Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Cradle of Liberty

We had a nice two-day visit to Philadelphia, where we docked right at Penn's Landing Sunday mid-day.  We had such a good push up the river on the flood that we arrived well before our planned slack-tide arrival, so I overshot the marina to approach from down-current.  Once in the basin there was very little current and we had no trouble tying up.

PPL Park.

It was an interesting cruise upriver, with a few sights to see.  We passed PPL Park (the soccer venue) as well as Lincoln Financial Stadium, where the Eagles were playing as we went by, as evidenced by numerous banner-flying airplanes and the Met Life blimp circling overhead.  We also passed Harrah's Casino, attached to a horse track, where we once stayed in the bus.

Eagles Stadium.

Harrah's racetrack casino, in Chester.

We then passed the retired aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy, the last non-nuclear US carrier built, now at the reserve base awaiting a worthy organization to make a museum of it.  Next up was the graceful but tired-looking SS United States, the fastest ocean liner ever built.  It, too, awaits refurbishment.  Finally, on the Camden, NJ side, we have the battleship USS New Jersey, now a museum.

John F. Kennedy, looking a bit worn.

The majestic SS United States.

Battleship New Jersey.

We were in a museum of sorts ourselves, with Commodore Dewey's flagship from the Spanish-American War, the protected cruiser USS Olympia, immediately astern of us.  Behind it is the WWII-era submarine USS Becuna. Immediately ahead of us across the pier was the century-old tug boat Jupiter. Finally, the barque Moshulu, now a restaurant, adjacent to the Olympia across the basin from us.

The Olympia behind us.  Top of the Customs House is to the right.

Upon hearing we were en route to Philly, Louise's cousin and her husband made arrangements to come out from the Manayunk neighborhood for a visit.  They met us at Penn's Landing Sunday afternoon, and took us on a nice tour of the city and its neighborhoods before heading off to a nice dinner at an Italian place near their house.  It was a wonderful evening and it was great catching up.

Monday, Louise caught up on the laundry -- six loads' worth -- given that this is our first marina stay in over a month.  We have our own washer/dryer, but running it without access to a city water supply is problematic, as it will quickly empty our 500-gallon tank.  We did get a load done just before filling the tank in Greenport, and, in hindsight, we probably should have stayed and done some in Yonkers while we had access to a hose at the free dock there.  We'd have to run the genny, but that's cheap compared to marina power.

Meanwhile, I headed off to visit the aforementioned historic ships, the Olympia and Becuna, both very interesting and a bargain at just $10 with AAA discount. That included admission to the Independence Seaport Museum, but the museum itself was shop-worn and uninteresting.  I often do these sorts of walking museum tours stag, because they are very hard on Louise's feet, and she prefers to save her limited walking time for things more interesting to her.

View of Vector from the Olympia.  Tug Jupiter across the pier, and the battleship across the river.

Monday evening we walked to the City Tavern, where we enjoyed colonial-style draft beer and some colonial-era menu items served by wait staff in period attire. The food was quite good, thanks to an award-winning chef, and the National Park Service did an excellent job with the building, basically a ground-up re-creation of the original.

After dinner we hoofed it to the nearest grocery store to re-stock the now-empty larder.  Between two backpacks and our folding hand-truck we managed to get everything we needed back to the boat, though it was a long hike.

Yesterday we had a half day in town, as we did not want to shove off before high tide, around 2:30.  We walked around the historic district briefly, until Louise's poor feet could take no more, and returned to the boat in time to see Jupiter depart upriver for its winter berth.  Labor Day is really the last hurrah for Penn's Landing; while we were there they also took the pedal swan rental boats out of the water.

It was a very busy stop and I never found time to post to the blog -- these posts take me one to two hours, closer to the latter when there are photos involved. Neither did I have time yesterday after we left, as we ended up going further than planned.

The forecast for the upper Delaware yesterday was foreboding, with 25-knot wind gusts and 2-3 foot waves.  We figured to plough downriver a few miles and take shelter behind Tilicum Island or one of the very few coves.  Two feet turned out to be less than a half foot, though, and with a good current behind us, we decided to press on all the way to dinner time.  Ironically, that put us at the exact same spot where we had anchored on the way north (map), but at least we knew the holding was good and we had a 4G signal. I fired up the electric BBQ while we were still underway, taking advantage of an excess of alternator power, and grilled lamb chops for dinner after we dropped the hook.

Delaware Memorial Bridges at night.

At this writing, we are anchored on a "lunch hook" just outside the eastern entrance to the Chesapeake & Delaware (C&D) Canal (map).  We weighed anchor this morning before we even finished our first coffee, to take advantage of the last of the morning ebb.  I ended up pushing against the flood for the last 20 minutes of the run, but we had a good push for the first hour and a half.  The current in the C&D can be wicked, so we are waiting here until it starts in the westbound direction, which is considered the ebb on the canal.

There is one other boat here with us in the anchorage, a sailing catamaran.   I am hoping it will be just the two of us at the head of the line when the ebb starts, because we'd like to get a spot at the free dock in Chesapeake City.  The dock is only 200' long, room for just three or four boats.  Otherwise, we will likely be anchored in that same basin.

By this time tomorrow, we will be in the upper Chesapeake.  Our friends Martin and Steph aboard Blossom are working their way north and we hope to meet up before the week is over.  We'll cruise the Chesapeake for a few days, and then join them in Baltimore for the start of Trawler Fest.


  1. Sean and Louise, I'm in DC right now, going to Chesapeake some where tomorrow, I think you have my number, niles

    1. Sent you an email, Niles. We just docked in the Baltimore area yesterday, having been over on the eastern shore and then at anchor until then.


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