23 Oct - Of Maintenance, Cautionary Tales and a Cultural Miscellany in the Big Apple

Escapade of Rame
Richard & Julie Farrington
Tue 23 Oct 2018 19:48


40:49.75N  073:42.4W

Later on Tuesday 16th, Julie and I went into New York for lunch with an old friend of mine from University and the Navy,  and after swapping dits in a rather splendid upmarket New York diner we strolled along the banks of the Hudson River, looking at New Jersey and passing the impressive Chelsea Piers leisure complex which had some wonderful blown-up historical ship photos, including  one of the Lusitania leaving on its last fateful voyage.


Interesting statement on the Hudson riverbank.  I’d like to meet the man who sails and rows without wind or oars…

We then went to the cinema to see ‘First Man’, the new film about the astronaut Neil Armstrong.  I remember watching him step onto the Moon live on television when I was a boy and the story of the US and Russian space race has always captivated me.  I think my favourite film is ‘The Right Stuff’ which charts NASA’s journey to find and train those astronauts and then send them out into space.  ‘First Man’ is good: Armstrong comes across as a dedicated, calm, diligent man and the story is very well told.  Even though you know what happens, it’s gripping stuff and not to be missed.  ‘The Right Stuff’ still holds the top slot in my view, though.  


Muralists (Banksy?) at work near the Hudson River, New York

On Wednesday we learnt that the local engineers had not found a smaller pump or a pressure switch for the current one.  I went back to the company that had supplied the pump in the first place (a huge warehouse in the Arizona desert) and acquired a switch for ‘next day delivery’.  Not that challenging…  Later that day we went back into the Big Apple and I returned to the 9/11 Memorial Museum to see the areas I had missed earlier in the year.  You really need around 3 hours to see this place properly: it’s a seriously impressive place that manages to combine the chronology, factors, responses and analysis with a moving memorial to the innocent victims and the heroic emergency services in one place – underpinned by a very strong sense that ‘this has made us stronger and our assailants weaker’.   Julie met a friend from work for a drink and that evening we joined Anna for some ‘ramen and sushi’ in a cheap and cheerful place near Penn Street Station.  Eating out in New York can be inexpensive and nourishing – but don’t expect a venue where you can linger and chat in peace!


One of the steel pillars that held up the World Trade Center, permanently preserved.  The wall that keep the Hudson River out is to the right…

On Thursday afternoon, the pressure switch arrived.  I fitted it and water came out of the taps, just not quite as it should. Even submariners would have complained about the shower!  Tim the Service Manager came back and 20 minutes later we had a properly balanced system with water flowing at the required rate.  Morale high – further Laphroaig in order.  I resolved to fit a manual backup – amazing to think that the boat has survived 20 years without one.  That evening, we caught up on some more cinema with Nicky and Reg from Blue Velvet when we saw ‘A Star is Born’ at the local fleapit.  We all enjoyed the film; I enjoyed the music but Julie reckons that the Streisand/Kristofferson version is better.

On Friday, having given the fresh water system as good a workover as we could, we moved back out to a buoy in the harbour to wait for a weather window to sail down the New Jersey coast to the Delaware River and thence back into the Chesapeake.   I went into the local West Marine to source a manual water pump and explore the options for replacing our VHF radio system.  Sadly, this branch is much the same as all the other West Marines we’ve been in: very little stock for yachts and no expertise behind the counter.  Earliest delivery – a week away.  Any surprise that customers move towards on-line purchasing given these limitations?  We have an obsolete Raymarine Ray240 system onboard, with one unit below decks and a second in the cockpit.  Currently it’s about 50% degraded (one handset U/S and one speaker U/S for 80% of the time) and although a dealer in Martinique had a go at fixing it, it’s a critical piece of safety equipment and probably time to retire it.


The New York Public Library on 5th Avenue

Thinking about safety, it’s worth recounting a couple of interesting incidents that have happened to people we know in the last week or so.  Reg and Nicky Barker have had Blue Velvet lifted out of the water after running over a semi-submerged tree in Long Island Sound recently.  It bent their propeller shaft just enough to give serious vibration at anything above slow speed.  They were sailing at about three knots when this thing bounced around underneath them and became wedged between keel and rudder skeg briefly.  The underwater design of the Rustler 42 provides pretty good protection to the propeller, but not enough in this case.  Removing the prop shaft once ashore proved interesting too: they had to remove the gearbox and take it out inside the yacht… All back together now though! You can read more about their adventures at https://blue-velvet-exploring-the-world.blogspot.com/.

Less fortunate were our friends Neil and Ley Langford aboard Crystal Blues.  She is a beautiful steel yacht from Australia and they have been living onboard for around 15 years, amassing a wealth of sailing experience and fettling their boat to a remarkably high standard.  We met them in Reedville back in July and they had spent the summer in and around Long Island Sound.  Heading south down the New Jersey coast, they were involved in a collision with a local fishing boat.  Neither of them was hurt and they managed to get the boat back to Long Island, but the awful news is that the boat is now considered an insurance write-off, to be sold for salvage.  They are gradually de-storing her and taking everything home to Australia.   Dream curtailed…heartbreaking.  Read their outstanding blog at svcrystalblues {CHANGE TO AT} blogspot {DOT} com for more.

We went into New York on Saturday and visited the Museum of Modern Art.  In particular, we wanted to see an exhibition of the work of Charles White, an African-American artist who was prominent in the 1960s and 70s.  He was a great friend of Harry Belafonte, the singer and activist who we saw in BlackkKlansman recently.  His work is magnificent and we found it particularly revealing given the way in which Race Relations in America remain a very issue today.


Detail from a Charles White painting at MoMA


That evening, a first.  Dinner at our daughter Anna’s flat, cooked by her (with critical support from Matt, of course).  It seems like only yesterday that our two girls were just babes in arms: what a fantastic journey it has been so far – and they have so much ahead of them!  Julie and I are truly blessed!


Too many cooks?  Making fresh pasta with Anna and Matt in Hell’s Kitchen (the neighbourhood, not the flat, you understand!)

We spent Trafalgar Day onboard the boat in Port Washington bouncing around in a Force Seven – stark contrast to the weather Lord Nelson had as he approached the French and Spanish lines on the other side of the Atlantic in 1805.  It’s been very cold for several days and yesterday we went in search of thermal underwear – a far cry from my original tasking which dictated that the ambient temperature was not to drop below 20o… C not F!  We are waiting for a window in the weather to take us down to Cape May, into the Delaware River and through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal towards Baltimore and Annapolis.  At this time of year things change pretty quickly, but we think we have a window tomorrow night (Wednesday) and a couple of options for going up the Delaware before another big storm forms a bit further offshore over the weekend.  Our longer term Hurricane watch for the passage down to the BVIs looks clear at the moment…