Friday, September 5, 2014
Back on the inside
Posted by Sean
We are anchored in the small harbor area near the Coast Guard station in Cape May, New Jersey (map). The anchorage here is very small, and when we arrived there were already a half dozen sailboats here; by the time I turned in, there were a half dozen more.
The remainder of yesterday's cruise was nearly as calm as it started, with just a small turbulent section as we drove into the inlet with a strong current behind us. I usually turn the stabilizers off running inlets, because they fight the steering and can make it hard to control the boat, but we left them on this time because the turbulence was so bad. I had plenty of sea room so I was not worried that they would steer me into a shoal.
We dropped the hook around 2pm, which gave me plenty of time to get the tender in the water and go ashore to pick up a friend from the bus conversion community for a tour of the boat. Nick owns a refrigeration service company in town, and generously offered to drop off a hard start kit that I've been needing for the new fridge, a story unto itself.
After getting the hard start kit, giving Nick the nickle tour, and spending some time chatting, all three of us piled into the tender to head back to the Harbor View marina and restaurant. Nick headed home and we headed into the restaurant for dinner. We also made a quick stop at the marina office to pick up some more two-stroke oil for the outboard.
Dinner was tasty and we had a lovely view of the harbor, with Vector front and center. It was happy hour in the bar when we walked in, so we sat there first, enjoying $2 drafts. They had bowls of ruffled potato chips coated in Old Bay seasoning out on the bar. Potato chips are not on our provisions list, for good reason, and I tend to overindulge when they're set in front of me... if happy hour hadn't ended promptly Louise might have had to drag me upstairs to the dining room by my ear.
Coast Guard Station Cape May is a training base, and all day long we hear the recruits shouting during their calisthenics and other exercises. And there are far more patrol boats flitting around the harbor than would be necessary for such a small place. At one point in the afternoon one of the boats came along the anchorage and asked pretty much every boat to move 20-50' closer to shore, a ridiculous exercise absolutely unnecessary for maritime safety (nor dictated by the Nav Rules).
Our speculation is that yesterday was the day when some instructor said "OK, trainees, today we are going to learn how to approach anchored vessels, speak with the skippers, and have them move." The little 21-footer looked like a clown car, packed to its operational limit with men and women who looked to us to be about 15 years old. It's never a good idea to argue with the coasties unnecessarily, so I wasn't about to lecture these youngsters on the technicalities of the CFRs. We just moved the anchor a boat length closer to shore and tightened up our scope to compensate.
Nick was aboard at the time, so he got more of a tour than he bargained for. We noticed a couple of boats leave the anchorage during this drill; like a game of musical chairs, when the music stopped, not every boat could fit where the CG wanted them. Of course, this was at slack, when the boats which had been so neatly lined up closer to shore to begin with were beginning to swing to the other side, which put their sterns a few feet further towards mid-channel (but still not obstructing it). In just a half hour, we'd all be again neatly lined up in the other direction. Perhaps they had not yet covered tidal currents in the classroom portion of the training.
Today we will leave with the flood, transiting the Cape May canal and emerging into Delaware Bay, where we will continue north to the Delaware River. We have now left the Atlantic behind, at least until November sometime when we head south from the Chesapeake. We ran the water make one last time yesterday, and also pumped out and backflushed our waste tanks. We should be in Philadelphia by Sunday.