Monday, September 28, 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cycling Up

My month in New York City is coming to an end.  Tina and Dan have headed home after making sure that I visited every possible tourist attraction.  It was great fun for me, a combination of revisiting old haunts and finding the new that has been created since the last time I took time to actually enjoy the city.  I think for me the best part was SoHo, I loved the galleries both art and clothing. I even got Dan to correctly pronounce Houston Street.  (No, it’s not the same way they pronounce the city in Texas.)


Dawn is in for the weekend so I will get one last chance to tour the few places I have missed.  Tuesday morning Peter and I will be heading down the “North” a.k.a “Hudson” River and then out into the Atlantic Ocean for the 2 ½ day transit to Hampton Roads.  After a month of being lazy getting ready to take off again is quite a shift.  I am rueing all the tasks that I did not get done – I am an expert in procrastination.  Fortunately Reboot is always pretty much ready to sail, we have gone sailing while I have been here.  But the list – getting the propane tank filled, pump out, fuel, food, rigging the jack lines – nothing difficult – just a desire to be complete can be a bit daunting.


The good news is the repaired AIS unit arrived yesterday.  We will reinstall it before we leave New York.  The purpose of the unit is to broadcast our position to other ships to avoid collisions.  It is much more effective than the radar reflectors of old.  In addition it shows the position of all the other ships on our chart plotter.


The bad news is the Autopilot has not come back from Raymarine.  Not only that but they have not cashed my check – imagine that!  Unless it shows up Monday morning we will be hand steering all 50 hours to Hampton Roads.  At least I know it arrived at the repair center since FedEx sent me a delivery notice.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

September 19th - Trip to Wall Street

Tina, Dan and I spent the day in lower Manhattan.  Our plan was to take the Light Rail to Hoboken, then the PATH to the World Trade Center.  Of course the trains don’t run on the weekends the way I remember them running 41 years ago when I lived in Hoboken.  But after realizing we had to go to
Journal Square
to go back to the World Trade Center it all worked out.

The station at WTC was much as I remembered it.  My guess is that the actual station was outside of the complex and they only had to rebuild the last set of escalators to the street.  You come out directly adjacent to the site.  We were all very disappointed that the powers that be have completely surrounded the site with high opaque fences.  This prevents you from looking down into the pit.  I am sure some bureaucrat can cite some ordinance meant to protect us as the reason for the high walls but they could have made some of them transparent.  I think it would be far better if people could in fact see into the site every day.  Maybe they are just embarrassed that after 8 years they are still arguing about what to do with the site.  No, that can’t be correct; politicians are never embarrassed by their own total incompetence.

We headed due east to St. Paul’s Chapel.  This is an Episcopal church on Broadway that was used as a refuge and place to eat during and directly after the attack.  Volunteers were serving over 2,000 meals a day at the chapel to the emergency workers. It was built in colonial times and is surrounded by a graveyard.  In the graveyard is a bell that was cast in the UK and given as a gift to the United States.  It was cast by the same company that cast the bells for Big Ben and the Liberty Bell.  It was presented on September 11, 2002 and is rung every September 11th.  You can get some sense of our experience at

Entering the chapel is a very emotional experience.  Although the alter area and the central pews are still in place the perimeter of the chapel has been turned into a memorial to the people who died and those who attempted to rescue them.  One display is shoulder patches from all of the organizations involved.  The bottom of the display is a pile of patches 12 inches or more deep.  I found that I had to take reading the displays in very small bites as my emotions were quite overwhelming.

I spent some time people watching.  I was struck by the fact that many of the teenagers looked a bit bored by the entire experience while the parents with them were having the same strong reactions as I.  I attributed this to age; perhaps one has to be a bit older or personally affected before one is able to see the true evil in the actions of the terrorists.

We spent the rest of the day touring the Wall Street area.  The first big change for me was at the New York Stock Exchange.  All of the streets surrounding the building have been permanently closed and blocked with pretty massive tank traps.  We then headed down to Fraunces Tavern where General Washington bid farewell to his officers after the Revolutionary War.  It is also the site where on January 24, 1975 a bomb exploded in the building.  The Puerto Rican nationalist group FALN took credit for the bombing but no one was ever prosecuted.

We headed down to the Governors Island and Staten Island Ferry terminals.  I had visited Governors Island several times when it was both an Army and a Coast Guard base but believed it had been shut down.  I was surprised that the ferry was still running and that there were crowds waiting for the ferry.   It turns out that it is now mostly a New York State park and also partially a National Park Service park.  We continued around to the Battery where we intended to purchase tickets to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  When we got to the Fort Clinton ticket booth we discovered just how late in the day it was, we had missed the last boat!

We continued walking around and went over to the South Street Seaport where we watched some street performers and had dinner.  We then walked back to the World Trade Center to catch the PATH home.  When we reached the WTC we walked around it in hopes of finding a viewing platform.  We did not, but we did of course walk past the fire station that is across the street from the WTC.  On the side of the station is a memorial to the 343 New York City firemen and women who died on September 11th.  It was a sobering display made more so by the fresh flowers and wreaths at the site.  We never did find a viewing platform if there is one but eventually finished the circuit, boarded PATH and made our way home.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sunday Hudson River Sail

For the first time since my arrival in New York City we took Reboot out for a sail.  The weather after two days of rain turned beautiful.  This was nice not only for us but also because Sunday was the “Race for the Cure” in Central Park (about 30,000 runners and walkers) and “Broadway on Broadway” the annual free Broadway Show kickoff concert in Times Square.  Our plan was to fight the current down to the area of the Statue of Liberty and then ride it back up toward the George Washington Bridge.  As always happens the best laid plans didn’t work out that way.  No sooner had we left the marina then we found our way south blocked by a row of Coast Guard Auxiliary boats.  There apparently were motorboat races for Harbor Day.  So we mucked around in midtown and above in winds that clocked all over the compass and went from nothing to 30 knots to nothing in a two or three minute period.  It was not exactly the leisurely sail we had anticipated.

The good news is that we got to see some interesting antique and reproduction boats as Harbor Days was in celebration of Henry Hudson’s discovery of the Hudson River.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Callahan's Hot Dogs

When I was a student at Steven’s Institute of Technology we used to drive up to Fort Lee NJ for the best hot dogs in the world at Callahan’s.  It was a hot dog stand across the street from Palisade’s Amusement Park that survived the closing of the park.


We did Google Map’s and of course both the Fort Lee and Little Ferry locations showed up.  And of course so did the web site.


Long story short after four hours of driving around, only to find both hot dog stands had been replaced by other commercial buildings I returned home to do further web searching.  It turns out that both have been closed and gone for a number of years.  What a waste of an afternoon.




Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sky wave!

Reboot is equipped with a medium frequency/high frequency single sideband (SSB) transceiver.  I use it to keep in touch when out of cell phone (3 to 5 miles) and VHF Marine radio (25 miles) range.  My normal procedure is to check into the Maritime Mobile Service Net on a frequent basis.  They enter the offshore position reports for me.  (For lots of information on the MMSN see  You can also listen in as they have an audio stream of the net on their web site.)

Most of the net controllers are on the east coast of the US with a few in the Midwest and further west.  After putting the mast back up I reconnected the antenna for the radio.  (Since the antenna is also the backstay holding up the mast, no mast up, no antenna.)  I wanted to test that everything was working correctly so I tuned in the net several days in a row.  I heard nothing but was aware that at least the receive side was working as I could hear other stations.  This is not unusual as propagation is a funny thing, sometimes you can hear a station and sometimes not.

Last night I took a break from installing the watermaker and turned on the radio.  Since I could not hear the MMSN I decided to tune around 20 meters and see if I could make contact with anyone to assure myself that the radio was working.  Within a 15 minute period I talked to Croatia, Spain, Germany, and Italy.  Sometimes that sky wave is just burning hot!

Cameras and Wireless Internet

I listened to an interesting interview on TV about technology.  Did you know?


1)  Nokia has built more cameras then all of the film and digital cameras ever build by anyone else?  It helps to be the leader in cell phone production don’t you know.

2)  That the normal timeframe for a generation of cell phone cells (1G, 2G, 3G) is 15 years, but that 4G is so much better that it is expected to roll out in 5 years or less?  And that 3G is about as fast as a DSL line, but 4G is as fast or faster than a cable modem?


Of course I don’t expect 4G towers in the middle of the ocean any time soon.


Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11th, New York City

The weather turned cold and wet last night.  The clouds started to close in at sunset.  By early night the sky was overcast and the New York City was cloaked in fog and light rain.  As I walked back to Reboot I saw the white shaft of light from the World Trade Center site burning thru the clouds and rain.

I was in the executive offices of Fortis when the World Trade Center was attacked.  For some reason we had a television going so we were aware almost immediately of the attacks.  My first concern of course was for my brother who worked in New York City.  I was pretty sure that one of his two sons and his wife were safe, but I was not sure where his older son was working at the time.  As I found out later in the day they were both safe.

The storm came in with a vengeance overnight.  High winds and heavy rain were the agenda for today.  I turned the TV on to find that every channel in New York is covering the memorial service at the World Trade Center site live.  I did not expect to watch the reading of the names of those who died but found myself drawn to listening for more than a minute.  The grief of those who had lost a loved one was of course strong.  I had forgotten how quickly the North Tower fell after the South Tower. During the reading there was a moment of silence when the South Tower fell, then again at the time of the North Tower.

But I was also struck by how much more had been lost.  While the politicians, “community representatives,” architects, and other “interested parties” argue the World Trade Center complex is still a hole in the ground.  Our politicians are attacking the same intelligence agencies that had been shackled by previous political stupidity.  (Do you remember Harry Stimpson’s famous quote about intelligence agencies prior to World War II? “Gentlemen don’t read each other’s mail.”  He was one of the folks who brought us Pearl Harbor.)  Had the intelligence agencies not been shackled could the attack have been prevented?  No one knows.  But I do know that there are still a lot of people out there who just don’t get it but would prefer to believe there are not evil people in the world, just those that are misunderstood.  I have always taught my children that there are “mistakes” and “fatal mistakes.”  There is much I disagree with about the current direction of our government, but most of it, if I am correct that it is destructive of the life I want and the opportunities I want for my sons, can be reversed.  But a weak foreign policy that invites attack is a fatal mistake.  We may ultimately triumph in war but that does nothing for the men and women who die or are crippled defending our freedom and their families.

To those who have lost family and loved ones to the insane attacks of evil people my heart goes out to you.  To my brothers and sisters in arms who risk their lives every day to defend me, my family, and my country know that my thoughts and prayers are with you each and every day.

Weehawken, NJ – September 11, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

High Tides, High Winds

Although the Lincoln Harbor Yacht Club has much to commend it the one downside is that under certain conditions we get a lot of rolling waves thru the marina.  This is due to the fact that we are saving something (not sure if it is a fish, a grub, two lawyers who would otherwise have to work for a living, etc.) so the owner was prevented from putting up all of the break walls he originally planned to install.  The yacht club sits in the open space between two old New Jersey piers.  Both piers have had buildings erected on them, residential on one side, commercial on the other.  The problem is that at low tide the waves can make it under the piers and sweep thru the yacht club.  Apparently putting up sea walls to block the flow of tides would disturb some perhaps sentient beings but more importantly would require several pseudo-hippy Bergen county housewives to find another cause.  So we rock and roll.


With the tropical storm off the Atlantic Coast the wave action has been piling up the tide in the Hudson River.  After several years in the Great Lakes I had forgotten what an impact wave action can have on tides.  This morning when I walked off the floating docks I actually had to walk down, as the water level was well above “high tide.”  Of course the opposite can be true too, the water getting sucked out of the Hudson resulting in lower than normal tide levels.  Tonight the forecast is for high tide to be ½ to 2 feet above normal.


The one good thing is that I am slowly getting Reboot back.  I have been able to unpack a lot of stuff and it is making a difference, I actually have to move less things to work on each project.  Of course I am still suffering from always been one part short of completion of anything.  The next couple of days we are expected to have rain, so that will help me focus on continuing to unpack and get things put away.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Labor Day 2009 - Take me out to the ball game

Gate 6 at the new Yankee Stadium. Tony was kind enough to share tickets to the Yankee game on Labor Day with Ace so I got to see the new Yankee Stadium. We did the trip in the classic New York tradition arriving at the stadium via subway. This is the closest entrance to the "D" train subway stop, it turns out it is also the closest entrance to our seats. The old Yankee Stadium which is across the street from the new one. My father actually sold peanuts in this stadium when he was a kid. Note that he was born in 1913 so you can get a sense of how old this place really is. It was renovated once in the 1970's but the decision was made to build a new stadium rather than renovate this one again. Since I have never been much of a sports fan it is always good to have a rabid fan alone to bring one up to speed. In my case it was my nephew, Bob, who provided all of the necessary insights. This is Derek Jeter at bat. He is four (or was it five) hits away from surpassing Lou Gehrig's record for the most hits for any Yankee. Of course he was hitless the entire game, and it turns out the entire day. Speaking of the entire day, back in the dark ages when I was a child (you know, before dinosaurs roamed the earth) there was this concept of a "double header." One got to see two baseball games on the same day for the price of one. Today however one needs to purchase a ticket for each game. This is a function of how poor the owners have become and how badly they need the additional revenue to make ends meet. As it turned out I watched the evening game on television and Derek was hitless for that game too.
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Thursday, September 3, 2009

September 2nd - Concert on the Hudson

Today I made some progress getting the boat together. It is slow – because I am – but the boxes are disappearing and I am starting to get some living space back again. I am still not over the hump; every time I want to do a project I need to move things to either get to parts, tools, or the space I need to work in.

I went for a walk to stretch my legs and found that there was a free concert just down the street. I decided to go down and listen for a while. The music was great, a mix of jazz, bluegrass and a little soft rock. I had never heard of the group and had forgotten their name by the time I got to the concert. The park is right on the Hudson River so of course the entire skyline of New York was in view. Also, it was a full moon tonight. I had forgotten how bored the children get. Sure enough there were large numbers running and “razoring” around. I think that is the current name for scooter of my youth.

The highlight of the whole concern was of course the encore. It was, I think to everyone’s surprise, One Love by Bob Marley. The band got the entire crowd singing along with them. It was a great finish. Certainly shades of the Caribbean.

This reminds me, it has turned cool here. The boat heat kicks in at night. Thanks to Ed once again who resurrected the heat and air conditioning unit last year between the Bayview – Mac and the Chicago – Mac.

R.I.P. - Kevin Murray

I spoke to Dan and he mentioned that Kevin, the Service Manager at Southwind had suffered a heart attack and passed away soon after I left.  “Boats” was instrumental in getting Reboot ready for salt water.  I know little of Kevin’s personal life other than he had, I believe, two daughters.  He also was close to retirement after 28 years in the Navy and Navy Reserve.


May he rest in peace.


Kevin – Fair winds and following seas.




Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The view from my bow

The Erie Canal "Smile." Yes, its dirty water most of the way!
The Financial Captial of the World. Will it remain that way? Only time will tell.
The NY Passenger Ship Terminal and Intrepid Museum ...
The tall building is of course the Empire State Building. The right most building with a bronze/gold top is Metropolitan Life Insurance Company ("The light that never fails.") My father worked there before and after World War II. He started as a mail hop and ended as a Vice President. This was also the view from my first dorm room at Stevens, he told me to look out each night at "Mother Met" and remember that she was the source of my tuition money.
OK, I cheated, I walked out to the end of the dock...

Cornell Club Reunion, Stevens Institute of Technology, Tuesday, September 1st

This was the “blast from the past” day.


First, Ace invited me to the Cornell Club where he was having lunch with Tony, his law school roommate.  Of course Tony invited his brother Joe (not knowing I was coming) to join them also.  The last time the four of us were together was in 1974 in Vail, CO.  We all still are as young and handsome as we were then.  I also have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale.


On our way home from NYC we detoured into downtown Hoboken NJ, home of Stevens Institute of Technology.  I received my undergraduate engineering degree from Stevens in 1968 and remember visiting it once before, perhaps in the mid-1970’s.  I have not been back since.  Like many small, private, old (1850) engineering schools much remains the same, but there were several new classroom buildings erected since my last visit.  Of course in 1968 Hoboken was about as working class a city as you could find in America.  Now it has been gentrified, the rents are astronomical and I am sure most if not all of the old residents have been run out of town.


A fun day.