Thursday, February 01, 2007

Photo trip report, Liberty Harbor - Tottenville, 1/28/07

The invitation came in in the middle of last week. Sunday Sailing! Clicked on the evite & there it was - sailing the Rosemary Ruth to Tottenville!

I couldn't accept fast enough - that is, once I'd looked at the forecast & seen temperatures slightly above freezing & wind of 5-10 kts. Nice sailing weather! I hadn't heard much from Richard this winter, and had assumed that he was doing work on the Rosemary Ruth that precluded sailing. He's eventually planning on taking her cruising in the Baltic, so every step of the refurbishment of his "charming pinkie schooner" (to borrow Tugster's phrase) I think I like the word "charming" better than "cute" - "cute" is sort of dismissive, somehow) has to be done right. Turned out that the real problem was a messed-up knee - but Richard's all better now & it was time for the Rosemary Ruth to go the boatyard in Tottenville to put on a few pounds of ballast. Am I remembering right when I say 1,600 lbs? Steel, attached to the keel. Wish I'd thought to take a picture of the diagram - Richard's found another pinkie schooner owner who had done a similar addition of ballast to his & the guy had taken some pictures of the RR's hull & done a little photoshopping to erase the stantions & show exactly where the steel beams needed to go. Richard had already added some ballast, but Richard had not quite interpreted the directions right the first time & ended up with not quite enough weight overall, but too much of what there was aft.

I had been invited on that first Tottenville trip - can't for the life of me figure out why I didn't go, but it was something beyond my control...

So this time - yes yes yes!

Richard emailed me to let me know I could bring someone - TQ had to work, we'd used up his January Sunday off with that glorious Silvermine Tavern/Norwalk Islands paddle, and plus he's not as into sailing as he is into paddling, and I didn't think that an all-day trip with no way to escape if a person were to get cold, bored or both was the best intro to frostbiting. But...hmmm, bet the Tugster would LOVE it. I'd already had the fun of introducing him to Richard when he'd first posted a picture of the RR. He'd clearly had the same response to the sight of this lovely little schooner as I did - plus we'd figured out last year that we have a mutual friend in Brian (remember Brian?), who I thought might come. And having enjoyed his meditations on the various working vessels in the harbor, I thought he'd be a great person to have along on an all-day sail. Think I was right, too! Turned out that Brian's daughters had a concert (now that's a good dad!), but I forgot that as a volunteer on the old boats at the South Street Seaport, of course he would know another friend of Richard's - she's an educator there, and it turned out she was the 4th & final person on the crew roster du jour.

Tugster & I met up succesfully at the Path station. We negotiated the icy streets of Jersey City only to find a locked gate & an apparently deserted Rosemary Ruth. Well, it was a little early...we renegotiated the icy streets in search of hot drinks, found 'em, and returned to the same scene...oh jeeze, had I somehow mistaken the date? Was this going to be one of the more mortifying moments of the winter? Well, I borrowed Tugster cell phone & of course Richard was down below, with an electric heater on and all the hatches closed. Phew. Maggie turned up shortly thereafter. The morning was glorious, but apparently everyone else was scared off by the cold!

Of course we owe them a debt of gratitude - it was only because so many people passed & were going to wake up, look out the window & kick themselves soundly that it was so nice...

Whatever the reason - we were all there & ready to go!

No dinghy needed at the Tottenville Marina - we'll leave that here...

When I'd left Brooklyn in the morning, there wasn't a breath of wind. I figured we'd be motoring - but as we got ready to go, a nice little breeze began to stir in just the right direction to sail off the dock. Sweet! I'd never done that in a schooner! Off with the sail covers, then up with the...CLUNK! What was THAT?

Oops. Right. That would be ice. Formerly water, in a bucket, on deck - introduce one reefing line & a couple of nice cold days & there you go.

Canadians aren't scared of ice. Richard had this one beaten into submission in a jiffy.

And up with the sails, and off we sailed - oh, ok, after a brief interlude of unfouling the mainsail topping lift from a tall piling, and a retrieval of a fisherman halyard that I nearly let get away...oops. Little rusty. Fortunately Richard's very nice to rusty crew. Anyways, topping lift freed & halyard retrieve, off we sailed into a perfect morning -

And I mean perfect. I mean, look at this - could you ask for a more promising morning for an all-day sail in January? It was definitely still below freezing, but not by much, and the breeze being considerate enough to be from the NW meant downwind to reaching most of the way - upwind could have gotten a little on the chilly side! As is was, once we were headed for the Narrows, Richard decided to raise the fisherman (that sail that you see stretched between the masts in those 3 sky shots earlier this week) - that sail goes all the way up to the head & catches the breezes in the lightest of air.

Richard gave me the helm while he helped raise the fisherman. Between the breeze & the powerful ebb, it seemed like we were flying south. We were the only recreational boat out that morning, but there were plenty of "big guys" - freighters and tankers and barges, oh my!

I handed the tiller back over to Richard shortly before we got to the first of the assorted vessels -

The first one we passed was a moored tug and barge. The barge guys looked like they really liked the RR. She has that effect on people.

We worked our way on over to the Brooklyn side of the channel - and we were happy to be there because suddenly, it seemed like morning rush hour, harbor style, had broken loose!

Here comes a car carrier, heading for the Kill Van Kull -

By the time that one had passed, this freighter was in the Narrows - btw, when a freighter's this far away & heading your way, it's WAY WAY WAY too late to think about crossing in front of it - we were very happy to be out of the channel nice & safe on the Brooklyn side.

Looking back up north - there goes the freighter, here comes a container ship out of the Kill - moving pretty fast - the tanker with the orange superstructure was also showing signs of stirring and I think there was another one in the anchorage that also had some smoke giving evidence of engines being on...this is why crossing the Kill van Kull is not one of my favorite things to do in a kayak in New York Harbor - it gets like this pretty often! You just have to wait & be patient, eventually there will be a break - but there's just an awful lot of gross tonnage passing through this narrow channel.

Tugster's camera was getting a good workout too - he seemed to be having a great time & I was already wondering what sort of meditations these would inspire.

The container ship blew past us - they were flying, look at that bow wake, and I WISH I'd taken a picture of their wake as it rocked the RR wildly, then traveled on to crash on the bridge footings & the Brooklyn seawall.

Finally, as the containership passed beneath the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, we saw our chance to cross, and grabbed it -

and on we went, under the bridge and out to the Lower Harbor!
part II to come!

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