Thursday, October 24, 2013

Atlantic City, NJ to Kent Island, MD

10/16/13 Spa Week in Atlantic City
It was pretty foggy this morning and Jeff had a lot of calls so we decided to take a lay day. Neala noticed it was "Spa Week" at the Golden Nugget Spa where we were docked. Not one to pass up a "bargain", she made an appointment for a hair trim and pedicure. Sometimes it is nice to have some little luxuries while cruising. Later in the day we had dinner at the Chart House overlooking the marina. Crab cakes, a huge beet salad and chocolate lava cake, a Chart House specialty, made our tummies hurt all night. It was a two Tums night!

Farley State Marina at the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City by day

Same place by night

10/17/13 Motoring to Cape May
We left Atlantic City about 0730 to get an early start to Cape May, 25 miles south of us and the last port on the New Jersey shore. The wind was a slim 5 kts and blowing on our nose so we motored once again with "Otto" at the helm. By 1300 we were entering the Cape May channel past anchored sailboats, the impressive Cape May Coast Guard Station and the picturesque fleet of Cape May fishing boats. This visit we decided to try out South Jersey Marina and boy, are we glad we did. We had a nice side tie in plenty of water and the staff were most helpful. The piece de resistance however was the beautiful shower facilities above the harbormaster's office, restaurant and marine store. The restaurant had had a fire the year before and they had completely remodeled the building so everything was five star throughout. Our friend Mike Grab introduced Jeff to his girlfriend Katy O'Hara last winter in Breckenridge and her family owns a liquor store in Cape May. So, needing to replenish our gin stash we called Katy who informed us that her store delivers! A little later, Katy arrived with "the goods" and stayed for a while to enjoy happy hour with us and one of our cruising neighbors.

Neala, Katy O'Hara and Jeff

 Impressive cutter at the Cape May Coast Guard Station

 Colorful fishing fleet in Cape May

Neala says, "Can you believe this is a marina restroom??!"

10/18/13 Enjoying Cape May
Today we stayed in town to avoid the breezy NW winds that would have made the Deleware Bay uncomfortable. There were several other boats that made the same decision and so the marina was full. The marina has a courtesy shuttle and their staff was happy drive us to the Acme Market to resupply our galley provisions and to run some other errands. Later in the afternoon we went back into town and Jeff suggested to take a horse and buggy tour of the historic Victorian neighborhood. After the tour we walked along the Washington Street Mall, which is a 5 block pedestrian zone with many shops to visit. We ended up at the Brown Room of the renowned Congress Hall hotel for drinks. The Congress Hall was built in 1816 as a wooden boarding house for the guests of the new seaside resort Cape May. It burned to the ground in 1878 but within a year its owners had rebuilt it in brick. John Phillip Sousa regularly visited Congress Hall with the US Marine Band and composed the "Congress Hall March" there in 1882. There we had a lively conversation with Ted, the self-appointed "Mayor of Frog Hollow" and his wife Pat who live in one of the historic houses we passed on our carriage ride. Afterword, we walked to the Marion Inn for a delicious dinner of wine, scallops in a pesto cream sauce, salad and dessert. There was live piano music on a baby grand piano throughout dinner and we recommend this restaurant highly. We loved discovering Cape May!

Northern Lights tucked in with the "Big Girls" at South Jersey Marina

We enjoyed our carriage ride through the Victorian neighborhoods

 One of the many beautiful Victorian homes of Cape May

 This was one of our favorites

 The Inn of Cape May est. 1894

The Brown Room at Congress Hall

Jeff in front of Marion Inn

10/19/13 Delaware Bay Here We Come!
Everybody who was packed in at the dock got an early start this morning, including the 80 foot motor yacht backing out inches away from our starboard lifelines as it departed. Yikes! There was a strong flood tide that was pushing us onto the dock as we departed too, so we kinda understood his predicament as the tide pushed him at us. Once clear of the dock we motored out of the harbor and into a beautiful Cape May sunrise. The seas were calm and so we again took the inside passage through the shoals that brought us within 1/4 mile of the shoreline before we were clear. With the tide pushing us northward we motored up the Delaware Bay in calm conditions with a nice 1.5 knot kicker. Later the wind even filled in from behind and so we motorsailed up to the C&D canal entrance. The Chesapeake & Delaware Canal is a 14 mile long, 450 foot wide, 40 foot deep ship canal that opened in 1829 and connects the upper Chesapeake and Delaware Bays. There we got a 2.2 knot kicker that pushed us quickly to the North Summit Marina where we stopped for the night. Last year we were here when we first heard about hurricane Sandy. This year we were relieved not to have a repeat. We had enough time before dinner to give the boat a good topside scrubbing. It's amazing how dirty a boat can get while cruising!

 Fishing fleet at sunrise in Cape May

 Motoring into the sunrise

 Past anchored yachts

And into the Atlantic

We passed some large ships in the Delaware Bay (we agreed this one was pretty ugly!)

 We arrived at Summit North so Neala could work her magic on the decks. She looks happy...

... but she wasn't!

10/20/13 Too Shallow in Fairlee Creek, So On to Annapolis
We planned a short, 25 mile trip down to Fairlee Creek, a nice little anchorage we stayed at last year. After refueling at the Summit North Marina fuel dock we got underway about 0930 and reentered the C&D canal. In about an hour we had entered the Chesapeake. The sky was clear and warm and there was a bit of wind on our beam so we were able to sail for a couple of hours before we got to Fairlee Creek. This little harbor has a very narrow channel that runs right along the beach and not much water. We were able to get in last year at mid-tide but this year we were at a minus tide and so we mushed into the mud at red #4. Another try proved futile so we decided to head for Annapolis. The wind had mostly abated so we motored down the Chesapeake and arrived to pick up mooring #12 at the Annapolis City Marina about 1820. There were several other sailboats on the moorings and many others at docks around us. The familiar skyline of Annapolis was marvelous at sunset and the church bells music to our ears. Neala was so happy to be in Annapolis - one of her favorite towns!

 Departing Summit North Marina on a beautiful, crisp morning

 Cool looking tug we passed on the C&D Canal

 Close reach down the Chesapeake. Happy to be sailing again!

 These 1000 foot ships can be a bit daunting when they are headed right towards you. Good thing AIS gives their course, speed and closest approach so we know when to run for it!

 Passing under the Chesapeake Bay bridge on the way into Annapolis

 Looking at the Annapolis skyline at sunset from our mooring

 More Annapolis skyline

Full harvest moon rising over our anchorage

10/21/13 Pussers Rum Day
Jeff had calls in the morning but after lunch we put the dinghy in the water and motored in to town. We were looking for some nice seafood for lunch and walked over to the Pussers Bar & Grill in the Marriott. On our way into the restaurant, we passed a little shop that was selling Pussers Rum decanters and bottles of Pussers Rum. We had never seen this sold in stores before and Jeff got an immediate gleam in his eye. We went to the restaurant and Jeff ordered a shot of the Pussers 15 year old rum before lunch. It was delicious, and certainly a sipping-quality rum. We had some tasty crab soup and split an order of fish tacos that we washed down with a shot of the Pussers 6 year old for comparison. The older rum was definitely much smoother so when we passed the little shop we bought a bottle and a decanter to take home. We walked around town a bit then returned to the boat for the night.

Jeff happily sippin' the 15 year old Pussers

 Neala loved it too (well sorta)

 Daylight view of Annapolis from our mooring

That's Northern Lights between the blue and red sailboats

10/22/13 Kent Island Anchorage Near Buff's House
The weather was calm, sunny and clear as we departed Annapolis harbor. We motored SW to round the Bloody Point Bar Light and around the shoal to the large cove at the south end of Kent Island. We snaked around the shoals and anchored in 12 feet of water about 3/8 mile from Jeff's colleague Buff's waterfront home. Jeff and Buff exchanged some emails and we made plans to go ashore later in the evening for dinner. Just after lunch, however, Jeff got a call from Buff warning him that there was a "crazy guy in a red kayak" that had been bothering boats in the anchorage and to keep an eye out for him. Shortly after that, Neala spied a man in a red kayak paddling furiously towards our boat and screaming madly about how we "can't anchor here", "have to move immediately", etc. Jeff came on deck and the two had a bit of a shouting match until the "crazy guy" got close enough to see that it was just Buff acting crazy (he was very convincing). Jeff was red-faced at being hoodwinked that way but Buff came aboard and we all had a good laugh. Later, after both of them had finished their respective calls, we turned on the anchor light and dinghied in to the beach where we met Buff's wife Robin and two of their three sons. Later, we drove up to The Narrows for dinner at The Bridge Restaurant. After a great meal and much conversation we took the dinghy back to the boat well after dark. So happy Jeff had turned on the anchor light, as the boat seemed really far away as we headed out into the blackness from shore with only the little masthead light to guide us back to the boat.

 Annapolis mooring field in the morning

 Cruise ship Yorktown had slipped in early this morning

 Rounding Bloody Point Bar Lighthouse at the southern tip of Kent Island. According to legends, the nearby point was the site of multiple bloody incidents way back in our history.

Our friend Buff's beautiful home on the cove where we anchored

Looking out at Northern Lights from Buff's second floor balcony

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Big Apple to Atlantic City

10/9/13 - Into New York Harbor - During Daylight!
We got underway early from Haverstraw this morning at 0745 to motor down the rest of the Hudson on a strong ebb tide that gave us 8+ knots over the ground. With this kicker we quickly passed under the Tappan Zee bridge and on to the George Washington Bridge. We arrived in the NYC harbor during lunch hour and there was not a lot of water taxi activity today. For those of you who followed our blog from last season, you'll remember that we mistakenly motored into NYC harbor at night with millions of lights on both sides of the harbor and water taxis criss-crossing our path. We definitely did not want to repeat that! The weather was somewhat windy and cool but we were warm in our new "solarium" cockpit enclosure. By 1400 we were tied up to dock D10 at Liberty Landing Marina where we planned to stay for up to a week since there was a big nor-easter blowing along the New Jersey coast with gales and rain in the forecast. In our slip, however, the weather was less rainy and not as windy as forecast. We busied ourselves trying to put the mainsail onto the mast furler but were in a cross wind and so it would not raise. Frustrated, Jeff lowered it and tied it off so we could try again in the morning. We had dinner onboard and watched a couple episodes of Downton Abbey.

 Ongoing construction at the Tappan Zee Bridge

 Approaching the George Washington Bridge and NYC skyline

 Cruise ship Aida entering NYC

 Yikes! Speeding water taxi close on our starboard bow!

 They pass really close and ignore their massive wakes!

NYC slowly lights up across the Hudson

10/11/13 - With Pamela at the Guggenheim
We got up early to bend on the sails before Jeff's call at 0900. The wind was still blowing on our beam so we moved the boat to the gas dock by 0730. On our first try we got the "main" almost to the top where it stuck mysteriously. After a big AH-HA! Jeff realized that the sail in the main sail bag was actually the jib sail and, embarrassed for not noticing the night before, he pulled out the jib sail bag which contained the real mainsail. After some coaxing and with Neala grinding hard on the winch, (REALLY hard, she says!!) both sails were ready for sailing again (and no more mention of Neala's Hudson grounding - we were even). By 10:30 we were on the Liberty Landing water taxi heading for the World Trade Center ferry dock. There was rain in the forecast and gusty winds but the radar did not show rain so we traveled light. After a bit of confusion in the subway station as to how to get to the Guggenheim Art Museum we finally ended up on the wrong side of Central Park and so we took a taxi the rest of the way to meet with Neala's childhood girlfriend Pamela Wood. They were adding a new exhibit so we did not have the whole museum to view but we had lunch with Pamela's friend Jennifer before touring the Motherwell and Kandinsky exhibits. Jeff's pretty sure he doesn't understand Abstract Expressionism, but Pamela (who is an accomplished artist) likened it to the various forms of jazz music and that struck a chord (no pun intended!) with Jeff. Neala, of course, is happy any time she's in an art museum. Oh, btw, Jeff and Neala have a tally system of visiting art museums/galleries vs. touring old Naval vessels. Jeff still owes Neala, hence the Guggenheim!

 The new WTC tower still under construction is magnificent

 Guggenheim Museum spiral walkway by Frank Lloyd Wright

 Looking down is interesting too

 Jeff & Neala at the Guggenheim (photo by Pamela)

 Neala loves the interesting patterns of old NYC architecture

Especially when it is reflected in the new

10/12/13 - With Christian and Jeanette and Friends in Brooklyn
Neala's son Christian and his fiancee Jeanette took the train down from Connecticut and we met in Grand Central Station shortly after noon. Christian's childhood friend and Neala's cub scout trooper Jon met us there and we had some lunch at a Lexington Avenue deli. Jon is a computer programmer so he and Jeff enjoyed sharing some tech talk. After eating, we met up with Kelsey, who went to Montessori school with Christian and whose mother is a dear friend of Neala's, and Jon's girlfriend, Laura, and took the East River ferry to Brooklyn to hang out for a while in Williamsburg. While there we all piled into a booth at a pub, drank a few interesting beers and had a lot of laughs. Afterwards, we took the train back to Manhattan and Neala, Jeanette, Christian & Jeff went to PJ Clarkes on North Cove Marina for some dinner timing it perfectly for the last water taxi back to Liberty Landing. When we arrived at the ferry terminal, however, it was closed! So we walked back to the WTC area and took the PATH train that runs under the Hudson to Grove Street and we lucky to get a taxi back to the marina. What a great day in the city!

 Subway musicians serenade us heading uptown

 Interesting traffic flows in front of Grand Central Station

 Neala & Kelsey on the East River Ferry

 Left to right: Jon, Laura, Christian, Jeanette & Kelsey crossing the East River

 Christian & Jeanette in Williamsburg Pub

 The whole gang at the Williamsburg Pub

Jeanette & Christian on the train back to the marina

10/13/13 - Some Assembly Required
Christian and Jeanette took an early water taxi back to Manhattan after coffee to catch the train north to Connecticut. We spent the rest of the day getting ready for our departure down the New Jersey coast. This entailed completing the installation of the Iridium satellite phone and pulling some cables for the WiFi repeater. We got all of our stuff that had been piled first in the aft cabin, then under the salon table while C&J were aboard, stowed, water tanks filled and everything ready for ocean sailing tomorrow.  We took the water taxi over to Paulus Hook for some last minute provisions. The weather looks favorable for the next 2-3 days for a nice run down the Jersey shore and we didn't want to be stranded in NYC by another nor-easter. We, of course, watched another couple episodes of Downton Abbey - we're hooked, what can we say??

Saying good bye to Christian and Jeanette at the Liberty Landing Ferry

Jeff completing the Iridium SatCom installation. All this makes perfect sense to him, although Neala thinks it is a perfect example of Abstract Expressionism!

10/14/13 - Easy Motor Sail to Manesquan, NJ
The forecasted winds had proven correct and we left our Liberty Landing slip at 0800 to motor out of the New York Harbor on an ebb tide. The sun was just starting to shine on the new WTC  tower and on the Statue of Liberty as we motored by. NY harbor can be a bit daunting with all the ferries criss-crossig, the tugs towing barges, not to mention those gigantic container ships. We passed under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and headed out into the ocean. It was a beautiful day, but the wind was fairly light so we motor sailed all the way to Manasquan.  We tied up at Hoffman's Marina which is right next to a bascule bridge that periodically opens for small commuter trains. Not only does the train blow it's whistle, but the bridge itself has a siren before opening and closing. This happened all evening until around midnight! The boat was on an end tie and was moving about significantly so Jeff went out to rig another spring line which helped quite a bit. Out there, Jeff called to Neala to come and see the rushing ebb tide current. The dock master told us the next morning that the current there has been clocked at 5 knots during Spring tides. We're sure they were pretty close to that!

 Departing Liberty Landing

 Passing Lady Liberty, by now our old friend

 Sailing out of NYC harbor towards the Narrows

 Entering Manesquan harbor for the night

Sunset in the west made the clouds and the water facing eastward quite spectacular

10/15/13 - Lovely Broad Reach to Atlantic City
0730 - We awoke early as today we had a 53 nm passage and we wanted to get an early start. Pulling out into the ocean into the sunrise was a beautiful sight and once in the Atlantic we found favorable winds at 13-15 kts for an easy broad reach down the coast. This was our first day of actually sailing - no motor! We spent most of the day reading and occasionally looking for other traffic as the sun shown down, the wind pushed us along and the following sea rocked us into a relaxing state. Staying upright in a rolling boat in a following sea definitely requires a lot of abdominal muscles. Neala thinks of it as Boat Pilates! By 1600 we were in sight of the Atlantic City buoy and by 1700 we were safely tied up to a dock enjoying the rest of the evening.

 Sailing on a broad reach towards the Atlantic City skyline

We both had time to read along the way while "Otto" drove the boat