A Stay in New Jersey and Big Day #3
Other than the brief post on Tuesday about starting our passage to Montauk, it has been weeks since our last post, and I’ve been grinding on the best way to summarize the more notable points of this period.
Well, first and foremost, if you’re reading this it means we’ve made it safely to Montauk, NY. More on that later . . . first, the stop in New Jersey.
I will cover this in headline form since much of it is of great interest to us but may be of limited interest to a lot of others, so:
Of the 26 nights we were in NJ, we slept in our house 3 of them. We stayed on the boat the rest of the time because it is more “home” than our home, just because it is still new to us. However, we did spend those few days making it more homey and taking advantage of the unlimited supply of hot water . . . I’m talking long, hot showers. I was so decadent that when I shampooed my hair I lathered, rinsed and then, just because I could, I repeated. The laundry was also taken advantage of with great gusto. Plus it was good to see the piano again. But we longed to be on the boat, so that’s where we stayed while parked in a lovely marina where Frank had a slip many years ago.
We packed five weeks worth of activity into three, including:
– Five visits from family members
– Six visits from friends
– Two overnight trips out of town (by car – GASP!)
– A visit to see our Mamas (You gotta see your Mama!)
– One funeral (Ems next door neighbor in Bethlehem and good buddy, Irene. Hope you and Norbert and doing the polka together again!)
– Two services at my former church to sing in the choir (2nd Sunday they coerced, uhm uh conned, er uh, asked me to accompany the choir on a piece that was one of our signature concert pieces – I love seeing a classically trained group singing Gospel!)
As if that weren’t an exciting enough itinerary, Frank had a health scare and visit to the doctor complete with 2 scans. Bottom line: all is well. (Many of you know Frank is a throat cancer survivor – 9 years) . . . end of the story: he has a crooked esophagus. No biggie and nothing needs to be done. I have been writing a song in my head that I hear being sung by Jimmy Buffet. Goes something like this . . .
“Oh I have a crooked esophagus,
Can’t tell you why or how.
Just what that means ain’t a hill of beans.
Just means that I should eat soft chow.”
Or something like that. It still needs work. Don’t judge.
I joke, but it made for some tense days in our third week, so the visits with family and friends were a great distraction. And we met a GREAT doctor who will have a special place in our hearts forever. She was the best.
So as much as we were chomping at the bit to leave, we were stuck until we got the all clear. We got the all clear on Monday, June 24th at 9:43 a.m. After rejoicing for a bit, we looked at the weather forecast to start plotting our escape. An hour later, we decided that our only weather window (without having to stay in the marina for another full week) was to leave in less than 24 hours. That launched us into a great cloud of scurrying around to prep, provision, make another trip to the house, figure out how to ditch our cars and get back to the boat to be ready for a 6am departure. So that’s what we did.
Here are some pictures of some of Eleanor Q’s visitors and time in the marina and some of the fun we had while in town. . . (by the way, and you clever folks may have already figured this out – if you click on a picture you will get the larger version of it if desired . . . those of you under 40 may not need to avail yourselves of this feature.)
With all of THAT behind us, the focus shifted to BIG DAY #3 and our 30+ hour passage . . . which is nothing to sneeze at! A quick review, we had 3 ‘Big Days” that we looked forward to: Big Day #1: Moving onto the Boat – check. Big Day #2: Taking the lines with us and leaving Annapolis – check. So THIS was Big Day #3: The REAL beginning of our cruising days with a passage towards New England for the summer. YAHOO!
Big Day #3 began on Tuesday at 6a.m. and ended Wednesday at about noon. Yeah, I know. That’s more than a day. I TOLD you it was a big day! Don’t get picky on me.
If you had more than two people or if both were very experienced crew who do this kind of passage all the time, you would actually get opportunities to sleep. But we knew we both wanted to be in the cockpit the whole time and figured we would relieve each other and take catnaps, which is what we did. (Frank’s were little bitty kitten naps. Mine were large Maine Coon Cat naps.) Anyway, here’s the overview of what it was like: The weather was pretty good, the winds were good for more than half of the trip, the temperature change from day to night with wind and humidity called for everything form bathing suits midday to all the layers we could find complete with socks and hats and big coats overnight. It is an open cockpit, so no hiding from the elements except for the canvas canopy that covers part of the area. The ocean was acting like an ocean . . . a little rocky and rolly – which doesn’t stop at any time. I’m so used to the Chesapeake Bay which is very calm by comparison. At one point I said something innocently like, “Are these kind of bigger swells?” I derserved the answer I got, which was, “They’re waves. It’s the ocean. The ocean has those, you know?” I had it coming to me.
So I will speak mostly for myself here as I describe the different feelings I had throughout the trip:
6am – 11am: This is pretty exciting! How cool cruising along the coastline like this. Atlantic City is pretty from out here. I’ll be happy when we get enough wind to sail and can turn the engine off, but we’re making good time and this is cool.
11am – 4pm: Ahhhh. No engine. Just the sails. This is nice. Nee
d to go put some more sunscreen on. I like our 2 hour shift plan. I’ll grab the sandwiches out of the fridge. All is well. How long have we been out here, anyway? Are we a third of the way there yet? How far away from land are we? Oh wow . . . we don’t have cell service anymore, or internet. Huh.
4pm – 7pm: Oh great. There was just a marine forecast on the VHF radio for severe storms hitting New York around 5:30. Is that going to come right at us? Is that lightning I see in the distance? Is that dark path of sky going north of us or south of us? Really . . . we’re 40 miles off shore? How interesting . . . Well let’s pull up the Weather Channel and look at the radar map. Oh yeah, we have no internet or cell service. Forgot. Argh.
7pm – 9pm: Thank goodness we dodged those storms. Being that far offshore worked in our favor and we missed ’em. Beautiful. Pretty sky! I can’t finish my chili. Yeah, I feel fine . . . but where are the saltines?
9pm – 11pm: It’s dark. I can’t see anything. I know you have to dim the screens so you can keep your night vision, but you have the screen so dim I can’t even READ THE FRICKIN’ CHARTS. Why are you doing my job? You’re behind the wheel, I’ll pull out the stay sail. I CAN’T PULL OUT THE STAYSAIL; I CAN’T SEE WHICH LINE IS THE STAYSAIL! THIS SUCKS! I have NO night vision . . . grrrrrrrr… . Why doesn’t the wind come around 20 more degrees so we can sail a straight line to Montauk? We’re 60 miles off shore!
11:pm – Midnight: The moon is coming up! Huzzah! You’re right – it’s amazing how much you can see out here at night. I’m so glad I put that little flashlight in my pocket . . . that’s all I needed to feel a little less frustrated. My night vision took a while to kick in. This is pretty amazing out here! Can you believe we’ve had the engine off and been sailing for 12 hours now? Which constellation is that?
Midnight – 1:00am: Happy Anniversary. I couldn’t think of a better place or way to spend it than on our boat in the moonlight together. (So much better than going to dinner at Chef Olla’s! Inside joke . . . forgive me.) This is really so wonderful . . . I’ll go lay down for the next couple of hours and relieve you around 4:00? Sure, that works. I can’t imagine I’ll get much sleep out here like this . . .
1:00am – 2:30am: . . . zzzzzzzzzzzz…
2:30am – 3:00am: Crap, is that lightning in the distance? Which way do you think it’s headed? Do you need your foul weather gear?
3am – 4:30am: Another storm averted. Excellent. I’ve got this for a while. You shut your eyes. Wow, this is beautiful. Frank’s asleep (sort of). I’m at the wheel, it’s the middle of the night, the moon is shining, I’m listening to great music . . . life is really good.
4:30am – 5:45am – I’ll lay down for a little while again, but I don’t think I’ll sleep . . . zzzzzzzzzzz . . . I missed SUNRISE?? Quick, where’s the sunrise playlist?? (Thanks to those of you who offered great suggestions to add to that, by the way!)
5:45 – 7:00: Okay, we’re only going 5.4 knots, the wind is dying out, and we’re no longer aimed at Montauk just because we don’t want to motor. Okay, that’s sailing. So we’ll have to jibe in a while. That’s fine. This is all still good. Long day and night . . . kind of tired . . . but this is good. I’m going to put another layer of clothes on. I can’t listen to the 70s station anymore. They just played Michael Jackson’s “Ben” and “It’s the Last Song I’ll Ever Write For You.” If they play “Brandy” we’ll have a three-fer for most annoying songs of all times.
7:00am – 9:00am: Okay, this is ridiculous. Can we PLEASE just start the engine and get there already? Thank goodness. Now we’re making some progress! Are we there yet? Yeah, I’ll take it for a while. Go rest. I know; just don’t hit anything. Got it.
9:00am – 11:00am – Hey, we’re actually almost there1 This is great!! Hey, LAND HO!
11:00am – Noon: Montauk Point! There’s the lighthouse! We’ll be at anchor in less than an hour! I can’t wait to take a shower! We made it!
Noon – We have this whole lake to ourselves. This is great! I’m SOOOO glad we’re here. Happy Anniversary.
And Frank from 1:00pm – 4:00pm: . . . zzzzzzzZZZZZZZZzzzzzz . . .
Here are some shots of our exit out of New Jersey, our passage and our arrival in Montauk:
Montauk is beautiful and we love it. We plan to stay here for several days, then spend a few days exploring more of “The Fishtail” of Long Island. More on that next blog. It was amazing, exhausting and a definite feeling of accomplishment. And now I have one overnighter under my belt! A friend compared it to earning a merit badge. I agree, Jimmy. I agree.
Underway to Montauk
We are underway to Montauk, NY at the end of Long Island … Left at 6am (Tuesday) with an ETA of 10am tomorrow (Wednesday). We have all our safety gear on and are happily cruising past Atlantic City right now. We will be 40 miles offshore in the midst of the trip tonight … Ems first overnight sail!
Weather forecast looks pretty good, but we’re ready if we should get a pop up squall later. There appear to be a couple of other sailboats in the neighborhood who may be doing a similar route. We will file a “float plan” on the radio at 7:45am. Finally! We get to be one of the boats saying, “underway from somewhere to somewhere” after being parked in NJ for 3 weeks. More on that in another post.
We’ll report in from Long Island!
Cape May and First Day in the Atlantic
In the last post, we had made it to Cape May, NJ. anchoring up in Cape May Harbor for four days. It was an action packed visit since it is a location with a lot of significance . . . it is where Frank grew up, started a career as a commercial fisherman, got married, started a family . . . there’s a lot of stuff going on there. If you know Cape May as a beautiful, victorian, tourist town, then you know it how most of us do. I got to see Cape May as it was in the 50s, 60s and 70s. (Let me be clear . . . that would be the LATE 50s!) I got to see Mayberry . . . the small town where everyone knows everyone. I got the Frank Quigley tour of Cape May.
First stop: tying the dinghy up to a commerical fishing boat belonging to family and jumping across from one boat to another in order to get on the docks. I had instructions to “put my tomboy on” before we got there (meaning “you’re going to have to do some climbing and you can’t be tentative.”)
Our second day in Cape May, we found a place to rent bicycles which was a GREAT way to see town! We stopped by a number of places where old friends, acquaintances or co-workers work.
In our travels, we passed houses Frank used to live in, we passed the restaurant where we had my parents’ 50th anniversary dinner and the estate where we took family portraits the weekend of my previous marriage (I was living about an hour north of Cape May at the time) . . . we passed the hotel where Frank and Grace had their wedding reception which was the same ballroom where Grace’s memorial service was held. The day had its share of happy memories and a few moments of melancholy. What’s the classic line of movie reviewers? “We laughed, we cried . . . I’d give it a 9.5.” It was that kind of day.
Onto the less somber part of the visit . . . one of the goals of the day was to find a barber shop. We are the proud owners of some pretty nice clippers, but I am trying to postpone having to use them until absolutely necessary! We saw a classic looking barber shop with a sign that said “Drive In.” That counts for bicycles, too – right? So we did.
We scoped out our spot for dinner that evening. You have to go to one of the great restaurants while you’re in Cape May!
On Sunday we took the dinghy to a waterfront restaurant to meet up with some of Grace’s family for lunch. Glad to see her mom, two siblings, sibling-in-laws and a niece!
Later that afternoon we tracked down a good friend and crew member from Frank’s past fishing days. Although they don’t keep in touch on a very regular basis, when they saw each other, it was like two brothers greeting each other after years of separation . . . couldn’t help but bring a tear to your eye. (Frank didn’t take his sunglasses off for several minutes … ) Blair has continued in the fishing business over the years and has gradually expanded his operations with his children to include a crab shack and kayak rentals in Cape May Harbor . . . but we got a taste of their latest acquisition of the Two Mile Landing Marina and Restaurant as Blair and his wife hosted us for dinner at the newly renovated restaurant. If you’re looking for a great slip, a great meal and/or a great sunset, go to Two Mile Landing Marina and Crab House. We had a great dinner with the family! Now, it was a very windy day and a little too sporting for the dinghy to make it over to Two Mile Landing, so Blair picked us up at the Eleanor Q on his crab boat!! That’s the coolest water taxi you’ll ever get. I was having too much fun to remember to take a picture. We came back after sunset with lightning in the sky and no running lights . . . that’s how Blair and Frank roll. I have to tell you – after spending part of the day with Blair, I understand more about Frank . . . they are cut from the same cloth. Pretty enlightening. By the way, that’s the dinner where we saw another former fisherman who remembered Frank as the guy who sank the Marjorie Snow. Blair was on the Marjorie Snow with Frank that day. Don’t get scared . . . Captain Quigley ran it aground first and Blair swam (a very short distance – probably more like “waded”) to shore to get help. It didn’t sink until after the tide came back up . . . no one was ever in danger. But this did all take place (35ish years ago) in plain view of all the other fishing boats leaving the dock, and thus the reason why everyone knows about it. And young Captain Quigley DID manage to get the boat upright and cleaned out and operational again and DID NOT lose his job. And that’s the short version of the story of the Marjorie Snow. It had to be told. And Blair was there.
So the other boat sitting by the Marjorie Snow was put there to keep her from floating away when the tide came up. Here’s the problem: when you have a port open in the bottom of the boat and it fills with water as the tide rises, you don’t have to worry about the boat floating away. We just had a lively discussion about the definition of the word “sink” which would imply that the boat falls to a level below what it was, which the Marjorie Snow did not. She just ran aground and never left the bottom while the water rose above her, so Frank would argue that the situation doesn’t fit the definition of the boat “sinking.” He says the boat just never rose. I would argue that it is that same thinking that led him to believe that he “caught” a fish. But we’re different that way . . .
By Monday we were exhausted! The weather was not conducive to trying to make the next leg of our trip to Great Egg Harbor, so we just stowed away on the boat in the rain and took it easy, reading and getting caught up on boat chores. Later in the afternoon, after the rain stopped, Frank took off in the dinghy to make a trash run to land. Being a thoughtful fellow boater, he stopped at a neighboring boat to see if he could take some trash off of their hands as well. (Remember, trash removal . . . big deal.)
Our neighbors were delighted to rid themselves of some rubbish and reciprocated with an invitation to have snacks and beverages on their Brewer 43′ sailboat that evening . . . at 5:30, of course. We had a great time visiting with them . . . they have been cruising for a year and were an endless supply of great information on “things we’ve learned in our first year of cruising.” We hope to meet up with them in Maine in August which is their neck of the woods.
By Tuesday, the weather finally broke right for us to make a run for it! So we waved goodbye to Cape May until we come back through next fall.
So today was my first big day out on the ocean! The last three years have all been in the Chesapeake Bay, so I was eager to see the difference between the two. I sensed the difference right away: sailing around Annapolis is like driving around Philly at rush hour; sailing in the Atlantic is like driving through the middle of Nebraska. There is very little traffic. You also don’t have to worry about running aground every three minutes (once you’re out of Cape May Harbor – ha!) . . . it’s deep. And you have long swells in the water instead of little chop, so it even feels a little different. I almost hesitate to say that I caught myself feeling a little bored once or twice – but then I quickly looked around me and snapped right out of it!
It was fun to pass Wildwood, Stone Harbor, Avalon, Sea Isle and Ocean City from the east! I’d driven around those parts for years, but I’ve never cruised up the coast like this. When I lived in Ocean City, I was only on the water a handful of times and they weren’t the best experiences. This was different. And it was a beautiful, clear day. And the winds decided to blow very much in our favor, so we were moving totally by the power of the wind most of the way with no engine noise. Ahhhhhh…
We planned a stop in New Jersey for a couple of weeks . . . we have a little more unpacking to do in our new place, some family and friends to catch up with, and personal business to tie up before taking off on our THIRD of the three big days: Big Day 1 was moving on to the boat in Annapolis; Big Day 2 was taking the lines with us and leaving Annapolis; Big Day 3 will be leaving New Jersey and making the 36 hour straight shot to Block Island on our way to Maine for the rest of the summer. Having watched the remnants of T.S. Andrea and yesterday’s severe thunderstorms roll through, we’re glad we bit the bullet and got a slip in a marina vs. anchoring for this stop. It is old home week for Frank as it is where he used to house his boat, Eleanor, when he lived in the area before.
Frank’s daughter, Nicole, came to pick us up at the dock the day after we arrived. We were like two little kids who had to leave summer camp early and didn’t want to!! We were cranky. And being back on land and DRIVING places in a CAR . . . we just weren’t ready for that kind of reality yet. But it has been good to see family and tie up some loose ends before our next big launch. Being at our new house is like visiting a friend’s house . . . it’s a fine place but very unfamiliar. We were only there for less than a week before leaving, so I’m not even convinced we live here yet. Odd . . . the boat is so much more home to us right now.
A final comment . . . so although you’ve picked up on the fact that I (Mary Marie, Ems, MM) am the main writer of this blog, Frank always contributes to, edits and comments on every post. I gave him this post to review . . . his main comment was, “This blog is supposed to be about ‘us’ and this one seems very much more about ‘me’. Frank, I assure you that when we sail through Charleston, West Virginia, it will be all mine.
A Change of Bays: The Chesapeake to the Delaware
The last twelve days have been so action packed including being in a different location every day for the first five days, it feels like it’s been a month! So here is a fill-in on some of our travels… The headline says sit all; last Friday we moved on from Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay and into the Delaware Bay, ending up where the Bay and the Atlantic meet in Cape May, NJ. We anchored up there for a 4 day stay before moving on to Longport, NJ where we are parked for a few weeks to tie up some loose ends before moving on to Block Island. So, here’s the trip in two chunks: 1) The northern part of the Chesapeake Bay, through the C&D Canal and down the Delaware Bay, and 2) Our stay in Cape May and then on to Longport. The most expedient way to get from the Chesapeake to the Delaware is through the C&D Canal, a man-made body of water that connects the top of the two bays. (C&D = Chesapeake and Delaware. Get it? Clever, huh?) Let’s start with the first few days:
There was no wind to speak of, so we motored the whole trip ending up in Swann Creek in Rock Hall, MD on the eastern shore of the bay. We pulled into the popular anchorage and started looking for a good spot (much like parking at the mall at Christmas but a little less crowded and a lot less honking). So as we’re eyeing up the pack we see a familiar boat and realize it is Freebird, one of the boats we met and shared sundowners with in Oxford!! We shared our loosely laid itinerary for the next couple of days with our friends as did they. We talked about hoping to run into each other again as they already had plans for the evening. We settled in for a much needed quiet evening, being a little emotionally exhausted from our big day! The next day it looked like the weather could be a mixed bag with a chance of some passing showers. When we set off it was gray and dreary … then we could see a set of dark clouds in the distance. We pulled up the trusty radar map on the iPad to see what was what. It looked like the little system might graze us, so we took down the one sail we had up (motor sailing at that point) and fetched our foul weather gear. If you see Frank in the big yellow coat, something is a-brewin’.
Happily for us, the squall went around us . . . we watched it. It slid on by just throwing a few sprinkles our way as it went. I was mildly relieved. I think Frank was a little disappointed.We’re slightly different that way. The squall was nice enough to leave us with some nice wind, and we were able to put the sails back up, turn the engine off . . . ahhhhhhhhh, . . . quiet! . . . and enjoy some good air for part of the trip. We decided to take our new friends on Freebird up on the offer to meet up in Worton Creek, so that’s where we headed. The first time we talked to them, we asked them why the name Freebird. “Lynyrd Skynyrd . . . Freebird. You know!” We did indeed; just didn’t want to assume they were Skynyrd fans, you know? So we anchored up right beside them, chatted across the water and agreed to meet for happy hour. Being the new cruiser, I asked an ignorant question: what time? I got the same reaction I got the first time I asked Dave that question in Oxford: “5:30!” said in a very kind but surprised voice, like, “Come on . . . you have to ask?” (Several days later in Cape May, a boat invited us over for cocktails. I asked, “What time?” Answer: “5:30!” When will I learn?) We parted ways for the rest of the afternoon to do our own things on our own boats. Frank and I broke out the guitar and tried to learn “Freebird” to seranade them later. Yes, I was trying to sing Freebird . . . you can only imagine how inauthentic that was, but it was fun all the same. In the end we chickened out from trying to do the whole, live version for them. Decided we weren’t quite ready for prime time. I think Frank was mildly relieved. I was a little disappointed. We’re slightly different that way.
We took our beverages and some snacks to contribute – that is proper cruisers etiquette: take your own liquor and bring some snacks to share – and hopped on their Southern Cross 31. Karen and Dave, in our minds, are the model, old school, original, hard core cruisers and we had a great time with them. They shared more valuable information about the Bahamas and loaned us a book on identifying fish in the Caribbean. Dave talked about how to spear fish for lobsters. I’ll be curious to see if we work our way up to that! Next winter if you see a picture of Frank holding up a lobster in one hand with a spear in the other, ask him if he caught it. If he says, ‘What’s your definition of ‘catch?’ be wary. Next day we headed north again. Now during these three days, much gnashing and grinding of teeth was taking place trying to figure out the tides and the currents in the C&D Canal and the Delaware Bay. Here’s the deal: There is a pretty significant shift in current in the canal at different times of the day. And there is BIG influence on what kind of headway one can make (particularly on a sailboat) based on the tides in the Delaware Bay. Trying to go against the tide means going nowhere fast and burning up a lot of fuel to do it. So we studied the charts and asked a lot of advice trying to get our plan of attack together. We decided to anchor up in Chesapeake City which is just inside the canal on the Maryland side. That would be our launching off point for the next day. The canal is a man-made body of water that was completed and opened in 1892. It cut down the shipping route from Philadelphia to Baltimore by 300 miles by cutting across a small strip of land that separated the two bays, making the cost to move goods by water more economical. This may sound like a set of boring statistics that I’m about to throw out here, but it comes into play in picturing our passage through the canal. The canal is 14 miles long, 40 feet deep, but most importantly, it is 450 feet wide. I’ll come back to that part. So here’s the deal with the canal. See aforementioned 450 feet wide stat. Commercial traffic travels the canal. Commercial. As in stinkin’ big. Giant. Tankers. The beam (width) on some of these babies is 300 feet. So 450 minus 300 = 150 feet. We’re 13 feet wide so that leaves roughly 137 extra feet to split between the side of the canal to the side of the tanker to the side of you to the side of the canal. Get the picture? That isn’t really a lot of room. I’ve been a little apprehensive. Here’s the pictorial of our visit to Chesapeake City and the trip through the canal.
Okay, that’s a lot of boat in not a lot of water. I get it now.
So our plan of attack: Leave Chesapeake City mid-morning to get the favorable current in the canal and anchor up at the top of the Delaware Bay to wait for a more favorable tide the next day. Good advice that we got: be a little concerned about the current in the canal. Be A LOT concerned about the tides in the Bay. Hey, we’re not in a hurry to get anywhere! We’ll wait.
We got into the canal, and you know what happened? Nothing. Nada. If we saw five other small pleasure crafts all day long, that was a lot! I was mildly relieved. I think Frank was a little disappointed. We’re slightly different that way. It only took us about 2.5 hours to get through the canal, so we arrived at Reedy’s Island around lunchtime with the rest of the day to kill before our pre-dawn launch down the Bay the next morning. Cool things about where we anchored: 1) It was 15 degrees cooler than land, and that was the day it was 90 on land. 2) There was pretty much no one around; we had the anchorage to ourselves. 3) It was very scenic . . . well . . . if you only looked to the west, it was very scenic. However, if you looked to the east . . . well you’ll see in a minute. Note to boaters: the current change was VERY strong. The boat swung around 180 degrees as the tide changed which was an interesting test to see how the anchor would do. It did fine.
I am not the world’s best early morning person (Frank would call that an understatement), but when I DO get up at that time of day, it can be so nice! Here is our pre-dawn departure.
As the sun started to pop up, I decided we needed music on the stereo, so I started quickly assembling a short “Sunrise” playlist on the iPod. I was able to grab Norah Jones’ “Sunrise”, “Sun King” by the Beatles, followed by “Here Comes the Sun” (of course!). Any helpful suggestions on what to add to the playlist for the next early departure would be greatly appreciated! The trek down the bay was uneventful and pleasant, although not much sailing and a lot of motoring involved. We did get the main sail up to help the engine for a while when the wind direction was cooperative. About seven hours later and we were in Cape May, home town of Captain Frank Edward Quigley. He pointed out the spit where he sank the Marjorie Snow. I won’t share that story on this blog. Frank will be mildly relieved, but I’ll be disappointed. We’re slightly different that way.
Our Last Week in Annapolis
This is the pre-post to us “taking the lines” as shared in the last post. But it’s worth going back in time for a few minutes . . .
I will try to do the very summary version of that week because it is very easy to get behind the times on these posts!!
We had stayed in Oxford for several wonderful days and thought we might stay for a couple more. Then we woke up the next morning, realized we had a new “neighbor” anchored beside us who decided to run the generator day and night. You know one of the coolest things about living on a boat? If you don’t like your neighbors, you can just move instantly! So we said goodbye to Oxford and headed to less civilization and more wilderness in Dunn Cove. It was a cold, drizzly day. As Frank likes to say, “You’ll have that.” Days like that are not a bad thing from time to time . . . so we made the most of it.
The next day we returned to Annapolis via Knapps Narrows, complete with draw bridge and very shallow water . . . always makes for an interesting voyage. We’ve been there several times before, so knew what to expect.
We had a memorable week in and around Annapolis before we left and had some great visits with good friends. Frank’s friend Jimmy (and now my friend) hopped on Eleanor Q with us for a couple of days. The three of us made lots of good memories in a little bit of time. Night one ended up in Galesville on the West River just south of Annapolis where we were joined by Anthony, half of a couple (Annette being the other half) that we met last September at a gathering of boaters sponsored by the Seven Seas Cruising Association. We will be seeing lots of them next fall and winter aboard their sailboat, Magnolia, (which currently lives in a marina in Galesville) since they have now (very recently!) retired and will be sailing south this fall on much the same route as ours. Jimmy, Anthony, Frank and I had a fun evening together after we managed to twist Anthony’s arm to stay for dinner. Because Anthony felt bad about staying without having food to contribute, he did something much more valuable for us: he offered to take all of our trash and recycling off of the boat. You have to understand, that stuff accumulates FAST when you don’t go on land every day and that is a great and thoughtful gift!
We spent the next night with Jimmy on a mooring ball in Annapolis Harbor watching the Wednesday night races. Wednesday night races are made up of a variety of amateur sailboats of various sizes. The finish line is at the end of the harbor. The mooring field is fair game. If you don’t know what a mooring field is, it is a bunch of big floating balls that are anchored to the floor of the body of water. A boat can just pull up to the mooring ball, gracefully (ha!) snag the rope attached to the top of the mooring ball with a long-handled boat hook and attach it to one of the cleats on your boat. It is easier than anchoring and generally more secure. There is usually a reasonable fee to secure a mooring ball for the night. But back to the races: so these sailboats (remember, they don’t maneuver quite as precisely as a power boat) come FLYING THROUGH the mooring field racing to the finish line! There are lots of near misses to excite the crowd and it is really cool to watch! Below are some shots of the races and our travels with Jimmy. We ended the evening with the three of us having a jam session in the cockpit, Jimmy and Frank on guitars and Ems attempting to sing. At one point we had a 12 bar blues riff going and improvised our own tune called “The Annapolis Harbor Blues” (which is an oxymoron). There may have been rum involved, but I know for a fact there were Raisenettes.
The next couple of days were spent back in our slip in Annapolis cleaning the boat and prepping to leave Annapolis for the final time. We have dear friends in Annapolis, Tom and Cathy, who used to be in the slip next to us when we first got Eleanor Q. They, too, are preparing to start cruising this fall and we spent lots of time together plotting and dreaming and sharing “stuff” and information and meals. They made the gracious offer of the use of their washer and dryer at their house during our last week, and I was happy to take them up on it! Hand washing light weight things has been no problem, but there is a point when your sheets, towels and blue jeans begin an eco-system of their own and need some love. A common question after a couple of weeks is, “Am I losing weight or do I just need to wash these jeans?” It’s generally the latter.
Since Annapolis is one of our favorite places, we figured we should enjoy our last couple of days there. Saturday included a brisk walk into town for people watching (commencement week at the Naval Academy brings out lots of families and lots of young people in uniform – always an impressive sight) lunch and a stop at Frank’s second favorite ice cream place. (Well, third. Dairy Queen is always first, Oxford second, Annapolis third).
Sunday was a very cool “final day” for us. We had been wanting to attend services at the Naval Academy Chapel for three years. Okay, let me clarify, because I know what some of you are thinking who know us both. You’re thinking, “Who’s WE? Mary Marie wanted to attend services and Frank agreed in order to be a good sport.” I’ll have you know, that is not the case. Frank was the one who suggested it from the beginning and I always have an interest in visiting a new church so was very happy to go. So if you were one of the ones who thought it was purely me driving this outing, take it back! But to be clearer yet, when I was looking up the service schedule, I asked, “Do you want to go to the Catholic service or the Protestant Service?” and he replied with, “Oh, I don’t care. I just want to see the building.” And that’s the rest of the story. It was a great service, lots of families with their new graduates, a GREAT speaker and wonderful music. (We can’t help it . . . we critiqued the pastor’s public speaking skills. You just can’t get away from some things.) A beautiful setting, indeed.
Later on that evening, our friends Bill and Julie from Havre de Grace came to take a little sail and then have dinner on the boat. Then a surprise call from our friends, Greg and Cori, who were passing through the area and came and joined us as well! It was nice to share that last evening in our slip with good friends, food and laughter.
By 10:00pm we tried to go to sleep, but I think we were like two little kids on Christmas Eve night. There was a commercial on television not long ago for Disney- maybe you’ve seen it: The family with two children are preparing to leave for their trip to Disney the next day and the kids won’t settle down and go to sleep. The parents keep saying, “But you’ve got to go to sleep!” And they would respond with a slightly whiny, “But we’re too excited to sleep!” Finally after things were quiet, the parents were laying in bed. The wife said, “Are you asleep?” and the dad quietly whined, “I’m too excited to sleep!” We can relate.