Friday, October 4, 2019

Whitehall, NY to Havre de Grace, MD. And a little delay along the way... September 19 to October 3, 2019

Our next stop was Whitehall, one lock into the Champlain canal which will take us to the Hudson River and NYC.  

 The Skene Manor mansion in Whitehall as viewed from our boat.  Built in 1874.

They are very welcoming of boaters providing a free lock wall tie up with free power too.  We took some nice walks and provisioning too.  The hull of the USS Ticonderoga which was raised and put here for display.

After leaving Whitehall, 8 locks later we were in the town of Mechanicville which also provides a free lock wall with electricity but also clean restrooms/showers open 24 hours.  We took another nice walk around this community.  A little fog as we left.
 We are between Lake Champlain and Waterford on this map.
 Low bridges!  The lockmaster warned us of the blue green algea in the area.  Told us to launder our gloves after traversing the next couple locks.  Water is OK once you get to the Hudson River he said.  So we were very careful to wash hands, etc.

 Other boats still heading north...likely a weekend trip as they are local boats.
The lowest bridge.  The "pool" was actually lowered to make it 17' of clearance as it can be as little as 15.5 feet.  I could not get my fist between the bimini top and the bridge as we passed underneath!
Julie is driving and Tom is checking clearance...

The radar mast lies down just a couple inches lower than the bimini but you can see how tight it was!

Next stop was Kingston, two locks on the Champlain canal plus the Troy NY Federal lock, a long day away.  
Here we are at the Troy lock, the last lock of our travels.  After this lock, we will have worked out way through 118 locks since early July.  And we got to wait over an hour due to a mechanical difficulty!  Fitting for the last lockage....
On our way!  The last of the 118 locks we finished this summer.

We targeted the Ole Savanna restaurant docks, where with a meal at the restaurant, would provide us a free dock for the night.  Entering the Kingston Roundout Creek harbor.

We arrived shortly before 5 PM and got the last larger boat dock.  We made a reservation for dinner and took a nice walk around the community before dinner.  The restaurant was really busy that night and our reservation was not on time so we went back to the boat for a cocktail before dinner and then returned a half hour later for our table.  

We will say the food was very good, too bad the reservation system was not so good.  Sunday we took a longer walk around the community….look what we found, a boat from Hudsonville, MI!  We learned that they had just bought the boat and  had not changed the name…

Next up was a small cove anchorage near Haverstraw NY.  The Hudson River is beautiful along the way.

It is a large cooing pond for the local power plant and a nice protected anchorage.  We shared the anchorage with a couple Canadian sailboats for the evening.

As we left on Monday, we had a bit of a set back.  We have had an eventful day...but the weather was good and it was a Monday so we could get help.
So...they say it's not if you go aground but when.  Or as another boating friend reminded us, “you haven’t been around if you haven’t been aground!”
We were leaving our anchorage on Monday in Haverstraw NY and went aground at idle speed on an uncharted hazard around 8am. Two Canadian sailboats left a few minutes after us and passed within 25 feet of us with no issues. They did kindly call us to offer assistance but Boat US was on the way . This was just after high tide and thus tide was falling. Boat US Towboat came within an hour and tried to pull us off but with a 50,000 pound boat on a falling go.  You can see the brick
pile we are up on here.  And yes, I put an Active Captain warning marker at this location on line for future boaters.

The attached photos shows us an hour and a half before low tide (around 10:30) as the Sherriff Marine unit took us to a park on shore for our safety. We were taking on water through the swim platform access hatches into the bilge/hull area under the platform.  We were on a large drop off and feared the boat may roll due to a 3 foot tide here. So we left for our own safety.

Here is the view of our boat from our spot on shore about 75 yards away.  Yes the brick pile was in the middle of the cove!
Low tide.  Scary tilt.

So fast forward to 1pm. Someone came near the boat to check for occupants. They were honking their horn. We were wildly waving and yelling from shore but to no avail. 

So we called the Sherriff back as the other boat went alongside the deep side of Sum Escape for quite some time and we could not see what they were doing. We were fearing they were boarding our boat. A local police officer also arrived (we found out later that the Marine Sherriff had called the local officer). The local Haverstraw Officer stayed with us until the Marine unit arrived.  By the time the Sherriff arrived a "salvage crew" had also arrived and was hovering about Sum Escape. The Sheriff took us back to our boat around 2 pm and then talked to both of the hovering boats explaining we were awaiting Towboat US to return. 

I had previously read about never leaving a grounded boat because Maritime Law allows salvage claims. But we left for safety sake and awaited a Boat US Towboat return. I called our insurance broker and they immediately filed a claim due to potential damage to the boat and the "pirates" being involved...they want to protect our interest. We'll see if anything comes from this. We should be fine as we have Towboat US on record to come back near high tide and a Sherriff that evacuated us for our safety.  And the pirates continued to hang around after the Marine Patrol left.

Later around 3:30 Towboat US came back to pull us off. Tide was up so it was easy. Underway!

But we have severe vibrations, especially the port side. We motored to a repair marina about 7 miles away on one engine and will be here a few days to get pulled and repaired.
Well, it is hot today and the shore power and air conditioning is welcome. It is definitely a working yard, not a luxury marina but as they say, any port in a storm. Well see how long our delay will be once we are hauled and can assess hull, prop and any other potential damage.
The Sherriff, marina owner and Boat US all said that boats ground here all the time. The Sherriff said they should have the area marked but "Hey, its the NE, they don't care".
We got a slip at the Westerly Marina and had dinner.  It's been a long day...they will pull Sum Escape in the morning to assess damage.
So Tuesday morning we were out of the water by 9am.  
Once we got out of the water the original owner of the marina came out.  Joe is 94 years old and still comes to work everyday.  He was curious of what our boat weighed.  I said 50,000 pounds.  The lift operator said let's be sure.  The new lift has a built in scale and the boat weighed in at 52,235 pounds!  And we were not full with fuel and water.  
His son Joe and his other sons run the place now.  And Joey, Joe Jr's son did the fiberglass work on our boat.  As Julie talked to Joey, she found out he has a 7 month old son.  Any guesses what his name is?  You guessed it, Joe!

Our "land home" spot for a few days.  Ladder for access.

The marina really jumped on our situation.  We have two damaged props and some deep scrapes in the hull.  These gouges went all the way along the keel and had to be repaired.

Props were pulled and sent to a shop 

and the hull was ground down, filled and two layers of epoxy sealant applied by 5pm.  A nice sunset "from on the hard".
Wednesday, bottom paint was applied and Sum Escape just awaits the propellers to come back from the shop.

We spent our days exploring the city.  The town is now Ossining since 1901 when it changed its name from Sing Sing.  This was done because local manufacturers did not like competing with prisoner made goods that were manufactured at the Sing Sing prison.  We toured a great exhibit on the prison showing its storied past of prisoner abuse and improvements over the years.  We also took a nice walk along the greenway of the old aqueduct.

Here is a story board from the park showing the original marina owner our in one of the wooden boats he manufactured in the 1950's.  The advent of fiberglass boats killed his business and he started the marina we are in.

We also explored the famous aqueduct history.  Back in the 1830’s the Croton River was “tapped” and an aqueduct built all the way to New York City.  It was an engineering feat for the time with a horseshoe shaped tunnel aqueduct constructed through the wilderness of rocks and forests to reservoirs in New York City.  It delivered water for 41 miles via gravity and remained in service until 1955!
The upper part of this photo is actually part of the original aqueduct.

We also noted some movement on the boat especially when lying in bed.  Every time a train would rumble through town (lots of Amtrack passenger trains) the ground would shake a bit and the motion was passed through the blocks and jack stands and the boat would actually rock a little bit.  A weird feeling, we need to get back in the water!

On Thursday we received a call that the props were ready in Newburgh NY if we wanted to rent a car to drive to get them to gain a day.  So we did.  They are not small (31” in diameter) and only one would fit in the trunk so here is the other one seat belted in the back of the rental car!  
 First time driving a car since late May!  Colors starting to change.
 Only one prop would fit in the trunk.  Note there was one other set of smaller props in the trunk.  We picked up the local fire departments props for them while we were there.

The marina got them back on the boat by 4PM but it was low tide and raining so we spent another night on the hard 

and planned a launch for Friday morning.  Before we launched Julie delivered freshly baked blueberry coffee cake to the crew.  That was a big hit!  And they brought us Westerly Marina t-shirts.  It was a great place to get our repairs.

After launching we took a sea trial ride and all was good.  We then got ready for departure around noon to take advantage of the ebb tide which would be up to 3 MPH of help along the way to our intended anchorage destination outside of New York Harbor at Sandy Hook, NJ.  

Our run through NYC was a bit bumpy with all the ferry wakes!  But note there are less boats here than in Grand Haven MI on a warm summer day.

We had looked at forecasted Atlantic Ocean marine weather and determined that Saturday Sept 28 would be our only shot at reasonable seas for a week or more.  Forecast was for 2-3 foot seas, up to 20 knot gusts with swell from the SE and wind from the S.  So, we planned to anchor at Sandy Hook, NJ by the Coast Guard Station and make a long run to Cape May, NJ, 127 miles away.  A nice sunset.

In order to arrive at a reasonable hour in Cape May, we decided we needed to leave at 2 AM.  It was sure dark as we pulled the anchor and winds were higher than forecasted all night so the waves in the anchorage and all the bow slap noise did not allow us much sleep.  And the stronger winds did not bode well for the ocean.  But as we just noted, this is the best weather window for a week or more, NOAA still said 2-3 foot off we went. 

Neither of us relish running in the dark.  But dark it was when we left....

And whenever the chart plotter listed "fish trap area" it caused even more apprehension as there is not way to see them in the dark.  Radar will pick up larger objects but a little float with a flag in 2-3 foot waves, not.  We just relied on the good Lord to provide us safe passage.  We encountered a couple fishing vessels in the Manasquan area but AIS is your friend in these situations.  A simple "vector on" switch and one can immediately tell if they will pass to the bow or to the stern given both vessels maintain course.  So, no problems avoiding them.  Julie helped keep a lookout while it was dark, but after light she really needed to sit down or lie down and avoid looking out at the seas.  She did really well and did not get sea sick.  We both think that her propensity to get seasick has improved over our four plus years of cruising.  Neither of us ate much or drank much because moving around was a bit uncomfortable with the head seas.  but we will take head seas to beam seas any day!

As it started to get light around 6:30 AM we had to alter course a couple times due to fish traps...we could now see them!  So glad we did not encounter any in our path during the dark hours before!  We had 2-3 footers, with an occasional 5 footer thrown in for good measure, on the bow/port quarter the entire trip to Cape May.  
But we pulled in around 3:30 PM no worse for the wear, albeit very tired.  A quick hose off of the salt which was all over the boat due to the head seas and a stiff wind and a dinner and we were in bed by 7:30 PM.  We slept almost 12 hours!
We have now gone almost 2000 statute miles since leaving Grand Haven in May.
Ahh, Cape May.
Beautiful Fall day at the beach.

 Leaving on Tuesday for Chesapeake City.  Lots of sportfish boats at our marina in Cape May.
The AGLCA Harbor Host for the area, Foster, met us on Sum Escape shortly after we arrived.  He gave us many ideas for the Northern Chesapeake and we made the following dinner selection in Chesapeake City based on his advice, great fresh rockfish. Thanks so much Foster for all the suggestions and for being a harbor host. 
 The Tiki Bar from our boat.  Quite the wild spot "in season" we hear.  Quiet on this Tuesday night.
 Going out for an early morning walk to beat the heat before leaving Chesapeake City.  Forecast of 92 degrees today.

Next stop is Havre de Grace.  We had a nice walk around town but we are not antique collectors so most of the shops did not interest us.  Waiting for some tide and rain showers to pass before leaving on Thursday.
Our next destination is Baltimore where we hope see our nephew and his wife who live here and are expecting their first child.  More soon....