I had been on and off following the account of mariner Reid Stowe and his attempt at spending a record
breaking thousand days at sea on and off over the years. It helped get me through the cold snowy winters thinking about him being on boat sailing around the oceans of the world. So when it was announced on his website that there was going to be a flotilla on June 17th 2010 to escort Reid back into New York
Harbor I immediately signed up. Since I'm based about fifty miles from New York
I thought it would be a nice way to start the new sailing season. I allowed plenty of time to head
to New York with no pressing schedule. My first day was a wonderful 40 mile sail to the entrance of the East River where I anchored for a day. The next leg was a trip down through the East River and Hell Gate. I anchored for the night near the Statue of Liberty. So far conditions have been just delightful. The next day Tuesday I start sailing down the 15 miles or so to Sandy Hook New Jersey
where I will anchor
before joining the flotilla rendezvous point on the Thursday June 17th. Like Reid I'm sailing solo and really enjoying the cruise
. It's rather nice not having crew on board. I have a Nonsuch 30 so there really not much for the crew to do except sit around and drink my beer
and demand to know when dinner will be ready. I kind of enjoy just doing things on my own schedule. As I approach Sandy Hook in the early afternoon after a delightful sail through New York Harbor. I see only one boat anchored there. A beat up schooner flying a yellow quarantine flag. It's Reid Stowe's schooner ANNE. I do several sail by's but do not see Reid on deck
. I don't call out either thinking he might be resting getting ready from returning from almost three years at sea. I do take some photos and publish them on my blog wondering if they are the first photo's of Reid's boat since returning from sea:
THE BIANKA LOG BLOG: LOOKING FOR REID STOWE
several hundred feet away to give Reid his space before all the hoopla he will face when he returns to New York and to also avoid the cable crossing that runs over to the Sandy Hook Coast Guard station. Stowe's boat and mine are the only ones here. We wait at anchor until the Thursday the day of the floatilla and Reid's return to New York. NOAA is calling for winds 10 to 15 knots out of the west. Perfect for sailing north to New York I thought.
On Thursday morning I'm up a 6 am and notice that Reid has one of his sails
up. A cold front had come through in the middle of the night and the winds were up a bit. Reid was anchored much closer to the shore than I was and I'm thinking maybe he has his sail up to keep his boat from swaying too much at anchor. I see Reid scrambling around on deck
. A few minutes later I notice he is sailing away. Strange, I thought why is he taking off at 6 am? The flotilla is not supposed to start for another four hours and the rendevous point is only a few miles away. MISTAKE NUMBER ONE: When you see another sailor who may have had weather
forecasts provided by a private forcasting company other than NOAA and they leave an anchorage you really should take notice. I decided there was no rush and proceeded to enjoy my blueberry muffin and coffee. By the time I decide to leave two hours later the wind
is up even more. I go forward to take off the sail cover
and notice that my snubber line has crossed over the chain and just about been chaffed through and few seconds later it snaps. Not a problem because I am about to lift
anchor anyway. The problem is I am alone and now have to raise the 75 feet of anchor chain without having some else at the helm
to ease the strain by motoring up. The wind
is now 15 knots and the bow is moving up and down by two feet or so in the waves. MISTAKE NUMBER TWO: I take a chance that the windlass
will hold up under the strain until I get the anchor up. It didn't! So now another twenty five feet of chain reels off before I can stop it. I now have to pull in 100 feet of chain in by hand while the boat is facing into 15 knot
winds. This took me the better part of an hour. Sometimes only pulling in a few inches of chain in at a time. I now have a busted windlass
too. Other things broke that morning you can see some of the photos here:
THE BIANKA LOG BLOG: SO MUCH FOR THAT!
Well the delay in raising the anchor resulted in me never being part of the flotilla. I take solace in that not many other boats participated in it either as the winds were gusting to 36 knots or so. At least I was double reefed from the start.
: I probably should have left when Reid left or just stayed put. If I had stayed at anchor I still would have missed the flotilla but, at least I would have had a lot less damage to repair.
THE BIANKA LOG BLOG