Monday (9/13) – Atlantic City, NJ
At 7:00 am this morning we watched our friends Bill and Barb (“High Spirits”) leave GKYC and head out of the harbor. We had shared contact information and they had agreed to let us know how the Atlantic Ocean was once they rounded Sandy Hook and settled into a course that would run down the NJ shoreline. In the meantime we ate breakfast and readied our boat for our departure, confirming the forecast and current buoy observations were as expected.
At 8:00 am Bill called and said the seas were 1 -2’ as forecasted and things were going well. This was encouraging and with that information we said goodbye to our friends at GKYC one more time. Our hope was to make it at least to Cape May, but we knew if it got rough we could pull in at Manasquan inlet and run the inside portion of the ICW down to Atlantic City, adding about 1 hour to our expected 6 hour trip. The forecast did call for waves to be a little bigger around Manasquan (2’-3’), but from there south they were forecasted to flatten at Barnegat Inlet, be back at 2’ south of Atlantic City, and even more calm as we got closer to Cape May.
The Raritan Bay was pretty calm and we were through it in no time, rounding Sandy Hook in 45 minutes and had a nice view of the lighthouse.
We ran close-in to the shore, using the land to block the winds and keep the seas a little calmer. Around 9:30 am we passed by Asbury Park with things going well, and soon thereafter passed Bill & Barb (“High Spirits”). There were many boats on the water, including a few we have seen in our travels this summer. We communicated via VHF with one (“Course Change”) whom we saw in Bucks Harbor, ME.
Before long we passed Barnegat light and things started to get a little bumpy, as expected. By the time we got to Manasquan, things were not great, but tolerable. Remembering they were supposed to get better, we decided to press on. But it stayed bouncy, and then it started to get worse, not better. At one point we slowed our speed because the waves were now bigger and more frequently spaced apart. Instead of 2’ waves 6 seconds apart, we had 4’ waves 2 seconds apart and it was not fun.
As we approached Atlantic City, we had to decide to continue on to Cape May and expect the same conditions for another 2 hours (even though the forecast was supposed to be better), or call it a day at 85 miles and go south tomorrow. We quickly checked the forecast for tomorrow which looked even better than today’s forecast, so we decided to take our chances and call it a day; even though it was only 12:30 pm.
At the very last minute, Captain Mark made a quick right turn and we entered Absecon Inlet (Atlantic City). We called Farley State Marina at the Golden Nugget and secured a slip for the night. We have been here before and this is the one place we really did not want to get stuck. Aside from the crowd that comes to gamble at the casino, the area outside of the marina and casino grounds are not too safe (as told to us in 2019 by a security guard). But the main reason we do not want to get stuck in this state is because it is a bad place to be if a hurricane comes, and there is no easy access to an airport. We were pushing to get to the Chesapeake Bay should we have to worry about either of these things. Plus, by getting to Cape May, it completes one more large-body of water crossing, relieving Denise’s anxiety level and allowing her to better enjoy the rest of the trip. We were now counting on the fact that tomorrow’s forecast would be more accurate than the one for today, and that we would have calm enough water to get out of New Jersey.
Once we got our slip assignment, we secured our boat, ate lunch, and attempted to check in at the marina office. But the dockmaster was fueling another boat and we ended up doing it all virtually (via the Dockwa app and text messages). Although we were disappointed we did not get to Cape May, we used this opportunity to get some chores done. The boat was covered in salt, so Mark washed the boat. Meanwhile, Denise did some laundry. She did not mind the fact the laundry building was a quarter mile away in this very large marina, it was that it was so bloody hot, with no clouds or shade. After 2.5 hours and 6 trips back and forth, it was finally complete and it was time to cool off and relax.
Meanwhile, one by one other boats started coming into the marina. One was a Sabre 42 (“Surf Rider”) that ended up in the slip to our right, and another was a sport fisher (“Electric Bill”) that docked to our left. Other cruisers we had passed during the day also came in and we heard from Bill & Barb (“High Spirits”) that they too pulled in and anchored at the nearby anchorage. Every crew on these boats all said the same thing: It was much rougher than expected and we were tired of being out in that mess. We no longer felt bad for changing our plans.
We spent some time talking with Jay & Sherri (“Surf Rider”) about our Sabre/Back Cove boats, as well as some other boaters and people on the docks. During this time, “Rob”, the first mate of “Electric Bill” came and brought us each a huge piece of fresh Yellowtail Tuna they had recently caught. We had already planned to eat dinner on the boat, but our entrée choice was now changed to enjoy this great gift. We cut up the fish for dinner and the remainder went into the freezer for 2 more meals in the future. Then, with some rice and a salad, we had a delicious meal of seared sesame tuna to enjoy.
After dinner we ended up talking with Jay & Sherri (“Surf Rider”) about their intended plans, our plans for tomorrow and overall cruising the east coast. Like us, they intend to leave tomorrow but at a later start time. We bid them safe travels and went in for the night.
A final check before bed of the marine forecasts for tomorrow looked good, so we set plans to leave no later than 8:00 am in the morning.
A side note: I failed to include in the last post (GKYC) that Mark was able to deduce and repair the dinghy fuel issue we experienced in Essex. His theory that it was the fuel pickup tube in the gas can proved to be correct. Within 15 minutes he had repaired it and put in a fix to prevent it from happening again. It is so nice to have a captain who can repair things when we are cruising.