Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Foggy Day - Part 2 - Rowing to the City Island Bridge

It was a misty day, high of 45 as a big low pressure system moved up the coast. A steady 10-12 mph breeze blew right out of the east. Visibility of 1/4 mile kept me a couple hundred yards off shore as I rowed my 8 foot injection-molded plastic dinghy the mile from City Island YC to the City Island bridge.

I hope the City stays broke for a while - and does not implement the Department of Design & Construction's plan for a modern bridge to replace it. It is a steel swing bridge, rotating on a central pedestal. At least it did. It doesn't open any more.

And I hope they take down that ugly cyclone fence. Why do they want to obstruct fishermen? They do no harm and can be easily found if they get out of hand. They'll be waiting at their favorite spots hoping a fish will bite.

Here is the photostream for the day. It was a landmark: I have rowed my boat at least once in each month of the year!

A foggy day - Part 1 - Hunter Island

Today the tide was high - a predicted 8.6 feet flooded the marsh at Pelham Bay Park, Hunter Island preserve. I think dogs bred as hunters are part of the natural environment.

James was in his native environment and happy, as you can see.

This is the Bronx!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Volvo: Qingdao to Rio - 40 days

Ericsson 3 and Ericsson 4 finished 1-2 in the Qingdao to Rio leg.  12,300 miles of glorious sailing, danger, and discomfort.  40 days - February 14 - March 26.  40 days without a hot shower.

The hobbled Telefonica Blue was still 600 miles from the finish in light air when the Ericsson boats landed.  A particularly welcome landing for Ericsson 4 skipper Torben Grael, the great Brazilian Olympian and America's Cup skipper, who was greeted by his wife and daughter.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pilots in the Penobscot Bay

Tugster's recent post about Sandy Hook pilots reminded me of a smoky afternoon in summer 2005 as I headed single-handed in the 18 foot Parker skiff down the edge of the West Penobscot Bay shipping channel - bound for North Haven for a look-see.  Out of the mist appeared a huge bulk carrier with a pilot boat escort.  When something like that appears suddenly at 11 O'Clock one mile off it is alarming.

The size of the ship that is shown by the way it dwarfs the little (80 foot?) PenBay pilot boat.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Peking - under tow - and at the Horn

The Peking is a legendary ship - one of the last great cargo ships to ply its trade under wind power.  And because of the legendary film footage (below) by Capt. Irwin Johnson who went aloft in horrific conditions to document the storm we know something of its adventures.

The ship belongs to South Street Seaport Museum and resides next to the Wavertree.   Tugster's partner caught her under tow in January 2008.  

The last time we had a Tall Ships visit to NY (was that 2000?) the Wavertree was cleared by  the Coast Guard to put up some canvas, but the Peking not.

At least it's in the water - unlike the great Danish warship the Fregatten Jylland - perfectly preserved but sitting in a dry concrete berth, in Ebeltoft, Jutland.

Bowsprite has posted these lovely watercolors (and more), with conscientiously drawn and delighful details of the great ship.  

And  Tugster has historical shots of the old bulk carrier.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Volvo: Around the Horn w/o a Forestay

Bouwe Bekking and the crew of Telefonica Blue have rounded the Horn.  They did the last 2,000 of the 10,000 mile jaunt from Qingdao with no forestay.  A jury rigged jib halyard did the job.  2,00 miles to go to Rio.  One hopes there will be a stop in Ushuaia for a new fitting, though no announcement yet.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Presidio Yacht Club

At the base of the north tower is the Golden Gate Motor Lifeboat Station, U.S.C.G., and the Travis Marina, home of the Presidio Yacht Club.  It is affiliated with the Travis Air Force Base, the heir of the Ft. Baker garrison which once manned the fearsome batteries that guarded the approaches to San Francisco Bay from Point Reyes to the Gate.

There I spent five days aboard the Herreshoff H-28 Fjord, a fine boat whose captain earned his slip under fire forty years ago.
The full slide show is here

Volvo: Green Dragon rounds Horn on St. Paddy's Day

Four of the five boats still racing have rounded the Horn.  Telefonica Blue - amazingly - is still racng - though 700+ miles from the leader and 500 miles from the Cape.  Impressive when you know they have no forestay.

And the Irish-crewed, Chinese-built Green Dragon rounded on St. Patrick's Day.  Normally I hate images of leprechauns and silly hats, but you have to forgive this one.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Day's Work for Katherine Walker

Buoy tending at the GWB - replacing the ice buoy with the lighted tower in the morning, heading home at 18:00.

How to top Southbound 650 - hoof it

Southbound 650 was a great feat - Kawasaki 650 from Roxbury, NY to Tierra Del Fuego.
But Comrade Li hoofed it - horse hooves from the  Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia to Beijing.

There are more pictures here of the modern Marco Polo's journey to the east, the proud arrival in Beijing of the mixed Chinese-Russian rider who crossed Eurasia on horseback.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Goliath crane under tow to Romania

On March 7 the tug Allie B headed out to sea from Boston with the giant Quincy shipyards crane on a barge called Brooklyn Bridge, bound for Romania.

Tugster has all the details and links to photos.
Images above courtesy of Kreative Licence Art Studio where the entire voyage is tracked here

Volvo: Iceberg at 2 O'Clock

Green Dragon (the Irish/Chinese consortium) is sailing at 50 degrees South - what should be above the ice zone (that's why there are ice gates - to keep boats out of the ice zone.  But the icebergs don't know about the rules.

They saw three last night - and then these during the day.  Here is the video

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Volvo: Just for the fun of it

Average boat speed 22.5 knots

Maybe 2,000 miles from the Horn.

Not so much when you are doing 500 nm days

5 day forecast predicts winds 35 - 50 kts at the Cape

Here's some fire hose planing video

Victory - Rich Wilson Finishes Vendee RTW Solo

Published: March 11, 2009
At age 58, Rich Wilson is the oldest sailor to finish the grueling round-the-world Vendée Globe ocean race and only the second American
And for more details check the Vendee Globe site

Monday, March 9, 2009

Richard Hudson: Issuma Back in the Water

No blog post yet, but this shot from Richard's picasa photostream during a sail on the river from Buenos Aires to La Plata demonstrates virtues common to Richard's summer crews.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Vendee: Downwind for Rich Wilson - Sunday Arrival

Rich Wilson is sailing downwind for Les Sable D'Olonne, France, about to complete the solo, non-stop circumnavigation in 118 days.  The 59 year old American, aboard Great American III has not had an easy go of it, but he is on the verge of finishing in 9th position with two boats behind him.  19 starters retired. Vincent Riou was given redress for the damage he suffered in rescuing Jean Le Cam, whose boat capsized and turtled when the ballast bulb was lost.  Here's the link to the Vendee Globe

Volvo: Half-way to Rio, leader loses forestay

Pity Telefonica Blue and its crew. What can you say when you're 6,000 miles from port with 6,000 miles to go and the forestay fitting snaps in two?  

A jury rig with halyards will keep the mast up so long as the wind is at your back.  But you're crippled upwind.  And half-way between you and Rio is Cape Horn.  Port William in Chile is one possiblity - but that's 3,000 miles.  Heading west to New Zealand for repairs is another - but that's upwind - and the winds are light in that direction.

Other than that all is copacetic in the fleet with only 96 nm separating 1st from 5th place 3 weeks out of Qingdao, as they head east to the two ice gates - mid-Pacific points above which the boats must pass  to stay clear of the iceberg zone.  And points are gained for your position at each gate.

Here's the Race Data Centre. Check the 2D viewer when you get there.

The next step in drug cases: product stewardship

My comments on the landmark preemption decision of the United States Supreme Court in Wyeth v. Levine have been moved to my new blog - Otherwise, Commentaries on Law, Language & Politics 

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

1A - My Monhegan skiff

I'll tell the full story when I get the facts straight, launch it in Maine, and have some time to tell the tale.  The short of it is I just closed the deal on Sherm's skiff - an 11 foot Monhegan skiff that I bought from the kind folks at Carpenter's Boatshop in Pemaquid.

It will spend summers on the Back River, behind our cottage in Friendship.

The green one is mine - 1A. (story to follow)

The other shot is to demonstrate a Monhegan skiff in action on Monhegan.  Good for two men and a 50 lb barrel of bait.  I won't carry that much bait - but I will carry 60 lbs of Labrador Retriever.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Somebody's gotta do it!

And that may be East River Rigging - when you need a guy (or doll) to scale the walls, looking for leaks and loose cornices.

Buoys of Summer

Yesterday's snow day and today's bright skies have me thinking of summer. The Katherine Walker reminded me of a day two summers ago when Nancy and I took the Parker to Rockland, ran into Jeff en famille on High Idle, had lunch, and headed home via Muscle Ridge Channel. A story with a storm.

But it was the buoys on the seawall that the Katherine Walker dropping the summer buoy in at West 181 and the River brought to mind.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Snow Day on the North River

 A late winter storm is blowing through, with 5 inches of snow on the first pass.  Mid-day highs in low 20's and wind 20 NNW.

The river is ice-free and the highways clear.  Light fuel barges seek shelter in the North River anchorage in the lee of the Palisades.  The Little Red Lighthouse  stands watch under the GW Bridge at Ft. Washington Point.

Just to the left of the tower and above the roadway you can make out the seawall and docks of North Hudson Yacht Club (where I used to keep North River 1 and 2) and Von Dohln's marina next door.  Nautical havens saved by stubbornness (Von Dohln) and developer's distress (N. Hudson Y.C. - the guys sold the 100 y.o. club's land for $250k each, and now run it like a private boatyard, waiting for the shovel that Reaganomics promised but did not deliver before the bubble burst).