Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cape May, NJ - Annapolis, MD

 38 53.39 N 076 32.03 W
Okay – we know it’s been a while since our last posting. We are just having too much fun to feel like updating this blog. We have definately slowed down our pace of travel since arrriving in the Chesapeake Bay. Presently, we're anchored on the western shores of the Bay, on the Rhode River sitting out some strong southerly winds and rain before continuing on our trek south. Favorable northeasterly winds are forecasted for tomorrow and we'll then be on our way again so today seemed like a good day to get everyone caught up on what we’ve been doing.
Long day motoring in calm waters
up the Delaware Bay
We left Cape May on Sat 9/18 and motored for 10 hours / 70 miles up the shallow, turbid, very long and visually boring Delaware Bay. We hadn’t planned on that long of a trip but our two attempts to anchor in one of the few suggested anchorages, this one at the mouth of the Cohassey River on the New 'Joisy' side, had too much river current setting us against prevailing wind so that our anchor chain kept riding under our hull. We decided to take advantage of the late afternoon flood current and continued the rest of the way up the Bay and halfway through the C&D (Chesapeake & Delaware) canal arriving at Summit North Marina just off the canal about a ½ hr after sunset.

Kathy returning to boat from
marina laundromat .
There was no room to anchor in the marina basin so we uncharacteristically paid for a dock slip. We even plugged in to shore power that night and next morning took full advantage of all the marina amenities - Kathy did laundry while Mark gave Carina a much needed bath; As Mark said he "intended to get his [bleeping] money's worth out of the $2.00/foot fee - by God !" After all the chores were done around noon we threw off the dock lines and continued through the canal and out into the upper Chesapeake Bay.

We stayed on Maryland's eastern shore side of the bay, anchoring in a protected cove with 2 other boats about 12 miles up the broad, smooth flowing Sassafras River. There were beautiful homes and “gentlemen-type” farms with tended fields, meadows or manicured lawns that came down to the shore. The water was very warm but not very inviting, being both the color and turbidity of tea. Crabbers were out every day setting traps around us. We observed 3 bald eagles perched in the treetops along the cove.
View of Sassafras River shore

At-anchor view across the Corsica River 
We left the Sassafras last Tues. and continued further south down the upper Chesapeake then up the Chester River to a tributary river called the Corsica River, also on the eastern shore side of the bay. Again, another pastoral scene of shore side houses, lawns and quiet solitude. We spent 2 days anchored here as well and went kayaking for the 1st time since Lake Tashmoo on Martha’s Vineyard.

Enjoying crabs at Cantlers.
Carina is tied up dockside behind. 
On Thursday we headed back down the Chester River out into Chesapeake Bay, passing under the Bay bridges. We made a lunch stop up Mill Creek, docking at one of our favorite restaurants in Annapolis – Cantlers for our first taste of delicious steamed Chesapeake Bay crabs in a few years.

L-R: Jerry, Scott, Diane & Tina
After lunch we motored in light winds a few miles past Annapolis to the Rhode River to meet up with fellow Manta owners, Scott and Tina Ligon on Sangaris and Jerry and Diane Wheeler on Babe and to take part in the annual fall Annapolis Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) GAM.

Manta sail cats Carina, Sangaris &
Babe anchored up at the SSCA GAM.

SSCA cruisers at Friday night raftup on a
near-by island in the middle of the anchorage.
The event was held at the Camp Letts YMCA center at the head of the Rhode River. There were 50+ cruising boats in the anchorage and many more attendees arriving by car to take part in the 3 day event which included opportunities to meet with other cruisers, attend informative seminars and of course enjoy a dinghy raft up, cocktail parties and meals. It was a great time – we enjoyed spending time with old friends and making aquantances with many new ones that we’re sure we will see again in our mutual travels south.     

Friday, September 17, 2010

East Haven, CT - Cape May, NJ

038 57.00 N 074 53.10 W

After a nice week catching up with friends and family (including a wedding) we departed Farm River on Friday 9/10/10. We’ve come to be a little superstitious about starting a sea voyage on a Friday but we really wanted to take advantage of a nice weather day to shove off. So we gave a generous libation of champagne to the sea gods hoping that would make amends.... only to have our 1st hiccup… Mark had cleaned the engine raw water strainers and checked the impellers earlier and as we fired up the port engine it refused to pull in the sea water that took multiple attempts to rectify. It was a dreary drab day with low clouds and once again, stronger-than-predicted gusty winds that generated that infernal Long Island Sound wave chop. Perhaps the $75 bottle of champagne was not to Neptune’s liking that day.
Never the less, we sailed a fast run to Huntington Bay Long Island with the 1st reef in the mainsail anchoring in well protected Northport Bay Friday afternoon. After spending over a week tied to a dock it did not take us or the cats long to get back into our cruising mode.
The only disappointment with Northport was it appears to be very popular with water skiers and two ski boats took to towing their skiers past us beginning around 7AM Saturday morning, leaving us rocking in their wakes every time they looped around the bay. We were underway by 9AM and a strong north wind was blowing across the Long Island Sound directly into Huntington Bay forced us to motor quite slowly through deep choppy swells for 1-1/2 hours before we could raise sails. As we neared the extreme western end of LI near City Island the winds dissipated and we started motoring again as we need to maintain a certain speed / timing to transit Hell Gate near slack current. We caught the ebb current down the East River, out into Upper New York Bay, past the Statue of Liberty, under the Verrazano Bridge and into Lower New York Bay.

United Nations and city skyline
along the East River



Other boats transiting East River

Lower Manhattan skyline from
Upper NY bay 


Statue of Liberty 

Our destination was Sandy Hook, NJ where we anchored at a place called Horseshoe Cove. Sandy Hook NJ is used by many boaters as a staging location for transiting the NJ coast. Rather than hopscotch down the NJ coast, we had decided to do an overnight trip down the entire coastline to Cape May… a distance of about 120 miles. Allowing for a daylight arrival and an average boat speed of 6.5 knots the trip would take 18 hours, so our departure time was going to be around 3PM. What we did not expect was that we would be stay in Sandy Hook for 4 days while waiting for a decent weather window. It was rainy and cloudy all day Sunday. Monday winds were from an unfavorable direction and severe T-storms were predicted (and did occur) for evening.

A nasty T-storm front approaching
our Sandy Hook anchorage.

Tuesday was supposed to be our go day but the winds were too strong and still building through the afternoon for us to feel comfortable beginning an overnight passage. At 3:30pm after reading the just-released NOAA weather (which is always so accurate – Ha Ha!!) we decided to wait one more day as winds were predicted to calm slightly. However, where we were presently anchored offered us no protection from the wave fetch across Raritan Bay that was stirred up by the 20 kn NW winds so we upped anchor and motored about 2 miles south and re-anchored behind the breakwater at Atlantic Highlands Municipal Marina.
We awoke on Wednesday morning to more of the same gusty winds and nasty chop but decided today was the day because NOAA weather was calling for diminishing winds that afternoon into evening (Ha ha!). We raised anchor at 2:15pm, tucked in the #1 reef and motored straight into 15-20 knot winds and 3’seas in Raritan Bay as we made our way around the tip of Sandy Hook. Once in the open ocean the winds and seas moderated to a very comfortable northwest breeze with 2’ seas on our stern quarter. We had a course laid-in to stay about 3-5 miles off the Jersey coastline. We motored–sailed, getting a slight lift with the sail but keeping one engine on to maintain our 6.5 kt boat speed for a daylight arrival at Cape May. Life was good until just after sundown, when off Manasquan Inlet, the “predicted” steady northerly winds suddenly turned SE. The winds gradually increased to a steady 10-15 knots off our port bow and the wave height increased as well which not only slowed down our forward speed but started making our ride uncomfortable. Catamarans sail fast because they’re light displacement boats but in rough seas that you’re beating into they bounce around like a cork in water. We fired up the second engine and reluctantly bashed our way down the coast. Our “boys” – Barnacle and Sinbad were not happy sailors as they endured the “washing machine” like confines of the cabin all through the night. Sinbad gave pleading little meows to “stop this” but Barnacle was much more vocal in his protests. If we could translate cat speak I’m sure he was saying “get me off this *%^*! boat”. There was just too much motion and boat slamming noises from wave slap or sail rigging for either of us to feel like “napping” on alternating watches so we both forced ourselves to stay awake…. as we counted down the hours and the miles-to-go… to the next way point… to sunrise… to our destination. We passed Atlantic City around 2:30 AM but the bright lights of all the casino buildings were a beacon visible from 30 miles away.
Needless to say we all survived and after 17:45 hours / 125 nm we dropped anchor at 8AM in Cape May Harbor, exhausted but relieved it was behind us. We consoled both cats, took showers, had breakfast and then fell asleep until the afternoon. 

Anchorage area along the
Cape May Coast Guard Station
 The designated anchorage in Cape May is just off the shoreline of the Coast Guard station. It's a fairly sprawling and populous base and we are awakened each morning around 5:30am by the sounds of morning calisthenics followed by the National Anthem and the raising of the colors at 8AM. Sunset is heralded again by the bugle call signaling the lowering of the flag.

Beach Ave in Cape May
 We had been aboard Carina for the past 8 days, since departing Farm River and today we finally got off to take in the charming seaside town of Cape May. After a clambake lunch at the Lobster House we walked into town for a much needed frozen custard and sightseeing. The walk turned into about a 5mile hike - not to comfortable in flip flops - but we certainly burned off the calories consumed.

We're planning to leave Cape May tomorrow to make our way up the Delaware Bay and through the C&D canal bound for the Chesapeake.