First Passage Done

Blog (2)
Sunrise indicating the end of our night watch

We spent three and a half days moving Tortuga from her winter home in Deltaville, Virginia to a temporary mooring at City Island, NY.  The sail was a mixed bag.  We set out and did a 36-hour sail to Atlantic City, with an off-shore, overnight passage up the Delaware and New Jersey coasts. The winds increased throughout the morning and we sailed hard with 30 knots off the port beam screaming up the coast.

In Atlantic City, we grabbed a slip for the night, got cleaned up, had a decent meal and passed out early.

The next day brought a nice breeze as we sailed towards New York’s Sandy Hook. We even set the lines to put up the Parasailor up until the wind kicked up again. You could still see and feel the effects of Hurricane Sandy along the coast. The ghosts of the epic winds and waves made for a bit of a lonely and eerie experience.

Just after dark we dropped anchor in a protected cove with a distant view of the Manhattan skyline and the lights of Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

The next day was strictly a motoring affair across a crazy NYC Harbor, past the Statue of Liberty, along Manhattan, up the East River, past the United Nations, Riker’s Island, and finally to City Island Yacht Club. It was like having a close-up tour of New York from a perspective that many people don’t get to see. The navigation was not hard, but there were certainly places where you could misstep and find yourself in a spot.

We spent a whole day fixing things that broke along the way, cleaned some clothes at a nearby laundromat, and closed Tortuga up for two weeks as we returned to Chicago and our day jobs.

The plan is for me to return to the boat in late May and continue to fix a couple of items.  It seems that the “To-Do List” is an ongoing animal.  Janet and Christoper will come onboard in June and we’ll set out up Long Island Sound and towards New England.

Blog (3)
Janet helming with a nice breeze
Blog (4)
New York skyline back there somewhere
Blog (5)
Janet up the mast before we left, checking the rigging
Blog (1)
Tortuga’s saloon
Blog (6)
Crowded NYC Harbor. That’s us (black triangle) in the middle of it all.

We’re Sailing!

Sailing and sun rising
Sailing and sun rising

Thinking that we would ease into sailing was not the case, but exciting nonetheless. We thought that we would take the first day to work on some docking skills, but instead set sail heading for the Atlantic straight away. Our two options were to go up the Chesapeake Bay and into the C&D Canal or head south towards Cape Henry and the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Flexibility and adaptability are key to sailing, so given the weather conditions we opted for the latter, which also meant an overnight sail on the ocean.


Entering the Atlantic Ocean from the Chesapeake Bay
Entering the Atlantic Ocean from the Chesapeake Bay

As we approached the entrance of the bay, we had, again, two options. There is a 20 mile long bridge/tunnel that connects one side of Virginia to Virginia Beach. We could go under the North Channel Bridge or go ‘over’ the tunnel. The air draft of Tortuga is about 70 feet and the clearance of the bridge is 75 feet. That was not enough clearance for us to comfortably go under without risking any damage. So we went over; the same route that the big container ships go through.

The best part of the passage was that as we got into the ocean, we saw several pods of dolphins swimming along in the distance…close enough to know they were dolphins. One dolphin even jumped out of the water and did a flip!

Getting Ready To Go

Janet, 70-feet up the mast working on the rigging
Janet, 70-feet up the mast working on the rigging 

Over the winter Janet and I made a “to-do” list for Tortuga that was almost five pages long.  We put everything on it that we could envision needing to be done.  For the past month I’ve lived aboard, both up on “sticks” and afloat in a slip, stepping through the daunting list.  Janet has been back and forth from Chicago a couple of times, carving days out of her busy schedule to lend a hand and moreover to inspect my progress.

Today, we are pretty much set.  All of the tasks have been completed, the things that I broke along the way have been repaired, and new tasks have been identified.  It’s an on-going struggle to keep all of the systems running in optimal shape.  The engineering education has been staggering.

We plan to spend a day or so here in Deltaville waiting for our weather window to head north.  Our first stop will be City Island, NY.  This is a 30+ hour sail depending on the weather.  We’ll break it up over two or three days.

Once in NY, we plan to put Tortuga on a mooring ball for a week or so while we return to our day jobs, and prepare for another push north up into New England.  We’re taking our time, waiting for good weather and tide windows, fixing and improving things as we go.