Monthly Archives: June 2015

The Empire State in a small world!

It has been a whirlwind of a few weeks and we have been quite busy with work, boat issues and (finally) getting back to our adventure. We apologize for the delay in posts, and for this long blog, but it has been crazy with no downtime to write. Here is what we have been up to….

Week of June 8th On Monday (6/8) Mark took Denise to the airport early in the morning for her flight to Houston. There she conducted 7 workshops over a period of 3.5 days and was exhausted by the time she got on the plane to fly back to Cape May. In the meantime, Mark worked from the boat and enjoyed the Canyon Club marina.

Wednesday (6/10) – The weather broke today and Mark was able to move the boat from Cape May up to Staten Island, following most of the way with Bob and Ginny (“Quattro”) who were making the run to head home to Newburyport, MA by way of Long Island Sound. Unfortunately, Mark was 8 miles south of Sandy Hook, NJ when the engine started the same initial signs we saw in the Delaware River. The difference today however, was that the seas were flat and he had been making great time.  It was obvious something was definitely wrong and we would need to have the boat looked at. He slowed the boat and managed to get into Great Kills harbor and up into Great Kills Yacht Club (GKYC) without requiring a tow. There he was met by John Calascibetta (AGLCA Harbor Host for NY) and was able to dock safely into a slip.

Atlantic City

Atlantic City

GKYC

GKYC

John C - GKYC

John C – GKYC

Thursday (6/11) – Mark researched and spent time troubleshooting on the engine issue. Eventually, he contacted Cummins as the engine is still under warranty (at least until July) and they were able to schedule a repair person to come out the next morning. It is not easy to get a repair person out so quickly, so this was greatly appreciated as we were hoping we could leave for NYC on Saturday. One thing we have learned is that it is now “the season” in the northern states, so all marine services people are extremely busy. Boats have been in storage through the winter and people are working vigorously to have their boats serviced so they can use them. After all, they only have about 3 months of the year in their boating season; one of the things we take for granted in Florida.

Friday (6/12) – Mark met with the dispatched Cummins repair person to troubleshoot the issue and it was deduced that a lift pump had failed and would need to be replaced. Unfortunately, Cummins had a new requirement that when this pump is replaced, there is a change required to some of the fuel lines, and the repair man did not have the tubing on his truck (he had the pump).  Cummins would Fed-ex the required parts to the repair guy, but he would not get them until Monday morning; and oh by the way, this guy was booked up, so they would send a different service tech out.

In the meantime, we had scheduled Jacob (nephew) to come for a visit. So, he and Denise (on her way back from Houston) met in Atlanta on Friday night, and flew to Philadelphia together. Mark got a rental car and drove the 1hr 40 minutes to get them, and then take them back to Staten Island.  The logistics of this was a nightmare into itself but we all got safely back to the boat and Mark got his Chick-Fil-A fix for dinner along the way.

Saturday (6/13), we spent a lot of time planning how best to salvage the schedule that had now been tossed out the window.  Denise had to go to Atlanta on Tuesday, and refused to allow Mark to move the boat (into NYC) without her.  So, given the weather and the boat issue, we knew that was not going to happen when Jacob was visiting.  Therefore, we decided to rent a car (AVIS free weekend rental) to see some sights and to get out of the marina.  The morning was spent doing errands (grocery shopping) and switching rental cars (Enterprise to AVIS).  That night we went out to dinner at an Italian restaurant that John C. had recommended (there are many to choose from on Staten Island). We met Sal the owner, and felt like we had stepped into an episode of Soprano’s; he had the typical gold necklace and hairdo that you would expect, and the restaurant had its share of opulent décor. The food was good and Jacob had enough pizza left over for another meal.

Cafe Luna with Jacob

Cafe Luna with Jacob

Sunday (6/14) – We got up early and drove 1.5 hours up to the US Military Academy at West Point, New York.  We arrived in time for mass at the Catholic Chapel (one of several type chapels on the grounds) and found it to be a beautiful church. The very family-oriented congregation had lots of children in attendance and almost all of the families were military or retired military.  After mass we took a scheduled tour of the West Point Chapel, the parade grounds, and the rest of the campus.  It was a beautiful day and while overlooking the Hudson River we saw several cruising boats making their way north; we were jealous and wished we were with them.  After the tour we visited the museum which is full of old guns and weapons that date back to the American Revolution.  It is really a cool museum and felt it was worth the extra time to see it.  We then had to drive back to Staten Island and were tired from all the traffic, travel and the day’s events.  Denise whipped up some fajitas for dinner and we all crashed as we were tired.

Catholic Chapel- US Military Academy

Catholic Chapel- West Point

Catholic Chapel at WP

Catholic Chapel at WP

Jacob & Mark after church

Jacob & Mark after church

US Military Academy

US Military Academy

West Point

West Point Museum

Hudson River from West Point

North Hudson River from West Point

Monday (6/15) – We knew it would be difficult to do too much as we were expecting the Cummins service guy and couldn’t stray too far from the boat. So Denise and Jacob returned the rental car, ran a few errands, and went back to the boat for lunch with Mark. As predicted, “Ritchie” didn’t show up until later in the day, but went right to work on the repair.  Once the work was done, he wanted to test the boat, so we left the dock and took it out past the entrance of Great Kills Harbor onto Raritan Bay. Ritchie had us take the boat up to 3000 rpm and doing about 28 knots (the fastest we have ever been on the boat) and Jacob was happy that he was actually getting to go out and not just be on the boat at the dock.  Almost immediately however, the engine started to reduce power and the warning for high fuel pressure came on.  We took the boat back to the dock, Ritchie checked out a few things and we deduced there was something starving the engine of fuel; most likely a clog in the line somewhere.  By this time it was late and we knew that more diagnostics were required so Ritchie made plans to come back in the morning.  Needless to say, we knew we would not be leaving Staten Island this week and were quite disappointed. But, we knew we had to fix the boat before we could go on.

Ritchie - Cummins Mechanic

Ritchie – Cummins Mechanic

Tuesday (6/16) – Ritchie showed up at 8:00 am as promised and got right to work. After several tests and through a process of elimination it was determined there was a blockage coming from the fuel tank. Once the fuel tank access plate was located Ritchie was able to remove the fuel lift tube and examine it.  There is a screen on the bottom of the tube that is used to prevent stuff from going into the fuel lines, and this is where a putty-like substance was found. What we didn’t know is how much of this stuff is in the tank. After the screen was cleaned and the boat put back together, we took the boat out for another sea trial.  Again we ran the boat hard (25 kts) for about 30 minutes and it ran without issue. So, we felt like this issue was at least temporarily resolved, but it could reappear without warning. This did not give us a warm comfortable feeling and we were worried that we might get hung up again somewhere else.

The culprit

The culprit

As this was no longer a Cummins engine issue, Ritchie’s work was done. He left us with some gloomy options for getting the fuel and tank cleaned, including the possibility of cutting the fiberglass deck to get to the fuel tank’s access plate.  If this was required, we would have to move the boat to have this done as the GKYC is a club and does not have a service facility or resources that could do the work. Forgetting about the potential delay this would have on our trip, this would involve big bucks and was very dispiriting. This was a very low moment; it was difficult to be excited about our adventure and continuing on.

But we decided that before any action would be taken, Mark would solicit input from others and see what options we might glean from the experiences of others in the boating community. Denise had to fly to Atlanta for the rest of the week, so Mark rented a car and took her to the airport.  This would also enable him to get Jacob to the airport the next day.  He and Jacob had a nice dinner at Coles, one of several restaurants that are right near the GKYC.

Wednesday through Friday (6/17 – 6/19) – While Denise worked at a client site, Mark investigated the options and consulted others about our situation. He posted our situation on the AGLCA blog and most all the responses said the same thing: “remove the screen and let the fuel filters do their job”.  So he enlisted one of the local mechanics used by people at the club to remove the screen and put in place a plan to monitor the fuel filter vacuum pressure once under way.

On Friday afternoon he picked up Denise up at the airport and they made plans to leave GKYC the next morning.  The weather was going to deteriorate late Saturday and it would be a few more days before there would be a good time to make the run up to NYC. So it was now or never! Several other Loopers pulled into the marina that day, including Clay & Sally (“SaSea Sally”) and Elizabeth and Jim (“Heron”); whom we had met at the AGLCA Rendezvous in Norfolk.  It was fun to talk about our different travels and places we had visited.  They were planning to stay in Staten Island a few days before heading into NYC but we may meet up with them again along the loop.

Staten Island is a very interesting place. It is like one big residential neighborhood, with a million bagel shops (one on every corner- ala Starbucks style), only outnumbered by Italian restaurants. There are several areas of rolling hills around a golf course, big houses and small houses, and a huge ($14) toll to get on the island from New Jersey. There is also a beautiful state park (Great Kills) near the club, all of which was destroyed during hurricane Sandy in 2012, along with all the marina’s in the harbor. But the people are resilient and have rebuilt their community. At GKYC the people were terrific and were a wealth of information in helping us out. We cannot thank them enough for their hospitality and for opening up their club to us.  And a special thanks goes to John C. who was a wonderful Harbor Host who made recommendations and took Mark on errands when needed.  Thanks John!

Hurricane Sandy leftovers

Hurricane Sandy leftovers

GKYC Mooring field at Sunset

GKYC Mooring field at Sunset

GKYC Dry storage yard Marina in background

GKYC Dry storage yard
Marina in background

 

Saturday (6/20) – We left GKYC early as the winds were predicted to increase as the day went on. It was drizzling outside and not the best day, but we knew we had to give it a try (we knew we could always go back if we needed to).  Of course we were nervous about the engine, so we set a plan in place to check the fuel vacuum pressure every hour and be proactive in replacing the filter if it got too high.  The waves were on our nose and although initially small, they were building the further away from the harbor we got.  As we approached the channel to NY Harbor, we had to turn left and then they were crashing on our side, causing the boat to roll. It was a flashback to the Delaware Bay crossing and Denise was not a happy camper.  There was concern about the stirring up the debris in the fuel tank, as well as negotiating the harbor channel with an inbound large container ship coming up on us.  Fortunately, we were able to tuck behind a small island as we approached the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and it blocked the wind enough to settle the boat down. Once through the bridge the waves were smaller and the passage was easier.

Container in NY channel

Container in NY channel

Verrazona Narrows Bridge

Verrazano Narrows Bridge

Shortly after entering NY harbor and negotiating two anchored container ships, two barges underway, and the Staten Island Ferry, Mark checked the fuel filter vacuum pressure and it was at 10 (high).  We needed to replace the fuel filter as soon as possible.  So we made a beeline for the Statue of Liberty and anchored behind it for wind protection.  After 30 minutes we were able to head back through NY Harbor, around Ellis Island, in front of the Battery in NYC and head up the Hudson River. It was still windy, cloudy and overcast, but it had stopped raining.  It was still a thrill to take our boat through NY City and enjoy the skyline.

Mark changing fuel filter

Mark changing fuel filter

Lady Liberty - leaving anchorage

Lady Liberty – leaving anchorage

 

NYC Skyline

NYC Skyline

We made our way up the Hudson River passing such cool sights as the George Washington Bridge, the Tappan Zee Bridge, the towns of Sleepy Hollow and Sing-Sing prison.  We arrived at Half Moon Bay Marina in the town “Croton on Hudson” (eastern shore) without any further issue and the fuel vacuum pressure stayed in an acceptable range all day.

GW Bridge

GW Bridge

Tarrytown Light

Tarrytown Light

Western cliffs

Hudson River Western cliffs

 

Mark Driving on the Hudson

Mark Driving on the Hudson

Sing sing Prison

Sing-Sing Prison

At the marina our boat was put into a slip right next to a Back Cove 41.   We would later meet Tim & Leslie (“Two Drifters”) who we had met in Charleston in August. At the time we purchased our boat, they were taking delivery of their Back Cove from the same dealer.  They had taken the boat from Charleston to Maine, and were now heading up the Hudson to continue their Great Loop adventure. What a small world!

The cove where the marina is located is pretty with condominiums on land and a large walking trail all around the eastern shore.  On the southern tip of the cove is a large park and this weekend was a music festival (Clearwater’s Great Music Festival) with lots of different artists; most of whom we didn’t know. We encountered many loopers at this marina, some of whom attended the festival and said it was very crowded, but entertaining.  It did begin to rain so Mark and I ate leftovers for dinner and stayed close to the boat for the rest of the evening.  It had been a long and adventurous day and we were tired.  We were so thankful for safe passage and happy that our boat was performing back to normal. We will continue to monitor the fuel vacuum pressure, but hopefully the problem will not reappear.

Half Moon Bay Marina

Half Moon Bay Marina

Sunday (6/21) – We started the day with a brisk one mile walk up the hill to the town of Croton on Hudson to attend church at Holy Name of Mary.  We had dodged a few sprinkles along the way, but had brought our big golf umbrella and were able to stay mostly dry.  We were greeted by a very nice man (“Nick”) who noticed we were visitors. He introduced himself and we told him of our loop adventure. Later he offered to give us a ride back to the marina due to the rain.  We had wanted to go to breakfast at a restaurant in town, but he suggested another diner that was “better food” and actually closer to the marina.  He and his wife “Pat” took us to Croton Colonial Diner and were so helpful about what to do and see in the area.

Holy Name of Mary Church

Holy Name of Mary Church

Nick & Pat

Nick & Pat

As we had been consumed with boat issues (Mark) and business travel (Denise), we really needed some time to do paperwork and other miscellaneous business tasks.  So we spent most of the day working in our “Island Office” to put our affairs in order.  Since it was very windy and rainy, it seemed like the perfect time to play catch up.  Eventually the rain stopped and the skies cleared, but the wind continued to blow quite a bit, creating a lot of rocking on the boat.  Denise was having flashbacks of the shakeup in the Yorktown marina and eventually had enough; she mandated a walk to get off the boat and put our feet on solid ground.  We walked up to the building that houses the marina office and went to the community room upstairs where we were able to sit in big overstuffed comfortable chairs for a while. It was just what was needed as within an hour the current shifted and the waves died down enough for us to go back on the boat.

During our walk we met several other Loopers including Bill and Donna (“Renegade”) whose boat is so named as they are FSU fans and their children attend! It truly is a small world! We also met Bear & Gerry (“Bear Holiday”) and Kevin & Chris (“Sweet Sensation”) who are on a sailboat and are from England. Onboard they had friends who were visiting, but were headed home shortly.  They were leaving HMB marina as they had to go have their mast taken down so they could continue on the loop. I am sure we will see them again soon.

Bear & Gerry  "Bear Holiday"

Bear & Gerry “Bear Holiday”

Since we had a big breakfast at the diner, we opted to skip lunch and just eat an early dinner.  Mark decided to take a nap (and yes, he did bring it back) – and Denise decided to work on the blog. Around 5:00 Denise did a quick check of the weather and the alert went out that there was a severe thunderstorm approaching and would arrive in 30 minutes. You would never know it because over the marina the sky was clear, but looking west there were dark clouds building on the western shore of the Hudson. We had already mapped at a Bar-B-Q place (Mae’s) to go for dinner that night that was a 5 -10 minute walk from the marina. Denise woke Mark up and they left almost immediately. Along the way we ran into Rick the assistant dock master who offered us ride, and we accepted.  By the time we got seated in the restaurant, the sky had opened up and it was pouring outside. How lucky we were to have checked the weather when we did.  Since it was Father’s day the restaurant was very crowded so it took longer than it should have to get waited on and get our food, but we didn’t care.  It was worth the wait as it was delicious. Eventually, we finished our meal about the time the sky cleared and we walked back to the boat with leftovers in hand.

Rick - Asst Dockmaster

Rick – Asst Dockmaster

Dinner out

Dinner out

Ribs at Memphis Mae

Ribs at Memphis Mae

Monday (6/22) – Up at the crack of dawn, Denise decided to take advantage of a wonderful trail that ran along the Hudson River, so she took off on a 3-mile run. It was the first opportunity to run in nearly 2 weeks, but the scenery made it all bearable.  There is a beautiful 911 memorial at the end of the trail that is a sundial made from one of the beams from the WTC. It was really something special to see.

911 Memorial Sundial

911 Memorial Sundial

We decided to leave Croton on Hudson and move north up the river to Kingston.  One of the “must see” things on our list was to visit the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and the Vanderbilt estate home. These are on the eastern side of the Hudson and certainly easier to get to (via train) from Croton on Hudson. However, the CIA dining rooms were not open on Sunday or Monday and we didn’t want to stay at Half Moon Bay for 4 days.  So we made the decision to leave with plans to rent a car in Kingston and drive there on Tuesday.  Denise made reservations at the CIA for the tour in the late afternoon and then for dinner, and then we untied the dock lines and headed out.

Just North of Croton on Hudson, on the western shore is a fuel stop that is well known for cheap prices, so we decided to use this opportunity to get a fill-up. While filling the tanks we met John Panebianco, part owner of this family-run business.  His wife Lorraine also happened to be there so we had a chance to meet her and learn a little about their business. He is very informative about the Hudson River valley and very friendly.

John & Louanne Panebianco

John & Louanne Panebianco

From there we headed up the Hudson River to explore more of this spectacularly beautiful area.  Along the way we passed some great sights like the US Military Academy (West Point) – what a thrill to now be seeing this from the river.  We also passed the Bear Mountain Bridge, the Vanderbilt House, the CIA, several lighthouses, and lots of huge homes on the river (what DO these people do for a living?). We also passed under the “Walkway over the Hudson” – an old railway bridge in Poughkeepsie that has been converted to a pedestrian and bike path that is 212’ above the water.  It is up there!

Bear Mt Bridge

Bear Mt Bridge

Marina and Academy - West Point

Marina and Academy – West Point

Gillis Field House - Beat AF; Sink Navy

Gillis Field House – Beat AF; Sink Navy

Hudson R home

Hudson River home

Walk Over the Hudson Bridge - Poughkeepsie

Walk Over the Hudson Bridge – Poughkeepsie

Esopus Meadow Lighthouse

Esopus Meadow Lighthouse

Along the way we zoomed past all of the looper boats who had left the marina in advance of us, but who go a lot slower.  Eventually, four of us arrived into the Rondout Yacht Basin in Kingston, where we gathered that evening for some “docktails” and getting to know each other.  Here we spent time with Seminoles Bill & Donna (“Renegade”), Bruce & Ginny (“Snug Tug”) and Mike & Carolyn (“Patriyachtik”) sharing our travel plans and adventures we have been on.

Rondout Marina

Rondout Marina

Carolyn & Mke ("Patriyachtic")

Carolyn & Mke (“Patriyachtic”)

Ginny & Bruce "Snug Tug"

Ginny & Bruce “Snug Tug”

Tuesday (6/23) – We started the day sharing a pickup by Enterprise car rental with Mike & Carolyn so we could pick up cars and go our own separate ways. From there we went to Wal-Mart and loaded up on things we know will be difficult or more expensive to get in Canada. We took our items back to the boat, dodging raindrops and wind the whole way. It was a good day to be land-based on not trying to make a passage somewhere.

We then drove the 20 miles across the river and through a few very cute small towns to the Vanderbilt estate home that is now part of the National Parks. Once again we got to use our annual pass and got in free.  This house is much smaller than the “summer” home (the Breakers) in Newport Rhode Island, but it is just as amazing.  We really enjoyed the tour there and found the grounds to be breathtaking. It was especially cool to look down on the Hudson River where we had just motored our boat.

Vanderbilt Mansion

Vanderbilt Mansion

We then moved on down the road to the FDR Home; also a national park with the very first Presidential Library.  We got there just in time to see the short movie and then a tour of the home. Unfortunately, we did not have time to see the library, but it was really interesting to see this home where FDR was born and lived. Far from grandeur like the Vanderbilt estate, knowing the Queen of England had slept in one of the bedrooms was pretty amazing, especially considering how small they were.

FDR Home

FDR Home

From there we continued down the highway to the CIA where we had reservations for the 4:00 tour.  This is a student-led event and it gave us an opportunity to interact with the students and hear about their curriculum.  The tour included seeing the kitchens which were active with students in their afternoon classes. We also got to see their auditorium and one of the cooking theatres used for demonstrations. It is a unique curriculum with students obtaining either a 2 year or 4 year degree in the Culinary Arts. If they choose the BS degree, they actually have a few areas of specialty (applied food studies, culinary science, etc.).  Students have to choose from the start a bakery or a culinary emphasis and cannot double major. All this for $44,000 per year – but the meal plan is included in this! HA

Tour Guides

Student Tour Guides

There are 3 restaurants and a café on the campus, and we had dinner at American Bounty – the restaurant that highlights locally grown or acquired food (farm to table concept).  The students run the kitchen and the dining room under the direction of a head chef/Instructor. We were fortunate to get a tour of the kitchen when they were in the heat of the evening rush – it was HOT and hectic!  The food was really good and it was a fun experience. We also ran into fellow loopers Elizabeth and Jim (“Heron”) who told us of their running aground near West Point and now their boat is out of the water getting some fiberglass work done.  It will take them about 2 weeks for this to be completed and will set them back on their schedule.  This made us very grateful for our safe passage and thankful our fuel issues seem to be behind us.

Before dinner

Before dinner

Waitress Sam

CIA – Waitress Sam

We took a different route back to the marina that took us through the town of Poughkeepsie and back over the river on the Mid-Hudson Bridge that is right next to the “Walkway over the Hudson” Bridge we passed the day before. It was a fun-filled day packed with lots of walking and sightseeing and we were exhausted.

Wednesday (6/24) – In the morning Mark returned the rental car while Denise prepared the boat for the trip up to New Baltimore.  It was a short 3 hour run with spectacular views of green forests and the Catskill Mountains in the background. We spotted two deer along the eastern banks of the river, and the water became less brackish and prettier. The sky was clear with few clouds, and the wind was breezy but not bad.  It was a great day to be on the water.

Farm with Catskills behind

Farm with Catskills behind

 

Saugerties Lighthouse

Saugerties Lighthouse

We pulled into Shady Harbor Marina and did a pump-out of the holding tank first. While we were doing this, Brian (the owner whom we met in Coinjock and saw again in Norfolk) came down the dock excited to see us. He shook Mark’s hand and claimed “I want my hug” to Denise. He is a warm, friendly & happy soul who is fun to be with.

Shady Harbor Marina

Shady Harbor Marina

After we got put into a slip and settled the boat, we went to work on our domestic chores; Mark washed the boat and Denise did the laundry. During that time, AJ (see Coinjock post in early May) came by to say hello. We met his significant other (Tim), but they could not stay and we won’t be able to see them again before we leave.  It was fun to catch up with him, even if for a brief visit.

Laundry Day!

Laundry Day!

Later we met up with the other loopers in the marina, had “docktails”, and then ate dinner together at The Boathouse; the restaurant on premises at the marina.  In total there were 8 of us including Mike L. & Carolyn (“Patriyachtik”), Mike F. & Lois (“Inch-n-Along”), and Bill & Donna (“Renegade”). Mike L. kept us in stitches with his Texas-sized humor and observations of life.  Truly the guy should be in stand-up comedy.  Owner Brian brought by a tray of the house favorite “mini beers” to top off a very fun evening.

Mike & Carolyn "Patriyachtik"

Mike & Carolyn “Patriyachtik”

DSCN1786c

Bill & Donna “Renegade”

 

Mike & Lois Fannon "Inch N Along"

Mike & Lois Fannon “Inch N Along”

Mini Beers

Mini Beers

Today was a beautiful day filled with fellowship and fun; a perfect looping day!

Thursday (6/25) – Unfortunately, it was a work day for us. Mark had an all-afternoon training session (part 1) with a client, and Denise had a conference call.  She also spent a good part of the day reading and planning for the Erie Canal part of the trip, as well as cataloging pictures and working on this blog.

In the evening we got together with loopers Mike & Lois (“Inch-n-Along”) for a cookout and picnic dining. Afterwards we got a tour of their boat (a North Pacific Pilothouse) and met their cat, Addie.  Our other looping friends all headed north today, and we bid them farewell. We hope to see them somewhere else along the loop as we had great fun with them.

Picnic area, pool & bathhouse

Picnic area, pool & bathhouse

Later when we were back on the boat, we saw a couple walking on the dock and they stopped to chat.  Almost instantly we recognized it was Mike (see Coinjock post) and his wife Erin who keep their boat in this marina.  We chatted for a while and they offered us the use of their car. They were spending the night on the boat as their child had a sitter (Grandpa) and they had 2 cars at the marina.  We learned that Erin is from a nearby small town (Delmar) that her family settled in the 1700’s and she is a direct descendant of them. This is so indicative of the friendly people who live in these parts and whom we have been lucky to meet.

"Hale-mobile"

“Hale-mobile”

Friday (6/26) – Again today we had work to do; Mark had another all-afternoon training session (part 2) and Denise had a late afternoon conference call.  So, in the morning we borrowed Erin’s car and drove to get a prescription refill and some more sandwich meat for the trip along the canal where stores are limited.  This afforded us the opportunity to see this part of New York, which we both agree we would never have explored if not for this trip.

During the day our friends Bruce & Ginny (“Snug Tug”) whom we met in Kingston came in on their boat.  So in the evening we got together with them as well as Mike & Lois (“Inch-n-Along”) for dinner at The Boathouse again.  Of course Brian was walking around making sure everyone was having fun, only tonight we had a chance to meet his wife Cathy (aka ‘Corporate’) and his son James. As we had seen their daughter Laura (whom we had met in Norfolk) earlier in the day, we now felt like we were friends with the whole family.

Mike &; Lois (InchNAlong) and Ginny &; Paul (Snug Tug)

Mike & Lois (InchNAlong) + Ginny &; Paul (Snug Tug)

Brian & Cathy

Brian & Cathy

While we were at dinner, we watched a plane come up the Hudson River and land, then turn around and take off. It had everyone’s attention in the restaurant.

Practice landing

Practice landing

The marina here is in a place surrounded by lush trees and lots of nature. There is a pool, fire pit, Bar-B-Q grills, covered picnic tables, a nice bathhouse, and laundry facilities.  This is in addition to the restaurant, ships store, haul-out facilities and boat storage.  It is a first class operation and Brian and his family make it a happy place to visit. This is one of our favorite spots we have visited on the loop.

Morning at the marina

Morning at the marina

Tomorrow (Saturday) we will leave and head to Waterford, along with the loopers here in the marina. From there we will head through the Erie and Oswego canals and on into Canada.  Sometime along the way we will update you with more of our trip.  Until then, please stay healthy and safe!

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Pleasantly Surprised!

What a whirlwind of a weekend we had at home. It was great to see some of you and to spend a little time with family and our house. But were we ever busy with little to no downtime.  Mark left Sunday and flew back to Baltimore. He was picked up by Greg Franklin Sr. (AGLCA Harbor Host for Baltimore area) and managed to have a good dinner with him before getting back to the boat.

On Monday (6/1), Denise flew to Atlanta and worked at a client until Tuesday (6/2) night when she joined Mark at the Maryland Yacht Club. During her absence, Mark was loaned Greg’s truck, was able to get a few groceries and do a few errands.  Denise finally joined him late Tuesday night, but not before being stood up by the cab who was supposed to meet her at BWI.

Wednesday, 6/3/15 – This was probably the hardest and worst day we have had on this whole trip. We said goodbye to Maryland Yacht Club amid high winds and cool temperatures with rain possible. However, it was predicted to be calmer later in the day. The wind was out of the NE and we were headed into an area that offered a lot of protection, so we made the decision to continue our trip as originally planned.

Leaving MYC

Leaving MYC

We got out onto the Patapsco River and we were taking a bit of a beating for about an hour and half. At the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay we had to stop the boat to tighten up the dinghy as the waves were crashing in on it. As we continued heading north, the Bay got narrow and the land blocked the wind, so the waves calmed a bit. Still, it was rainy and cold. The Maryland coastline on both sides here is quite different then in the lower Chesapeake; it is more mountainous and has lots of farmland. There are pockets of housing areas, but much of it is rural and really quite pretty.

MD farm on Eastern shore

MD farm on Eastern shore

On the water, there were no there cruisers and we felt kind of out there alone…except for the barge traffic. Although you can see these barges for miles, you should stay clear from them as they push a tremendous amount of water and can create a huge wake even when they are going slow.

Passing the first barge

Passing the first barge

Passing 2nd barge - Look at the water he is pushing off his bow

Passing 2nd barge – Look at the water he is pushing off his bow

We finally passed two of them before entering the C&D Canal (Chesapeake & Delaware Canal) and we were grateful for not having to negotiate doing so in the very narrow canal.

Entering C&D - Rescue & recovery boat

Entering C&D – Rescue & recovery boat

Once in the C&D Canal we passed Chesapeake City, a small community that is actually split in two by the water.

Scaefer's Village & Marina Chesapeake City - North

Schaefer’s Village & Marina
Chesapeake City – North

Chesapeake City

Chesapeake City – South side

Leaving Chesapeake City Bridge

Leaving Chesapeake City Bridge

To the South (Starboard) side is the downtown area that has a city marina and anchorage that many cruisers stop at before going on to Cape May, NJ. We too should have stopped here….but we pressed on as it was only lunchtime. On the North (port) side is the Army Corps of Engineers dock, a restaurant, and then homes or rural roads along the way. Further up the canal there is also the North Summit Marina – another looper stopping point….and we should have stopped here too, but we pressed on.

The canal is 12 miles long, averages about 100 yards wide, and has 6 bridges that pass over it, none of which are low enough to require an opening by most vessels. This is key as this canal is used by commercial and pleasure craft alike. But today there was no boat traffic to speak of. One cruising yacht blew past us, we passed a slower trawler, and then there was an Army Corps of Engineer’s Boat doing depth soundings.  That was it.  But the water was flat and the wind blocked by the land, so we were quite happy!  At this point we also entered our seventh state: Delaware.

Around 1:00 we left the C&D Canal and entered the Delaware River, feeding into the Delaware Bay.  It is a very large waterway that takes commercial vessels up to Philadelphia, so needless to say it was very busy.  We saw container ships after container ships, and therefore were anxious to get out of the channel and run parallel to it on the New Jersey side of the River.  Although it is shallow near shore, the River is quite wide and outside the channel there is still plenty of water. This would prove helpful to us later as we made our way through our eighth state.

Power Plant on the Delaware River

Power Plant on the Delaware River

Ship John Shoal Light

Ship John Shoal Light – Delaware River

For the first hour or so, the wind was blowing, but the seas were tolerable and we made good progress. Eventually, we came to the area where the river becomes the Delaware Bay and it is quite wide (with land barely in sight) and the seas started to build. Worse, the wind had shifted and instead of waves crashing on the bow of the boat, they were knocking us on the side and had our boat rolling.  We tried to run closer to the shoreline without losing our heading too much but it was difficult to do this and still make a direct heading to the western channel of the Cape May Canal. We were less than 10 miles (25 minutes) from the entrance and couldn’t wait to get there. It was miserable and we were really taking a beating……and then the engine died!

One of the worst fears of a boat owner is that something bad will happen to the boat. When you have a single engine, your worst fear is that your only source of power will fail you, and this was certainly Denise’s.  When the engine dies and you are in such seas, everything gets tossed around and you cannot control the boat. We had dishes flying out of the cabinet, books sliding off the racks, and anything that was not super securely tied down ended up on the floor. Fortunately, Mark is an experienced captain; he knew exactly what to do.  We immediately put out an anchor and pointed the boat into the wind.  This helped with the rolling and with keeping Denise from getting seasick. Fortunately, we were running outside the shipping channel and we were only in 25 feet of water so we could anchor.

We quickly deduced that the problem was most likely a clogged fuel filter. We had had this same problem on our sailboat and it occurs when the rough seas stir up any sediments on the bottom of a fuel tank and causes the filter to not be able to handle it all. It gets clogged and won’t feed fuel to the engine.  The difference on a sailboat is that you can hoist a sail and settle the boat while you change the filter. Unfortunately, this was not an option and we were not going to be able to change the fuel filter with the wave conditions we were in.  To add a further complication we notice a small puddle of water on the floor in the galley. We thought it was coming from the sink but it wasn’t and we went into search mode. No water was filling in the bilge and it wasn’t very much, so we were not panicked, but we did want to know where it came from. However, our bigger concern at this point was moving and we needed to get into port before we could address the water issue. (We later determined it was from the refrigerator that had its contents tossed about when we were in the heavy waves.)

So, we called TowBoatUS and they dispatched a boat which arrived within the hour.  Thank goodness we were close to a port.  The TowBoatUS captain (Benny) was awesome telling us what to do each step of the way. He towed us through the Cape May Canal, and right to the South Jersey Marina where we had a reservation (and had been in communication with).  Once there, the dockhands (who stayed late and waited for us) were superb in helping us tie up the boat.  The best part was that our TowBoatUS insurance (less than $200/yr) paid for the tow which otherwise would have been $860.  If you ever buy a boat, get the unlimited towing option insurance; it is well worth it!

Rough weather in tow

Rough weather in tow

Once at the dock we quickly went to work to put the boat back together again and get a good night’s sleep. It had been a very long day, we were very tired, and we knew we had a maintenance issue facing us the next day.

Thursday, 6/4/15 – We got up to high winds and overcast skies. Not a great day to do much but fix a broken boat.  Mark quickly realized that the spare primary fuel filter (not the spare engine fuel filter from Solomon’s – see prior post) was the incorrect one. Fortunately, the marina ship store had one and they didn’t gauge us too badly for it. We replaced it on the boat, bought a second one for a spare, and ran the engine, which started up right away. We immediately noticed the fuel pressure was back in the normal range and the boat was back in running order. In hindsight, we learned a thing or two about “signs” that our boat had given, but we didn’t understand what it was telling us. Like a sick child or puppy, there are things that start going on before real sickness actually happens.  Now we know the signs for this issue on this boat.

The marina had put us on an end dock when we came in under tow, but they were not going to let us stay there. Scheduled to come in was a 90’ yacht and we were going to have to move to an actual slip.  Normally this would not have been an issue, but with the wind blowing like crazy and fears of our engine stalling, Denise was nervous. However, with the help of the dockhands (Nick actually got on our boat to help grab the lines) we got moved ok and the boat ran great. This helped to assuage fears of a major boat issue.

Dockhand Nick

Dockhand Nick

Dockhand Tommy

Dockhand Tommy

After the boat was moved and we cleaned it, we were able to finally get showers and settle in a bit.  The first thing that we observed was that we were at the best marina. The staff is incredibly helpful; there is a great marina “ship store”; it is within walking distance to most of anything you want to see in Cape May, and their shower facilities ROCK. They are without a doubt, the best shower and laundry facilities of any marina on the East Coast.

South Jersey Marina Bathroom

South Jersey Marina Bathroom

We had read that they were the best, and now we got to experience this first class set up.  We have stayed in hotels that were not this nice, and these are definitely nicer than the ones in most people’s homes. After yesterday’s harrowing experience, we welcomed this little bit of pampering.   We also noticed that this is where all the “big boys” pull in, and there were plenty of big yachts that docked here too.

Earlier in the day we had met a couple whose boat was a few slips away from us; they were on a Sabre 38 (Sabre owns Back Cove). Bob and Ginny (“Quattro”) are from Newburyport, MA and they used to have a Back Cove. Their boat is so named because they have 4 grandchildren, but recently learned that #5 is on the way; they are refusing to rename the boat.  We went to dinner with them at a place across the street from the marina called Lucky Bones. It was good and we had a nice time getting to know them and discussing their (come to find out) purchases of several Back Cove/Sabre boats over a handful of years. Additionally we learned that Bob was in medical device manufacturing and he and Denise had a lot to discuss.

Bob & Ginny DePasqua

Bob & Ginny DePasqua

Friday, 6/5/15 – We woke up to cold, rainy weather and the wind blowing like crazy.  We spent the rest of the day trying to figure out our next steps. It was clear that the weather was not going to be favorable for a few days and we needed to rethink our plans to get up the coast of NJ and into NY. Denise had to fly to Houston on Monday and we needed to make sure there was a place for Mark to stay with the boat.  With two days left to go if there was a chance to get to Staten Island, NY we really wanted to be there. It would offer easier access to an airport and get us back on our original schedule.  We researched and looked at all the options, including taking the slower, shallower route up the NJ ICW. We asked the opinion of a local fishing Captain (“I would never take my boat up the inner route”) and if we got it to Atlantic City where would he stay (he wouldn’t – too seedy a place).  We listened to an AGLCA’s podcast regarding going up the NJ ICW and it was suggested that you should never attempt it on a weekend; there are just too many boaters on the water. Here we were facing a weekend of ICW if we chose this route, and uncertain we could make the final leg into NY before Monday.

While we were sitting there discussing our options (and cussing the weather gods), we noticed looper friends Lynn & Jonathon (“Zendo”), whom we met in Norfolk were docking in the slip next to ours.  What luck!  After they got settled we had a chance to talk with them about their plans. They were leaving the next day to go the inner route (ICW) to Atlantic City, and then had to fly home to close on the house they sold in Ponte Vedra Beach. In addition to selling this house and doing the loop, they are relocating back into their old house in Miami.  What a challenge they have.   They had come from Delaware City, across the Delaware Bay that morning and had a rough ride. Fortunately for them they made the passage with another boat and had not had engine issues like we did.  They introduced us to Cornell & Alice (“Red Ranger” – a little Ranger Tug boat – red of course) who docked a few slips away.  We had a great opportunity to discuss our plans to go north and how the weather was holding us all back.

Unfortunately, because of Denise’s work, we needed to make a decision and purchase a plane ticket so she could fly out of some nearby airport. Also, this meant Mark would have to sit somewhere for the week and not move the boat by himself. We already knew that the marina would only allow us to stay past Wednesday as they had a big shark fishing tournament starting then and they were sold out. As luck would have it, their sister marina (Canyon Cove) was only 1 mile away in the harbor and they could accommodate us for the week.  Based on that, we decided to stay in Cape May for the week, explore the area on Saturday, and move the boat to the new marina on Sunday. Then on Monday, Denise could fly to Houston from Philadelphia (1.5 hrs away). Mark got a rental car starting Saturday and will return it after taking Denise to the airport on Monday morning.

Our friends Bob and Ginny (“Quattro”) decided to rent a car and make the drive home for the weekend; coming back on Tuesday or Wednesday to move their boat further north later in the week when the weather breaks.  They had things to do at home and asked us to keep an eye on their boat.

With these affairs settled we were able to finally enjoy ourselves a little bit. After cocktails on board we joined with Lynn & Jonathon and Cornell & Alice and went to the famous “Lobster House” for dinner.  It is an institution in Cape May as they have some of the freshest fish around. The shrimp and crab boats dock right behind their restaurant, and they have a fish market in the front of the restaurant.  Our food was good, but not great, but now we can say we have been to this famous establishment.

Looper Dinner with Lynn,  Jonathon, Alice & Cornell

Looper Dinner with Lynn, Jonathon, Alice & Cornell

Mark & Jonathon on the way back from dinner

Mark & Jonathon on the way back from dinner

Saturday 6/6/15 – Up at the crack of dawn with a beautiful sunrise in the making, Denise went for a run into the town of Cape May and along the shoreline.  It was amazing to see all the beautiful old Victorian homes and the famous Cape May Inn.  The asphalt boardwalk made for a very comfortable run with no cars to contend with and a beautiful flat sea to look at most of the way. There were a few runners out and a few people walking, trying to get it all in before the weather turned ugly during the day.

Cape May Victorian

Cape May Victorian

Cape May Beach

Cape May Beach

The Inn at Cape May

The Inn at Cape May

Because we had pristine laundry room at the marina, we chose to get a couple of loads done in the morning until the rental car from Enterprise was delivered. Then we made a run to the local Wal-Mart for a few items, but discovered a Five-Guys in the same shopping center and made it our lunch stop for the day. Of course while we were eating it started to rain and within 5 minutes it was pouring with lightning and thunderstorms.  We made our way down to Wal-Mart and hung out in the store for a while until the weather subsided. This delayed us a bit and as a result we bagged the idea of going to an afternoon movie; something we had been considering since we had the rental car.  (Thanks for the recommendations Susan G).

Our Lady Star of the Sea

Our Lady Star of the Sea

Instead we decided to go back to the boat and drop off our purchases and then make 4:00 pm mass at Our Lady Star of the Sea (yup, another one –seems to be the common name for catholic churches near the beach).  From there we walked down the Cape May Mall (strip of unique shops) and then around the block to Mario’s where we ordered a pizza and some delicious garlic knots. We drove around the town of Cape May a bit to see the sights.  We went by beautiful large homes right on the water that are clearly rental homes for large groups.  We also drove by the Coast Guard station which is a training center and has dorms, and around a few older neighborhoods that clearly catered to the retired crowd.

Eventually, we went back to the marina and along with a handful of other boaters crowded into the laundry room to watch the running of the Belmont Stakes on the large flat panel TV screen. It was a glorious Triple Crown victory for American Pharaoh and fun to celebrate this exciting moment with others.

Of course by now the sky had cleared up and the storms were gone, but the wind was still blowing quite a bit.  We watched several boats come into the marina and needed every amount of help to dock.  We watched one fishing boat get so turned around that the dockhands eventually had him attempt entering into a different slip on a different pier.  It was pure chaos and the dockhands earned their wages this evening. Of course all the boaters were trying to avoid hitting the large yachts, especially Aphrodite, a fully restored 1939 wooden boat located on the end of the first pier. It was a beautiful vessel docked perpendicular to our boat, so we had front-row seats to check her out.

Aphrodite at South Jersey Marina

Aphrodite at South Jersey Marina

Sunday 6/7/15 – The storms from yesterday ushered in cool weather again, so we woke up to needing sweatshirts, at least until the morning sun was able to warm things up a bit.  Although the sky was blue and there were not clouds, the wind was still blowing a bit with forecasts of increasing throughout the day.  We eventually moved the boat to Canyon Club Marina and got them to take Mark back to South Jersey Marina so he could retrieve the rental car.  Although this marina is nice and has a pool (not that we will be putting our toes in the frigid water), it is still not as nice as SJM.  We will miss the very good dockhands there, the wonderful amenities, and the closeness to the town.  It is also a huge fishing boat marina, so there are not as many cruisers to hang out with.  Mark will just have to get by!

Canyon Club Resort

Canyon Club Resort

Our dock at Canyon Club Resort

Our dock at Canyon Club Resort – lots of big fishing boats!

We spent the afternoon on the boat doing work, prepping for the week ahead and making advanced reservations for marinas up the Hudson Bay (if we ever get there).  Mark talked with our new friend Bob (“Quattro) to advise him that all was well with his boat when we left, and that we had moved marinas.  They also discussed the possibility of having one of their friend’s ride along with Mark and following them north at least to Sandy Hook, should the weather window open on Wednesday as it looks like it could. Of course this will present a whole logistics issue for Denise on Friday as she will be flying into Philadelphia, but we will fix that only if Mark can get the boat up to Staten Island, and not by himself.  Also a factor in all this is that Jacob (Mark’s nephew) is supposed to be joining us for the leg up the Hudson Bay and he too will be flying into Philly and meeting up with Denise, unless we are able to reschedule his visit out a week.  Oh the joys of planning around the weather when you are on a boat!

All in all we have been pleasantly surprised with our stay in Cape May. Although it is a beach town with typical beach things (surf shops, arcades, putt-putt golf, ice cream shops, etc.) it is not as ticky-tacky as we were expecting, and in fact it is quite pretty. This is especially true in the downtown area where the Victorian homes are on tree-lined streets with beautiful gardens and parks. We found the people incredibly warm and friendly, and very welcoming. All the locals we talked to were genuinely glad we were there and were helpful at helping us find things we needed or wanted.

Tomorrow (Monday) Mark will take Denise to the airport and return the rental car.  We will have no further posts until next weekend at the earliest while we both work and try to figure out our upcoming schedule of stops. We know some of you are anxious to meet up with us and want to know when, but right now we are at the mercy of the weather and cannot predict anything until we get up to New York.

Wishing you all a terrific week and hope that you will be safe in all your adventures.