September 20, 2009
We arrived at Chesapeake CIty late saturday afternoon to find it absolutely mobbed; the teeny anchorage basin right off the C&D canal was packed with small boats hanging out for the day and using the water taxi to visit the marina bar, it was quite a party. We found a space at the far end of the basin and dropped anchor, as navigating back out to the canal through all the traffic looked impossible. Thankfully most of the boats cleared out before sunset and we had a great view of the Chesapeake CIty Bridge which towers over the little town. The bridge has a vertical clearance of 140 feet which seems a lot until you see a car carrier go under it as we did at sunset (see photo).
We rowed the dinghy in for a stroll around Chesapeake City which has a nice historic district with a few streets of Victorian shingled houses and a canalside park where you can watch the huge ships and barges pass by. Ever the history buffs we sought out the oldest building which dates back to the 1700s, and by happy coincidence it was an Inn where we had a delicious dinner and a bottle of wine to celebrate our safe passage up the Delaware Bay.
September 19, 2009
The next leg of the trip is a long daytrip up the Delaware Bay and through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. You must leave Cape May a couple of hours after low tide in order to ride the incoming tide up the bay for about 50 miles, if not you fight against strong currents and it can be a rough and slow ride. The first opportunity was saturday morning at sunrise and the forecast was also good with NE winds of 10 to 15 knots and falling, and 1 foot seas. We got up bright and early and headed north through a little canal for 3 miles which opens out onto the bay. Let’s just say things were a little different than forecast, certainly these were the biggest one-foot seas I have ever seen, there were huge swells rolling down the bay at us, it was quite something. Thankfully after an hour or two as we got further up the bay the seas calmed a bit and it was more comfortable. Even so making coffee was quite a challenge. Here is Dickie at the helm:
Along the way we passed my favorite lighthouse, called Miah Maul, which seems to have had a coat of paint since we last passed by, when it was sea-battered, pink and rusty. As we approached the C&D canal entrance the seas were positively flat and it was sunny and beautiful; the canal was empty of huge car carriers and commercial vessels like the last time we had been here, so we had a uneventful trip under the many bridges and through to Chesapeake City, MD.
September 18, 2009
After our overnighter it took a day or 2 to get back to normal. Cape May is a good spot to watch all sorts of boats go by as it is a busy fishing port as well as having a large coast guard training station. I am a huge fan of the coasties, you hear them over the VHF radio, up and down the coast, putting out alerts for boaters in trouble, you cant help but be very grateful they are around. As we were anchored of the coast guard station we could hear lots of activities going on throughout the day and night, coast guard launches racing out of the inlet, cadets marching up and down and being yelled at, and bugle serenades at various hours, the sunset one being my favorite, which I managed to record, mostly!
We got ashore a couple of times for supplies, and dinghied to The Lobster House, a fabulous restaurant and commercial fishing wharf with an amazing fish store, so we bought some great shrimp and smoked fish for dinner. We had 24 hours of strong winds and our anchor dragged 200 ft, but fortunately reset itself before we had to; as a result we had another sleepless night in the cockpit keeping an eye on things, it is an exhausting business this boating lark!
September 13, 2009
The next leg of our trip was the BIGONE: our first overnighter, from Block Island to Cape May NJ, about 200 miles as the seagull flies, which we anticipated would take between 30 and 40 hours. We had been waiting in Block Island for a good weather window and it finally came so we weighed anchor and headed out into the ocean sunday morning. We spotted a submarine conning tower leaving long island sound and all went well all day but as the sun began to set I became more nervous, being out there in the middle of nowhere was OK but when it got dark, it seemed scarier. Dickie was not phased at all, having spent so much time at sea, but to make me feel better we put our newly acquired life raft in the cockpit next to us just in case. Everything went fine and the radar warned us of any traffic out there in the darkness, but I was VERY happy when the sky in the east started to turn red and the sun came up. With no sleep we were both blurry eyed, but the last few hours were easy and we arrived in cape may NJ at about 3 pm and dropped anchor in front of the coast guard station, where we had the year before on Harmony’s maiden voyage.
September 09, 2009
After the lively labor day weekend was over we had the anchorage to ourselves, but unfortunately we also had 3 days of 20 to 30 knot winds so getting off the boat was impossible. On the third day we put on full wet gear and braved the ride in the dinghy to shore as we were running out of drinking water (and we were going a bit barmy being cooped up for so long):
It was a wet ride back with the water, but not bad enough that we didn’t do it again later for some much needed shore leave at The Oar, a nice bar/restaurant from which we could see Harmony in the anchorage. Also spotted was Jimmy Buffet and his boat, Continental Drifter.
September 05, 2009
Block Island is a lovely spot and they cater well to us boaters. Strange cries emanating from the other end of the harbor turned out to be the floating baker, shouting “Andiamo, Andiamo” (apparently lets go in italian) announcing his arrival with fresh croissants and bread and pastries. Yummy. Here is a vid of the anchorage, and you can just about hear Aldo the baker passing by:
The second night in Block Island the wind was forecast to pick up to 20 knots at midnight, and it did. Within minutes of the wind increasing you could hear shouts and curses, and horns going off all over the harbor as boats dragged into their neighbours or were dragged onto. In the darkness running lights (green and red lights that you show when moving) started to appear all around as anchors were pulled up and their crew sought safer ground to drop anchor again. All in pitch darkness, blustery wind and in the busiest anchorage we have ever been in, with boats everywhere, so it was quite a spectacle. The boat next to us dragged and was swinging only inches away from us, but thankfully they moved; A second boat on the other side was also way too close for comfort so we spent the whole night in the cockpit on watch. Absolutely knackered the next day, I felt like I had been up all night clubbing!
September 04, 2009
We decided to continue on to Block Island the next day (about 35 miles west across Rhode Island Sound) as the weather and tides were amenable. We had a lovely sail for 3 hours:
Later the wind dropped so we had to motor again; we spotted the old stone lighthouse on the northern tip of Block Island and turned south for the last 3 miles to the harbor (photo 1)
Made it to the protected anchorage in Great Salt Pond by 4 pm and couldn’t believe the crowds, hundreds of boats anchored and moored for the labor day weekend. We found a spot and dropped the anchor and settled in with a cocktail for sunset. As the sun fell behind the headland a chorus of boat horns, bells and whistles echoed around the harbor and anchor lights twinkled on like christmas lights over the water, it was very beautiful (photo 2, bit blurry but you get the idea!)
September 03, 2009
It is getting chilly in the mornings so we decided to start the long journey south. The first leg was a short one, about 12 miles, from woods hole heading west in Buzzards Bay to the most distant of the Elizabeth Islands, Cuttyhunk. The bay was beautiful and silky smooth as there wasn’t a puff of wind to fill the sails, so we had to motor all the way. We arrived in the afternoon and found plenty of room to anchor in the corner of cuttyhunk pond, the protected inner harbor of this tiny island (year round population about 30, summer population 150). We took the dinghy into the town dock and bought fresh sea scallops from the fish shack on the pier and Dickie made delicious scallop chowder for dinner. Later on we noticed a couple of kids in a skiff doing the rounds of the boats in the harbor with their floating raw bar, fresh oysters, clams, shrimp, brought to your boat, life is good. Settled in for another beautiful sunset and an early night.
Here is (fingers crossed) a video of the view from aboard Harmony:
August 30, 2009
We are back in Monument Beach, where we moored Harmony prior to moving aboard on July 15th, having spent the last 6 weeks sailing around cape cod, buzzards bay and the islands. It has been a great shake down cruise in preparation for the journey south: we have had many ups and a few scary downs, and we are now as ready as we will ever be to head south next week.
We came back here to hide from Hurricane Bill last weekend, as it is a very sheltered harbor, and ended up waiting out Tropical Storm Danny too which passed through the area yesterday. We booked in for a week to prepare for the trip south, stock up on provisions and pick up a life raft and generator. We also attended my swearing in ceremony for American citizenship in Lowell MA and had a night of shore leave in a hotel which was great. The event coincided with Senator Ted Kennedy’s death, a champion for all immigrants and he was honored by the presiding judge and cheered by the 700 or so newly minted citizens, it was very moving all round. We flew the american and irish flags at half mast aboard Harmony on our return.
August 09, 2009
There is always a lot going on in woods hole harbor, ferries coming and going to martha’s vineyard, research vessels serving the science institutes, and a neighborhood of house boats where we made our home when visiting:
There are always people coming and going (Photo 5) and it is very sociable out there. Sunsets are amazing (Photos 1 and 2) and swimming is great from the boat in 40ft of water (Photo 3).
From the boat you can see one of the most treacherous boat traffic channels on the east coast, woods hole passage (south of red marker on map). The current runs extremely fast through it between buzzards bay to the west and vineyard sound to the east and there are also huge piles of rocks scattered around so boats often run aground (a tall ship and a sailboat while we were there). It is quite scary so I was amazed to see 2 people paddling across it on surfboards with white backpacks (photo 4). Behind is famous airplane house and you can see some of dickie’s stone work.
We were eventually encouraged to leave by the harbormaster with the help of some parking tickets for using a friends mooring which isn’t allowed.