Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Three Challenging Days to Get to the Chesapeake!


Alarms were set for 6am on Monday 10/1 but the Captain and I awoke on our own, anxious to get started on the Jersey run.  We had planned to untie at 6:30 but it was still too dark so we waited another 20 anxious minutes.  Our conditions were predicted to include 2-3 foot waves, wind in the single digits rising to 15mph mainly from the south.  We headed out and all was calm enough in New York Harbor.


The morning was tedious but not uncomfortable.  We had some chop from wind on top of the rolling ocean waves but it was doable.  It was calm enough for me to go down below to get breakfast food but by lunch, I did a fast grab of crackers, cheese and things I could stick in baggies and put in my pockets to keep my hands free to hold rails while traversing across the deck.  But the day got more windy than predicted and by 1pm, we were both pinned in our seats to avoid sliding or falling.


The good news was that the waves were hitting on the bow and at times more on the port bow but not slamming into the beam of the boat.  The bad news was that the predicted period of the waves was to be 10-11 seconds which is more of a rolling wave, but in actuality they were coming in 3-4 at a time with a few seconds between.  We figured they were 3-5 foot waves with some in the 6 foot category.  We have a bell on the flybridge that was ringing all afternoon!!


It was like riding a roller coaster and felt worse when we looked down the wave slope as we hit a crest.  I tried to glue my eyes on the horizon.  Luckily I never felt nauseous, only nervous!  Al handled the helm well with the help of Mr. Auto.  


Note the partially opened window to allow for air flow to help me stay clear headed but it was fully opened earlier until a wave washed over the bow with such force that it doused my face and sweatshirt with fresh seawater right through the window!   So after 11 hours of cruising we pulled into Farley State Marina in Atlantic City and tried to unscramble our brains!!   We were exhausted from tension and the effort to tighten muscles to keep from rolling with the waves.  We had a quiet night and sound sleep.  Needless to say, we sat still for the day on Tuesday!  It was a beautiful but very windy day so staying put made sense.  We walked a couple of miles to a great little restaurant for a delicious and well deserved breakfast.  Then we filled the day, Al with engine room chores, me with salt removal from every outside surface of the boat.  It was interesting that several mega yachts came in late afternoon with professional captains talking about the rough seas they had, so rough that they stopped earlier than planned.  So glad we sat in the marina! 
On Wednesday 10/3 we were joined by friends who live near Cape May, Joan and Matt, who have cruised the Atlantic plenty of times and who believed our conditions for the 44 mile ocean cruise to Cap May would be doable.  They and the weather sights were right and it was a tolerable day.  We had waves in the 2-4 foot range, rolling on the beam but they were indeed rollers, not fast, short period waves so between the distractions of friends to talk to and the help of Motion Eaze, the cruise went by quickly.  


We followed these clamming boats out of the Absecon Inlet as we left Atlantic City.  We figured it was a good omen that the clammers thought it was a good enough day to go out and work! The next set of photos were all taken by Joan who has a good camera and an excellent eye for photography.


The captain was at ease with the auto pilot remote in hand.


Matt used his eyes to help with the navigation while I used Aquamap on my iPad to follow our course and track the markers. 


The rides of Wildwood!  This is the Jersey Shore that I remember as a kid! 


Not much action again until next summer when tourists will flock back for some fun. 


The breakwall of the Cape May Inlet, as we looked at the beach where our rolling waves were crashing into shore.  I guess we did have some wave action out there! 


Then Joan spotted this eagle that greeted us as we ended our Jersey coast run.  We were tied to the dock at Utsch’s Marina mid afternoon so had time for a grocery run and then enjoyed fried scallops at the Lobster House to finish our day and say thanks to our friends, Joan and Matt who made the trip enjoyable.
 On Thursday we woke up unsure about attacking the third part of the trek to get to the Chesapeake which is the Delaware Bay and River.  This part of the trip is a bit over 60 miles going up against the river current in a north westerly direction.  Timing it to have the rising tide along with you to counter the river current with light wind behind is about perfect.  Of course the weather sights did not all agree but we could get a sure read on the tide.  So after watching several boats take off and hearing from another boating friend (Jim on Leilani) who thought the conditions were good, we untied easily with help and headed out the Cape May Canal at 10:30.  It turned out to be a very easy, hot, no wind cruise with some tidal current helping along the way!  We had one small mishap, InSpeyered 2 ran aground near the end of the canal as we were getting close to the Bay.  A dredge was working the entrance to the canal and moved into the center of the channel .  So Captain Al did the prudent thing and pulled over toward starboard and found soft mud stopping our forward progression.  He tried to plow through but quickly realized that wouldn’t help so he backed off the grounding and freed the hull.  The dredge Captain hailed us immediately to say we should head right toward the dredge and he would turn to starboard to let us pass.  Whew, crisis averted!!


We passed only a few commercial boats and this one in the far distance looked like a city being pulled by the tug.   Calm waters were greatly appreciated!  We pulled into Delaware City Marina, thrilled to have all that challenging cruising behind us.  The Captain requested a day off on Friday so we walked the canal and had an excellent lunch at Crabby Dick’s.  Then it was on to the Chesapeake via the C and D canal for an easy 39 mile cruise with tidal current pushing us the whole way.  


We anchored in Turner Creek Bend off the Sassafras River; an anchorage we have used 2 other times. We did run into some trouble with the anchor chain but it wasn’t a surprise.  With all the jostling from waves on the run to Atlantic City, the chain had become jammed and tangled.  We used Al’s brute strength and the weight of the chain being pulled against the boat’s momentum backward and pulled all the chain out of the locker, cleaned it all up as it was winched back in and easily set the anchor to hold for the night. As often is the case, anchoring provides beautiful sunsets.  So nice to be on the Chesapeake Bay again!  After going to shore for a decent walk on Sunday, we concluded that moving to a different anchorage would make sense to find stronger Verizon service.  We have some planning to do for a week long visit home.  We moved early afternoon in calm conditions across the Bay to the Magothy River and dropped anchor behind Dobbins Island.  That is where we have stayed for the past 2 nights and where we will be tonight. 


The rock walls along the Bay make for scenic travel.  Nice calm bay water along the way.  


Sunset Sunday night in the Magothy.


Sunset Monday night with heavy cloud cover but no rain.  Mornings have been overcast with fog, afternoons have been hot and clear and nights have been just cool enough to allow for comfortable sleep but not blanket weather!  We went to shore yesterday by tying up at a restaurant dock and had a good walk and then a late lunch that was quite tastey.  Today we used a marina dock and just walked a local neighborhood. 


One last sunset to enjoy in this anchorage.  Easy walks, very quiet anchorage, no more running for a while, life is good the crew on InSpeyered 2.  




  



Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Champlain Canal Takes Us to the Hudson River

From the town wall in Whitehall, NY, we started our cruise to go up the Champlain Canal on Saturday 9/22, which was a cool and sunny day.  More low bridges, so we lowered the mast with relative ease, got the pole set to measure our air draft and untied mid morning.  It was a slow 25 mile cruise because we locked through 4 locks.  When we were one lock away from ending our travels early afternoon, we got word that a barge had broken free from a tie up and had to be rescued by a tug so lock #7 was closed “until further notice”.   We waited 1 1/2 hours tied to an old dilapidated wooden dock with 4 other boats.  So late in the day we all piled into the lock and all but one turned into a creek just past the lock to find the free town wall of Fort Edward. It is another town with lots of closed businesses and yet it still provides a great place to tie up with free electric hookups.


We tied near to a ladder so we could climb up and off the boat.  We met some new friends, Pat and Chip on Aerin E, the boat tied behind us.  This new friendship made our 2 night stay in Fort Edward quite interesting as Pat was previously a Grand Banks broker so she had a vast knowledge of boats and boating and Chip designed museums as his long time career and one of those museums is the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC.  Their stories made for interesting conversation during docktails at a picnic table along the wall.


And unbeknownst to us, the town had a big hot air balloon festival going on that weekend so we had 25-30 balloons pass over us.  They were so high up that any picture of multiple balloons showed tiny dots but this balloon veered close enough to us to allow for a decent picture.  


We were treated to a beautiful sky looking up the creek at sunset. Once the sun set, it was a very chilly night.  Sunday morning, I treated Al to a classic diner breakfast that was cheap and plentiful. It’s important to support the local businesses when they offer up such a nice “marina” wall. We  walked the town and happened upon a park where re-enactments of battles of the French and Indian War were occurring. 


We only caught the tail end of them marching back from a battle.  But it was interesting to follow them back to their encampment and see how they lived for the weekend’s event. 


Other boats came in later in the day including a 72 footer that scooted in to a spot in front of our boat, just barely big enough for a boat that size.  That in itself was entertaining to watch!  We met some other folks on a sailboat that also arrived late afternoon and while we all enjoyed drinks at a picnic table, we heard about their plan to take their boat all the way to St Martin in the next couple of months.  So many interesting people to meet!  Since we took a long walk earlier in the day, we felt we deserved a good meal at the Anvil Restaurant with Pat and Chip.  It was another fascinating evening. 


An eagle sighting on the Hudson River!  Fort Edward is where the head waters of the Hudson River start.  In the days before the Champlain canal, boats going north between the Hudson and Lake Champlain had to be portaged by land so Fort Edward was a busy town.  When we left the wall there, we were still on the Champlain Canal but also officially on the Hudson River.  Our destination was Mechanicville, a 29 mile cruise that included 4 more locks and the lowest bridge we’ve tried to pass under! 


As we approached the fixed bridge, we stared intently at the tip of our height pole.  If you enlarge this photo you can spot the tiny piece of white tape at the top of the pole.  It was looking to be a very close passing.  The lock master of lock #3 assured us that the bridge height was a bit over 17’ so we had a whopping 2 inches to spare the canvas!               


And the tip of the height pole just barely cleared the entrance to the bridge when we breathed a sigh of relief! Then we had a short cruise to the free town wall in Mechanicville, NY.


Once again, this town provides very nice bathrooms with good showers, free electric hook up and even an area for a free pump out!  This was as good if not better than many marinas we pay $100 for! Exercise was accomplished with a walk around town to scope out the grocery and small shops.  There was a small farmers market but not much fresh produce this time of year.  The night became quite chilly so we hunkered in for the night in our cozy boat.  On Tuesday we woke to rain that only let up for short periods all day so it was a “stay in the boat day”.  But we had a nice visit from friends on Free To B who were our hurricane buddies during Matthew in 2016 and their dirt house is close to Mechanicville. So we warmed up in a great authentic Italian Restaurant and wallered in home made Italian pasta!  Great visit but not the only one.  We stayed a third day and night to wait for our friends on Leilani to catch up with us.  The much warmer day (back to shorts!) was spent on chores, shopping and making beef barley soup for Jim and Linda to enjoy with us.  Fun to swap stories of our summer Canadian travels since they followed days or weeks behind us all the time we were up there! 


We left Mechanicville on Thursday 9/27 with a beautiful blue sky after lowering our mast for the last time. We had an uneventful day to cruise through the last 2 locks of the canal with no waiting time and through the Federal lock on the Hudson in Troy, NY.  We stopped 38 miles further south with the canal completed and anchored behind Houghtailing Island.  The clouds picked up, the rain came in and the night became chilly.  That remained the same on Friday morning as we pulled anchor to head to Kingston with a nice push from the river current.  On the way, we passed the Athens Lighthouse, built in 1874 to mark the Middle Ground Flats, a raised area to avoid.  We ended our 41mile cruise with the clouds dispersing at Rondout Marina near Kingston, NY.  On a whim, I texted with a long time friend from college days to let her know where we were because the last time in the same area, she flew over us and took pictures while giving a flying lesson which is her occupation and passion.  So at the last minute she and her husband Greg decided a road trip was possible so they drove nearly 2 hours to have dinner with us that night!  True friends!  Great fun having drinks on the flybridge and a really good dinner in town!    


Thanks for the visit Peggy and Greg!
We went to bed that night thinking we were going to continue to meander down the Hudson and likely stay a second night at the marina.  But I awoke with a hinky feeling that we should keep moving.  After we both spent some time on various weather and buoy sights, and after communicating with Jim and Linda on Leilani who were far ahead of us by that time, we came to the conclusion that the weather along the Jersey coast was going to get more difficult so we needed to get south to be ready when the weather window would allow an easier passage in the Atlantic along the Jersey shoreline.  So the next two days, Saturday and Sunday, we traveled 57 miles to Half Moon Bay Marina and then another 56 miles to Great Kills Yacht Club, Staten Island.


The Hudson is such a beautiful cruising waterway.  We had wanted to really take our time but the NJ coast was calling us to move on.  


There is a great bike/walking path near Half Moon Bay Marina and the sunsets along it are typically spectacular.  We at least took the time to walk the path the night we arrived (well, just me because Al needed to rest his eyes from the strain of the day) and again the next morning before leaving.  


We passed slowly under the new Tappen Z Bridge because they are still dismantling the old bridge more than a year after construction was completed.  This is looking back at the bridge and the NJ Palisades .  


By moving quickly, we ended up entering the crazy busy area of NYC on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.  The skyline is peeking out from under the George Washington Bridge. 


We passed this mega yacht anchored right in the middle of the Hudson.  Erik knows of the boat and told us an Australian cattle baron owns it and uses it as his NYC office.  Nice work space! 


So we hit the New York Harbor right when all the sail boaters flitted all around the Statue of Liberty while we dodged fast moving ferries, loaded tourist boats, and all the regular Sunday afternoon boaters.  At least the boats under motor power were somewhat easy to predict and avoid but small boats under sail change course in minutes.  It was a time when all 4 eyes on board were watching intently! 


The Staten Island Ferries are easy to spot in their bright orange paint.  So we ended our Hudson River journey on Sunday 9/30 late in the day, tired and prepared to enter the Atlantic Ocean for the long 100 mile cruise along the Jersey shore to Atlantic City the next day.  We had studied many weather and buoy reports to conclude that Monday was the day.  For me, it was uneasy sleep but the Captain was confident and ready to cruise the ocean. We were in agreement so the decision was made. 
   




Tuesday, September 25, 2018

More Enjoyment on Lake Champlain

Vergennes was a nice little stop that we enjoyed for 2 nights and then it was time to move on, so we untied lines on Friday, 9/14.  But not until we took a lovely walk along a trail that we discovered by chance which followed the bank of Otter Creek.  It was a leisurely afternoon cruise down Otter Creek  back to Lake Champlain with no other boat traffic to negotiate.  We had contact with our friends on Selah Way and it turned out they were headed down Champlain and we spotted them as we exited the Creek.


Boating and clocks do not go together at all and yet, here we are heading right toward Amy and David, such timing! Their boat looked so tiny against the rocky cliffs of the Adirondacks.  They came into our anchorage in Barn Rock Harbor and rafted up with us for an afternoon of boat talk.  The anchorage was small so they chose to move on, late afternoon to a different anchorage for the night.


We had wind protection from steep surrounding cliffs so only ripples of waves rolled into our secluded spot as the sun set over the distant mountains. We enjoyed a delicious dinner of pumpkin stuffed ravioli that was purchased at a tiny store in Vergennes.  Love those interesting stores and the treasures they have to sell!


On Saturday, we celebrated 3 years of doing this cruise.  We left on 9/15/2015 and now it is 2018! We have added Vermont to the list of states we have spent time in so the number is up to13. Later in the morning, we were joined by a smaller cruiser with a young family aboard and they shared our rather tight anchorage closer into the shore.  They boat on Lake Champlain regularly so shared information about areas we will cruise to eventually. That afternoon we took the dingy to the beach and made the arduous climb up to Barn Rock to look down into the harbor.     


Once we made it up to the top, we were rewarded with a spectacular view of InSpeyered 2 floating peacefully.  


And we had more vistas to see the far off mountains that are part of the Adirondack Range.  


Al’s hip has done well, which has allowed him to navigate over the rocks.  
Going up was challenging for our endurance and strength. 


But going down with no trees to hang onto and slippery pine needles covering the dirt, was downright scary for me so I did the “slide down on my butt” method to stay safe.  Al just had to take a picture since no one else was around to see me scoot down inch by inch.  After surviving our short hike, we spent more time cleaning the hull from the dingy. Now she looks white again! That night, the Captain chose to sleep under the stars up on the flybridge which he enjoyed but didn’t rest well!  I on the other hand, enjoyed the warm cabin and slept soundly. 


Al woke to fog so was up early but soon the sun burned the fog away and we had another beautiful day.  We were ready to pull the anchor after Al did some air draft measuring but in that process he banged his knee hard on a cleat and had a sizable egg growing so we delayed our departure for some icing to get the swelling under control.  We did get a clean raising of the anchor so it went quickly and smoothly.  BTW, the air draft measurements are in preparation for the trip down the Champlain Canal where there are low fixed bridges that we need to slide under.  
Our destination for the day was Kingsland State Park where there is a nice open anchorage but first we went north up the lake to Point Bay Marina for a quick stop to take on much needed diesel, fresh water and get a pump out.  Then we went a few miles back south to the anchorage and soon deployed Victory Lap to access a small dock that is part of the park.  We found a nice hiking trail for a great woodsy walk.  The smell of fall was around us from leaves beginning to change color and drop to the ground.  


This little fellow was brightly lit against the dead leaves and pine needles.  


The trail took us around the perimeter of the park so we had some great vistas.  


This shot was taken the second day of hiking when we picked a trail that was steep enough between rocks, that a wooden ladder was built to help with the climb.  It still scared me which is why I didn’t smile for Al’s picture.  


Al made it to the top with relative ease. We enjoyed the 2 night stay at this anchorage with good hiking, nice Adirondack chairs in the park to relax in, not many boats around so we had peace and great sunsets. Plus we got some boat chores done and worked on the plan for the next part of the journey.  The swim platform has one more coat of oil on it.




On this night, the light reflected a full 360 degrees around us.  Just breathtaking! 


On Tuesday 9/18 it was time to pull the anchor and start moving again.  This time, the anchor was caked with heavy clay type mud that was resistant to being washed off.  After working on it for some time while we very slowly left the anchorage, we finally decided to drop it back in the water and wash it by driving backward and even that didn’t remove all of it.  So it remained slightly caked with mud all day! Our 28 mile cruise further south took us under the Lake Champlain Bridge, the only bridge over the lake to connect Vermont and New York.  Beyond the bridge, starts the river portion of the lake.   


So this was our last view back up the lake where it is wide and full of great anchorages.  

 

Along the river portion, we passed the Crown Point Memorial which marks the area of Fort Crown Point, the oldest fort in the area and was part of the Revolutionary War.  It was a hot, still day so we chose to pass the anchorage at Crown Point and continue south to a little pull off area named Five Mile Point.  Not much around except bird sounds so it was a “no walk day” with time to read.  The only thing of significance on that day was a sighting of a squirrel swimming up river in the middle of the channel, nowhere near the shore.  Since my eyes and brain could not quickly process together the odd sighting, there was no time for a picture.  I just hope he found his way back to dry land where he belonged.  Our hot day turned cold as the sun set so we found the need for more blankets.  On Wednesday 9/19, with a chilling breeze, we pulled anchor (hooray, no mud) and headed the 8 miles south to Chipman Point Marina.  The wind was blowing strongly pushing us off the dock and we had no help with lines,  so it took many tries to wrap lines around the dock cleats! We were grateful they had a car to use for a big grocery run and were relieved to be tied up for the heavy winds that built all day.  It was a chore day which included lots of laundry and defrosting the freezer and refrigerator.  
  

The next part of the journey took us through the first lock of the Champlain Canal and we had our first low bridge to contend with.  The general height of bridges along the canal is 17’ or higher so we had to have the mast lowered.  The morning of 9/20 was spent working on that process using a block and tackle pulley and the davit that we use for the dingy.  Al had done this with the help of Erik back when we were still at home to be sure it could be done.  But Erik is much stronger than the present first mate so the process had to be amended to take that into consideration!  The first try didn’t go well but no damage was done.  It just was a challenge.  So Al used his engineer brain and came up with an easier process so the lions share of the work was done by the davit cable while Al steadied it side to side and I held on to the pulley line just to keep it steady fore and aft.  


The mast was finally safely lashed down against a boat cushion on a board that crossed from a rail to the dingy and we were on our way!  


The river narrowed as we went further south.  Eventually the river comes to an end and Lake Champlain is connected to the Hudson River via the Champlain Canal. Note on the bow is the pole Al created over the winter that is set to the actual height of the canvas bimini.  That’s our way to know if we would clear a bridge without ripping the canvas!  It gave us great peace of mind.  But the measuring to the inch was a process and we learned that our air draft is 16.9’, a bit over one inch below the listed height of the lowest bridges.  It was a source of concern but on we went!  Our first stop was just past the first of 11 locks and past our first low bridge that we squeaked under.  


InSpeyered 2 sat on the free town wall in Whitehall, NY which provides electric and nice modern bathrooms that even have very clean showers, all at no charge.  The town is typical of many with lots of empty store fronts and yet they find a way to fund such a nice marina-like facility.  We supported their efforts with a donation and spent money in their stores and a nearby wonderful restaurant.  
 

After a great breakfast at Historic Grounds the local restaurant housed in an old bank building, we walked the town to hit up the CVS and Dollar General.  Al stood next to the local Sasquatch at the waterfront park. We splurged and bought take out lunch from the same great restaurant too.   It was a 2 night stay for us since the tie up was so nice and the winds built all day on Friday 9/21. We befriended a family of 5 on their sailboat from Canada that tied to the wall with us and helped them with Active Captain.  The kids enjoyed a tour of our boat and wished for the space we had compared to their water home.  


The predicted night time rain, made for a beautiful sunset reflecting off the gathering clouds.  


The narrow Champlain Canal awaits us!