We had a pleasant 3 days in Delaware City, DE and a nice 61-mile run down Delaware Bay to Cape May, NJ. It's been 3 days now in NJ and it looks like it will be another 3 before we get a break in this weather. Here's the problem. You can run the inside waterway, but it is very difficult with lots of shoaling, shallow water, and big tides. Also, Hurricane Sandy rearranged portions of that and consequently much of the existing information on those areas is now out of date. All things considered, it takes forever to time everything right with the tides and you still run the risk of running aground. Some looper friends of ours, Geoff and Patty aboard "Osprey," are traveling this route now and working their way through it all. They're running very slowly and still have bumped the bottom several times, backed up, and been able to find deeper water. They have had to wait hours a couple of times for enough water to get through areas that are only 2 feet deep at low tide. They are keeping us advised of the tricky areas and we're taking good notes. The key advice so far has been patience and more patience - not one of my strongest virtues.
Our second option is to run outside on the Jersey coast for about 125 miles to get to New York City. Unfortunately, the wind speed and direction has not been in our favor and the seas have been generally 4 to 6 feet and I believe 5 to 8 is the forecast for this weekend. That's uncomfortable for us, especially since it is probably going to be a 2-day run. There are several inlets to duck in at but those can be difficult with 5-foot tides coming and going.
There's also the problem of the daily weather - it has not been good either, from rain to fog to wind, etc. So, we'll probably just have to suck it up and go once we get much of a weather window at all. The forecast is for 2 to 3 foot seas Monday and Tuesday so hopefully that's our window of opportunity. In the meantime, here are some pictures from the trip down Delaware Bay and a few of Cape May.
The Delaware River comes out of the Philadelphia area and feeds a huge bay out to the Atlantic. It has a fairly narrow ship channel with lots of traffic. The bay is about 24 miles across at its widest point so it can be rough as well, but we had almost perfect conditions for that crossing except for a very low overcast with some haze, maybe even a little bit of fog - you'll see it in the pictures. The picture below is the day before we departed and was taken by the dockmaster and posted on Delaware City Marina's Facebook page. The four Looper boats left to right are Help Me Rhonda, Golden Hawk, Keeper, and Mooring Dove. Let me say again that Delaware City Marina is one of those "How else can I help you marinas?" Tim was out on the docks assisting every one with the morning departure.
We were bringing up the rear so I got a couple of good shots once we were all out in the river heading southbound.
After everyone got settled into their own comfortable and most efficient cruising speeds, Mooring Dove and Golden Hawk were clearly faster and gradually left the group, so we ended up cruising all day behind Keeper. Not far down the river we encountered our first traffic of the morning. I've commented previously about the title of "towboat" when most of the time they are pushing and not towing. Well, here you are.
There was a nuclear power plant on the left, reminding me of George W (the second one). He was known for a few interesting word pronunciations. "Nucular" and "strategery" come to mind. Hey, I liked "W" and he didn't mind folks poking fun at him.
Next we had two ships heading our way but we had plenty of room to pass off of their starboard side.
The second one was another of the vehicle carriers, "Sunrise ACE" from Panama, and it was clearly faster than the freighter in front. She eventually took the passing lane and went around the freighter on its port side.
There were a couple of lighthouses along the way. You can actually see the light in the second one. It comes on for four seconds at a time with a one-second break between flashings. These two lighthouses and a couple of other large markers all mark significant shoaled areas, and they also put out a horn warning which sounds like your standard ship horn in the fog for scary movies!
The skies finally began to clear up around noon and we headed for the canal entrance into Cape May. This is North Cape May from a distance with pretty beaches on display.
A close-up of the beach as we entered the canal.
And here's our traveling companion for the day, Keeper, with some other local traffic on the canal.
There is a large ferry operation at the canal entrance. There were about 4 or 5 of these docked there with daily service across the bay to Lewes, DE.
Below, Help Me Rhonda docked at Utsch's Marina, pronounced like "hutches" without the "h." You should note the clean hull with no moustache. I took two of our days at Delaware City Marina and got new paint on the hull. The water just rolls off of it now like a windshield just treated with Rain-X. It was quite a job getting the work done - I had to sand, prep, tape, and paint from the dinghy with sand gnats everywhere and a pretty swift current. Rhonda was working from the dock helping position the dinghy where I needed it while at the same time having to keep me far enough away so as not to hit the fresh paint. It was quite a balancing act - a picture would have been interesting but we had our hands full. I actually did a test section of paint while we were in Jacksonville and it was still completely clean after about 1500 miles so this should keep us clean for a while.
Remember how nice we thought Oxford, MD was, particularly the well-kept homes and yards? Well, Cape May is like Oxford on steroids - same beautiful Victorian homes and yards, but it seems like thousands of them plus lots of traffic and people everywhere, lots of commercial activity, etc. With so much to choose from, Rhonda decided to just take pictures of pink and purple homes since those are our granddaughter's favorite colors. So, Alexis, these are for you!
And a dog statue for Adam.
We rode our bikes out to the beach. It is beautiful but not a good walking beach - very deep and loose sand.
Lots of Victorian homes (on steroids) along the waterfront.
This bed and breakfast hotel and restaurant combo got an extra dose.
We found one of our favorite refreshment stops from Galveston - Rita's, and had one of their custard and Italian water ice ("icee") combos called a Gelati, and then rode our bikes around town and stopped to get some groceries at Ames (missing our Publix stores). We've done some cleaning on the boat, worked on my bike a little and will find things to occupy our time while we wait on the weather. We are conveniently located close to an unusual eating establishment, The Lobster House. The seafood comes right off of the boats into the restaurant. You can eat in the fancy section of the restaurant, the more casual bar/coffee house area, or order at the carry-out section and eat outside by the docks or take it home. We chose to get the carry-out and eat on the boat - New England clam chowder, a seafood platter, and boiled shrimp for one of Rhonda's pasta recipes. The place was packed on a Tuesday evening and one of the folks standing in line for the carry-out said she has seen as many as 80 waiting in line on a holiday!
As an example of the weather, yesterday afternoon went from a sunny day to thick fog in about 30 minutes. So, our "strategery" is to simply wait it out and enjoy ourselves in the meantime. Hope to see you soon in New York.
Addendum: After proof-reading, Rhonda has questioned if George "W" is the second or third? She has suggested he's the third because of his father and George Washington. However, his father is George H.W. so for clarification I was only grouping him together with Washington. Too much time on our hands, huh?