Monday, September 24, 2012

The Vineyard to Baltimore with a storm delay

We were up at 0530 for our departure from Martha's Vineyard; all lines were "on the bight" - from the boat to the pilings and back - for a swift exit in the morning without clambering all over the dock. We were on our way when the light allowed at 0615. Once we had cleared the lighthouse at Gay Head our run was 236 miles to the next waypoint right across almost to the southern tip of New Jersey, Cape May. We settled into our routines of two hour watches, engine room checks, underway log, and Kindle stuff. For a few hours we had internet access until our antenna signal booster system couldn't access the shore towers on Long Island, off to the North. I was checking the weather on the VHF and listening to the gale warnings ahead; as you can see in the sunset photo we were heading towards one serious weather system. During the night passage the water alternated between calm and confused, the sea could not make up its mind. Just as we were heading for 2-3 feet of sea and less things got up to 3-5. But from peak wind of 24 knots just before dark it gradually eased off all the way down to 8 knots at the end of the morning, and flat calm.

Calm before the storm! When we neared the New Jersey coastline I called ahead to extend our slip reservation; everyone would be doing the same thing. The forecast coming in on the VHF was for winds of 35 to 40 knots and seas building to 10 feet. Even allowing for a little bit of overstatement factor very few people want to be travelling on the water; everyone is going to hunker down while this thing blows through. Looking at the flat sea in the photo it is hard to imagine that in 24 hours time the seas could be coming at you directly from the south at 10 feet with over 35 knots of wind.

Here is a photo of the office as we close in on the coast at the end of our 255 mile trip. Last Mango is in the center of the three navigation screens, on a course of 230 degrees; all screens are North up; that is MaxSea and the double radar/NavNet. Throttle is at 1800 rpm; the speed set in order to get us into harbor at 1520pm to coincide with slack tide - this marina has some slips hard to negotiate into in a fast running tidal current. In the event our docking was current and wind free; after an hour of washing all the salt off from our trip we headed for the local attraction of Cape May - yes, the Lobster House.

In the morning we exchanged all our daily lines for heavy duty and doubled up. Extra fenders as well. Stack cover on for the rain. The gale arrived a little earlier than forecast - one sail boat arrived at midday and they had been severely beaten on their mis-timed run down the coast. They had been battling into 10 foot waves when a large rogue had sidelined them and ripped off the cockpit covers and flooded the cabin. Not surprisingly no other boats came in; no way anyone listening to forecasts would have dreamed of being out there; I went and looked at the beach and saw close up what 35 knots was doing to the sea. No thank you. I checked the weather forecast again a few times; although everything would settle down the next day it would be better to wait a little longer; the Delaware Bay is notorious and why upset the Admiral?

We had plenty of time to explore Cape May. It was America's first seaside resort; constructed while Queen Victoria was on the throne. It has the largest collection of Victorian property in the New World; a delight to wander around.

  Exploring these leafy avenues it is difficult to comprehend what a challenging world we live in; here there is apparent insulation from world issues; the escapism of tourists eating their ice cream and shopping for trinkets.
While we are looking at interesting property, I will also slip into the collection a snap of the gingerbread houses on Martha's Vineyard. The East Coast has an endless collection of towns full of history; impressively conserved and lived in.
The weather cleared and we moved on. A short run along the Cape May canal and into the Delaware Bay. Plenty of commercial traffic, see the example of one of the tugs with a tow. Looking for a place for the night, friends on Grand Banks "Emerald Isle" suggested we join them at the great metropolis of Chesapeake City. The entrance to the basin is a little shallow, so requires a non-low tide arrival; but there is plenty  of water at the dock. And the Chesapeake Inn has excellent oysters and more. A very relaxed evening was had by all. The next day we left at least two hours before low tide and entered Chesapeake Bay while the mist was still rising from the water.

Next destination - Baltimore. Rendez-vous with visitors........................

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