I’ve got some real estate here in my bag.
So we bought a pack of cigarettes and some Mrs. Wagner’s pies
And we walked off to look for America…
…all gone, to look for America
Paul Simon & Art Garfunkle
Our plane was delayed by weather in Tampa so we didn’t get back to Baltimore until late on the evening of June 18th. It was almost too late for dinner…but not quite. We had an appointment with our new refrigerator on Tuesday, the 19th. A phone call to the dealer indicated that the installer wouldn’t be out until after lunch so we biked across the street to footballer Rae Lewis’ barbecue place. Sure enough, as the waiter brought out our lunches the cell phone rang. The installers were at the boat, ready to go to work. Cindy stayed and ate and then brought my sandwich back to the boat for me. The good news is those two hours later the old, inop fridge was out and the new one was installed and running. This one is a propane unit like the old one. This one has a small exhaust fan to move the heat out and that makes a big difference in the efficiency of the refrigerator.
George Hardy’s cousin, Selmon, (Cindy’s sister’s husband’s father’s cousin, for those of you who are keeping score) lives just outside of Baltimore and we had a dinner date for Tuesday evening. He arrived at the appointed hour and took us on a great tour of the city before we went to dinner in a small, neighborhood restaurant, Huns. We did a bit more touring after dinner and then Selmon came down to the boat for a gam. By the time we were all done it was almost 10 PM – wicked late for boaters!
We spent most of Wednesday going to the grocery store and doing small chores, the chief of which was to fix the dripping condensate drain pan. A trip to the hardware and two hours of cussing and it was finished. By that time, the day was done.
People frequently ask what we do all day. Chores like going to the grocery store seem mundane to dirt dwellers but if you are living on a boat and don’t have a car, it can be quite a daunting task. It goes like this. Our marina is located about a block from a large grocery store. They aren’t usually this close. We are able to borrow a dock cart, similar to a HUGE wheelbarrow, and walk it across the street and fill it. $350 later we are well provisioned. After dragging it back to the boat Cindy stows all the groceries, removing the bulky packaging whenever possible. We unpack the meat entirely, portion it out and vacuum package it with the Food Saver before freezing. Bulk items like paper towels; T.P, sodas, etc get stowed in the “grocery store” under our bed or in the “basement” under the floor in our stateroom. Both these spaces are quite cavernous and otherwise unused. Now take out all the trash and return the dock cart. By the time everything is done, the day is half gone and its time for lunch. Trips to the hardware or marine supply store, laundry or propane supply all are similar undertakings. We don’t go to marinas that often, preferring to anchor out, but when we hit a marina there is usually a large To-Do list.
Thursday we played tourist, going to the National Aquarium after having lunch at the Inner Harbor. Friday was originally departure day but the wind wasn’t cooperative, so we waited one more day before checking out of Anchorage Marina and leaving Baltimore.
|Going to visit the National Aquarium via water taxi|
Saturday, June 23, 2007
By 8:30 AM the engine was started up and we were away from the dock by 8:45. A short fifteen minutes later we were past Ft. McHenry and entered the Patapsco River, once again bound for the open waters of the Chesapeake Bay. About 11 AM I had to call our insurance company and have them write a rider that covers us for the Atlantic coast, New York harbor, Long Island Sound and the Hudson River. Time to stretch our wings and expand the horizon! We passed Poole Island at lunchtime and shortly after 1 PM we entered Still Pond Bay and Still Pond Creek where we anchored for the night. We are now far enough north in the Bay that the sea nettles (what we call jellyfish in Florida) are not a problem. There were several boats anchored with us in the Creek and most folks were swimming. Still a bit chilly for us though.
Sunday June 24, 2007
Today we have planned for a short day so we were lazy. After a leisurely breakfast we started the engine and crept out of the creek at 9:35, with barely 1.5’ under the keel. By 10 AM we had rejoined the channel and were north bound, passing the Sassafras River, entering the Elk River at the northern end of the Bay. We were fighting a ½ kt. foul current as we passed the Bohemia River. This was just a taste of things to come. By 12:30 the tide and current had changed in our favor and we entered the C&D Canal making 8+ kts. The C & D is the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, a land cut between the two bays. There are no locks so the tide just rolls through. If you time it right you will have a good passage. If you time it wrong, you will go s-l-o-w. Huge ocean-going ships and tugboats with barges traverse this waterway and on a Sunday there is plenty of recreational boat traffic so it pays to keep a sharp lookout. By 1 PM we were at our intended destination, Chesapeake City. The small town dock was full, and the anchorage was pretty crowded. We had a fair tide available to push us along and it was a beautiful, sunny day so we decided to press on. An hour-and-a-half later we squirted out the other end of the Canal and into Delaware Bay. If you hang a left you wind up in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia but we were going to the right, bound for Cape May, the Atlantic and points north! There is a good anchorage behind Reedy Island but the wind is less than 10 kts. And the current, while against us, isn’t too bad, so we opted to continue on to the Conhassey River. As we passed Artificial Island and its nuclear power plant our speed dropped briefly to 4.8 kts. By 5:30 we entered the Cohansey River and found it to be surprisingly deep, 60’ in places, averaging 30’. We found a 17’ spot and dropped the anchor and 100’ of chain, logging 55 miles. Not bad for what started out as an easy day.
|Ultralight flying low - Chesapeake and Delaware Canal|
|Ocean-going ships use the C&D Canal as a shortcut to Baltimore|
Monday June 25, 2007
“Randy, Randy, wake up! It’s raining! Close the hatch over the bed! I’ll start on the windows!”
“What the hell?! What time is it?”
“Its not supposed to rain tonight!”
“The weatherman lied…so what’s new”?!
Many nights our sleep is interrupted with this kind of Chinese fire drill. Anyone who has spent much time cruising gets used to it. Today it’s more meaningful. We plan to traverse the rest of Delaware Bay and we are counting on the favorable weather forecast to get us across all calm and peaceful-like. Oh well, maybe this is a brief shower and it will be gone by sunrise.
Wishful thinking. But the engine is warming up by 6:55 AM and the anchor is in its chocks by 7:05. It takes about 20 minutes to run out to the mouth of the river. The wind is about 15-18 kts. out of the SE which is exactly the wrong direction. There is light rain and our speed is only 5.4 kts. because of the foul current and a 2 ft chop. We planned to put up with the opposing current for a couple of hours because it will change part way down the Bay and favor us for the rest of the trip. However, there are several rain showers showing to the North on the radar and as we get closer to the shipping channel the wind is building and the chop is getting bigger and we aren’t having ANY fun. By 8 AM we are at anchor again, this time just inside the mouth of the Cohansey River where we can see the conditions on Delaware Bay. Might as well eat breakfast like civilized folk.
After a morning of puttering about the boat doing small chores and catching up on some reading we had lunch and observed that the current had switched, the rain had stopped and the wind was laying down. The trap was set! The anchor was back aboard by 12:15 and we are lured back out into the river once again. Thirty minutes later we are south of Ship John Shoal Light. The wind is SE but only about 10 kts. By 1:30 we have a solid 20 kts. of wind over the deck and waves of about 4 ft. Time to come about and head back! Thirty minutes later we are in shallower water and the seas are much smaller. We have read that if you stay out of the deeper channel, the chop will be smaller and that certainly seems to be the case so we alter course and head back toward Cape May. By staying in closer to shore everything seems to be more manageable. For a while. By 3:30 we are abeam Little Egg Island and have 25 kts across the deck! We talked about heading back to the Cohansey or in to Maurice River but the guidebooks don’t paint a very hospitable picture. After considering our options we decided to grit our teeth for two hours and get it over with. By 5:00 Deadman Shoal was ½ mile to starboard. We continued in to within ¾ mile of the beach where we finally found smoother water and changed course for the Cape May Canal. By 7:00 PM we anchored in Cape May opposite the Coast Guard station, just ahead of John and Shirley on Destiny! They were as surprised as we were since we hadn’t seen each other in almost a month. Today we got bounced good and proper!
Tuesday June 26, 2007
On ancient charts, when they came to an area of which they had no knowledge, cartographers would label the unknown place “THAR BE DRAGONS”. Well, today we have a dragon to slay…the Atlantic Ocean. Intellectually, we know that we are doing a short passage up the coast but nevertheless, we aren’t used to going out in the ocean. Cindy is apprehensive about it and I have to admit that I grateful for the good forecast. The engine is running by 7 AM and the anchor is up shortly after that. By 7:30 Cape May Inlet is behind us and we are heading up the coast in light winds with a leftover, light swell out of the south. There is a bit of haze so I have the radar going but it isn’t bad traveling.
As the morning wore on we heard a familiar voice on the VHF ship-to-shore radio. It was John on Destiny calling the Coast Guard with a medical emergency! It seems that one of their guests had recent hip replacement surgery and his hip had dislocated! Fortunately they were still anchored in front of the CG station in Cape May. After a bit of confusion by the CG (they couldn’t seem to understand that John was anchored within spittin’ distance of their pier) John was able to take the boat to a local marina where EMS had and ambulance medical personnel waiting.
By 11 AM Great Egg Harbor was abeam and shortly after noon we entered Absecon Inlet and made our way into the excess that is Atlantic City. We tied up at the Tee dock at Gardiner’s Basin Marina, which is owned by the City. Slip rent was $1.50/ ft. Just across the water, within plain sight was the Trump Marina (yes, as in The Donald) where the slip fees were $4/ ft. The irony is that the Trump Marina is located at Farley State Park. How did he pull that deal off?!?
|Atlantic City from the ocean.|
|Morning Star tied up at Gardiniers Basin marina - Atlantic City.|
After finding a place for lunch we hopped the “Jitney” which is the local public transportation. For $2 each we could ride to the end of the route. It was another $2 to go back. We passed by most of the large casinos and hotels but elected not to stop. The Jitney also went through some of the rougher neighborhoods and we both came away with the impression that Atlantic City was a bit seedy and shopworn…kind of long in the tooth. But they continue to build new hotels or add on to the ones that are already there. Americans do love to stick quarters in the slot machines!
Wednesday June 27, 2007
Yesterday’s plan worked out well. The breeze blew up in the afternoon but not until we were in and tied up. Hopefully, we can string three of those kinds of days together. With that in mind, we rose early and were away from the dock by 6:05 AM. The sun was low on the horizon and as we cleared Absecon Inlet at 6:22 there was a low sea fog on the water. Morning Star’s bow was pointed NE to parallel the coast and we could see only the tops of the hotels and casinos ashore. Needless to say, the radar was on. All morning we watched targets on the radar, as they would overtake us. We could see them on the radar first, and then we could see the tops of their superstructures or towers. Finally they appeared out of the fog as they passed by. It was after 10 AM before we passed Barnegat Inlet and by then, the fog had burned off. A similar swell as yesterday’s rolled by, helping us on our course to Manasquan Inlet. By 1300 we were passing through the inlet, on our way to Breille Marine Basin, where we went alongside the fuel dock at 1:20 PM. We had been told on the phone that they would be at lunch until 1:30. Lunch was well past so I went looking for someone. No joy! Finally a grumpy dockhand rode down the dock in a golf cart. He didn’t seem to know anything about where we were supposed to dock for the night. We wanted to take on fuel anyway and figured that we could do that while he sorted out the dockage situation. Instead he hopped into his cart and left. Finally, after about fifteen minutes he came back and told us where he wanted to put us. I assumed that we would fuel up since we were already tied to the fuel dock. No! He told us to move into the slip and he would fuel us there. Well, OK, I guess. The wind was starting to blow hard and we had a pretty good current from the river…all conditions to test the Captain’s boat handling skills. As Cindy and I were discussing our plan to get away from the dock, the dock guy continually shouted instructions about how he thought we should do it. Well, his ideas and mine weren’t in synch. After yelling at Cindy about how to handle the fenders and yelling at me about how to handle the boat instead of listening to my instructions, I was fed up with this rude and obnoxious clown. When he loudly proclaimed that he’d been docking boats for 50 years, I hollered back that so had I and since this was my boat we were going to do it MY way. After that he seemed to quite down. Well, we finally got into the slip and he passed the fuel pump nozzle over so we could fuel up and then he left. Got in the cart and never came back. Ever. We took on100 gallons of fuel and waited. After about 30 minutes we knew we weren’t going to see him on the dock anytime soon so we wrote down the gallonage and price of the fuel off the pump and took it up to the office. I fully intended to complain to the manager when we entered the office until I saw him sitting behind the desk bitching at somebody on the phone. When he got off the phone, he started berating the office lady (his wife?). Turns out that this ass was the owner of the joint! After we checked in we were given a list of the rules…a full page of things we weren’t supposed to do. The docks were in bad real shape; the pilings were full of creosote and tar and almost ruined our dock lines. We have never been treated so rudely or unkindly in any of our travels…anywhere! If you ever have the opportunity to stop at Brielle Marine Basin make sure that you take a pass!
Thursday June 28, 2007
Our strategy the last two days seemed to be working well so we decided to try for a three-peat. We were away from the dock at 5:50 AM and out Manasquan Inlet by 6:05. Again, there was a light, low fog and haze so on with the running lights and radar. Other than that the weather was perfect. Light wind, light swell in our favor, cool temperature. We passed Red Church Hump, where, according to the chart, the bottom “humps’ up. It’s a popular fishing spot and sure enough, ashore there is a red church! I’m sure before the days of GPS and electronic navigation that was the hot place to fish. Monmouth Beach slid by our port side and we run up False Hook Channel about 9:30. By 10 AM we had doubled Sandy Hook, the northern tip of New Jersey. We were only eight miles from New York harbor but we couldn’t see it because of the haze! We headed south inside Sandy Hook and by 11 Am anchored behind the long breakwater at Atlantic Highlands. After lunch we called the harbor launch and he came out to pick us up and take us into shore so we could explore some. Atlantic Highlands was a bit of a disappointment. We stopped at the hardware store, and then found the mailbox so we could post a belated birthday card to Bob Hardy. Cindy bought some bread and one or two other things at a convenience store and we headed back to the boat. The darn ice cream shop was even closed! Bummer!
|Going ashore aboard the launch in Atlantic Highlands|
Friday June 29, 2007
Today’s the big day! We’re going to the BIG CITY, the Big Apple! I remember like it was yesterday, reading articles by the St. Petersburg Times’ legendary outdoor writer, “Red” Marston as he and his wife Peggy took their trawler Final Edition up the east coast ICW. This was many, many years ago but his descriptions of entering New York Harbor always thrilled me. Now it’s our turn and we are going to do Red proud!
The engine is warmed up and the anchor is aboard before 8 AM. We are headed across Sandy Hook Bay, across the Swash Channel, then across Ambrose Channel. At 9:33 we pass beneath the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. We are officially in New York Harbor! As the channel curves to starboard a point of land open up to reveal first, the Statue of Liberty and then the Manhattan skyline. I have goose bumps on my arms and a lump in my throat. I finally made it!
It took another hour to get to Liberty Landing Marina, an hour filled with dodging harbor traffic. We tied up at 10:45, registered and paid ($4/ft. - $144 + tax!) and hopped on a ferry across the creek to have lunch at Amelia’s Bistro. After that we took the tour boat out to Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty. There were quite literally thousands of people at the statue and she was much more impressive when we saw her from the water. We found out too late that to go inside the Statue and up to the observation deck you have to make a reservation two days in advance. If I had known that we probably would have passed of the whole deal.
|Approaching the Statue of Liberty - goose-bump time|
There was a Coast Guard cutter (85’ or so) in the harbor with two smaller CG boats along side. Three helicopters buzzed around. It looked like they were searching for something in the water. Without warning, the cutter took off in a cloud of black smoke with the smaller boats in hot pursuit. The helicopters joined in, with everybody heading full-speed toward the Statue. The choppers were right down on the deck, quite literally. Later, as we walked around the Statue grounds we saw a sign at the end of a large pier. 20th Century Fox was filming an Eddie Murphy movie. At the water-end end of the pier there were people milling around, wearing uniforms, FBI jackets and street clothes, when suddenly they took their places and the filming resumed. The CG boats came zooming in, the choppers in hot pursuit and a chopper filming the whole thing from the air! “CUT…THAT’S A WRAP”! As quickly as it started it was over. The actors or extras or whatever they were took off their uniform jackets and headed for home. I wonder how much it costs to rent the Coast Guard for a day?!
|Filming an Eddie Murphy movie. Those are all actors on the end of the pier.|
|Getting ready for the big chase scene. |
How much does it cost to rent the US Coast Guard?
As we were headed out on the tour boat we saw John Ford on his KK-44, Feisty Lady, heading in the entrance channel. When we returned from our tour, Cindy and I walked over for a chat and met John’s parents. After dinner John (a.k.a. J.P.) Peggy and his dad, John (Sr.) stopped by Morning Star for a chat and a bite of dessert.
Saturday June 30, 2007
It’s all about timing. Today we are heading out the East River and into Long Island Sound. To do this we have to pass through the notorious Hell Gate. Hell Gate has a well-deserved reputation because the current can run 5 kts. or more where the East River and Harlem River intersect. If that’s not enough to cause concern, there are the standing waves and eddies. Stories abound about boats unable to maintain control and getting dashed on the rocky shoreline. Legend has it that in the late 1800’s a government boat hit a rock and sank with a load of gold aboard. The strategy is to plan you trip so you hit Hell Gate at slack water. We timed our start for 9:00 to give us a fair current. Our mouths hung open as we passed beneath the towers of lower Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge and past the U.N. building. These icons were only an arms length away!
|South Street Seaport Museum |
The clipper ship "Peking", full-rigged ship "Wavertree" and the lightship "Ambrose"
|Passing close by the United Nations building on the East River|
|Rikers Island jail/barge|
Sunday July 1, 2007
Cool morning – good sleeping! Once again it started raining shortly after midnight and we had to jump up and close the hatches and windows. You know the drill.
Two years ago, while at a Master Pools meeting on Long Island, Cindy visited Teddy Roosevelt’s home at Oyster Bay. Her recollection was that it was a beautiful place so by 9:30 A M the anchor was up and stowed and we cleared Mamaroneck, on our way to Oyster Bay. We took a brief side trip to investigate an anchorage called “the Sand Hole”. Should’a been there last night! It’s completely surrounded by a low sand bank but open to the breeze. No rock –n-roll. As we entered Oyster Bay Harbor we saw another Manatee moored by the Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club. We diverted and found Charles and Cynthia aboard Hyacinth. We’ve met them several times at Krogen Rendezvous’ in the past. Shortly after noon we picked up a mooring and after lunch took the harbor launch ashore and walked around town. We liked what we saw and came back in for dinner and ice cream!
|Herreshoff America catboat in Oyster Bay.|
This was our first boat.
Monday July 2, 2007
After properly warming up the engine we dropped the mooring at 7:50 and headed out of the harbor right behind Hyacinth. They headed east and we went west, back toward City Island and New York City. By 10 AM we were past Execution Rocks and before 10: 30 City Island was on the starboard and Stepping Stone Light was to port. Shortly after we passed beneath Throg’s Neck Bridge we had to slow down or risk arriving at Hell Gate early. As we got to the area of LaGuardia we slowed to 4 ½ kts. and shortly before noon passed through Hell Gate without incident.
|We had company going through Hells Gate|
|Tall ship "Unicorn" going through HellsGate|
|Cunard's newest ship,"Queen Mary II"departs.|
Notice the Coast Guard and helicopter providing security
Tuesday July 3, 2007
Careful study of the tide and current tables leads me to believe that we can sleep in a bit and have a leisurely breakfast with a second cup of coffee and still time the current optimally for today’s trip up the Hudson River. By 8:30, the wash-down pump is working overtime trying to blast through the thick, sticky mud clinging to each and every link of anchor chain we had out. High-speed ferries zoomed forth and back across the Hudson carrying commuters to their daily toils in the City. The huge Staten Island ferries plod back and forth looking like they could run you down and never notice.
|One of the famous Staten Island Ferry approaching Manhatten|
|Way cool paint job on an old tug in Rondout Creek - Kingston, NY|
|Idylic Rondout Creek Marina - Kingston, NY|