Cape May, NJ (Wednesday, 5/22):
It was early when we left the Rock Hall Landing Marina; only the commercial fishing boats were up and out before us. The sun had just come up and we made our way around the harbor, passing the bait shop, a restaurant and another marina where we saw the P.E. Pruitt “buyboat” (like the ones we saw in Poquoson, VA).
We left the harbor and breakwater wall, and turned towards the Chesapeake, for our last day on this great body of water until the fall. There was a little bit of north wind, but it would soon be blocked by the high terrain of the shores on both sides of this part of Maryland.
Soon we entered the Elk River where the Chesapeake ends and it feeds into the Chesapeake & Delaware (C&D) Canal. This is a very pretty area with homes, farms, a few small marinas on both sides of the water, and a state park on the western shore.
As we entered the C&D canal we passed our friends on “Dona Pacem”. They were headed to Delaware City to set up for making a Delaware River passage on Thursday, as we had originally planned. We spoke with them on the VHF for a bit, then continued on our way. We were also being followed by a beautiful Hinkley, which looks like a Sabre or Back Cove initially until they pass you. It is a beautiful boat, but much more expensive than our floating home.
As we made our way up the C&D canal we passed the Dann Marine Towing docks (a now-familiar site) and approached the bridge at Chesapeake City. There were a few Looper boats there at the yacht basin docks, but they were too far away to see if we knew any of them. At this point we also crossed the state line, leaving Maryland behind and entering into Delaware.
The C&D canal is only about 12 miles and it took no time for us to make our way to the end and the entrance onto the Delaware River. It was a beautiful day on the water so we called Delaware City and canceled our reservations for the night there, and pressed on as planned to Cape May. We first confirmed with South Jersey Marina (SJM) that we could arrive a day earlier than planned.
We cruised past the Hope Creek Nuclear Power Facility and the Ship John (also called Jack) Light that marks a shoal area mid-channel. And now we had entered the state of New Jersey; our 7th state since leaving on 4/8. We were on a straight shot to the Cape May Canal entrance and it was calm enough to sit back and enjoy a pleasant day on the Delaware. We even saw a whole school of dolphins swimming in with the incoming tide, which we were now fighting a bit.
Everything would have been perfect except the heat sensor alarm continued to plague us, going off about every 30 minutes or so. Mark would go into the engine room, check the actual temperature with a heat gun and confirm it was acceptable. He also started proactively adding coolant to the system. Our plan was to get to Cape May where we will have days to work on the issue.
Just before noon we entered the Cape May Canal and were relieved that we had successfully crossed the Delaware without any rough water. We passed the ferry terminal to our port, and Looper boat “Corkscrew” to our starboard and came up on the research vessel “Shakari”. Due to oncoming boat traffic and the upcoming railway bridge, we decided not to try and pass them. It had been reported that this past weekend the railway bridge fender had broken off and fallen in the water, blocking the canal. But we inquired about it at the SJ M ahead of time and it was reported that all was ok to pass on the north-side opening.
Meanwhile we had been calculating our fuel consumption and trying to determine where it would be best to purchase. Everything in NJ was going to get expensive and we did not have enough to get us up the Jersey coast and to Atlantic Highlands or Sandy Hook. Denise had been calling around all the Cape May and NYC fuel stops to get pricing. It takes some low-level math to determine the best price as most offer discounts for volume, cash, club affiliations (BoatUS, MTOA, Loopers, etc.) and some include sales tax, while others do not. After doing all the calculations, we decided to stop at Miss Chris Marina on the Spicer Creek Canal, just before the Cape May Harbor. We had stopped here before and knew that it can shallow in this creek, but it was near high tide and we had plenty of depth. We pulled in, took on some fuel and headed back out in under 30 minutes.
Mark took us through the Cape May Harbor and into SJM where the assistant dockmaster and dockhands assisted us with a tie up. The current was running fast, and their instructions on how to approach for a starboard side-tie was excellent. We were now parked directly behind Loopers on “Corkscrew”, who made it to the marina before us as we stopped for fuel. Tom, the assistant dockmaster told us they were going to move us to the other side of the berth once the tide changed, as “Corkscrew” would be leaving in the morning. With the current running so fast, there was no way we would be able to dock the boat on the other side. Plus they were still doing minor repairs on the dock that needed to be completed before we could berth there.
We tied up the boat, ate a late lunch and then checked in at the marina office. Shortly thereafter the crew who helped us dock pulled our boat to the other side of the berth and now gave us a port-side tie up.
In the meantime our friends on “Dona Pacem” pulled into the marina. They too decided to take advantage of a great weather day and ditched their Delaware City plans as well. They informed us that “Balahula” had also come into Cape May, but they were staying at Utsch’s Marina right around the corner.
About that time Barbara on “Balahula” sent us a text message for a dinner invite along with “Dona Pacem”. We gleefully accepted, offering to bring an appetizer, even though it meant walking over to Utsch’s.
During this time, Mark did some troubleshooting on the temperature sensor. He had received some inputs from the Cummins Owners tech support site, and had spoken with Max from Zimmerman Marine. A couple of the electrical tests he could not do because he did not have connectors that were small enough. But with Amazon Prime, all things are possible and he ordered these for delivery Friday morning. There was nothing more that he could do today and since we were not going anywhere for a few days, it was ok for now.
Soon it was time to walk over to “Balahula” for dinner. Barbara and Joe had cooked a delicious meal of pork tenderloin, baked stuffed potatoes and bread. Jackie and Jim brought a salad and we had an appetizer. We talked and laughed through dinner, then watched Jeopardy as the reigning champ (James) won another big day and on his way to a total winnings of $2 million.
Before long it was time to say good night and head back to the boat. Upon returning Denise did a quick check of email and received notice that a business associate she knew from a professional association had passed away earlier in the month. Over the years “Jim” and his wife had become friends of ours, sharing plants, a love of cooking, and even recipes. Although he was in his 80’s and in pretty good health, his death was sudden and unexpected. Denise will surely miss him, and is grateful for the last sushi lunch they shared together.
Cape May, NJ (Thursday, 5/23):
As usual, Denise was up as soon as the sun came up and she went for a run down through the town of Cape May. She ran past the church we have visited before (Our Lady Star of the Sea) and through the Washington pedestrian mall to the shore. Here she jumped on the pathway leading all the way down to the point, but stopped just short of it to take the requisite picture of the “Cape May Boat”.
It was a bit windy and the seas on the Atlantic Ocean were choppy. It’s a good thing we were not planning to go anywhere again today and the forecast was for them to increase and be from the north. That would not be conducive to smooth passage to Staten Island, 120 miles to our north.
The weather all day was fluky, with clouds for the morning, then clearing skies, and storms expected in the afternoon/evening. It was a good day to hunker down on the boat and get some things done. First was to take advantage of the great facilities here and do laundry. Mark even helped fold clothes and carry them back to the boat.
In the afternoon Denise called her friend Jim’s wife to express condolences and see how she was doing. They talked for a while and she promised to go see her when they return to Winter Park in the fall. She also notified several past and present associates from their professional association over the last 20 years.
Denise also began reading a cruising book about Lake Champlain and the canals leading to the St. Lawrence. We were trying to decide where would be the best place for her to stay while Mark was gone, and where to leave the boat for the weekend in June (6/22) when we would be home for 4 days. We bounced around several options and finally decided to leave the boat in Burlington, VT. We secured a slip at the marina right downtown that got good reviews and is 4 miles from the airport. Mark was also able to finalized his travel schedule for the Palm Springs client; now going to Palm Springs and Chicago the week of 6/9. He will fly out of Albany, and it means we will miss the Pig Roast at Shady Harbor, after all. However, Denise will be spending the whole week there and will more than make up for it. She might actually get a (non-cruising guide) book read while he is gone.
Last night while having dinner, we learned from Jackie & Jim that a place right near the marina (C-View Inn) had weeknight happy hour specials in their pub, and that tonight they were having $2 sliders. We made plans to walk over with Jackie and Jim, and rendezvous with Barbara, Joe and friends of theirs who were visiting. We arrived early as it ends at 6:00 and were grateful for Barbara & Joe who had already secured a large table for all of us. This let us get our order in before the 6:00 cut off. It didn’t take long for the place to get crowded and people hovering for seats even when the happy hour was over. But most probably this was because it had started to storm outside. We really enjoyed the food and the company was lots of fun.
About the time we were finishing dinner, the skies cleared up and on our walk back to the marina we were treated to a double-rainbow.
Then later, we got to see the reflection of the sunset as it painted a spectacular sky over the eastern end of the marina.
We finished off the evening with some tv watching and picture cataloging, hoping desperately to get the blog published. Unfortunately, the internet was too slow, and we were too tired so it would have to wait until morning.
Cape May, NJ (Friday, 5/24):
Our day started with Denise getting the last blog update published, and Mark anxiously awaiting delivery of the necessary tools to continue troubleshooting the heat sensor. In the meantime he did a few other boat chores like installing new flag holders for our burgees and replacing the old windshield wiper blades with new ones.
After lunch the tools came and Mark was able to go to work testing with Denise helping out by turning on and off the engine. His first test was on the sensor and he was able to determine that in fact it was not working. What is unknown is if this was working initially when replaced by Zimmerman Marine, (ZM) or if something else (main wire harness) had since shorted it out. Mark talked with Max at ZM and he was going to see if he could get us more answers. Max did agree to refund the fees for the parts and the labor portion of this issue and provided some suggestions on what else could be done. However, at this point we needed an experienced Cummins mechanic to come to the boat and do this. Mark did the best he could to try to determine, but this is not his forte.
Mark then contacted a yacht broker whom we know from this area (Hank from Sandy Hook) to see if he knew of a Cummins mechanic in the New Jersey and Staten Island areas. He contacted one and scheduled them to be at Great Kills Yacht Club next Wednesday; after all it is a holiday weekend and they are all booked for Tuesday. This issue should not prohibit us from moving the boat to Staten Island tomorrow as planned, we will just have to be vigilant on checking the engine temperature like we did on Wednesday crossing the Delaware. Should any issues develop that prevent this, we can turn into one of several inlets (Atlantic City, Manasquan, etc.), and even call TowBoatUS – we have been there, done that before too! But tomorrow the weather is going to be the only day in the next week for us to head north and into the Empire State.
After 4:00 we checked the latest weather forecast and were encouraged that tomorrow was still holding for an early departure out of Cape May. With this information, we went to the marina office to pay the bill and say good-bye to the great staff.
Between yesterday and today a few more boats came into the marina, all waiting for the weather to break in order to head north. These included a sailboat from Florida, a Sabre (“Deplorable”), and a Marlow yacht. It also included Looper friends on “Panacea” we met at Alligator River Marina, who also intend to head north tomorrow.
After two nights of full socialization, we opted for a quiet dinner just the two of us. Even though the marina will take you anywhere in Cape May, we decided on dinner at “Lucky Bones” which is located across the street. We ate there in 2015 and knew it was good and wanted to go back. Since it was before 6:00 pm we were seated right away. We felt “lucky” as with the holiday weekend everything was getting busy and when we finished there was a line outside.
When we returned to the marina we noticed a lot more people had come down to their boats for the weekend. The summer was starting and people were looking forward to the boating season here. As we were walking to our boat we ran into Jackie, Jim, Barbara & Joe. We ended up hanging out on the marina patio in the comfortable outdoor furniture and talking for a long time.
During this time the owners of the Sabre (“Deplorable”) came by and we chatted with them. They are headed home to Plymouth, MA after a winter in Florida. They brazenly came up the coast of Delaware (offshore) on Thursday when seas were rough. They are also leaving tomorrow to head north and we intend to follow them, as long as we can keep up; they cruise faster than us at 24 knots.
Finally, we said good night and promised to see our new friends on “Dona Pacem” and “Balahula” at Great Kills Yacht Club in a few days.
Here are some other pictures of the South Jersey Marina:
Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office.