enough under the conditions (motor sailing).
It was Monday, a cold, cloudy, rainy day. I kept the kero heater on all day, and took many body warming breaks down in the cabin. I was making good time again… 5.5kts plus. I began calculating my arrival, and it looked like I might actually make Great Neck by 2000. It would be dark, but the entrance is well marked and simple. This was exciting… I might actually beat the nasty winds forecasted for Tuesday!
At 1600, the fog, rain and cold had me wondering about carrying on. I was at Eatons Neck, the entrance to Huntington, my old stomping grounds! Todd Willis, Bob, my Aunt and Uncle and many other friends all live in Huntington… hmm, what a nice place to be I thought! Great Neck would be isolated, lonely and a dinghy ride to get ashore. I called Todd to see if I could grab a dock somewhere… he said “Sure C’mon in!” “Come left 90º Helmsman”, I ordered – and in we went. Mark (The Banditt) came down to catch my lines, and we were all secure alongside by 1730 – about 36 hrs from Vineyard Haven. A new record for the Chamster!
Robert Lifgren, the new owner came down to go over paperwork and systems on the boat on Tuesday. We closed on Chamois and retrieved the trailer on Wednesday. And today I brought Robert’s new Nor’sea, Chamois to Great Neck… where I said good bye to the old girl. I hopped on the LIRR to NYC and caught the Chinatown bus to Boston to meet Rosie, and here I sit in Rosie’s kitchen tapping away at 0253… boy, it’s definitely time for bed.
Here’s a video of the trip — screwed up the aspect ratio at the end… lame!! Youtube Video of Delivery to Long Island for New Owner