Getting Re-Oriented

Orient, NY was our home away from home when we lived in New York City.  It was the perfect balance to hectic city life with lots of space, great sailing and peace and quiet.

Bug Light welcomes you to Orient Harbor

Bug Light welcomes you to Orient Harbor

Sitting on the eastern-most end of Long Island (get it, so far east it is the Orient) sits our historic village of less than 800 people.

Orient Historical Society

Orient Historical Society

Latham's Farm Stand

Holly's chicken

Our neighbor’s free range chicken

Come on, how much more small town can we get?

For those not familiar with the area, Long Island is in fact aptly named and at the end splits off into two directions.  The South fork is where you’ll find gorgeous ocean beaches, gorgeous homes and gorgeous people, aka the Hamptons. And on the North fork you’ll find waterfront vineyards, working farms and gorgeous people.

The gorgeous people of Orient ;-)

The gorgeous people of Orient – Holly and Phil and John and Martha

Halyard swing

Halyard swing

We were a bit nervous to return, worrying that perhaps our memories were rose colored and that reality would reveal something less.  But we were over the moon to find the hamlet had not changed and the small changes that have happened were for the better.   We were welcomed by our friends Phil and Holly and Martha and John, and kids.

Love seeing friendly faces welcoming us back.

Love seeing friendly faces.

We anchored in front of the yacht club, which allowed for easy dinghy docking and shoreside access.

Neko in Orient

Neko in Orient

OYC

OYC

OYC Jr. ragatta

OYC junior regatta

The yacht club’s junior racing program is really the envy of the area.  When we were there, Orienters took all the top spots in an Opti regatta with 6 or so different clubs joining.  The training goes on 6 days a week.

“Too much tiller, Margot” is what this poor young girl heard all during her lesson.

We were thrilled to learn about the oyster biz from our pals at Oysterponds Shellfish Co.

Reg Tuthill

Reg Tuthill

Frank checking the fruits of his labor.

Frank checking the fruits of his labor. “It takes Oysterpond oysters about 18 to 20 months of growth before 75-80% are ready for market. The creek warms up faster, cools down slower and is filled with lots of food for the oysters brought in with the strong flow of water.”*

Orient has a deep history in oysters, in fact Orient was once know as Oysterponds and oystermen thrived harvesting them from 1874 until the brown tide killed them off in the 1980s.  “The algae wasn’t poisonous to the oysters but out competed all the other algae and left the water filled with 99% brown tide which the oysters didn’t like to feed upon. It still shows up in some areas but not at the levels of the 1980″s.”*              *From local historican John Holzapfel

The Tuthill family has the privilege of owning the water rights to the estuary where Oysterponds Shellfish Co. harvest their critically acclaimed oysters.  Their family was one of the original settlers in Orient as deeded by the King of England in 1640s

But aquaculture is alive again and our buddies Phil and John are really helping the old guard ramp up operations.   I think we helped them plant close to a half million baby oysters.

Cruz in the estuary

Cruz in the estuary

Oyster unloading

Step 1 – Unloading half a million oyster seeds

Step 2 spread out baby oysters

Step 2 spread out baby oysters. These seeds are about the size of your thumb nail.

Step 3 count out baby oysters and load in growing bags

Step 3 count out baby oysters( they are about 5 months old) and load in growing bags

Step 4 carry oyster bags to

Step 4 carry mesh oyster grow bags to “plant” in the bay.

Step 5 Planting oyster bags

Step 5 Planting oyster bags where they will grow doubling in size every 10-15 days. “It takes Oysterpond oysters about 18 to 20 months of growth before 75-80% are ready for market. The creek warms up faster, cools down slower and is filled with lots of food for the oysters brought in with the strong flow of water.”*

Roberto shucked some mature ones right on the spot, and they are delicious.  If you see Oysterponds oysters anywhere, get them!  They are hearty and briny and perfect.

shucks

Down the hatch.

Down the hatch.

Lucy watching every move

Wild dingoes in the area

Speaking of local foods, it was nice to sample some of the local fares again.  Farm stand produce, clams that Phil dug up with his hands, mussels that we pulled out of Hallocks Bay.

Birds in Hallock's Bay

Geese in Hallock’s Bay

Mary musseling musselsFarm to table has always been a way of eating here, not just the latest trend and it continues to flourish.  The nearby town of Greenport has some exceptional restaurants, The Frisky Oyster is as good as ever, even if its prices are higher than ever.   Newcomer Brix & Rye has an incredible bourbon selection and delicious food.  And Little Creeks’ fun shuck-your-own oysters has taken over White’s bait and tackle shop right at Mitchell Park Harbor.  Linton’s store, now that he sold it it goes by its real name of the Country Store, has been taken over by a young couple selling very good sandwiches and prepared foods.  Orient country store signThe little store in East Marion has been transformed into a gourmet food store called Fork and Anchor.  Greenport has a brewery making craft beers.  And of course, all those vineyards are going strong.

Holly and Mary spending the afternoon wine tasting.

Holly and Mary spending the afternoon wine tasting.

Vineyard

Vineyard

Mary, Pete and Phil

Fun night with Phil and Holly in Greenport

I know these names don’t mean anything to most of you, but these places deserve a plug, check them out if you are ever out this way.   People complain about the strict conservation and preservation rules out in Orient, but we hope they hold strong and keep up the fight because in our travels we’ve seen how overdevelopment ruins a place.  And Orient is a rare pearl worth treasuring. Long Island Sound

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Cape Crusaders

Whew, what a ride. We wanted to make up for time lost in Fort Lauderdale and get to our old northern stomping grounds. So we screamed up the coast from South Florida to Orient NY in 3 weeks.   Along the way we dealt with some of the gnarliest capes that the US east coast has to offer.   Although we were really moving, we enjoyed our time in Charleston. However, it ended all too soon and we were then on a 200 mile jaunt up to Cape Lookout. Lookout is a special place with a big circular bay nearly bereft of development.

DSC_0208

Cape Lookout lighthouse

Pete kiting Cape Lookout

Pete kiting Cape Lookout

Pete kiting Cape Lookout cu

It’s a great place for kitesurfing (only wish we could have stayed longer).  We also were able to swim in the water again (a little creepy because of all the shark attacks in the area) and we and R&R Kedger trekked out to spy on the wild horses living on Shackleford Banks. Cape Lookout is a wild and beautiful place, and we hope to return someday.

Our first sighting of the wild horses off in the distance.

Our first sighting of the wild horses off in the distance.

horse #5

orange wildflowers

orange wildflowers

Mary spotting the horses

Mary spotting the horses.

they don't seem to mind if you don't get too close

They don’t seem to mind if you don’t get too close.

Pete and Lucy scout for horses

Pete and Lucy scout for horses

wild ponies sauntering across the dunes

wild ponies sauntering across the dunes

But we had a schedule to keep so we shot over to nearby Beaufort for one night to fuel up and hit the road the next morning.   From what little we saw of Beaufort, we liked it. It’s a cute little old town making a living like so many places off the tourist dollar. It has a lot going for it with its preserved houses and beautiful nature just out the door.

Beaufort, that's bow-fort

Beaufort, that’s bow-fort

They know how to grow a delicious shrimp in the Carolinas.

They know how to grow a delicious shrimp in the Carolinas.

We had a decent weather window and would not have a good one again for a while. So we were presented with the choice of staying in Beaufort/Lookout for about a week to wait for the next window or moving out. With NY calling, we headed out into some of the worst seas we have ever been in. Lucky for us it was just the ocean swell built up from a week of 20 knot winds meeting the outgoing tide from Beaufort. It made for steep 10 footers which had Neko pointing at the sky and next at the deep. But once we got about 5 miles out the waves smoothed out a bit and we were able to turn to take them on the quarter. Life got better.

This leg would have us round notorious Cape Hatteras, the graveyard of ships. This is a treacherous cape that sees low pressure systems spinning off the coast as if being hurled out by the weather gods. They meet up with the Gulf Stream, which passes very close to Cape Hatteras, and often combine to create treacherous seas and nasty squalls. It’s not a place to trifle with.   Lucky for us we had a good weather window and saw only brief periods of high winds and the lightning fireworks show stayed mainly inshore. And are we glad it did – at the point of the cape there were continuous lightning strikes onshore that were so visible and lasted so long it seemed like a colossal Frankenstein experiment.

Hatteras lightening show

Hatteras lightning show

Breathing a sigh of relief as we left Hatteras behind, we set our sights on our next cape – Cape May in good old Joisey (leaving aside Cape Henry and Cape Charles, which we just passed in the night).  Pulling into Cape May after 3 days at sea was such a relief.

Cape May New Jersey

Cape May New Jersey

Fishing Boats Cape May

Fishing Boats Cape May

It was interesting to hear the accents on the VHF change from the slow southern drawl of South Carolina to the tighter drawl of North Carolina and Virginia to the oddly specific accent of those hailing from the Philly-Delaware-South Jersey axis. It is a sound I am very familiar with and knew we were back in home waters.

However, it was just a quick stop. We headed out the next day for the 200 mile trip around Montauk Point (well, they could have called it a cape) and on into Orient Harbor for our long awaited arrival back in Orient.

Happy to see the  familiar Montauk lighthouse signaling us home.

Happy to see the familiar Montauk lighthouse signaling us home.

Catching blue fish left and right.

Catching blue fish left and right.

Oh how sweet to again drop anchor in these familiar waters. The last time we did so was on Quint years ago but nothing ever changes in this place and it looks exactly the same. We don’t have a home any more, but this place feels as much like one as anywhere.

Orient's Bug Light

Orient’s Bug Light

OYC sailing lessons

OYC sailing lessons

Anchored in front of our little Yacht Club

We anchored in front of our little yacht club

Our old Island Packet

Our old Island Packet “Quint” moored in Orient Harbor in 2007.

Southern Hospitality

Dateline Charleston, SC: First order of business is to clarify that even though we are back in the US and closer to our old stomping grounds, we are not done with this adventure yet. One of our original goals had been to sail back to the NY area to meet up with family and friends, and we are very excited to be doing that. But it is not the end of this journey. I think when that time comes we will just feel it and it is not here yet. So, we are taking this opportunity to visit favorite places and, perhaps more exciting, to visit parts of the US one or both of us have never seen. We may be domestic, but many places are still foreign to us.

Lovely homes line the Charleston Battery

Lovely homes line the Charleston Battery.

Another benefit is that family and friends are closer at hand for quick visits. They aren’t burdened with trying to cram their week’s vacation into our wildly unpredictable schedule. Pete’s brother Matt was first to arrive for a 4th of July/Brothers Malloy visit during our stop in Charleston, SC.

Brothers Malloy lineup

The Brothers Malloy.

Returning crewmember Chris was able to bring his whole family, giving us the chance to meet our new niece Sophia.

Pete convinced Emma they could run through the fountain without getting wet.

Pete convinced Emma they could run through the fountain without getting wet.

and....

and….

Emma learning not to trust Uncle Pete

Emma learning not to trust Uncle Pete.

We even caught back up again with fellow cruisers Rob and Rose, who we’ve sailed off and on with since Pacific Mexico.

We love seeing our boat buddies Rob and Rose  arrive to share in the fun.

Now the party can start.

We arrived in Charleston to a harbor buzzing with Coast Guard and police boats.   We later learned it was security for President Obama who was giving the eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of 5 church members shot to death at the Emanuel A.M.E. church.

cross in wet lands

It was truly inspirational to see the families and the city of Charleston rising above and forgiving, persevering and seeking light from such a dark and repulsive act.

These uplifting banners were found throughout town.

These uplifting banners were found throughout town.

AME church note

AME church flowers

Hundreds of flowers line the front of the church.

AME hydrant

Charleston is dripping with charm and history and bacon fat (the food is delicious but geez have they met a dish they haven’t merged with a pig part).   Don’t get me wrong, we didn’t let that stop us and we ate and ate and ate. Hell, who doesn’t love a homemade biscuit or eating catfish for breakfast?

You know how I know I’m getting older, no not that it is harder to lose weight from all those biscuits or recover from a hangover, it is I’m going on a walking tour or taking a corny carriage ride and, gasp, enjoying it.

Carriage ride

All aboard the middle age express.

yes of course I worried about the horse.

Yes, of course I worried about the horse.

Where once I scoffed at guides leading me around with a group of other camera toting gawkers, I now find them a perfect way to get the lay of the land and god forbid learn a thing or two. Afterwards we can tackle the city on our own, seeing it at our pace and once again being too cool for guide books. Humidity be damned, we walked and walked (remember we ate a lot of biscuits) soaking in the gorgeous architecture, landscapes and everything else the low country had to offer.

Southern hospitality wasn’t just for us, Charleston is one of the dog friendliest towns we’ve been to and Lucy was welcomed almost everywhere we went.

Some of the best houses were down these alley streets

Some of the best houses were down these alley streets.

Lucy riding into town.

Lucy riding into town via the marina’s courtesy shuttle…now that is first class.

Caught red handed (or mouthed) Pete and Lucy sampling hot sauces

Caught red handed (or mouthed) Pete and Lucy sampling hot sauces.

Lucy found a new house for us.

Lucy found a new house for us.

But it’s not only about horses and dogs, we had another raccoon incident.  This little guy somehow found his way onto the our dock, and was caught by Lucy actually trying to climb up our water hose to get on the boat.  Since the dock is long and far from the shore, he was certainly not where he belonged.

Wanna be crew

Wanna be crew.

The marina called the critter catcher who scooped him up and we were sad because we know where wayward raccoons go (and not to a big farm out in the country).  But we later saw some commotion on the dock and heard that the little guy opened his cage and got out.  But not to be deterred, the critter catcher caught him again.  However, this guy was determined and once again opened his cage and escaped.  This time he scampered into the marsh and the catcher said he would not go after him a third time.  So here’s to a determined little guy.  May he live long and prosper.

He sure is cute

He sure is cute.

Note to cruisers: The Charleston City Marina was full of some of the most helpful folks we’ve met. They welcomed us and Lucy with open arms and dog biscuits. They provide a free shuttle service into town yet it is walkable if desired. If you are in the anchorage it is a quick dinghy ride to the marina’s dinghy dock.   If you do go into the marina and they assign you to the Megadock be sure to request the inside. When those summer storms roll in the boats tied to the outside were getting tossed around like corks.

Here comes the rain again

Here comes the rain again.