Up Delaware Bay

Last night our lengthy stay in Cape May finally paid off (not that we expected it would) as we met a great group of young cruising friends! No offense to our older cruising friends, of course, but it was nice to know that people in our age group are sailing. We had a fabulous evening with the crew of Anthyllide, Scott & Kimberly, who are venturing into their seventh year of cruising and the crew of Serendipity, Matt & Jessica, who are embarking on their cruising lifestyle just as we are. We decided to cruise together through the Delaware Bay as we are all on similar schedules and heading to the Bahamas for the winter.

We had a GREAT sail today. The morning started off when Matt and Jessica came by in their dinghy and we headed in to the yard sale at Utsch’s Marina. Steph and I made out really well. I acquired some fishing equipment that I have been wishing I had on the boat, but the big news is that we finally decided to buy an outboard for our dinghy. Our paddles to shore have been getting longer and longer, and we decided it was time. We are now the proud owners of a used but in very good shape Nissan outboard.

We hurried back to Rode Trip to get our anchor up and we left right on time to catch the current up the Delaware Bay. Our first step was to motor through the Cape May Canal. The clearances above the top of our mast were a little closer than we have been used to, but we made it under the fixed bridges with 7 feet to spare. It is very unnerving standing on the boat looking up at the top of the mast. The angle of looking directly up the mast makes it look like the mast is going to hit the bridge every time.

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Motoring through the canal went very quickly and we raised our sails as we were exiting the canal. Matt and Jessica took the direct route up the bay, while Stephanie and I took a slightly longer track where we headed out until we caught the stronger current near the shipping channel. This was a good decision as we won our imaginary race with Serendipity. Who knew the Wetsnail had so much get up and go!? We had a great broad reach up the bay with the current pushing us. We were moving along at 7 and sometimes 8 knots with only small waves.

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We took advantage of our windvane again and both Stephanie and I were free to move about the boat while keeping an eye out for other vessels.

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You can see in this picture the control lines rigged to the tiller. We are really enjoying using the windvane instead of hand steering all the time. We aren’t very good at it yet, so it takes a long time for us to “tune” the windvane to actually steer the course we want, but once it is setup it works wonderfully.

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“Look ma no hands”

We sailed past the “Ship John Shoal” which has a lighthouse standing on it out in the middle of Delaware bay.

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We also sailed past a Nuclear power plant.

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As we made our way farther up the bay the current kept pushing us faster and faster. By the time we were nearing the C & D canal we were doing a consistent 8+ knots! Unfortunately we picked up hundreds and hundreds of little black flies that thought it would be nicer inside our cabin than being blown around outside. When we finally realized they were sneaking in we put up the screens but it was really too late. I spent a lot of time killing flies this afternoon…and this evening.

It turns out that going out of our way to catch the extra current paid off, and we arrived at the C&D canal just ahead of Matt and Jess. Stephanie took the helm and motored us safely through the canal while I went below and cooked up a chicken curry.

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Shortly after coming out of the C&D the sun went down and we were caught in a small thunderstorm. The rain came down in buckets while we motored for our intended anchorage. We arrived and dropped the anchor only to discover that the wave action was going to make for a very uncomfortable stay. We only stayed long enough for the lightning to move out of our area and then we picked up the hook, and headed across the channel to “cabin John creek”. The water is very still here and we are looking forward to a good nights sleep.

the Golden Ticket – September 21, 2012

Thanks again to Charlie, Marion, Fran, & Al for their generosity, giving us Golden Coupons (activity passes from their hotel package). Today we used the coupons for a Mansions by the Sea Trolly Tour. The trolly gave us a glimpse of the beachside of Cape May, rather than the two main streets we’ve used all week for entering/exiting town. We saw lovely homes from the 1800’s and 1900’s and were provided a brief description of the architecture along with some background about the development of the cape. Cape May is now a National Historic Landmark District.

We also used the coupons for a tour of the Dr. Emlen Physick Estate; built in 1879 this Victorian home is now a museum maintained by the Mid-Atlantic Center for Arts and Humanities. We had a very knowledgable tour guide who provided a detailed description of Victorian lifestyle among the wealthy Physick family. Dr. Physick was never married, however lived with his mother and aunt. He also never practiced medicine; although he had completed medical school to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, upon graduation he inherited his family fortune and then decided to travel prior to retiring in his newly built home in Cape May.

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The 18 room house was designed by architect, Frank Furness, from Philadelphia, PA. Mr. Furness did some experimenting with convection heating in this home. The 18 fireplaces (one in each room) had never been used, yet each one had a vent that allowed heat from a basement coal burning stove to filter its way throughout the house. He installed plumbing and hot water. The woodwork throughout the house was intricate, Mr. Furness only allowed oak and chestnut to be used. Mr. Furness also designed much of the furniture in the house. The Mid-Atlantic Center for Arts and Humanities continues to restore the Dr. Physick home to its original state and incorporate only decor appropriate to the Victorian period. This tour was a nice comparison to the Elms mansion we toured in Newport, RI.

Ok, so we squeezed in a little more history…and then headed straight for the bar! We found one bar that served Cape May Brewing and wanted to try a local brew. The brew on tap was a Honey Porter. Sorry, Cape May, but this porter was lacking taste and body. One was just enough. Back home to prep for our trip up the Delaware Bay tomorrow.

Cape May, NJ – September 18-19, 2012

On Tuesday, we rode out the 35mph winds and tornado warnings on Rode Trip. Aside from the wind, It was sunny and warm all day. We had to re-anchor twice; once at mid-day because Brian didn’t account for the tide when he initially anchored and we dragged without enough scope, and a second time at 3:00am when the anchor was not dragging but the wind shifted a complete 180-degrees and we were being pushed back toward the 4 foot shoreline.

What does one do on his/her fourth day aboard a boat? Well, for starters some pre-planning. We read through our newest addition to the navigation library, Dozier’s Waterway Guide to the Chesapeake Bay and checked the weather to determine our best window for heading up the Delaware Bay. We looked for entertaining stopping points once through the C&D Canal, and we priced mooring fees for our stay in Annapolis, MD during Jake & Katie’s wedding. Then came fishing…and eventually dinner, movie, oh and closely monitoring the radar and anchor alarm.

On Wednesday, we were itching to get ashore. We kayaked into Utsch’s Marina; when we asked if they had a dinghy dock (according to the guide book the only Cape May marina that does have a complimentary dinghy dock) they looked at us like we had three heads and then told us we could tie up our kayaks under the dock’s ramp. Hm, is “dinghy dock” not the correct lingo for NJ? Maybe we confused them riding in kayaks and asking about dinghies? At any rate, the kayaks were secure for the day and we set out for a walk around town. It was a warm day, in the 70’s, and I was of course wearing pants. I was startled to see the leaves changing! I turned myself around and told Brian we had to get back to the boat and keep moving before fall catches up with us!

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I was also startled to see this sign…seriously!?! I mean the next thing we’ll see is “Warning: Tree Branches Extend Over Roadway and Leaves and/or Twigs May Fall at Any Time”

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We browsed shops and admired the Victorian era homes. We especially enjoyed the Cape May Olive Oil Company. In this shop, Terri welcomed us and assisted us while we tasted everything imaginable! We sampled flavored olive oils, flavored balsamic vinegars, flavored honey, spreads, jellies, salts, and sauces. Everything we sampled was delicious. Brian even braved the Ghost Pepper Salt; his mouth is still on fire!

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Wednesday evening we splurged for a wonderful treat, Elaine’s Dinner Theatre. Elaine’s is a beautiful Victorian Inn that hosts breakfasts on the veranda, dinner theatre, and a haunted mansion. Our experience at Elaine’s was simply wonderful. We were seated with an exuberant group of retirees who were vacationing on the Cape and have enjoyed Elaine’s for years. We introduced ourselves and easily got to chatting with Fran, Al, Marion, and Charlie. They were very kind to give to us Gold Coupons; activity passes from their hotel package. They shared their reviews of the offered activities and told us to enjoy as they had done it all before. Our meal was fabulous. Brian enjoyed catfish topped with lobster pieces and I enjoyed salmon topped with a crab cake. Now for the show, Sixteen Candelabras. HILARIOUS! A group of 80’s teens trying to find their place in the high school social scene stumble across an interesting proposition from a vampire. I’m quite certain that Brian and I were the minority in the room who knew all the 80’s references and jokes as the audience had years ago surpassed 30. The show was filled with energy, comedy, and…oh no not another musical number!

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