Thursday, January 29, 2015

Let's start at the very beginning

Because I hear that's a very good place to start. Although I'm a little unclear on the order in which it started - this was another everything-just-fell-together trip. Possibly not quite as serendipitous as the Finland trip, which, as some may actually recall, came about because I just happened to go to the Manhattan West Marine to pick up a couple of Eldridges (east coast tide and pilot book and a very handy thing for a tide-sensitive boater to have), ran into Capt. Kat, who was there picking up something of her own, and left with my Eldridges and an invitation to go sailing in the Gulf of Finland (yowza!). 

This time, there was more of a confluence of events, and it was definitely Facebook-driven. I actually can't remember what happened first, but at some point in the fall, Jenn, who I met on the Finland trip and with whom I've stayed in touch, said something to me on Facebook about how she and Captain Kat had been talking about a USVI sailing trip. Around the same time, TQ announced that he wanted to go on vacation -- yowza again!

We haven't really done a just-us vacation since he moved to New York (and in fact for a while before that when he was in PA - that involved a string of weekends in the country for me but for him that was called "home"); we've traveled to a couple of family gatherings and had a couple of pretty nice staycations, but no going away and playing with boats together like we really like to do. In the meantime I've run off and had three adventures without him (Hawaii in 2010 for my 25th reunion, Finland and Estonia in 2012, and of course my solo trip down the Hudson last summer, which we'd actually discussed doing together, but which I'd also dreamed of as a solo trip for years, long before we started dating, so when things fell into place for the solo version, I just did it); I'm not sure whether that makes me a bad girlfriend (because I leave my poor guy at home while I run off and have fun) or a good girlfriend (because I don't guilt-trip him when he can't join me for one reason or another, I just go anyways) but I'm a pretty independent cuss and (to quote that "True Facts About" guy on YouTube) that is how I do.

But he was finally in a position to join me on something now. Fantastic.

At first I'd thought he was talking about something around the Thanksgiving holiday. Short notice, this was already November, but I'd already planned to take that week off and I was game. When he clarified that he was thinking more about a nice thawing-out trip in January, for a moment I was off-balance, because that's not a time when I would usually take vacation, but when I thought about it I realized that that's actually not a bad time at the office - there are a few January projects that would have to be done before I left but some late nights would let me do that, and we don't really start into the budget until February (Really Big Children's Book Company's fiscal year is June to May so late winter into spring is Budget Hell and a vacation request would be met with derision - but January's OK).

So with that in mind, I emailed Jenn and Capt. Kat about their January in the USVI plans - picturing the situation as being that they already had things lined up, and if TQ and I were lucky there would still be space on the boat. As it turned out the deal was nowhere near as done as I'd pictured -- more of a  "Wouldn't it be fun to...?" talk over margaritas. However, when I emailed them saying, "So this trip you have planned, is there any chance...?", things went from theoretical to real in a blindingly (and delightfully) short amount of time - TQ and I were in, Kat and Jenn were serious about it, 2 or 3 more people would make it work. Jenn had another couple in mind, one of her oldest friends, Lenore, going back to elementary school, and Lenore's husband Dave. Lenore had never been on a trip like this but they're an adventurous couple and had loved Jenn's stories from other trips, and when they got the email, there wasn't a moment of hesitation.

Within a few more days, we'd agreed on days (first from Jan 16th - Jan 23rd, then extended to the 26th when we saw that Island Yacht Charters, the charter company in St. Thomas with which Capt. Kat was planning to line up the boat, had a 10-days-for-the-price-of-7 deal right at the time we wanted to be there -- once again YOWZA -- lotsa yowzas going on --). Pretty soon there was a contract for an Island Packet 440 (we'd hoped for a slightly smaller boat but those were all booked), and then we were sending Kat deposit money, and then we were buying plane tickets, and then there was a string of what-to-expect emails (Kat's great at that)...well, this whole flurry of things happened in early to mid-November, so then there was this long period when the trip just seemed so far away, and then it was finally January and I had to start scrambling to get all my work things done and then there was shopping to do (I need shades! I need cute yet practical shoes! I need a long-sleeved white shirt for the middle of the day! I need shorts! Jeeze, do you know how hard it is to find shorts in Manhattan in January? I need books and a journal and pens and bigger SD cards! So needy am I!!!) and then all of the sudden it was the night before and I was up all night obsessing over my packing and then we were driving to the airport and then...

Waiting to board, early in the morning at JFK --

 Land ho! Approaching Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas. I think that's Water Island straight down from the wingtip - a few night later we anchored there, that was our jumping-off point for the longish day sail to Vieques. 

Look, sailboats! That'll be us soon! TQ was actually taking these, this being his first trip down here I'd given him the window seat, but I did ask him to take some pictures of the approach. 

 About to land on St. Thomas


 Hurry up and wait. Jenn's flight had gotten in a little late, so she found us here; we got our bags, she led us to the gentleman with the rum samples (how did we miss that guy???), and then it was off by van to find our boat. Let the adventure begin!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I don't even know where to start...

10 days, 6 friends (plus one of the friends' awesome nephew for a couple of days), 5 islands, one very comfy 44' boat -- and 450 photographs (and that's after a major cull). Well, here are a few to start with! Click on the first one for a slideshow view. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Sebago sailing...

I couldn't make it because I had errands to run but a couple of clubmates got in a lovely (if cold) day on the water last weekend. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Turnbacktime Tuesday

Because I'm going to be kind of busy on Thursday, and also in honor of FINALLY writing down the last day of my Hudson River paddle in my journal. Yes, I just did that tonight!

Not that I hadn't done a writeup - I did cover that day when I did the trip reporting here on Frogma, which was pretty soon after I got back, but all the other days involved transcribing from my journal. I didn't actually write in the journal on the last day, though - I'd been very good about writing something for all the other days (plus quite a bit about the lead-in with the prep and all) but the day I got back, there was helping Carolina move stuff, getting my boat back to the club, unpacking and showering and lunching and napping and then taking the poor fella who was so sweetly waiting for me at Valentino Park after I'd abandoned him for ten days to go waltzing all over New York State out for some highly deserved sushi. That used up the rest of the day, and then it was back to work, and then once I had the day typed up here I guess I just lost track of getting it into the paper journal. I looked in that journal the other day and was quite surprised to find that it ended in Yonkers! Oops.

Next adventure starts soon - this time TQ gets to come with me (yay!) and although I got a new journal, because the old one was almost finished and I didn't think there would be enough room left for 10 days if sailing in the US Virgin Islands, I just decided that I wanted to have the Hudson River log put to bed before I went.

So that's done, and in honor of that, here are a few pictures from that summer adventure that didn't make it into any of the posts (there was a lot of mileage to cover, literally) but that I'd liked enough that I'd had vague intentions of putting them up. So here you go. If I could turn back tiiiime...

The Bronck Island Flyswatter of Mercy - courtesy of the Hudson River Watertrail Association, my "host" for most of the trip (my campsites were mostly Watertrail sites).

Pretty not-flowers - I think they're actually winged seed pods, but flowerlike in color

Actual flowers, catching the morning sun on Esopus Island

A small riverpool at one of the waterfront parks along the way - fun to see.

USCGC Penobscot Bay - they're breaking ice now, read more about her here.

Some people keep kayaks or rowboats or sailing dinghies on the beach at their waterfront homes. Some people.

Got it in my head that I wanted to take a picture of an Amtrak train looking like a train in a travel poster. This was pretty good. Driver saw me taking pictures as the train approached and gave me a friendly little toot-toot on the horn. I waved and grinned like a kid.

Interesting art/graffiti on a driftwood log

Old building from NYC's Catskill water supply - anybody know more?
Amy Moran waiting for time to go - I'm a member of a Flickr group for Moran tugs, never got around to posting this one.

DEP skimmer Cormorant - mentioned in Tugster.  

Monday, January 12, 2015

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Ice Flight Pix -

Hello from a very chilly NYC! I don't like it much when it's so cold that taking a deep breath outside burns all the way down to the bottom of your lungs, but there's one thing I DO definitely enjoy about the cold weather, and that's watching to see whether the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club is going to get to have a season.

Having a cold snap that lasts for a few days is usually enough to get me checking out

Just thought to check this afternoon - they're not there yet, but there is ice on some stretches of the Hudson and the first ice flight shots are up!