Reid Stowe at Sandy Hook

Twas about 6 a.m. yesterday when we aboard the good ship Avocation arrived at Sandy Hook and found Reid Stowe aboard the schooner Anne getting ready to hoist anchor and head up the bay to Manhattan for his big homecoming. The wind had been southerly when Reid first anchored two days earlier, but now it was westerly, blowing about 15 knots and building. It looked like he might have a hard time hoisting anchor and getting under sail without getting blown down on to the Coast Guard station a few hundred yards behind him.

"You need some help?" I shouted.

Reid glanced around at the 70-foot, 60-ton gaff-rigged vessel he'd been singlehanding out on the open ocean for the past two years. Then he looked to windward.

"Yes," he shouted back.

Hank Schmitt, master of Avocation, and a master of close-quarters maneuvering, had no trouble getting me close enough to hop on to Anne's transom. Tania Aebi was thoughtful enough to take command of the camera I left behind and snapped these pix as we hoisted anchor and raised sail:

Charlie Doane and Reid Stowe on Anne

Raising sail on the schooner Anne

That's full sail, mind you. By the time we got everything up (Reid did all the work; I just managed the helm and engine and kept Anne's nose to the wind), the wind had piped up to 20 knots, and I was beginning to wonder if we should take something down again. But Reid was determined to fly as much canvas as possible.

We enjoyed a glorious power reach most of the way to the Verrazano Narrows. With the sails properly trimmed we were making better than 7 knots, but the helm was heavy as hell, thanks to Anne's missing bowsprit (from the freighter collision, see Day 15 of Reid's record-breaking 1,152-day voyage). So most of the time we kept the main trimmed loose and easy. Still, even when we were scrubbing speed, the helm needed a firm hand and the jury-rigged wheel did not exactly inspire confidence.

Jury-rigged wheel on schooner Anne

The wind went northerly as we approached the big bridge and kept right on building. We abandoned plans to put me back aboard Avocation, and proceeded to short tack our way under the bridge and into New York Harbor proper, which was alive with commercial traffic and gathering well-wishers. You can check out the whole scene in this video