Happy Thanksgiving (Canadian, that is)!!
11 October 2010 | Fairlee Creek, Md.
Sunny, Air Temp 88F, Water temp 76F, Wind SW@5-10
AIS signals in New York Harbor
Summer is back!! But only temporarily. It is a hot day here, with thunder in the background, heralding the arrival of a mild cold front.
On Friday (Oct 8th) we left Port Washington about 9:30 am, arriving at the mouth of the East River just as the current changed. With two other sailboats, we were swept through, reaching 10.4 knots as we raced through Hells Gate, where the Harlem River joins it. Past the busy La Guardia airport with its runway sticking out into the river, we counted one plane landing and one taking off every 45 seconds. Then past Rikers Island prison and down into the lower reaches where we saw the elegant apartments and homes of the Upper East Side. Past the United Nations building and to Lower Manhattan and the Financial district where we shot out into New York's busy harbor.
Our AIS which shows commercial shipping on our electronic navigation, was totally covered with the signals of tugs, tankers, freighters and ferries, all busy and running in all directions. So we hugged the shore as we hoisted sail and sailed out through the Verrazano Narrows and out into the relative quiet of New York's outer harbor.
The two other sailboats that came through with us headed down the New Jersey shore, but our destination was Atlantic Highlands NJ just 10 miles across Raritan Bay. We picked up a mooring at the Atlantic Highlands Yacht Club and headed in for groceries. By the time we were back and organized, we were ready for supper, fresh shrimp in a marinara sauce with penne pasta.
Saturday morning we dropped the mooring at 7:00 am and left for the run down the coast of New Jersey. Our course took us north 4 miles to round Sandy Hook and then south along the 110 miles of sandy coastline. With the exception of a stretch of about 12 miles, it is totally built up with everything from small summer homes to the garrish Atlantic City.
We were anxious to reach Cape May by noon Sunday when the winds were forecast to turn south-west. But we didn't need to worry. In the 10-12 knot north-westerlies we sailed and motor-sailed down the shore in a clear warm day. By 1:00 am Sunday morning we were off Cape May. We headed in and dropped anchor.
The currents in the Bay are strong, and to get up the bay you have to time them, so we were off again at 7:00 am and ran up the bay reaching 8 knots in the light southerlies. Because of our mast height (61'), we can't take the canal "back door" route out of Cape May and into Delaware Bay, but have to actually round the cape. This is not our favorite thing to do, as the sand banks continually shift. But we have found a route through the Cape May Channel. Although there are no marks, the charts are accurate, so that if you can take the breaking seas just off your beam, it saves ten miles of heading out to the shipping channel. Safely through, we had a quiet run up the bay.
We are finally starting to see some other cruisers, and the bay was dotted with sails all taking advantage of the currents. We reached the C&D Canal just as the current in the Delaware changed and caught its current running towards Chesapeake Bay. By sunset we were anchoring in Bohemia Creek at the head of the Chesapeake. Ready for a good sleep, we grilled salmon and had a quiet evening, then slept for the next 10 hours.
Today, for a pleasant change, we took our time over breakfast. We are now slowing down. We'll spend a couple of weeks in Chesapeake Bay, meeting our daughter Sarah on Saturday in Annapolis and slowly cruising south. The weather is decidedly warmer. Today, above normal, is in the mid-80's (about 27C), so after a leisurely breakfast in the cockpit, we hoisted anchor and headed south.
We arrived off Fairlee Creek in early afternoon and headed in its very narrow entrance where the currents run so strong that full power is needed just to maintain control and make progress against the outgoing current. The channel is about one boat-length wide, so careful attention is required. Safely in, we tied up at Oak Bay Marina's fuel dock for fuel, water and laundry. Its clearly off-season here as it was so quiet we had to search out someone to get fuel. We sat at the fuel dock while the laundry was on and went for a walk, our first time ashore since Atlantic Highlands, three days ago. Then we just ran out into the creek and anchored for the night.
Dinner in the cockpit was our Thanksgiving Dinner of roast turkey with squash, potatoes, brussel sprouts and cranberry sauce. Dessert was a fruit cobbler with whipped cream. Our only companions here are hundreds of Canada Geese, migrating like us.