Resuming our Cruise up Chesapeake Bay – 5/10/16

First of All –

  • First time ever cruising north of Baltimore on Chesapeake Bay

Namely Speaking-

  • Gunpowder Neck
  • Aberdeen Proving Grounds
  • Fairlee Creek
  • Stillpond Creek

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: Power: 34; Sail: 0
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 4,599
  • Hours Underway: 6
  • Fuel: 19 gallons; $57; 8 mpg
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.47
  • Wind Speed: 8-10; Wind Direction: N
  • Daily High Temperature: 59
  • Water Temperature: 59

DSCF3191The day is at hand for resuming our cruise northward. I stop for fuel and then we’re on our way. It’s another of these cold, gray drizzlyDSCF3193 Chesapeake Bay days, but at least it’s not windy. The sun does briefly brighten Ft. McHenry as we pass by. Not many boats out there today, as we make our turn north. The Bay is progressively narrowing, and we can now easily see both the east and western shores as we motor along. The air is uncomfortably chilly, in the mid 50’s. We have 3 small creeks on the eastern shore to choose from for anchorage. I opt for the furthest one, Stillpond Creek. Our speed slows as we begin bucking the ebb current, which runs betteer than 1mph on this part of the Bay. It begins raining again as I make the turn toward Stillpond Creek. A dredged channel leads us past a long, narrow point. Navigation markers are narrowly spaced, but we carry 9 feet through the channel and into the anchorage area. Scattered homes are neatly tucked in, along the heavily forested shoreline. The water is glassy smooth. I drop anchor in 4 feet of water and we are set for the night.

Transiting the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal – 5/11/16

First of All –

  • First significant topography sighted since on the Mississippi last fall (Mt. Mauldin at 220 feet)
  • First day cruising in the State of Delaware (15th state on the trip)
  • First aerial natural gas pipline cruised beneath

Namely Speaking-

  • Betterton
  • Havre de Grace
  • Sassafras River
  • Elk Neck
  • Bohemia River
  • Bull Minnow Point
  • Pea Patch Island

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: Power: 41; Sail: 0
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 4,640
  • Hours Underway: 5
  • Fuel: 9.7 gallons; $29; 8mpg
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.75
  • Wind Speed: light; Wind Direction: E
  • Daily High Temperature: 61
  • Water Temperature: 57

DSCF3194Today we bid farewell to the Chesapeake Bay. We will transit the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, an historic sealevel canal linking Delaware Bay with Chesapeake Bay. When first opened in 1829 this canal cut more than 300 miles off a trip between Baltimore and Phidelphia. This canal is the fifth significant waterway we’ve traversed which enables today’s cruisers to do the Great Loop. The first was the Chicago River and Sanitary Canal, which links the Great Lakes with the Mississippi River system. Next, we cruised the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, which enables boaters to cross from the interior Tennessee River system into the Tombigbee/Black Warrior/Mobile Rivers which drain into the Gulf of Mexico. Then came the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, a combination of dug canals andDSCF3202 protected waters which permit mostly protected passage along the Gulf of Mexico from Mobile Bay to the Florida penninsula and beyond. Then in turn we cruised the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, a thousand mile long protected waterway extending from Miami to the south end of Chesapeake Bay. We will now be crossing over to Delaware Bay, which will bring us ever closer to New York harbor and the entrance to the Hudson River.

Overcast skies once again, but mild temperature and no wind. As I weave my way down the channel toward the open Bay it looks like the water out there is rough. However, I’ve mistaken the rough edges of the treetops on the far shore for waves on the horizon. Chesapeake Bay is just as placid as our anchorage on Still Pond. We pick up a flood current as we make our way northward, toward the entrance to the C & D Canal. We’re seeing hills for the first time since leaving the interior rivers last fall. One prominence is even dignified on the DSCF3204chart with the name of Mt. Mauldin, elevation 220 feet above sea level. We ride a strong current into the canal, averaging 9 mph at 2900 rpm. I scan ahead for large vessel traffic on the Garmin, and only see one AIS target, a tug headding our way. We meet up with the tug near a lift bridge, which is fortunately in the up position. He’s not going very fast, but still pushing a large wake against the current. We get strongly bounced after he passes, and his wake continues to rebound in the channel for a considerable distance. We pick up a little wind as we near the Delaware River, at the eastern end of the canal. I turn northward, toward Delaware City and see a huge cargo ship heading upriver. I keep an eye on him over my shoulder, and am relieved to see him turn to the west at the mouth of the canal. I’m sure glad we didn’t encounter him while still in the canal.

I call the Delaware City Marina on the cell phone, and get instructions on how to enter. This marina is located on an old, bypassed section of the canal and their floating docks are situated along the north bank of the old canal. The approach is easy against the outflowing current, and two dock hands are present to assist with tying us up. They use lines to turn the boat around, so it will be easy for us to get going in the morning. We walk into town, a rather quiet, sleepy place with many pre Civil War homes which were built during and shortly after the canal was completed in 1829. We’re both tired following our walk, so we return to the boat, just as rain begins to fall. I’m wondering when this gray, cool, wet weather will finally end.

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Fighting Current and Dodging Shipping up to Philly – 5/12/16

First of All –

  • First day cruising in Pennsylvania
  • First time cruising next to an international airport
  • First time meeting up with a MacGregorsailors.com moderator
  • First time dining at a crepes restaurant

Namely Speaking-

  • New Castle
  • Wilmington
  • Whooping John Creek
  • Schuylkill River
  • Camden
  • Philadelphia

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: Power: 41; Sail: 0
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 4,681
  • Hours Underway: 6 1/2
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.57
  • Wind Speed: 8; Wind Direction: NE
  • Daily High Temperature: 73
  • Water Temperature: 56

DSCF3208We grant ourselves the luxury of a leisure departure, casting off lines at 9:30am. There’s no point in hurrying, since the current will be strongly against us until 2:30pm. If we’re to get up the Delaware River to Philadelphia today and arrive at a decent hour I know we’ll have to fight the current, but no sense leaving early and having an adverse current for the whole run. We’re blanketed by a hazy thin fog which doesn’t obscure visibility, but gives the sky an obscure, smoggy appearance. The sun valiantly tries to burn it off, but fails to succeed untilDSCF3213 we’re almost to Philly. The current is running at 2 knots or more, and I must push the engine hard to make 5 mph against it. Because of all the recent rain we must weave through a great deal of woody debris, and sometimes we bump or bang into partially submerged boards or branches which I’ve failed to see. I hope I haven’t bent another prop. Descending airliners give evidence that we’re nearing Philadelphia. The international airport runways parallel the Delaware River, a short distance to our west. We’re passed by the occasional barge and tow, but the river is wide enough (more than a mile wide most of the way) that we’re not bothered too much by wake. Once again I’ve badly underestimated time and distance for our run. I’d hoped to get in by 2pm, but it’s looking more and more like 4pm. The current finally switches and our speed picks up as we approach and round the Horseshoe Turn. We can now see the skyline of the city, and we begin passing old, deteriorating docks, quays, and warehouses on the Philly side. We pass the Navy shipyard to port, and see several frigates and an aircraft carrier tied up there. I notice one interesting, old ship which is in an advanced state of decay, off to our left. She has two angled stacks and many portholes along the side of her hull and cabin decks. It turns out that she’s the United States, at one time the proud flagship of the US transatlantic liners and, we later learn, still holder of the record for the fastest Atlantic crossing. We also DSCF3220 learn that plans are underway for her restoration. What a great thing that would be. We finally sight the great World War II battleship New Jersey, fittingly tied up on the New Jersey side of the river. Our marina destination is located just across from this famous ship. Before we get there, however, we must contend with some other large vessels which are very much underway. We’re in the process of being passed by an upriver bound tug which is towing a huge barge. A second tug has a line astern, to help with turns in the river, and two other tugs are hurrying past our bow to assist with maneuvers. I try radioing the lead tug but get no reply. The river is narrowing at this point, and I’m expecting to get rocked by a nasty wake. Just as things are getting dicey, they are complicated further by a large freighter which is heading downriver at a rapid rate of speed. This freighter is pointing to pass between us and the tugs and barge. I hug the shore and increase our speed, hoping that the freighter will help deflect the barge and tow wake, which is now an ominous linear mound ofDSCF3221 water, steadily rolling our way. This strategy works out pretty well, and the freighter itself isn’t creating that much wake. We still get roughly handled once I get clear of the freighter, with wake and confused rebounding seas tossing us about. I call the dockmaster on the radio for instructions on getting in. Richie responds and talks us in. The boat basin lies behind a sheet piling breakwater. Finger piers connect with the breakwater while, on the shoreline side we see an amazing collection of historic ships. First is a huge 4 masted square rigger, which now serves as a floating restaurant. Next to it are a World War II era submarine and, most amazingly, a cruiser from an even earlier era. She’s the Olympia, Admiral Dewey’s flagship during the Spanish American War’s Battle of Manila Bay. She has a decidedly old fashioned look, with both bow and stern angling outward at the waterline, and bristling with cannons and guns which stick out from her sides along the hull. She’s the oldest steel hulled warship still afloat.

Over the past couple of days I’ve been in contact with Ray, a fellow MacGregor owner who lives here in Philadelphia. He suggests getting together for dinner, and has offered to serve as tour guide while we’re in Philly. This sounds great, and we make plans accordingly. He includes Kevin and his wife in the dinner plans. Kevin is a moderator on the MacGregorsailors website, and I’ve seen his posts on that site for many years. We look forward to meeting up with these fellow MacGregor sailors. Ray picks us up at the Marina around 6pm, after fighting his way through heavy traffic. He’s selected a crepes restaurant in midtown Philly, which turns out to be a great place for dinner and conversation. Kevin and his wife arrive soon after the 4 of us get there, and a memorable evening ensues. After we leave the restaurant Ray takes us on a driving tour of the city, pointing out many great sights and places. He was born here, and he clearly loves his city. We will come to discover for ourselves that Philadelphia indeed does hold a lot to love.

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Exploring the Historic Heart of Philadelphia – 5/13/16

First of All –

  • First time ever viewing the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: Power: 0 – Layover Day
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 4,681
  • Hours Underway: NA
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 13.4 (plugged in)
  • Wind Speed: light
  • Daily High Temperature: 66
  • Water Temperature: 56

DSCF3232It’s overcast, with a promise of rain by midmorning. Dockmaster Richie gives us a ride in the golf cart down the breakwater walkway and over to the Market Street pedestrian overpass which takes us over I-95 and into the heart of the historic old city. We walk up Market Street, toward the Independence Hall visitor center. We get there by 10:30am and are disappointed to learn that tickets for touring Independence Hall are already gone for today. They’re isssued on a first come/first served basis. We figure we’ll have to return early next day and stand in line if we’re to have a chance of getting in. We watch a couple of excellent films at the visitor center and then head out to see the things which are open to us. First on the list is the famed Liberty Bell. We get in line and while waiting, I notice a sign stating that we’ll need to pass security. No weapons allowed, including pocket knives. Darned! I’ve got my Leatherman multitool on my belt. I take it off and, while hopefully no oneDSCF3236 is looking, I quickly stash it in a planter bed beneath a thick covering of vinca, hoping it will still be there after our visit to the great bell. The line moves along fairly well, with interesting signs to read along the way. We’re finally standing with a group of people in front of perhaps the most famous bell in the world. It doesn’t seem quite as large as I imagined, but it definitely does have a presence. The only thing separating us from the bell is a thick rope and the watchful gaze of a security guard. A Park Ranger is on hand to tell stories about the bell. Behind the bell a high glass wall affords a dramatic view of Independence Hall, where the bell once hung and pealed out for all to hear. The last time the Liberty Bell rang was in 1846, when its great crack occurred. The bell was then taken down from the tower and has been silent ever since, although her message of Liberty for All has continued to be proclaimed.

We then walk over to the courtyard behind Independence Hall and walk through some historic buildings next to Independence Hall, which don’t require a reserved ticket. While in one we talk with a Park Ranger about being too late to get tickets and she suggests that we go over to the Ranger at the head of the line. Sometimes they’re able to work folks in without reservations. We do just that and are amazed DSCF3248 when we’re added to the 12:30 tour group. The tour of this great building, arguably the most famous and significant building in our country, is an experience not to be missed. Inside, we view the room where the Declaration of Independence was signed, where the Articles of Confederation were signed, where the Constitution was ratified, and where the Bill of Rights was approved. We see original prints of the famous documents, made shortly after the originals were signed. We also see the chair which President George Washington sat in when the Constitution was ratified. On its back is an engraving of the sun, half way up. Ben Franklin sat directly in front of Washington during the Constitutional Convention, and after ratification famously remarked, “I’ve been sitting here contemplating whether that sun is rising or setting. I can now proclaim that it is indeed rising.”

All this history has given our appetites an edge so we walk back toward 2nd Street and the restaurant district. We select a CubanDSCF3251 restaurant for our lunch spot and are delighted with the choice. The food is outstanding, and the interior decor, done up to look like old Havana, is striking in its atmosphere and attention to detail. After lunch we head back up to the historic district, but seem to arrive too late for one place after another. We get to the cemetery where Ben Franklin is buried 20 minutes after it closes for the day. We’re still able to view his grave since he had the good sense to be buried near the edge of the cemetery, where we can pay respects through the iron grating. We next walk down to see the Betsy Ross house, and miss it also, by 20 minutes. Our last stop of the day will be Christ Church, and we definitely expect to find it tightly buttoned up. As we draw near, however, we see an open door, and we walk in. This remarkable Anglican congregation was founded in 1697 and the current church building was begun in 1727, finished in 1758. Engraved slabs of marble are inset on the floor within, marking burials of significant DSCF3264 church members from the early years. Other marble, granite, and copper plaques adorn the side walls, attesting to the remarkable history of this place. Sandy locates the pews where George Washington, Ben Franklin, and other great figures from the earliest days of our republic sat and worshipped. I have a great conversation with a fellow who is collecting money from the donation boxes. He’s a wealth of information about this church, its early history and its current status.

We depart the church with just enough time to walk over to the City Tavern, a faithful reconstruction of the 5 story tavern which was built on this site in 1773. They feature entree’s as well as drinks and ales which are based on Revolutionary era recipes and menus. A costumed musician playing the harp provides background music. Sandy orders rabbit and I have rack of lamb. The food is expertly prepared and presented. My meal is accompanied by a mug of George Washington porter. We finish with a slice of Martha Washington’s chocolate mouse. Delicious. Following dinner I engage in conversation with our harpist and he turns out to be a highly knowledgable historian, who shares some great stories with us. All in all, it’s been a remarkable day.

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First Flag and the Constitution – 5/14/16

First of All –

  • First genuine Philly cheesesteak sandwich

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: o – Layover Day
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 4,681
  • Hours Underway: NA
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 13.4 (plugged in)
  • Wind Speed: 15-20; Wind Direction: S
  • Daily High Temperature: 80
  • Water Temperature: 56

DSCF3268Today we embark on our second visit to the sights of Philadelphia. We catch a golf cart ride with dockmaster Richie to the foot of Market Street, and we take the pedestrian walkway to the historic downtown area. We walk over to the Betsy Ross house, which was closed when we got there yesterday. We pick up audio tour devices and go through this beautifully restored historic 18th century home. A guest room is attractively furnished in period pieces, but the big attraction is Betsy’s own bedroom, where upon request of General Washington himself in 1776, she agreed to sew the new nation’s first flag. The story was once considered fanciful, but over the years the details have been verified and confirmed. It’s an endearing story. She was initially reluctant to take on the task, since she’d never sewn a flag before, but she did end upDSCF3269 agreeing. She made the flag out of wool bunting, and it took several weeks to hand stitch. Original specifications called for 6 pointed stars, but she found it easier to cut out 5 pointed stars. She made this first flag at considerable personal risk, since making a flag constituted an act of treason in the eyes of the British. That’s why she sewed the flag upstairs, in her bedroom instead of downstairs in the room where she conducted her upholstery business. She also made musket cartridges for the Continental Army, and ended up making several flags for the new army and navy. By the end of the war she modified her upholstery business to include flag making, and she continued making flags throughout most of her remaining 84 years. Only failing eyesight stilled her needle. She ended up outliving virtually all of the founding fathers. We conclude our tour by viewing her grave, which is located in the courtyard just outside her home.

Following our tour of Betsy Ross’s home, we walk over to the restaurant district on Market Street and order our very first genuine Philly cheesesteak sandwich. It’s quite large so we share, and enjoy this iconic Philadelphia standby. After lunch we walk over to the visitor center near Independence Hall, and head over to the National Constitution Center. We’ve been told that they have an outstanding film DSCF3271about the Constitution there, but are disappointed to find that the theater is being renovated and temporarily closed. We view the exhibits on becoming President, as well as the main Constitution exhibit. They’re very well done, however, it’s a lot to take in, with a lot of standing and reading involved. I think we’re beginning to reach museum burnout. We do enjoy an interesting room which features lifesized bronze statues of the framers of the Constitution. They’re grouped as they are thought to have been located at the time of the Constitution’s ratification. Interestingly, two major figures are absent. Thomas Jefferson was not present, since at the time he was serving in Paris as the US ambassador to France. And John Adams is likewise missing, since at the time of Constitution ratification he was serving as our ambassador to Great Britain. Another highlight is an original printed copy of the Bill of Rights. A total of 14 copies were printed at the time of ratification, one each for the 13 original States, plus another for the new Constitutional Federal Government. A total of 10 have survived to this day, and we’re looking at one of them. Pretty remarkable.

We decide to conclude our sightseeing a little early. We’re tired and looking forward to relaxing a bit back on the boat. I’ve looked ahead at weather and tides, and decide to stay an extra day here in Philadelphia. We’ll attend services tomorrow at Christ Church, and then take a bus ride out to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, made famous by Rocky Balboa’s memorable training run up the front steps. We suspect they may have some pretty cool paintings inside. On Monday morning dockmaster Richie has offered to give us a ride out to the nearby Walmart so we can do a bit of grocery shopping. We should be able to get back to the boat in time to catch the 10:30am outgoing tide, which will give us a nice boost back down to Delaware City. Tuesday’s forecast looks mild, which should be a help as we head down Delaware Bay toward Cape May. It’s anything but mild right now however. The sky to our west is getting quite dark, and the boat is getting periodicly pounded with strong wind gusts. It may be challenging grilling hamburgers on the boat this evening, but I’ll give it my best shot.

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Pentecost in Ben Franklin’s Pew, Plus Art – 5/15/16

First of All –

  • First time worshipping at a church where Ben Franklin, George Washington and several other signers of the Declaration of Independence attended

 

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: 0 – Layover Day
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 4,681
  • Hours Underway: NA
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 13.4 (plugged in)
  • Wind Speed: 15; Wind Direction: W
  • Daily High Temperature: 58
  • Water Temperature: 56

DSCF3265It’s 8:20am and we’re headed out, with just enough time to comfortably walk over to Christ Church, where we will attend the 9am Pentecost Sunday worship service. It’s mostly sunny out, but a brisk, chilly wind encourages us to step quickly along. Christ Church is steeped in history. Seven signers of the Declaration of Independence are buried in the church yard. The baptismal font from which William Penn, founder of the colony of Pennsylvania, was baptized as an infant back in England stands modestly at the rear of the church. We opt to sit in pew 70, which just happens to be the pew in which Benjamin Franklin sat while attending here. Ben is credited for organizing a lottery to raise funds for the construction of the church spire, back in the 1750’s. We’re 5 pews back from GeorgeDSCF3267 Washington’s pew, but a young family sits there today. Their infant daughter will be baptized during the service. Only about 100 people are in attendance, but the 11am service will probably attract more. I can’t help but look around the church from where I sit, marveling at the fact that the scene I’m taking in is the same one Ben Franklin viewed back in the mid 18th century.

After the service concludes, we walk over to Market Street for coffee and danish at a small bakery. Then it’s time to head up toward 5th Street, where the Route 38 bus stops. This bus will take us directly to the Philadelphia Art Museum. While waiting at the stop we learn that senior citizens ride for free, and all we need to do is show our Medicare cards to the driver. Advancing age does have its benefits. We get off the bus down in front of the Museum and walk past the now famous Rocky statue. It once stood at the top of the steps he immortalized in the first Rocky movie, but local folks decided the artistic quality of the statue didn’t quite merit so exalted a location, so Rocky has now been demoted to the base of the steps. He doesn’t seem to mind. His arms are still raised in triumph, and his legions of fans stand in line to have their pictures taken next to him. Others insist on running up the towering flight of steps to the top, where they dance around, arms held high. It’s rather amusing, but we don’t linger too long watching, since it’s really chilly out, and we are eager to go inside and explore this great art museum. We start out in the American art section, followed by a gallery devoted to European artists of the Impressionist Period. Not surprisingly, this museum has an outstanding collection of works by one time resident Thomas Eakins. Early American furniture and Shaker works also are well represented. Following lunch we go upstairs to view more European art covering a wide range of styles and periods. One of the most outstanding wings presents a series of rooms which feature complete interiors from different eras, each with their distinctive architectural style and decor. Seeing them all linked together makes it seem like we’re walking back in time. The museum’s collection of medieval arms and armor is particularly fascinating. We’ve done our best to view these wondrous works of art at a modest pace, however, after more than 4 hours of wandering through galleries our knees and arches are definitely complaining, and we’re finding it hard to appreciate what we’re seeing. That’s a definite sign that it’s time to exit. We head out to the bus stop, and within 15 minutes we’re on the bus and riding back toward 5th Street. From there it’s an easy 20 minute walk back to the boat, where we heat up some nice crab chowder. With the cockpit surround in place and the boat plugged in to shore power, we sit in the cockpit, electric heater humming away, and enjoy our savory steaming soup.

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Rough Retreat Down the Delaware River – 5/16/16

First of All –

  • First time pounding so hard that the ball fender flipped up and over the bow pulpit
  • First time returning to a marina following a sidetrip

Namely Speaking-

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: Power: 40; Sail: 0
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 4,721
  • Hours Underway: 5 1/2
  • Fuel: 14.2 gallons; $42.46; 5.8 mpg (running at 3200rpm most of the time)
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 13.4 (plugged in)
  • Wind Speed: 15-20; Wind Direction: WSW
  • Daily High Temperature: 73
  • Water Temperature: 60

We’ve greatly enjoyed sampling what Philadelphia has to offer, but the time has come to resume our cruise. Dockmaster Richie gives us an 8am lift over to WalMart to top off on provisions. By 10:30 we’re back on the boat and pulling out of our slip. It’s a raw day, with mostly clear sky but very chilly temperatures, made even more uncomfortable by a stiff wind out of the west. I’m thinking that, with the wind mostly on our beam, we’ll be able to negotiate a mostly southerly route back down the river to Delaware City. However, I’ve badly underestimated what this tidal estuary is capable of. We do fine for the first mile or so, bouncing along in 1 to 2 foot wind waves. I even roll out the jib for a short while. We pass by the old passenger liner United States, DSCF3309and I quickly snap her picture, hoping that one day she’ll be restored to her former glory. This turns out to be the only picture taken today. Our course takes us around the Horseshoe Turn, and we now have strong wind right on the nose. Since we’re riding a strong ebb current, we’re also experiencing the dubious joys of strong wind contesting strong current. The result is tumultuous seas, at least 4 footers, and they seem at times to be only 4 feet apart. We alternately buck, bang and plow our way through this mess, occasionally dodging powerful tugs which seem oblivious to the conditions as they bull their way through the waves. These conditions prevail for nearly 10 miles. I find I must push the throttle up to around 3200 rpm to avoid getting into an uncomfortable rythym with the seas and troughs. Finally the river swings southward, and this reduces sea height, but puts strong winds on our beam. With bare pole we still heel as much as 15 degrees. The only consolation with this state of affairs is that, with our engine speed plus current, we’re averaging more than 9 mph. This enables us to reach our destination of Delaware City Marina just before 4pm, despite having gotten a rather late start. The wind seems to be easing off as we slowly enter the canal cut on which the marina is located. I phoned ahead and, by the full look of their docks, I’m glad I did. We stop at the fuel dock to top off our tanks, and then move down the line to one of the last open spots on their dock. We pull in for a starboard landing, and then the able dock hands flip us around for a port side tie, using spring lines. This will simplify our departure tomorrow by putting the canal current on our nose. I talk with several boaters here, as well as the dockmaster. Tomorrow sounds like a good day for moving down Delaware Bay, to Cape May. It will be a long run, but the winds are supposed to be light, WSW at 5 to 10. Rain is in the forecast around midday. The current will begin to ebb around 10 am, which points us to a late departure. This will put is in to Cape May too late for a marina approach, however I learn that there is a good anchorage at the far end of the canal. We’ll take our time and ride the favorable current down the Bay, anchor out, and then see what the day after holds in store.

Smooth Passage Down Delaware Bay – 5/17/16

First of All –

  • First day cruising in New Jersey waters
  • First time seeing a great blue heron land in the water like a gull to grab a fish

Namely Speaking-

  • Cohansey River
  • Bombay Hook
  • Cape May

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: Power: 61; Sail: 0
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 4,782
  • Hours Underway: 8 1/2
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.71
  • Wind Speed: 7; Wind Direction: SW
  • Daily High Temperature: 62
  • Water Temperature: 55

DSCF3315Today, with our run down Delaware Bay, we begin our last run with a significant southerly direction until we depart from Canada for the return to Lake Michigan. As promised it’s overcast when we get up. I start the day’s efforts by arm wrestling with the Wallas stove. It seems that, with all of yesterday’s pounding, the exhaust tube disconnected itself from the stove, and this morning, when we turn the stove on, it starts filling the cabin with smelly exhaust. Not how I like to begin the day. The flexible stainless tubing is very hard to connect to the stove, and I struggle for a good while before achieving success. We get started by 9am, and for the first hour and a half we run againstDSCF3326 the last of the flood, but by 10:30 we start getting a nice push from the ebb current. Right about that time it starts to rain, and we cruise in a steady drizzle for the rest of the day. The good news, though, is that the forecast is also accurate regarding light winds and calm seas. It’s a long run down Delaware Bay, and no place to be in strong winds. The occasional lighthouse, along with passing ships provide the only things of interest to see along the way. One ship in particular grabs our attention. She’s the Kalmar Nyckel, a reconstructed replica of the armed pinnace which brought the first Swedish colonists to Wilmington, Delaware in 1627 to found the short lived colony of New Sweden. The State of Delaware and private donors funded her construction in 1997, and her volunteer crew now sails her from port to port in this region. She’s a striking vessel, and we take several photographs as she cruises past us, powered by her modern diesel engine. We also see several large tankers and container ships, as well as a Navy vessel being towed by a pair of tugs. We ride the ebb current until the tide shifts around 4pm, when the shift to flood cuts our speed by a couple miles per hour. We enter the Cape May Canal around 5pm, motoring past the Cape May ferry terminal. We proceed down the canal, beneath the two 55 foot high fixed highway bridges, and finally reach Cape May Harbor. As planned, we head over toward the Coast Guard station and drop anchor. We’ll probably hang out around here tomorrow. There’s a prospect that two other MacGregors who are, like us, doing the Great Loop, may get this far tomorrow. That will be quite a rendezvous, 3 looping Macs together at the same time. I hope it works out.

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Cape May, Victorian Village – 5/18/16

First of All –

  • Touring the Nation’s oldest seashore resort town, which makes it the first seashore resort town

Namely Speaking-

  • Dr. Physick

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: 0 – Layover Day
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 4,782
  • Hours Underway: NA
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 13.4 (plugged in)
  • Wind Speed: 12-15; Wind Direction: NE
  • Daily High Temperature: 73
  • Water Temperature: 55

DSCF3343I have managed to precisely calculate the value of my efforts which get expended extracting our two folding bikes from the bowels of the king berth. The marina here rents bikes. If the rate had been $10/bicycle I’d have gone ahead and hauled our bikes out. However, the half day rental rate was only $5/bicycle and so, for the modest price of $10 total, I opt to rent bikes. It’s worth that much to avoid hauling ours out and stuffing them back in again. Going either way, though, Cape May is the ideal place for bikes. The place is totally flat, and the marina is about 2 miles away from the heart of the town of Cape May. A lovely residential street, shaded on both sides by stately, arching sycamores, parallels the more heavily trafficked state highway and leads us down past Cape May’s rightly renowned Victorian homes andDSCF3334 toward the main commercial area. The entire city of Cape May is designated as a National Historical District, quite a remarkable distinction. This community was first recognized as a desirable seashore destination all the way back to the very start of the 19th century. A huge resort hotel, the Congress Hotel, was built here in 1815. Although destroyed by fire twice, and damaged by hurricane in between, it stands today, more than 200 years old. Cape May refers to itself as the Nation’s oldest seashore resort. Three sitting Presidents have vacationed at the Congress hotel, and President Rutherford B. Hayes made the place his summer White House while the President’s home in Washington DC was being fitted out with its first electrical light system. However, the most striking aspect of Cape May is its remarkable residential architecture. There are more homes built in the Victorian architectural style here than anywhere else in the country. The building boom in the late 19th and early 20th centuries here must have been incredible. Colorful, ornate Victorian homes, decked out in intricate gingerbread trim, line street after street. These homes are being meticulously maintained, and yards are in full bloom with bedding plants, bulbs and flowering shrubs. We pedal along slowly, gazing at one lovely home after another, and photographing many. At the far end of the residential area we reach Washington Street Mall, which is noteworthy in its own right. This residential shopping mall was created in 1970 by closing off the main street to cars, and it has to be one of the more successful executions of this technique ever done. Planters, trees, fountains and benches occupy the space where cars once drove. The street itself is brick from one side to another. The many shops, stores and restaurants are Victorian in design, and most appear to be originals. Not only are cars forbidden here, even bicycles must be walked and parked in racks on back streets. We stop for lunch at a tavern/restaurant called The Ugly Mug, and they serve up a great crab salad for Sandy, while I enjoy their lobster roll. We walk out properly stuffed, and pedal down to the seashore to settle our meal. It’s breezy on the broad beach, with sand blowing around. We turn back into the residential area, and marvel at yet more Victorian homes. On the way back to the boat we stop at the Dr. Physick Victorian mansion and museum for a guided tour. Our guide is knowledgable and humorous as she describes the lifestyle of the upper class in the Victorian era. After we get back to the boat Sandy runs a load of laundry, and then we walk over to the Lobster House, an attractive waterfront restaurant located just a short distance away.

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Mini Rendezvous of Looping MacGregors – 5/19/16

First of All –

  • First time with a clean water line in at least 6 months
  • First time meeting up with another Looping MacGregor

Namely Speaking-

  • Jill Kristy

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: 0 – Layover Day
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 4,782
  • Hours Underway: NA
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 13.4 (plugged in)
  • Wind Speed: 5-7; Wind Direction: NE
  • Daily High Temperature: 76
  • Water Temperature: 55

DSCF3358DSCF3359I arise today still undecided on whether to go or wait another day. It’s a bit breezy first thing, and I make a radio call for “Any Vessel”, for information on conditions out on the ocean. I get a couple calls back, and it confirms last night’s forecast. Today looks doable, but tomorrow still looks better. The wind today will be NE till mid afternoon, which will put it on the nose, although not very strong, in the 10 knot range. Tomorrow wind speed is supposed to be similar, but from a more favorable direction. Instead of cruising today, we’ll hang out here. Sandy can take advantage of the strong WIFI signal, while I catch up on a few boat projects. The boat’s brown stain, down near the waterline, known in these parts as an “Intracoastal moustache”, has been bugging me for some time. The ship’s store here at theDSCF3364 marina sells me a product called “Waterline Stain Remover”. Sounds like just what I need for getting Chinook’s waterline white once again. I climb into the dinghy and tie onto my starboard side preventer line which runs the length of the boat, so I can slide along the hull. I spray the stuff on and, after 15 minutes, scrub with a buffing pad. The improvement is dramatic, not perfect but definitely much better. I use the dinghy to clean the transom area and the port bow waterline. I’m able to reach the balance of the port side by reaching down from the dock. When I’m done, the boat practically gleams.

After lunch I consider heading back into town on a bicycle but, before getting going, I get a phone call from Richard. They’ve made it down Delaware Bay and are on their way in to the fuel dock. I park the bike and snap pictures of them on their way in. We first met them back in Clearwater FL, when they were still in the process of preparing their boat for the Loop. They started out on the Loop from the east coast of Florida around the first of April, and they’ve been steadily closing the gap with us since then. We enjoy a warm reunion with them at the fuel dock. It’s unusual, if not unprecedented, for a MacGregor to cruise around the Great Loop, so to have two MacGregors doing the Loop at the same time, and actually meet up at the same place, is really remarkable. And, on top of that, there is a third MacGregor currently doing the Loop as well. Lee and Richard have already met up a couple of times, and Richard tells us that Lee is on his way here today as well. Soon we’ll qualify as a fleet of Looping Macs. We spend the afternoon on Richard and Jill’s boat, named The Jill Kristy, admiring the fine work which they’ve done in getting their boat ready for their adventure. We share stories of our respective journeys, and make plans on where to go from here. Tomorrow we plan to take off around 6:30am, for the outside run up to Atlantic City. We pick out a likely place to anchor. Richard talks with Lee on the cell (he’s anchoring out in the harbor over near the Coast Guard Station), and we will likely all make the run up the coast together. We’ll have a great photo opportunity if we all anchor together in the same place.

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