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.