27 || We Can Make It Anywhere
Wednesday 10th to Thursday 11th June 2020 - Hampton to New York.
Several times Iain mentioned he thought we should wait. The weather over the next week varied from gales to cyclonic nothing, sunny days, rainy day and thunderstorms. It was over 250 miles to New York. We certainly didn’t want to motor all the way and thought we had enough experience of the large thunderstorms generated by the heat of the US mainland. However, waiting for the next window, we could potentially be sitting in Norfolk for another week.
There is a saying, “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. I looked at the weather predictions, I could see the wind was building, but the wind angle was good for us to have a fast down wind sail. I thought we could stay on the edge of the wind and the rain would only be with us, at most, for 3 hours at the end of our journey. I passed my little knowledge on to Iain, who agreed, without saying very much more. A first, I noted.
The next morning we left at 06:15 motoring out with the tide. The river was busy. There was a commotion on the radio between the Navy and some local fishing boats. We saw the Navy were escorting a submarine into the river and clearing the shipping lane of all traffic. We continued to motor along side the shipping lane watching from a safe distance.
The morning was very gentle as we motor sailed until noon. When Iain awoke from a sleep we unfurled the jib and sailed until early evening.
The wind was building, by 18:00 hrs we reefed the main, but still maintained a steady 10 knots while I went to bed. Iain furled the jib away at 21:00 hrs to enable us to run deeper which slowed the speed to 8 knots but meant we were travelling in the correct direction.
By the time I woke at 22:00 hrs to take over my watch, we were maintaining a healthy
9 knots under just a reefed main. Before going off watch, Iain suggested I stay in the hatch way. I was a little disgruntled as I enjoy sitting behind the wheel where it is easy to survey the horizon, the stars and see the monitors while singing along to my Love Song downloads in my own little world of love and romance. However, after a little grumble, I agreed to stayed in the companion way near the table.
It was a dark night, the moon was covered by cloud I could not see the stars. To make matters worse, I could not get my downloads to play, but we were progressing steadily and I did as I was told. I sat in the companion way making do with singing to myself which is actually preferable as I get all the lyrics correct.
Occasionally I heard a wave crash on to the back of the boat, but could not see them. I could feel the boat corkscrew as she dipped into the wave but quickly recover, again without seeing the movement. I kept a keen watch, concentrating on not falling asleep and recording the correct information in the log. I was concentrating so hard, I wasn’t really reading or digesting the figures I recorded. The wind was a constant 28-29 knots throughout my watch. We were flying and the waves were not the 1-2 meters the weather forecast had predicted. I was in my own lyric perfect, Love Songs world, completely calm.
At 02:00 when Iain took over, the wind and our speed had increased. He casually asked what I had been doing, and where I had been sitting. I was slightly irritated. What did he think I’d been doing? I assumed he was checking I hadn’t fallen asleep. As if I would say if I had? I went to sleep without too much discussion.
Thursday 11th June 2020 06:00 212 nm completed
By the time I awoke at 06:00 hrs the wind speeds had reached the high 30’s. It never occurred to me when I saw Iain’s life jacket on the floor of his cabin he had worn it out of genuine concern. When I remarked on the jacket, he told me it was to keep me quiet. I believed him, as I always do. When we were with Catherine and Cyrille, we had the discussion of clipping on at night, life jackets and all things safety related. Naturally, I assumed Iain was keeping us all quiet.
By 10:00am the wind reached its maximum strength of 39 knots giving us a distance of 11nm in an hour with a reefed main. Still it did not occur to me perhaps this was a little excessive. Iain remained extremely cheery and kept encouraging me to return to bed for more sleep, even though he was the one who had been awake since 02:00 hrs.
By mid morning the wind began to drop as we entered the estuary leading towards New York Harbour, but there were very large rolling waves which proved too great for the auto helm. Iain steered which helped enormously to steady the boat. Our passage was quickly coming to an end.
The procedure for taking down the mainsail is being perfected. Iain alternates between, up the mast, one hand holding or on the cabin roof at the opposite end of the boom pulling the sail into the boom while calling instructions in a very masterful tone of when I should lower a meter of halyard while I steer the boat into the wind, watching the depth, the speed, the surrounding area for moving traffic and finally holding the boat head to wind, but making sure the sail is flapping in the same direction as the flake he is folding into the boom.
On this occasion, we were both tired. My ability to stay calm as Iain pointed out my failure to hear or understand where the wind was coming from was wearing thin. I answered back vehemently, which brought the observations to a close. I feel we are improving. We remember to congratulate each other on a job well done and usually have a hug to affirm our excellent teamwork.
Once the Kerfuffle of flaking the mainsail had been completed in the mouth of the Hudson River, we were enthralled to be approaching New York, but even more so to hear our name being called on radio. The Tower had spotted us entering their waterway and needed our details. It was very official. They wanted to know everything. We were able to oblige as everything is recorded in an easily assessable folder. Iain concentrated with all his might while I tried to navigate the river and make the most of the photo opportunity. Iain was not amused, but I was having a great time.
We continued under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, edging ever closer to the Statue of Liberty. The prize at the end of our journey. We were going to anchor in one of the most iconic anchorages in the world.
Iain started to tidy the boat. Our Fatjax needed to look her best as these two wonderful ladies were introduced. Just then, a Coast Guard boat came racing towards us, calling our name. I flinched as it sped directly to our port side turning at the last moment to come alongside. I had flashes of the rib hitting us, and us gaining a complete repaint courtesy of the US Coast Guard Department. It was not to be. Clearly, the driver had made this manoeuvre many times. It was expertly executed, bringing them gently to our side.
Again, they asked every conceivable question finally requesting our passports and cruising licence. The documents were checked on an on-board computer which seemed to take forever. Several times we confirmed there were only two of us on board and we were in fact married.
While one member was checking our details, the driver was very interested in the boat, asking Iain lots of questions about her which Iain enjoyed. Eventually our papers were returned and the rib left us. We felt very safe knowing such security measure were in place.
We continued to navigate the river and as we turned the bend of the river, the view we had been waiting nearly three months for, was in front of us.
Somewhat overcast and shrouded in mist, but there none the less. We anchored at 14:00 under the statue just as we had planned, feeling we had achieved another milestone in our adventure. 286 nm - 32 hours anchor to anchor.