Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Seems to us, this is what boating is all about

Nothing very profound here. Just Frances and Bill taking a cruise to Long Island. We've made this trip dozens of times, sometimes in poor weather, but we have always had fun and appreciated the fact that we had a boat that would get us there, and back, and keep us reasonably dry along the way.

We left on Thursday, June 16, only about an hour late. The weather was more than good, it was what every boater wishes for: cool as we went down the Thames and then the wind on our stern once we turned west into the Sound. It was one of the few times we could remember that we could let go of the wheel and just make minor course corrections.

Our little Acer laptop laid out our course and we simply followed that across the Sound to Plum Gut, where we would enter Gardiners Bay. Sure, we also had a compass heading and a plan just in case the computer died but we always know where we are. Even in fog we can always turn on the radar if needed..

The software on out little computer is by Polar Navy for about $50. Download the charts at no cost, plan your cruise and cast off. We have power adapter that allows the Acer computer to get power directly from the boat's batteries so we're never out of juice.

Thirty-eight miles later we were at Greenport. We called them on Channel 11 and they confirmed our reservation. Note to any others like us: arrive mid-week. It is so much easier docking when everyone else isn't coming in or going out.

In a couple of hours, we were in what we call "vacation mode." That means forget the shore side stuff, relax and enjoy the surroundings. The marina was mostly empty this early in the year and that was fine with us.

We took a very short walk to the IGA (the most air conditioned market on the planet), bought some stuff, checked out the Farmer's Market across the street where Frances chatted with Eddie, who has been with the farm for years, and then strolled back to the boat.

Our other crew member, Pooka, was happy to catch some shut-eye with his favorite new toy.

Frances really likes to cook on the boat and she produced a great dinner. Then it was off to bed after a long day.

For the next couple of days, we did as little as possible, as we were firmly in the grasp of Vacation Mode. We treated ourselves to breakfast a couple of times at the Sterlington Deli. (Note to those who are new to Greenport: breakfast or lunch, this is the best place in town.) When we were introduced to this deli years ago, the locals called it "the German girl's place." That German girl is now probably a grandmother and the deli is run by her son, Fred Schutz.

On Saturday evening, we met our friends Ellen and Dave for cocktails on the boat and then dinner at a restaurant about 750 feet away on Front Street. Nice evening with good conversation and very acceptable food.

Seeing Ellen and Dave is always fun and a wonderful chance to catch up on what's happening on the North Fork. For instance, we learned that Claudios hasn't been sold, contrary to rumor. Someone made an offer of $13+ million but then couldn't raise all the money so the Claudio family re-opened for another season. If the number of people and boats we saw packed in there on Saturday night is any indication, they are doing OK.

One afternoon, we took a walk to the beach at Pipe's Cove. It's another village park that few boating visitors ever get to enjoy. We knew we were in luck when we spotted a Osprey nest, one of Frances' favorite birds.

We were carrying our trusty old still camera, which we call "clamshell." Frances took this nice still-life of two bikes in the park. She has a good eye for composition.

We left on Tuesday morning and found ourselves with now a west wind, perfect for our ride back across the sound. And it was just fine, as was our little Greenport vacation.

We've attached some video, which we would classify as a little rough. We used three cameras, one of which is a little Go-Pro-like action cam that doesn't produce the best pictures. We came back with literally hundreds of video clips and still photos and, because of work responsibilities, it took us longer than expected to edit and organize them all into something that our friends would enjoy watching.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

First cruise of the year, coming this week!

Our plan is to untie the old boat and head out to Greenport, Long Island on Wednesday. We do this every year to see our friends Ellen and Dave who live very near Greenport.  We have a long history with Ellen but that's a long story that we'll leave for another time.

But a cruise means that we need to do some preventative maintenance, not that there seems to be anything wrong with the boat. It's just that we're old fashioned when it comes to checking everything out before we cast off.

With that in mind, we began Sunday morning (after The New York Times) by looking at the the float switch on the midships bilge pump. The pump comes on from time to time, mainly from condensate from the air conditioner, but lately, it hasn't been shutting off. We played around with the Rule bilge pump float switch for a while and found that it had failed. Par for the course for a Rule switch, at least in our experience. We've had three of these float switches fail in our shower sump so we're familiar with how they mount and how often they fail.

A quick trip to Defender Marine in Waterford and we had a new switch that we hope will last for the summer. Next winter, we'll replace that switch with something more substantial.

While all of this was going on, Frances headed to her house to pick up Pooka, the boat cat, and that was a good thing since we had to open hatches, spread out tools and generally get in the way for several hours.

We checked all the fluids on the engines and transmissions and then adjusted the choke on the port engine, which has never opened soon enough. That done, we adjusted the idle jets on both carbs so that warm, they would run at exactly the same speed in gear while docking. Again, only the port engine required any adjustment.

Then we got out lines for docking at Greenport and then adjusted the sliding screen door to our cabin. Isn't this exciting?

Just when we were running out of things to do, Frances arrived with Pooka. It's fun to see the old guy again. He immediately walked around and we like to think recognized his summer home from last year. Bill got the equivalent of a fist-bump from him right away. That's where he runs his face along your leg.

Sounds to us like a good beginning to the summer.