46 New York City to Oxford, MD

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A fair wind carried us down the New Jersey coast to Manasquan. This tiny town had been our first Atlantic stop a year ago. Concerns about being bored with a repeat town vanished as we tied up to the Shrimp Box Restaurant dock and found a new part of town to explore. The boardwalk divided a pay beach from front porches of summer cottages. These summer shacks looked like they had seen many a good time on summer weekends. A tacky collection of shops selling the stuff of summer towns mixed in with the cottages. The whole place had a flimsy feeling. The yellow lines marking street parking spaces will be the only thing left if a hurricane hits Manasquan. The Shrimp Box provides dockage free if you have dinner there. They were closed, so dockage was free. Monday Night Football and free snacks drew us in to one of the local bars. They even had inexpensive drinks in hopes of drawing in customers in this now almost deserted town. We spent the evening cheering for the Lions. The next morning we were off early for Atlantic City.

Four foot waves and 20 knot winds from the south greeted us as we attempted to leave Atlantic City. Caribbean Soul radioed they had hesitations in their diesel so we turned around and went back. Rough seas held us for two additional nights. During that time, snug in a tiny marina, we explored the harbor waterfront and the modest community that backs the casinos. Rode the Jitney bus out to the end of the line at Ventor and walked back along the boardwalk and through town. Our 7 mile hike through the city covered many of the streets known to Monopoly fans.

As we finally headed for Cape May Caribbean Soul radioed that their engine had stopped. They were going to sail back to Atlantic City for repairs. Suggested Richard try bleeding the fuel line, since he had changed fuel filters while we waited for the weather. The second try at bleeding had the engine operating and we motor sailed to Cape May.

We felt right at home at South Jersey Marina in Cape May. Caribbean Soul pulled in behind and a third boat filled in behind them filling one side of the fuel dock. We were just getting ready for happy hour when someone shouted: “Call the Coast Guard.” Smoke billowed from a 40 foot power boat tied in front of the fuel pump about 150 feet away. Dock attendants came running with fire extinguishers. Smoke continued to billow as a Coast Guard 41 footer came in behind with a 3 inch water cannon already mounted on the bow. The bowman was ready and eager to fire, and stood ready as others went aboard with more extinguishers. A second Coast Guard 41 footer showed up. Two police officers made the scene followed by the first fire truck. Firemen in full fire dress, brought additional extinguishers and a fire ax. A second fire truck appeared as did the town fire boat. The fire was out and no one was hurt. Firemen brought fans in to help clear smoke. Once we got past our initial worry of the boat blowing up, we had one hell of a happy hour show. Realized how old I was when the ladies commented that all the firemen looked like hunks, but didn’t seem to us like they were old enough to vote.

Adverse current and wind made for slow going up Delaware Bay. We anchored for the night behind Reedy Island. Morning fog made getting out from behind the island and finding the C&D Canal entrance a bit of a challenge. Worton Creek provided a calm secure anchorage before heading to Annapolis and an exposed anchorage outside the entrance to Spa Creek.

Last year we went to the Annapolis Boat Show. This year we watched the building of the Annapolis Boat Show and skipped the show. We arrived in Annapolis on Monday. Pilings were being driving. Huge rafts of floating docks were tied to random pilings. The VHF radio scheduled in boats as docks went in place, or informed everyone of delays as problems with getting docks placed were sorted out. At first glance it didn’t seem possible the show would be ready for its Thursday opening. Ashore as we walked by the display area we could see city streetlights being removed to make room for the big tents. Smaller tents were sequenced in neat rows showing a progression of each stage of assembly. Daily progress and progress from morning to afternoon was very visible.

Reluctantly we parted company with Caribbean Soul. Richard and Jory are headed back to Portland, Oregon to spend a year selling off everything so they can continue cruising. We said our good byes making plans to meet next January in Vero Beach or Key West.

On the way to Oxford we anchored for a night up the Rhode River, adding a new spot on the Chesapeake to places we’ve explored. Strong winds directly out of Oxford forced us to tack across then down the bay. White water coming over the bow resulted in mystery below. One cabin cushion was damp when we pulled into the marina at Oxford, and we have yet to find the entry point for the water. Mystery leaks are one of life’s little annoyances that keep living on a boat interesting.

My dignity bruised before I hit the water. Reflexes slowed by a drink or two missed a grab for glasses. They disappeared as soon as I make contact with the warm waters of the Chesapeake. A misstep on the poorly lit marina bulkhead was the reason for my unplanned swim. Getting back out took some figuring. The bulkhead and finger piers were unfriendly to someone in the water. Ruth finally dropped Tranquility’s boarding ladder and I climbed aboard leaving a soggy trail as I headed for a warm shower. The next day in pouring rain I dove for my glasses. Visibility near the bottom was only about a foot, so I tried plan B. Where I’d fallen in was only about 5 feet deep. I could just keep my head above water as I explored the mucky bottom with my feet. Took 45 minutes of feeling around clams and diving to pick up sticks and other junk before I finally located my glasses.

We had a classic fall day as we drove to Rochester, NY. It was cool, rainy, damp, and foggy. Still as we approached central Pennsylvania, fall colors began to kick in and foggy vistas of color washed over the hills. Even in the fog and rain, the visual impact was stunning. A year ago, on our way south we were always a week or two ahead of the color change. Now even in the fog, the reds and yellows shined by the rain glowed in a light of their own.

Dental work brought us back to Rochester for the third time in as many months. We were beginning to feel like we had never left. Still, unique enjoyable milestone events filled our brief days there. We were Debbie and Jeff’s first official overnight guest in their new home. They did an outstanding job of making us comfortable. The next day, the four of us joined Linda and Steve on a walk up the country lane on their farm. Shovels and containers in hand, we all selected pines and maples and dug them up for Debbie and Jeff to transplant on their now barren lot. It will be fun to see the trees we all selected grow over the years.

With Cindy and Mike, we explored the 100 acres of land they are considering buying. It was fun exploring the woods hills and pond. Fun to hear dreams about having a house overlooking the pond. Having seen the property, we can enjoy the anticipation of ownership and visualize their dreams very easily.

Dental work finally completed we started back toward the Chesapeake on a perfect fall day. Bright sun, cool weather and fall colors at their peak lured us toward Watkins Glen and it’s beautiful walk up the Glen. We’ve lost track of the number of times we’ve enjoyed the climb up Glen and its 800 plus steps. The Glen stream filled from the prior week’s rain filled out the water falls along the route. We dallied taking in the sight of falling yellow leaves highlighted against the gray walls of the glen and sparkling water of the falls.

As we passed through a tunnel on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, it seemed like fall shut off. The north side had fall foliage in full color. On the south side, we were back to the dull green of trees getting ready to change color.

Cell phone technology kicked in again and we exchanged plans with Rita and Jim dear friends from New York and sailing companions on numerous Tranquility cruises. We were both traveling by car, made plans and met for a brief reunion and lunch in Annapolis. After our fun but brief meeting, they headed back to the real world of working and we headed back to the fun world of cruising.

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