What Was I Thinking??
08 May 2019
Sailors who move up and down the east coast all have a common dislike like for Delaware Bay, it can be 50 miles of misery if the wind and tides are against you. There are only one or two decent anchorages which compounds the problem of route planning. To top it off, there's a large shoal off Cape May and if you don't have confidence in your charts and navigational skills, circumnavigating it adds 15 miles to an already long day. Oh, and don't forget the wind, if it's over 15 knots or so and against the tide then you're in for a very miserable ride.
So with all these factors to weigh we carefully checked the tide tables for both ends of the bay numerous times before leaving Chesapeake City. We found the trick is to leave Chesapeake about 2 hours before high and ride the flood the last 12 miles down the C&D canal which dumps you out into Delaware Bay. From that point we fought a 1.5 knot current for about an hour or so knowing that when the tide reversed we would get a longer push down the bay. Gradually the tide reversed and by mid day we rode a 2.5 knot push to within 12 miles of the Cape May shoal before we finally started to hit adverse currents. Then it was time to put on our big boy pants and pick our way through the shoal. In tight situations like this Bev always monitors our progress with the backup charts on our I Pad. After fighting a 3 knot current for a mile or so we squeezed through the shoal and we safely rounded the corner only to be greeted by a fog Bank that reduced the visibility to a few hundred yards. However, as we turned into the channel it lifted revealing an almost deserted anchorage for us to settle into.
After 68 miles in 10 hours we dropped the hook for the night.
We had intended on visiting Cape May but as I mentioned earlier our opportunities were limited for moving north. The wind was forecasted to blow hard from the NE on Sunday evening through until Monday morning so we figured we could al least get in a half day touring around Cape May. However, it wasn't to be, when we awoke Sunday morning it was already raining, blowing 20 and COLD. The one mile dinghy ride didn't appeal to us so we hung around all day doing a few boat chores. Around suppertime it really started to blow, the anchorage had 2-3 foot waves rolling through as the peak wind gusts hit 42 knots. We have a lot of confidence in Rocky the Rocna as we have ridden out a lot of blows with him, however, it is still a little unnerving when the wind gusts shake the whole rig right to the keel.. Needless to say, sleep was limited as a windshift put us closer to shore than we liked but everything held and we awoke Monday morning to frigid temperatures.
As is often the case for ocean passages the radio is active with people seeking weather and Sea condition reports before moving on. There were numerous boats in the harbour that were anxious to get moving and as the day progressed we decided that an afternoon departure was the way to go. We were off the hook by 3:00 p.m. and set off for the last ocean passage of this trip, 110 miles to Sandy Hook NJ. Other than an auto pilot issue, the trip was uneventful but it was cold, I mean cold, I actually wore long fleece pants all the way.
Sometimes we learn from our mistakes and sometimes we don't. The autopilot issue struck right after leaving Cape May. We had no sooner set the sails and were doing 7 knots on a close reach when I set Otto to take us north. Within a couple of minutes he was all over the ocean, I tried to reset him a few times but it was always the same result. I wasn't looking forward to hand steering for 18 hours when it dawned on me. While in Annapolis I had purchased 2 six foot lengths of stainless tubing and while cleaning the boat on Sunday I found the ideal storage spot for them. This is Deja vu for those who have followed our blog from the start. I put them under the cushions in the aft cabin so they couldn't roll around and you guessed it, right over the flux gate compass for the autopilot. No wonder poor old Otto was acting like he'd had one too many, once they were moved he was back to normal and took us safely to Sandy Hook. We arrived Tuesday morning at 9:00 a.m.
Today's picture is of a fence section in Oxford. There is a local competition when the sections are auctioned off for charity.