Saturday, July 14, 2007

Oyster Bay

Where is Oyster Bay? Well, the nearest town is Huntington, Long Island, directly across Long Island Sound from Stamford, CT. There are probably 200 sailboats in this bay, which is pretty typical of all the other well protected bays along Long Island, and have many yacht clubs along the shores; some of these clubs are over 100 years old! Huge homes (some can rightly be called castles) with perfectly manicured sloping lawns down to the water overlook these harbors and cost around 25 million we are told. Some of the moored sailboats around us cost about a million dollars.

So here we are, anchored in one of the “backyards” of a mansion, and, as usual, for free! Try to pull up into the backyard of a strangers’ mansion with your rv and try that. The weather and temperature are perfect. The water is smooth except for the occasional wake from a passing fisherman, out for bluefish. We are listening to NPR on the radio, having just finished one of my favorite breakfasts, granola and yogurt with honey (not a favorite like eggs benedict is a favorite, but it’s pretty good). Kathy just finished her stretches and exercises on the poop deck and is about to have a math lesson with Rachel (math is her one subject for the summer). The word for this morning is contentment.

Tonight we’ll have Bluefish for dinner. I caught one last night right at dusk. It’s fun to catch them- here’s how. First you cast a treble hook into a boiling mass of Menhaden (they boil when the underlying Bluefish go for them), which are small 8” baitfish, and then repeatedly jerk the rod to snag one. Then you let it swim around, waiting for a Bluefish to strike it. I like this kind of fishing because it is an active style as opposed to just throwing a baited hook in the water and waiting for something to happen.

We’ll head 10 miles across the sound to Stamford, CT in a while. There, we’ll rent a car and visit Kathy’s old stomping grounds, as well as mine in Wilton, CT. Afterwards we’ll sail back across the sound to Port Jefferson to meet up with friends Todd and Denise Roy who live in Moriches.

The anchorage in Liberty Park was perfect (protected from waves and weather, and free). We visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island on one day. The next day we took a bus to a water taxi to the subway on Manhattan Island, to a short walk to the Empire State Building. The view from the top was spectacular in the clear cool air. We brushed shoulders with thousands of people in Time Square. You can tell the locals from the tourists on the streets. Tourists stumble around staring upwards at the tall buildings while the locals weave expertly around the tourists. In the subways, the locals plow through the gates with passes while tourists stand off to the side watching other tourists to figure out how to buy tickets and find the right subway. Heavily armed police were in all the subway terminals as well as all over the city. We watched an approaching policeman on horseback cause a slew of street vendors selling purses and trinkets to throw their wares in a blanket straight into a waiting box on a dolly and take off down the street. One vendor hid behind a van in the street as the policeman rode by on the sidewalk, and then returned to his original sales post.

Returning to our water taxi took us past Ground Zero where the building of the Memorial Tower is underway. It was hard for us to imagine the Twin Towers standing in this spot. Many of the surrounding buildings were in stages of repair and we could see the blackened fronts of some of them. We didn’t have much to say as we stared at the site.

We carefully analyzed all information to pick the correct departure time to head up the East River to get the push from the strong current which resulted in a speed over ground of 9kts as opposed to 5kts if the current had been against us. So we “flew” past the skyscrapers under the Brooklyn Bridge, through the swirls of Hell Gate and on past Rikers Island into the Long Island Sound for a 3 hour trek to Manhasset Bay. There, we stocked up on groceries, I changed the oil on the generator and propulsion engines, and we bought more navigation chips for the chartplotter to take us all the way to Canada (or however far north we get). Yesterday we gibed downwind 15 miles to Oyster Bay. We can see the reason for all the yacht clubs and numerous sailing vessels. Long Island Sound has all the room for easy sailing and navigation, and smooth water compared to the ocean. You don’t even want to run aground around here though, because the bottom is rock, not sand. So I’m maintaining a deeper amount of water under the keel and taking the “long way around” instead of the shortcuts allowed in sandy areas, or especially in the clear waters of the Bahamas where what you see is what you get.

Our slow cell phone internet connection won’t allow photos, so they’ll have to wait for an internet café. All is well with us, and, we hope, with you too.


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