Steppingstone: the good, the bad and the ugly

Steppingstone was not really bad or ugly once we had figured out where not to sail in our immediate area; the Steppingstone rocks appear at low tide. Well, the amount of litter and flotsam that regularly turned up on the beach here was kind of bad and ugly but that was not the marina’s fault. The East River either flows from or into the Long Island Sound (LIS) depending on the tide and no doubt brings much of the garbage that seems to accumulate on the shore here.
At anchor
The things that were good about the Steppingstone marina is that it was cheap since Noah is a resident of Great Neck, and it is fairly close to NYC where both Matt and I both lived at the time. The worst part of this arrangement for us ‘city folks’ was the drive out and back which could quickly harsh the mellow generated by a nice sail by being stuck in a summertime traffic jam. I liked having the boat on the salt water where you could feel the salt on your skin after being out on the boat for just a few hours. Having a boat meant that we could experience some of the views of the world that the land bound never get to see from this perspective.
Golden sunset
Our first summer with Odalisque was uneventful and we enjoyed many day sails and Noah and I and a few of his boys caught some Bluefish by trolling with our sailboat. The only fly in the ointment was something that we all had noted and commented on. We all noticed that our mooring had only a single pennant whereas most of the other boats used two pennants. I suspect that each of us hoped the others would take care of the shortcoming with our mooring gear, instead we focused on using and enjoying the boat.
Smiles all around
Jessie by Throgg's Neck Bridge
Summer turned into fall and I had found the cheapest nearby boat yard in Glen Cove and paid the winter fee. On a weekend day in October I had planned to take ‘Odalisque’ back to Glen Cove the weather turned out to be wonderful, warm and instead of doing the work that a little voice inside my head told me needed to be done ASAP we enjoyed one more day sail, deferring our haul out until the following weekend. I have since learned to listen harder to the little voices in my head.
During the next week a fall storm blew in and packed 40 knot gusts out of the west on the 3 mile fetch where we were moored. Our single pennant that had no (yes, zero) chafing gear on it parted when it wore down the wood in our teak toe rail and found a bronze flat headed wood screw. Around 9 pm I got a call from Noah who had gone down to check on the boat and he sent me some pictures from his cell phone of our boat wedged underneath the very end of someones private dock, bow first. I called Matt. We were in a bit of a panic. We called Boat US, our insurer, who dispatched a local salvor to find our boat which I think was a better choice then trying to save her ourselves; we being pretty green as keel boat sailors and the dangerous conditions on the water.
Around midnight we got word from the salvage company that they had towed our boat to a marina on City Island. I felt doubly bad that we had not just spent the extra $50 on a new pair of pennants and install them ourselves but the damage was done. The next day we discovered that the furler had been bashed into the dock shredding our foresail, a piling had ground a 12″ x 2″ gouge into the hull deck joint on the port bow, the bow pulpit was badly damaged but the engine started right up so we motored our salvaged boat to Glen Cove and had her hauled for the winter.
After damage
Professor Noah
In retrospect we probably should have used a marine surveyor to put together a repair estimate for our boat but we did it ourselves. Our repair estimate came to around $6K for a policy with a stated value of $7K so not surprisingly our boat was deemed a ‘total loss’ by Boat US. I learned something about insurance during this episode. Once the boat is deemed a ‘total loss’, they own it and will pay you the full stated value of the policy or you could buy the damaged boat back from them which we did. We paid $800 to Boat US and received a check from them for $6200 which we used to get a new furler, new bow pulpit and new sail. I tried to get someone else to do the hull/deck joint repairs but to no avail. I ended up doing it myself and the job came out looking not too bad for an intermediate level skilled person. I also had my friend Godfrey help me with replacing the teak toe rail that was damaged as well.
I subcontracted Doyle sails of Huntington to install a new Furlex roller/furler and a new 150% genoa. We bought and installed a new bow pulpit for $750 from (rip-off) and replaced the holding tank that winter/spring.
I probably shot myself in the foot when I winterized the engine that first year. I had not yet discovered Moyer Marine’s forum so I did the best I could with the knowledge I had, which was next to nil. The knowledge I had was not enough to save me from embarrassing myself the following spring.

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