Mosey On – ‘On the Hard’

Not hard aground (with all those negative connotations…) but rather, intentionally and carefully secured up on dry land (drydock without the ‘dock’) for maintenance that can only be done this way.  She’s getting her bottom side de-barnacled and anti-fouling paint applied.   The prop and drive shaft will also get their proper attention.  This is our first major maintenance since we bought Mosey On back in March, but we’ve anticipated this interruption of our cruise as a fact of normal maintenance.  A big chunk of the cost of such work is this haul out and re-launch, so we made a list of several items to get done while she is laid-up.  All of these require skills better left to boat yard professionals.  I suspect my supervision would probably cost us extra…

So what will Mosey On’s dedicated crew be doing during this furlough?  Well…we’ve secured positions as crew on our Daughter Shannon and Son-in-law Rick’s week-long cruise of the Virgin Islands.  No responsibilities.  Just sun, rum, crystal clear waters and palm-lined beaches.  Someone had to step up and help these kids!

We (and Mosey On) will be back on the Chesapeake in mid-September.  Until then, we got to ‘go wit de flow!

Cape May Revisited

I’ve written here how New York and Boston relate to their waterfronts…for these and other coastal cities like Charleston, Norfolk, and Portsmouth, water borne trade was their historical focus, their reason for being there. For other communities, the waterfront was more of an appendage…a utilitarian backyard. I have passed-through Cape May, NJ on three occasions, but this is the first time we got off the boat to explore past the immediate vicinity of the busy but decidedly uninteresting harbor.

I LIKE Cape May. Its tree-shaded streets lined with cheerfully painted, beautifully maintained cottages and Victorian style summer homes invite you to get out and walk…to a broad beach fronting on the Atlantic. The beach is this city’s focus and reason for being. It seems a cheerful place full of people taking a break and having some fun. What’s not to like? I stopped for a haircut and was treated to the local gossip…nothing harmful: a big, three day sport-fishing tournament in Town (White Marlin, Blue Marlin and Tuna), hyper-competitive boats and out-sized prize money. Talk of the weather and how it was driving the fish further off-shore. Most of this was Greek to me. But these were matters of great import in this community.

Colleen and I chanced across some fellow cruisers we had met at River Dunes one evening while they were northbound on their annual migration from Florida back north. Our boats are both of a similar style and we spent this evening dining, touring each other’s boats, telling tales and sharing travel tips like old friends. We sincerely hope to see them again!

We’d had a fun day. A surprisingly entertaining stopover on our trip south. But I don’t think we’d have had the true ‘Cape May Experience’ without the spectacle of a packed excursion boat (the kind that do whale watches) just off our pier with all aboard singing and signing to the Village People’s “YMCA”…intended, I think, for the jam-packed, iconic ‘Lobster House’ restaurant on the facing pier. They were having fun, too.

"YMCA"

“YMCA”

Where are the ‘normal’ ships?

As I write this, it’s a dreary Sunday morning at anchor behind the breakwater in Sandy Hook, New Jersey.  The kind of morning for pancakes, sausage and limited ambitions…We made our Southbound transit yesterday of Hell’s Gate on New York’s East River, down the harbor past the Battery and Lady Liberty,DSCN1524

through the Verrazano Narrows in the company of an immense container ship and across the lower bay to Sandy Hook.

We'll let him go first...

We’ll let him go first…

The marine forecast pretty much nailed today’s weather…so we’ll hang loose and wait for the better weather promised tomorrow to make our eighty mile run down the Jersey coast to Atlantic City.

But what prompts this edition is not so much our southbound progress as an observation gleaned at sea-level. Where are all the ‘normal’ ships?  You know: freighters?  Yes, I’ve heard of inter-modal transport systems..the Sea Land Corp. is ubiquitous. But what is surprising is the disappearance of what I think of as coastal freighters. What we do see are barges of every size, either pulled or pushed along by powerful tugs. They handle the bulk loads of sand, gravel, cement and fuel oil.  An efficient model, a tug can expeditiously deliver several barges to various locations while each is unloaded without laying-up the boat and crew.  Freight – manufactured goods are still going by ship. But in containers – discrete units, easily gathered and dispersed by truck, gathered together and (when there are enough of them going the same general direction) piled high on immense ships and bound for the select super ports equipped to handle them.   The railroads have done this too…with trains stretching more than a mile. Fewer ports, fewer depots…and increasing dependence on the highway system and its demands and limitations.  Have you driven the deteriorated highways around any one of these ports?  The airlines have embraced a similar concept with the Boeing 747 and now the Airbus 380. Cruise lines have done the same (although you can pay a hefty premium to travel on a smaller ship).  All heavy investments in one giant ship, fewer departures.

I’m not qualified to criticize the economics of this approach, but one can’t help wonder if we aren’t experiencing reduced value from our efforts to reduce costs?  In all of these, there are probably cost savings but at the certainty of a strained level of service. Land, sea or air, less point-to-point and more hubs.

Hurricane Season?

So who needs a tropical storm…the little doozy that tracked across most of New England last night and this morning (up to this writing) was a bit unusual for the Dog Days of Summer!
They say this came from the Ohio Valley….a long way from the Cape Verde islands where cyclones more traditionally originate. Like everyone else, we had plenty of warning and Mosey On and crew were safely hunkered-down in Port Jefferson, NY. I will cede the point that the winds last night (although it was dark and scary) never approached hurricane strength…but the rainfall ( 5″ reported near here ) created sufficient diluvial drama.

Sorry…no snapshot photo to include. Awaiting calmer seas.

So….Do You Miss Being Home?

We’ve taken a little break this last week to cruise with and fully enjoy our grandchildren aboard Mosey On.  Need I say they’re ‘wicked’ smart (in the local argot) and embody the curiosity and energy that a grandparent fervently hopes for.  It was a week of re-connecting with both our son and his family, and with our friends from the many years we lived in New Hampshire.  We’re all undergoing changes in our living situations, health, travel, growing families…everything!  It’s important to share these stories…They help keep us connected even when we ‘ve run away to sea…’.

We’ve been asked, repeatedly, if we miss home.  The simple truth is that, right now, Mosey On is home.  We have our cottage and great neighbors in North Carolina…and we plan to be ‘home’ there by October.  In our lives, we have lived for awhile in so many different places that we are admittedly not deeply rooted anywhere.  As a practical matter, ‘home’ is where we’re together.  Mosey On is very comfortable and as long as the ‘basement’ stays dry, we’re safe and secure.

And yet the pull of the ‘old neighborhood’ is very strong.  Not so much to see our former property, but to reestablish those connections we value so highly.  In this case it wasn’t exactly just dropping-by.  It’s funny, really….to get there, we entered the narrow confines of Portsmouth Harbor at the mouth of the second-fastest flowing commercially navigable river in the United States, in pea-soup fog.  Maneuvered by radar around a down-river bound freighter,  had to open two bridges and proceed 13 miles upriver to the only anchorage deep and close enough to our destination to secure Mosey On on her anchor in an 8 foot tidal zone.  Any other time or place and I’d have thought the idea ridiculous!

But we had a grand time, in beautiful surroundings….and met some new neighbors (who left their calling cards on our fore-deck…)

Ill-mannered neighbors

 

This was our northern-most stop on this cruise. We left Great Bay on Tuesday morning on the outgoing tide and cleared Whale Back Light with our bow pointed South towards Cape Ann and Massachusetts Bay.  At home on Mosey On…

Whaleback Light, Portsmouth

Whaleback Light, Portsmouth