Sunday, 20 November 2011
We left New York City alongside another Canadian vessel. Edgar and Ginette, a retired couple from Quebec on route to their winter home in Florida. Getting out of Hudson River and into the New York Bay was a big deal for them, because it marked their first salt water passage. They had come to New York by the way of Lake Champlain and the Erie Canal, and had been anticipating this part of the voyage. They said they were relieved to know that they can follow in the footsteps of 2 experienced sailors. Ha!!! I certainly don't think of myself as an experienced sailor, but hearing them say that boosted my confidence just a tad. We proved to be most adequate guides with the fair winds and sunny skies on our side, and shortly before dusk both boats were safely anchored in the protected harbour of Atlantic Highlands on the Jersey side.
Here we spent 3 productive days making improvements to the boat and re-provisioning. We hated losing time, but staying put meant we could tend to a battery issue that has been puzzling us for some time now. We installed a new battery bank four months ago, but as of late it wasn't holding the charge for more than a few hours. The wind generator and solar panel just couldn't keep up with our power consumption and we have had to run our engine a few times a day to keep the charge topped up. A new set of batteries should certainly hold for at least 3 days while we're on anchor and not connected to shore power, but ours were not. Something wasn't right. We purchased a battery tester at a local hardware store, and sure enough ours were flat. They were back to the state we found them in after they got flooded in the big storm, corroded and just looking sad. Drying and cleaning the terminals proved a lost cause. There was no other choice but to purchase new ones. We got lucky and bought a set from a local dealer that was willing to drive them over to the marina where we were anchored.
We spent all of the following day hauling the old ones out of the bilge and setting the new ones in. Of course Gabe did all of the heavy lifting and dirty work, while I helped prep cables and handed him tools as needed. It reminded me of helping out my dad when I was a little girl. My dad is a bit of a McGiver, just like Gabe. They're both very handy, Renesainse men, who know a little bit about everything. Back in Poland, my dad used to build and repair sound systems, tinkling around with transistor radios and amplifiers. Whenever he worked I hovered over his station, watching him dissect all sorts of electronics. I remember the bright, focused light of his table lamp and the solder smoke emerging from the glittering guts below. I like to think that everything my dad tried to teach me somehow made me better suited for this vagabond lifestyle, where every bit of skill comes in handy. By the end of the day we had finished everything that needed to be done before the next leg of the trip. Repairs - check, full water tank - check, diesel - check, new bottle of Baileys for the morning coffee - check. We were set to go.
Stealing past the fishing boats nodding off in the marina, we set course for the southern Jersey shore at 5 AM on Friday. Following closely behind us were our new friends, Ginette and Edgar.