Sunday, September 26, 2010

Up the river, a little farther

A trip up the Hudson offers many wonderful sights. Above, a sewage treatment plant, somewhere in Westchester, designed in what, the 1950s? by somebody who clearly admired Palladio but perhaps didn't admire him quite enough. I especially like the ductwork on the roof. A closeup (click on the image) will reveal a wealth of graffiti, tastefully restricted to the virtual voids of the facade, which enliven the building considerably. In fact it's hard to resist the conclusion that the graffitists had a better eye than the architect.

After my morning coffee in Croton Bay, we took stock of our situation. A mile or so of open water in every direction. It's shallow, ten feet or so, but not alarmingly shallow (the Scapegrace draws four feet) and there are no nasty rocks or bars to worry about anywhere nearby. There was a mild breeze from the southeast, just begging me to ride it the five miles upriver to my rendezvous with my old school friend Lindsay.

Usually I am very paranoid about anchoring and the reverse -- up-anchoring? De-anchoring? Is there a word for it? But I suddenly felt strangely bold and determined to sail the Scapegrace off her anchor. So I raised the mainsail and let the sheet run free, and sauntered like a gentleman of leisure up to the bow and hauled the anchor rode in till it was vertical. I let the boat's motion bounce the anchor out of the muck, and once we started to drift slowly downwind, I hauled the anchor up, bouncing it a few times just under water until most of the bottom silt had washed off, and took my time fastening it to its improvised fixture on the pulpit rail -- I owe you a picture of this very ghetto arrangement.

I hadn't even put the motor down into the water, much less started it and left it idling, which is what I usually do, in my paranoid way, when it comes time to up-anchor. So I didn't have the motor running, and then I took my time securing the anchor, rather than scrambling to get it aboard any old how and then scampering frantically back to the cockpit. (Which is what I usually do.) This all felt like a strange heedless God-tempting way to act. But the big tranquil bay and the sweet small steady breeze and the tiny lapping waves encouraged a certain uncharacteristic confidence.

It worked out. Once the anchor was aboard and secured, we were fifty yards closer to our destination, and in deeper water. The jib's roller-furler did its job without a squeak or a moan or a jam, and we bowled along up the river toward Haverstraw at four knots or so.

Haverstraw itself may have to wait for another diary entry.

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