Waiting for repairs

Trip Start Jul 21, 2001
Trip End Apr 22, 2002

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Flag of United States  , New York
Wednesday, September 19, 2001

Written on Monday, September 24

The past two weeks have been like being put on HOLD and not being able to hang up the phone. A number of our friends have suggested that we should just put the boat up for the winter, come back home and try again next year. One friend made us envious by quoting the prices for a Caribbean vacation listed in today's Toronto Star. Unreal, best prices in a decade.

"Why go on?" is a good question. It is certainly safer, cheaper, maybe even wiser to see the Bahamas in a different way so why not go home and curl and snowmobile and go south once a month when we get bored or the winter is too cold? Gee, this sounds so tempting as I write it that I'm starting to ask myself the same question.

The answer is hard to put into words but I'll try. Margaret and I have enjoyed reading the stories, since 1996, of the attempts on Mt. Everest starting with the book "Into Thin Air" and each of its antecedent books. People for the past five years have been paying up to $65,000 U.S. to climb Mt. Everest. For the same dollar, they could climb hundreds of mountains in their own locale but none of them would be Everest. That's the cost if you want to do it badly enough. It's not the climb, it's not the thrill of spending 1 hour on top of the mountain, it's fulfilling a dream, of testing your abilities to achieve a goal you've set for yourself. It doesn't matter what the goal is. It is unique to each individual or couple. What's important in our mind is that you set a goal and then work to achieve it overcoming any obstacles in the attempt.

This past weekend, we spent with Anne and Bruce Miller. Her goal, and her friend's, is to run the Philadelphia Marathon. I met them as they came up the driveway and asked them their time. They didn't even have stop watches to record the time it took them to do 18 miles that morning. I thought every marathoner was obsessed with their time but they didn't care about their time. Their goal is to compete and finish. Time goals were important for other people. Afterwards, they'll set new goals maybe in the same field, maybe time goals, maybe a challenge in an entire new direction.

Our goal is a rather modest one - to sail our own boat to the Bahamas. Overcoming any obstacles in our way, has been our goal for many years. Today, we are following the course of a hurricane as it comes up the Atlantic seaboard. Well, I guess that or another one is just the next challenge and we'll face it when and if it comes.

Now, I'll try and summarize the past 10 days.

September 14

RAIN ALL DAY. Enough said?

We spent most of the day watching our TV set. The local PBS network has arranged free television news coverage for all viewers who don't have cable. We have been able to watch ABC and the local updates on the news channel, we have heard so many similar stories. They interviewed the President of one company of 300 workers on the very top floors. He was late coming to work on Tuesday because he took his son to preschool. He arrived as the tower was coming down. He met with the remaining staff and their commitment to rebuilding their company in order to care for the families of their fallen coworkers was outstanding. Throughout the day, in addition to the political responses, the station presented the human side of the people affected by the tragedy. By the end of the day, we were emotionally drained even though we had no friends or relatives connected to the tragedy. How much worse for those who watched the days events knowing their loved ones would never come home.

September 15

The 15th was a sunny day. The President and the Mayor had said that we must not give in to terrorism. While there is grief, go out and show them that we continue our lives. Well, I'd try that train once again.

Margaret was pleased to have a day to herself without my restlessness. This time, I enjoyed a perfect train ride to Grand Central Station. No bombs, no threats, a "normal" day. I enjoyed the view as we sped along the east side of Manhattan on the Harlem River. We will never see it from the boat and thus this was an unique opportunity.

We had visited New York a decade previously and were not impressed. At that time the "Bonfire of the Vanities" was a bestseller and it gave a very accurate description of what we saw; burnt and stripped cars at the side of the road, filthy streets, terrible crimes in the subways and Central Park. None of that was evident. This was a much different city.

As the train pulled in to the Harlem station, I saw a number of empty buildings with windows broken but the streets were clean and I saw no evidence of abandoned cars and no vandalism. As we went deeper into Manhattan, it even improved. I would say New York is coming close to Toronto's standards and this, at a time of such tragedy and disruption to normal services.

After exiting at Grand Central Station, my first expedition was a cab ride to the Sea-Air-Space Museum at Pier 86. Bad Decision!!! Ten men with blue jackets emblazoned with 4 inch high lettering saying FBI and carrying automatic shotguns, etc. were standing guard at the museum. I and all the people who had just come off a bus were politely turned away. So much for returning the city to normal!!!

Now there were no cabs, so I walked to Times Square and then to the Rockefeller Center. I learned the other museums were open so I took a bus and cab to the American Museum of Natural History opposite Central Park. Wonderful exhibits! The one that I found most meaningful was the "Hall of Biodiversity" in which was exhibited one example of each species on the planet. Incredible to see in one area all the examples of the diverse life forms found on this planet.

September 16

We received an email from an American friend of ours who stated, "An Arabic boy in my son's school has received many death threats, has not been in school since Tuesday."

This is another of the tragic aftermaths of Sept. 11. We watched an interview with a sensitive and articulate Arabic elementary school principal. Her students were all born in the U.S. and a number had parents or relatives who worked in the World Trade Center. Yet people had phoned and threatened to "wash the streets with the blood of her students". Her interview, as with so many others, brought tears to our eyes.

In the afternoon, we were very fortunate to have a fellow sailor, Harold Buckingham, come over and offer to drive us to a shopping mall in Tarrytown to pick up supplies. Harold, thank you so much for an excellent afternoon and, as you read this, best wishes on your new wind vane.

September 17

Our insurance company has been very helpful during this confused time and permission received from the insurance adjuster to commence an estimate of damage. We motored across the river to Julius Petersen's Boatyard. Mystic Loon was hauled out and all the hull and all equipment was checked to prepare an estimate. We could have waited until we heard from the insurance company officially that they would honour the estimate but because of our good treatment to date, I just signed for the repairs with the hope (and prayer) that everything would work out.

September 18

The parts were ordered and Margaret and I called a taxi to take us to the area mall. Supposedly, it is the second largest mall in America. It certainly is big but as the service manager here at the boat yard said, "It is an industrial looking mall." We didn't know what he meant until we were in the mall. It is huge but not very pretty and has lots of wasted space. Most of our Canadian malls are much more attractive and many have more stores just much less wasted space; for example, Eaton's Centre and Sherway Gardens in Toronto. We have also been in Canada's largest mall - the Edmonton Mall. Now that is an unbelievable mall.

I bought a Gore-Tex jacket for a great sale price. Also Margaret bought me my Christmas present. A Kodak DX3500 digital camera 2.2 megapixels, 3x digital zoom, 8 meg of memory. Hope to have some good pictures for our web site.

September 19

Many of the parts came and the electronics man spent most of the day working on the boat. Although he worked steadily, work went slowly. The new battery charger and radio and CD player are installed. The new depth sounder and speed log are half way installed as there were lots of problems removing the old hardware. The boat is a mess as we have to move so much storage to get at everything.

The boat is up on blocks and supports. Unfortunately it is on an angle with the port side lower than the starboard and tilted with the bow higher than the stern; therefore, for sleeping, my feet are a little higher than my head and during the night we both roll to port. While eating, it's funny to see a glass of milk or cup of coffee tilted both ways.

We don't know how long we will be here as some parts still need to arrive. In addition, the Coast Guard only allows transients to sail past the George Washington bridge from 9am to 4 pm during the week and not at all on weekends. In other words, even if they finish with us on Friday afternoon we're still stuck.

Oh well, we have our health and with the recent tragedies we feel we are very fortunate. The people working on the boat are excellent and so is the equipment which is being installed.

Some of it is identical to the brand new equipment which we just purchased for the trip but those items more than five years old have all been superseded by technology and the replacement items are unbelievably superior to the old stuff. For example, the solar panel is shot and its corresponding replacement today puts out twice the wattage. I am paying extra money to buy a deluxe GPS WAIS chart plotter which will interface with our Autopilot. The company which made my old log and speed indicator is defunct and the new log and speed indicator will be Raytheon and thus will interface with the Sea Talk technology used in the Autopilot and GPS system.

I'm also purchasing an additional C-MAP which is a computer card which will give the chart plotter all the maps down the eastern seaboard to the Chesapeake. When we are in Florida, I'll purchase the latest card for the Eastern Florida coast and the Bahamas. Unreal technology and it all interfaces.!
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