“The best thing you could do would be to leave it alone” Halsey Herreshoff

As Halsey Herreshoff noted, some things are best left alone.  Halsey, a boat designer and builder and grandson of Nathaniel Herreshoff, was speaking of the design of his grandfather’s famed Long Island Sound sailboat, the S-Boat, more about which in a minute.  Halsey’s advice, however, might apply more broadly to Long Island Sound itself where Eulalie honed her racing skills while in high school and where forty years later, Elizabeth Jean relaxed and recreated for much of this July and early August.  Our time in the sound offered Eulalie a poignant trip down memory’s wake spurred by her encounter with the proud and patient owner of an S-Boat.  Later, as we sashayed up the Sound, an array of stakes poking above the water kept us alert.  “Oyster Stakes” our charts informed us.  More abundant than Eulalie recalled, the stakes signify an oyster boom.  The Sound’s restoring health, much the same as the S-Boat’s Phoenix-like renewal warmed Eulalie’s return to her early proving grounds.

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Our arrival at the Brewer Post Marina in Mamaroneck, New York coincided with the marina’s annual barbecue.  There we met Bill who showed us the S-Boat he was restoring.  The vessel’s age–well over sixty–can’t hide its sleek form (I should look so good).  According to Susan Buck, the S-Boat is the oldest one-design class still actively racing with its original boats.  In three years the S-Boat Association will celebrate its 100th season.

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The S-Boat transported Eulalie back in time to the 1970’s when she often saw the S-Boat fleet as she raced out of the American Yacht Club in Rye and the Huguenot Yacht Club in New Rochelle, a short drive from our Mamaroneck berth.  Photo credit: Herreshoff S Boats of Long Island Sound Facebook Page.

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Iroquois (#17) leading, Allegro (#20) and Kandahar II (#22).  In all Hereshoff built 95 S-Boats.  Many are still racing.

For more about the S-Boat see:

http://www.herreshoff-s-wlis.org/History.html

 

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Hell Gate: “The waters, like wild beasts” Claude Rust

By the time Eric realized he had misread the guidance regarding the timing of passing through Hell Gate, the gateway from Manhattan into Long Island Sound, it was too late. Elizabeth Jean was already on her way up the East River and we were an hour later than the guides recommended.  Would the hour make a difference between having 5 knots of current working in our favor or against us?  We would soon know.

The video below (not of our passage) shows Hell Gate’s wild beasts unleashed.

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Our East River Passage provided an interesting perspective of a number of the City’s most spectacular bridges.

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Approaching the Brooklyn Bridge.  Bridge construction began in 1869 and concluded in 1883.  John Augustus Roebling, the bridge’s designer, died from tetanus following amputation of toes crushed while inspecting the bridge site.  His son, Washington Roebling, took over the project.  He suffered from decompression sickness from inspecting the underwater chambers used for building the stone towers.  Emily, Roebling’s wife, played a critical role in supervising construction during the 11 years of construction following her husband’s incapacitation.

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The 4 blue spheres on each bridge support distinguishes the Manhattan Bridge which opened in 1909.

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The Williamsburg Bridge, the second bridge to be built over the East River (1903) was the first suspension bridge with all-steel support towers.  The bridge connects the Lower East side with Williamsburg in Brooklyn.

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Looking back on the Hell Gate Bridge, an inverted bowstring truss bridge.   In the background is the Robert Kennedy, or Tri-borough, Bridge.

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Elizabeth Jean at the center of the screen approaches the Hell Gate Bridge with 11 knots of speed-over-ground, over five knots are provided by current in our favor.  Eric’s calculations turned out to be alright after all.

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Approaching the Whitestone Bridge.

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The Throgs Neck Bridge, the last bridge on the East River, seen from Long Island Sound.

For more information regarding the East River Bridges see:

Know Your Landmarks: Bridges of the East River

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“To have a daughter is to know a special joy” Anonymous

As we were preparing Elizabeth Jean to depart Seattle three years ago, our daughter Beth (the Elizabeth in Elizabeth Jean) sent us a picture of an attractive New York City boat basin.  “Here’s where to come in when you get Elizabeth Jean to New York City to visit me,” she enthused.  While we have worked hard to manage our own and others’ expectations about our journey, we privately kept alive the goal of arriving in the New York area to visit Beth.  July 4th, therefore, provided a dual celebration: fulfillment of Beth’s optimistic prediction, along with our nation’s 240th birthday.  This visit also provided a daughterly bookend to our 2013 visit with Jean after our 1000 mile trip from Seattle to Newport Beach, California.  Our daughters’ enthusiastic support  of their namesake’s journey has buoyed her and our spirits along our way.

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Joyously together.

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Seastreak, a high speed ferry, docked ten minutes from our marina, provided an attractive alternative to accessing the Big Apple for a  busy holiday weekend.

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From the ferry’s deck we relaxed and enjoyed New York Harbor and scouted Elizabeth Jean’s route to the East River.

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Forty minutes after departing, Seastreak deposited us near Wall Street where July 4th celebrations were in full swing.  A short walk from the ferry dock is the site of George Washington’s inauguration as our first president.

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We celebrated the festivities at Riis Beach to the vocal stylings of Raycee Jones, one of Beth’s college friends.

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Captain Sullivan.  Action Hero.

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We both got the memo to wear blue, but apparently not the memo about looking at each other while we dance.

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A captain’s kiss.


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 In September 2013, Jean helped us celebrate our arrival in Southern California. To have two daughters is to know joy’s abundance.

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“The Gathering Wind: Sandy Hook” Gregory Freeman

We arrived in Sandy Hook, New Jersey a couple of months shy of the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy’s October 29, 2012 landfall.   Our marina, the Sandy Hook Bay Marina, reopened this year, an example of the rebuilding that has occurred since Sandy’s visit.

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Sandy crashes the coast.

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Sandy affected 24 states, including the eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine and Michigan and Wisconsin.  She was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, and the second-costliest hurricane in United States history ($71.4 billion in damage)

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Off the coast of the Northeastern United States the storm became the largest recorded Atlantic hurricane measured by diameter.  Her winds spanned 1,100 miles.

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A larger-than-life sized replica of the HMS Bounty tried to outrun the Hurricane but failed off North Carolina’s coast with tragic results.  Freeman’s “Gathering Wind,” which provided the title for this post provides a detailed account of the disaster.Sandy damaged-boats-morgan-marina-sayreville Raritan Bay

Sandy also savaged vessels in harbors as shown in the above photo from Raritan Bay.  At the Sandy Hook Bay Marina six feet of floodwater deposited the marina’s tenant vessels a quarter mile away.

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Sandy Hook Bay Marina today.  Sand dredged from the bay raised the land by several feet to meet new standards.  Elizabeth Jean relaxes, secure behind higher wave screens in the center of the dock (to the left of the man in the red shirt).

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The streets show signs of rebuilding as well.

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A peaceful Sandy Hook in sunset’s glow.

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“I was born in New York City, but I was raised in New Jersey, part of the great Jewish emigration” Jon Stewart

Delaware Bay’s tidal chop and gusty winds energetically conveyed Elizabeth Jean down to the bay’s entrance at Cape May, New Jersey.  Having made good time, we decided to round the cape and press up New Jersey’s 130 mile coastline.  As earlier posts have noted, the Jersey shore featured prominently in Eric’s youth.  There the Muz recharged her batteries along the shore and Pog regularly took the party boats out for blue fish (what he pithily called his “piscatorial pursuits”).    Our return to the Jersey shore provided an opportunity for Eric to visit his brother Jeff in Ewing and to have brother Dave join us for a tour of Elizabeth Jean in Sandy Hook, from where we launched our family visits.

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A higher than usual Albatross-eye view of the mid-Atlantic coastline.  Chesapeake Bay shimmers above the lower space ship panel.  New Jersey’s Cape May sparkles in the middle of the picture.  Sandy Hook lies to the left of New York City’s bright lights.  Long Island and its sound completes the panorama to the far right.

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Lake Carnegie provides a restful vantage point for Eric to reflect on his New Jersey childhood . . .

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. . . and an opportunity to feel his parents’ lingering presence.

 

 

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The “Parent of all U.S. Canals”

The Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, known as the Parent of all U.S. Canals provided our short cut between Maryland and Delaware and the two great bays that bear the canal’s name.   Our sunset arrival at Chesapeake City positioned us perfectly to ride the 3 knot current the next morning through to Delaware Bay.

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In 1661, a Dutch surveyor and map maker first noted the potential to connect the two bays with a canal through the 14 mile strip of land separating them.  The canal opened in 1829 after an expenditure of $2.5 million.

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The Canal in 1867.

The 450 ft. wide C&D Canal carries 40% of all ship traffic in and out of the Port of Baltimore.

The Canal today.

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Looking Back on the Chesapeake Bay and forward to the Delaware

Sunset found us anchored in Chesapeake City, Maryland at the entrance to the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.  Aside from an ominous note on our chart reading “piles” roughly below our anchoring spot, the anchorage was the perfect spot to toast our travels in Chesapeake Bay.  Along with inspiring historical sites and family visits (described in earlier posts), our travels provided us with world class gunkholing among quiet anchorages, fishing vessels of various shapes and sizes, visits with friends who date as far back as elementary school, skilled boat work in Annapolis, and some fine Bay sailing.  We hope to return for more this fall.

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Fishing vessels, such as Chesapeake above, shared our harbors as we moved north.

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Moon beams dapple Sarah’s Creek, our first Bay anchorage.  We also stopped in Deltaville and Solomons, before picking up a city mooring ball in Annapolis, self proclaimed sailing capital of the world.

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A constant but gentle breeze filled our spinnaker on a memorable run up the Bay.  The sail seemed happy to be out of its bag after its long hibernation during our time in the stiff Caribbean trade winds.

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This colonial rendering of Annapolis, Maryland’s State Capital and home to the Naval Academy is actually a 500 piece puzzle.  We secured Elizabeth Jean  to a city mooring ball for our visit to Washington D.C.

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Contemporary Annapolis.

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Elizabeth Jean approaches the Chesapeake Bay Bridge which links Annapolis to Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

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Chesapeake City, the entrance to the Chesapeake Delaware Canal.

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“All in the family”

Our visit to the Chesapeake Bay watershed allowed us to visit with Eulalie’s sisters Janet Page, who drove several hours to meet us in Portsmouth, Kate Hare and her family, who made time in their busy summer schedule to host us for dinner in Georgetown, and Mary Helen (who we also saw in Costa Rica) and her husband Richard, who feted us with a delicious dinner on the Eastern Shore’s Tilghman Island.  Taken together with our earlier visits with sister Julie Jones in Grand Cayman and the Panama Canal and brother John and his family who drove to see us in Santa Cruz and Monterey, we have visited all of the Sullivan siblings during our three-year journey.  We greatly appreciate the effort everyone has made to fit us and Elizabeth Jean in to their busy lives.

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What’s a bolide?

To understand Chesapeake Bay, which we transited over several weeks from its mouth to near its headwaters, we must answer the question posed above.  A  bolide is a comet or asteroid-like object according to the Chesapeake Bay Program.  35 million years ago, give or take a few, a bolide struck the lower tip of the Delmarva Peninsula, creating the Exmore Crater.  The crater, as large as Rhode Island and deep as the Grand Canyon,  helped determine how the bay would eventually form when ice age glaciers began to melt approximately 18,000 years ago flooding the ancient Susquenhanna River Valley.  For more of the Bay’s natural history see:

http://www.chesapeakebay.net/discover/bayecosystem/baygeology

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“One Country, One Constitution, One Destiny” Yorktown Victory Memorial

Our first anchorage as we proceeded up the Chesapeake Bay was in Sarah Creek, a tributary to the York River.  This snug anchorage provided a convenient vantage point to explore Yorktown, the scene of the decisive Revolutionary War battle and the British surrender on October 19, 1781.

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Detail from the Yorktown Victory Monument. Photo credit: National Park Service.

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In this vintage Albatross eye view of the Chesapeake the York River is the second major river system from the left.  To get to the York River, we transited from Norfolk up the James River, the first system to the left.

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Congress authorized construction of the Victory Monument ten days after the British surrender; however, Congress did not authorize funds for construction until after the civil war.  The monument’s message of “One Country, One Constitution, One Destiny,” speaks more to the post-Civil War sentiment than to the mood following the century-earlier conflict.  The message remains timely today.

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Yorktown’s historic main street is now a National Park.  We enjoyed a leisurely afternoon strolling the streets and immersing ourselves in the area’s history.

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The Alliance, which offers tours of the York River, was built in 1995 in Palm Coast, Florida as a charter vessel in the Maine Windjammer fleet.

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A free waterfront concert entertained us while we waited for the winds and river chop to subside.

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Lively winds, and views of the Alliance and Victory Monument, accompanied our dinghy ride across the river back to Sarah Creek.

 

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