Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New York, NY

It is a week later and we're in New York, on Staten Island to be precise. We'll be here through the 4th of July holiday, then we'll move on to Long Island Sound.

When we left Chesapeake City the weather forecast for the Delaware Bay wasn't good -- wind speeds too high and in the wrong direction. But when we actually got to Delaware Bay we found very benign conditions and decided to head on down the Bay to Cape May, New Jersey. We had a wonderful trip with the tide behind us pushing us to 9+ knots of speed. We normally travel at 7 1/2 to 8 knots, but the extra speed was welcome because Chesapeake City to Cape May is a 70 mile day.

Cape May's claim to fame (in addition to its lovely beaches) is its collection of Victorian houses. About half of them seem to have been turned into hotels or B&Bs. The rest remain as private residences, many with georgeous gardens. I got to see them all because downtown Cape May is a 2 mile walk from the marinas and there is no public transportation.

After two days in Cape May, we headed out to the Atlantic to run up the east coast of New Jersey to Atlantic City. It was a short day, but half of it was spent driving through fog. The next day we ran from Atlantic City to Staten Island, a 10 1/2 hour day, the first 5 of which were in fog. Driving your boat through fog is a real act of faith. You set the boat's autopilot on the course (carefully plotted to not get too close to the shore or any in water obstacles) and turn on the radar, which you hope will let you see any other boats around you. It is really a two person process, one to watch the radar and one to continually scan the water to see anything that might not be caught by the radar. Fortunately, the only thing I saw while scanning the water was a pair of dolphins.

We did hear one poor sail boat captain radio to a power boat that was approaching him in the fog at a speed of 19 knots or about 21 miles per hour. The first time he called, he said he wanted the power boater to know that he was approaching a sailboat in the fog. The power boater thanked him for the heads up and kept right on coming. He called twice more, with no apparent affect on the power boater's behavior. the last time he called he said "you are 1/2 mile from me, TURN NOW!" Since we didn't hear any mayday calls, the power boater must have turned finally. Blowing along at 20 miles an hour when you don't have any brakes and can't see even 1/10 of a mile is not cool.

We've never been to Staten Island before. It is a bit unnerving. Everyone looks like they came from central casting, just exactly what non-New Yorkers think New Yorkers look like. I swear within 2 hours of getting off the boat, someone had already said "youse guys" to us and we had heard someone else say "fugedaboutit." I keep expecting to see Tony Soprano come down to his boat.

I didn't do the laundry in Cape May because the prices were so outrageous. I discovered on Staten Island that the Cape May prices were standard, $2.75 - $3.75 for a washer and $2.00 to dry. Boat slips are available at premium prices as well, $4.00 a foot at the Liberty marina in New Jersey. That is why we are in Staten Island, moorings are only $25 a night. To get to Manhattan you take the free Staten Island Railroad to the free Staten Island ferry, or the $2.55 express bus that stops a block from the marina and takes you directly to Mid-town. I'm gathering from people we talk with that the prices will be like this for the rest of this year's trip.

Tomorrow we're visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Bye for now.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Oh say can you see...

We had a wonderful couple of days in Baltimore. On our way up the Patapsco River we passed a red, white and blue buoy the National Park Service puts in the water to mark the spot where they think Francis Scott Key was when he saw "by the dawn's early light...that our flag was still there." The next day we went to Fort McHenry where the Star Spangled Banner flag was flying during the War of 1812. They have a 13 star replica of the flag that they fly today if the weather conditions are right. The flag is so big that it needs at least 5 knots of wind to move, but more that 12 knots of wind puts too much strain on the flag pole so they have to replace it with a smaller flag. We got lucky, the conditions were right and they were flying the replica flag.

We also went to the National Aquarium, which I recommend but not on a hot Saturday afternoon in the summer. It was crowded. They allegedly control the crowds by selling timed entrance tickets, but the Aquarium's thoughts on how many people are appropriate and my thoughts on the same subject vary widely.

On Sunday friends of ours from Marathon, Andy and Dinata Misovec, stopped by for lunch. They were in Baltimore for a wedding, then they are heading off to by campground monitors in the Smokey Mountain National Park for the summer. Much better than sittingg in Marathon wondering which will get you first -- the oil or a hurricane.

Monday we headed off up a nice flat, calm Chesapeake Bay headed for Chesapeake City on the C&D Canal. The C&D Canal is a 12 mile man-made canal that connects the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays and cuts nearly 300 miles off of the sea route from Philadelphia to Balitmore. It was first proposed in 1661, was started in 1788 and finished in 1829. Today it is used by commercial shipping, military vessels and pleasure craft. The picture is of the ship coming out of the Canal cas we were trying to enter it.

Chesapeake City is a little town on the Chesapeake end of the canal that encourages pleasure craft stopping by offering free dockage at a city dock. Fortunately, for a fee, you can also use the City's power, since it was 90+ degrees and 90%+ humidity. In Chesapeake City we met up with Lee O'Brien, a former client, for drinks and dinner.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I can't get away from the Potomac!

I said I was never going up the Potomac again, but then our boat detailer flaked out on us. Instead of coming back from Cleveland to a clean, waxed boat, she was in the same shape (cleaning-wise) as she was when we left. So Jim talked me into taking the boat back to Theresa at Olverson's Marina, a great boat detailer in a bad location, six miles up the Potomac. But this time, just to mess with my head I'm sure, the Potomac was a well behaved pleasure to boat on, both going in and coming out three days later.

We're headed for Baltimore more now, but we're taking our time getting there. We plan to spend the weekend at a marina in Baltimore Harbor. We learned last year that Marylanders are avid weekend boaters, so our best defense against thundering hordes and lots of boat wake is to hole up somewhere on weekends and let the locals have the water.

The trip from the Potomac to Baltimore has been leisurely and pleasant, except for the 90+ degree weather and equally high humidity. We've had comfortable rides between empty or nearly empty anchorages. No drama this week, it has been wonderful. Just lots of nesting ospreys on the tops of the waterway markers. It is the ospreys that remind me that this is our second summer of the trip. I remember trying to get a decent picture of baby ospreys for last year's postings.

We did see a stingray in Crab Alley Creek this afternoon. It caught us both by surprise. We haven't seen a stingray since Florida. We didn't even know they came into the Chesapeake. Maybe this one heard the waters off Florida are getting oily and he is scouting for a place to spend the summer.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Back into the Chesapeake and beyond

It took us four days to get down the Potomac and the Potomac kicked our fannies two of those four days. It would have kicked us three days, but we were going with the high seas and winds on our final morning, so we just surfed down waves instead of beating into them. From now on, the only way I go up the Potomac is in a plane!

The boat is now out of the water in Zannheiser's Boat Yard in Solomons Island, Maryland. Jim's 45th high school reunion was held in Starkville, MS over Memorial Day weekend, so we took the opportunity to have the boat hauled and some maintenance done. Between leaving the Potomac and having the boat hauled, we had a week to gunk around the Patuxent River, anchoring in quiet spots with no other boats, taking the dinghy into dinner or lunch in out of the way waterfront restaurants. It occurred to me that we don't do much of that type of boating on this trip. Mostly we go to places we want to see, then spend our days doing the tourist thing. Just hanging out on the hook was fun.

After the reunion, we came back to Cleveland because Jim needs to have cataract surgery on one eye. Next week we're headed back to continue this year's travels. The schedule this year includes:
  • heading north through the Chesapeake to the C and D Canal,
  • going down Delaware Bay to Cape May, NJ
  • going up the coast of New Jersey to Sandy Hook ( in a one day or 1 overnight trip weather permitting),
  • crossing New York Harbor to Long Island Sound and spending a month or so gunk-holing around Long Island Sound (July/August), then
  • heading up the Hudson River (September) to the Erie Barge Canal where the boat will spend the winter.

If any of that sounds interesting to you, guests are always welcome. Give us a call.