Here we are in New York City! City Island, actually – a run of about 23 nautical miles from the western tip of Long Island Sound will bring us to Manhattan, through the notorious East River and Hell’s Gate. We planned to make that run early this morning on a slack tide, but we woke up this morning encased in pea soup fog. With a weather report of winds building to 25 knots and thunderstorms likely as the day went on, we decided to wait until tomorrow morning.
Our trip to this point has not gone exactly as planned. And as an added bonus, our “excitement” for the day on Monday was shared by the Coast Guard with all vessels within radio range of their Cape Cod transmissions. It only took us until Day 2!
Shortly after leaving Sandwich last Saturday morning early at slack tide to transit the Cape Cod Canal, we developed a problem with the hydraulic steering system. We had had a problem last season, but we had it serviced this Spring and got a clean bill of health. However….welcome to boating. The Coast Guard conducts continuous surveillance by camera over the entire canal, so we had drifted for no more than 5 minutes trying to assess the problem when the Coast Guard came over the radio. “Power catamaran west of the Sagamore Bridge, do you have a problem?” I explained our steering problem and that we were headed back to the Sandwich Marina a mile away and that I could steer the boat by using the thrust of the two engines. He seemed satisfied. Five minutes later, he was back on the radio, advising us that a tug and a barge were approaching us from the west – “Do we need assistance?” he asked. No, we have the barge in sight and are maneuvering to the side of the canal to let him pass. He seemed satisfied. The barge passed. Five minutes later, my friend was on the radio called again (I felt we were fast becoming friends with all these conversations). He needed some information, apparently for his paperwork. Name of the vessel? Length? Number of passengers? Their age? Your location? (wait a minute – you’ve been watching me on your camera…you know my location). Weather? (wait a minute – you’re 3 miles from me, watching me on camera – you know the weather). Sea state? (wait a minute – I’m in the canal, on camera – you can see that it’s perfectly calm). And so it went, until the conversation ended. He seemed satisfied. Five minutes later, my friend called back. “We’re sending a Coast Guard boat to render assistance”. Minutes later, a 40′ Coast Guard boat with lights flashing is speeding towards us. Next we hear over the radio: “Alert to all boats near the Cape Cod Canal: there is a disabled power catamaran in the Cape Cod Canal – all vessels are advised to keep a sharp lookout and proceed with caution”. We were famous. I think it was a slow morning at the Coast Guard that day.
Anyway, we maneuvered safely back to the Sandwich Marina with our Coast Guard escort, lights flashing. We found Frank & Frank Avilla, hydraulic systems experts who came on Monday and, we thought, found and fixed the problem (a fitting had started to leak). Early Tuesday morning, we transited the Canal on a favorable tide into a calm Buzzards Bay, targeting Milford, Ct. 75 miles away. About a half hour from Point Judith, RI, the wind and waves kicked up on our nose, so we decided to duck into Point Judith instead. Upon checking over the steering system when we were tied up, it still wasn’t right – back to the drawing board. After another lay day, Frank & Frank returned on Wednesday and finally found the smoking gun. Thursday was a day of light winds on our stern and calm seas, so we left Point Judith early in the fog. After some early rain and thinning fog, we made a day of it and made it all the way to City Island, and here we are.
We had a crew change today – unfortunately, Jake had to leave, but Dave Luciano, my college roommate, long time friend, and business partner has joined us. Weather permitting, tomorrow we go through New York Harbor, then head north on the Hudson River!
Below are some pictures from our first week of excitement. The placement is a bit haphazard, as I haven’t yet mastered how to place them orderly with this $!&*#@!*^#! website – but I’m working on it!