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Madcap Sailing
Beautiful Houses and a Friendly Encounter
03/07/2008/3:04 pm, Cape May, NJ

We spent a couple of days in Cape May - exploring the streets with their gorgeous Victorian Houses - huge ones. We ate at the Lobster House and then got more seafood to take home - clams, shrimps, smoked salmon.

We met Christine and John and little Thomas on Margarita from Montreal - yeah - another Canadian boat! Susan and Mike (Tabby Cat) last seen in Eleuthera came in and we had a quick chat with them.

Cape May is an interesting place - some gorgeous areas - some very touristy areas. Lots of marinas - some sketchy depths at low tide. No good place to tie up a dinghy and go exploring (and spending money) in the town; the nice long dock at the Lobster house goes straight into the restaurant and we felt a little funny about traipsing through; the man at the South Jersey Marina said we could tie up there for an hour to get groceries, but not for all day. The pedestrian Mall downtown is pretty, but very touristy, the coffee shop charged for wifi access even on our own computer, the tourist bureau people didn't have much of an idea about what was where. However, just walking around the old streets and gazing at the magnificent Victorian houses was fascinating. I might take the trolley tour next time just to find out more of the stories about them.

Next morning, we took the dinghy to tiny beach at the Corinthian Yacht Club beside the Coast Guard Station because we wanted to go for one last brisk walk before leaving. We had the walk and came back to find the sailing classes ready to start at the club so we sat ourselves down on the wall to wait for the way to clear before we took the dinghy out. We were worried at first that we were in the way (and we were, but folks were nice about it.) Apparently there is no problem tying dinghies to their docks during the week. It's all occupied on the weekends. I'd still check with them in person, but it makes a good option from the Coast Guard Station anchorage if you want a walk. If the goal is the Wawa convenience store, the South Jersey Marina or the Lobster house are the best options.

On that wall, we got talking to Judy Lord who was there watching her grandchildren, and discovered a really genuine, lovely person. She told us about the club and how her family had been part of it for years and how friendly people were. She didn't just talk about that friendliness - she glowed with it herself. Then her daughter-in-law, Gigi came along and we chatted some more. The connections we shared made me think this was one of those coincidences that aren't really coincidences - it was one of those times when we felt we are on the "right path"!

We moved on out of there about 11 am, and had a good motor sail to Atlantic City. The wind came up and the waves grew as we blew through the breakwater about 5pm to the anchorage in the little area just off the Casinos and before the bridge. Several boats were over in the marsh area, but this duck around the green buoy and just out of the channel worked reasonably well for us - same spot as last fall. I made shrimp&grits for dinner - the recipe from Embarassment of Mangoes. Oooh - they were delicious. Even Jim, not the biggest grits fan, liked the dish. Hey Sue - does this mean we're developing a "southern side"?

There was an amazing fireworks display on Thursday night - a prelude to July 4th I guess - and we had a front row seat. Unfortunately the wind blew hard and the current was really strong so between the boat turning in circles and the wind generator howling,(we've discovered it does howl when the wind really picks up) the night was less than restful. We think perhaps another trip, we'd just do the long haul all the way from Cape May to Sandy Hook and skip Atlantic City.

Next stop - Sandy Hook (July 4) to be ready to greet our son, Alex, when he arrives in New York on Sunday!

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20/07/2008/7:24 am | Sue Campbell
Without a doubt, Beth, if you can cook grits you have a southern side! Eating grits takes you in the right direction, but cooking them, a skill I have not quite mastered, now that's southern. But the true test of a southern leaning is if you can eat those things with just butter, salt and pepper and no other adornments. Now that's how a real southern eats their girts!
In and Out of Delaware Bay
01/07/2008/3:01 pm, 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!!

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Up the Chesapeake - at a Snail's Pace
Beth - 33C in the shade
30/06/2008/9:53 am, Annapolis, Maryland

As Jim prepared to haul up the anchor on Sunday morning, the operation suddenly stopped. That handy dandy little switch on the windlass didn't work so he pulled the chain up the hard way. As we sailed out of the West River he took it apart to see what might be the problem. Sure enough, it was all corroded and would not be working again without replacement parts.

Despite Mike's call that it must be an omen - we were just not supposed to leave - we kept going ... back to Annapolis. A stop at the hardware store provided the parts and the problem was soon fixed. Because a severe thunderstorm was forecast for late afternoon, we decided to stay the night and enjoy one more day of Annapolis' hospitality. It was sweltering hot (33C in the shade) and the thunderstorm never did develop - unlike Saturday in Galesville where we had a real light show with gusts of strong winds.

We wandered the narrow streets of the city, (this picture is of the Alex Haley memorial on the waterfront) ate a light dinner on board while we watched - and rolled with - all the Sunday traffic in and out of the harbour. One more stop at Fawcett's - the nearby marine store - resulted in a purchase of a neat little gadget - a Find Me Spot. It's a small device that will allow us to send google earth postions, and emergency signals if necessary - giving GPS coordinates to search and rescue authorities.

After an absolutely calm night with no wind, rain or thunderstorm, we paid a visit to our neighbour - a Bayfield 40! As they came in we thought, "Is that Sapphire?" No, it was Adventuress - beautiful name - with Nancy and John aboard. She's a lovely boat and we had a great conversation with her Captains.

We're off to Still Pond on Monday and then on through the C&D Canal on Tuesday. That puts us into the Delaware Bay, and if weather and tide permit, we'll be in Cape May by Wednesday night. We're keeping our fingers crossed for great sailing by day and crabs on our dinner plates at night!

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