Tag Archives: Staten Island

Great Friends at Great Kills!

Thursday (9/9) – Great Kills Yacht Club, Staten Island, NY

As expected the winds continued through the night and the forecasted rains joined in on the fun.  The slap of waves on the hull of our boat was so loud Denise moved to the settee in the main salon to try and sleep. It was only after putting on a movie (“Sleepless in Seattle”) that she was finally able to nod off and get some rest.  Mark too was a bit restless, but managed to get some shuteye still in the main stateroom.

In the morning, the rain subsided for a bit, but it continued off and on for most of the day.  We stayed pretty close to the boat doing work for clients, catching up on emails, cataloging pictures, and writing for the blog.  Mark also was able to schedule a diver to come and install the zinc on the boat shaft.  “Larry” showed up in the afternoon when the rain had abated and was able to complete the task as well as inspect the prop.  We had another successful year of dodging lobster pots in Maine and once again came through without any issues.

Diver “Larry”

For the last few months, John C has been working to upgrade the WIFI system and when we checked in yesterday was happy to report that it was nearly complete.  But we still had a few issues with it and the boat’s WIFI catcher, so when the installation guys showed up today, Mark was able to talk “techie” with them and get it resolved. We ended up having the best connection we have ever had here, making it an even better place to visit.

Today, was the 32nd anniversary of the day we said “I Do”, but since we were not really sure until yesterday where we would be, we had not made any big plans.  However, once we knew we would be in Staten Island, we made reservations for a nice dinner at Fiore Di Mare, a local restaurant on Mansion St., not far from GKYC.  We have never eaten here before, but some cruising friends who did so in the spring, highly recommended the place to us. We dodged the raindrops and walked up Mansion Street to the restaurant, wondering why we even needed a reservation; the place was nearly empty.

It was very nice and we had a mini celebration that we kept to ourselves, while enjoying some delicious food.  However, we noticed that the whole neighborhood was remarkably quiet compared to the crowds that are here in the early days of summer.  When we were here in June, even on a Thursday, these streets were very crowded and all the neighborhood is buzzing with cars and people.  That was not the scene tonight, and the restaurant was hardly busy.

A quiet Mansion Ave

After dinner we walked back to the boat and ended up streaming the movie “A Rainy Day in NY”. This was a quirky Woody Allen movie with multiple subplots, and we enjoyed it enough to stay up past our normal bedtime to see the ending.

Friday (9/10) – Great Kills Yacht Club, Staten Island, NY

Today was a beautiful day with warm temperatures but not too hot. However, it was very windy as the remnants of Hurricane Larry stirred up the waters off shore (6’ seas) and sent winds our way. We were not going anywhere for a few more days, so we decided to make use of the time and get some things done.

Morning on IO at GKYC

John C was kind enough to lend us his car, and we were able to go to the grocery store and get a few items.  A trip to any grocery store in this part of the country is an experience. No matter the time of day, they are always crowded, and with “Help Wanted” signs everywhere, there is insufficient help.  Every time we shop somewhere else, it has us longing for our favorite supermarket: Publix – where shopping really is a pleasure.

Once back on the boat, we got busy with work, cataloging pictures, writing on the blog, and handling a few personal items.  During the early afternoon the boat “High Spirit” pulled in behind us, and we met Bill and Barbara.  They too are headed south, but will be leaving their boat at Atlantic Yacht Basin in Chesapeake, VA for the winter. 

“High Spirits” at GKYC

In the evening, we decided to patronize our host club (GKYC) and go to the bar for socialization, postponing our usual happy hour.  The drinks here are very reasonably priced ($2 and $3 each) and they come with quite the punch. We went with Bill and Barb, and ended up meeting another local couple, Kevin & Cheryl (“Our Holiday”), whom we had spoken with on the dock as their boat is near ours. We ended up spending a lot of time talking with them about cruising, which they would like to do now that they are empty nesters.  The club was packed because tonight there was a “members meeting”: at 7:00 pm all the men (except Mark & Bill) left the bar and headed to the meeting room while all the women stayed behind. This is an old school club, but still warm and welcoming to all. 

With the party now broken up, we headed back to the boat for the night and took a look at the weather forecasts.  It still looked good for us to leave on Monday and run down the NJ coast, but the window was closing and we were starting to wonder if we would be able to leave as planned.

Saturday (9/11) – Great Kills Yacht Club, Staten Island, NY

This morning Denise went for a long run to a part of the Great Kills area that we have not yet explored; the state park that forms the north and east side of Great Kills Harbor. To do so, she had to first run along Hyland Ave. for about a mile, a busy main road with sidewalks. She took this to the park’s main entrance, then ran paths the rest of the way.  It was an out-and-back run to the end, passing the Great Kills Marina and a beach that overlooks Raritan Bay.  Here are some pictures from her running adventure:

Path in Great Kills Park

The weather today was pretty spectacular and we were wondering if we should have left today. However, once we checked the actual “observations” offshore, the  forecast of high winds and waves were proven to be accurate due to the effects of hurricane Larry; now downgraded but still a factor for Atlantic marine interests.  We were then happy we had stuck with our previously agreed to schedule of leaving Monday morning. Looking forward a few days out, we did see the window to leave slowly closing, and that if we didn’t leave on Monday, we may be stuck here for 4 or 5 more days.  John C informed us that he did have another boat coming south, and we would have to give up our dock for a mooring in the harbor if we did not leave as planned.  We were ok with that as a backup, but set our sights on heading south as planned if the forecast held.

It was a slightly laid back day with Mark doing some engine maintenance while Denise did some food prep for the week. We also found time to work on the blog and do some reading. Mark attempted to finish another book (without Denise interrupting him every 5 minutes) while Denise processed a series of articles that were in her reading queue.

We also had a chance to chat with several of the locals in the club about where they were on 9-11-2001.  Few people want to go to any of the local remembrances, and everyone knew someone killed that day. Their stories are compelling as this club has many retired members of FDNY, NYPD, and the various trades (plumbers, electricians, carpenters, etc.) who were in Manhattan on that day.

In the evening, Mark’s sister was hosting a birthday dinner at her home in Oviedo for his mother, who celebrates her 92nd birthday tomorrow (12th).  As we were unable to be there, we had scheduled a surprise Facetime chat with her. It was a lot of fun and we were grateful for niece Kaitlyn to be present on their end to help those who were more technically-challenged with this great feature.  We laughed and had a great time celebrating virtually, and his mom loved our joint gift: a new backup camera for her car – a terrific help for this very independent woman who still drives.

Sunday (9/12) – Great Kills Yacht Club, Staten Island, NY

Our day started with a one mile walk to St. Clair Catholic Church for the 8:00 am mass.  We have visited this church before, and love this parish the community.  It is also a beautiful church and they still had a memorial up inside the church, for those from their parish that died as a result of the events on 9-11.

Church of St. Clare
Inside Church of St. Clare
911 memorial inside Church of St. Clare
Flag of Honor – 911 tribute flags
Saw lots of these on way home from church

After mass we stopped by ““Frank & Sal’s on our way back to the boat.  This is a terrific Italian Deli that we have shopped at in the past.  They have a small produce section, a large meat counter, shelves with imported Italian food items (think pasta, olive oil, etc.) and a small bakery case with delicious cookies & pastry.  However, their deli is terrific with lots of precooked entrées, sides and every day specialties.  We came for tonight’s dinner and managed to leave with a few Italian cookies in the basket as well. (Note: we wrote about our visit here in the spring, which you can read about here).

Once back at the boat and after storing our purchases, we spent time on the phone with family and friends that we had not connected with in awhile.  It was great to hear what was going on with them, especially since we did not fly home for a weekend this summer as we have in year’s past. However, this still did not dispel Denise’s homesickness and readiness to be in her own home.

In the afternoon, Mark had some engine and other boat maintenance tasks which required him to lift the main salon floor.  Rather than being inconvenienced by this, Denise took her computer and went up to the GKYC Clubhouse to work where it was quiet. While she was there Bill (“High Spirits”) came by and said Mark had sent him for help with setting up PredictWind and AquaMaps on his iPhone. These are apps we use for weather forecasts and boat navigation. He is a very low-tech kind of guy and needed hand-holding through all the steps, as well as a tutorial on how to use the apps. For the next hour or so, Denise helped him and got to know him a little better. This is where we learned that he had never been married and that Barb has been his partner for the last 20+ years. They went boating on their first date and have been boating together ever since.

During this time the bar at the clubhouse was getting a little busy, and Bill offered to buy Denise a drink for all her efforts. Mark was called to come up and join us, and when he arrived we all discussed the weather forecast and outlook for tomorrow’s departure. Bill and Barb have a trawler and will cruise slower than us, but are only expecting to get to Cape May. On the other hand, we are looking to take advantage of the predicted flat afternoon on the Delaware River and go as far as Delaware City. However, we must first get down the New Jersey shore which will be the first 6 hours of our trip. Our mutual departure times were discussed (they would leave earlier by an hour) and then we walked back to our respective boats.

In the evening, we warmed up our “Frank & Sal’s” dinner and had a delicious meal on our boat.  We then spent time working (and finally) publishing a blog update, and for the first time in a long time we actually tuned in to watch the news of the world. Remarkably we were seeing an abomination unfolding in the Middle East, and 20 years later wondering if this will lead to another attack like those on 9-11.  We went to bed heartsick for the lives lost or forever changed because of this evil, and grateful for the warmth and generosity of the wonderful people at GKYC whom we consider friends.

Straight line through Long Island Sound!

Essex to GKYC – Staten Island, NY

Wednesday (9/8) – Great Kills Yacht Club, Staten Island, NY

Sunrise at Essex

We left Essex, CT and headed down the Connecticut River at 6:30 am in order to get as far down the Long Island Sound as possible, before the expected south east winds kicked in.  Our hope was to be able to get all the way to Staten Island today, but we knew if it got too rough we could bail out at Port Washington for a free overnight.

Thirty minutes later we past the Old Lyme Bridge, then, the Lynde Point Light, and the Saybrook Breakwater Lighthouse.  It was a beautiful morning on Long Island Sound, and we were hopeful it would last as long as possible.

We ran down the Connecticut side of the Sound for a while, and there was some chop, but not too uncomfortable.  After the first hour we noticed the waves were developing a “freshening”, indicating that the wind was picking up and decided to take our chances running on the Long Island side of the Sound for more protection.  However, instead of crossing it directly, we made our way on a more diagonal track to meet the encroaching coastline, as the Sound narrows as we headed south.  This had us in the middle of the Sound for about 2 hours of our journey, passing only a barge or two, and a few fishing boats.  While the waves did not really settle down, they also did not get worse, and for this Denise was grateful.  By the time we got to Execution Rocks Light, we knew we could make it to Great Kills Yacht Club (GKYC) where we had already secured our dockage for 4 nights to wait out weather.

Execution Rocks Lighthouse – LI Sound

By the time we got to the Port Washington area, the waves were pretty flat and we easily cruised around SUNY Maritime, LaGuardia airport, and Riker’s Island Prison. 

SUNY Maritime College

From there we took turned into the East River, this time hugging the eastern shore of Roosevelt Island in order to avoid the NY Ferries on the western side. We were fighting a current against us, but it wasn’t as strong as it could have been. However, it did have us longing for the 3 knots in our favor we had when heading home in 2019.

Before we knew it we were in NY Harbor with the Manhattan skyline behind us; a sight we never get tired of seeing from the water.

Leaving Manhattan behind
Lady Liberty still standing – so far

Captain Mark maneuvered through the numerous ships anchored or under way in NY Harbor, and of course the Staten Island Ferries that zoom by at rapid speed.  We crossed under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and turned right into Raritan Bay.  Here we expected really rough water as the forecast called for 3 foot waves and chop.  Fortunately, we had arrived early enough in the day that we did not face this and made our way into Great Kills Harbor and the GKYC without issue.  By 12:30 pm had traveled 108 miles, and had the boat tied up to the dock. We were greeted with hugs by our friend John Calascibetta (aka “John C”) – our Looper Harbor Host, and another friend (Tony) whom we are always happy to see. After socializing for a bit, Mark washed the salt off the boat, while Denise cleaned up the inside.

In the afternoon the winds did pick up as expected, with some strong gusts.  Unlike in past visits, this time the assigned slip was on the t-head at the end of the dock, with our bow facing out towards the harbor entrance.  As the wind blew in from Raritan Bay it really rocked our boat and slapped the water against the boat hull.  Despite this, we stayed on board for the rest of the day as we both had lots of work to do. We also planned a tentative itinerary for the next week that would take us down the NJ coast, and hopefully up the Delaware River in calm seas.

With bad weather forecasted for the evening, we decided not to go out to eat even though there are a plethora of choices (albeit mostly Italian). But we didn’t feel like cooking either. Instead, we ordered a take-out dinner (salads with protein) from Marina Café; one of the local restaurants up the street from GKYC.  The food was good and we were happy to stay hunkered down for the rest of the night.

Making Tracks!

We have made big progress and covered many miles since our last update, including passing through 5 states.  Here is what we have been up to.

Wickford, RI – Friday 10/11
We spent the morning publishing our last blog update and doing some work for our business. Then we looked at the weather and made some inquiries for possible stops hopeful to be able to make it to NYC or NJ this weekend.

Since the weather was going to remain bad for Friday and Saturday, we picked up a rental car for the weekend so we could go “adventuring” on land.  In the afternoon we went to the movies to see “Judy” (the Judy Garland story). While the acting was good, the storyline seemed to drag and could have been a little faster moving.

Movie theater for "Judy"

Movie theater for “Judy”

Not wanting to go back to the boat right away, we drove to a shopping area.  Here they had an LL Bean store and across the highway a huge plaza with many stores.  We went into a few, but ended up not buying anything and decided it was time to head back to the boat.  On the way we once again stopped back at Dave’s Market and picked up a few things for dinner.

Dinner from Daves Market

Dinner from Dave’s Market

The weather was improving, but it was still rainy and the wind blowing so we hunkered down for the night watching tv and grateful our boat was in a very protected marina.

 Wickford, RI – Saturday 10/12
After our breakfast this morning we took a look at the weather forecast and saw that it had improved for the weekend.  With this in mind, we revised our future plans to leave on Monday and shifted to leave tomorrow (Sunday) instead.  We mapped out several stops and bailout locations (if necessary), and determined where we could get fuel along the way.  Additionally, Mark added some oil to the boat and now it was ready to go.

We then set out on our adventure for the day.  We took the rental car over the Jamestown Verrazano Bridge to Conanicut Island.  This is the island that is in the middle of Narragansett Bay between mainland Rhode Island and Newport (on its eastern shore). Here lies the town of Jamestown and Fort Wetherill State Park, where Beavertail lighthouse & museum is located on the southernmost point.  This is the lighthouse we passed on the way up to Wickford last week.

We had hoped to go into the museum and the small aquarium there, but because of Columbus Day Weekend, the museum closed at 3:00 pm and we arrived around 3:10.  However, the site is really interesting and we walked around the grounds and took pictures of the Narragansett River and Newport Harbor.

It was a bit cool so we did not hang out at the park long.  We got back into our car and drove through the village of Jamestown.  Here there is a marina that we have considered staying at as it directly across from Newport and is a bit cheaper.  There is a small downtown in walking distance to the marina and some pretty nice houses that overlook the harbor as well.

From there we went back out onto the highway and took the Pell Bridge to Newport for an evening of fun.

Clairborne Pell Bridge - To Newport

Clairborne Pell Bridge – To Newport

But first we had to find the UPS Store as we wanted to mail a package home; it was full of clothes (mostly) that we won’t use on the boat and wanted to free up the space.  It took us longer to get to the place with all the traffic in town, then it did to conduct the transaction, which went quickly.  From there we drove to St. Mary’s Catholic Church for their mass at 5:15.  This was the church that JFK and Jackie Beauvoir were married in and they are celebrating the event with an upcoming fundraiser called “Return to Camelot”.  You can read more about on their website here. Denise had been here with her sisters in 2015 and got to sit in the Kennedy pew at that time.

This evening however, we met up with our friends from home Wendy & Tom Willhoite. They attend our church back home, and Wendy runs in Marathonfest with Denise.  In fact, she was running in the Newport Marathon tomorrow (Sunday) and we were hoping to be able to cheer her on. However, since we were leaving Wickford in the morning that would no longer be possible.  Instead, we shared mass and then went to dinner at Busker’s Irish Pub. This was not our first choice, but with a 1 – 1.5 hour wait for all the other restaurants and it was getting late, it was our choice.  It actually turned out pretty good and we enjoyed a good meal at the bar and some fun times with friends.

We left Newport and made the drive back to the Wickford area to return the rental car.  Shortly thereafter we got an Uber cab back to the marina and readied our boat for the departure in the morning.

Staten Island, NY – Sunday 10/13

Wickford to Staten Island

Wickford to Staten Island

We both were up early and did one last check of the weather.  It was beautiful in Wickford Harbor and ideal conditions as we left the dock at 7:00 am and headed out through the Inlet.

Denise was a little nervous with the predicted seas, especially on the Long Island Sound some 2.5 hours away. For this reason we had identified a few bailout locations as well as a few places to stop for fuel. One of these was the Shennecossett Yacht Club (SYC) at the southern end of the Fishers Island Sound and just before entering LI Sound.  So our plan was to at least try to get to this spot today, and continue further if conditions allowed.

With this in mind, we cruised down the Narragansett hugging the western shore and passing along homes, the University of Rhode Island Bay Campus, and the town of Narragansett. It was a calm morning and there was little wind and waves making our trip enjoyable.

We were making good time as we rounded Point Judith and Point Judith Light. We had been expecting the wind and waves to pick up here, but found a nice day on the water. It was sunny and clear enough that we could see Block Island off our port side.

We cruised uneventful until we came up to Watch Hill and the entrance into Fishers Island Sound. Here there were numerous fishing boats and the waters were churned up quite a bit.

We were starting to wonder if we had made the wrong decision to go between Fishers Island and the Connecticut coast instead of taking the outside route that would take us through Block Island Sound.  We persevered for the next 20 minutes passing the river entrances for Stonington and Mystic, CT and then made our way to the Poquonnock River Inlet and the SYC.  This is right near Groton, CT and here we found a nice protective harbor near the University of Connecticut Avery Point campus.

Approaching Shennecosette Yacht Club

Approaching Shennecossett Yacht Club

We pulled into the fuel dock and found a very welcoming dockmaster (Charlie) who helped us fuel up. In no time we were on our way and pulled out of the inlet and back into the sound.

Here we passed by New London Harbor Lighthouse and then the New London Ledge Lighthouse and entered into Long Island Sound.

Once on LI Sound we found things a little bumpy. We were getting some of the winds from the north meeting with the waves from the east and the swirls of currents; there was a bit of chop. We were conflicted about which side of the sound we should run down to get to NYC, but eventually stuck with the CT-side and found the land did block the wind. Eventually even what little wind there was died down and we had a pretty smooth cruise. It turned out to be one of the nicest trips we have had on LI Sound.

Just after lunch we were already seeing the outlines of the NYC skyline. Now we knew we would make it all the way to New York and started identifying our options for places to stay.  We would love to stay at Liberty Landing in Jersey City, overlooking the NYC Skyline. Here are friends on “Argento” had been waiting out the weather. This a great marina with a great view of NYC, but expensive.  However, staying on Staten Island would give us a better position for running down the New Jersey shore tomorrow (Monday).  After calculating our arrival time and making contact with the respective locations, we chose to push on to Staten Island.

By early afternoon we were approaching the Port Washington area, and soon thereafter we passed the Stepping Stones Light with the backdrop of the US Merchant Marine Academy at Great Neck. From there it seemed liked no time we were passing the SUNY Maritime College, the Long Neck Bridge, and then Rikers Island.

We then entered the East River and passed through the navigational area known as Hell’s Gate, where we had a favorable current and picked up 4 knots of speed.  It didn’t last, but we enjoyed the ride and the help on fuel consumption. We moved through the west side of Roosevelt Island and by then our speed had diminished back to 20 knots, until we began encountering the wakes of passing ferries, barges and tour boats.  We went under the Queensboro Bridge (one of several Denise ran over in last year’s NYC Marathon) and encountered 3’ – 4’ waves due to the turbulence and the confluence of the tides, current and boat wakes. It was the roughest water we encountered all day.

We cruised past the Manhattan skyline to our right and then entered NYC Harbor.  We headed toward the Statue of Liberty and slowed the boat for picture taking. Denise went on the bow to take pictures with our burgee and the gray lady in the backdrop as we celebrated the crossing of our wake (once again); this time for the completion of Down East Circle Loop (DECL).

With no time to waste, we headed east out of NYC Harbor and went under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge; another one that Denise ran over last November at the marathon.

Verrazano Narrows Bridge

Verrazano Narrows Bridge

We turned right and headed into Raritan Bay.  Before long we were entering into the Great Kills Harbor, and to the Great Kills Yacht Club where we were greeted by our friend (and dockmaster) John Calascibetta. He and some other cruisers on the dock helped us tie up the boat, and then we got a big hug from our friend John. He (like all the others at GKYC) always make us feel so welcome.

Once the boat was settled, Mark washed it down to get off all the salt while Denise prepared a dinner on Board.  We were not going out anywhere tonight as we were tired. It had been a very long day completing 158 miles and we had made a lot of progress heading south.  We did a quick check of the weather and with mostly favorable conditions, we decided that tomorrow we would continue heading south and try to make it to Cape May, NJ.  We sent a text to “Argento” and they too confirmed they would leave in the morning.  Finally we would have someone to buddy-boat with on this journey.


Cape May, NJ – Monday 10/14 – Columbus Day!

SI to Cape MayAs much as we would have liked to stay at GKYC for a few days, we knew we had to take advantage of the good weather and make headway on these days when we have to cover big waters.  Today it would take us out into the Atlantic Ocean and down the New Jersey shore.

We left GKYC and exited the harbor to a nice sunny day on Raritan Bay.

Leaving GK Harbor

Leaving GK Harbor

In 20 minutes we arrived at Sandy Hook Point and to the numerous boats all trying to go offshore for a nice day of fishing. We rounded Sandy Hook and stayed close to land, hoping what little wind there was would be blocked by the land and make the ride smooth.  We were mostly correct on this, but the waves from the east and were crashing on the bow, and there was a bit of a chop. Things were a bit bumpy.  We had been in communication with “Argento” who had left 30 minutes before us from Liberty Landing, but we could not see them anywhere.  Eventually, we were able to make contact with them and learned they were a little ways behind us, but closing the distance. There were so many boats on the water today, and most all were heading south. There were sailboats, fishing boats, cruising yachts and commercial fisherman. We saw more today than in any other single day since April.

We passed Asbury Park and continued south for a short time, but the waves started making things a bit uncomfortable.  As we approached Manasquan Inlet, we knew we had a decision to make.  Denise was not feeling great (a bit of seasickness from the chop) and did not feel comfortable continuing like this for the next 2 hours before we would get to Atlantic City.  Although Barnegat Inlet (another hour south) was a possible bailout, it is not recommended when seas are from the east.  With this in mind, Captain Mark suggested we go in at Manasquan and take the NJ ICW south to Atlantic City.  This would definitely take us longer (by about an hour – best case) as there are several “no wake” zones and always lots of fisherman in the middle of the channel.  This is the exact opposite course we took when heading north on Memorial weekend.

So we turned into the inlet and made our way through the harbor, past the open railway bridge, and went under the RT 35 Bridge on the Manasquan River.  We turned into the Point Pleasant Canal and experienced a bit of turbulence from the conflicting tides and currents. It is a short distance and in no time were out of the canal and passing the beautiful homes of Bay Head Harbor.

As we cruised south through the rest of the ICW towards Atlantic City, we encountered almost no fishing boats. Even in Barnegat Bay we found it was peaceful and there were few boats on the water; a big surprise on a holiday Monday.  This made Captain Mark happy and made our trip even faster than expected.

But it was also here that we saw the screw holding our US Flag had backed out and was nowhere to be found.  The flag was wobbling and when Denise went to check it out, we discovered it missing.  She took the flagpole & flag down and now we would have to order a new one.

We had been in communication with “Argento” who remained offshore and were now ahead of us. They reported that the wins had smoothed the seas and things were improved after Atlantic City.  So when we came up to AC we headed through the inlet (an e-ticket ride) and once again cruised south in the Atlantic Ocean.  We only had 35 more miles to go and it was just after 1:00 pm.  We knew we would make it to Cape May today and put one more body of water behind us.

We ran down the Jersey shore passing familiar Atlantic City sites. As we approached the inlet around Ocean City the water got really choppy and rough, but it didn’t last.  Soon we could see the roller coasters from the amusement parks along the shores of Wildwood, and eventually we could see the Cape May inlet.  Here are some pictures from this part of our trip:

We entered the Cape May Harbor, radioed the South Jersey Marina (where we had reservations) for our slip assignment and pulled into the side-tie on the fuel dock. As usual at this marina we had expert help with the tie up and were able to settle the boat in no time. The place was packed as so many boaters have been hung up waiting out bad weather, and finally got to move today.  We felt pretty good as we had accomplished another big day at 120+ miles.

We checked in at the marina and then made contact with Chuck & Victoria (“Argento”) who were on another dock in the marina.  We made plans for dinner and went back to the boat to get cleaned up.

Along the way we noticed a handful of other Sabre and Back Cove’s in the marina, including “FLYKT”, a Sabre 48 we last saw in NE Harbor, in August, but no one was aboard.  Mark preceded to wash down the boat while Denise took care of things below deck. After a while she could not hear any water on the boat and poked her head out to see Mark talking to Sven, (owner of “FLYKT”).  Mark mentioned seeing the boat in NE Harbor, but reminded him we originally met in Naples, FL in 2015.  He did recall our previous meeting and we had a chance to talk and get caught up. We also discussed plans to head south; us through the Delaware River and him taking the offshore Route down the Delaware coast.  He had to leave so we cut our conversation short and bid him safe travels.

"Flykt"

“Flykt”

In the meantime, a Trumpy Yacht (“America”) pulled alongside the dock across from us.  We had seen it leave NYC Harbor the day we went to GKYC and now here it was pulling in right near us.  Denise is a fan of these old yachts and has done a little research on them. You may recall we have encountered the Trumpy Yacht “Lady Catherine” in the past, and have made friends with owners Richard and Catherine (see post from 4-12-2019). “America” is also a charter like “Lady Catherine”, but the owner is not the captain.  You can learn more about these beautiful boats here.

That evening we met Chuck & Victoria at the Lobster House Restaurant, located near the marina.  They had also invited another couple they know from their homeport marina in Boston, who are also headed south for the winter.  Linda & David (“Happy Our”) were new to the cruising life and this is their first big trip. Their 45’ Azimuth was on a mooring ball in Cape May and they expect to stay another day before heading south. We all enjoyed a good meal and a chance to get to know each other better, and now have new cruising friends.

After dinner we walked back to the marina with Chuck & Victoria and discussed plans to leave tomorrow. It looked like we would have a good window to get up the Delaware River and then on to the Chesapeake Bay.  How far we were going to go would depend on the weather; they were hoping for Annapolis and we were hoping for something a little further south. The weather towards the end of the week was forecasted to be bad and we did not want to get stuck in a Cape May, Delaware City or Chesapeake City. So, tomorrow was the day to go.

Solomons Island, MD – Tuesday 10/15

Cape May to Solomons Island

Cape May to Solomons Island

It was a beautiful morning in Cape May and we were anxious to get under way. However, on our way out of town we had to get fuel and we had to wait for them to open. So, Denise went for a run, but her leg and hip kept her to 2 miles and she was back on the boat earlier than expected. She had a chance to talk briefly with the Captain on “America” and learn a little bit about this particular Trumpy before he cast off lines and left the marina. After getting breakfast we decided to leave and wait at the fuel stop for them to open if they were not when we arrived.

We left the South Jersey Marina and headed through the Cape May Harbor. We went under the highway bridge and into the Cape May Canal, taking our first left and up the short canal to Miss Chris Marina. There are several charter fishing boats who leave from here, and one was loading up to head out, with all the fisherman watching us dock.   There is a saying “you are either watching the show, or you ARE the show”.  In this case, we were the show.  Fortunately, Captain Mark does a great job docking our beautiful Island Office and made it look easy.  The dockmaster had already arrived and helped us tie up.  Twenty minutes later we were full of fuel and headed back into the Cape May Canal.

In the meantime “Argento” had left and they were slightly ahead of us; we were buddy-boating again today.  When they left the Cape May Canal the hailed us on the VHF radio and told us things were a little rough on the Delaware River and they were going slow.  We knew a northwest wind with the opposing incoming tide would be an issue, but the wind was supposed to be light and therefore small waves. Mark’s strategy was to run as close to the north shore line with the anticipation that it will eventually settle down as the land will block the wind.

We passed by the Cape May ferry dock and entered the Delaware ourselves and found it a bit choppy, but not too bad.

We continued along for about 20 minutes and we debated if we should turn around and go tomorrow. But we also know from past experience that this is usually the roughest part of the bay.  We then talked with “Argento” who confirmed it was not getting any rougher where they were at, but they had slowed down to allow us to catch up to them.

Rough seas on Delaware Bay

Rough seas on Delaware Bay

Normally we can get up the river into the C&D Canal in 2.5 hours, so we knew we only had to endure the rough part for about an hour longer.  We pressed on and eventually caught up to “Argento”, who then followed in our wake so they would have a smoother ride. We were getting pummeled with seas over the bow, and Mark would have to rinse off the boat again when we arrived at our destination.

But as expected, as the river narrowed and we got closer to land, the curving shoreline blocked more of the wind and the seas settled down so it became more tolerable. Eventually, we were able to speed back up to 20 knots and make progress.  By the time we started to see the Hope Creek & Salem Nuclear Power plants up ahead, we could actually relax. We passed the Ship John Lighthouse and a tug-pushing barge and finally, made a left turn into the protected waters of the C&D Canal.

We continued cruising the 12 miles of the C&D Canal at 20 knots, until we had to slow down for passing other boats. Here we encountered “America”, the Trumpy who left Cape May 2 hours before us. We also had to slow down when we came to Chesapeake City and the docks of the marinas, as well as the docks for Dann Marine Towing, a familiar landmark near the western end of the canal.

We exited the Cape May canal just after noon, and now were calculating how far we could get by the end of the day. We needed to see if the Chesapeake would be as calm as was forecasted and we were happy that in fact it was.  Originally we had thought we could get to just south of Annapolis, but now we were pretty sure we could go all the way to Solomons, MD; eighty more miles south of where we were.

Calm day on Chesapeake Bay

Calm day on Chesapeake Bay

We also had been calculating our fuel consumption and trying to determine if we had enough fuel to get to Top Rack marina in Norfolk (known for having very inexpensive prices). There was also another place we would pass south of Annapolis (Herrington Harbor), and which we were considering stopping for the night. However, it was only competitive if we would be taking on more than 150 gallons and we didn’t need that much yet.  Since schedule was our overriding concern for the day, we opted to bypass this option and head for Solomons. We could pick up an incremental amount if needed.

In the meantime we had been looking at options for dockage and where we could stay for a few days to wait out the impending bad weather. There are several locations to choose from in Solomons, but we knew there was a harbor host with AGLCA at the Solomon Island Yacht Club (SIYC) and they had transient slips available.  A few phone calls later and we secured dockage at the Yacht Club, as did “Argento” who had been following us all afternoon.  Now all we had to do was get down the Chesapeake Bay.

The day continued to delight us with spectacular sunny skies, clear visibility and mostly flat seas. It doesn’t get any better than this on the Chesapeake Bay in the fall.  We cruised under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, passed Annapolis, and then passed the famous Thomas Point Shoal Light. Along the way we had to dodge many pieces of debris, including some big logs and trees. The rain and high water has contributed to flooding and the run-off from the creeks into the Bays has created all these hazards; some of which could sink our vessel.  Captain Mark does a great job at avoiding the big ones, but a few smaller ones have clunked the bottom of our boat. Here are some pictures from this:

Finally, we approached Dominion’s Liquid Nitrogen Gas (LNG) depot at Cove Point.  This is always a landmark for us and as we head into Solomons Island we know we are almost half-way through the Chesapeake Bay.

Cove Point LNG Facility

Cove Point LNG Facility

We rounded Drum Point and entered the Patuxent (PAX) River with the Naval Air Station to our left and Solomons directly in front of us.

We entered the harbor behind the research vessel associated with the University of Maryland – Center for Environmental Science, who then docked at their facility on our port side.

Mark had been on the phone with the SIYC dockmaster (also named Mark) and he gave us step by step directions into our slip.  He was there to grab our dock lines and help secure our vessel. Meanwhile, “Argento” went to get fuel at a nearby marina, and then came in right behind us to the dock.  After we got them tied up, we went up to the Yacht Club, registered and took the free drink tokens to the bar for a much-deserved cocktail.  Once again we had a big day, completing 150 miles total and a 3-day total of more than 420 miles.  But now we will sit until at least Sunday, waiting out weather and hoping to connect with our friends Betsy & Dave (“Fryedaze”) who live here.

Once “Argento” got tied up and registered, they too joined us in the bar. Together we agreed to a shared pizza dinner courtesy of Papa John’s and hosted on our Island Office.  Although they were originally going to leave in the morning, they are now reconsidering due to the expected rain and winds.

While we were finishing dinner, Doug, the AGLCA Harbor Host came by our boat to introduce himself.  He was very gracious and gave us lots of information about the club and the area.

Doug Smith - AGLCA Harbor Host

Doug Smith – AGLCA Harbor Host

After Doug left we finished our dinner, said good night to “Argento” and then turned in for the night, totally exhausted.

 Solomons Island, MD – Wednesday 10/16
The morning started off with a beautiful sunrise, but the sky was foretelling of the terrible weather to come. “Red sky in morning…..sailors take warning”.

Morning before the bad weather

Morning before the bad weather

We spent a good part of the morning trying to put together a plan for the coming days, with many things to consider.  We are planning to go to Washington DC the weekend of 10/26, but not by boat. We will need to the leave the boat where we intent to be as Denise is meeting her running “Sole Sisters” in Washington DC that weekend for the Marine Corp Marathon.  While she is not running the marathon, two of the women are, and others are doing the 10k (as is Denise) or they are cheering on the rest of the “Sisters”.

We also were planning for our time in Poquoson, VA to visit Denise’s brother and family as we did on our way north this spring.  We are awaiting confirmation on the availability of a slip at Whitehouse Cove Marina, where we have stayed in the past. Not long after our stay there this spring, they had a fire at the Surf Rider restaurant located at the marina and we are not sure if there is room for us.  If not then our location will change and we need to secure Plan B.

Also during the morning we met several of the members at SIYC. One member was John (“Longshadow”) who came down to the dock to talk to us and “Argento”. He told us he has been looking at Back Coves and is seriously considering buying one, although he likes the 41 foot model the best.  He also advised that he lived in the house next to the marina and told us his car was available if we needed one.  We thanked him for his offer and when he left we went back inside our boat, grateful for such southern hospitality. This once again proved to us that life is better south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

We weren’t back in the boat 15 minutes when the sky opened up and the rain started. We had watched several boats come into the anchorage and get their boats situated just in the nick of time.  It rained for the rest of the morning and into the late afternoon, sometimes with harsh winds.  We hunkered down in the boat, doing work, catching up on emails, and finally getting to download all the pictures from the last three days of travel. Mark was able to get Back Cove to send us a replacement screw for the flagpole and it will be sent ahead for pickup in Poquoson.

Rainy day at SIYC

Rainy day at SIYC

In the evening, the SIYC was having “taco night”, and we were invited to join them. So at 5:30 we went with “Argento” and arrived in time to secure the last few seats at the bar. The place was packed and all the tables inside were taken. Due to the weather, the tables on the patio were not a viable option and we felt lucky to be able to sit while eating.  The members in the club were very warm and welcoming, and Mark (dockmaster), his wife Lucy, and Doug (AGLCA Harbor Host) made it a point to come over make sure we were well taken care of.  Denise was able to sign the AGLCA Guest Book and put our boat card in their “album” where we saw cards for many of our Looper friends that have also been here.  It was great to feel so welcome and we had a fun time.

Taco night at SIYC with Victoria & Chuck ("Argento")

Taco night at SIYC with Victoria & Chuck (“Argento”)

We retired back to our boat and watched another episode of “Victoria & Albert” before calling it a day.

Solomons Island, MD – Thursday 10/17
While the rains of yesterday stopped, the winds picked up as predicted and were already blowing pretty good when Denise went out for a morning run.  She ran along the Patuxent Riverwalk and through the neighborhood that overlooks the harbor entrance.  The University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science the Solomons House & Visitors Center is also located here, and she was able to see the sunrise over the already choppy water. Here are some pictures from her run:

She cut the run short after 2 miles due to the pain in her right leg/hip, frustrated that she can’t run any further distance.

During the day we took advantage of the windy day and hunkered down once again on the boat to get some work done.  Mark had a series of conference calls, and helped Chuck (“Argento”) on his boat with a few technical items. Denise began cataloging the downloaded pictures and working on this blog post. Meanwhile we also finalized our plans for the weekend in DC, including Mark staying behind on the boat and Denise going to visit with her Sole Sisters. We also received confirmation that we can go into the Whitehouse Cove Marina in Poquoson and could stay there through Tuesday 10/29.

In the afternoon John (“Longshadow”) came by to tell us he put in his order for the Back Cove 41, and that his daughter is buying his current boat (Hinkley) from him.  He also offered his car for us if necessary tomorrow, and we might take him up on this.

In the evening Denise made a fish dinner that was a new recipe and was from some fresh fish we picked up in Rhode Island. We had put it in the freezer and defrosted it just before prepping for dinner. It turned out really good, but we figure it will be even better at home when we can use a “real” oven.

We finished the evening watching another episode of “Victoria & Albert” and are close to being ready to start watching the last season that was just released.

Solomons Island, MD – Friday 10/18
It was a cold 48 degrees when we woke up this morning and almost had us thinking we were still in Maine.  The wind was still blowing a good bit, but it had settled down since yesterday.  Mark spent almost all morning on telephone with clients and Denise continued to work on this blog update. We also took advantage of the free laundry at SIYC to get that chore behind us.

In the afternoon we looked at the weather for Sunday (our planned departure date) and decided to leave for Poquoson tomorrow (Saturday) instead.  Rain and some wind is expected for Sunday and we have a beautiful day planned for Saturday, so why wouldn’t we?  Also, tropical storm Nestor is forecasted to hit the FL and Gulf Coast states and then move through GA, SC and NC over the weekend.  We weren’t planning to go further south for a week, so this will be work out fine for us.

Later in the day Chuck came over to the boat to discuss their southbound travel plans.  He and Victoria are highly frustrated with the weather delays (welcome to our world) this year as last year they were further south in their journey to Delray Beach. Since we know this route quite well, we discussed possibilities for routes (offshore or ICW) and where to wait out weather.  Mark and Chuck then made plans for the four of us to go out to dinner as this would be one of our last times together.  Although we intend to buddy boat tomorrow down the Chesapeake Bay, they are going on to Norfolk and we will stop in Poquoson.

After wrapping up our day of work, we went to the Yacht Club and had a before dinner drink with Victoria & Chuck.  The club’s drinks are very inexpensive, and we always enjoy patronizing establishments that have been gracious to us.  Afterwards we walked down the street to a restaurant called the “Island Hideaway” for dinner. As they do not take reservations on a Friday night, we thought we might have to wait a while for a table. However, right after we walked in four seats at the bar became available and we chose to eat there instead of wait on a table.  The food and service was terrific and we all had delicious meals.  The place was all decorated for Halloween and it had quite the festive feel.

As we were walking back through the SIYC parking lot to our boats, we ran into Doug (AGLCA Harbor Host) who was taking out the trash. He invited us to come into the club and meet his wife, Susan.  We stayed and chatted for a bit and then said goodnight. They were closing up the club and we didn’t want to hold them back.  We left Chuck & Victoria talking to them and we turned in for the night.

Susan & Doug (AGLCA Harbor Host)

Susan & Doug (AGLCA Harbor Host)

A few notes about Solomons Island Yacht Club:  This is our 4th stay in Solomons and we like coming here as it is about halfway up/down the Chesapeake.  However, this was our first time staying at this club, but it our favorite location.  The people are the nicest, the location in town is great, and the club is not snobby or pretentious. In some ways it reminds us of Great Kills Yacht Club in Staten Island.  If we get to come back to Solomons again, this would be on the top of our list for places to stay.  Here are some pictures of the SIYC and some other boats.

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office