Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The final push

We fueled up -- only took about five gallons -- in Port Jefferson. I feel today that I ought to retract some of my harsh words about Long Island, since the young fella running the pump proved to be intimately familiar with old Pearsons and their engines. He assured me that the 13 HP Yanmar 2-cylinder I have is practically indestructible, which was gratifying.

Before George and I left our anchorage, we had noticed a sailboat's mast cocked at an odd angle somewhere near the harbor entrance -- hard to say just where it was, since the sandbar blocked the hull from view.

As we approached the entrance, on our way out after refueling, we saw the melancholy spectacle shown above (George's photo). The boat is actually inside the harbor; it doesn't look like a case of missing the narrow entrance and coming to grief on one side or the other. If that had happened, the boat wouldn't be so far in. I think.

So what did happen? Came free of its mooring and drifted down onto this beach? There's a rather crowded mooring field just inside the harbor, in an attractive-looking little cove just to the west of the harbor entrance. And the wind last night was from the west.

Or was the boat coming into the harbor and the engine failed? In that case, mightn't they have tried to anchor? Or did it all just happen too fast?

Or did they make it safely in, and turn too sharply, heading for the same anchorage we were in?

Here's the sitch, as they say:

View Port Jefferson, September 2013 in a larger map

The wind was quite brisk when we got out of the harbor, but it was dead foul, so we resigned ourselves to motoring. At first the water was too choppy for self-steering, but after noon it got calmer and we indulged ourselves.

Through Hell Gate toward the end of the ebb, and down the East River.

There was a nasty moment when the engine gave a protesting wail and stopped. Tried to start again, same wail, no dice. Dropped the hook -- we were in 27 feet of water, down around 34th Street, I think. George somehow intuited that something had fouled the prop. Engine started fine in neutral, squealed and stopped as soon as you put it in gear. George suggested alternately trying reverse and forward, and after two or three cycles of that, whatever it was came loose. Some unidentifiable object -- a piece of rope? A retired mobster's toupe? -- drifted astern. We recovered the anchor from the mucilaginous bottom, and went our way rejoicing.

Nice guy to have around, George.

Got onto the mooring at 79th Street about 8 PM. It wasn't clear how we were going to get the last 20 feet to dry land, since we didn't have our dinghy along.

The dinghy was in the marina, but hadn't been run since late July, and I was doubtful that it would start. I hoped that we could catch a lift with somebody, but thought we might have to wait a while.

In the event, 'a while' proved to be about five minutes. We flagged down a couple of chaps in a tiny, tiny aluminum dinghy, who turned out to be Aussies recently arrived -- from Australia. Five years out, via the Indian Ocean, the Suez Canal, and the Med. They were on their way out to their boat, but it they had to go back and pick up some guests anyway, so George and I buttoned up the boat any old how and rode back to the marina with them.

Couldn't find a cab for love nor money, so we ended up ignominiously taking the bus back to my apartment. Showers were taken -- long overdue in my case -- and so to our nice cozy land-borne beds.

Both of us noticed, for the next couple of days, that solid ground seemed to be reeling beneath our feet. I get this feeling for a short while, after I've been on the boat for more than a few hours. But in this case neither of us had been on terra firma for longer than it took to refuel, for nearly a week. And the effect was correspondingly long-lived. I was still noticing it three days later.

Here we are, pussyfooting our way into the moooring field, looking for my ball -- which, by the way, proved to be occupied by somebody else; but that's another story:

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