Flexibility is key when boating; and that is definitely the case for those of us with schedules. With the thought that we had to drive along the coast of New Jersey to get to our next destination (Annapolis), we closely monitored the sea conditions while we were still in Norwalk. The plan was to run along the Jersey coast on Tuesday following the show. Our daughter, Joy, was coming out from the city to meet up with us in Norwalk. We were going to head out on Monday morning and cruise down the East River in Manhattan ( a trip she hadn’t previously made), cruise around the Statue of Liberty and New York Harbor, through the Verrazano Narrows bridge and then over to Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey. Joy would catch the fast ferry back to New York.
However, it didn’t exactly happen that way. In checking the weather on Saturday night, it appeared sea conditions along the Jersey coast were deteriorating, and that Monday would be the best day to make the trip. So the three of us (and the dogs!) headed out on Sunday night. This isn’t the first time we have cruised through New York City at night, so we were quite comfortable making the trip. (We apologize for not posting any pictures. The city is quite lovely at night; but when you’re on the lookout for moving barges and unlit markers/cans, taking pictures is pretty much the last thing on your mind!)
Once through the Verrazano Narrows bridge and into lower New York harbor (which has direct exposure to the Atlantic Ocean), the seas became very choppy and we were “taking it on the beam” (to non-boaters: “on the side” which makes the ride less comfortable). It was a long 45 minute ride to the anchorage at Atlantic Highlands, but we made it, dropped the hook (anchor), and headed to bed at 12:30 a.m. This is generally a very protected anchorage, but the wind continued to pick up and it was from the least protected direction. Needless to say, it was a bumpy night. In the course of listening to the winds building and howeling through the night, we decided that it was better to stay put and delay the Jersey coast trip. Monday we put the boat in a slip at the marina, and spent the day with Joy in our cozy salon.
We put Joy on the 4:00 ferry, and settled into a quiet evening. As forecast, Tuesday morning brought more wind and heavy rain. Ugh. No Jersey coast today! More sitting around, some boat chores and, once the rain stopped, a trek to the grocery store and post office. Wednesday morning we awoke to fair skies and light winds, and while the wave height forecast was more than we would have liked, we decided to go for it. (We were spurred on by the prediction of a tropical storm coming up the eastern seaboard from Florida which would have further delayed our trip.) Once around Sandy Hook and into the ocean we discovered that the seas were not so bad. The swells were quite large, but they were reasonably gentle. This allowed us to enjoy a comfortable ride at displacement speed (9-1/2 knots), burning 5 gallons/hour.
As the day went on, the seas got even better! Yeah! We decided that instead of stopping at Cape May for the night, we’d just stop for fuel/dog walk/quick on-board dinner and continue on. We arrived there around 6:00 and headed out again at 7. Darkness fell as we were making our way out of the Cape May Canal and into the Delaware Bay. Although John did most of the driving, I did relieve him for a couple of hours so he could take a nap during this 5 hour trek up the Bay (the location of our encounter with the Coast Guard – in a previous blog entry.)
Our intention then was to stop at the town docks of Chesapeake City, Maryland, a town along the C&D Canal which connects the Delaware and Chesapeake Bay. When we arrived and found the docks full, we decided – once again – to keep going. Afterall, our final destination, Annapolis, was only another 50 miles. We could arrive there by dawn! I decided to take another nap, intending to relieve John when I awoke. But when I opened my eyes, all I could see were big barges on either side of us (by this time we were on the upper Chesapeake Bay). I went back to sleep and let him handle the helm!! That’s what any smart first mate would do!
Fifty miles later, at 7:30 a.m. Thursday morning, we were safely docked in our friends’ slip near the Rhode River. By this time the anticipated storm was upon us. The rains poured, the winds howled (what else is new?!). But we had covered 232 miles in 24 hours. We were fast asleep.