Saturday, May 30th, 2009
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am in Port Carling today, having slept last night on dry land for the first time
in 40 days or so.
When last I wrote here, I mentioned preparing for a trip. On the
17th of April, I flew to Toronto, then on to Sint Maarten in the Leeward Islands
the next day to board a 45-foot Jeanneau sloop headed to Canada via Bermuda, New
York and the new York Canals.
Once in Sint Mararten, I met up with my friend, Frank, on the boat and we sailed off to
Anguilla for a few days, then returned to Sint Maarten to pick up a student
(Frank is a sailing instructor). We then readied the boat and raised
anchor, headed for Bermuda, a journey of about 900 nautical miles and almost a
week's duration, sailing non-stop, night and day at an average of 6 knots.
course took us about 1,000 miles offshore through the Sargasso Sea and over water 5 miles deep. The
weather was variable and we encountered high winds and rough seas along the way,
but had a good trip. The student was desperately sea sick for three days,
but recovered in time to get a bit of his coursework done before our arrival in
We arrived early Thursday at Saint George's, checked in
with customs, and and tied up at the Saint George's Dinghy Club to
re-provision and to wait for good weather reports to cross the treacherous Gulf
Stream to New York City and the Hudson River.
During our stay, we were generously treated to two separate tours -- first on
the water by a local fisherman at the Club who befriended us, and a day later on
land by a local beekeeper I had met at ABF meetings.
I had met Randy several times at the ABF, and after my last trip
through Bermuda, I had mentioned to him that I had thought of him when passing
through, but had not
called. He had admonished me for not doing so and
given me his card again, so I made certain not to make the same mistake this
time. He was quite busy cutting bananas when I called, but dropped
everything to pick us up, and he give Frank and me a tour of his most
interesting operation which includes yards in many locations around the island(s)
and treated us to lunch as well! When we parted, he loaded us down with
bananas and Bermuda onions, and several jars of his honey. The bananas
were perfect. the onions as good as any I've eaten, and the honey, spectacular.
His honey is liquid, very thick, light amber and delicately floral. It is
a good as any I have had anywhere, maybe better.
Frank's student left us in Bermuda, and by Tuesday the weather
looked promising so Frank and I headed out for New York. With only two of
us to sail non-stop, day and night, the trip is a bit challenging. Most use a crew
of four for such a trip, but Frank and I have done it before and, personally, I
prefer to deal with the sea and weather and a little fatigue with an known
sailor than the potential idiosyncrasies of various new and unknown crew
members, so off we went.
That part went well, too, although we fought a current he whole
way and hit a light gale (35+ knot winds) and fog while navigating the shipping lanes entering
New York and took a whole day making the last twenty or thirty miles, a segment
that should have taken several hours at most, due to
strong winds and a sharp chop running directly against us.
-- many hours later than we had expected -- we pulled into Atlantic Highlands and
checked into the US. After re-provisioning and visiting friends, we headed
the next day for the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and New York City. By
nightfall, we were anchored well up the Hudson near Croton in Haverstraw Bay.
From there, we motored up to Castleton-on-Hudson and lowered the
mast. Ray joined us there and we continued on the the Federal Lock at
Troy. Shortly after the lock, we took a left turn and went west on the
Mohawk River through the New York Canals and the Seneca, eventually ending up in
North Tonawanda days later, after a most tranquil and pleasant motor through the
scenic rivers and canals, and through the centre of many historic small towns
and villages in upstate New York.
In North Tonawanda, we put the mast back up and headed up the
Niagara River, then across Lake Erie to Port Colborne. There, we cleared
customs after a rather exhaustive (and somewhat amusing) search of the entire
boat by two quite professional, but pleasant officers dressed in dark clothes
and flak jackets. We did not envy them in those hot uniforms, searching
the bilges in the hot cabins below as we stood in shorts on the dock waiting for
them to finish.
I left the boat the next morning as planned, having covered
around 2,000 nautical miles at never more than seven knots, and often much
less, and drove to Pine Hill. The others are continuing to Penetanguishene -- up the Detroit River, the Saint Clair, then across Lake Huron
and Georgian bay. I will drop a car in Penetang for them tomorrow morning,
and my adventure is done for now.