14 New York City to Annapolis, MD

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Third day of high winds from the wrong direction. We did chores: laundry, boat cleaning, e-mail, regular letters etc. Then we went off exploring. A short walk and we found the residential area of Hoboken, NJ. Classic brownstone neighborhood; narrow tree lined streets, cement stairs up one story to the entrance of 4 story brownstones, small shops along the main streets. Everything well kept and doing well. Looked like it was unchanged from the 1920’s. We had lunch at a charming old corner restaurant. Felt like it was where the New Jersey godfather comes for lunch. Judging from some of the men in there, he may have been in for lunch.

NOAA weather forecast. Clear, high 60, wind northwest 20-25 knots, waves 5-7 feet. The weathered in fleet was split, we were going as was Cheshire Cat. Woodstock and Decision stayed behind waiting for more favorable conditions. We tied in a reef in the mainsail and headed out into the upper river crowd of ferryboats, tugs, barges, and pleasure boats. We put the main up, but left the jib down so we could see while we motorsailed down past the World Trade Center, Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, The Battery and out into the main harbor channels. The ferryboats gave way to freighters anchored off the channel and maneuvering up the river. One large freighter altered course just as we were approaching coming within 100 feet of us and passing between us and Cheshire Cat who was following close behind. We were to busy watching for traffic forward to even be concerned.

We talked with Cheshire Cat on the VHF to confirm they were going to continue on with us to Manasquan. That launched a series of calls from other weathered in boats wanting to know conditions. For awhile we felt like a weather station as we answered questions from four or five boats.  Samum  picked up our transmission. We had been trying to contact each other since we parted company at Troy. They elected to join us for the sail down. After all the chatting, we settled down and sorted out buoys marking the convergence of of three different channels off the tip of Sandy Hook.

To our delight, the waves were only about 2-3 feet and the wind was pushing us along at 7+ knots on just the main. We decided to shake out the reef, and ended up tearing one of the reef points and breaking one of the Dutchman furling control lines. Once all that was sorted out, we were indeed a sailboat again and had a great ride down to Manasquan.

The New Jersey shoreline is best described as 3 straight lines. The first is the shoreline. The second is the beach line and the third is the tree line. They extend uniformly from horizon to horizon. The only thing breaking the straight-line uniformity are water towers every mile or so.

The tides at Manasquan are 4 feet and the docks we tied up to didn’t float with the tide. We quickly learned how to leave plenty of slack in the lines so we could change levels with the tide. We ended up having a mini party with Cheshire Cat and Samum swapping stories about New York, the sail down and the next leg of the offshore trip around New Jersey. The next morning Ruth did a great job as a sail maker and patched the tear.

The dockmaster gave Cheshire Cat and me a hard time about sending e-mail. He didn’t want to be bothered. We found our own solution. Tom from Cheshire Cat has the plug used for dockside phone connection. Late that night, we found a boat with phone service. We unplugged the boat, plugged in, and sent our e-mail from laptops sitting on a dock box. We bootlegged the phone connection, but didn’t rip off the boat owner since we both send using calling cards to pay for the call.

Our favorable wind lasted only one day. We motorsailed so we could make Atlantic City before dark. We anchored out, cleaned off more of the canal dirt from the sides and dinked over to Samum for a delightful dinner. Skipped going ashore and pushed off early in the morning for Cape May. The wind was unfavorable again and we spent the entire day motoring into wind on the nose with seas that built to 4 feet. The pounding slowed us down and gave us a very bumpy ride.

One thing about the ocean that is not fun is the salt spray. When it dries on the boat it leaves a visible layer of salt. It feels gritty and on the dodger window it dries white making it difficult to see. Looks like the routine will be to wash down the boat each time we come into a dock.

New first for us in docking. The dock had pilings but no finger piers. We tied off to the pilings letting the bow overhang the dock. You get on and off by climbing over the bow pulpit. Not easy, but we are getting the knack. No discount on price either, they are charging the same $1.50/ft that all the other east coast marinas have been charging.

Cape May was fun to explore. The whole town has been declared a national historic site. As we walked the town, the Victorian homes seem to compete for our attention. As you would expect, many of them had been made into B&B’s. Even for off-season, there were a lot of people in town. It was a perfect fall weekend day.

We left early and anchored out in the harbor. Had a great afternoon watching the parade of boat, both local and the ever-present flood of cruisers heading south like us. Great entertainment was sitting and watching new arrivals anchoring. It was easy holding, but deck communications can at times be amusing.

The Cape May Canal has two bridges with 55-foot clearances. My measurements put our mast height at 53.5 feet. We went under holding our breath that our measurements were right. They were. As we cleared the east end of the canal into Delaware Bay we were greeted by four dolphins that swam across our bow. We were delighted.

The weather was nice and the winds were light. Rather than make another long day of motoring, we headed for the Cohansey River. It was an unexpected treat. It winds through marshland. We could see town across the marsh grass, two miles up the river, but it took us 3.5 miles to get there because of all the bends. We anchored along with Samum and Cheshire Cat. The current was strong, running at one knot after the anchor was down. We were close to shore so we put out a second anchor to make sure we didn’t drift over and go aground when the 6 foot tide went out.

A short dink ride into the marina and short walk had us in the town of Greenwich. Tiny town, one store/post office. Many of the homes were built in the early 1700’s. Took a tour of the one of the houses built in 1711. The two ladies giving the tour were charming and looked like they were of 1711 vintage.

We all got together for happy hour and a potluck dinner on Samum. The evening was warm and we enjoyed watching marshy shore slowly become exposed as the tide went out. Sunset over the marsh was wonderful.

Once we hit the C&D Canal we were off Delaware Bay and off the open water segment of the Atlantic Ocean. The weather had been fairly good to us and other than the sail damage, we didn’t have many problems. Still, we were glad to be off the ocean.

Anchored at Chesapeake City. Late that night after visiting Samum and Cheshire Cat, Ruth and I rowed out to the canal in the dink. The night was quiet, no wind and the harbor and canal were dead flat. The sound of the oars and the water dripping off then sounded loud because of the quiet. The canal is lighted and we could see the lights disappearing off around the next curve. As we rowed back through the harbor, we passed back in between the sailboats hanging loosely off their anchor rodes. It was a magic night.

The character of the land changed as we came out of the canal. Now we have hills and steep bluffs near the water. Our first impression of the Chesapeake is that it’s filled with lobster pots. The floats are everywhere except the shipping channels. We have to keep a continual alert to keep them out of the prop.

Picked Worton as our next anchorage. Samum went aground and worked themselves off as they tried to find the opening into a creek that was supposed to be a great anchorage. We tried and touched. Ruth easily worked us off because we were going dead slow and the bottom was soft sand. Since it was supposed to be a calm night, we anchored off in a more exposed portion of the bay.

I took advantage of the calm wind and went up the mast to repair the broken Dutchman furling system for the mainsail. We have a rope ladder that we can hoist up the mast. Then it’s an easy climb. Got a kick out of doing it at anchor rather than when tied to the dock.

We sat up late after our company had left enjoying the calm night. Off in the distance were the blinks from the buoys out in the channel. Close in were the anchor light from the boats around us. On one shore we could hear crickets and the few remaining frogs. Off in the distance on the other shore were the calls of Canada Geese. The water was mirror smooth reflecting the stars. It was a wonderful evening.

Before motoring over to Annapolis, we again washed and waxed the boat sides. It was hard work in the cool of the morning working from the dink. Tired arms. We got the yellow scum off a second time and hoped the wax would prevent a reoccurrence. It didn’t, we found a new accumulation when we arrived.

Annapolis is an intriguing mixture of old houses jammed against the sidewalks that are narrow and jammed against the streets. The houses are old and people have gone to a lot of effort to keep them up. The waterfront is fantastic. Boats everywhere and every type of support service a boater could need. They call themselves the sailing capital of the US and I think it might be true. We catch the boat show on Thursday.

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