AYB to Montauk

After a couple days at Atlantic Yacht Basin we are anxious to move on. We ran into friends Bill and Lisa on Changing Course, a Krogen 48, and plan to travel with them north. We are both headed to Maine, as are mutual friends Jeff and Ellen on a Krogen 44, Sea Dweller. Sea Dweller is up the Chesapeake Bay at Deltaville having some work done but is wrapping up and will meet us at the mouth of the Bay.

We plan our departure to accomodate work being done on a railroad bridge that must open for us to pass. The maintenance work is keeping the bridge closed all day except between the hours of 11:30-12:30. So we leave AYB at 9:30 AM to give us plenty of time to pass through the Great Bridge bridge and lock through the Great Bridge lock. We then crawl along at idle speed killing time to reach the railroad bridge at 11:30. We still arrive early and must idle in place for another 45 minutes before the bridge finally opens and we can motor on.

We pass the usual naval ship building and maintenance facilities in Norfolk, we pass Ocean Marine where we picked up Tivoli 6 years ago, and we pass Tidewater marina where we weathered hurricane Joaquin last season, and out into Hampton Roads Inlet. Because Sea Dweller had a four-hour run to the mouth of the Chesapeake and wasn’t expected to arrive for another 2 hours we opted to drop the anchor off Hampton for an hour or so to give them time to come down the Bay. Finally departure time arrives and we hoist anchor, enter the Chesapeake and make our way to the Bay bridge.

Ship traffic was light and we stayed off the channel leaving plenty of room for them to pass. By 4 PM we had crossed Chesapeake Bay and were passing through Bay Bridge outbound; out into the Atlantic and free at last! We met Sea Dweller at navigation marker R 2N and turned north beginning the next offshore leg of our journey to Maine.

Seas are calm, the winds light per forecast, and we soon settle in for the 3-day run up to the east end of Long Island. The hours and miles pass, we do our routine engine room checks, update our weather information, and watch traffic. Lots of boats out; mostly fishing boats, but a half-dozen sailboats further offshore. The routine daily life aboard Tivoli carries on; Deanna does 3 loads of laundry while we have the generator running. Tivoli is running smoothly, all systems are working as expected, engine temps are normal, stabilizers working fine, alternator is able to run all the electronics and charge up the house bank at the same time. I’m pleased.

Dusk approaches, a nearly full moon rises in the east, winds remain light. We hum along, doing our 3-hour watches, watching the miles pass. By daylight we are off Cape May and turn to the northeast toward New York. A steady stream of sport fishing boats pour out of Cape May and they are all heading to the same location; fish must be biting. The VHF comes alive with a call to the Coast Guard, a crew member aboard a fishing vessel appears to have appendicitis and the captain requests an evacuation. The typical tedious exchange of information begins; vessel name, color, persons aboard, location, cell phone numbers, on and on. The Coast Guard then announces a “Pan Pan” call announcing the report and requesting anyone nearby to assist and report back to the Coast Guard. Hours pass and the radio exchange continues but we never hear the outcome. One is left with the impression the Coast Guard is doing nothing other than requesting a good samaritan to help. No doubt this is not the case but their communications is unclear.

A sailboat then comes on the radio to report the discovery of a dead whale. I feel sorry for them as they spend the next hour or more answering questions for various officials, each of which ask the same questions. What type of whale was it? How long would you estimate it to be? What color? Were there any obvious injuries? Was it entangled in a net? On and on. I believe if we encounter a dead whale I may just pass it by quietly.

Another nightfall is upon us; moon remains beautiful. The navigation lights of our boat buddies mark their location as does their radar return and AIS signals. We are treated to yet another beautiful sunset at sea. Friends on Changing Course:

Traffic remains light; we encounter two barges in crossing situations, but both are easy. We are enjoying a new version of our backup navigation software, Nobeltec’s Time Zero. It has some cool features including illustrations of drift vector and AIS tracking aids that are impressive. We particularly like the feature that illustrates on the chart the closest point of approach (CPA). This makes it much easier to determine the collision threat of any particular vessel crossing our path.

It is 2 AM, the loom of lights from New York City shine to the west. We are crossing the approaches to NYC harbor. We expected plenty of traffic but are surprised by the number of fishing boats in particular. Dozens of them. Sweeping the ocean floor like combines harvesting grain on the plains. Back and forth and each choose their own path. This can be confusing to say the least.

We also note an AIS signal from a ship indicating it is adrift with nobody at the helm. Sure enough, its lights are showing red over red. “Red over red Captain is dead”. First time we’ve seen such a vessel.

A sailboat approaches on a collision course. I hail him on the VHF and get a response in English but with a heavy French accent. I ask him what his intentions are in our passing situation. He indicates he will have to go out into the cockpit to see!! He is sailing along off New York harbor and is down below doing something else; sleeping, drinking? He indicates he will pass behind us so we continue on wondering what would compel a person to sail in a such busy environment with nobody on watch.

No sooner had we passed the sailboat than a fishing boat appears on a collision course with Tivoli, I hail them on the VHF and get no response. They are getting closer, I turn away to starboard and they also turn to starboard. I think they’ve seen us and we will pass on the one whistle, port to port. No such luck, he turns straight toward us! Finally I lay on the horns and turn on my very bright LED search lights. He finally sees us and turns away no more than a boat length away. Unbelievable, again a vessel in busy territory paying no attention whatever. We are now past the shipping lanes. I look on the radar and see a column of 5 ships in a row heading toward NYC. I’m happy they are behind us and we don’t have to negotiate a crossing with such traffic doing 15 knots. We motor on.

Thankfully, first light is at 4:30 or so and we are exhausted from too little sleep and too much excitement. But, the challenges of a night-time crossing are behind us. We are approaching Long Island on a direct course to Montauk Point. Water temp has dropped from a balmy 85F in Florida to 66F; cool. The Lugger is liking the cool temps.

By noon we are approaching the easternmost tip of Long Island and soon round Montauk light, pass through a fleet of fishing boats and head for Montauk harbor. We enter the harbor and enjoy the New England architecture, the fishing boats, pleasure boats, and the beautiful anchorage. We are surprised to find the lake nearly empty; the season hasn’t yet begun but just wait.

Changing Course picks us up in their tender and we head to Sea Dweller for docktails. Then we took a shuttle for dinner out. We needed to dig out our warm clothes, long pants, socks….jeez.

Crashed at 10 and slept like a rock.

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