A Gotham Halloween

10/31/2007, Jersey City, NJ


My grandfather, a police officer in Boston., was known to turn a phrase. Upon seeing something particularly outlandish (let’s say a woman adorned with a fox skin hat) he’d comment, “The things you see when you haven’t got your gun.”

A paraphrase of that saying came to mind on Wednesday night, as Sima and I sat at an outdoor cafe at an intersection in NYC’s Tribeca. I wanted my camera. It was Halloween night in NYC, and everywhere one looked, kids walked, ran, and meandered in their holiday finest. At any given moment, there were 100 kids chased by their parents within eyesight. The tradition in this NYC neighborhood is for Trick-Or-Treating at the various neighborhood bakeries, cafes, and shops. For example, a vampire at the door of the cafe where we sat gave out vanilla cookies. Then, when those ran out, pieces of lemon cake. Next door it was chocolate clusters. It was really spectactular. Sima and I would find various costumes and show each other, pointing and laughing. We’d make eye contact with the parents and give them thumbs up, a gesture they happily welcomed. We had two favorites – a toddler with bright red hair and a green hat with Yoda ears who ran back and forth in and out of the store as his father chased him, and a new-born dressed as curious George. It was a real neighborhood celebration, with kids and their parents paired up, talking about the goodies gathered and sharing neighborhood gossip. The night came to a close when we rode the water taxi back with a father and his four kids returning home from Trick-Or-Treating; the kids paid their fare with candy that they’d collected. For our part, we have a Jack-O-Lantern hoisted up and our halloween dishtowels in our galley.

What’s new on the sailing front? We’ve stalled for a few days in Jersey City, NJ. We had intended to be here for just a couple of days, but we’re now on day five. The engine is overheating, and we’ve been trying to figure out why. We thought we had the problem licked yesterday, when we pulled out a disintegrated impellor. That was replaced, and the engine ran well, with the wet exhaust again working. But it hasn’t solved the overheating problem. We are pulling the heat exchanger today to clean that out. If that doesn’t solve the problem, we’ve got a few more places to look. Hopefully it isn’t something more serious (such as a problem with the combustion system), and we can get out without bringing in a professional.

The overheating problem manifested itself in a spectacular manner, by the way. With the boat packed with sister Jean and her kids for a pleasant motor by the statute of liberty, Jean remarked, “There’s smoke coming from the cabin!” Indeed there was! The antifreeze was boiling, the radiator cap released, and steam filling the engine room. So much for a calm afternoon trip around NYC Harbor. The trip has been a combination of troubleshooting equipment failure, on the one hand, and enjoying the sights, on the other. It was good to share with the family a little bit of both.

We’d have to lay up these next couple of days anyway. Tropical Storm Noel is moving offshore, with 14 foot waves and 60 knot winds. Great for my nephew Tommy Krebs to go out surfing, but not so hospitable for our sailboat.

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