Enough of catching up all at once. As much fun as it is looking through the photos from the journey and reminiscing on great anchorages and interesting sights, it is much more interesting to write about what we are currently cruising through. There may be a few back-dated entries that I will insert because they need to be recorded, like how amazing a cruising ground the Chesapeake Bay is, but primarily we will remain current with the river currents.
And this morning we are waking up at the foot of the Statue of Liberty (or at least as close as Homeland Security allows boats to anchor).
The trip started at 1000 on Saturday morning. It was June 21, and the summer solstice. We departed the marina at Delaware City later than usual in order to take advantage of the tidal currents as we traveled down the Delaware Bay. We ran at a fuel-efficient 1600 RPMs which would ordinarily deliver 7 mph, but with the tide’s help and the normal river flow, we cruised at over 11 mph and occasionally touched on 12. The wind was light as was the drizzle that came and went. We piloted from the lower helm rather than up on the flybridge as we normally do.
At 1700 we arrived at Cape May and anchored for a short rest before striking out into the Atlantic Ocean. The anchorage is just inside the inlet from the ocean and located in front of the U.S. Coast Guard station. It is always comforting to know that the Coast Guard is nearby, ensuring the safety of mariners.
There are several ways to tackle the last 150 miles or so, up to New York City. Many take the New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway north as long as the depths last and then travel the final 20 miles on the Atlantic. Others go outside, and taking three day-hops, coming into various inlets to anchor each night. We decided to just take the trip in one big bite and do an overnight run.
We came to that decision, not because we enjoy staying up all night, but because the weather outlook gave us an exceptional window on the Atlantic. Also, I secretly enjoy being out of sight of land – it’s one of those decidedly introspective, contemplative times. If you are plagued with being easily distracted, being out there with nothing but waves is a very calming experience.
The day’s run down the Delaware took seven hours. We rested for two hours and entered the Atlantic Ocean at 1930. The overnight run was 18 hours from Cape May to NY. The winds were light; always under 10 knots. There were no white caps or large waves, just long swells from the southeast. The tide running up and down the New Jersey coastline caused a lumpiness to the swells that imparted an uncomfortable pitching motion, but all in all, it was a good passage. If the winds had been from the southwest for the past week, then the swells would have been from that direction and the tide would have been running more in line with them and the ride would have been closer to perfection, or at least friendly. By 0300 on Sunday morning the lumpiness had subsided and the cruising became more enjoyable.
Calming though an offshore passage may be, standing watches throughout the night and early morning is decidedly tiring. As dawn came, the silhouette of the city’s skyline rose with the sun.
The marked change in scenery and the busy harbor approaches brought us fully awake and we navigated up the Ambrose channel and into New York’s lower bay, carefully navigating through the traffic. We shared the approach with sailing vessels, enormous freighters, fishing boats, fast pilot vessels scurrying back and forth, tugs pulling loaded barges, a jet ski or two, and even the occasional brave kayakers. We passed under the Verrazano Bridge that connects Staten Island to Brooklyn and ran through the narrows into the bustling harbor of New York City.
As we headed deeper into the harbor we saw the Statue of Liberty and cruised close by for a photo or two. Just behind Liberty Island is a state park with a basin and a boat ramp. There is a small anchorage within the basin and we dropped the anchor in 11 feet of water on a rising tide.