Sunday, September 14, 2008

September 14, 2008

I neglected to mention in our earlier post that we had company when departing the marina on Thursday. Connie & I foolishly assumed that since we were scheduled to leave mid-week at 7:00 a.m. we’d follow our usual plan of operation; just the 2 of us handling lines, etc.

Not to be!

On Wednesday evening Ben from “No Regrets” came down to the marina from his home in Massachusetts and slept on his boat so he’d be able to help with lines. Plus Dave and Troy from the marina walked down to pitch in. Dave is a little camera shy, but we were able to capture the old salt. His sailboat is in a slip just a few yards away from ours. They are part of the Brewer crew who worked to make our summer stay very enjoyable.

Dave, Troy and Ben (L-R)
As we departed Narragansett Bay we were treated to a wave from our Aunt Marianne who drove down to the URI Bay Campus to see us off.

This is
Pt. Judith Light as we departed RI.

Long Island Sound is an attractive cruising area. Our first day underway, (Thursday) was no exception to that with bright sun and calm water. The first night we anchored in Westbrook Harbor which sits behind a large breakwater and is usually well protected. Normally when at anchor we settle in and the boat quiets down once the sun sets. Thursday was an exception as we were rocking and rolling while at anchor. As a result neither of us slept well because of all the activity. I had the anchor snubber down but the nylon lines were groaning and we were. “hunting” most of the night. The conditions during the day Friday did not improve. It was bumpy and rocky, with wind and rain off and on, less than ideal. We decided to change course and make for the Long Island shore which we hoped would shelter us from the wind. We lost a little time but conditions were acceptable for the rest of the day.

We turned into Manhasset Bay at 4:30 and the anchor was set at 4:45 p.m. Both of us were eyeballing the clock trying to estimate how quickly we could shower, eat and fall into bed. It’s amazing what a cup of hot soup with dinner and a shower will do when you’ve had a damp-rainy day underway.

The next leg of the trip is the interesting section. We prefer to run outside in the ocean along the New Jersey coast rather than navigate the New Jersey ICW for reasons you’ve read about earlier on this blog. It has been our practice to go through the night, a passage of 25-30 hours (+/-) from Manhasset to Summit North Marina on the C&D Canal. The canal connects the Delaware Bay to the Chesapeake Bay……hence the name C&D.

There are several factors that have to be considered for this part of the trip. Headed south we have to time the current and tide on the East River in NY City. That stretch is called Hell Gate for good reasons. Then we have to consider the ocean conditions along the NJ coast. The forecast is for the wind to initially be out of the Northwest, then Southwest which are both favorable and no more than 5-10kts. Waves are predicted 1-2’. So if NOAA is correct we should be ok. The final twist is; can we catch the flood tide up the Delaware Bay? That’s a long trip of 50 miles even with favorable conditions and there’s no place to hide if conditions deteriorate. We’d much prefer to have that push from the current. It looks like we’re ok, and the one concession we make is that rather than navigate the shortcut through the Cape May Canal at night we’ll go 3 miles further and take the safe route around Cape May itself. In any event, the Navigator has plotted not only plan A, but also B and C. As an alternative, we can tuck in at Manasquan, Barnegat, or Atlantic City inlets in the event conditions deteriorate as we head south. That’s not likely given the forecast but we feel better knowing there are options. Plans are to turn the corner at Cape May early Sunday morning putting us in place for the current up the bay and then into the C&D Canal early afternoon that same day. Saturday evening it was overcast early, but the moon broke through so we had good visibility, a 7 kt wind on the bow and the swells were gentle. I did engine room checks routinely and the diesels were purring. We swapped helm duties during the night, so both of us had napped but it’s a restless sleep as we awaken with any noise from the VHF radio or a beep from the radar.

Connie plotted the trip perfectly! This is not a seat-of-the-pants calculation. Nobeltec is our computerized electronic charting system and runs through the GPS and Autopilot to a pilothouse laptop computer. Like all tools it’s only as good as the operator! Over 4 years we have gradually learned to make good use of it’s capability. As we approached Cape May the current carried us and our speed over ground increased to 8 ½ kts. Considering that we’re a 7 kt boat; that’s flying! We made Cape May at 4:30 a.m. after having near perfect conditions during the night. We continued at that speed for the next 7 hours and enjoyed the warmth and visibility the sun provided. Finally, the sun comes up and the finish line is in sight. We take turns showering and the galley gets a cleaning after a night of snacking. Yes, it all comes down to food. There was a steady supply of fruit, cereal, sandwiches and popcorn from the galley to the pilothouse to help keep the energy level up and our eyes open.
On Saturday Connie had made the arrangements for our dockage via cell phone to explain that we were making an overnight run and requested a side-to transient berth on Sunday and assistance with dock lines. We were assured that there was a note to that effect and they’d be waiting for us. On Sunday just outside the marina we called on the radio to receive our specific assignment. As promised we had a T-head but when we came down the fairway and approached the berth there wasn’t a dockhand to be seen anywhere. We slid The Rose gently alongside and Connie stepped off, secured the stern line and quickly cleated a forward spring to hold her in place. In no time at all, we had all lines, (4) secure and the power connected. Twenty seven plus hours after departure from Manhasset Bay in Port Washington, LI we are docked in Delaware.

C&D Canal headed west
Getting back to my favorite subject; tonight we have pork chops ready for dinner along with a bottle of Sangiovese wine. There is always time for a glass of wine!
Summit North is actually located in a state park and is very picturesque. The office and support facilities are a steep climb up the bank, but I welcomed the exercise after being aboard for that extended stretch. We’ll probably spend an extra night here because of a front passing through the Chesapeake. That’s ok though; The Rose needs to have the salt rinsed off from the run down the Jersey coast and after three days underway we’re ready for a day off. We’re looking forward to departing on Tuesday for a leisurely cruise along the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake, making time to visit Cambridge and Rock Hall, MD. That area is light years away from the urban, hustle-bustle we usually encounter. Baltimore is another favorite stop that we haven’t made in a couple of years and Little Italy is just a short walk from the Inner Harbor.

So many destinations, so little time!

Paul & Connie
M/V The Rose, GH37
Summit North Marina
Bear, Delaware


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