The view of New York City I never thought I would see for myself occurred from the cockpit of Louise at sunrise before its population arose. Those who were awake, must have been drinking coffee and quietly preparing for their day just as I was for my own. It was by far the most tranquil morning we had all week. Curious if anyone in their high rise apartments even noticed the unexpected 45 knot wind that almost blew our house into a rock wall the night before. Envious of the walls that protected the city-goers from the squall, yet proud of Louise for handling it with slightly less grace than the powerfully built towers.
It always a nice reminder when mother nature storms in unannounced to remind you that she is boss. I find myself a little jealous of her. I wish I was capable of that.
There is an anchorage just around the corner from the Statue of Liberty, next to Liberty park. We dropped the hook with a generous amount of space in-between us, a break wall, rock pilings, and two other sailboats. Checking the radar several times through out the day, the blob on the screen looked harmless and no different from every other blob we find ourselves in. Honestly, I thought nothing of it. We were safely anchored, with our trusty bruce and plenty of room to swing. Moments away from falling asleep, Louise became abruptly unsettled. I gave the radar one last check to see that the blob was overhead. Before either of us could even get out of bed, Louise began violently twisting and fighting the anchor. I turned on the VHF WX to listened to current local conditions as if sitting right in the middle of it wasn’t giving me answeres. The voice crackling through the speaker was advising all boaters to seek shelter. Fifty five mile per hour gusts, and hail. Huh? Katie ran to let out more scope.
It was too late to re-locate. It was too late to set up another anchor. Sure, we could have dropped our old, weightless Danforth over the side for cheap insurance. However the velocity of wind made the Danforth seem like a worthless toy. The squall was on top of us, and we were below in it’s mercy. Whoa. When I say the wind came up quick, I mean quicker than I drive my truck while blasting Taylor Swift. We both scrambled around the cockpit, grabbing any loose items that could soon be abducted. Pushed back the Bimini to prevent it from acting as a sail. Looked to the right, and saw one of the other two sail boats, had drug anchor. It was violently smashing up against a cement wall not far from where we were. No one was aboard. Oh sweet baby jesus, were we next? Whipping back and forth 90 degrees, I had visions of our anchor line snapping at the weight of Louise’s fight. If not that, surely we would drag anchor and end up over yonder with a new next door neighbor. I had a feeling a rock piling, or that boat break dancing on the cement wall would not make for a fun neighbor. Almost immediately I turned the engine on. If either two options above occurred, it wouldn’t have been more than 30 seconds to blow right into a house sinking situation.
For an hour, I had Louise in forward gear steering towards the anchor in hopes to relieve tension off the anchor, and it’s line. Katie and I sat in the cockpit in our foul weather gear driving Louise in the rain, going nowhere. We held Louise into the wind with just enough throttle to reduce aggressive whip lash. Sweating in my foul weather gear, I was more soggy from nerves than I was rain. We didn’t drag. We stayed right where we dropped the Bruce in the first place. Katie clocked 45 knots on the wind finder. We have a new found faith in our ground tackle. Louise and bruce, my friends… you did well. It was scary. Thats all.
The next morning Katie kayaked Reggie to shore. The sailboat that had been bashing into the wall was still afloat. When she returned she described its’ condition as “lucky.” The bow sprit cracked, remaining attached only by the connection to the forestay. The seam where the deck meets the haul was split open. Abrasions lined the haul. Still no one was on board. It was obvious it’s owner, wherever he or she was…was completely unaware of the situation. Quietly we pulled away from Liberty Park the following morning on just a few hours of rest. The blue, purple, orange and yellow sky seemed to make everything okay again.
Over two months of traveling up the Atlantic coast from Key West, it was by far our most frightening evening. Hiccups have been minor, mostly engine related issues versus weather related. I will take engine issues over squalls any day. We are not far from home now. Besides sections of the Great Lakes, the remainder of our travels will be through narrow, protected waterways. But it doesn’t matter. Anything can happen. You are only in control of the choices you make, but not often in the way in which you are forced to make them. I yeild.
“You have done well girls. But don’t you dare forget about me.” – Mother Nature.
Before I forget to share my favorite shots of the year, please enjoy Katie, Jessie, Julia, and Olivia on a boat dot com celebrating the greatest day of the year… 4th of July. It’s been fun New York…Cape Cod… Staten Island… East Coast. See you again one day Atlantic Ocean. Hello fresh water…hello Great Lakes….hello Canada….