May 20 - May 23, 2010: From Milford, CT to Chesapeake City
This is the beginning of our trip to the Chesapeake Bay....
May 20 - Milford to Sandy Hook
0745 we left our dock, all lines, our electric cord, and our water hose taken on deck, our fenders stored away while leaving the harbor. It was quiet at this hour. The sun was shining - for a change - but the wind was chilly. We are glad to sit behind / under our dodger, well protected. The wind is on our nose causing us to roll our main sail back in as it was flapping. Still, it is beautiful out here - virtually no traffic, except for a distant fishing boat here and there, two large ships and a barge anchored South of Bridgeport. Juergen thinks that they are laying a pipeline - we are not sure.
As we had times our trip to take advantage of the tidal current, we made it way too fast to King's Point - bad timing, I guess - so that we had the tide against us for another hour or so - that when we had hoped for being swept Southwest towards the Southern tip of Manhattan. We slowed to what we considered a crawl - 4.7 knots was the lowest speed we saw - but then speeded up again (or is it "sped up"??? who can tell me, please???).
Traffic on the East River Drive was awfully noisy. We had forgotten that given that it had been a while since we sailed past Manhattan (it was 2006 when we came back from the Bahamas). We were very glad to escape this noise which happened once the FDR Drive was no longer "underground" (but in a tunnel open towards the East River). Lots of high-speed ferries passed us back and forth leaving quite a wake. The Staten Island ferries were competing with water taxis and big tankers and container ships in downtown and beyond. We took many pictures as it is always exciting coming past Manhattan and into New York Harbor - what an exciting sight.
Overall, the trip was very fast and pleasant, and we were already anchored in Sandy Hook by 1820 early given the distance of over 75 nm. It was so beautiful that we sat down for a glass of wine and our usual "nibbles" watching the sunset before we went down below for dinner (chicken breast with mushrooms, spiled with fresh basil and marjoram, salt and pepper - delicious).
May 21 - Sandy Hook to Atlantic City
After a calm night we were awakened by the usual swell created by the early morning ferry runs and a fleet of fishing boats large and small, all eager to catch their first prey of the day. We had breakfast down below despite the sunshine as the temperatures were too low for our taste. Juergen cleaned remnants of "bird visits" off the deck while I input our today's waypoints into our GPS.
By 0805, the anchor was lifted and we were underway. At 9+ knots, we "flew" through the buoyed channel towards our first waypoint, just about 3.5-4 nm out of our anchorage. Very little wind from due West again prevented us from sailing. Thank God for a strong and reliable engine!
The weather was generally very good but at some point, fog set in. We turned on our radar just in case. It was, however, not really necessary as, after a while, the front seemed to have passed us, and the sun came out again. We reached the outside buoy of Atlantic City around 1730 or so but then took quite some time to enter the harbor. We had hoped to find an anchorage as we truly disliked the Trump Marina where we had stayed in 2006. We found a good spot, except the wind and tide opposed each other, and Impromptu, like a Canadian boat nearby, was constantly riding over her anchor. This did not make for a comfortable night (though, this time, we only have chain, when the same occured years ago in Nantucket - on our previous Impromptu - which had anchor chain and then line (rope), we had lost our anchor and drifted into another boat. Here, this could have meant disaster as there were rocks and a fixed bridge too low for our mast to get through). We decided to pull the anchor up again and to go into a marina after all. We called "Kammerman's" (to avoid Trump Marina) - no answer. By now, it was past 1900. We then tried Trump Marina. Also here, we only were graced with a voicemail indicating that their office hours were from 8-5. We came past another marina and found a dock long enough for us. We had hoped that someone would be there to let us dock there. The office was closed. Two other boaters who keep their boats in this marina helped us dock (as we had gotten stuck given the low water depth at almost low tide). In the end, we were close enough to the dock, somewhat stuck in the mud. We were informed that high tide would be around 0400 so that a very early departure was a must for us to get off safely.
We had a glass of wine and a few games of Backgammon before dinner (mushroom omelet and arugula salad) and went to bed early.
May 22 - Atlantic City to Chesapeake City
We had only about 35nm to go to Cape May, our intended next stop. But we had the tide with us and made it in very good time. So, around 1000, we decided to continue to the entrance of the Delaware-Chesapeake Canal ("DCC"). The waters around Cape May are very shallow but if one navigates properly, one can save a number of miles off the trip. It was a little nerve wrecking anyway, still we made it safely around the cape and were soon in deeper (but not deep - as the entire Delaware Bay and the River are not very deep outside the large ship channel) waters again. Of course, just before that, it had started to rain and got very foggy. Again, the radar was turned on - a good thing though visibility improved after the rain. We kept our AIS on (automatic identification system - remember it from our trip to Europe? - it is very good to have as one can "see" ships that are not visible and will know their names, next port of call, course and bearing. We never needed to call anyone, but we felt more comfortable and safe this way).
We soon followed near the large ship channel up the bay and then into the river. Soon, the wind piped up enough that we took the genoa out (we had furled the main by then but had motor sailed most of the way from Atlantic City to Cape May) to help us move faster. It became an incredible ride with speeds mostly over 8 knots and, for over three hours, between 9.4 and 10 knots - incredible! This caused us to outrun a freighter which had almost caught up with us. By the time we entered the DCC, the freighter was at least 1.5 to 2 nm behind us again - VERY EXHILERATING! Yes, you read correctly, we entered the DCC because we got to its entrance at around 1700. With at least three more hours of daylight we decided that we would try to get to Chesapeake City to a dock, or, possibly to anchor in the boat basin. Well, the marina had no slip large enough for us, and the water at low tide was indicated by them to be only 5 ft. We need 6.2 ft for our keel plus we like some additional water under our keel for good measure and mobility. We asked, however, whether we could enter the basin in terms of water depth, were told to hug the Eastern part of the entrance to avoid the shoals in the middle. We did and found plenty of water (12 ft to a low of 8.9 ft - definitely enough for a quiet anchorage). It was amazingly crowded both at the town dock and the marina as well as in the basin itself. But we found a proper spot and were anchored in no time. We already sat by "wine and nibbles" watching another sailboat anchoring and reanchoring repeatedly though they had arrived way before us. We were pleased with our accomplishment AND the amazing distance we had covered in 13 hours - over 110 nm - for a boat of our size, this is a major accomplishment - all thanks to the tide and the wind.
We called Sid and Luise, but spoke with Claudia and Peter, whose birthday it was. We had arugula salad and whole wheat pasta with a delicious tomatoe-artichoke sauce (purchased from Linda of Villa Gourmet in Milford) and freshly grated Parmesan cheese for dinner. Juergen went to bed shortly thereafter - he was tired afterhaving gotten up so early and been underway for 13 hours. I sat down to upload to my computer all the images on my flashcard (the images taken at Alexander's graduation - see Family and Friends for some of them) as well as those taken on our trip. It took till 2320 to upload all 300+ images. Since I could really not do anything while uploading, I read a number of chapters in my book ("Die Sklavin" - the Slave - a true story of an African woman who was taken as a slave by an Arab family. She, after managing to escape, wrote this book. I cannot say that I like or dislike it. It is one of those stories we have heard of many times, sad, upsetting. It shows the cruelty of people - again, nothing really new to us. Still, I will finish the book because Susanne was smitten by it, and I like to learn how she escaped and became fortunate enough to publish her story - hopefully with the result of less such mistreatment - though - don't we read about such horror every day? I guess, mankind never learns. I am getting phylosophical - and better stop it).
May 23 - Chesapeake City - still
We love this little anchorage, and we listened to the weather forecast - heavy rain, fog and just miserable conditions for later on. Since we had made it so fast to get here - much faster than anticipated - we decided to stay for another night. Juergen fixed the dinghy line (our new dinghy has a single hook at the bow preventing us from towing it "center", at least the way our existing dinghy line set up worked. Now, Juergen changed it so that we have one connection at the bow with two lines to tie on Impromptu. This should hopefully permit more balanced towing than we had before. We will see once we are underway again). I cleaned a little bit, talked to Jon (Salony) who had sent a number of emails over the past few days, mostly relating to our trip but also to the photo book I had made for "in Tune", the band he had hired for Meg's surprise retirement party. They will be flying to Venice for a few days tomorrow and will catch a cruiseship from there all the way to Egypt via lots of interesting and fun places. They will come back just shortly before we plan our return from the Chesapeake, and, I am sure, we will get together with them before our own flight to Europe.
Well, the weather seems to be getting nicer rather than rainy, windy, ugly as the forecast had predicted. We will be able to have lunch in the cockpit - our Sunday pancake breakfast was taken inside - with the heater going.