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Rhode Island to New York

By Anne Clement

On Sept 20, with hurricane Isobel safely clear, we cast off in lovely crisp autumn sunshine headed for our winter south. First stop was Dutch Island harbor at the bottom of Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island. There was no need to leave so late in the day, but we were simply eager for a sail. We had already had a two week delay getting started because of the hurricane which passed well south of us. All summer long we had only made four very short sails (two last week) so we left a lot of people disappointed not to have been invited for a spin in the new boat. Sorry, but we were working on the boat or else visiting with folks we have not seen much in the past 12 years and we did not even see all of those we wanted to. We will return in the spring and hope to do more local sailing then and see more of our oldest friends.

The nights have been full of the sounds of jumping fish all summer long, but in Dutch Harbor, they must have been huge because the noise was terrific. These are big, easy to catch blue fish which are good eating and most folks have favourite recipes to share. Yum.

Next day we had a good sail along the Rhode Island coast but switched over to motor when we entered Fisher's Island Sound because of all the Sunday fishing boats in the entrance. They were zooming around with fishing frenzy and we watched several big blues being landed easily so it seemed fair to let that activity take precedence over our sailing.

Next day was perfect catamaran weather. Light wind off Long Island increased during the day and we had all sail up making a pleasant 6 to 8 knots over the ground in spite of contrary currents. We're delighted with the sail set using our new boom. It makes life so much easier. We stopped in Port Jefferson which is well protected and familiar from years ago.

While yesterday was all sun and pleasure, today it is blowing a hoolie (55 knots of wind) and cold rain comes in sheets. It is Tuesday the 24th and we were given an old Sunday paper last night so we have that, books, and little jobs to fill the time. A rest stop is welcome. When the wind reduces, we can put the awning back up and collect some rain water. Meanwhile, I can bake an apple cake on top of the stove in my Dutch oven and put on good music to cheer us. Local flooding makes us happy to be in a boat.

There will be plenty of time to scrub the bottom in better weather tomorrow and move down to Port Washington for shopping and petrol in a few days because there is some reason for closure of the East River in front of the UN. When that reopens, we will time the tides carefully and get "flushed" through Hell Gate passing right through The City and into the world's busiest harbor. I prefer early week day mornings through New York if I can manage it, but certainly not sunny Sundays when it is packed with pleasure boats as well as all the loads of commercial tugs, barges, cruise ships, freighters, etc. It is definitely a "heads up" kind of place! You have your ducks in order there and navigation carefully prepared in advance because vessels go up the Hudson, out to the ocean, and into Long Island Sound and there are fast ferries every time you turn around. When we get to the anchorage at Sandy Hook we will be ready for a rest, hot cocoa, simple supper, and a good night's rest!

But New York City is not only a place to worry about, it is also a place to see famous bridges, astounding buildings, have feelings of hope for the UN and sorrow about the Twin Towers. And a place to see an entire culture of stressed out people living among towering buildings and streets all in perpetual shade. To us, it seems a brutal place to live, but I have friends who love it there and focus on the museums, art, theatre, etc. To each his own. We'll stay aboard all the way safely through. I must say that nothing is as pretty as New York in twilight The lights are so pretty.

When the wind is right for it, we will head for Cape May at the mouth of the Delaware River. This will be an overnight sail just off the New Jersey coast and we have a favourite place to anchor once we arrive. Again, we will wait for wind to sail up the river and go through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal into the Chesapeake Bay. We will spend most of October there enjoying sheltered and shallow anchorages all over the place. Catamaran paradise! Please remember not to use our Yahoo address now that we are cruising again. Our access to a computer is limited and frustrating but this little pocketmail gizmo can take letters similar to one and a half pages of olde fashioned typing.

All you Northerners, get in some warm sox, find those mittens, and get out the snow shovels. We're outa here!

© Anne and Neville Clement, 2003