East Coast vs. West Coast? This is not some kind of rap happy puff-diddy gang war is it? If it is then I am gonna' have to put a cap in your a$$!
Bene505 was kind enough to host some us east coast gang bangers on a little delivery of about 90 nm in some kind of foul weather (gale warnings) on his (natch) Beneteau 505. Apparently it was up for the challenge as were we.
Here is the shortest account I could write without leaving out most of the details I thought important.
Friday Novmber 14th.
After reviewing the NOAA website and the forecasts for this weekend I am still unsure if we will be setting sail for Hempstead Harbor (HH). Fog is a likely atmospheric condition as are winds over 30 knots for the coming days and he stated in his invite postings that these were 2 conditions he would not be happy about. The ambient air temperatures were supposed to stay fairly balmy for this time of year (mid 60's) until sometime on Sunday so I packed my bags and made sure I had backup dry clothing as the forecast called for plenty of rain as well.
I got on the 4:17 pm train to Montauk (MTK) from Penn Station and arrived around 7 pm. to meet Jon who was also waiting at the train station. We were the two smokers that would be on board even though the invite did not include smokers or druggies. It turned out the Jon had sailed with Vlad (known as CrazyRu on Sailnet) from Atlantic City to Staten Island on Vlad's Islander 32', which had been a tempting idea to me as well. Jon and I discussed this in the atmospheric gloom of the MTK train station while we waited for a ride to Star Island and the yacht club where the Beneteau 505 was waiting for us.
I knew that David (Davidpm on Sailnet) would get there before us but I had not arranged anything with him other then I would call him once I arrived. I had no idea (but should have suspected) that David had arrived early in order to go over the rigging of the boat to see if it was up to his standards before shoving off on a 90 nm. passage to the western LI Sound. David brought all his knowledge and a few extra docking lines, which he donated to the mission, which proved indispensable. Rich had also arrived early and helped David clean out the cabin and stow all the stuff that had been lying about the cabin before we arrived.
Brad had also arrived and brought aboard all kinds of provisions and necessities like sleeping bags and whatnot for his wayward guests. David and Richard (and perhaps even Brad) had begun the process of making the reefing lines for the main sail ready to deploy. We all met up finally on the boat and Wade and his parents arrived depositing the last of our crew, a 14 year old named Wade who goes by the name of MrWuffles on Sailnet. There was also Brad's son Lucas who is 12 who would come with us. We chatted and eventually settled down towards sleeping on the boat in the somewhat foggy night.
I stayed up a little longer having a beer or two off the boat and smoking a few cigarettes before retiring. I do not think that I actually fell asleep before being roused in the morning.
Saturday November 15th.
Early the next morning around 5 am we started to get out of bed. David and Richard put the finishing touches on the reefing lines for the main, which made20me feel a bit better about this expedition. I surveyed the weather last night and this morning, which does not bring much confidence about today’s adventure; there is still some low fog and not much wind and the prospect for much greater wind later. Jon was the one who cooked up a good scrambled egg breakfast that we all had at one point or another.
The visibility had cleared somewhat from the night before so we woke up the Perkins diesel and backed out of the slip and the gibbous moon that should be lighting up our way was obscured by low hanging clouds and moisture as we motored out of Lake Montauk into Block Island Sound heading towards Gardiner's Bay. We could see the glow of light over MTK in the lifting clouds.
We made our way towards the dreaded Plum Gut and rounded the top of Gardiner's Island and The Ruins with visibility no greater than 1/2 mile. We could not see Gardiner’s Island through the mist as the sun was just lighting up the sky in the east and there are precious few lights on that island to begin with. The Greenport ferry sounded its horn as it readied to depart and we watched the Plum Island ferry take some employees over to its Level II contagious disease research facility and crossed its wake as the current began sweeping us through. Once through the gut there were multiple whirlpools on the surface where the current met the Sound. We took a picture or two but they do not do justice=2 0to the amount of water that passes through this confined inlet. Next we20headed west after putting some distance between us and the coast of Long Island (LI).
The current was still pushing us west and we tried motoring and sailing in different configurations. At one point the wind was nearly coming from the NE and we set up a wing on wing arrangement with the sails and Richard used the kayak oar as a whisker pole to keep the jib out on the other side. Eventually the whisker pole fell overboard as the first guard of the SW wind that was to come came through. We did a quick pole overboard rescue maneuver and headed back towards 270 degrees or west.
As we got farther and farther offshore the wind built and kept building out of the SW. David, Rich and Brad went on deck to put in the first reef in the main as the swell began to build and we furled the jib in to match the first reef in sail height. This was probably around 9:30 am although I can't say for sure. I watched the somewhat familiar shoreline of LI drift by as the wind kept on increasing, as did the swell. By about the time we were off of Shoreham we decided that the jib should come in and the second reef point in the main sail should be used as the waves had built enough that the helm was becoming overwhelmed by the gusts with all the canvas she had up. It was difficult to furl in the jib even with the winch, which worried me a bit as I was afraid that we would not get all of it in. We did not really blanket the jib with the main by running more downwind but we did manage to get the jib furled all the way, which was a relief. Soon the main sail was reefed to its second reef point and we turned on the motor for a little forward propulsion and that helped a lot.
We had seen speeds on various GPS units up to and over 10 knots over ground with a peak at 13 and even with just the main reefed down twice and a little engine we were still making about 6 knots or better towards Port Jefferson (PJ).
David seemed to take a snooze in the cockpit while the motion of the boat was increasing but he got up and took the wheel to guide us to the mouth of PJ under main sail and engine alone as we dodged the gusts that I estimated be in excess of 30 knots.
We entered PJ harbor after avoiding a Cross Sound Ferry and a recently sunk motorboat outside the inlet. Wade (the 14 year old) knows this area and suggested we tie up to a marina dock that was closed which worked perfectly in terms of not having to pay a cent for it. As it turned out it was a little easier said then done to securely tie up our 7 ton conveyance to a slightly neglected pier. Richard hopped onto the dock and got the bow line under a horn cleat that was bolted to the dock while we got 2 other spring lines set up from about mid ships and astern to the20dock. The force of the wind on the freeboard of the boat made it difficult to get the boat right up to the pier and soon I heard a splash. Looking forward I saw Richard trying to get the bow spring line wrapped around a nearby piling and the horn cleat was gone and had decided to fly into the water! Fortunately it missed the boat as it
The tide was now going out under a near full moon so spring tides where close at hand and we decided to move the boat about 50 yards along the dock to a deeper spot while 20 knot winds obfuscated us. Prior to moving the boat the Coast Guard had come into the harbor in 2 patrol vessels and deposited crew at the same dock. About the same time our stern line came loose from the pier and we only had two bow spring lines holding us. Some CG Auxiliary guys helped us pull the boat back to the pier without starting the engine.
We decided to see a little of the town of Port Jefferson so the seven of us took off most of our foul weather gear and headed up the pier towards town. I would be guessing but I think that most of us still had our sea legs and we traveled up the streets in a fairly tight yet weaving knot of men and boys. Richard (retired Navy) led the way to the nearest coffee shop to get a cup of Joe but we could just as well have been heading towards the nearest bar to get into a brawl! There is something to be said for the c omradery that is generated by a 60 nm passage where everyone felt happy that our skills were up to the test. We ambled back to the boat and we had a fine lasagna dinner made the day before by Brad's lovely wife Maria. Everyone was quite tired and dropped off one by one.
I decided to stay up for a while (and have a beer or two more) while I watched the rain and frontal system blow in during the late evening (10 pm). I am always fascinated by weather, especially stormy weather. It rained sporadically and the water level in the harbor dropped but we were fine so I went to bed and got the first good sleep I had had in a day or so. David was even a little worried about me and told me that there was room on the bunk we had been sharing. I must have slept through the night and was only awakened by the sound of the hull rubbing against the dock. The wind had only shifted from SW to W (about 45 degrees) but it was enough to pin the hull against the dock. Fortunately we had deployed some bumpers.
Sunday November 16th.
Having reviewed the weather data on the web the previous night we decided to set out as early as possible to avoid the building winds and declining temperatures in order to make Glen Cove. It was very nice to have the NOAA website available to me for my own sense of wellbeing and a novelty to me to even have a wireless web connection on a boat. Ocean sailors=2 0c an access the web by SSB but I hear that this can be a pretty slow connection whereas the wireless card in Brad’s laptop made it seem as if I were checking the weather from home.
Getting off the pier was a bit of a task but we managed to only scrape the ocean kayak in the davits a bit on the pier as we finally got off at around 5 am and headed back towards the LI Sound. The boys had not been roused and the only thing that seemed to wake them was the uncomfortable motion of the boat as we hit the 5' + waves coming at us as we left the harbor. It was really pretty boisterous at this point with salt water spray flying every which way around the cockpit as the boat pounded through the waves. I chose to stay in the cabin as I did not want to get my shoes sopping wet as I knew they were the Achilles heel in my foul weather gear. It took a few minutes but I was able to not get sick as I could almost feel my brain sloshing around in my skull as the boat yawed, rocked, rolled and pitched this way and that. I soon became quite comfortable in the cabin as long as I was holding on and looking out the window. I had also defaulted into the job of picking up all the items that were falling off the table and shelves as the boat lurched.
Lucas and Wade soon emerged from their cabin and made as much haste as they could to get up into the cockpit. Poor Lucas was a bit more befouled by th=2 0e motion of the boat but finally found all his foul weather gear and got out into the fresh air and salt spray.
There was almost no reason to raise any sail at this point as the winds had increased such that Sound had a surface graced by a herd of White Horses coming at us. There were white streaks all over the surface and I estimated that we were in conditions of about force 6 or 7 on the Beaufort scale. We only had about 30 nm. left to go to get to GC but it was a bit bouncy and I would have been happy to ditch out in one of the safe harbors along the LI north shore but that would have been wimping out so we headed into the winds with the Perkins diesel pushing us along nicely at better then 6 knots. In fact both David and Richard (ex-Navy) decided that this was a good time to go for a lie down in the cabin as if they were not the least bit concerned so off we went with the teens doing most of the helmsman's work while being splashed with spray and wind. The young crew members, Lucas and Wade, seemed to revel in being at the helm as the boat bounced through the waves.
By the time we reached the buoy off Matincock Point on the eastern edge of HH I had not taken a hand at the wheel. It was now my chance to get the boat safely into the harbor I have known since I was a teenage sailor. Since the winds were out of the west I reasoned that it was best to get as far away20from the breakwater (or jetty) that protects the anchorage from NW winds and get a bit in the lee of the Port Washington hills before we headed into Mosquito Creek in Glen Cove. I got us a bit in the lee of the wind and waves and we got ready for entering the narrow inlet that was our destination. David's dock lines were set up and I made sure that the owner/captain of the boat took over as we entered the small creek in the steady 20+ knot breeze. We managed to slow down enough to be able to attempt to dock but were directed by an employee of the Brewer YC to tie up elsewhere which we did finally manage to do. By then it was about 12 noon local time.
Beating into 5+ foot seas I am fairly amazed that we made this last leg of the trip in as good time as we did and I started looking for all the unopened beers to drink to our health and happiness since we had done what seemed to me the not quite impossible and done it well. These were the roughest conditions I have ever experienced on a boat on LI Sound. I have only seen it worse when Hurricane Gloria came through and there were small ocean sized waves crashing on shore at Sea Cliff. We all owe a debt of gratitude to ‘Perky’ the Perkins engine that delivered our bacon to our destination. I also credit the success of this mission to Captain Brad’s knowledge and organizational skills as well as the competence of the volunteer crew that was selected by him. Thanks to all who participated.
This from another crew member who will probably hate me for publishing his more nautical log of our trip (Davidpm):
Captain: Brad Hildreth (Bene505)
Crew: David Metzler (davidpm)
Richard Weisner (defrich)
Jon Cooper (jdcooper)
Caleb Davidson (CalebD
Wade Phinney (MrWuffles)
Saturday November 15, 2008
We left the Star Island Yacht Club in Montauk, NY Saturday November 15, 2008 at 5 AM sailed through Plum Gut with very light wind at about 13 knots. The sail started off with very light wind but with the current and all sails out we still made about 4-5 knots. The wind started building so we put in the first reef then finally furled the jib and motor sailed with the main only on second reef. We arrived at Port Jefferson Yacht Club harbor next to the ferry dock after traveling 58 miles at 2:30 PM at high tide with a 15 to 20 knot wind blowing us off the dock. We popped a cleat off the dock and finally tied up with the posts with great difficulty. After a quick walk around town we came back to the boat started dinner. The coast guard used our dock to drop off some guys. Our stern line let go. A couple of Aux coast guard guys helped us retie the stern. After the Cost guard boat left we noticed that tide had dropped a great deal and we didn't have enough water under the boat. With great difficulty due to the wind we walked the boat by hand toward the ferry about a hundred feet where the water was deeper.
Wind speed was from 0 to gusts I estimate about 35 knots.
Marine Buoy Forecast : Weather Underground
Sunday November 16, 2008
We left the Port Jefferson Yacht Club in Montauk, NY Sunday November 16, 2008 at 5 AM. The wind was significant and pushing us on the dock as it had reversed 180 degrees from the night before. The boat was tied up port side to the dock so it was particularly difficult to push off. All hands helped push the boat off the dock and with only a slight scrap of the aft hanging kayak we managed to clear the dock and finally the channel. The wind and waves were much worse than Saturday and we were taking in significant spray over the bow and occasional green water.
Due to the significant water and motion on deck we decided to not put up sails and motored at about 5 knots to the Brewer Yacht Yard at Glen Cove, NY covering 34 miles. We arrived about 12:00 PM. Wind was significant and we estimate we took gusts of about 45 knots with seas of up to 4 feet.
Marine Buoy Forecast : Weather Underground
Every day is a learning experience and on every trip we have the opportunity to learn some more.
Personal Lessens learned:
• Make sure to use half hitches to secure a line tied to pole, a clove hitch can loosen.
• Check the tide range on unfamiliar docks. It can be a lot more than expected even in LIS.
• Take care of your boat first and tie up at a safe place not a convenient place for the dock hand.
• Need boat hooks
• Need lots of strong line for lots of things.
• Waterproof boots
• Waterproof gloves
• If possible tie up to a dock on the starboard side to make it easier to back off.
Even if that does not top the Cobra Charlie guy (and I can't see how our weather could be worse than yours) it was quite an experience for me and I think all of us.
Keep smacking along Diddle *****!