Category: New York State

To New York, and Beyond!

We’re bouncing back, baby!!!!

So we were stuck in Haverstraw Marina (aka purgatory) for a couple weeks, but we’re outta there!

So our roller furling repair was quoted at $3200, but we managed to get out of there for under $1600 (thanks to some sweat equity courtesy of Caitie and yours truly)  We’re outta there!

So we had one nasty experience at anchor where it was blowing 20+ knots the night we left the marina, resulting in shifts sleeping/watching for anchor slippage, but at least WE’RE OUTTA THERE!

Frankly everything is looking up – We’re making progress again.  Who knew how good it felt to be on the move (and, more importantly), have decent weather!

Trying out the new headstay w/New York City in the distance

Trying out the new headstay w/New York City in the distance


Today we did the rip down the Hudson River to Sandy Hook, New Jersey.  At first, we weren’t sure how far we were going to get (because I, Mark, slept in this morning after a long and tiring night on anchor watch Wednesday).  We were targeting an anchorage behind the Statue of Liberty for an afternoon anchor…but as soon as we hit New York Harbour, we had the current in our favour and were going 10-11 knots!!  It was the fastest we’d been in the boat, and was extra crazy due to the hundreds of other boats/ferries flying around in all directions.

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Needless to say…we were happy to get through that chaos and decided to stretch it the extra 15 miles to Sandy Hook.

The anchoring process here wasn’t fun (first solid argument b/w Caitie and I so far), but we got it on the 4th try.

Even after that stress, though, we had a magic moment where a gorgeous white dove landed on the boat out of nowhere.  We were both a little awestruck…we continued our anchoring and he hopped onto my shoulder!!  It was so surreal!  Then he flew over to Caitie’s shoulder!!  We took the mandatory pics and feel it must have been a good omen.  Right?!

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Tomorrow just may be the day we start our trek down the Atlantic coast.  Wish us luck!


NYC: Take two

A few posts ago I alluded to an issue with our roller furling headstay in the mast re-step day post, but didn’t go into much detail because I’d jury rigged a solution that I thought would work.  My solution was pretty crude and frankly it wasn’t sitting well with us, so we decided to get an expert opinion…

The expert opinion we got wasn’t positive…basically the top section of the roller furling extrusion (where the forestay from the front of the boat meets the top of the mast) had sheared off.  This we knew.  What we didn’t know, was that the forestay itself had been damaged in the process, which could put the entire rigging system (AKA what holds the mast up) at risk.  Basically we were looking at a new forestay and replacing the top extrusion of the furler.  Further complicating the process, this would require disassembling the entire system and then reassembling it with our new part, something that came in quoted at up to 20 hours of labour.

-yes I know these all sound like technical terms for the uninitiated…if I lost ya, just scroll through the photos :)

We got a quote to do the work in the neighborhood of $3200 (WHICH SEEMED CRAZY!), so we asked the guy to let us do some of our own labour to get the hours down.  He obliged, and we got right to disassembly with a blowtorch, awl, hammer, and vice grips as soon as the furler was down.

It all went really well except for ONE roll pin which took over 50% of total time spent to get it out.

Once disassembled, we sent the connection pieces off (to the guy assembling the new forestay) and are waiting anxiously to hear some good news about reassembly early this week.  HOWEVER, since no one was working on the weekend…BACK TO NEW YORK CITY!!!

This time, however, we had the pleasure of meeting up with our good friends Tom and Mel!!

We covered a lot of ground in less than 36 hours in the city!!!  Chelsea, East Village, Greenwich Village, Midtown, Brooklyn, and Wall St….our feet were sore and we were happy.  We took a coupla photos where we got engaged last week in Central Park and scoped out the NY waterfront by the financial district…it looked like a rough day out there, so we’ll be targeting calmer conditions for our passage!

It’s been an amazing weekend and we’re ready to get back at ‘er tomorrow.

Sailing has everything

After riding a high of a New York weekend and engagement, we are back on the boat in Haverstraw, struggling through delays for parts, bad weather, and crummy docking experiences.  During rainy nights like these we are drawn to re-reread a journal entry Mark made at the beginning of our trip.

We often say that “sailing has everything”.

Massive highs, massive lows and the swings in between. Boredom, excitement, terror, enthusiasm. It offers a chance to practice tenacity, relaxation, thoughtfulness, conscientiousness. A place to fix things, break things, solve problems and make them. It challenges your mind and body, while satisfying a sense of adventure.

Sailing teaches you to appreciate the simplest things: Food, water, shelter, weather, power, and (not to mention) a hot shower. Sailing gives you the time and the opportunity to stare out over the horizon for hours, to see sunrises and sunsets in the same day, to go wherever your heart desires and to respect nature because ultimately it has the final say.

We often say you can’t have a schedule, more of a plan with a backup plan…and a backup to the backup plan…and plans change.

You learn to appreciate the sunny days until there are too many in a row, then you appreciate the clouds. You learn to crave wind in the doldrums and calm in a storm.

There’s always something to do if you want to do it, but you don’t always have to do it right away. Sailing gives you a chance to do what you want to do, be who you want to be, and figure out just how the hell you’re gonna get there.

Sailing has everything.

New Solenoid, New York, New News

We’re a little overdue for a post, so here goes!

Where did we leave off….Poughkeepsie @ Mariners on the Hudson (Wednesday last week)?  Yeah that’s about right…What can I say?  It was nice to have a place to tie the boat, but resulted in the worst nights sleep due to the current/waves/exposed nature of the place.

Also, it was quite literally the shittiest dock we’ve ever had the pleasure of stepping onto (tip of the cap to the seagulls & geese that call this dock home – nice work guys)


From there we went to Haverstraw Bay, and after navigating the tricky entrance, we had two of the nicest days at anchor.  The weather was great, the anchor held well, and it was nice to have some solitude for a change.  I managed to sneak ashore and grab a replacement zinc for the heat exchanger (thank god – see photo below comparing new & old), and we caught an amazing sunrise on the morning we departed.

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We then headed over to Half Moon Bay Marina, where we kept the boat for the weekend while we dashed into the city!!!  Although we were keen to get lots of photos in the big apple, we only got two at the train station on the way in.  We got ZERO photos in the city itself…and frankly weren’t too bummed about that.  We were pre-occupied with soaking up the awesomeness.

We had an amazing time even though it was just a couple of days blasting around Manhattan and Brooklyn.  It’s always so fun going to NYC – there’s always something new to discover.

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After the weekend, we came back to a boat that wouldn’t start.  At all.  We’d been having problems with our starter solenoid, and it seems like it had finally died for good.  Steve (marina manager/nicest guy ever) ripped us across the river in his jetboat to buy a replacement from the marine store across the way, and $40 later I’d picked up a new/better version of the solenoid (see below – the new one is heavy duty/steel, the old one is plastic).  After the installation, Tara turned over instantly, and put a big smile on my face.


Oh yeah one more thing…we got engaged this weekend!  Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving!


Days of our lives

Approaching Haverstraw cove after a long day motoring down the Hudson River.  We’d done lengthy research about how tricky the entrance is (only 5-6 feet deep at low water + a 2 foot deep submerged concrete hazard/island on the north side of the channel), and we were watching the depth sounder closely.  We had read that the hazard may or may not be marked, and having never been here before were weary about what we may/may not find.

Caitie: “OK I’m going to the bow to post a lookout.  Call out the depths to me”

Mark: “OK, hold on…just in case we do touch ground, hang on…you may jerk forward”

C: OK.

M: Um…4 feet on the depth sounder.

C: Really?!

M: 3.8 feet…?!


M:  We’re not aground though!  The boat is floating….we’re not aground yet.  It should be 6 feet in one boat length…

C: Don’t get too close to these submerged pilings on the south side either…

M: Ok.  5 feet

M: Ok. 7 feet

M: 9 feet

C: (thumbs up)

C:  OK, the submerged wall is definitely marked.  See the two markers on the north side of the channel?

M: Yep!  11 feet

C: (thumbs up)

Mark and Caitie continue on, inching their way ahead on the south shore of the channel, eventually getting into 20 feet of water and dropping the anchor.  

FAST FORWARD to 20 min later…Safely anchored, first beer cracked.

C: Hey looks like we might have a motor boat joining us

M: …

C: Um, is he going to avoid the submerged wall?

M: Doesn’t look like it.  Should I say something?  (does nothing)

C: Oh my god, he thinks the obstruction markers are channel markers…he’s going between them!

M: …

C: …

SLAM.  The motor boat runs aground SO HARD he pops up and is stuck on the submerged wall.

C: oh my gosh did that just happen?

M: Yeah he is completely stuck.  Jesus.  (thinking should I pump up the dinghy and go help him??)

C: Is he going to try to to through again?

M: No way…he’s going to pop it in reverse and try to GTFO.

Boat reverses (medium throttle) and nothing happens.  Boat owner starts leaning over the side and reverses (full throttle) and boat starts to come loose…he finally comes free and turns to leave the anchorage with his tail between his legs.  Mark and Caitie sit and stare in awe.


WHEW!  What a day.  Stepping the mast was, frankly, pretty easy with the help of Sean and the guys at Hop-O-Nose marina…the hard part was rigging everything afterwards!  Good news is, she’s finally up and ready to rumble.

There was a little drama again with the roller furler (more on that later), but otherwise it went up without a hitch.  WOOT

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We’re going to stay here one more night before continuing our trek south down the Hudson River.

When and If

So we rocked the locks.  Awesome.   Done and dusted.

The most amazing part was that the weather held out for us the WHOLE time as we went through the canal.  Those photos of tank tops, sunscreen, and bandanas?  Yeah they were real, but don’t worry we’re rocking the warm gear now…

When we were finally spit out into the Hudson, we decided that we’d earned a chill day.  After a week of averaging over 50 miles a day, we were actually pretty tired…WATERFORD was the spot.  There was rain in the forecast, so we cranked up the iPads for an afternoon of decompressing….ahhhhhh

The highlight of the stop (and the only thing I shot photos of) was the gorgeous 1939 John Alden designed 63-foot wooden schooner that was docked next to us.  We instantly made friends with Doug, Ron, Bill, and Larry and were graciously hosted by (Captain) Ron for dinner aboard on Saturday night.  This boat is amazing – has been completely restored from the ground up over the past two years.  Check out their Facebook page or this story for photos and info on this massive project.

Much thanks to Ron, Doug, and the crew!  I hope to see them (and the boat with the masts up) down south sometime soon :)

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TOMORROW IS RE-STEP DAY for the mast.  I’m not nervous.  No really!  I’m not.

LOCKTOBERfest / OPTROP’s Guide on how to transit an Erie Canal lock

We’ve now transitted 35 locks of the New York State Canal System, through the Erie Canal from Buffalo to Albany, NY, and frankly we are quite happy to be done with elevation change for a while.Why are we so relieved to be out?  Because going through locks is tiring, tedious and dangerous (more so than we originally thought).  Effectively, your boat (along with a few others) will enter a cement chamber ~300 feet long x ~45 feet wide, with gates at either end that close you in, like a caged wild animal.  And like a caged animal, your sailboat will not happily sit still in the cage, but rather squirm around as the Lockmaster lets the water in or out, and you will try to hold it in place with boat hooks and the slimy, wet ropes that are attached to the cement walls (you’re going to want to watch out for the aqua spiders that hide on them too, too).  During this process, you try not to scrape or slime your boat and also avoid hitting the multi-million dollar power yachts beside you as the water swirls around.  It’s stressful, don’t let my smile fool you.We are happy to say we avoided any collisions or scrapes, but for anyone else planning a similar voyage, here are our 5 top tips for lock success:

5) Have a plan for how your boat can pull up nicely parallel to a very tall (or very short, depending on which way the water is going) cement wall.  Some power boats have bow-thrusters that do this for them very nicely, but we just used our one propellor (and its prop walk) and a very carefully timed slow down, docking technique with boat hooks, fenders and lines. We watched some entertaining docking events go down in locks among crews who had not planned how they were going to get alongside the wall (short story – lots of swearing, some mild boat/wall smashing, maybe some tears).

4) Have the right equipment for protecting your boat.  We used lots of fenders, and a DIY fender board for this.  Having some old lines that you don’t mind getting slimed from the walls are great too, as sometimes there are fixed lines or cables (versus attached at the top but free swinging below) and you can loop a line around these to hold yourself in place.  Just be careful not to get them caught as your boat is going up or down (same for your fenderboard!) or you’ll have a bad time.

3) Have the right equipment for your crew, which for us meant work gloves and boat hooks (or any sturdy long stick used to push off the wall).  The ropes that you grab onto spend most of their lives sitting in swamp water, growing all sorts of new slime forms and just waiting to slip out of your hands.  They’re disgusting, and you definitely don’t want to bite your nails after handling them.

2) Slow down when entering the lock.  There is a finite “runway” to these “landing strips” of cement, and you do not want to slam into the boat in front of you, or the metal gates at the other end.  Also, we’re learning very quickly that a 40 foot boat keeps a lot more momentum than the 27 footer we’re used to, and it’s not easy or safe to try and manually slow these boats down without a cleat (there are lots of rings, but these take an additional couple of seconds to thread a line through).  Although Mark has now nearly mastered our clockwise prop walk, it can be a bit unnerving to see your stern moving towards the boat tied beside you as you back up.

1) Pay careful attention while descending or ascending.  CONSTANT VIGILANCE.  Or you’ll hit your boat against the wall / your boat against someone else’s boat.  Since our boat is shaped like an almond and not like a rectangle (looking at you, house boats of the Erie Canal), we don’t have one nice long flat surface to line up against a wall, but instead will swing as the water swirls around us, unless we are in a constant state of push and pull to keep ourselves straight.

We loved the scenery, people and free docks we’ve encountered along the Erie Canal…but we are very happy to be heading out of our landlocked waterway and onto the Hudson River.

(Alec) Baldwinsville

The whole point of this post is to show this ridiculously good looking sunrise that I photographed while leaving Baldwinsville.  Tagline, “Just coffee, no filter”.


Sure, there are other cool sights (check out this old aqueduct!), but basically it’s a lot of…canal…and more canal.  They don’t call this “the ditch” for no reason.

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Oh and here’s a shot of the janky set of pilings that we had to tie to in Rome, NY…we wouldn’t fit on the “nice” dock with our 55+ foot mast sticking off either end of the deck…


Good news is – we’ve basically crossed the halfway point!  As of tonight we are tied up to Lock 16.  Hopefully, if all goes well, We’ll be in the Hudson by this weekend!

Let’s hear it for New York, New York, NEWWWWWW YORRRRRRRRKKKK

Small towns of the Erie Canal – our aquatic road trip of Upstate New York

We have almost been en route for a week now, and since we’ve entered the Erie Canal, our days have been filled with the quiet waterways, beautiful greenery and quaint canalside towns of upstate New York. The leaves are just starting to change, and although the evenings and mornings are chilly, the days heat up to sunscreen weather by lunchtime.

These have been our views for 7-10 hours a day lately:

Occasionally we transit a lock (we have ~35 to do to get all the way down to the Hudson River, more on those to come…), but otherwise we mostly motor along, taking it all in. Although it looks easy enough, it’s a very narrow and shallow channel (7-12 ft deep, and maybe 100 ft wide) and it takes steady concentration to avoid the various logs, shallow spots and curves the canal throws at us.
Each night we end up at a small town and tie up to one of their free docks (sometimes with free water, pump out and power too!). So far we’ve been to Holley, Fairport and Clyde, NY. These towns often have a lot of historical significant with the original Erie Canal (you can read more about that here) and we’ve enjoyed exploring these stops after our long motoring days.

Mark and Tara at the Fairport dock\

Fall flowers in full bloom / bicycle wheels to edge the gardens

We also have loved seeing the old canal barges and tugs that worked for the New York State Canal System, as well as the local boats who make this place their summertime home.

Canal selfie.  Canalfie.

Home sweet home!