Monday, 30 July 2012

No 25 Newport, Rhode Island

Hi from Clare,                                                      Sunday 29th July 2012

We travelled up the Mystic River with Egret and stayed for two days at Mystic Seaport. This tourist attraction is a reproduction of an old seafaring village with more than 250 detailed buildings displaying the workings and daily lives of the seafaring families in the 1800s. There are museums, galleries, historical vessels and a close up view of a restoration being carried out on 1840 whale ship. As Eye Candy is an international vessel we were given free dockage for a night and free entry to the park. This also included free use of the bathrooms and laundry, quite remarkable really, but in our experience it is in keeping with American generosity.

View from our Mystic River dock & The Joseph Conrad Tallship

We arrived in Newport Rhode Island on Thursday after having a very pleasant 30 mile sail from Mystic. Newport is the home of the America’s Cup and where the 12 metre yacht Australia 11 won the Cup in 1983.

So we firstly had lunch on the veranda of Newport Yacht Club overlooking the harbour and soaking up the atmosphere. Newport is the busiest sailing harbour we have ever seen. There are white sails galore as there is racing everyday for a variety of classes ranging from small dinghies to the grand old 12 metre yachts. There are also tourist cruisers every afternoon and evening on lovely old schooners under full sail. These plus yachts coming/leaving the harbour, small craft motoring around, canoes and paddle boards and boats at anchor, keep the harbour master pretty busy.

The people at the Newport Yacht Club were very friendly and didn’t mind us coming in and wondering around. We were hoping to see some evidence of the America’s Cup but to no avail. At the same time we thought that although the club has been established for long time it wasn’t as grand as what we were expecting for the home of the America’s Cup.

Eventually we found the Newport annex of the New York Yacht Club. This is home of the America Cup and certainly grand enough. In fact we have been anchored just in front of it for three days and at first we thought it was a mansion. We wondered up and tried to get in to the Club, but that wasn’t going to happen. We did manage to get through the gate and onto the hallowed turf but we were turned away at the reception desk. The lady asked if we were staying with them (in one of their fifteen suites or moorings) but when we said no she was very apologetic and as nicely as possible told us we didn’t cut the mustard, even with CYCA membership – we were dismissed, only to be expected. (We must talk to the CYCA commodore – don’t let any NYYC members in) Sad really as we would have loved to see the Cup or even just the space where it lives.

The Newport Yacht Club and The New York Yacht Club
The town of Newport has many beautiful old buildings dating back to the 1700s and it is a thrill to just wander the narrow streets. I have to tell myself to stop taking photos of houses. But I am totally hooked; I think the architecture is brilliant. We went to the Newport Casino which is a National Historic Landmark built in 1880. It was a social club and public sporting facility and where the first US Tennis Open was held in 1881. It is now the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum. The building is clad with shingles which was popular at the time. It is situated in Bellevue Avenue which is probably one of the most prestigious streets in town. Towards the end of the 1800s the rich competed to own the most lavish mansion. These were built on huge properties along Bellevue Avenue as summer houses with some facing onto the Atlantic Ocean. The period was known as the gilded age as international architects, builders, painters and interior designers used gold, crystal, precious metals, marble (and this is just to name a few) to create the most spectacular, extravagant and as some authorities have said hideous display of overt wealth.

Newport Township

Casino/Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum

We went to “The Breakers” owned by Cornelius Vanderbilt and built in 1895. It was named such because you can hear the waves breaking on the rocks

Before we got to the mansion we came across a cute small cottage and I thought it must have been a gate house. But upon entering I discovered that it was “The Children’s Cottage” which is code for the children’s playhouse. All the furniture was miniature including a piano and it had two large rooms with big fire places. It was like a small house. It was probably terrific for the kids but couldn’t they find somewhere to play in the mansion.

Childrens Cottage and Grounds at The Breakers
The mansion is amazing. It has extensive grounds and is a four story mansion with 70 rooms needing forty staff to run it. Although built before the turn of the 20th century it had electricity and gas and both hot and cold salt water (for therapeutic benefits) and fresh water for bathing in some of the 22 bathrooms.

It had so much detail it would take months before you could see everything. For instance each ceiling was painted like the Sistine Chapel and the plasterwork was ornately carved into pictures. It had pink marble columns and whole walls made from one slab of marble, sweeping staircases and interior fountains and gold everywhere. Unfortunately no photos were allowed.

We decided after being turned away from the New York Yacht Club we would have lunch at the estate so we could say ‘we dined at the Vanderbilt’s’. We enjoyed a luscious salmon salad in a magnificent setting which was well worth the extravagance (see photo).

The Breakers and Dining at the Vanderbilt's


We expect to leave here Tuesday with favourable winds to continue on to Maine.

Love Candy xx

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

No 24 Long Island Sound

Hi from Clare, Monday 23rd July 2012

This week we have been running at a much slower pace. The main objective has been to buy a new dinghy. Our eight year old PVC dinghy gave up the ghost and split a seam in the 40 degrees plus temperatures we experienced a few weeks ago in Virginia. Since then we have been reglueing and pumping it up nearly every day. Our greatest fear being that we might leave it on a dock, go shopping and return to find that the dinghy has deflated and sunk taking the outboard motor with it.

We made a number of short hops this week travelling along Long Island Sound stopping off at Northport, Port Jefferson, Duck Island, New London and Fishers Island. We had the company of Innamorata and Egret until Saturday so we were in good company having a few laughs. There is a noticeable increase in the number to pleasure boats on the water. This is because Long Island Sound is sheltered water and mostly pleasant sailing and it was the weekend. Many of the houses around the bays look expensive. Quite often the properties extend to the waterfront and so we can't take the dinghy ashore and walk along the beach. The towns have beautifully restored houses dating back to the early 18 hundreds shaded by magnificent old trees and surrounded by period gardens.


Houses along Long Island Sound

The weather has been very changeable. Some days have been very hot and others have been freezing. We have been wearing fleecy jackets and long pants at times. We have put a blanket on the bed and one night I even had a hot water bottle. About the only upside was a big pot of soup, roast vegetables for dinner and the welcomed heat from the oven. Today the weather is very unsettled with thunder, lightning and forty knot winds forecast. So far, at 12.30pm we have only seen a slight drizzle. The USA weather station is warning the public to stay indoors and that lightning can kill. I guess they have seen some bad weather patterns but for us it seems a little over the top - but who's going to argue?

The east coast of America is no place to swim. The waters have been relatively shallow and there is a lot of run off from the land and so the water clarity is poor. We can't see the ocean floor or our anchor in 3 metres of water and the water colour has ranged from brown, black/brown to murky green. Last Monday we had our first swim since 10th June (in the Abacos). The water was of the murky green variety but at least we could see down to our feet. However at our next destination Andrew decided to scrub the slime off the propeller and earth plate. He ended up covered in sea lice and some other little worm like creature that attached itself by a sucker. So considering this and a sea temperature that is currently 20.2 degrees, I think we will give swimming a miss for a while. But the anodes do need changing soon.

Yesterday we went to the Defender store in New London, Connecticut which is an online ship chandler. Andrew has been in contact with them ever since the dinghy split its seam. In fact we have been hoping that the dinghy would last long enough for us to get to Connecticut. What a terrific shop, it had a huge range of boat gear and very attentive and knowledgeable staff. We bought an aluminium/Hypalon RIB which has a hard bottom and inflated sides so sits out of the water a lot higher than our previous dinghy. Andrew says it goes faster than the old dinghy because of the hard hull. It is only 4 kilograms heavier and a little bigger so it is no problems on the davits or on the foredeck - we just have to keep the hard bits from damaging Eye Candy. But the best part is that we have been for two rides I haven't got wet - hurray!!

The Old and the New

We gave our old dinghy away to the young guy who operates the town dock taxi boat, he was thrilled and so were we - we didn't have to lug it to the bin.
We told him all about the split seam but he was unperturbed - I hope he is a good swimmer!

We will continue heading towards Maine.

Love Candy xx

At 2:53 PM20/07/2012 (utc) our position was 41°15.59'N 072°28.79'W

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Tuesday, 17 July 2012

No 23 NYC

 Hi from Clare,                                                    Monday 16th July 2012

We have spent a fantastic and frantic week in New York visiting both the city and Matthew (Andrew's son) and his wife Mim - what a city!
Ms Liberty and the Anchorage behind the Statue
Ever since we got the boat, one of my ambitions has been to sail into New York harbour and wave to the statue of Liberty. Well we did this last Sunday and I was so excited I was jumping, Andrew kept saying "settle down Clare" but there was no containing me, I was jumping for joy with a grin from ear to ear.

Historic Train Station (1896) and Ellis Is
We then anchored (as seen in the photo) in a small bay behind the statue; right in the middle of NYC, how good is that? We spent two very peaceful nights there and walked through Liberty Park viewing Ellis Island and the associated historic rail road station where thousands of hopeful refugees passed through on their way to America in the early 1900's.

On Tuesday we moved the boat to the 79th St Boat Basin in the Hudson River and took a mooring ball for the next two nights. We were located not far from where a disabled passenger plane landed in the Hudson R a few years ago. Also 79th St is close to Central Park and Broadway so we were in easy walking distance of the city.
Andrew & Mark in Timesquare and Clare with Elmo
Matt and Mim (who had been away camping for the weekend) rode their bikes through Central Park and came over for dinner on the boat. It was wonderful to see the newly weds looking fit and happy in their new environment. We also met up with an Aussie friend Mark on "Sealife" who had been at the Boat Basin for two weeks and so knew his way around the city. The following day Mark took us on a guided tour of Time Square, The Empire Sate Building, lunch on 5th Avenue, Central Station, Macy's (the department store in NY) and New York Public Library. We then stopped for cooling Ale and met up with Matt and Mim for dinner in a part of town known as Hell's Kitchen which has about a hundred restaurants one after the other and offers every imaginable cuisine. What a busy city and by the time Andrew and I got back to the boat our ears were ringing from the constant city noise.
Empire State Building
Looking West and Grand Central Station
On Thursday we moved the boat twenty four miles down to Port Washington. This is a lovely well protected bay at the end of the train line into NY. Matthew was working in Boston on Thursday and Friday and so we had time to explore the lovely little town and do some shopping and laundry. We took a mooring ball for the next few days so we could go back into the city (a 45 minute rail trip) and stay with Matt and Mim in their apartment. On Friday night we (Mark, Andrew and I) had a light meal and a few drinks at Matt and Mim's place before going to Gershwins' Porgy and Bess on Broadway. Matt organized terrific seats and we all enjoyed the show immensely. Afterward we strolled through Time Square enjoying the night life in the "city that never sleeps." There is every type of good humored street entertainment ranging from Mickey Mouse to The Naked Cowboy.
At Porgy & Bess and Clare with the Naked Cowboy
Saturday we went to Yankee Stadium for a ball game between the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Angles. What a fabulous experience and once again Matt had purchased great seats for us. We were behind the home plate with a perfect view of the game from our shaded grandstand. To complete the day, the Yankees won the match 5-3. We made our way back to Matt and Mim's apartment and then went up to one of their favorite bars for dinner.
Sunday we went into Central Park; a wonderful leafy green area which is well frequented by people of all ages. We also strolled down Madison, Park and 5th Avenue taking in all the expensive shops and posh hotels before saying goodbye until our return trip in September.
Central Park
So we are now in Northport which is 16 miles east of Port Washington. We have parted company with Mark who is staying in New York for three months. We have met up again with Innamorata and also Egret. Amanda and Patrick on Egret are the couple that lost part of their rudder when crossing the Atlantic in December. Although we have been in contact with them by radio each morning, we have only now caught up with them.

The area here is very well to do. There are mansions around the foreshore. One of them is owned by the Vanderbilt family and is now a museum and opened to the public.

Innamorata and Egret who have been here for a few days are coming over for drinks on Eye Candy in about half an hour. So we will find out what to see in town tomorrow. We will probably move on in a few days, once we work out where we are going.

Love Candy xx

At 2:01 PM10/07/2012 (utc) our position was 40°41.78'N 074°03.89'W

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Yankee Stadium

Monday, 9 July 2012

No. 22 Porstmouth, Virginia

Hi from Clare,                                                                        Saturday 7th July 2012

We are currently sailing to New York and expect to arrive early tomorrow morning.

Norfolk from our dock and the High Street Landing
We stayed four nights in the centre of Portsmouth Virginia tied up to a free dock in High Street Landing. As you can see by the photo Eye Candy, Innamorata and Flying Cloud were in an ideal location within easy walking distance to shops and restaurants. In addition our little dock was on the ferry route to the nearby city of Norfolk across the waterway.

 40 PLUS
Portsmouth was experiencing a heat wave with temperatures in the low forties each day. We did manage to do some sight seeing but the streets and shops were noticeably empty. The local radio station was advising people to stay indoors, drink plenty of water and restrict outdoor activities to early morning and evening.

We visited Norfolk and Andrew, Merryl and Walt (Flying Cloud) went to the Maritime Museum and toured the Battleship Wisconsin which served in WW11, the Korean War and the first Gulf War (Desert Storm). Unfortunately the ship wasn't air conditioned and so the hours spent there were very hot and sticky. I spent the time with Carol and Steve (Innamorata) in the air conditioned comfort of Norfolk's shopping centre; a much better idea. We didn't buy anything but it was still good to have a look around.

Iowa Battleship USS Wisconsin and Pizza night in the poolhouse

All six of us were invited to Bob and Cassy McBride's home for a swim in their pool and pizza for dinner. Bob owns Mile Marker"0" Marine Supplies and I mentioned in my last newsletter that we had a established the habit of calling into his shop (located near our boat) for an air con break.

Cruisers in the pool in 40 Celcius
So at a prescribed hour Cassy arrived in her car to help ferry us all back to their home. We had a wonderful time swimming in the pool and enjoying the air conditioned comfort of the pool house. We offered to pay for the very yummy Pizza's but Bob said "Nobody pays when they're guests in my home." Bob offered wine, beer and made fantastic Margarita's with plenty of ice. Bob and Cassy use the double story pool house for entertaining. The ground floor has plenty of tables and comfortable couches and chairs. We were also invited the use of the attached bathroom. We washed our hair and enjoyed a full shower without having to worry about limited water supply; it was heaven.

The upstairs room of the pool house is almost completely covered by two model train sets. Under the train sets are numerous model train rolling stock atill in their original boxes. It is a bit like Santa's workshop and Bob said that over the years it has been a source of enjoyment for many a child both young and old.

Andrew and Bob driving the trains

The following evening we were again all invited to Bob and Cassy's home to join them and their friends to celebrate the 4th July. Bob cooked a traditional hamburger and hot dog BBQ for twelve people. The cruisers brought salads; the friends brought pre dinner eats. The tables were weighed down with an abundance of delicious food and once again the bar was flowing. Bob said "Anything you can see here to eat or drink, you can have!"

Once again we swam, showered and I took Cassy up on her offer and washed and dried my laundry, which saved me hours of work. Bob and Cassy also offered to take us to the supermarket and alcohol shop for supplies.

Margaret and her Mother with Bob and Cassie in the background

Just on dark all twelve of us went around to a friend's waterfront apartment for a dress circle view of the fireworks. We were made extremely welcome by the owner Margaret who offered desserts, home made ice cream and cocktails. The firework display was wonderful but more so the southern hospitality to a friend's new friends is something we will never forget.

The following morning we left Portsmouth. Before our departure we called into Mile Marker "0" Marine Supplies to thank Bob and say our final farewell.
Our visit wouldn't have been complete without one of Bob's big bear hugs for both Andrew and me. He said "keep in touch, let us know how you are getting on and we would love to see you again"

Such lovely generous people and what a humbling experience. We were told by our Aussie cruising friends Annie and Liam (Gone with the Wind) that the American hospitality was next to none. However we were not prepared for the extent of the generosity. We have never been made to feel so welcome; all we can do is appreciate it and vow to pass it forward.

New York, New York and visiting with Matthew (Andrew's son) and his wife Mim - Woo Hoo!!

Love Candy xx

At 1:52 AM9/07/2012 (utc) our position was 40°41.79'N 074°03.89'W

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Tuesday, 3 July 2012

No 21 ICW to Virginia

Hi from Clare,                                                                 Monday 2nd July 2012

The town of Beaufort was our first stop when entering the ICW (Intra Coastal Waterways). It's a small holiday town with an excellent museum mostly centred on "The Golden Age of Piracy". The recovery and restoration of artifacts from Blackbeard's ship "Queen Anne's Revenge" is the corner stone of the museum.

Houses in the back streets of Beaufort

In the back streets of Beaufort I enjoyed looking at the beautifully restored 18th Century homes. I discovered late Sunday that it was an 'open day' for some of the period homes and gardens and so I missed out on a real treat.

Rain and sun along the ICW
We left Beaufort Monday morning with the flood tide pushing us up the ICW. We made it under our first 65ft bridge with about a three foot clearance. What a scary experience, I was sure we were going to hit the bridge. I planned on taking a photo but at the last minute I ducked for cover and blocked my ears. Then the heavens opened and we were pelted with torrential rain. In no time the boat was squeaky clean and so we filled our water tanks with the run off. We were glad to have full tanks as the water in the ICW is dark brown or black/ brown. A few days later we tried making some water in the ICW and blocked the water pre-filters within the first hour.

ICW housing

The ICW runs for 1200 miles from Texas to the Chesapeake Bay and beyond. The channel has been dredged out but it is very shallow on either side. Sometimes we traveled up through a canal and sometimes we were in open bays. Regardless of location we still had to follow a magenta line on the chart plotter with very little deviation. It is not possible to stay on course using the auto helm and so one of us has to be in attendance at all times.
We also downloaded some software called "Active Captain" onto our Ipad.
This has recent information provided by the many captains traveling the ICW. It covers hazards like shifting sand banks, fallen trees, temporary buoys, bridge heights, opening times, free docks, marinas and relevant VHF radio frequencies and phone numbers. We found this information invaluable, for example in one area it said "Don't follow the magenta line here or you will run aground" and sure enough when we got there we found a yacht aground and waiting for a tow boat. We paid $25 and joined Tow Boat US as towing costs can run into the hundreds for non members. So far we haven't run aground but we think we may have grazed the muddy bottom. We were motoring in 2 to 2.3 metres of water and our speed dropped from 6 knots to 5.4 knots then went back to 6 knots - that's close enough.

More ICW housing

As you can see by the photos the ICW is a lovely spot. The houses face the waterway and most properties have a jetty, some jetties have haul out facility. They houses look to be pretty safe from hurricanes - the further up the river the better.

One of the many opening bridges

We stopped for two nights just north of the Great Bridge about 12 miles south of Norfolk. By this time we were having a heat wave. We dripped perspiration all day and on the first night it was 40 degrees in the boat at 9pm. On both nights we experienced thunder storms, torrential rain and on the first night 40 knot of wind. In the day we went to the air conditioned shopping centre for relief. Apart from the heat we had a great stay there with a nice park alongside with the farmers market on Saturday morning. Beautiful fresh fruit and vege right next to the boat. There were also some clubrooms in the park that had a hose attached. We stood under the hose a few times a day, it took me back to my youth when on a hot day Mum used to say "If you are hot, go and run under the hose". Before leaving we hooked the hoses up and filled our water tank.

Great Bridge and the park alongside the ICW
We are currently in Portsmouth which is directly opposite Norfolk. Thanks to the info in Active Captain we have found a free dock. It is only a short ferry ride across to the city of Norfolk. We are with Carol and Steve from "Innamorata" and Merryl and Walt from "Flying Cloud" (they caught up this morning). Yesterday when we arrived it was extremely hot and so we made a few trips to the ship chandlers for an Air Con break. By the end of the day were quite friendly with the owner. He is a very nice Scottish chap with an American wife. He said the heat wave was unusual for this time of the year and offered for us to bring our beds over and sleep in the shop overnight. We said thanks but we will stay on the boats. He then supplied free beers all round from his office fridge and we sat around being entertained by one of the locals telling jokes - he was a very good story teller and had us in fits of laughter.

So far we have found the American people to be extremely hospitable. We have been offered visits to houses and the use of cars. When we arrived here yesterday an employee from the ship chandler came out to handle our lines. He then came back with an information kit with brochures, maps and local magazines. The also offered to drive us free of charge to the supermarket and liquor store for provisioning. We are not used to such generosity and when I said so the response was "hospitality is what it's all about, isn't it"?

We will stay here for the 4th July celebrations. The fireworks over the city of Norfolk are best seen from this side of the river. If we want to catch the ferry over the last return trip is 11pm.

The weather today is a little cooler and at least we have a breeze. Later this afternoon we will have a walk around town. This morning Andrew installed a fan in our cabin so I am quite looking forward to going to bed tonight.

Thursday or as soon as the weather permits we will continue north to New York. We will leave the ICW and do a two-day passage on the outside.

Love Candy xx

At 3:01 AM2/07/2012 (utc) our position was 36°50.13'N 076°17.80'W

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