Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Almost home!

When we left New York we went up the East River, past the notorious prison on Rikers island and out into Long Island Sound.  It is a large body of water and we were not able to see much as we were in the middle.  It narrowed at the end and we got glimpses of the large houses in the Hamptons and along the Connecicut shre.  Before we knew it we were passing Rhode Island and approaching Cape 
Cod.  I certainly hope we will get a chance to visit this well known area of sea going culture on our return south.  We fought a very strong current going past Martha's Vineyard and played dodge'm with a few ferries.  We wove our way around Nantucket Island and it was my shift as we finally hit the open ocean.  
It was dawn and we were motoring in a very calm sea.  Big fancy motor vessels went streaming by us and we assumed they were trying to get to their favourite fishing spots before sunrise.  That may have been but maybe they were there to witness the wonderful sight that assailed my eyes a few miles later. First I heard a forceful expulsion of air and thought, whale!  I looked up and saw the white steam of her breath hanging in the air.  She suddenly sky hopped, coming halfway out of the water and crashing backwards with water cascading everywhere. The sun had just come up and was still very low in the sky and as I gazed around I could see the spume of dozens of whales hanging in the crystal clear cold air.  It was breath taking. They were right whales, fairly large but with a very small top fin.  As we got closer I could see whales everywhere, some were swimming along the surface, some where heading to the deep, diving and gracefully upending their huge bodies showing off their wonderful tails as they disappeared. There was one group of about 5 or 6 that all skyhopped at once, in a circle, I have never seen them do that before.  One youngster was swimming beside her mother and jumped up out of the water crashed down and then went darting after her mom who had kept swimming along ignoring her youngster's antics.  The area around Cape Cod has been declared a marine sanctuary and obviously the whales are coming back in droves.  I was so lucky to be there in the daylight and to witness this wonder of nature.  

At sea

We have spent the longest day at sea.  We are at 42 degrees north crossing the Gulf of Maine, from Cape Cod to Nova Scotia.  Our latitude means we have lots of daylight at this time of year, the sun rises before 0600 and sets after 2100, giving us 15 hours of sunlight per day.  The best part are the sunrises and sunsets, they seem to go on forever.  There is another hour of dawn and dusk, this makes the nights very short.  At the moment it is 0415 and I can detect a lightning in the eastern sky. The waning moon is only a sliver and it rose an hour and a half ago.  The moonlight shimmers on the very calm sea as we motor through the night.  
I have set 3 knots as the lower limit of sailing speed that I am willing to tolerate on this voyage, any less than that and I quickly become depressed at the estimated time of arrival that the chart plotter gives off.  A very economical 1800 RPM's will give us twice the speed, and when we achieve 6 knots the ETA becomes much more acceptable.  We have about 225nm to go which means we should arrive in Halifax on June 24. That will give us plenty of time to sail the last 200 nm to Sydney to meet my goal of being with Jennifer and her family on Canada Day.  I have put all the country flags that we have visited on a line and will hoist it up our back stay once we have anchored in Halifax.  A ship returning to her own country from an extended voyage can do this as a form of celebration. It should be a fabulous sight. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Jersey Boys

Barry is lucky we waited until our last day here to see a Broadway musical or we would be going to see a whole bunch more!  We saw Jersey Boys, the Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons story.  What a great production. It was the music we grew up with, Sherry, Big Girls Don't Cry, and Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You are a few of his big hits. I was clapping and singing along in my head the whole show. We had some nice chats with the people around us before the show at intermission and after the show.  Then we were taking pictures after the show and one of the main characters came out and I got his autograph, awesome. 

We are heading off in the morning.  We will go up the East River, under the Brooklyn Bridge past Hell Gate and into Long Island Sound.  We should be in Halifax in 5 or 6 days. Look out Canada, here we come, it's been eight years since the boat has been in Canadian waters.  We can't wait to bring her home. 

Natural History Museum

We visited the Museum of Natural History yesterday.  I wasn't going to go because we went to one in Wash. and then I looked at the web site and decided that it was worth a look.  Am I ever glad I went, the museum has so much history attached to it, Peary, the Arctic explorer went to Greenland to get this huge meteorite in the early 1900's. The big one weighs 34 tons and there are pictures of a team of 26 horses hauling the rock from the docks to the museum.
They also had a terrific dinosaur exhibit.  

The displays were really well done as well, there were brief facts in large letters to catch the kids attention and then if you wanted to know more you would read the finer print.  After the dinosaurs, I looked at the bird exhibit, trying to further my identification skills while Barry went through the space exhibit.  Together we went through the origin of human display.  It was awesome, they even had Lucy's bones there.  Do you know why they called her Lucy?  The team that found her were celebrating and that night they were listening to the Beatles music, Lucy in the sky with diamonds! My feet were starting to ache and it was time to head off to ball game so we reluctantly left.  If you only had one museum to go to if yu are ever in NYC I would recommend this one.
Yankees 3 - Blue Jays 1 the game started off with a bang, a B J home run on the first pitch of the game but they never got on a roll after that.  The crowd was quite subdued although every time Derek Jeter came up to bat they would chant.  He hit a single and ended up being one of the Yankees that crossed the plate, nice to see player in his last year still able contribute.  When I was in the souvenir store I was thinking of buying a Reggie Jackson shirt.  I still remember watching him hit the home runs to clinch the servers back in the 70's but they did not have one in that particular store.  
At Momument Park, beside Mr. October, what a history this team has!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Random things in NYC

We visited Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange.

This is the NY stock exchange bull, donated by the artist, he just trucked it down and deposited it near the stock exchange.  The City fathers tried to remove it and the populace objected so here he sits. 
The sidewalk where they give the ticker tape parades, every parade has a strip giving the date, etc. 
Check out the size of those kisses!! The M & M store is across the street. 
The buskers in New York are superb, this fellow was in the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. There was a guy on the subway that was playing the trumpet and an electric organ with a stuffed dog to keep him on key!!
I am singing at the top of my lungs. 
The subway system in NYC is great, it runs pretty efficiently, it is old and grungy looking, some cars are not air conditioned and when you get squished in them at rush hour it is not pleasant, we have never felt unsafe and when asked most New Yorkers will tell you which train you need to catch.  We have a week's pass for $35, so pretty cheap transportation.  We can take buses as well. 
This billboard is actually painted in the side of a bride building. 
The inside of the Guggenheim Art Museum, the displays were mounted on the walls as you spiralled up to the top of the very unusual building. 
A piece of the Berlin Wall, outside of the UN Building.  I really enjoyed our tour of the building, our guide was from South Korea and she was terrific.  She was very thought provoking as she explained about the three main trusts of the UN, peacekeeping, human rights and sustainable development. 
A box of school supplies that can be sent on 72 hours notice to countries where education has been interrupted due to war or natural disaster. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Touring NYC

                                                        Empire State Building
We have finished the hop on, hop off bus tour. We ended it last night with a night tour of the city.  The trip did not start well because there was something wrong with the bus, I am sure that is a bus drivers nightmare.  Everyone was pretty patient though and I was okay because the later it got the more lights would be on.  Our tour guide was a scream, he kept going on about how great being in the Big Apple was and since we were on a double decker bus he would comment on the people he could see in their"pads".  The whole bus would cheer, he even got a street vendor to blow us kisses New York style, great fun.
The other day we went up the Empire State Building, the views were fantastic and so were the lines.  One fellow made a comment that they did a good job with the lines because you never knew how many times you had to stand in line. First of all there was a line to get in the bldg, and pass through security, then there was a line for tickets, then you had to walk all the wy around the inside of bldg. ,then there was a line for the elevator up to the 80th floor where all the windows were opaque and there was a history of the building and then you had to stand in line for the 86th floor where the viewing platform was and of course there was the line to go down.  I must say though that the wait was totally worth it.  The views were just stunning.  
This is looking north across the Hudson River, on the other side is Brooklyn. The building with the fancy spire is the Chrsyler Bldg, the tall black one is the Trump Tower and the flat long greenish building near the water is the United Nations. 
This is looking south across the east river is New Jersey, there is Macy's Dept. Store where the Santa Claus parade ends every year and on the other side of the tall black bldg. you can see Madison Square Gardens which is actually a circle. 

For those of you that have been to NY skip this paragraph.  The main part of NY is Manhattan, it is an island and is connected to Brooklyn, across the East River by the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge and the Washington Bridge.  Brooklyn is on Long Island.  Harlem and the Bronx are on main land New York and you have to cross the Harlem River to get there.  Across the Hudson River to the south is New Jersey.  There are very few regular homes in NYC.  They all live in apartment buildings, and row housing called brownstones.  There are a lot of green spaces within the city because no one has a yard and today was a nice sunny day and everybody and their dog was out enjoying the walking/ biking/running paths.  

Vivid colour setting on the camera, takes an almost surreal photo.

We choose to go and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge today along with I am sure a thousand other people.  The only people to get as little cross were the poor cyclists who had tourists wandering into their lanes.  I heard a few angry comments but I did not see anyone being mowed down.  After that we hopped on the subway and took the free ferry over to Staten Island.  The Yankee farm team was in the field over there practising so we stared through a hole in the fence for a few minutes.  

This picture was taken from the Staten Island Ferry and that is downtown Manhattan, with the new World Trade Centre Bldg. or I heard it referred to as the Freedom Tower, at 1776 ft. tall it is the second tallest building in the world.  
I just have to add this picture for the grandchildren. 
It was awesome inside, Barry even insisted we should go in.  I have a Tim Horton's Ice Capp in my hand, we found a store just off of Time Square. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Brooklyn. Harlem and the Bronx

Having lunch at Yankee Stadium at the Hard Rock Cafe.  

We bought a tour package, we got four hop on hop off tours, downtown, uptown, Brooklyn and Harlem as well as a boat tour which goes around but does not stop at the Statue of Liberty and Staten Island. The fellow selling it gave it to us for four days instead of two so we can take our time whch was nice. The weather is still overcast, foggy and drizzly so we took the up town and Harlem tour yesterday.  It certainly wasn't as spectacular as the downtown tour but there we're a lot of famous names bring thrown around.  We got to see the buildings where folks, like Alex Baldwin, Janet Jackson and Barbara  Striessan lived, the place where John Lennon was shot, etc. etc.
We stopped at Yankee Stadium and earlier in the day we hads cruised their web site and Barry discovered that the Blue Jays were in town on June 17th, so we stepped up to the wicket and bought tickets.  They are in the he nosebleed section along the foul ball line in right field, who cares, we have binoculars and the subway goes right there. Inside the Hard Rock Cafe there is all sorts of music memorabilia including this pic of Elton John and the actual outfit he wore.
Did you know that the cafe's collection started when Eric Clapton asked the restaurant if they would hang his guitar on the wall to mark his favourite spot, a week later a package came in the mail from Peter Townsend of the Who, it was his guitar and he said mine is as good as his?!!
We went across the East River into Brooklyn which is on Long Island. There were views of the Brooklyn Bridge but we didn't get a great shot

The Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn.  The new World Trade Center building is the tallest and just behind it you can see the Empire State Building, the pointy one with the green top is the Woolworth Bldg.
This is the home of the New York Knicks, the basketball team.  The building is made out of steel and it is brown because they have just let it go rusty.  Okay nice colour but we know about rust, how long will it take before bits start flaking off and will they then replace all the bits, what???
Brooklyn's answer to the Arc de Triomphe, I guess I won't have to go to Paris now!
This building is made of prefab apt.  They just stack them  up one on top of the other.  Love the colour.
This is an example of the housing in Harlem. To be fair we saw very little of this boarded up, trashed bldg. Apparently things are on the upswing in Harlem and it is becoming gentrified and the boundaries are being pushed back. Our guide did tell us where he thought it was safe but if we ventured out of those areas it would be better to take a local guide with us. We saw the building where Cassius Clay changed his name to Mohammed Ali and where Malcolm X had his headquarters.
We ended the day walking through Central Park.  Check out the signs on the road, there are two way walking and bicycle lanes and only one small car lane on the far side.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


We sailed the first 90 miles to get here and then motored in the fog the last 30.  I was a bit freaked out going into NY Harbour at dawn with the visibility at 300m.  Barry was off shift and so I turned on the radar and the chart plotter and let Otto do all the work.  There was a boat that was maybe a quarter
mile away and I could hear the engines and every once in a while it would blast it's fog horn, but I could not see a thing, no matter how much I stared.  Barry woke up and I immediately insisted that he take the helm.  The buildings on Coney Island appeared out of the fog and the Barry started crossing
over the channel so we would get a good view of the Statue of Liberty and there she was.  We had
Neil Diamond's "Coming to America" blasting out of the iPad as we cruised by.  The Staten Island
Ferries wove to and fro in front the Liberty Island and I was tickled pink, taking as many pictures as I could.
Trying to look suave and sophisticated while taking a pic of myself, (like I could ever look suave and sop!)

The camera has a smile recognition feature on it and I kept grinning and the camera kept taking pictures, it drove Barry absolutely nuts.  He couldn't figure out why the camera was taking all these photos when he hadn't pushed the button. 
We headed up the Hudson River and secured a mooring at the 79th Street Boat Basin.  We are within 2 blocks of the subway, it is great.  We hopped on the subway and came up at Times Square.  Some slick salesman sold us a four day package of tours.  We get to go all over town, Brooklyn, the Bronks, the ferry ride to the Statue of Liberty, the upper East Side, Harlem, the works.  We wer blown away with the energy of the city, it really is something.  Here are some shots of the trip we took today.

Madison Square Gardens
A trio in Washington Square ion Grenwich Village. They were terrific. 
Christie's Auction House. 
A skyscraper designed by a Canadian. 
Approaching Broadway, just south of Times Square. 
The Empire State Building

Cape May NJ

         The view from the top of the lighthouse in Cape May, NJ.

We are on our way up to New York City, sailing off the coast of Atlantic City, New Jersey.  Who would have ever thought we would be in New Jersey??  We sailed up the Chesapeake, through Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and then across the Delaware River and spent a day and a half in Cape May, New Jersey. We have almost the perfect weather window for sailing the 24 hours to NYC, the wind is 10 -15 knots on the aft quarter, it would be better if it was on the beam and there are possible thunder storms predicted but one cannot be picky!
The trip to the top of the Chesapeake was lovely.  There are some sandy cliffs along the way and there is rolling countryside with lots of beautiful houses to look at.  The bird life was varied, the grey herons and the ospreys kept me busy with the binoculars.  
While we were in Cape May we rented bicycles and went out to the lighthouse we saw when we were sailing in and climbed up.  There was a fellow at the top that explained that Cape May is on the migratory path up and down the coast and there is a fresh water lake very close to the ocean so lots of birds stop by. There was a small museum by the lighthouse hand there were pictures of the sand erosion from the beach overtime.  There was an true of the WWII bunker on the beach about 10 m out in the surf.  I asked a local how they replaced the sand and he said they bring big dredges out that go about 1/2 mile offshore and through big pipes they blow the sand back on the beach.  There a then front end loaders and caterpillars that smooth it out and stop the erosion.  
We had fun on the bikes taking random paths, we found a bird sanctuary and a small market garden where we bought freshly picked strawberries.  I put them in the basket of the bicycle and they were much the worse for wear by the time we returned to the boat but the taste was still far superior to the
ones you get in the store. I am looking forward to exploring. NYC and then heading north back to Canada.
A nuclear power plant on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River. 
We just love the old lighthouses in the Chesapeake and the Delaware Rivers.