Cruising with Osprey

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08 July 2011

Gale Warning!

15 October 2009 | Cape May, NJ
Phew! Well we really had a bit of a narrow escape and just managed to reach Cape May before the Double Nor'easter aka "Gale" hit. Cruising safely and comfortably is always about making decisions with regards to weather, travel time and destination. Everyone has a different level of tolerance for risk and potential discomfort. As many of you know I am generally a bit of a wimp when it comes to the weather and if there is any mention of potential bad weather my vote is to stay put and poor Tom usually has to acquiesce. However at this point I am so anxious to get to warmer temps even I am willing to "risk it" a bit. So when the NOAA forecast mentioned a "Gale Warning" for Cape May on Thursday I researched all the weather sites I normally use and it seemed that things wouldn't get ugly until about 11.00am and we should be safely at our destination by then. So we decided to push on to Cape May as mentioned in my previous post. We actually had another benign trip for the first 16 hours of the 18 hour trip. In fact we had almost no wind during daylight hours so we motor sailed all day. A bit of a breeze filled in at dusk but still not enough to sail without some help from the engine, so we throttled back and tried to regulate our speed so we would not arrive in the dark again. All was well until about 4.00am when the wind started gusting from the East and combined with some nice cold rain - lovely! I had to wake Tom to come help me get the main sail down as the wind was from the NE and therefore directly behind us. At this point I felt we just needed to get to our destination and didn't want to be gybing down the Jersey Shore in steadily deterorating conditions. Things turned wild and woolly very quickly. The increasing winds built up the seas surprisingly quickly and it all started to get a bit uncomfortable - all magnified by the fact that it was dark and raining - and just think, we are doing this for fun!!! We arrived at the inlet at 6.30am - still dark. So now what do we do? We see that there seems to be a fairly steady procession of fishing trawlers heading in so we start to follow them. Of course they traveled faster than us so we soon lost them and now we are left approaching the jetties in the pitch black and pouring rain which did not help visibility. We made it into the inlet and were immediately rewarded by calming of the seas. But, we could not make head nor tail of the buoys. None of the red lights matched up with our chart. Thankfully the rain lifted and the skies lightened just enough to see that they are in the process of dredging the channel and that there were a few temporary markers and a lot of extra lights around all the equipment. We reached the Coast Guard station and the area recommended for anchoring. There were quite a few sailboats at anchor and we dropped our hook at the only remaining spot which seemed a little close to the channel. Almost immediately the wind started howling in true earnest, the current switched and we were lying at a very odd angle to our rode....and a torrential downpour started. At this point we cried "uncle", called over to Utsch's marina and got ourselves a nice secure slip. And so here we are, the wind is wailing and we are heeling even tied to the dock. Reviewing the latest forecasts we see that in all likelihood we will be here till Monday - there goes our docking budget for the month! But, at least we can fill our tanks, get laundry done and give Osprey (and ourselves) a good clean.

Nav. Notes: Total distance - 120 miles in 18 hours.
Co-ords: 38 57.029'N 74 53.274'W (Tim you are right the map seems to have a bit of a glitch - I will try and sort it out after a good night's sleep)

Cruising Notes: Utsch's Marina - $2 a foot. Very friendly, great "welcome bag" including biscotti and a bottle of wine! New Bath House and laundry facilities - top notch. Fairly easy walk into town from the Marina. Acme grocery store - 1.4 miles, Wawa convenience store - .6 miles.
Comments
Vessel Name: Osprey
Vessel Make/Model: Shannon38 #33
Hailing Port: East Greenwich, RI
Crew: Tom & Vicky Worosz
About: We have cruised to the Bahamas and back twice ad are now back on land for a while. This Summer (2012) we have outfitted ourseleves with motorcycles and are heading off for a month long "land cruise'

Who: Tom & Vicky Worosz
Port: East Greenwich, RI