Wednesday, June 9, 2021


We are under way northbound in the Atlantic Ocean, on a very long daylight run to Gravesend Bay in New York Harbor. We weighed anchor in Cape May before 5am, and we expect to have the anchor back down sometime around 11:30pm tonight. It's a long day, and I expect we'll be pretty bushed when we get in.

We had a quiet night Sunday in the Bohemia River. We had a few wakes from powerboats coming and going from the small marina upriver, but those died down after dark. The tows going by in the ship channel, and even the 700' cargo ship, barely moved us. And while I doused all the outside lights as a precaution, the bugs were not too bad, and we even got to enjoy the sunset.

We got an early start Monday to have the current behind us in the canal. Even though it is optional for us, we checked in with Canal Control when we reached Town Point. We had enough of a push that we arrived at Chesapeake City ahead of slack, and we flipped around and came alongside the fuel dock at Schaefers Canal House, in a cacophony of cicadas. We bunkered 500 gallons at just $2.55 with discount, topping off our normal capacity at the best price we will see in the northeast.

Sunset over the bridge from the Chesapeake City basin.

Our timing was perfect, as the hour we spent fueling brought us to high slack, and we crossed the canal and entered the Chesapeake City basin to anchor. As we were crossing the bar we got an urgent radio call from a boater at the dock who was quite certain we'd run aground -- there is definitely a hump in the middle of the channel that will catch any unfamiliar boaters.

Once we were in the basin we called him back and asked for depths at the docks. They shoal quickly but get dredged periodically. He reported plenty of depth, and with temperatures in the 90s and shore power beckoning, we crept across the basin to see if we could get in. No dice; the hump at the entrance extends well back into the basin, effectively separating the anchorage and the docks, and I was not willing to try to enter the dock area directly from the canal. We dropped anchor in our usual spot instead (map).

The city dock is free, but power is $15, and we actually did not spend that much running the generator, so it was no big deal. We ran the pilothouse split unit from the batteries all day, and I took some time to set up "Mr. Roboto," our freestanding unit, in the master stateroom for the season as well. We ran all the big seawater units when we ran the generator to recharge.

Sunset over our very calm anchorage on the Bohemia.

The successive decisions to skip Solomons and leave Annapolis early for the canal put us here low on provisions, and so in the heat of the day I schlepped the e-bike ashore and went to the only available option, Dollar General. The meant substituting canned, jarred, and frozen veggies for the fresh items we normally buy, but I was able to find enough items to keep us going until we can find a real grocery someplace.

We returned ashore in the evening for a nice dinner at the Chesapeake Inn. In addition to the open-air tiki bar dockside that is always popular, tonight being no exception, the Inn also has a nice terrace for their main dining room, both more shaded and much quieter. But we found the dining room itself pleasantly uncrowded, and opted to eat inside, for only our third time, instead, and stay out of the heat.

On our way to dinner we re-sounded the entry channel, as the Corps of Engineers crane boat Elizabeth had come in for the night and tied up to the east bulkhead. The good depth is right along that bulkhead, but when we sounded we found enough if I kept her close aboard on my way out. Canal Control had informed me they'd be there all morning, and the crew was away.

Since our last stop here, the Inn has completely redecorated inside and out. We remembered the dining room as covered in dark mahogany, and now it's all light and airy colors and textures, with all new furnishings. The tiki bar music stopped around 11 and we had a very calm and quiet night in the basin. It was nice to have a half day of downtime in this easy stop.

Chesapeake Inn and marina. No filter.

We timed our morning departure to get a push all the way through the rest of the canal, arriving in Delaware Bay just two hours before a favorable tide there as well. In the past we've dropped a lunch hook outside the canal to wait for the tide to change. But as we made our way through the canal, Louise-the-weather-router determined that if we hustled to Cape May, we could just make a short one-day outside window to make New York Harbor.

This stretch of coastline, along New Jersey, is one of the few inescapable ocean passages on the eastern seaboard. There's no alternate route at all from Manasquan to Sandy Hook, and the inside waters from Cape May to Manasquan are impassable for Vector. Outside weather along here can trap us for days in places like Cape May, Atlantic City, or Belmar, and has on some occasions. With only one window on the horizon, we made the decision to push to Cape May yesterday.

After we turned into the flood on the bay, running around a knot and a half, I slowed RPM down to 1400. That evens out the fuel burn of pushing against the current, and also slows us enough to give the tide a chance to overtake us. By noon the tide turned and we brought the RPM back up. It was against us again as we entered the Cap May Canal, making the last four miles a slog, but we had the hook down in a familiar spot (map) adjacent to the Coast Guard station before 6pm. A sailboat mast protruding from the water near shore bespoke some earlier drama in the anchorage.

Atlantic City, shrouded in mist.

The rain that had been forecast for 6 was pushed back till 7, and we dropped the tender and ran over to the Harbor Inn for dinner on their deck. We had a relaxing meal, but just as we were packing up, Louise spotted the storm front in the distance, moving fast. We made it back to Vector just as the heavens opened, escaping a major drenching. After the front passed and Vector was well-rinsed, we ran out and decked the tender in a lull where it was only drizzling.

We slipped out of the harbor in the pre-dawn darkness, two small boats zipping past us on our way. Anglers are an early lot. This was the first time we've done the Delaware Bay in a single day, and the first time we've done a daytime passage all way from Cape May to New York. Our preference is for a slower pace, and we try not to run to schedules, but good weather windows are hard to pass up.

The fortuitous timing and extra effort will have us in New York City nearly a week before we expected to be. We'll find plenty to do in that extra time, of course. And as a bonus, we'll arrive at our usual digs at 79th street tomorrow before our friends Julie and Glen, who are there now, drop lines for points north, so we may get to see them for an hour or two. We'll settle in for a while, so the blog will be quiet for a little bit.

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