Monday, September 15, 2008

Back in Portsmouth

Farewell New York

[Kyle] The weather forecasts for the trip from New York City to Portsmouth, VA indicated that we would have a two and a half day window of nice tailwinds once a cold front went through on Tuesday night, the day after I arrived home from work. This gave us an unexpected part of a day in the city before getting a quick pre-departure nap. We had a handful of jobs to complete in order to put Footprint in offshore mode. We got through those in pretty short order and just as we were walking out the door, the skies opened up and it just dumped. We continued on, doing every possible indoor job until there was nothing left but to step across the line into the pouring, splattering rain when we both looked at each other and simultaneously decided that nothing we were going to do had any appeal whatsoever anymore, so maybe we should just stay in.

Something else we had planned to do didn't work out either. The night before, I had been really looking forward to taking a helicopter from Newark airport into Manhattan to get home from work. As airline crew, I get a discount with one caveat: there had to be a full fare passenger or at least two at the airline rate on board the eight seat helicopter for the flight to leave. By the day of departure, no one had booked. I called Maryanne, who was doing research at Columbia University and left a message saying that if she got done early enough and she wanted to join me on the helicopter ride she could take the train to Newark and we could take the helicopter home. Well, dear woman that she is and knowing how much I was looking forward to it, she rushed through everything and raced toward the airport. Once she got there, we were told that the guy I spoke to earlier had misinformed us and they would only go if a full fare passenger booked in the next fifteen minutes, which was not likely. Now worried about losing the favorable current for the row back to Footprint in the dinghy, we raced back to the train station in order to get back to the boat in time, which we did just barely.

It poured and poured all afternoon from low, gray, depressing clouds while the wind howled from the southwest. In order to make the most of the small weather window and the current, we had to leave two hours before the forecast frontal passage into the teeth of the wind on faith that the forecast would be right. Like leaving Portsmouth five months before, conditions seemed miserable for going to sea. I got a bit of deja vu from the last time we left New York in Prydwen in 2003, also in a downpour, also thinking this was nuts.

We tacked a couple of times to get through the Verrazano Narrows bridge just as it got dark. I went off watch for some sleep and before I even drifted off, I could hear Maryanne easing the sheets and feel the motion smooth out. The tailwind had arrived. The wind had been forecast to clock from northwest to northeast during the passage, so rather than follow a direct route that would have kept us within sight of shore, we made a long, curving arc that eventually took us sixty miles offshore, but let us keep the same fast point of sail the whole way.

By the time I came back on watch at 1 a.m., the tops of the bridge and the buildings of Manhattan were still just visible over the horizon, but not for long.

The whole sail itself was pretty uneventful. We stayed on the same point of sail pretty much the whole way and it was usually cloudy so at night there were no stars to see. On the second day in the early morning, A pod of dolphins and yellowfin tuna came racing up to the boat, jumping out of the water. They seemed to be more interested in feeding than visiting and quickly left.

We passed through the Chesapeake Bay bridge tunnel on Maryanne's watch just as it got dark the second night and finally tied up in Portsmouth at 4 a.m., feeling strangely like we've been gone for both a long time and hardly at all.

Hello Portsmouth

[Maryanne]The sail was quite uneventful, and the passage relatively quick, so either we are getting used to it, or it really was an easy passage for a change. We arrived in Portsmouth and hung out at the Town Dock for a few days, while busy performing research and cost benefit analysis of where best to stay for what perks (free anchorage, but row ashore and pay $12 a day dinghy dock - or pay for a dock and be able to step ashore and make use of permanent power?). Eventually we went with a dock at our previous home of Ocean Marine.

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