CapmWoody Heads North.....Way
North......in JANUARY ??
I never thought I'd make a trip like this, but the challenge was too much to resist. Take a yacht from sunny Florida north to icy New York in January. Situation was that this new boat is the new home for the new owner, Glenn Sherman and his family, who have been living on a houseboat for several years. They are now moving up to a real yacht and are anxious to move into their new home. This particular yacht is an Endeavour TrawlerCat 44 that was customized to handle the cold weather. It had, as I recall, about 9 heaters aboard and insulated plumbing and was set up for life in the cold, cold north all year round. Also, the cockpit was completely enclosed from the weather and could even be heated (somewhat). Without this weather protection, there is no way I would even attempt such a trip this time of year. Paul Bucher, a long time friend from Tallahassee joined me on this trip.
We left St. Petersburg, Florida a few days after New Years and headed south for the Florida
Keys before heading north. Weather was great until we left Florida, then things
started to cool off. Still pretty pleasant until we got close to the
Chesapeake. Depending on the sea state, we spent some of the time in the Atlantic
and some of it in the ICW. One of the stops was at Myrtle Beach, SC. We ate
most of our meals on board, but when we did eat out, we ate well. Always
seafood. And good beer. We went out Oregon Inlet just north of Cape Hatteras and headed for New York. A north wind was blowing hard and by the time we
passed by the entrance to the Chesapeake, we were exhausted and came in Chincoteague Inlet around
2 am for some rest. the wind was howling and it was bitter cold.
We stayed anchored and slept the whole next day. Then headed back out
in the Atlantic to continue on to
New York. It was cold but the seas had subsided a bit and we made good time.
The sun shining into the cockpit kept things pretty pleasant, and fortunately, there was
little need to go outside the cockpit for most of the trip. At night, with the solar
heating gone, it got pretty cold, pretty quick. We crossed the entrance to New York's Lower Harbor from Sandy Hook, NJ to Long Island in the late afternoon. It was pretty
choppy with water flying over the top of the cockpit hardtop, which is about 15 feet off
the water. The ice continued to build up on the deck and the life lines.
We pulled into East Rockaway Inlet inlet just before dark. After finding a place to anchor, we had a hot meal and retired to our staterooms and hid under a pile of blankets. It was a good night's sleep. The next day we got our visit from the Welcome Wagon. We were pulled over by the Nassau County Water Cops who didn't want our visit to New York to be without a taste of the local attitude. After forcing us to detour to the nearest Coast Guard station, they did their best to intimidate us in every way they legally could, shot guns, big dogs, suspicious talk, even lying to us about what they had observed going on at our boat and basically accusing us of being drug runners, but stopping just a millimeter short of actually coming out and saying so. When they were through having their fun at our expense, they let us go. Such is life in the new America. Welcome to New York.
After being released we headed back out into the Atlantic through Jones Inlet and continued eastward along Long Island's south shore. We came back in at Shinnecock, made our way through the lock and stopped at a marina for the night. That night it snowed and Paul shoveled snow off the icy decks before we continued on our way. The owner Glenn joined us for the last few miles to Riverhead. Just short of the marina and our final destination we found that the river had frozen over. Glenn and Paul had to stand on the bows and use 12 ft 2x4s to break up the ice. The last quarter mile we literally inched our way through the ice, finally arriving at the marina just before dark. It was quite an adventure, this expedition into the great white north. My one and only experience in winter sailing up north.
Overall a very enjoyable trip. I'd do it again.