Wednesday, October 3, 2012


It might not seem like it, but when you sail down the coast from Cape Cod, you head West, not South.  From Hadley Harbor, near Wood's Hole on Cape Cod, we sailed about 38 miles to Newport, Rhode Island.  When we arrived, we found  Deer Dancer, a 70 foot Deerfoot and the last Deerfoot of any size to be built.  We met the captain who is delivering her to the Carolinas and took a tour below.  She's a great boat.

Newport is the place where they once held the America's Cup regatta, but that's a long story and now there are lots of places that once held  America's Cup regattas including San Diego!  Anyway, back then people with lots of money financed a Cup contender on their own, and Newport was just the place for it.  

"The Breakers"

This is a place with a long history of people, like the Vanderbilts, with lots of money, classic yachts, and unbelievable mansions.  We toured five of the famous mansions of the "gilded age" over two days.   

The "gilded age" came just before the "income-tax age", but lasted long enough to give us these beautiful examples of what to do if we ever get that rich.  It was fascinating to see how the buildings incorporated hidden passages and rooms for all the butlers, and other staff. Mind you, these were just summer cottages used for only eight or nine weeks per year, so they really only needed to accommodate a staff of around 40.

They liked to import amazing trees from far away and plant them around their surrounding acres.

Harold Vanderbilt loved racing big sailboats and did well enough to fill a room at the "Breakers" mansion (pictured above) with trophies.  He defended the America's cup three times.  This room also features the wooden steering wheel that was fitted on several of Vanderbilt's yachts, including Ranger, his 134' J class sloop in which he defended the cup in 1937.  The names of all the yachts this wheel steered are carved in the wheel.

The weather became blustery and threatened rain, so we hired a car and drove along the coast to Mystic Seaport in Connecticut.  Here they feature old fashioned trades used in shipbuilding like barrel making, blacksmithing, rope making, rigging, you name it.  You can walk from one shop to another and witness the actual making of old stuff (only new).  We found this great anchor for Moonshadow.  It's the only one we've seen bigger than ours!

They even had a really big block for lifting really heavy stuff like other really big blocks!

We had been getting really hungry for a good sail and found the conditions just right on our sail to Shelter Island.  The East-South-East wind built to the mid twenties and we had over 30 knots true wind* for about an hour.  This built a short steep sea which we were able to surf and now we have a new (for us) maximum water speed record of 14.5 knots.  The distance of 55 nautical miles was covered in just 6 hours.  Like!

Fortunately for us, the wind was well aft so we were comfortably gliding along, but had we wanted to go the other direction, it would not have been fun at all.

Below is a video of what it's like aboard Moonshadow doing 9, 10 and 11 knots.
Click on the arrow to play, then click the box [ ] in the lower right to watch full screen

As we entered the East end of Long Island Sound on our approach to Shelter Island, the tide began to ebb against the wind and the seas got considerably meaner looking.  We met this tug heading the opposite direction and watched him take waves clear over the bridge.

It got really cold and rainy so as soon as we anchored, we closed up Moonshadow and went below.  The next day the wind had blown itself out so we motored 90 miles west to Port Washington on the west end of Long Island Sound and did some laundry.

Then it was on to New York City.  You get there through the "East River", which is not a river at all, but rather a "tidal basin" between Long Island Sound and New York Harbor.

The tide runs through a narrow section called Hells Gate at up to five knots, so you want to navigate this area on a slack tide, which for us was 1130 on a beautiful blue sky day.

As it happens, "slack tide" lasts for just a few minutes, so we had a three knot push into New York Harbor after we cleared Hells Gate.

This is the way to arrive into New York City!  You begin to get a scale of the size of Manhattan's sky scrapers two hours away and the view outside the front porch just gets better and better.

We were also lucky to arrive just after the United Nations had a big meeting which closed the East River on the Manhattan side of Roosevelt island.

East River, Manhattan, United Nations, Brooklyn Bridge, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.  All these places you've heard of all your life are suddenly sliding by at 11 knots and you find yourself dumped into New York Harbor where the East River and the Hudson meet.  One look at all the AIS targets on the chart plotter is all you need to know this is the BIG CITY!

Ellis Island

Lady Liberty

The view from the channel into 
Moonshadow's anchorage

Thanks to that swift current in the East River, we arrived early enough to still do some sights including Wall Street and Times Square.

You see all kinds of people at Times Square!!

We finally took the last ferry across the harbor where Moonshadow was quietly waiting for us.  The walk along the waterfront from the ferry offered a beautiful view of the city and Miss Liberty.

Next day we hurried to the ferry for an attraction we really wanted to see. Words cannot describe, so please check out the video below. It speaks for itself...
Click on the arrow to play, then click the box [ ] in the lower right to watch full screen

* true wind:  When you stand in the parking lot and measure the wind, that's "true wind".  When you stand on Moonshadow which is sailing at, say 10 knots (I like saying that!), and measure the wind, you are measuring "apparent wind", the combination of the true wind and the wind you add or subtract by moving through the air.  Our instruments can factor out the boat's speed and direction to display "true wind".


Jeff Cook said...

Hey Guys,
Great trip log. A little bit of everything.
I wanted to comment on the black motor yacht you included in your post. If I am right, this once belonged to Tom Perkins, the venture capitalist from Marin County (of ''Maltese Falcon fame). Her name escapes me (as does almost everything else these days.) He had her in the Med 10-12 or so years ago and once entertained an aging Patrick O'Brian on board. To Perkin's amazement, O'Brian had never set foot on a boat, despite the 23 odd novels he wrote. The stories get a bit fuzzy after that, but it includes mal de mer and a mouth akin to FM Johnny.
The boat was on the west coast maybe five years ago and end tied at D Dock at our marina in Richmond. Jim DeWitt did a terrific painting of her, just like he did of us!!!

John and Deb Rogers said...

"private video" issue fixed

Dewey said...

Another great blog account. Keep them coming. Also, if you are still in NY, go visit Jorli. She works in world trade center building three at American Express.

Post a Comment