Wed 20 Jun 2012
Docked at Beach Haven Yacht Club Marina
[photo: irrefutable proof that Diane is, indeed, getting time on the beach]
We enjoyed a very restful evening except for Duane's sinuses closing up, but Diane suggested and offered a Sudafed capsule and before long all was well. I must be allergic to my old homestead.
We received an early morning phone call from our good friends, Walt and Gretchen, who are driving down from PA to visit for the day tomorrow, Thu. They used to keep their boat here so it will be a pleasant time for all of us.
After getting the shore power cable hooked up for the air condition to combat the forecast 95F days for the next 3 days, we set out on our bicycles to explore. Our first stop was a mere 2 blocks away at the incredibly beautiful Maritime Museum of NJ. It highlight with many, many artifacts, very significant events in the maritime history off NJ's shore. One of the docents, John, took us around for 45 minutes on a brief tour, and we were amazed how many great things they had displayed and the historical events that were recounted in prose and pictures. It is a worthwhile visit if you are in this immediate area.
From the museum, we biked down the main drag to explore the grocery store (very good) and then we headed to the Centre St. beach access point. Until the fourth Sat in June, there are no beach badges required, so we locked our bikes and found a spot of the pretty beach. There were many people on the beach, but it was not blanket-to-blanket as I remember from many days in my youth.
The sun was hot, but the breeze was nice. We both spread blankets and read our books. An hour later, Duane went into the water up to his shins and realized that 68F was a little chilly after living in FL for over 8 years. It was refreshing enough that he could lie in the sun for a while again, but at some point it was time to go back.
On Diva Di, we finished the leftover pizza and then we borrowed the marina owner's car to go grocery shopping. It was only 4 blocks away, but it took well over an hour to shop and then stow all the items. It was convenient that their liquor store was co-located with the grocery. Diane wisely wanted to stock up while we had good access to a store, but it might have been the biggest grocery/beverage bill we ever saw.
Afterwards, Diane walked back to the beach with her beach chair and Duane stayed aboard to read in the air conditioning. When she returned, we walked the dock to the shower facilities and got ready for a meal ashore. The Boat House restaurant just one block to the N was a good choice. It was BYOB, so we brought a small bottle of wine, and we elected to share 3 different appetizers rather than get whole meals. We had plenty of food and a reasonable bill.
Back on the dock, we chatted with some friendly folk who keep their boat here year after year. The sunset was great from the cockpit with a balmy SW breeze blowing right into the cockpit. Even though the daytime high temps are unseasonably high, the still cool water moderates the temperature and the morning and evenings are very nice.
Tue 19 Jun 2012
Docked at Beach Haven Yacht Club Marina
[photo: a hazy photo of the beach at Wildwood as we passed under overcast skies]
After a very restful night, we awoke to the wakes of the local fishing fleet going out before dawn (near 0400). We could get back to sleep, of course, but by 0600, Duane was up for good. Diane got up by 0630 and put the TV on to catch whatever show was on at that time. The meteorologist confirmed that it was going to be a scorcher Wed and Thu of this week, with inland temps in the high 90s and seashore temps slightly lower.
We weighed anchor (windlass working perfectly) at 0720 and got out the Cape May inlet against a flooding tide. Our motor-sail up the coast was nice enough; we had no bad weather, the swells were only 2-3 feet and no choppy waves, and we had a decent wind for well over half of the 61 mile run.
We have not experienced ocean sailing in quite a while; you don't pitch up and down as much with a beam sea, but you heave up and down with the swell. We had expected to have quartering seas (over your shoulder), but the wind forecast was wrong and we had seas from just forward of the beam. While the wind was decent, it provided great stability from the seas which tend to roll the boat port and starboard in an uncomfortable way. When the wind was absent, it was necessary to brace yourself in the cockpit against the constant rolling.
Along the way, we passed Wildwood, Stoner Harbor, Avalon, Atlantic City, and Brigantine, to name a few. Having been born in NJ, it certainly jogged Duane's memory.
The approach from the sea buoy "LE" was very interesting (read "pucker factor") as there were waves breaking over sand bars almost everywhere. We could see a relatively narrow place where there were no breakers and sure enough we finally spied the red and green buoys marking the deeper water.
Most of the way in was in water over 15 feet in depth, which is comforting, but there was one spot early on where we saw 8 feet. We draw less than 5 feet, but when you are in waves heaving you up and down 4-5 feet, you do not want to be in shallow water.
The first part of the inlet was fine, but then the buoyage got very confusing and kept you zig-zagging in many directions. The fact that is was dead low tide helped in that the shoal (shallow) water was pretty visible. Once we were in calm water, the channel was still not a straight shot, and there were a few times that we saw less than a foot under the keel, but we made it OK.
The two dockhands at the Beach Haven Yacht club Marina were very helpful getting us tied up in the current and wind. We did a very respectable job of coming into the slip, but without their help it would not have been pretty.
We got tied up, tidied up the boat, made a drink, and got dinner on. Tonight we had a rustic pizza dough topped with leftover ground beef and pork sausage from the lasagna, a little pepperoni, and the normal tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. It was especially tasty after the long day underway. Naturally, a little red wine helped compliment the meal.
Tonight will be one "to chill" and tomorrow we will re-provision and hit the gorgeous beach. Diane is up showering ashore and I will post this and do the same.
Mon 18 Jun 2012
Anchored in Cape May, NJ
[photo: Emlen Physick hose museum]
You know it was cool when Duane goes for the sheet and the blanket. After all three of us got snuggled into the berth, it wasn't too long before it was comfy. The captain always sleeps better in a crowded anchorage when the wind is light, and it had moderated a lot since we sunset. One boat close to us left this morning at 0600, so that is better until someone else goes there.
The coffee tasted especially good this morning (always does on a boat for some reason). Duane started some minor boat repairs. The drawer will not stay closed because the flimsy piece of wood broke, so a piece of aluminum stock went in its place. The fresh water pump keeps cycling for a few seconds every 5 minutes or so, which has to indicated a leak, but none can be found. At least the strainer got cleaned.
We lowered the dinghy (loving the modified transom lifting strap) and then cleaned up and took the bicycles to the Corinthian Yacht Club just W of the CG property. As suggested in the ActiveCaptain site, for $5 you can tie up your dinghy there and use their bathrooms. It was nice knowing someone was there watching over the dinghy and they even wanted our cell phone in case of a problem.
We biked up to the E end of Washington St and then W all the way to the pedestrian mall. It was a nice ride; despite the narrow streets and sidewalks, Cape May seems pretty bicycle friendly, even having some bike lanes along some of the main roads. There were many attractive Victorian homes we passed, but we needed to get to the mall where the trolley tour started by 1100. It seems petty to mention it, but a woman in line for the tickets kept asking so many questions that the trolley was almost full when we finally got on and we had horrible seats with no ventilation or chance to take photos.
The 45 minute tour was very interesting and entertaining with the humor the elderly woman added, often jesting with the male driver. About half of us got off near the end of the tour at the Emlen Physick house museum. It was yet another very old home that had only part of its original furnishings, but the tour was again, interesting and entertaining.
One note of interest for my aviation buddies, just after the tour guide instructed us to put or cameras away aince interior photography was not permitted, a B-17 roared overhead for some local event that we had previously been unaware.
Afterwards, we were quite a bit past our normal lunch time so we found a nice place in the mall (Jackson Mountain) and dined al fresco while we watched the parades of people stroll by. Our lunch was very tasty and both of us brought half back for supper. We detoured to the hardware store for the repair item and took our time coming back along the same street. This time we got a few photos, but there are so many mature trees close to the homes that it is not easy to photograph most of them well.
We stopped at the WaWa market, which is really just a convenience store and Diane got just a few items for tomorrow. We plan to re-provision in Beach Haven at our next stop up the coast.
Dinner was the leftover lunch and after all the biking and walking, it was another early night. Most cruisers we know don't stay up late.
Sun 17 Jun 2012
Anchored in Cape May, NJ
[photo: Coast Guard cutter near our anchorage]
Duane could not sleep past 0350, mostly trying to figure out the best way to leave a dock with 1 knot of current behind you and an expensive boat ahead of you. At least with a cup of hot coffee by 0410, the solution was clear. It turns out that like so many predictions, it was wrong; the current at the time of departure was barely 0.2 knots, so it was a non-issue. It was our first pre-dawn departure of the cruise, however, so that was something.
Getting out of the channel at dead low tide gave another pucker factor as we saw less than 6 inches under the keel at one point. Given the astronomical tidal current predictions and the actual wind conditions, we did the best we could. It was far from ideal, but in a 5.5 knot boat, you just can't have the current with you even most of the way traveling our route. In our case, we had some wind for motor-sailing for about half the passage, but it was on the nose for the second half.
Having the current with you is good, but having the wind simultaneously against you means the waves will be higher and steeper than usual. Coupled with Delaware Bay's mostly shallow water, it can be very nasty if the wind pipes up near 15 knots or more. It just got there today near the end of our passage (stronger than forecast), but we were fairly close to the W side of the cape so the fetch was not too bad.
We both had our warm sailing gear on and Duane found himself putting his hands in the fleece-lined pockets pretty often. Our conditions could have been so much worse, but you can see how the shallow Delaware Bay can be a very rough passage at times.
Going through the Cape May canal was a bit frustrating as the current was roaring against us and it took 1.5 hours to go about 6 miles. We are now anchored off the E end of the Coast Guard station property, but the anchorage is a little crowded and we are a bit closer to one boat than I would like.
Our early dinner was the last of the crab cakes (1 pound of crab meat goes a long way), some fresh snow peas and Caribbean-style rice. Duane almost immediately took a 2-hour nap after having so little sleep the previous night. Diane spent quality time with Clyde in the cockpit, although it was getting colder by the minute.
Tomorrow we explore Cape May and weather permitting (forecast looks good) we leave into the Atlantic Ocean for a passage N to Beach Haven. While in NJ, we will be in close proximity to some nice beaches, but the air temperature is too cold for Diane to enjoy it.
Several more boats joined the crowded anchorage before Duane did the final survey of the evening. Despite Duane's nap, both of us retired by 2100.
Sat 16 Jun 2012
Docked at Delaware City Marina, DE
[photo: sharing the C & D canal with a larger veseel]
We are finally on our way after a delay of 8 days. There was zero Internet again this morning, so I cannot check the weather except for the NOAA VHF radio.
As expected, with where we are in the monthly tidal cycle and with the N winds for the past couple of days, the current was against us most of the way up the bay. It finally turned in our favor as we entered the C & D canal, as planned. We are not complaining, but if we were headed S, we would have had a strong favorable current for a long time, plus the wind helping us. In our case, we had a weak favorable current in the canal for a short time. All in all, though, we made the 48 miles in 8.5 hours.
We elected to go into a marina at Delaware City, DE, which required exiting the canal with a favorable current and immediately turning N for well over a mile against a strong current in order to come to the marina from the E. The dockmaster and dock hand were great and we had no issues coming alongside the dock. After getting secure, they spun us around 180 degrees using the current and the dock lines so that we are facing to leave in the morning. This is helpful since the width of the waterway isn't much wider than our boat length and maneuvering with a strong current makes turning around risky.
We tied up at 1730 and paid the bill around 1800. Tim the dockmaster, was very eager to show me all the Internet sites he uses to help Captains plan their passages up and down the Delaware Bay and it took a while to get out of there, but it was very helpful. Diane had planned that we stroll the brick-lined promenade and then walk through the small section downtown. It was really quite charming, in its own way. It was not a touristy downtown at all.
Back at Diva Di, we heated the last of the lasagna, Diane made a delicious salad, and we dined in the cockpit. When Duane dropped a crouton on the cockpit sole, Diane tossed it overboard and by happenstance there were 3 ducks that raced form under the dock to get it. Clyde was very entertained by this, so when they came back our way after dinner, I fed them some bread pieces while Clyde watched in awe.
Rather than leave at noon tomorrow to catch the most favorable tidal current and then get to Cape May near dark, we will leave at 0500 and expect to have a decent run down. The winds are expect to be low in the morning, yet probably enough to get a little boost. Everyone tells us that we don't want strong sailing winds because they make such steep, choppy waves in the shallow bay. We believe them.
Fri 15 Jun 2012
Docked at Worton Creek Marina
[photo: cute Bed and Breakfast in nearby Chestertown, MD]
This is finally our last full day in Worton Creek. It is nothing against anyone here; we just really need to be getting on with the cruise.
Even starting before 0700, I could not get all the rest of the engine back together and all the hoses (including a new one) re-routed and connected before John came by at 0830. I finished 30 minutes later and he got free a little later to run the tests. All looked good, so we cranked it up and had no fuel flow. We had forgotten to turn the fuel tank valve back to open, but soon it was purring like a kitten (well, maybe a lion with indigestion, since it is a diesel engine). John clocked off my job and left me to run the engine under load and monitor it for leaks, strange sounds, and temperature using the infrared thermometer.
All was good 30 minutes later, so I shut it down and used a cooling fan to let it cool down. When it was, I removed the valve cover, rocker arm assembly, and glow plug bus bar to access the cylinder head bolts. Rather than wait for John, I re-torqued each bolt (they all needed a little) and it was good. It is now cooling further for John to do a final "cold" valve clearance check.
Diane has been understandably upset with the major disruption of the boat interior and I haven't been too happy that the cockpit and surrounding area have lots of greasy fingerprints from all the trips on and off the boat. It is difficult to climb in or out of the cabin with the ladder missing (the engine is under the ladder) so grabbing the boat in various places is required. Once the re-torque was done, I set about cleaning up everything as best as I could and then Diane and I re-stowed everything we could. I next scrubbed all the greasy marks off the gelcoat and scrubbed the cockpit area, while Diane did a more thorough job cleaning below. We both feel a lot better now (Duane more than Diane).
As we were stowing the bypass cooling pump, Diane asked if I wanted it in the locker which is very difficult to access since we wouldn't need it again. I remarked that if we keep it handy, we are likely not to need it again. After a brief pause, she said if we needed that again she was flying home. With no pause, I said I would be joining her.
After a short while, John came back aboard to do the final valve clearance check. There were some minor adjustments to be made, and then I buttoned up the rest of the engine, put the cover and ladder back in place and stowed all the tools. Diane and I walked to the marina office to pick up a few last supplies and Duane went to pay the bill.
On the plus side, there was no charge for the 7 nights we stayed at the dock and used their facilities, and they even gave us the use of the electricity at no charge, which I thought was especially generous. Also, the total cost of the parts was considerably less than originally quoted because we had not needed many of them and the ones we really needed were obtained from the Kubota dealer (minus the 100% markup that Universal Marine adds).
On the negative side, the mechanic's time was a bit more than I had hoped for, even though it appeared to be an honest accounting of his time. The total turned out to be a BOAT buck (Break Out Another Thousand), almost to the dollar. It would have been much worse almost anywhere else we would have been for this work, so we are grateful for that, and to Harvey for the recommendation.
After paying the bill about 1630, Diane and I went to the pool with a refreshing beverage. There were some boisterous pre-teens in the pool, but we could tune out their constant chatter and even their splashing. Within an hour, they were gone and we had peace and quiet. Before long, however, it was time to shower and get dinner going. It was a simply re-heat of crab cakes, potatoes, and broccoli with some fresh avocado brightened with some lemon juice. Dinner at the restaurant may or may not have been better and it was $100 we didn't need to spend.