Friday, October 15, 2004

New York City – Annapolis October, 2004

Oct. 6/04 We had our first saltwater sail yesterday, even used the sails. We backtracked about 2 miles to go to a marina to fill with diesel and water, then unfurled the foresail, and sailed by the statue of Liberty, dodging all the ferries, commercial boats and barges, and were closely scrutinized by the US Coast Guard (they wrote down our boat name as they came up beside us, but did not board or ask any questions) It still was intimidating as they roared up beside us with machine guns on the front and back of their orange inflatable boat. Then we sailed under the Verrazano Narrows bridge, and we were off to Great Kills Harbour on Statan Island. It is getting cold here, and ourselves and our travelling companions (Ron Marshall & Larry Webb -- each on their own boat) want to start making our way south to the Cheseapeake. Armand has decided departed our group.

The Verrazano and Tappan Zee Bridge are beautiful at night, both are suspension bridges, and their sweeping arcs are lit up with green lights, and the tops are red, really pretty against the cityscape.

Oct 7/04 We did it!! The jump from New York to Cape May, really needs to be done as an overnight passage, and we were a little apprehensive about this one, after all it is the Atlantic Ocean, and everything is new to us. From all our research, everyone else does it, and we never heard about any major issues, but until you do it yourself...
This passage is one of the longest we will have to do, even longer than going to the Bahamas. We checked the weather, it looked favourable, high pressure system, light west winds, starry night and 1/4 moon. We left Great Kills Harbour about 1100 am yesterday. Larry Webb (on Inkshuk) taking the lead. Larry has made this passage and many like this in the past 4 years he has been sailing between Nova Scotia and Belize. He sails by himself. Ron Marshall on La Voile au Vent was even more concerned than us, since he had never done an overnight on his boat, and he was alone. We at least had 4 overnight passages under our belt, and had the benefit of having 2 people on our boat.

The winds of course, didn't cooperate at first, 10-15 knots on the nose, but then settled into 10-15 from the SW, so we were able to sail and motor sail the majority of the time. The stars were beautiful, the New Jersey coastline, especially Atlantic City was well lit up, there were a few tugs & barges to manoever around, but with 3 boats, and 2 sets of radar, we always had lots of notice.
We arrived in Cape May Harbour about 1 pm in the afternoon. We each had a couple of hours of sleep during the passage, so aren't in that bad a shape. Ross has gone off in search of some sparkplugs for the dinghy motor, so he can give it a tune up.

We will probably stay here another day, to give Ron and Larry time to catch up on their sleep and do some shopping, and leave on low tide Saturday morning to head up the Delaware. We want to go under our first "low" bridge at low tide. So far all the bridges we have been under have been over 100 ft of clearance, but from now on, 55-65' is the norm, and Ross measured our mast height from the water to be about 52' so would like the benefit of the tide.

Larry, knows this area like the back of his hand, so we are letting him be tour guide. He knows where all the anchorages are, the shopping areas, etc. Its great for us, not having to do all the research and check things out, or miss things we would like to enjoy.

Oct 10/04 Today was an exciting day for us. we left Cape May through the Cape May Canal to the Delaware. We were late in leaving, waiting for low tide to go under two 55 foot bridges. We measured the mast height 3 times in the past two weeks to insure that we could pass under it. We knew we had 3 feet to spare but could not handle any wake or roll from power boats. Everything went fine.

Checking out the bridge clearance board (Cape May)

Can we clear??

We traveled 30 miles up the Delaware to the Cohansey River. Anchoring here, is different because the tides cause the water flow to reverse between high and low tide. Tide heights here are the greatest we have experienced (5-7 feet here) and the tidal current is strong. Tomorrow we will proceed through the C&D canal into the Chesapeake. One of the amazing things is how shallow the water is on the Jersey coast and in the Delaware. The Great Lakes are deeper. Everything seems to going as planned now. The people we are traveling with are great and we are having a good time. Next week our friends from Mount St Louis are driving to Annapolis to spent a week with us on the boat.. Weather here is around 20-23 degrees C. We plan to be in the Chesapeake until Nov 1. Now we can begin to slow down.

We had had a great sail from the Boehemia River to the Sassafras, and then a very interesting trip up the river, weaving around the many marinas, under a lift bridge, and there just off the to the side, we anchored. Larry had spent some time there a couple of years ago and knew exactly where we could anchor so we blindly played FTB –follow that boat. Then Ross & I walked to the next little town (about 1.5 miles) and filled our backpacks with groceries, from a store which was just a little better than a village general store -- but it had the basics, including the frozen burritos. So far provisioning has not been difficult, especially getting the basics, including fresh meat, but fruits and vegetables are surprising more difficult to find. When we were going through the locks, we saw a farmer's fruit stand on the highway beside the lock, stopped, and were able to buy great local produce. Wish we could find that more often.

Canadian Thanksgiving and although we did not have turkey, or any fixings, instead we spent Thanksgiving evening with Ron Marshall and Larry Webb in Georgetown, Maryland, celebrating Ron’s birthday, with burritos & chocolate bars.

Today we left Ron & Larry, and sailed by ourselves to Annapolis, where we are meeting Kathy & Pete Franklin. We expect Pete & Kathy will be with us for about 10 days, as we cruise the Chesepeake together. Ron & Larry are not far away, and we will meet up with them in a couple of days. Even today we missed Larry's incredible local knowledge. We followed our electronic charts up the Mill & Rideout Creeks and they were just too populated, so then went to Whitehall Bay, and we were able to find a private place to anchor.

We are meeting Kathy & Pete at the same marina Ross & Bev had spent Bev's birthday in 2002 when we visited Annapolis on one of our many boat hunting trips. It is just across the Bay Bridge, on the east side of the bay. That's how we knew where to tell them to meet us. Hope it works out okay for them.

We are surprised how tired we are at the end of everyday. This cruising/retirement/holiday lifestyle is a busy one. Everyday we have some boat chores, although lately nothing major has caused Ross any grief (touch wood), and housekeeping jobs, whether that is shopping, laundry, refilling diesel or water jugs. Then you have to decide where you are going to, how the tides/currents/weather will affect your travel, and where you are going to end up. We try and be up and moving by 8am, and settled where we want to be by 4pm. or earlier if you need to do anything off the boat. I have started not to worry about supper until closer to dark, and then right after that it is bed. We haven't missed TV, or sports at all, although do miss some Canadian news. We are trying to get CBC on the short wave with some success.

We plan to Cruise the Chesepeake until the end of October, ensuring all the hurricanes are finished, be in Norfolk for the first of November, to start the race down the ICW. We hope the weather doesn't get too cold, but is was cold here this morning, in low 40's F and we put on our toques and mitts.