September 1st - Perth Amboy NJ to Port Jefferson, NY - 71 NM: Left mooring at RYC at 0500. We left this early as it was low tide at the Battery which would mean favorable currents through New York Harbor, the East River, through Hell gate and into LI Sound.
Very little wind in the morning so motored for 35 miles until LI Sound. Wonderful experience motoring towards dawn with sunrise as we neared the Verazzano. Not much traffic early am in NY Harbor and the currents pushed us through Hell Gate by 0915, cruising with 12 kts SOG at low revs thanks to a favorable current.
Motor-sailed and then sailed in 10-15kts ESE wind, heading ENE towards Port Jefferson. Anchored in the Northern anchorage by 1800. Quiet evening and a peaceful anchorage. Good night's sleep until we were woken at 0500 by a tug maneuvering 5 empty barges under our stern. They were setting up a tow and moving the barges around like kids' blocks.
September 2nd - Port Jefferson, NY to Shelter Island, NY - 53 NM: Long day of motoring and motor-sailing in 7kts E. Uneventful. Passed through Plum Gut at 1730.
Stunning sunset sail West to Shelter Island, picked up mooring at SIYC at 1930. Great dinner at this lively, posh yacht club. Excellent food!
Motored over to Greenport to fuel-up. Of course the one day we didn't plan on sailing much there was a 20 kt wind making it very difficult to maneuver in the marina. We fueled up then had to turn around in a yacht basin. Unfortunately, I chanced it and thought I could make a turn when I couldn't and caught the bow pulpit of motor boat. The anchor and pulpit ripped off like a band-aid with no visible effect our boat. Then had to dock and deal with insurance. Spoke to boat's owner, who could not have been nicer. This made me feel even worse.
Had a stonking sail in Gardiner's Bay in 20kts SE. Even with two reefs and a shortened headsail we were sailing at 6kts.
Anchored for the night at Coechels Harbor on the Eastern side of Shelter Island. Arse-clenchingly shallow channel entering this natural harbor but a truly beautiful harbor. Easy to anchor and great holding. We barbecued off the stern and had one of the best nights at anchor I can recall.
September 4th - Coechels Harbor, NY to Norwalk Islands, CT - 68 NM: Passed back through Plum Gut at 1100 and then put the boat on a port tack, close-reached in 11kts SW at 7-8kts SOG for 60 NM. The definition of Champagne Sailing! Other than the occasional trim, we hardly touched a thing till 1800. Almost no boats around.
In fact got a little too casual and almost collided with a boat close to destination. Lapse of concentration!
The day had been a little too ambitious and not wisely planned. We finally anchored behind Sheffield Island off Norwalk at 1930. By then it was dark. We were the only boat anchored. There were markers all around for obstructions and sand bars. All very anxious-making. To make matters worse, the anchorage was very exposed to the SE wind and rolling seas. Hardly slept a wink. Had we gone back to Port Jefferson we would have been fine.
Great sail in the morning in 11kts SW. One long tack SE towards LI and then tacked back along the North Shore of LI all the way to Execution Rocks. We were too early to pass through Hell Gate so we tacked around a bit, motored around City Island. We then sailed on the headsail under the Throgsneck Bridge and the Whitestone Bridge, past LaGuardia and Rykers Island and only started motoring at the Triboro Bridge. Funny sense of accomplishment sailing in the middle of an urban sprawl.
Motored against high winds and a lot of chop through NY Harbor. Sea-plane flew over us around East 50th Street and landed close by. VERY COOL! Pushed on through NY Harbor. Big choppy waves South of the Verazzano. There's always eddies there but have never seen anything like this. Then a 2 hour motor back to RYC.
The only bummer was that some plonker had taken our mooring. His mooring was tangled up so he took ours. Bloody annoying end to an otherwise outstanding cruise. Arrived home in Chatham around 2330, utterly exhausted.