July 28, 2009... Welcome to Centerport!

Left anchor in Manhasset Bay this morning hoping to take advantage of the promised south winds that would take us east through the Long Island Sound to Centerport. Oh well. The winds were out of the northeast. Not horrible, just not what we expected. So, we tacked our way east by crossing the Sound. Actually pretty cool. And the scenery is beautiful. Hempstead Bay, Oyster Bay... running out of time... so the motor goes on and we motorsail the rest of the way to Huntington Bay and anchor in Northport Harbor. (BTW, the south winds appear at about 3pm...) Dinghy over to Centerport to be welcomed by Cousins Pam and Joe and Sophie and Aunt Eileen and Uncle Marvin! Terrific to see everyone, sitting on the beach and just passing the time. Nightfall and back to Anhinga. More family time tomorrow.

July 26-27, 2009... Manhasset Bay and Port Washington

After arriving from our New York experience, we were happy to sit in the Manhasset Bay anchorage and chill out. However, our floating neighbors had other plans. On Saturdays, this is a big power boat raft up destination, with music and loud people. Some people left when the late afternoon storm came through, others before nightfall. By Sunday morning, there were only a handful of us left in the anchorage. The other activities in the Bay on weekends are the sailing regattas. The yacht clubs here seem to have nonstop races. It is really beautiful to watch the boats go up and down the Bay, but we really can do without all the constant cannon fire of the starting guns. But we went about our business. We dinghied to the Town Dock, tied up and walked to the Stop N Shop to replenish our food stocks and get a Sunday NY Times. Of course, only after stopping for coffee and a bialy. (After all, this is New York.) We explored the south end of the Bay by kayak, seeing herons, egrets and surprisingly, ospreys. The experience of the 7 foot tide is new to us, and watching the floating docks rise and fall is pretty entertaining. We had dinner ashore at a very good restaurant recommended to us by the Harbor Constable.

Monday, we were only one of two boats left in the anchorage. We explored the north end of the Bay by kayak and gawked at all the incredible mansions lining the Great Neck and Manorhaven shorelines. We took an afternoon walk in Port Washington and went all the way up the hill to the town and the LIRR train station. Of course it rained on us again (it seems to rain every day at 4pm here... is this the tropics??) But we got back to the boat without getting too wet. Then two hours later, as we were contemplating when to grill our tuna, all hell broke loose. A tremendous thunderstorm came through the Bay. “The tiny ship was tossed.” We spun on the anchor, we lost sight of land, there were huge waves where 10 minutes before there wasn’t even a ripple, and the dinghy was hobby horsing on the cleat. This seemed to last a long time, but it was probably only 5-10 minutes. No damage. But the crew was a little shaken. Well, we were wet again. But dinner and a beautiful sunset helped us forget the episode. Tomorrow we sail to Centerport to see some family there. Manhasset Bay is a place to come back to.

July 25, 2009... New York Transit

Today was a very big day. Anhinga visited the Big Apple! Waking early, we planned and synchronized our transit with the tides and currents at the Battery and Hell Gate. Crossing from New Jersey to the Verrazano Bridge was uneventful, and once through the Narrows, the New York Harbor was amazing. It proved easier to maneuver in than we thought. Huge ships were lying at anchor up the entire the harbor. The Statue of Liberty welcomed us as if we were turn-of-the-century immigrants. The New York skyline, while a little hazy, was beautiful. We arrived at the entrance to the East River an hour earlier than we thought. And, wouldn't you know it - Frank Sinatra was on the stereo singing New York, New York. Our planning worked and we had a 2-3 knot push up the river. At one point we hit speeds over 10 knots. Seeing all the landmarks from the water is truly a sight to behold. Passing under the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge, 59th St Bridge and seeing the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the United Nations, and more was incredible. Turning through Hell Gate into the stretch to the Long Island Sound was a little challenging, but we did it! The day got warmer and we decided to anchor in Manhasset Bay to enjoy the fresh breeze and to rest on our laurels!

Manhasset Bay: +40° 48' 59.82", -73° 42' 35.58"
* approximate times

July 24, 2009... Sandy Hook, NJ

Yesterday was supposed to be the rest day after our big trip up the coast. Instead we were met with a big storm - rain all day and winds upwards of 20 knots. Needless to say, we spent the day on the boat making sure it held together. Best news - the Rocna anchor paid for itself again - we didn’t move an inch. Today we planned our approach to New York City, and kayaked up to the point at Sandy Hook where we got a terrific view of the Verrazano Bridge and the Manhattan skyline. Tomorrow - the Big Apple!

July 22-23, 2009... Final Journey Up New Jersey Coast

Started out the day really early in Atlantic City hoping to take advantage of the southerly winds promised by the National Weather Service. Those would help us get northeast to Sandy Hook - our intended destination. Well...once again the National Weather Service was wrong. We had wind on the nose from 6 am till noon. We tried a variety of creative things to get some sailing in. Jib? Main? Jib and main? Staysail? Motorsail? We did it all - some things worked better than others. By afternoon we got some favorable winds and sailed in the Atlantic Ocean! Today’s great sightings - dolphins and a pelican! (A pelican in New Jersey? Now that’s global warming.) So, by sundown we were near Asbury Park and there were fireworks! That was good as it took our minds off the fact that we were sailing at night for the first time... approaching New York City - the busiest port on the east coast. (There’s a fine line between tough and stupid.) But we were doing fine and there really wasn’t much ship traffic. We thought we had this down, until we realized that we hadn’t factored in the current at Sandy Hook. Slowed us down to less than 2 knots -- it took us almost three hours to go through the channel to the anchorage (BTW, did we mention it was dark?) We finally anchored at 2:30 am in Horseshoe Cove, Sandy Hook, NJ

Sandy Hook: +40° 26' 37.44", -73° 59' 56.58"

July 20, 2009... New Jersey Coast

After a day at anchor in Cape May, where we did such exciting things as laundry, buy diesel, and reward ourselves with a challenging kayak through the salt marsh (where we almost managed to ground ourselves...oy), we got up early this morning to make our way to our next anchorage - Atlantic City. Early winds were not favorable to sailing the northeasterly course, but as the day went on, we found our groove and managed to get some Atlantic Ocean sailing in. To top that off, we saw some more dolphins around our boat! And as a milestone in our technical portfolio, we made water while we were underway. We arrived in early evening in Abescon Inlet and anchored in a humongous current in the marina district of Atlantic City, just in the shadow of Harrah’s casino. It looks like everything in Atlantic City has been dwarfed by the casinos, including the lighthouse. This isn’t a very beautiful place, but a convenient stopover as we make our way north. We plan to go see our friends at the Coast Guard station tomorrow morning to see about options for the rest of New Jersey.

Atlantic City NJ - 39d23'N 74d25'W

July 18, 2009... Cape May, NJ

Yay! A sunny day! Woke up to find that the full anchorage (maybe 10 boats) was nearly empty, and the remaining boats left early. Apparently we were the only ones planning to spend the day in town and stay another night. Coming from Annapolis, a town that caters to sailboats, we were surprised to find a completely different character in Cape May. This town is for fishermen, plain and simple. Not cruisers, not sailboat racers, fishermen. So the parade of boats leaving the harbor starts very early in the morning and continues the whole day. And of course it reverses itself in the evening. We had a front row seat to the activity (and the wakes!)

Having no information about the town, we weren’t sure where to dinghy to get there. Asking some local folks on their boats moored in the harbor, we learned that there is no public dinghy dock here and the city didn’t think it was an important amenity to provide. Not very friendly for the cruisers coming through the ICW or those like us that happened to come here. However, we did find that Utsch’s Marina would let us tie up under the ramp to their fuel dock. So we started walking to town - about a 2 mile hike. We passed all the beautiful Victorian gingerbread houses and found the pedestrian mall. Perfect weather and happy to have a chance to stretch our legs, we continued on to the promenade on the beach and walked up and down looking over the sea of people, colorful umbrellas, and a CALM sea (wish we had that yesterday.) Then, back through town and an early dinner at The Lobster House, a Cape May institution since the 1920s. Retrieved our boat at Utsch’s and back to Anhinga. A terrific day!

Cape May NJ - 38d57'N 74d53'W

July 17, 2009... Delaware Bay

Up early, out of the anchorage by 0730, motoring down the Delaware Bay. No wind. Current picked up and gave us a 2 knot lift over the engine for a while. Weather really gray and when the wind finally arrived, it was on the nose... all the way down the Bay. High points of our journey were the dolphins playing all around the boat, the stingrays everywhere, and the fact that Anhinga finally got a taste of the Atlantic Ocean. Because of our mast height, we were unable to take the Cape May Canal in, forcing us to go around to the channel on the ocean. A long day, but here we are, anchored before dark and looking forward to spending tomorrow or maybe the whole weekend enjoying the town of Cape May.

Cape May NJ - 38d57'N 74d53'W

July 16, 2009... Transiting C&D Canal

After another lovely day on the Sassafras River yesterday we decided to take our chances on the weather and head for the Delaware Bay. We checked on the current to make sure we would get a push through the Canal - looked like a noon arrival at Herring Creek would get us the best whoosh. So, packing up and sailing out of the Sassafras to the Chesapeake, motorsailing up the Elk River, and finally onto the C&D Canal. We got about a two-knot advantage from the current. And luckily, only three ships passed in the opposite direction for the entire length of the Canal making the trip pleasant and fairly uneventful. Once outside the C&D, the Delaware Bay was dark and windy. A storm was passing to the north, so our southbound direction was good. We motored against the current... slowly... and found our next anchorage behind Reedy Island with a ‘great’ view of the Salem nuclear plant in New Jersey. Then the sun came out. We hope for a calm, quiet evening; planning an early start for Cape May in the morning.

Reedy Island DE - 39d31'N 75d34'W

July 14, 2009... Still Pond to the Sassafras River

After an unexpectedly rough night in the anchorage, we started the day with a beautiful 2-hour sail into the Sassafras River. Found a snug anchorage across from Woodland Creek. Rocna down and off we went by dinghy to Georgetown, MD. There, we walked the mile and a half to Galena for Otwell’s Market where we bought some fresh fish to grill for dinner. Wind is up again, and our evening kayak is a no go - postponed for morning.

Sassafras River MD - 39d22'N 75d55'W

July 13, 2009... Leaving Annapolis

The day arrived, emotions ran high, and we needed a list to make sure we could just get out of the slip. And we did, with the help of Don and Robert who wished us farewell. We were even able to retrieve all our docklines. The day was already a success. We pointed the boat north to the Bay Bridge hoping to sail to the Sassafras River. The Bay gods were against us and there was no wind, so we motored all the way to Still Pond, unable to make our destination before nightfall. Yet, there was an unexpected bonus with a beautiful evening kayak treat in Still Pond Creek, followed by a sensational sunset.

Still Pond MD - 39d20'N 76d08'W

July 12, 2009... the voyage begins. But the story began years ago.

First we dreamt the dream of cruising, then we set the schedule - our 5-year plan. In late 2003 we decided to learn to sail, and went to Tortola to do it (why not learn in a beautiful place?). We spent the next couple of years chartering boats when we could take vacations from work. Though fun, not entirely satisfying. A chance meeting with a seasoned sailor convinced us. The only way to really learn to sail he said, was to buy a boat and “sail the hell out of it.” We went to Annapolis to find the right boat. In 2005 we bought a Pearson 33, and spent as many weekends and vacations as we could sailing the Chesapeake Bay. 2008 arrived, and on our plan it was the year to find our cruising boat; our future home. In July 2008 we found her in Deltaville, VA -- a 1988 Bristol 47.7.

Our Boat: Anhinga is a sloop/cutter center cockpit boat. The two previous owners kept her in immaculate condition, and the task was to make her ours. In our quest to be independent, safe, and comfortable, we added a solar array, watermaker, hard stern rails, dinghy davits, dinghy, mast steps, a Rocna anchor and modified bow roller, cockpit enclosure, and a new head. It takes a village to outfit a boat - in this case Annapolis - thanks to Andy, Rurik, Brian, Charlie, Greg, Robert, Cindy, and Tim for all your hard work through winter and spring 2009 to make our dream a reality. Thanks too to our dock neighbors, Bob, Don, Robert, Cindy, Kathy, and Jerry, for sage advice and encouragement.