Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wickford Cove Fall Sunset

Another spectacular Rhode Island fall sunset, as witnessed aboard sailing vessel Event Horizon while on her home mooring.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Kiting for Google

Google Maps & Google Earth have added new imagery from a kite! A sailor on a five-year sailing trip around the world has been taking photos using a low flying kite. He has an arrangement with Google to overlay his photos, which have a much higher resolution, on the satellite images used in Google Maps and Google Earth. Very cool.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Beat from Block

Despite numerous trips to Block Island over the years, it never fails that one direction will be pure pleasure and the other passage a torture cruise. On this weekend it was the trip home that seemed like it would never end. 30+ nautical mile beat to weather in 30-knots of wind. And lots of saltwater over the bow.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Block Island Fall Sail

S/V Event Horizon sailing in Block Island Sound on Saturday, October 2nd--an idyllic New England fall sail from Narragannsett Bay to Block Island. Photo credit and thanks to Philip Brennan for catching this shot with his cell phone while crewing aboard S/V Martina.

Our cruising companion, S/V Martina, a Swan 44 off Block Island.

Upon arrival to Block Island's New Harbor we discovered most of the rental mooring balls removed, further proof that the sailing season is coming to a close.

Monday, September 27, 2010

North American Sailor :: Online Resource & Entertainment

I want to share a relatively new online sailing publication called North American Sailor, which, as they say, is intended for the "nautically obsessed". Essentially it's a daily stream of the latest sailing news drawn from all over the Web. 

What sets NA Sailor apart from the competition is their presentation style and use of further defined categories; cruising, racing, boats, gear, maintenance and technique. They offer it all--from maintenance tips to racing results--yet with one extra click I can narrow my focus. The NA Sailor team has given careful consideration to the needs of all types of sailors.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Harvest Moon 2010

Unfortunately my Canon Elph camera is not doing justice to my view of tonight's stunning harvest moon.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Newport International Boat Show

Threatening skies on Friday at the fall annual Newport Boat Show, September 16-19.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Earl Who?

It was a surprisingly calm night in Wickford Harbor where Earl’s presence was only felt with a couple of 20kt gusts despite its tropical storm status.

Our next weather system, a cold front, arrived on the tail of over-hyped Earl and is proving to have more wind. By daylight the cold front wind was staying in the 20+ knots range, with gusts in the 30's. A great sailing day, if we had sails on the boat…

Friday, September 03, 2010

Earl's Approach

I’ve been waking up early everyday this week to the sounds of a working travel lift. The noise has continued well into the evening before the tired marina crew finally says enough for one day.  That is until today. By noon today an eerie quiet and grey sky blanketed the harbor. We are only a few hours from meeting the wrath of Hurricane Earl, which has hospitably gone from a category 4 to a 1 in less than 24-hours.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Preparing for Earl

Our hurricane strategy has always been to run. Run to a hurricane hole in Maine. But then Earl came along and has kept the experts guessing with disagreeing computer weather models and us reluctant to move from our sheltered mooring in Wickford Cove. 

The boat traffic into our marina is proof that many boats are opting to get lifted. My captain is forecasting Earl will barely clip Nantucket, plus we feel safer and more in control afloat (verses on stands on land) so as the storm moves closer we have decided to stay. We have removed all canvas from Eve’s deck, turned her around so she will face into Earl's wind, attached extra spring lines to our mooring poles (our "mooring" is between two poles, 60-feet apart), and if needed will drop an anchor.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fishy Surprise

Despite being late August, New England is having some of its warmest summer weather this week. Today it was already so hot by mid-morning that we needed to run the air-conditioning to keep our computers from overheating. Shortly after the boat had started to cool, all of a sudden the air-conditioning system control panel started flashing red “H H H H”, which is notice of overheating, and quickly shut down in safety mode. We couldn’t believe the system picked today of all days to fail!

My captain soon discovered the cause was a blockage in the cooling system. A fish was stuck in the cooling-water intake seacock, which caused a clog and therefore tripped the system. After removal of the fish—sadly not in time to be saved—the seacock was reinstalled and the air-conditioning was back in working order. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

August Low

I’ve been commenting regularly in conversations about the perfect summer weather we have experienced in southern Rhode Island. But as someone wise once said, all good things come to an end.

For the past 2 days the sky at its brightest has been dark gray. The air at its driest has been misty. The wind at its calmest has caused my home to sway uncomfortably.

The wind has blown a steady 30kts for many hours. When I slide open the hatch (my “front door”) to peer outside I see all the boats moving back and forth uncomfortably on their moorings. I don’t linger, I scan my surroundings quickly and then retreat back inside.

The worst of this stormy weather depression must surely be happening now; the need to clutch handrails or walls to walk safely from cabin to cabin, the unsettling noises of the boat creaking have grown louder, the lapping waves against the hull are more forceful, the howling winds are stronger, and my internet connectivity comes and goes.

With all this activity I am grateful to be warm, dry and afloat in a sheltered harbor.

Friday, August 13, 2010

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

8/14/2010 @ 12:02 AM(UTC)
41°25.77'N 070°54.47'W
Course 037T Speed 0.1kts
Wind 111T @ 9.3kts

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Favorite Neighbors '10

My favorite Wickford Cove neighbors are growing fast.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Morning Visitors

Wickford Cove's resident swan couple visited this morning with their four signets, who despite their innocence knew to make constant chirping noises until I tossed them treats. Mother swan is shown in photo.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Where's the Wind?

Busy professional work loads and unusually light winds have kept Event Horizon and crew inside the Narragansett Bay all month. Thanks to friends we have managed a few day sails around Jamestown.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Kevlar, Not So Tough

This morning we went for a sail in the bay to re-calibrate instruments. All of a sudden, while sailing at a decent clip, the main fell down. Our 1-year old Kevlar main halyard had severed.

My captain deduced that the break was due to the inflexibility of the Kevlar fibers over the sheave at the top of the mast. There was no sign of chafe, just a hidden point of failure that we were lucky occurred during manageable wind and close to home.

As a rule we get an extra ten feet on any line we have made for the boat so that we can often get a longer life out of it by turning it around. We were able to take the broken main halyard to the rigger because there was enough line to trim the break and put a new splice at the other end, leaving us with a safe replacement.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rhode Island Motor Vehicle Registration

I am always surprised by how busy we are when we return to our home port in the spring. Despite trying not to ignore administrative matters, inevitably something slips past me. The first concern to surface this year was that I did not received my coveted 2010 Newport resident parking sticker in the mail as expected.

It's already May, which means big changes in Newport, when parking meters are in effect from 8am to 9pm seven days a week through fall. With no time to waste I gathered all of my car documents and proof of residence to take to city hall where I was shocked to learn my car registration had expired in February--only 9 months from the date I had registered my new car! How could this be?

Turns out Rhode Island motor vehicle registration is based on the alphabet, so people with last names starting with A or B, like myself, renew in January. Plus, for the first year the length of registration is always less than one year. (The only mystery that remains is why I did not receive a renewal form in the mail.)

Because I was delinquent more than 3 months, I was forced to re-register verses renew, which means more money and another less-than-one-year registration term. After the first renewal, January 2011 for me, motor vehicle registration is every two years. Now I'm a much smarter RI resident.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

East Coast Pollen Trail

To my disappointment, Event Horizon and crew arrived in Rhode Island ahead of spring. We unintentionally managed to travel north, nearly the entire eastern seaboard, just a head of the 2010 springtime pollen trail. The pale yellow air, reportedly one of the worst pollen seasons on record, has been greeting us in full force just after we arrive.

In the southeastern states the concentrated pollen was due to the unusually cold winter, which caused pollen delays in some trees. Then it was surprisingly warm and dry weather in the northeast that created concentrated pollen causing a lot of people, including my captain, to feel uncomfortable and leaving a sticky yellow coating on everything. The lack of rain has meant the added task--sometimes twice a day--of washing decks and despite keeping the boat closed, yellow powder keeps appearing everywhere down below.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Charleston to Newport

We departed Charleston, SC early on Wednesday, April 21st after convincing our friend Phil Rose to step aboard. The three of us covered 619nm over 4 1/2 days, a slower trip than hoped due to lighter winds than expected. We sailed into Narragansett Bay late on Sunday, April 25th wet, cold and very thirsty.
Overall it was a fun passage, thanks to Phil, that included several sail changes and exciting sea life sightings; sea turtles, several pods of dolphins, and whales including what may have been the largest whale I have ever seen. We were also visited by feathered friends on three separate occasions seeking respite and a free ride closer to shore. For me the trip highlight occurred while we were all sitting on deck a good distance offshore at 1342hrs on Friday. A fighter jet flew down close to buzz us and tilted its wing in a "hello" gesture. It was an incredibly exhilarating experience!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

4/26/2010 @ 12:00 AM(UTC)
41°14.59'N 071°26.36'W
Course 007T Speed 7.3kts
Wind 102T @ 13.9kts

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S/V Event Horizon Position Update

4/25/2010 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
39°53.91'N 072°17.52'W
Course 053T Speed 8.5kts
Wind 157T @ 20.4kts

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

4/24/2010 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
38°09.61'N 074°07.20'W
Course 030T Speed 6.0kts
Wind 001T @ 8.6kts

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Friday, April 23, 2010

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

4/23/2010 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
35°55.51'N 075°13.62'W
Course 007T Speed 7.7kts
Wind 256T @ 18.9kts

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

4/22/2010 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
33°54.78'N 077°12.24'W
Course 059T Speed 6.2kts
Wind 300T @ 11.6kts

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

4/22/2010 @ 12:00 AM(UTC)
33°08.85'N 078°36.06'W
Course 066T Speed 5.1kts
Wind 256T @ 13.4kts

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Newport Bound

My good captain has just informed me that our already-too-short 1-month stay in Charleston is to be further reduced, immediately. A good weather window for sailing home to Rhode Island has presented itself on the GRIB files so we will make final preparations to leave early in the morning.

The faster I shop for provisions and prepare meals for our offshore journey, the longer my last evening of fun in the great city of Charleston...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Charleston Spring

The days are flying by as we take-in a variety of Charleston's restaurants, attractions and nightlife. No wonder this city makes so many best-of lists and that its tourism continues to grow, especially among traveling boaters.

Spring is an especially beautiful time to be in Charleston. We arrived to blooming azaleas, budding trees and thick pollen. Now three weeks later the colors are intense and the trees lush.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Key West, FL to Charleston, SC

Just before high tide on Sunday, March 21, S/V Event Horizon and a crew of three tossed the dock lines at Key West Harbour YCOA for a planned direct passage to Charleston.

Strong steady wind from an approaching cold front and a favorable Gulf Stream delivered us over 540nm in 64-hours, arriving safely at the Charleston City Marina on Wednesday morning, March 24.

The exact distance is unknown because information was lost the first night when we turned the electronics off during a lightening storm. (What's with that Ockam?) On the bright side (ha, ha), my captain and I were less fearful of dying or suffering severe damage than in previous storms since the boat had survived and protected us during a July '09 lightening strike. However, I'm guessing our additional crew member was less convinced of his safety.

While it was a fast trip, it was not an easy passage for this recently dethroned dock princess, hence no daily blog posts filled with passage details. (Sadly, there isn't much written in the ship's log either.) My lack of sea legs and a surprisingly large sea state made for an uncomfortable start. Although fine, I was extra careful to stay on deck, keep hydrated, and eat simple foods. Thankfully, I was feeling fine by the time I went off watch and down below for my first 4-hours of sleep.

The first two days felt more like participating in a rodeo than it did sailing. I just remember holding on and watching the high speed-over-ground numbers. Meanwhile my capable captain was glowing as we sailed close-hauled.

Our guest crew member, Brett, brought capable hands (he's the captain/owner of S/V Muircu, a beautiful Valiant 42) and fun company to the journey.

Despite endless reefing and unreefing, there was no damage done and too few bruises to mention.

Monday, March 22, 2010

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

3/23/2010 @ 12:00 AM(UTC)
27°24.04'N 079°57.71'W
Course 012T Speed 10.5kts
Wind 247T @ 21.1kts

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

3/22/2010 @ 12:00 AM(UTC)
24°38.38'N 080°43.21'W
Course 075T Speed 8.3kts
Wind 148T @ 15.3kts

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Wanted: Sea Legs

My captain has identified favorable weather conditions for heading northeast. This is earlier than we planned to depart Key West but we have decided to take advantage of this opportunity to sail straight to Charleston, South Carolina.

We always try to be ready for a quick get-a-way--in case we need to run from bad weather--and having only a few hours to make the final preparations is probably a good thing because I'll be too busy to get all emotional over leaving.  

Ten weeks of posh marina living has turned this once hearty sailor into a dockside princess. For the first time in over 5 years of cruising, I will begin an offshore passage without sea legs and this has me very concerned.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sunset Key

We enjoyed taking the free shuttle boat ride to Sunset Key, a 27-acre island located about 500 yards (460 m) off the coast of the island of Key West, for alfresco beachfront dining at Latitudes Beach Café.

Sunset Key--originally called Tank Island because it was constructed by the US Navy to serve as a fuel tank depot during the Cold War--is only accessible by a shuttle boat that runs from the Westin Marina out to the island, which is privately held among its residents, including the Key West Westin.

We lingered over lunch at the upscale yet casual Latitudes overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. I look forward to returning, someday... Note: reservations are required to get on the shuttle boat. Café offers breakfast, lunch and dinner in an indoor or outdoor setting.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Key Kayaking

It is too cold to snorkel in the Florida Keys this winter so I've been exploring the nearby waters and mangroves by kayak.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Preparing to Depart Key West

I kicked into passage preparation mode early because we have friends (who like to play hard) visiting before our looming late-March departure date. The excitement of fun guests has incentivized me to work swiftly through my to-do-list, and for the most part, the laborious stowing process is complete.

Now let the Key West Finale begin...

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Greetings from Key West

What's wrong with the above photo?

Winter clothing! The weather in Key West continues to be unseasonably cold, typically 15 degrees below the norm. Everyone lives in hope of a 70 degree day soon.

My endless pleading to stay and steady cold northerly winds have persuaded my captain to keep Event Horizon in Key West a while longer.

Friday, February 12, 2010

33rd America's Cup

Defending of the America’s Cup begins today. The 33rd America's Cup (named after the boat, not the country) is being held in Spain under the strict deed of gift rules, a best-of-3 match racing between Alinghi, the defender, and BMW Oracle Racing, the challenger.

As the official website explains, the America's Cup “is a challenge-based competition where the winning Yacht Club makes the rules and hosts the subsequent event, often making it more difficult for the challenging Club(s) to take the Cup home”. While this understandably might fuel controversy, the making of the 33rd Cup event has been a series of court actions that has often miffed fans. Pre-match drama aside, it’s an event sure to amaze. Instead of traditional mono-hulls, mammoth multi-hulls using the latest technologies to reach unprecedented speeds are about to completely change the usual racing tactics.

Sadly, there is no USA TV coverage however there are several online sources with live video feeds. Because of my poor internet access, I’m getting event updates through Scuttlebutt (via Facebook or Twitter).

Note: Above image shows the original Alinghi and BMW Oracle mono-hulls racing off Newport, RI.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Los Van Van

I had the privilege, along with most of my dock neighbors, to see a historic concert by Los Van Van at Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West. This Grammy-winning band (2000) was formed in 1969 by Juan Formell, considered one of the most important people in contemporary Cuban music.

After 40-years Los Van Van are still billed as Cuba's number one dance band and after seeing them last night I understand why. It was a wonderful experience despite not being able to understand a word they sang. Up to as many as eighteen performers crowded the stage to play and sing a concert that kept most people on their feet and made the mojitos taste extra special.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Key West Race Week 2010

It's always exciting when more sailors come to town, which was the case for Key West's annual Race Week, held this year January 18-22.

But it's even more exciting to watch from a spectator boat, and thanks to my marina neighbors, I got to enjoyed the final day of racing on the water.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Key West Sunsets

Sunsets in Key West are spectacular. This is why one of the most popular things to do in Key West is the daily sunset celebration at Mallory Square where you are entertained by a circus-like atmosphere of street performers and vendors while you watch the sunset and its colorful wake.

The sunset photo above is taken from the deck of Event Horizon on a still evening.

Cheers to my port side neighbor, motor vessel Coconuts, where I can be found most Wednesday evenings for their weekly sunset soirée.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cold Snap

A nearly two-week unprecedented cold snap has stunned the Florida Keys and its inhabitants. At first I witnessed people bundled up in as many clothes as they could wear claiming it's never so cold in Key West. Then iguanas began falling out of trees (stunned into unconsciousness by the cold) or showing up in bazaar places trying to find warmth. Next the sea turtles became distressed with hundreds rescued and sent to the turtle hospital in Marathon Key. Reports of fish kills increased daily--large amounts of dead fish floated along side us in the marina for days and we are still reminded of the loss by odors of decay.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Should I Stay Or Should I Go

Last night my captain and I decided to try the Key West Harbour clubhouse restaurant and were pleasantly surprised to find all of our new dock neighbors at the bar. It turned into a fun met and greet for the Event Horizon crew.

On the downside, I learned this new swanky marina has poor WiFi and no laundry facility nor any plans to have one. I was stunned because these are such basic modern amenities as well as two of the three reasons we opted for marina living. (The third reason was not being alone at anchor while my captain travels for business.) These two issues could be a deal breaker so despite the fondness towards my new neighbors and being psyched to have access to a heated pool, early this morning I cycled to the other marinas on the ocean side of Stock Island to check out their facilities and get quotes...

King's Pointe / Oceanside Marina
Old Island Marina
Safe Harbour Marina

Each of the marinas has their perks as well as negatives. In the end I decided we shouldn't move--why risk giving up good neighbors? Plus, while I was out exploring Stock Island I discovered Hilltop Laundry, a commercial service that will pick-up, wash, dry and deliver for $8 per load. And there are rumors of the WiFi being "fixed" soon.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Moved to Stock Island

Event Horizon has moved to the Key West Harbour Yacht Club of the Americans located on Stock Island, which is connected to the island of Key West by a short bridge over Cow Key Channel. The northern side of Stock Island is home to the Key West Golf Course and the Monroe County Detention Center. The southern side of the island is home to numerous mobile homes and marinas. "Key West" it is not.

Due to draft constraints, we made approach just before high tide because there is a coral head that creates a shallow spot in the channel just before entering the deep harbor marina.

The Key West Harbour Yacht Club (not to be confused with the Key West Yacht Club located off N Roosevelt on Key West Island) is located on the Atlantic Ocean side of Stock Island and about six miles from the furthest tip of Key West. It's a new luxury marina facility in the midst of financial rescue that recently began offering its slips to transient boaters at an unusually affordable (temporary) rate of $20/foot per month plus utilities.

The marina has a waterside restaurant, fitness center and heated pool--high-style living my captain warns me not to get used to.

Top photo is the marina entrance, bottom photo is a view of Event Horizon (tall mast) at the dock from the clubhouse restaurant.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Sea Grass

Large amounts of floating sea grass have been causing problems by clogging up the water intake valves when we try to run the generator to charge the batteries and make water. At one point my captain was forced to go diving to clean the grass from the generator's saltwater intake seacock. Although we keep plenty of spares, we'll run out impellers soon if the current sea grass condition keeps up.

The temperature highs are still dropping while the wind and choppy water continue to make it difficult to go ashore.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

New Year's Day 2010

Spent the morning dinghying around to marinas on the gulf side of Key West, continuing to explore our options for keeping the boat (and me) safe while my captain travels later this month.

Our plan had been to call the Garrison Bight Mooring Field home for the month of January until we were informed the mooring area will only handle boats up to 50ft, including any overhangs. No exceptions. Unfortunately these are the only transient moorings in the Key West area... While I might feel more secure swinging from one of these moorings, they are a long dinghy ride from the closest public dock and even further from the Key West buzz. Such tribulations are sure to put the kibosh on any of my friends coming to visit. But then the thought of being at anchor by myself for a week makes me nauseous. For now I’ll focus on the few remaining options, dockage at a marina on nearby Stock Island.

We were back at base by lunch to prepare for the approaching cold front--our first "big blow" in Key West. The dinghy was secured on deck when the first squall line arrived in the afternoon with 30kt gusts and heavy rain that reduced visibility to a few short yards. It only lasted about 15 minutes but is was scary given the dense number of boats in the anchorage. (Photos above show visibility during the squall and just after.)

The front arrived with force at nightfall. By 7pm we were getting tossed around by steady 30-plus knot winds. We knew it was going to be a long night because the GRIB weather files were telling us it would be at least six more hours before the cold front was past, meaning the worst of the “blow” might be over by then. It was to be one of those nights when you put your deck shoes on and stay dressed ready for action. It’s a period of waiting and hoping for the best while you monitor the movements of your outside surroundings, watch the wind instruments at the chart table and listen to the VHF radio.

I used to worry most about dragging anchor but lately I fret more about other boats hitting us. And based on the look of our neighbors, I'm guessing the majority of these vessels don't have insurance. Such observations tend to drive the stress level up a notch...

During the first hour several boats in the anchorage had to reset their anchor or dragged including the yacht closest to our portside. On the bright side, by now there were fewer boats around us.

At 11pm the sailboat in front of us, apparently with no one on board, passed us to port as it dragged well beyond us onto the shoreline of Key West, ironically alongside the US Coast Guard station.

Discomfort from sustained 30-plus knot wind and lapping waves continued. Eventually the wind went to the north, which allowed nearby land to provide a little shelter. The change in wind direction also signaled the passing of the cold front. By 4am the brunt of the weather had passed, so although the wind strength remained in the low 20’s, I retreated to the comfort of my pillow.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Hello Key West

I hadn’t realized until today that it’s been a week since I stepped on terra firma. Poor weather kept me on board for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in St Augustine, then we set sail for Palm Beach where we opted not to disembark, and we were too exhausted to inflate the dinghy upon arrival to Key West.

It felt good to walk onshore. Surprisingly, I didn’t experience any land motion, which is common after days offshore, especially when the seas are rough. I walked for four glorious sun-filled hours, first along the seaport boardwalk collecting quotes from the marinas. The best price was $2.75/ft per day or $40/ft for a month plus utilities at Key West Bight Marina but they don’t have a slip available for all of January because they host Key West Race Week, an international sailing event January 18-22.

I strolled on to explore the popular Front Street area and then the entire length of Duval Street taking note of the places I want to drag my captain at some point during our stay.

By afternoon downtown was hopping with happy people and a range of entertainment but I would keep to the safety of the waterfront to welcome in 2010. Besides, the wharf offered a better view of the blue moon.  

Fun Facts: A full moon occurs every 29.5 days, and most years have 12. On average, an extra full moon in a month — a blue moon — occurs every 2.5 years. The last time was in May 2007. New Year's Eve blue moons are rarer, occurring every 19 years. The last time was in 1990; the next one won't come again until 2028.

Happy New Year!