Friday, September 20, 2013

Besting the Bays

At 12:15a.m. on Monday, September 16th, the alarm went off; and we prepped for our night time passage up the Delaware Bay.  In order to ride the current, we needed to be through the Cape May Canal by 2:00 a.m.  At the end of the canal, we were confused by the lights of a dredge barge and went over his submerged pipes.  Good thing we were a catamaran!

The forecast called for 5 to 10 knot winds with one to two foot seas.  We found winds of 15 to 20 and much larger seas.  Unrolling the genoa, we charged up the bay.  We did not want to reach marker 32 on the ship channel until daylight, but the winds kept increasing and so did Passage's speed.  When the gusts reached 26 we rolled in half of the jib, but still we were sailing too fast.  The beam seas tossed us around some, and the sail was not that much fun.  We reached the shipping channel at 5:30 a.m., but there were no ships until after daylight.  After 4 hours of sailing, daylight brought a wind shift to the northwest and a dying breeze, so we motored the rest of the way to Chesapeake City, Maryland, at the end of the C and D canal.  We tied up at the free dock, took a little nap, then explored the quaint little town.

There were many homes built between 1840 and 1880, all well maintained.  We visited with cruising sailors Jim and Bonnie Cleary from SV Dana.  He recommended an anchorage that we would eventually use on the Chesapeake.  Tired from our overnight sail, we went to bed early and slept in a little.

After breakfast in town, Passage cleared the dock at 9:30 on Tuesday, September 17th.  We planned a short day, hoping to anchor in Still Pond Creek, just below the Sassafras River.  With light winds astern, we motored down the bay and entered the narrow channel to Still Pond Creek.

We had enjoyed a peaceful night at anchor here in 2006, but we soon found that conditions here had changed.  As we turned up into the creek, we ran aground!  Backing off, we worked the channel farther east and tried again.  The depth sounder read 6, 6, 6, 5, bam, we were hard aground.  Good thing we were going slow.  Still, with the current going out we needed to get off soon.  The current slowly spun Passage sideways,  We were hung up on our starboard hull and rudder.  When we were pointing the right way, we gunned it and forced our way off the sandbar.  We got out of there!
We headed  down to the Magothy River, where we enjoyed a peaceful night at anchor with eight other boats north of Gibson Island.  Thanks for the recommendation Jim and Bonnie.

Wednesday the 18th we raised anchor early and were under way by 8:00 a.m., the first boat out of the anchorage.  We motored into light southeast winds past the Sandy Point Lighthouse and then under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
Two hours after departing our Gibson Island anchorage, we arrived in time to catch the ten o'clock bridge opening at Spa Creek in Annapolis.

We entered the mooring field and Sue picked up the mooring ball like the veteran she is.

We no sooner secured Passage with two of our black lines than long time friends and fellow Grand River Yacht Club members Phil and Lorraine Dolsen drove over in their dingy for a visit.

Our visit was interrupted by the harbormaster boat, who informed us that we couldn't spend our planned month in this mooring field, so we had to move a little further up the creek to mooring ball 64.  That settled, we enjoyed a great visit with Phil and Lorraine, including lunch at a bar and grill in downtown Annapolis.

All good things must come to the end, and soon Phil and Lorraine were off to get ready to depart for St. Michaels the next morning.

Thursday, our first full day in Annapolis, was spent getting the lay of the land.  Thursday evening we enjoyed happy hour aboard Dana with Jim and Bonnie and Hunter 36 sailors Rock and Diane.  We have a full weekend planned already, so we will not be bored in Annapolis as we wait for the boat shows.

Monday, September 16, 2013

So Long New York

Wednesday, September 11th, we motored out of Tarrytown Marina at 6:40 a.m. to catch the current for as long as possible.  It was hot and hazy, but that didn't slow down the ferry traffic.

We passed a replica of Henry Hudson's "Half Moon Bay"

Since this was 9-11, we thought that this sail plan was particularly apt.

In the haze one could still enjoy our historic treasures like Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

We had a great ride, carrying the current at speeds over 8 knots until we were two miles from the Verrazano Narrows bridge.  Since we were now moving slowly, we were able to study the remains of Fort Wadsworth.

An hour later we arrived at Great Kills Harbor on Staten Island, where we planned to sit out some bad weather with the friendly folks at Great Kills Yacht Club.

Although the club had all its docks washed ashore with the boats during Super Storm Sandy, they did a magnificent job of rescuing their boats and rebuilding their docks.  Not all boats in the harbor were so fortunate.
Friday the 13th was our lucky day as the wind turned to the northwest for our sail down the New Jersey Coast.  We sailed most of the way on the spirited offshore wind, which gusted as high as 21 knots. Passage loved the conditions, hitting a high of 8.9 knots in one of the stronger gusts.  We passed Seaside Park, whose boardwalk was destroyed by fire the day before after surviving Sandy.

 We had a great anchor set, which was good since the winds were howling all night long.  We shared the anchorage with five other boats and the Barnegat Light.

I thought I would show a picture of our bridle from the two hulls, which we tie onto our 80 feet of chain.

We rose early on Saturday the 14th and were the first boat to raise anchor and motor out of Barnegat Inlet.  We hoisted sails and turned south, driven by northwest winds once again.  We enjoyed some very spirited sailing until the winds reached 26 knots apparent about five miles from Cape May.  Too lazy to reef for only five miles, we rolled in the jib and motor sailed.  We arrived at Utches Marina in 9 hours and 45 minutes.

The 15th Sue did laundry and I scrubbed all the salt off the boat.  Sue also walked to the grocery store, and soon we were prepared for the trip up the Delaware Bay.  We were pleasantly surprised when Chuck and Betty McKee pulled in on Happy Hours II.  They left Geneva, Ohio, well after we left Grand River, but they caught us!

After visiting with our friends from home, we finished our preparations, then enjoyed a nice dinner at the Lobster House.  We went to bed early to get a few hours sleep before tackling Delaware Bay.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Happy Hudson

Saturday, September 7th, dawned early and cold.  There was smoke on the water.

We left the dock at 7:25 and rode the current for 25 miles, going as much as 8.1 over the bottom.  The last 12 miles we fought the current, going as slow as 4.4 over the bottom.  We enjoyed several picturesque lighthouses on the way, starting with the Saugerties Light.

Next we passed the Roundout Creek Light at Kingston.

Finally, we passed the Esopus Meadows Light, which was located in the middle of the river.

We stopped at Marlboro Yacht Club again, even though it was a weekend and wakes were a problem.  It settled down nicely about dark.

We departed Marlboro on Sunday the 8th at 7:05.  Once again we rode the current early, only to lose it later.  Our high speed was 8.2 knots over the bottom.  High light of the trip was passing West Point.

Just south of the academy many houses  sat on the cliffs.

We also motored under the spectacular Bear Mountain Suspension Bridge.

We arrived in Haverstraw bay and tied up at Half Moon Bay Marina by 11:45.  This is a highly rated marina, but I don't know why.  Supposedly, there was easy access to washers and driers, but there was not.  Also, supposedly easy access to the train station turned out to be over a two mile walk.  After bouncing around at the dock in a terrible surge for the afternoon, we changed our planned two day stay with a trip to New York City into a one day stay.

On Monday, September 9th we motored 8.2 nautical miles to Tarrytown Marina.  The train station is right across the street from the marina.  The weather forecast for the New Jersey coast was for southwest winds all week, so we thought a trip to Manhattan would be a great idea.  We spent Monday doing chores so that we could go to town on Tuesday.

On Tuesday we hustled to the train station for our  big city adventure.

After a scenic train ride, we detrained at Grand Central Station.  Our goal was to see the 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center.  Several very friendly New Yorkers helped us learn the ropes of riding the subway.  Two stops on the orange line later, we jumped on the E train and arrived at the WTC.  The site is beautiful and very emotional.  The two pools are surrounded by the names of the 2,983 victims of terrorism who died that day.

Some names had small flags or flowers attached.  One could touch the names and get a sense of the families who have suffered from this barbarous act.  However, spectacular new buildings are rising from the ashes of the old.

We remembered visiting the twin towers on our first trip south in 1999.  For us this visit to the Memorial was very special.

We then headed for the red line and train number one.  In a true example of the blind leading the blind, Sue advised a young man on what train to get on and where to get off to head back to Penn Station!  We got off at West 42nd street and headed for Times Square.

We especially enjoyed watching the people.  It was interesting.  We then discovered St. Andrews Scottish Bar and Restaurant.  They had an amazing selection of scotches, so a sampling was required.

The day was completed by strolling down 5th avenue.  Since the temperature was in the low 90s, two tired cruisers found their train and headed back to Tarrytown and Passage.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Ending the Erie

On Monday, September 2nd, we waited for the weather to clear and did some maintenance, included putting a new V belt on the engine.  We cast off after noon for the trip to lock 8, only to have the new V belt break after only two miles.  Our last spare seemed a little smaller, and we had a rough time getting it on.  We succeeded when the boat was one boat length from the shore! We then went back to Amsterdam to get our worn out original belt out of the trash, since we had no more spares.  We finally reached Lock 8 at five.  Happily, the new belt held up fine.  We shared happy hour with Brian and Jane on Mar-a-Lago, which ended as a strong rain front roared through.

On Tuesday we headed out at 7:30, passing through Schenectady on our way to the flight of locks which ends the canal.  We passed some very nice homes on the water like this one.

Lock 6 through 2 are all 33 to 34 foot drops, and all close together.  They are protected by guard gate 2, which is always closed.  We had to wait for it to open.

We followed Mar-a-Lago through the two guard gates and the step locks.

90 minutes after arriving at guard gate 2, we tied up at the canal welcome center in Waterford, where we enjoyed free dockage with showers and power.  Gotta love it!

Wednesday morning we enjoyed breakfast in town with Peter and Debbie Brown.  Peter was a classmate of Sue's, and they drove up from Castleton on the Hudson for a brief visit.  We did laundry and grocery shopping, and we were ready to head south!

We started down the Hudson River on Thursday, September 5th.  We passed several barges and one ocean going ship.

We were also passed by our Canadian friends Brian and Jane.

We passed the Athens lighthouse shortly before arriving at Catskill Creek.

We tied up in front of the crane and began preparing to step the mast.  Sorry about the lack of photos and Riverview Marine Services, but we were too busy working.

The next morning the John and the crew showed up at 8:10, and by nine we were stepped and moved to another dock.  We tuned the rig and scrubbed Passage.  After lunch we bent on the sails and completed the rigging.

We went to bed early and exhausted, but we slept on a sail boat!