Thursday, October 7, 2010

Jersey City

     The Liberty Landing Marina has been our home for the past week. It boasts a spectacular view of lower Manhattan with all the amenities of a full service marina. It is sheltered from both the wind and the wakes of the zillion ferry boats that crisscross this part of the harbor. Above all of this is the easy drive to Philadelphia, work and home. The fact is that keeping a family life and a profession going while moving a boat around can be difficult and having the boat a bit closer has been a great help with that. Now if I could determine what exactly constitutes a day off......

The reason for being in New York harbor was to participate in the Manhattan Yacht Club's Classic Yacht Series. This event conflicted with another on Long Island Sound for some reason so both got fewer boats. For Silent Maid this meant there weren't many boats of similar size and speed. In the first race we sailed that really didn't matter. Pretty early on we determined just getting around the course would be seamanship enough.  The course was from North Cove to the Verrazano Bridge and back. There were twenty knots of breeze at the start and thirty at the bridge.  Except for me the crew was totally unfamiliar with the boat and many were new to sailing. They were the staff of that wonderful after school boat building, rowing, youth building program, Rocking the Boat.  We had boat builders, social workers, teachers and development people aboard. A couple were also sailors.

     It is generally not considered fast to train the crew during the start sequence but that is faster than not training the crew at all. We got a late , safe, start and shook out the one reef we had to see if we could catch anyone, we couldn't. The crew had enthusiasm in abundance which is good when sailing through rain squalls. They also had a great willingness at the winches when it came time to wind in the reefs. As we approached the Verrazano the gusts grew in force so we put in two reefs while still headed down wind. In the course of doing this we got above the mark and decided, wisely I think, to tack around rather than jibe. The waves were steep and it took  two tries to build the momentum needed to execute a chicken jibe. We did this again at the mark and were hard pressed until we managed to get the third reef in. Once that was done it was smooth sailing tacking through a fleet of anchored barges. One of the big boats had dropped out just after the rounding so we weren't even in last place anymore. Life was good ....... and wet.

The second day's racing was the opposite of the first.  Light air. The crew this day was large and consisted of A Cat sailors from Barnegat Bay, too many of them for efficient sailing, but a good number for a floating party. A northwest breeze had come in and faded already so the air was as clear as it was still. It was a bright clear day to view the sights of new York Harbor. We even did OK racing, I think, but I won't try to lose readers with the details.

Sunny day photos by Julie Smith
Cloudy day photos by Rocking the Boat

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