In and Out of Delaware Bay
01 July 2008 | Cape May
On Nancy's (Adventuress) advice, we stopped in Still Pond just below the Sassafras River. It was perfectly lovely - peaceful and pastoral - with a few houses tucked among the trees. For the first time on this trip, we heard some loud, mean talk from a boat near us. It didn't last too long but we were reminded how sound carries in quiet anchorages. We didn't get the dinghy down and in the water, but will certainly come back here next time to do some exploring.
In order to work with the current in the C&D (Chesapeake and Delaware) Canal, we got up and got going by 6am on Canada Day, July 1. The timing worked so well that we made 7 knots through the canal and were out of there by 11 o'clock. Once in the Delaware Bay, we watched the knotmeter read 8 and 9 knots for quite a while. Our plan had been to stop behind Reedy Island for the night and continue on to Cape May on Wednesday, but as we traveled we adjusted that plan - a couple of times.
First off, we decided to skip Reedy Island stop and take advantage of the current to get us further down the Bay. Cohansy River looked to be an interesting stop - pretty winding little river, controlling depths of 10 feet, little town further along that we could visit by dinghy. Well, it wasn't quite that good.
The tide was dropping and as we approached the green buoy at the entrance to the river, the depths dropped rapidly too. We went quickly from 10 to 8 to 6 feet and then we touched bottom. There was quite a current that threatened to push us onto a mudbank and we have had quite enough of that thank you, so we executed a rapid 3 point turn and got the heck out of there!!
Delaware Bay probably has great anchorages for shallow draft boats but there was nothing else we could consider so our only option at that point was to keep going and hope we wouldn't have to fight too much current at the bottom of the bay. The Bay has a reputation for giving a wicked ride if wind and current oppose each other, but we were lucky on both transits; no big or choppy waves. Our speed decreased and Jim started to closely examine the information we had on the Cape May Canal.
This canal cuts through the bottom tip of the Cape and takes boaters into Cape May harbour by the "back door". We hadn't taken it in the fall but it would save us an hour and get us in there before dark so we decided to try it. Once again, the water depths looked OK and the bridge height - the deciding factor for many boats - would be OK for us if we had things figured right.
Most fixed bridges are 65 feet - a few feet more or less depending on tide, but for some reason, the two bridges crossing this canal are only 55 feet high. The top of our mast is about 51 feet above the water and even though the tide was quite high, we figured we could make it. Going under bridges that have only a couple of feet to spare is always a heart stopping experience for us. Even though we figure it all out ahead of time it is still unnerving to look up and think for sure that the mast is going to hit that steel girder. When we move on through, we each breathe a sigh of relief. I can't imagine the experience of doing it when there are really only inches to spare.
A boat following us had to anchor and wait for the tide to fall after the mast touched the bridge as they were creeping forward, and last fall, a boat with a really high mast used water bags to tip itself over in order to clear the ICW bridges. There's some amazing footage of that out there in the ether somewhere. We're not up for either of those kinds of risks although we sure do admire the folks who meet them successfully.
There was plenty of room to anchor among the 4 or 5 other boats east of the Coast Guard Station in the harbour and I threw together a chicken and vegetable stirfry seasoned with soy sauce and ginger with a little Maple syrup to make it suitable for a Canada Day dinner. Last year at this time we were drinking champagne with Mary and Blair in Baie Eternite, Quebec! Happy Canada Day!!