Friday, September 11, 2015

New York To The Chesapeake - A Praying Mantis, Fog And A Coast Guard Boarding

Off to sea we go again from New Jersey to the Delaware Bay
Sometimes even though there are always plenty of boat projects (and chores) to be working on, time seems to tick slowly by in a listless, restless way. Tick....long pause...tock....long pause...tick, tick, tick. Time becomes something tangible. Its normally when we are stuck on board not getting ashore with few people we know around us. Then the tempo picks up and time just slips through our  fingers, and life takes over again. Like now, I hardly know where to begin.  We hung out for a few days in Port Washington on Long Island until finally we could see a weather window approaching.  It’s never as easy as saying “let’s go now" when you are planning a passage. First we had to negotiate the East River again and time the notorious currents that rage through Hells Gate. Then we cruised past Manhattan one last time tipping our hats to the Lady in green. Thanking them for showing us such a wonderful time. It wasn’t so long ago that I couldn’t even fathom sailing the distances to get up here and now I’m turning around and heading back again. There is something wonderful about conquering your comfort zone.....(you can remind me I said that another time!).
Top left: One last time past the Statue of Liberty. Top right: Sim taking us through the raging currents you can see in the photo below him with Manhattan iin the background. Bottom left:Bridges on the East River
We planned to stage ourselves at Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey – over looking New York Bay with Manhattan way off in the distance.  The anchorage is a little smelly by the mooring field, but don't let it deter you; the holding is good and the town is cute. We stocked up on food and fuel, sampled the local brew in a micro brewery bar and enjoyed walking a small portion of the Henry Hudson trail that winds for 25 miles around the coast line.  The anchorage is not an attractive place but for some reason I like it.
Some of the Henry Hudson trail and views out across the bay of Sandy Hook.  The yellow caution sign amused us as you can see, a concrete trail is far from primative!  - And Wandering Star anchored near a working barge outside the mooring field.
The day before our overnight passage we moved across Sandy Hook bay and anchored just off the coastguard station.  
The beach at Sandy Hook - Poor Sim dragged on more beach walking expiditions - something I never seem to tire off!
The surrounding beaches were great for sea glass hunting at low tide. 
Bounties of the beach by the coastguard station at Sandy Hook
The highlight of our night sail was a praying mantis that had somehow survived the onslaught of seawater cascading over the decks, and was clinging on for dear life to the pilothouse.  I wasn’t thrilled by the idea of having to share the cockpit at night with a giant insect (who could leap on my face at any time!), nor the cat having something to encourage her to leap inadvertently over the side in the excitement of catching a live prey. But I don’t believe in creating bad karma, especially at sea.  With a dwindling Internet signal we googled how to look after a praying mantis – (apparently they are fairly common pets) and put him in a box with a few pieces of driftwood and a spritz of water - they can drown in anything bigger. I swatted a couple of flies and threw them in for good measure - though I read they can survive for up to two weeks without food. What totally threw me was the way he turned his head to look at me, looking at him, looking at me - it was creepy but cool. What clever little things they are.
We called him Winston after the great British PM! Get it? Praying mantis....PM! I think he was a bit bewildered by his trip to sea but he was quite happy to let me stroke him when we released him into the wild a few days later.
As dawn approached we rounded Cape May and entered the huge Delaware Bay, eventually anchoring after 170nm in a pretty spot behind Reedy Island at the north end of the bay.  The following morning we were up early making our way through the C and D canal that joins the Chesapeake and the Delaware Bays, when we became engulfed in thick fog.  Fairly big ships transverse this narrow canal, so when the ‘canal controller’ announced it was closed due to the fog, and we were smack bang in the middle of it, we knew at least we weren’t going to bump into anything big!  Just a shame our radar wasn’t working. 
Caught in the fog in the middle of the C and D Canal.
We carried on at a slow pace until the fog lifted and we were immediately pulled over by the coastguard. “Uh-Oh” I thought maybe we were in trouble for continuing in the canal after it had closed but no, they just wanted to check our paperwork and to make sure, that, as aliens, we were informing them of our whereabouts as we are legally supposed to do.  All was in order and they were very friendly.
Boarded by the friendly Coastguard.
We spent a night in the Elk River anchored just off 'White Crystal Beach'  – though there was nothing white nor crystalline about the brown, grubby shore (but this was the first opportunity we were able to get to a beach to release the praying mantis). Then it was on and up into the Chesapeake Bay to Havre de Grace –(pronounced haver)  a small waterfront town sitting on the banks of the Susquehanna River where we had arranged to meet up with old cruising friends Scott and Colleen formally from Argo Nevis.  We pulled into Tidewater Marina where we were warmly welcomed by their son Jeff.   We had a lovely time catching up with them and reminiscing about the “old days”. One of the great things about cruising is the people you meet. They even had us to stay with them at their home in Pennsylvania and in true cruiser style had us bring our laundry along too..Its been great seeing them and we thank them for their kindness and generosity. 
Top Left: Ourselves and Scott and Colleen, Top Right: Jeff, Scott, Colleen & Sim.
The countryside was beautiful, a huge agricultural area with sweeping cornfields and farmlands, many of which are worked on by the Amish people.  I wish we could have had more time there.  But we are fast tracking through the Chesapeake, pit stopping at a few certain spots as we make our way south to Beaufort and Bock Marine in North Carolina so that we can haul out and make some minor repairs before it gets too cold.
Some snap shots through the car window on our drive to see Scott and Colleen before the heavens opened up and it pelted down.


  1. Great post Rosie. Plans for the winter?

    1. Thanks Jon. Subject to us changing our minds a million times, I think we'd like to make our way back to EC. Xxx Looking forward to a reunion.xx :-)