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Archive for the ‘New Jersey’ Category

After a week long wait in the Norfolk area, our patience was finally rewarded with a decent weather window for an outside run from Hampton VA to Long Island Sound. We headed out bright an early on a favorable tide, passing Thimble Shoal Light as we were leaving the Bay.  We also passed over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, always a bit weird to know that you’re floating over a stream of land-based traffic.  Seas were calm, but unfortunately so were the winds, so we motored.  Sunday morning/Father’s Day brought another pretty sunrise.

After a weather check Sunday morning, tweaked our plans a bit.  The lack of wind dictated that we make a fuel stop, and a snotty forecast for the southern shore of Long Island the following morning had us deciding to pass on heading for Fire Island Inlet… we’ve done it before, but it’s best in more settled conditions.  Plan B, we’d stop in Atlantic City NJ to fuel up, then head up towards Sandy Hook and plan for a run up the East River to Long Island Sound.

After about 30 hours offshore, Sunday afternoon in Atlantic City NJ was more than a bit crazy. We opted for a stop at Kammerman’s Marina, a family owned and operated place, passing on a property formerly owned by Trump.  I also got some shots of  Absecon Lighthouse on our way into the inlet of the same name.  I’m guessing it was a more effective aid to navigation before Atlantic City was developed.  Still, nice that it’s still standing.

Mike did some calculations and decided that if we wanted to transit the East River through NYC on a favorable tide, we needed to slow our roll.  We were effective in doing so by spending the rest of the afternoon and through the night sailing in very very light winds.  At first light, we finally dropped the sails and fired up the Red Queen.  Romer Shoal Light (NJ) welcomed us to Lower New York Harbor.

We’ve been through the Harbor and East River once before, but in the opposite direction and much later in the day.  This time around we enjoyed a morning run, better light for catching some good photos and thanks to the Captain, our timing at the infamous Hell Gate was perfect.  As on our previous run, I was captivated by the bridges (works of art actually), the varied architecture, and an occasional lighthouse. Lady Liberty and the United Nations building stood as proud as before, but I couldn’t help but think about how much our political climate has changed (and not for the better imho) in the not quite two years since we last saw them.

By shortly after 1300, 55 hours or so after we hauled anchor in Hampton VA, we were on a mooring ball in Port Washington NY on the south shore of Long Island Sound.  This was a familiar spot for us as we spent several days here on our last trip, waiting out Hurricane Hermine which didn’t amount to much up here except to delay us a bit.  It’s quite a cruiser-friendly place with great access to town via two different dinghy docks.  In the day that followed we did laundry, topped off provisions and water, and revisited the yummy Ayhan’s Mediterranean Marketplace.  Arriving literally minutes behind us were Bob and Sandra aboard s/v Carpe Diem who we’d met several years ago in the Florida Keys.  Turns out they’ve done a lot of  sailing in Maine, so it was great to have them share their wisdom over dinner one night.

Next stop: Connecticut, new waters for us.  Stay tuned.

 

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Successfully navigating the East River and New York Harbor marked the end of our summer exploring.  From this point, we’re on a mission to make tracks south.  Unfortunately we’re at the mercy of Mother Nature as we’ll run outside/offshore from here to the Portsmouth/Norfolk area, likely in hops as weather permits.  We arrived last Friday, and so far, the weather has been beautiful for some exploring, but not so much for an outside run.  Fortunately there’s quite a bit to explore in this spot.

Shortly after our arrival, we hiked up to Navesink Light, aka the Twin Lights of Highlands, which in its day was a primary aid to navigation for traffic into New York Harbor.  This is an unusual light, a castle-like brownstone structure of two non-identical towers linked by the keepers’ quarters and storage rooms.  In 1841 it became the first light in the United States to use the then revolutionary Fresnel lens; fast forward to the late 1970’s, they tracked down this original lens, currently displayed in the original powerhouse/generator building on grounds.  The recently renovated exhibit space also featured a great exhibit titled “Seeing Stars” that traces the American flag from its inception through the current day.  And of course, we climbed the south tower (the only one open for climbing).  Later in the afternoon, we checked out yet another local craft brewery, Carton Brewing; we got a tour of the facility and a tasting in the 2nd floor tasting room.

The following morning we had breakfast at Zoe’s Vintage Kitchen, and set off on another hike, this time to the Mt Mitchell Scenic Overlook.  Mt Mitchell is a Monmouth County Park, said to have an amazing view of nearby Sandy Hook and the New York City skyline, though it was pretty hot and hazy during our visit, so the view wasn’t quite what it might have been.  What was impressive though was the 9/11 Memorial.  Artist Franco Minervini designed an eagle sculpture, incorporating a piece of beam from one of the fallen towers, that sits atop a stone base carved with the names of the 147 residents of the county who lost their lives that day.  They were setting up for a commemoration event scheduled for the following morning (9/11), but we were two of only a handful of folks present on this day.  I couldn’t help but wonder what the view to NYC might have looked like from this vantage point on that fateful morning 15 years ago.

After a day of rest, we decided to haul the bikes ashore for a long pedal over to Sandy Hook, a barrier peninsula on this bit of the Jersey Shore.  A couple of days prior, we’d discovered a weather-beaten (think Superstorm Sandy) rails-to-trails path, the Henry Hudson Trail, along the water that we deemed “good enough” to pedal.

The trail ended in the Highlands area, but we picked up another on the other side of the bridge to Sandy Hook as we entered what’s known officially as the Fort Hancock and Sandy Hook Proving Ground National Historic Landmark, part of the Gateway National Recreation Area.  Managed by the National Park Service, this recreation area covers more than 26,000 acres of property in New York and New Jersey, including the Sandy Hook area that kept us plenty busy for a day.  The area was whacked pretty hard by Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy in Oct 2012.  The damage, as well as the rebuilding/recovery, was evident all around.  I’ve read that the park was flat out closed for about 6 months after the storm; obviously, the recovery is ongoing.

The old Life Saving Station had served as the Visitors’ Center; post-Sandy, it (the visitors center) moved to the Keepers’ Cottage of the lighthouse.  We had anticipated that the Sandy Hook Light would be closed; according to its website, it was to be undergoing some repairs and restoration.  Lucky for us, the contractors who were scheduled to do the work were not showing up.  The NPS park rangers decided if there wasn’t work going on, they’d reopen tours.  The sign went up as we were approaching the keepers’cottage/visitors’ center.  The Sandy Hook Light is said to be the oldest lighthouse still standing in the United States.  First lit in June 1764, it stood 500 ft from the tip of the spit.  Today is stands more than 1.5 miles from the tip, safe from the erosion that has claimed so many of these old towers.  We tried unsuccessfully to take it our ourselves with cannon fire when the British loyalists had control of this spit during the Revolutionary War. Even Sandy, who wrecked the surrounding area, did only minimal damage.

 

Sandy Hook also has a long military history.  A bit further out the spit, we came upon Fort Hancock, a former US Army fort.  This installation served as part of the harbor’s coastal defense system from 1893 until 1974 when it was decommissioned; many of the buildings and fortifications remain to this day.  It was difficult to tell, particularly in some of the water-facing buildings, how much of the disrepair was compliments of the storm versus the ravages of time, the latter compounded by the park service’s limited budget relative to the number of buildings needing maintained.  Either way, it was an interesting place.

Near the lighthouse complex, we wandered about the  Mortar Battery… creepy place actually.  Pedaling about the grounds we came upon several other batteries.  Lots of history here. Battery Potter sported the country’s first so-called disappearing gun battery in the late 1800’s.  Other batteries followed as the technology changed.  Apparently lots of big guns were required to defend New York Harbor from an attack from sea.

In the late 1950’s as the Cold War came upon us, surface to air missiles arrived on the scene. Now the threat was from the air. Sandy Hook and Fort Hancock became home to NY-56, one of a number of Nike Missile sites that surrounded New York City.  The missile launch area is now used by the park’s maintenance team.  The radar site had gotten quite overgrown but has since been reclaimed.  In the last ten years or so, much effort has been put into reclaiming this history, although they have a long way to go.  (Apparently a herd of Nubian goats has been helpful as well.  More here.)  They do have a couple of missiles on site though, and have replaced some of the radar equipment.  Infrequent tours are available, though our timing wasn’t good enough to catch one this trip.

 

Having gotten our fill of fresh air and history, we pedaled back,  pausing at Moby’s Lobster Deck (which is every bit the tourist trap is sounds to be) for a snack and some local beers to replenish ourselves.  A bit of local “art” and and a nice sunset also were nice additions to our days of exploring.

Other bits worth mentioning… The Hudson Cafe was a fine spot of breakfast and a bit of wifi.  Gaslight satisfied the Captain’s beer & wings craving one night after a movie.  Yes, we saw a movie… in a theatre… the first in we can’t even remember how long.  For the record, “Sully” is well worth a look, and was particularly powerful for us after our recent trip through NYC.

So, Atlantic Highlands … been here (for nearly a week now!), done it all, ready to go.  Now, if Mother Nature would just throw us some weather to work with, we’d be out of here.

 

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Having survived the non-event that was Tropical Storm Hermine, it was once again time to get moving.  Our next stretch would need to be carefully timed though… wicked tides and currents that would work to our benefit if we planned carefully and would be quite challenging if we didn’t.  An area in particular referred to as Hell Gate demands respect.

After topping off fuel and water, we were off at about 14:30.  Our planning paid off.  The current was in our favor, though the Captain had a most challenging afternoon into early evening as there was much going on along the way.  Not surprisingly, but definitely new to us, there was lots of activity on the East River through New York City.  We were one of only a few pleasure boats, but there was plenty of traffic on the water… tugs, barges, and some huge ferry boats.  The skies were busy too.  I wondered if jet pilots use the East River as a guide on their approach to LaGuardia as we had a plane every couple of minutes off our stern as we approached the city.  It was a bit freaky actually.  Too fast to get a good photograph though; they were that close.  Further down, as we approached the Wall Street area, we were surprised at the amount of helicopter traffic.  There were even a few seaplanes taking off and landing in the river.  Crossing the river via cable car had to win the prize for most unusual though.  Bet that was an impressive vantage point.  Like I said, there was lots going on.

While Mike was busy dodging traffic, I was busy taking photos.  As usual, it was challenging from a bobbing boat.  Our late afternoon run also meant we were headed directly west into the sun for much of the time.  Also as usual, I was particularly captivated by the beautiful old bridges, 8 in all, though I didn’t get photos of all of them.

Of course there were lighthouses, many of which must have been much more prominent when built, but in many cases now are dwarfed by all that surrounds them.

Seeing the Statue of Liberty from the water was most impressive.  Interesting side note: from shortly after its installation in 1886, Lady Liberty and her torch served as an official aid to navigation, in fact the first “lighthouse” to be lit with electricity.  In 1902 it was discontinued as an aid.  In the fading light, we dropped anchor not far behind the statue, just off Liberty State Park, her torch visible above the trees from our cockpit.

We might have stayed a bit longer, but favorable weather the next morning prompted us to move on, finishing our run through New York Harbor .  The bright orange Staten Island ferries were flying quite busy, at least one of them with an armed USCG escort.  Another bridge, a few more lighthouses, and we were anchor down just off Atlantic Highlands in New Jersey.

Here we’d wait a bit for some favorable weather.  Our next stretch will be an outside run down the New Jersey coast.

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Cape May

After our unpleasant run on the Delaware Bay, we decided we’d splurge on a marina stay for a night in Cape May and regroup a bit before our next outside run.  Oops, it’s a week-end in the high season.  Finally the third marina I called had space for us… or at least they said they did.  We ended up on a T-head with our stern hanging half into the fairway behind some very nice folks on a 60ft motor yacht.  Whatever.  Canyon Club Resort and Marina (who names these places, anyway?) did not have a canyon, but was very much a resort, a marina surrounded by condos, complete with a pool full of families who had apparently escaped from somewhere for the weekend.  I think I saw 2 boats leave the dock while we were there, which was barely 24 hrs.

Our plan was to get some laundry done, soak up some “free” wifi, knock out a couple of dockside boat projects and see a bit of Cape May.  I had laundry going within an hour of being tied up at the dock… the first in nearly a month. Not so lucky with the wifi though… knocked out by a storm, and the “office” wifi apparently not sufficient for all who were trying to use it.

We dug out our folding bikes and decided we’d pedal down to Cape May Point to check out the state park and lighthouse.  The current Cape May Lighthouse  is the third light to be constructed on this sight, previous towers having fallen victim to erosion, poor construction and keeper neglect.  It’s on site and managed by the Cape May Point State Park.  Views from the top were quite impressive.

Leaving the park, we pedaled about the backroads of Cape May Point and then back through West Cape May pausing for a bit of exploring at South Cape May Meadows, a migratory bird refuge maintained by the Nature Conservancy.  It’s most active, obviously,  during spring and fall migrations, but was still a pleasant place for a walkabout.

We pedaled through the tourist strip, then stopped for dinner at C-View Inn, a locals spot, where the Captain got his wings fix.

The following morning, the forecast looked reasonable.  We spent the morning knocking out some dockside boat chores, i.e. things more easily done while attached to a dock, and were off the dock shortly after 11am,  headed out Cape May Inlet a short time later for an offshore/overnight run, destination: the south shore of Long Island.

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When the weather nixed an outside run from Norfolk, we opted, instead of waiting indefinitely for more favorable weather, to make our way inside up the Chesapeake Bay.  Now at the north end of the Bay,  our route would take us through the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, or C&D Canal, then down (yes, that would be south, when we’re really trying to go north) the Delaware River, into Delaware Bay to the Atlantic.  First though, we’d pause briefly in Chesapeake City.

Canddmap

via US Army Corps of Engineers

The construction of the C&D Canal  was apparently quite a process, and it’s evolved a bit since its initial construction.   After a false start earlier in the century, the canal opened in 1829.  In the beginning, it was 14 miles long, 10 feet deep, 66 feet wide at the waterline and 36 feet at the channel bottom… all dug with picks and shovels, and included 4 locks.  Teams of horses and mules towed vessels through the canal.  In the mid 19th century, a steam operated pump was added to help move water around the locks.  By the end of the century, larger, deeper draft vessels were problematic.

Enter Teddy Roosevelt who decided the waterway needed to be “free and open”.  The Federal government purchased the whole mess in 1919, and over the next few years, replaced all the bridge and removed all the locks.  This “new” sea level canal was 12 feet deep and 90 feet wide.  By the mid 1930’s however, it was deepened to 27 feet and widened to 250 feet.  The mid 1960’s – mid-70’s saw yet another expansion, to 35 feet deep and 450 feet wide.  Of course the several bridges were improved as well.

Today, the C&D Canal is designated as a National Historic Civil Engineering and Mechanical Engineering Landmark… who knew there was such a thing.  The original pumphouse now houses a small but nicely done museum managed by the Army Corps of Engineers, and includes the waterwheel and pump engines.  Also on the grounds is a full-sized replica of the Bethel Bridge Lighthouse, one of several lights that helped to mark the locks of the original waterway.

 

We spent a couple of nights in Chesapeake City, which is full of  19th century homes that are well maintained.  It was a pleasant place to wander around a bit.  Lunch at Bohemia Cafe was OK.  We had a drink later at the Chesapeake Inn tiki bar, which is apparently the place to be… saw more people there than in the entire rest of Chesapeake City, though we weren’t impressed with the party-central vibe of this place either.  Our last night in town though, we dined at the Hole in the Wall Bar, part of the Bayard House restaurant… said to be about 200 years old, this place had lots of character, local beers and some tasty eats.

In addition to having to dodge ginormous commercial vessels (we’re definitely the small fish in this pond), there are also some wicked currents flowing through these waters.  We would time our passage very carefully.  Friday morning we were up and out, though not as early as we’d hoped as we had to wait for the only fuel dock in the area to open.  Poor planning on our part; should have gotten fuel when we arrived.  As planned though, we had a favorable current through the canal.  It was uneventful in that we only had one commercial vessel to contend with.  The canal wasn’t spectacular to look at, but I found myself in awe imagining the efforts over the years to build and then expand this bit of water that used to be dirt.

Late morning, immediately upon entering the Delaware River though, things got ugly.  We knew we’d encounter pretty stiff head current and sure enough we did.  We opted as planned to anchor for a few hours behind Reedy Island to wait for it to turn around a bit, during which the skies opened up and rained on us… which wasn’t so bad because we collected some water.   A few hours later we were underway again, with a good current behind us, but the winds were on our nose (definitely not what was forecast), so the sea state was ugly.  The best part of this run was a close up view of Ship John Shoal Light.

LS_20160624_181726 Ship John Shoal Light, Delaware Bay, New Jersey

Ship John Shoal Light, NJ/Delaware Bay

Ship John Shoal Lighthouse actually sits in New Jersey waters on the Delaware Bay.   It had a long history up until about 2001 when it was deemed “excess to the needs of the United States Coast Guard” (translate: they didn’t want to pay to maintain it any more) and offered to eligible organizations under the provisions of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000.  This is actually a pretty interesting program and has saved a number of historic lighthouses, but alas, not the Ship John Shoal.  No eligible  organizations (that is nonprofit or historical organizations that meet certain criteria) were interested , so it went up for auction.  First pass, a reportedly ridiculously low-ball bid was rejected.  Second pass someone actually bought this light for just over $60,000.  I’m not sure much has happened since then… it looks pretty untouched to me.  The birds seem to enjoy it though.

We tucked into a small cove on the Jersey side of the Delaware Bay for the evening and finished our run into Cape May the following morning.  We’ll pause here for a bit of rest and recuperation.

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A couple of weeks back our friend Cap’n Laurie did a delivery (moving a boat from point A to point B, usually for money) from here in Oriental down to Southport NC, two long days by herself down the ICW. She had left us her car and we picked her up in Southport, had dinner (go to Loco Jo’s if you’re there), and drove back to Oriental.
She also mentioned she might also soon be delivering a boat from around Oriental up to somewhere in Long Island, exactly when and where yet unknown. The owner would be going but did I want to crew, since some overnights offshore would be necessary, three shifts are better than two, and the owner was an unknown. “Sure, just let me know the details,” says I.

Saturday evening (20 September), Laurie calls and says it’s a go for tomorrow morning from Matthew’s Point Marina across the Neuse River from Oriental; she’s already been provisioning (what sailors call grocery shopping) with Vinnie, she’ll come by Sailcraft in the morning, my Lori can drop us off at Matthew’s Point and keep her car while we’re gone. Plans made.

Sunday morning we meet Vinnie, the proud owner of a new-to-him 30-foot Hunter 306 sailboat. It doesn’t have a name but he’s naming it Cheers. He’s a nice guy, in good shape, lots of little boat experience and a couple of ASA sailing certifications in pocket; a fine person with whom to spend a week on a boat.

Turns out we’re going to Lindenhurst, NY on the south shore of Long Island, back in behind Jones Beach and Fire Island. Route would be up the ICW Virginia Cut route, into the Atlantic at Norfolk VA and offshore to Fire Island Inlet.

Get underway mid morning Sunday. We have decent southerly winds (but also some rain) and sail or at least motor-sail in all the open water from Oriental up to the north end of the Pungo River. Laurie wants to get through Norfolk and offshore by tomorrow evening, so we don’t anchor until dark. Vinnie grills some good burgers but we don’t have any beer since we thought we’d get some before we got underway but it was Sunday morning in the south. It’s quite warm in the boat and cool and breezy topside so I sleep in the cockpit – and no bugs in the middle of the marshes!

Monday we up-anchor at daybreak and motor the twenty miles through the Pungo River Alligator River canal (which connects the Pungo River with the Alligator River, go figure – the Army Corps of Engineers, who built the Intracoastal Waterway, had such vivid imaginations), motor up the very wide Alligator river (no alligators but we did see four bald eagles in the canal) then sail across Albemarle Sound and up the North River, getting wet a couple of times. Sails down to wind our way through the creek and canal to Coinjock Marina, got there a bit before dark – about an 80-mile day; the Captain is a slave driver (and Vinnie is paying by the day). Dinner at the marina restaurant, the finest in the area.

Bridge and lock day. After another early start from Coinjock and a couple hours motoring with a couple of high bridges, there are two swing bridge that open every half hour and the Great Bridge Bridge (honest; Great Bridge is a place and that’s what the bridge there is called) that opens hourly, followed by the Great Bridge Lock that opens hourly synchronized with the bridge. Timing required. We made the noon Great Bridge opening but tied up to a seawall between the bridge and lock and went shopping. Vinnie had no engine oil or coolant or transmission fluid aboard, and they seemed advisable on an offshore run. We got oil and coolant at a Shell station, but they had no transmission oil – how often do you need transmission oil? Popped into a Dairy Queen for baby Blizzards for the walk back to the boat, and pushed off to make the 13:00 (1pm for landlubbers) lock opening.

A tug and big barge came through the bridge as we were waiting for the lock to open and the lock master tells us to wait until he has them secure before we enter, then says to squeeze past the barge to the front of the lock. Vinnie’s driving, and the barge seems about as wide as the lock, and he does admirably.
There are two ICW routes south from Norfolk – the Great Dismal Swamp (named by the slaves that had to dig it) with two locks, and the Virginia Cut (named by a girl who does believe in Santa Claus) with just one. Lori and I have transited the Dismal Swamp route twice and those locks raise or lower you about eight feet. Being the salty sailor I am and wanting to impart my expertise, I make sure Vinnie had long dock lines to handle the rise or fall, knows the lock procedure, is ready to fend off the lock walls, etc. Well, the rear gates close and the front gates open and if we rose or fell at all I couldn’t tell.

A few more mlles and the two ICW routes merge and we were in the Portsmouth / Norfolk shipyard and naval base mess – two more bridges we needed openings for and hours of trying to stay clear of ships and tugs and work boats and Navy patrol boats (a wrong turn into a restricted area gets you demerits) and finally the opening in the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. The CBBT is mostly a long low highway bridge with a couple of high bridges and a couple of tunnels. The tunnels are a bit freaky – the low bridge ends in a big pile of rock, the cars disappear into it and pop out another pile of rock a couple hundred yards away where the bridge resumes. Anyway, we passed over the southernmost tunnel and into the open Atlantic at about 18:00 Monday evening.

I char a pork roast on the propane grill for dinner. We skirt the DelMarVa peninsula all night, motor sail some with a light south breeze, stand 3 hour watches overnight, we are off the VA / MD line come Tuesday morning. Breeze picks up some and we motor sail much of the day. Some bad weather passes south of us off Ocean City MD in the afternoon and stiff north winds are expected tomorrow. We are trying to make it to Atlantic Beach NJ by 2300 or midnight to get fuel and spend tomorrow in port.

Diesel engine compartments don’t required blowers to vent them before starting, but this boat has a switch marked “Blower” that we haven’t touched so far. We figure it’s to pump some of the heat out of the engine compartment, which is right under the companionway stairs. Vinnie looks and, sure enough, in the top of the engine compartment is a four inch fan connected to a white plastic vent hose (with a spring-steel spiral wire in it like dryer vent hose) leading aft under the rear berth. He flips the switch and we wait for a cooler salon. Well, half an hour later I smell burning, open the engine hatch and see smoke but no flames. We shut down the engine and check it out. It seems there was no hose clamp or even plastic zip tie holding the (expletives deleted) vent hose to the blower. The vent hose had fallen on the rotating shaft between the transmission and stuffing box (where the shaft leaves the boat so the prop can be on the outside in the water) and wrapped about forty feet of (more expletives deleted) wire around it, also pulling the fuel filter / water separator (the Racor) off the engine room bulkhead. It’s about 19:00 by now, and not wanting to restart the engine without knowing more, and being about seven miles straight off Cape May, and knowing weather was coming later tonight, we call TowBoatUS and Laurie raises the sails and heads towards Cape May as TowBoatUS came out for us.

It takes a couple hours to get towed in, there is a horrible ebb-current eddy at the entrance jetties (the tow boat was all sideways, glad we weren’t coming in under our own mighty 18 horsepower), we’re dropped off at Utsch’s Marina after dark, a guy on a 60-foot go-fast style power boat gives us a bathroom key so we can take showers. I go out walking searching for beer but no luck, Laurie makes scavenger pasta from leftover pork roast and veggies, not bad at all (but still no beer 😦

Thursday is cold and windy – we would have had to be in port anyway so no time lost. The marina mechanic declared the transmission seal shot and says call a diesel mechanic. Laurie and I go across the parking lot to Lobster House for breakfast (only the counter is open in the morning, crowded, breakfast was great) while Vinnie calls around and finds a mechanic in the area. The mechanic changes the engine and transmission oil, jury-rigs the Racor up out of the way, puts out extra mooring lines, and starts the engine and tests the transmission under load at the dock. There’s a vibration at 1400 rpm that he thinks (or his boss thinks, he keeps calling him for advice) is just cavitation from not moving, so we cast off and run up and down the marina a couple of times, no vibration and no transmission oil leak, life is good and Vinnie doesn’t have to leave his boat in Cape May for two or three weeks and shell out $4,000 to have a transmission seal replaced.

We walk across the street to Lucky Bones; it’s supposed to have good pizza and bar food, it’s nice but crowded and noisy, Vinnie shoves money at Laurie and goes back to the boat – turns out he’s not much for crowds; lives on Long Island but never goes into NYC. We have a couple excellent drafts, good pizzas indeed and a split a salad.

Friday is windy in the morning (the super speedboat went out and came back) so we hang another day in Cape May, rent bikes, go grocery shopping. Laurie drills Vinnie on ASA course material from midmorning to early afternoon then gives him a test, after which several gin ‘n’ tonics, chips, salsa and hummus are consumed. Towards evening Laurie and I bike into the beach part of town (essentially two parts – harbor and beach) then meet Vinnie at a Mexican restaurant near the marina, pretty good but no alcohol; BYOB is OK but we didn’t know and which was OK following the afternoon drinks and the early start tomorrow.

Saturday we are up and out before 0600 so we could catch slack tide at the jetties-of-death and to be sure of making Fire Island Inlet with time to spare tomorrow morning. A couple of hours out Vinnie discovers the transmission is leaking at the seal, but by topping off and catching what dripped out we figured it was only leaking down to the bottom of the seal and that left enough to run on safely, so on we went. There is a very slight southerly breeze, we mess with the jib some but mostly it’s not worth the bother. We crossed the New York shipping lanes (three pairs of wide ones) in the middle of a Sunday night so nearly no traffic. Arrived at Fire Island Inlet way before dawn Sunday morning but in time for a slack tide, so went on in. Fire Island is a “local knowledge” inlet – the tide and current shifts the bottom around all the time so the channel buoys are moved all the time so the chart can’t show where they are and things are tricky in the dark (the third or fourth “red lighted buoy” we saw on the way in was actually car tail lights on the beach – didn’t go there) but we get in fine and under the high bridge over the inlet (minor panic – it doesn’t look so high in the dark 😉 and anchore just north of the Fire Island lighthouse.

We get a few hours sleep and head to the drawbridge to make its Sunday 9:00 a.m. opening – Active Captain says it only opens every three hours on summer weekends and holidays. Get there, no answer to our calls on radio or to the phone number on the bridge, call the Coast Guard who say they’ll try to contact the bridge tender but no luck, so what now? Well, duh, one just takes the main channel a half mile east and under the high bridge which we could have done already had we just opened up the chart another page and seen that route. Oh the joys of always being in new water.

So anyway, late morning at low tide we get to the entrance of the canals into the back yards of Lindenhurst, anchor there until it comes up a bit so we’re sure to have enough water getting to Vinnie’s, and he motors Cheers home. What with boats on both sides of narrow canals, squeezing past the barge in the lock at Coinjock was good practice – Vinnie does great again.

We get tied up, showered, have a couple of drinks, Vinnie has very good Thai food delivered, Laurie and I sleep on Vinnie’s floor, we have breakfast Monday morning at a local deli, pick up a rental car and drive back to New Bern. My Lori picks us up (in Laurie’s car that she’s had all week and that she just went to Harris Teeter’s in before picking us up) and drives us back to Sailcraft. We all have wine and cheese and sausage and and wine and fruit and bread and wine on Cheshire then Laurie goes home.

The End

Oh, yeah, Lori says no blog entries without pictures so here’s one of me on Cheers, sunrise over DelMarVa, and one of Vinnie in front Cheers in his back yard.

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