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The First Mate's Journal
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Great Lakes to The Bahamas
Who: Wayne & Pat
Port: Jackson
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Cape May Channel
Sunny - too sunny - I'm tired...
09/30/2008, Cape May, NJ

Sunrise was amazing... I know, I know, it always is for me right? But it was. Twilight showed fog and clouds on the water and when the sun started to rise you could see a slice of red showing through the clouds which built into a brilliant red inverted semi-circle and proceeded to grow into a huge shimmering red orb that burst into a bright orange, then yellow. Spectacular. Radar off, autohelm off (that was a major success for us once we figured out how to hook it up, and use it) - we reached the entrance to the Cape May Channel. Sails tucked away, everything off. Time for some shuteye at long last. We're anchored on the east side of the Coast Guard channel. There are 4 other boats here and an Island Packet that we recognized from Sandy Hook followed us and then led the way to where we're anchored. Boats keep coming in.
Forgot to mention - Saw my first jelly floating in the water - it was about a foot and a half in diameter and transparent. Very pretty.

Catch up on sleep day... the picture is what we saw when we passed out...

Atlantic Highlands
Cloudy to partly sunny. Mid 70ís, winds 10-15 knots, seas 3-6 with long period swells.
09/29/2008, NJ

After coffee, we tidied up, hauled up the dingy, and then tackled the anchor. Got ready to leave this morning. Started hauling in the anchor at 9:00 Tried to hail Flying Pig on the radio to say good bye and wish them safe passage but they didn't have their radio on. We finally got going a little after 10:00. The chop heading out was confused and the crabbers were out all over the entrance checking out their traps. Once we got around Sandy Hook point the waves calmed and the swell dominated. It really is similar to coastal cruising along Lake Michigan only it seems a bit shallower here along the coast of New Jersey. We're following the plot I set up a week ago and after making sandwiches for lunch, Wayne has the helm and I'm catching up on the computer.

. I noted on the chart where we currently are. The clouds are becoming denser now. 2pm and the air is cooling off. Wayne came down to put something warmer on so I assume he's figured out the logistics of the auto helm - good for him.

Pretty uneventful day. Turned on some music and listened to an eclectic selection that I'd put together. We couldn't have asked for more perfect weather. The wind instruments aren't working again but of all the things to "not work" those are the best. I'd guestimate that we're clipping about in 10-15 knot winds. Seas are kindly to us. Motor sailing we're averaging 6-6.5 knots so we need to slow it down or we'll be entering Cape May Channel after dark and we don't want to do that.

Reefed the main and pulled in the headsail before dark and dressed in warmer clothing for the night portion of the trip. I'd bought one of those hamburger helper meal things for "stroganoff" and it truly didn't live up to my version or what I thought of as a hamburger stroganoff. Wayne finished his but half way through mine, I thought the crabs might appreciate it more than I and so deep-sixed mine and watched the fog start settling in on the water and turned on the radar for the night. I thought that we should do 2-4 hour shifts but Wayne said we should just nap when needed - it worked when we did our night time sail on Lake Erie. Heck of a long night - specially for a morning person. Laura called close to 10:00pm. It was kind of funny because I could hear the phone ringing in the cabin but it was so dark I didn't want to go get it. Wayne woke up and asked me if I wanted a phone call and gave me the phone. I didn't recognize it but hit re-dial and it was Laura LOL... It was good to hear her voice. She had to call to give us the good news - Boat US made good on their reimbursement to us (for the tow from Bannerman's spooky island) YAY!!! And she wanted to know where we were and how our overnighter was going. Wow I miss everyone. It's hard to sleep - the adrenaline, the radio chatter, etc... We kept our eyes on the water, chart plotter, and radar (thank god for radar). It was amazing how those blips could tell you "ship" or ghost of a wave echo. Atlantic City was so lit up it was a beacon most of the night. One casino building constantly kept changing color - it was kind of mesmerizing the closer we got. The whole casino strip lit up the night and I couldn't get a decent shot from the boat moving!
The fog lifted giving us a spectacular view of the stars, so many of them, and of course I had to find Orion (wasn't hard), the dippers, etc... Saw a couple of "shooting stars" and swore that I'd seen a couple of spouts shooting up from the water which held my undivided attention for a while (whale? Dolphin?)...

The picture is of Atlantic City at night - I couldn't get a decent shot while steering the helm

Last night in Tar Pit Harbor, NJ
Foggy/drizzly/rainy day; Seas nil, wind nil
09/28/2008, Atlantic Highlands, NJ

After a breakfast of sausage & eggs we lollygagged a bit. Wayne didn't want to go into town until later in the day. After noon we dingied to the marina and headed to the hardware store for replacement parts for the boat and Skip but they closed at 1:00pm and we got there at 1:10pm. The marine store was also closed, so we headed to the grocery store and picked up some stuff, then to the beer/wine store for beer and headed back to the boat. Put the pop/beer and food into the refrigerator and noted that a lot of boats were now surrounding us and coming in. It seemed prudent to bring in the second anchor that we'd put out during all the foul weather since it was becoming more crowded in the anchorage. The second anchor was stuck in the mud like it was anchored in cement and the rope had twisted around the other anchor chain a couple of times so we spent a good hour and a half getting those untangled and the second anchor hauled in. I wish I'd have had my camera ready because as Wayne hauled up the anchor there were little crabs hanging on to the rope and coming up with anchor rope. I plucked them off and threw them back in. We finally got the anchor in and washed off (what a mess). There's some mighty dense black muck under us that came up with the anchor that looked and had the consistency of tar interspersed with small white shells in it. It seemed like it took forever to get that anchor up. There was no way we were going to drag. It was set quite well after almost a week! I downloaded pictures from my camera and called Flying Pig to let them know I'd be sending them a few shots I had of them in the fog. I also wanted to touch base with them to see if they were leaving tomorrow - the prognosis is good for us to get out and head toward Cape May (finally) and I know they were either heading for Cape Hatterus or Miami depending on the weather and whether their friends could make it there or not. I'm so glad that they were one of our first contacts (as far as the cruising community goes). They set a high standard for us to emulate and I truly hope that we run into them in the Bahamas.

Steak, salad, French bread and wine as we bid our last night in "tar pit harbor" a fond farewell...

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