Monday, September 22, 2014

Timing is Everything...Cape May, NJ to Annapolis, Maryland

Map of Delaware Bay to
C&D Canal to
Annapolis, Chesapeake Bay 
     This game of sailing from here to there is one of timing with advanced planning being an important tactic. Although, even after careful, strategic planning, checking currents, tides and weather, things don't always come together as intended.

     Subsequent to our overnight passage down the Jersey coastline it was time to take a day off, regroup and rest in Cape May. The trip was tiring. The following day's currents looked favorable for heading up Delaware Bay toward Annapolis, Maryland. Anxiety levels lowered dramatically since a fast turnaround seemed to be "in the cards." Apparently, the decision to move was on the mark since at dawn Monday morning 15 of the 20 boats in the Cape May anchorage began hauling anchors. Destination? THE DREADED DELAWARE!

It seems everyone has stories of bad experiences in the Delaware. No one enjoys this part of the trip, but it's one that has to be endured, akin to prepping for a colonoscopy and hoping the actual event will be uneventful. Too bad we couldn't be anesthetized for the unpleasantness of the Delaware. It would be nice to awaken find ourselves safely anchored in Chesapeake Bay and have absolutely no recollection as to how we arrived there!

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

What Do Sailors Dream About While Making Offshore Passages?

A dream come true!
     I'm not sure about other sailors experiences but, I happen to think a lot about bacon whenever we're making offshore passages. In fact I think so much about bacon that on occasion I've been positive that I smelled bacon wafting from the shoreline. That's probably not accurate since we're usually more that three miles offshore. At any rate I made a vow during the night to cook a big breakfast with bacon, eggs, coffee and bagels as soon as Joe settled us in on anchor in Cape May.

     Even though last nights' passage was one of the better ones...(we actually sailed all afternoon and throughout the night) all I longed for was a bed that didn't move. When I was off watch I climbed into my bunk only to be tormented by the following seas jiggling me from side to side. No real chance to sleep in those conditions. Then I began wondering why people rock poor, defenseless, babies who don't even have the ability to say, "What the hell? Knock it off!"
The other thought I couldn't shake was whose idea was this? "This isn't fun!" Yea, the moon was waning but, nearly full. Lighting our way over turbulent seas. Threads of spindrift blew off tops of waves...blah, blah, blah. It still wasn't fun.

     Next time, oh did I mention that there won't be a next time? I'm never doing that again! Oh, I almost forgot. We arrived safely at 8:15 this morning and that bacon really hit the spot!

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Fair Winds

     Joe and I don't have a big family in RI but, we do have a few close friends and they're very important to us. Throughout the summer we caught up with nearly everyone but, were disappointed that due to conflicting schedules missed spending time with a few friends for the second year in a row. The summer in New England is so short. Simple Life was hauled in June for maintenance while she enjoyed a few upgrades and we provided lots of elbow grease and TLC after her nine month journey up and down the Atlantic seaboard. When it was time to relaunch it was nearly time once again to point the bow south!

Diane, John, Michele and Mike at the Dog Watch, Stonington, CT
    Soon after departure from our home port of Pawtuxet Cove, RI on August 29, we were treated to a fine "last supper" as we traveled west down Long Island Sound. While anchored in the protection of the breakwater in Stonington, CT. family members Mike, John and Diane met with us at The Dog Watch restaurant on the waterfront where we had more than a few laughs and caught up on family ties and times past. I've always have fond family memories of summers spent at the beach house and the antics we got into while there.

Joe, pleased with our Hell Gate timing with Manhattan skyline 
NYC and the Battery while heading toward Atlantic Highlands, NJ
     Our trip down the sound was uneventful and relatively fast without the usual weather delays. Though things were about to change as we made the move from Port Washington, NY to Atlantic Highlands, NJ. We along with at least fifteen other cruising vessels have been staging in Atlantic Highlands since last Sunday! Weather as always turned against us and we've been holed up ever since. Heavy winds clocked to the east for several days with wind speeds in the high 20's. Seas were in the 5-7 foot range. Certainly, not conducive for a sail down the Jersey coastline. As a result we waited filling our time with boat projects, reading, playing some music and whatever else fills the day.


Ominous skys hover above Atlantic Highlands, NJ
     Cruising from here to there aboard our home Simple Life enables us to make friends from all over the country. Our community resembles a floating old fashioned neighborhood where people greet each other and lend a hand if needed. I imagine it's because we're all "in the same boat."


Lawrence working on my bike
       We recently caught up with friends Lawrence and Elaine from Elle & I  in Atlantic Highlands, NJ. We spent a nice evening aboard their boat while Lawrence concocted his special version of Irish Coffee. The next morning I thought it would be a great time to take my new folding bike ashore for some exploration in the quaint, Victorian town. My bike has had one outing since coming aboard a year ago. The tires had gone flat! Before leaving RI I'd purchased one of the new tiny tire pumps. It didn't work...Our friend Lawrence from Elle & I is a bike expert. He offered his tire pump and expertise. It seemed we'd let the tire pressure get too low to accept the new pump I'd bought. After a short time everything worked as planned. The bike was put ashore and I was able to explore the shoreline bike path along Navesink Park. Once again our friends in our close knit community came through.
Michele happy to have the bike in working order

         As of tonight there are over 20 boats staging for the offshore passage from Atlantic Highlands to Cape May, NJ. If we all depart as expected on Friday morning some will make an overnight passage to Cape May. Others will opt for a shorter stint to Barnegat Inlet or Atlantic City. As of this evening, Joe and I are not certain what we'll do. We'll make that decision when as we head offshore tomorrow morning.
Elle & I anchored in Atlantic Highlands, NJ with
Manhattan skyline in the background

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Friday, September 5, 2014

I Get the Urge for Going

Leaving home on August 29 while sailing past
the Conimicut Point Lighthouse
     It's noon on Labor Day weekend and I can't seem to shake singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell's iconic tune Urge For Going from my thoughts. With autumn fast approaching and cooling temperatures on the horizon our upcoming southern migration is beginning to ramp up. Subtle signs of autumn's approach are everywhere. Along the upper reaches of Narragansett Bay one sure harbinger of fall debuts with the arrival of male blue crabs in search of a suitable place to over winter in the upper bay's warm brackish waters.

Plum Point Lighthouse, Narragansett Bay, RI
     An additional upper bay arrival of pesky terns is another omen of summer's waning days. The terns have a penchant for perching on deck while dining on bits of bait fish left behind during the annual late summer blue fish feeding frenzy. Along the shoreline male crickets chirp nonstop during daylight hours risking their lives by notifying their whereabouts to predators in hopes of one final liaison with a female. They seemingly sense the long silence of deadly cool weather that's fast approaching and perhaps put their lives in peril before the onset of a certain killing frost that will hasten their final demise. I have been a witness to these and similar signals that the time to head south is upon us. The first northers have already blown through leaving behind a few daytime teasers that summertime might reveal herself once again. Though, we cruising sailors who migrate south at the first hint of chilly temps are rarely fooled by a few warm days.

Passing south under the Jamestown Bridge, Narragansett Bay
   Our loose plan for sailing south this fall is to make a few stops along the Connecticut shoreline then head across Long Island Sound toward Port Jefferson and Port Washington, NY for a few days before heading down NYC's East River toward the New Jersey coastline. We hope to stage for a sail up the Delaware River to Chesapeake Bay around September 11. We have a plan and have chosen the most optimum time for transiting LI Sound's currents. Who knows if this will come together. We have the will and the urge for going but, ultimately weather is always the deciding factor. Please stay tuned for another year of adventures while sailing aboard the Simple Life.
Bound for sea while passing the Dutch Harbor Lighthouse
Narragansett Bay, RI

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