The Route South

Saturday, August 18, 2007

If I Had A Boat…I’d Go Out On The Ocean

The Mystery Masked Man, he was smart He got himself a Tonto
'Cause Tonto did the dirty work for free.
But Tonto he was smarter
And one day said,
"Kemo Sabe,
Kiss my ass I bought a boat
I'm going out to sea"!
"If I Had A Boat"
Lyle Lovett

Well actually, I do have a boat! And its time to go out to sea! We returned to Newburgh, NY from Florida on Friday afternoon, August 17. By the time we picked up our rental car and drove back to Kingston, stopped for groceries, restocked the galley, it was time to go to dinner and return the rental car. A cab met us at the Hertz office and we were back aboard Morning Star and in bed early. All in all, it was a pretty exhausting day of travel.

Saturday, August 18, 2007
We want to make some miles, the wind is forecast to be out of the north and the current will be fair, at least early in the day, so we have the engine warming up by 6:15 AM. We are away from the slip shortly before 6:30. On the way out Rondout Creek we saw folksinger Pete Seeger’s replica Hudson River sloop, Clearwater, tied up to the town dock. It is a beautiful, sleek hull with a sharp bow and mast raked back. Clearwater conducts environmental education, advocacy programs and celebrations to protect the Hudson River, its tributaries and related bodies of water. You can read more about her at
Pete Seeger's Hudson River sloop, "Clearwater" in the early morning light
At 6:50 we turned south and headed back down the Hudson, with the wind at our back. The current was about to change so we had slack water and were making 6.9 kts. Shortly after 9 AM, the Krogen 48 Jaberwok hove into view, headed north up the river. We met Phillip and Catherine in Deltaville last year and had a nice chat on the VHF. Their boat’s name is taken from the Lewis Carroll poem “Jabberwocky” and their boat card displays one of its curious passages.

"`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe."

They are headed north to Lake Champlain and from there ??? The current was starting to favor us by 10 AM when we passed under the bridge at Newburgh and we were making 8.1 knots. It looks like a good traveling day. The wind is behind us, blowing hard. It was blowing 28 knots across the deck as we passed by West Point at 11 AM. If the wind hadn’t been behind us, we couldn’t have traveled today.
The fieldhouse at West Point
The United States Military Academy at West Point
Anchorage in front of West Point

Bannerman Castle
By 1 PM we were passing by Croton-On-Hudson. The anchorage where we spent the night before Independence Day was completely untenable so we decided to continue on to New York City. Although we were no longer in the influence of the Appalachian Mountains, the wind continued to gust over 20 knots and we were flying! Tappan Zee Bridge at 2 PM - George Washington Bridge at 4:20. As we approached Manhattan an eerie, dark smoke filled the sky in the void space where the twin towers of the World Trade Center used to be. Although we were listening to the VHF radio as well as broadcast radio we were unable to find out until after we anchored what it was all about. The former Deutsche Bank building, which was irreparably damaged on 9-11, was being demolished. It caught fire sometime on Saturday. Fortunately, it was Saturday, not a normal business day in Manhattan. Tragically, two fire fighters were killed fighting the fire.

Fire at the 9-11 site
We passed by the Statue of Liberty at 5:45 PM and fifteen minutes later the anchor was set in 10’ of water in the anchorage at Liberty Island State Park. The wind finally laid down to 10 knots and we should have a peaceful night. We did over 11 hours today, putting 81 nautical miles under the keel!
What a view!  Peaceful anchorage on a breezy night.

Sunday August 19, 2007
The anchor is up once again before 6:30 AM. The bottom is sticky, sticky mud and it takes quite a session with the wash-down pump and hose to clean it and the deck off. New York harbor is always interesting. It is said that time and tide waits for no one and this is never more apparent than when you transit through New York harbor. The is the sixth time we have gone through part of the harbor and even though it is early Sunday morning, it is still a full-time job for the two of us navigating out under the Verrazano Narrows bridge. Despite the early hour, the Staten Island ferry still runs its route, the smaller, high-speed ferries buzz back and forth and the commercial traffic - tugs, barges, freighters, tankers and cruise ships – are all about with schedules to keep.
The view at sunrise - Lady Liberty in the foreground and the Manhattan skyline in the background
We timed the current just right and are making 8.8 knots. In just a few short hours we have passed through the Verrazano Narrows, leaving Coney Island to port, across busy Ambrose shipping channel and are sliding down the New Jersey coast, past Sandy Hook. By 11 AM we are passing Shark River Inlet and 25 minutes later we see a familiar sight. It is another Krogen Manatee! We hailed the northbound Auk on the VHF. New owners are aboard, heading for Wisconsin. We know the previous owners, Bob & Sue Lynch, as we met them several years ago in the Keys. You can read about Bob’s fight against cancer at

Shortly before lunch we passed in Manasquan Inlet. We had such a lousy experience with the marina in June that we decided to head further down the New Jersey ICW and anchor. As we passed through Point Pleasant Canal the current was ripping. We were making 7 ½ knots even though we were at idle! The canal is barely wide enough for us to turn the boat around and once you are committed, you are there until you squirt out the other side. It’s a good thing that we are making good time because the weather forecast is pretty crummy for the next several days. By 2:50 PM we found a place to anchor by the yacht club at Seaside Park. It was raining within an hour!

Monday August 20, 2007
It rained off and on throughout the night. It was raining when we got up this morning and the weather girl on TV and the Internet weather sites all agree…100% precip today with 10-20 knots of wind. Looks like a good morning to loaf. Lunchtime brought brightening skies so we decided to put a few miles under our keel. The engine was warmed up before 12:30 PM and we were under way. Grey overcast, breezy and 65° – not your typical August day. By 2 PM we were past Barnegat Inlet. Around 3:45 PM, just as we rounded a small island we ran into a wall of Sunfish sailboats sailing in from Egg Harbor, at Brant Beach. All the sails were absolutely identical, giving us cause to believe that it was some kind of national-level regatta. As we idled down to let them all pass in front of us and cross the ICW, we hailed a Race Committee boat and chatted him up. Turns out we had stumbled across the Sunfish Nationals. They had over 90 boats and a full week of crappy weather! By 4:30 we found a small anchorage behind Mordecai Island. Barely a lee from the wind but it will have to do since there are very few anchorages along the NJICW.

Tuesday August 21, 2007
Today is a rain day. Another 100% precip so we stayed put. The anchor dragged about 50’ and stopped. We monitored our place in the anchorage by taking compass bearings on two locations ashore. The wind is NE at 15, gusting to 20-25 knots and it rained off and on all day. We ran the generator for an hour in the morning and again in the evening to charge the batteries and make hot water.

Wednesday August 22, 2007
With the engine thoroughly warmed up, we pulled the anchor up before 7 AM. It was very muddy and tangled with fishing line. The wind is 10-15 knots; the visibility is ¼ mile in fog, mist, drizzle and rain. New Jersey sucks! Shortly after 9 AM we past through Absecon Inlet and by Atlantic City. However, because of bridge timing restrictions it took us until 10:45 AM to get clear of Atlantic City. By noon we were passed Great Egg harbor Inlet and passing through Ocean City. The 9th Street Bridge delayed us for thirty minutes for no apparent reason. Finally we were away from the constant development and “No Wake” zones and into the marsh where we could make some time and shortly before 5 PM we had the anchor down and set in Sunset Lake at Cape May, New Jersey.

Waterfront living in New Jersey
Tomorrow we hope to be able to cross the length of Delaware Bay. We would both prefer to transit New Jersey out in the Atlantic rather than via the ICW. It is a shorter distance and quicker since there are no “No Wake” zones, bridge restrictions or other impediments to travel. However, we had no choice since this predicted front had the wind swung around from the east making a coastal passage impossible. Fortunately Morning Star has a shallow enough draft to make the inside route possible.

Thursday August 23, 2007
Sunset Lake is about an hour north of the Cape May Canal, which leads directly into the Delaware Bay. We had the anchor aboard shortly after 7 AM and passed through Cape May and had cleared the Canal by 8:25. Lest there be any doubt about the current in the Bay, the course to our first navigational mark at Miah Maul Shoal was 324° but the computer in the GPS calculated our required heading at 337°, meaning that we were being set 13° by the current! Since Miah Maul is almost 15 miles away, it is important to steer in the right direction! Sure enough, a little over two hours later we arrived at our waypoint and changed course to Ship John Shoal Light, which we fetched two hours later. The current was our friend, well, at least it wasn’t working against us and we were abeam the Salem Nuclear Power plant on Artificial Island by 3 PM. Fifty-five minutes later we entered the C&D Canal and were immediately slapped in the face by a strong foul current. Our boat speed dropped off to 5 knots! But by 6 PM things were looking up. We passed Chesapeake City doing 6.3 knots. Thirty minutes later we entered the Elk River and were back in the Chesapeake! It had been a long, productive day when we slipped quietly into Cabin John Creek at 7:15 and anchored in 7 ft. of water.

Friday August 24, 2007
The anchor was washed down and aboard by 7 AM. Visibility is only about ½ mile with fog. We have the nav lights on and the radar is running. This area of the Bay is very narrow and there is quite a bit of commercial traffic to keep tabs on. By 8:45 we are passed Still Pond Cove, an anchorage we enjoyed in June on our way north. The fog has lifted some but visibility is still restricted to about 1-½ miles. We heard Traffic Control for the C&D Canal announcing on the VHF radio that they had closed the Canal to all traffic because of the fog. That’s got to be a nightmare for the tugs, barges and ships that now must wait since they can’t just stop and drift. We overheard several of them talking on the radio about adjusting their speed downward to delay their arrival at the Canal. At noon we entered the Chester River for the first time. This is perhaps the most beautiful river on the Chesapeake, with beautiful farms and horse pastures leading right down to the river’s edge. It’s a long twenty-mile trek up river to Chestertown Marina, our home for the next three weeks. Jane and Sam are coming to visit for the weekend and then Cindy and I are renting a car and driving to Maine to stay at their cottage for a week. Then I’m flying back to Clearwater for two weeks while Cindy boat sits and gets familiar with the beautiful little town that is Chestertown.
Sister Jane checking out the tourist maps - Chestertown, MD
Saturday Farmers' Market - Chestertown, MD