Tuesday, May 15, 2018

NJ: Atlantic City to Rumson

Monday 5/14/2018
Depart: Kammerman's Marina Atlantic City 8:35
Arrive: HOME - Rumson, NJ 7:00
Distance: 89 nm

Worried about nasty weather predicted for Tuesday, Clark studied our travel options carefully last night trying to decide our travel plans. Originally, he planned to anchor in Barnegat, but given the weather report, it seemed too short a distance for today's travel. The next choice he considered was staying in Manasquan. This, however, would require staying at a marina as there is nowhere here to anchor.

As he debated the options, I asked if it would be possible to make it all the way to Sandy Hook. After checking the distance, he said it would be doable if we left early enough to make it happen. So, when we left this morning, we had three plans in our hip pockets: A - travel all the way to Sandy Hook and perhaps even home (one hour further along), B - bail out at Barnegat if the ocean proved unfriendly, and C - bail out at Manasquan if need be.

Unfortunately, we left the dock in Atlantic City almost an hour later than hoped. We needed to wait until the marina opened at 8:00 to collect our postal mail that we forgot to pick up before they closed yesterday. Also, with a heavy fog, Clark spent time setting up the radar. We rarely, if ever, use radar, so it took almost 20 minutes for him to get radar configured to his liking and waypoints set for our route. Finally, at 8:30, we threw off the lines and headed for our yet to-be-determined destination.

We had good news and bad news as we made our way out into the ocean. The good news - the waves from yesterday had settled down to swells of minimal height. The bad news - FOG! We traveled two miles off shore and could not see the shore for long periods of the trip.

Parting view of Atlantic City

Skyscrapers in A.C.

A.C. disappearing from sight as we head out into the ocean

The lack of visibility (today due to fog, not ocean spray like yesterday) was truly amazing. The distance we could see from the boat was in terms of yards, not miles. Looking at the radar off Barnegat Inlet, Clark said, "Red / White 'BI' should be ahead. I see it on the radar." I peered into the fog and suddenly there it was dead ahead emerging from the fog.

Red / White BI emerging from the fog

Red / White "BI" as we pass

Given we had been so close to the marker but could not see it until it was just a few yards away, I wondered what else might be lurking out there. I got my answer rather quickly. As I stared into the fog, two masts materialized in front of my eyes. Two sailboats? A two-masted sailboat?

Clark could not see anything on the radar. Eventually a sailboat with two masts came into view. It appeared to be drifting somewhat near the "BI" marker. My question: "Why didn't it show up on radar?"  I decided to take a picture. When I aimed the camera, the boat did not appear in the view finder. What is this a ghost ship!? Finally, it came into focus, and I could get a picture.

Stealth Sailboat in the Mist off the Jersey Shore

The fog stayed with us for hours. Sometimes it would thin out and we would get a broader view, and then it would close in on us yielding a view in terms of just yards from the boat. As with yesterday, our trip became more "interesting" when we discovered traps hiding in the fog. We did not expect them since we piloted two-miles off shore in 38' of water outside the trap zone marked on the charts.

Eventually, the sun starting to make its presence known and the fog started to clear.

Under clearer skies, we found a fishing trawler working hard

After yesterday's steep 6-foot waves, today's gentle rollers offered an easy ride on the ocean. We did not even consider turning in at Barnegat or Manasquan. We just kept Sandy Hook as our goal. Passing Asbury Park and Long Branch, New Jersey, we felt like we were almost home although we still had hours to go.

View of Asbury Park, NJ from two miles out

As we continued our trip, I spied something in the water up ahead. I asked, "Is that a trap?" Clark replied, "No, it's a mylar birthday baloon! I've seen others floating out here already."

Mylar "Happy Birthday" Baloon on the ocean

Another Mylar balloon polluting the ocean waters

As we approached Sandy Hook, we could see the lighthouse. Our view of New York City today was, however, nearly non-existent. Looking at our speed, we saw an amazing 11.3 knots instead of our usual 8.6. We had one heck of a current pushing us home.

Sandy Hook Lighthouse - ocean view

Rounding the "hook", we got a better view of the lighthouse from the bay side.

Sandy Hook Lighthouse - Bay view

Approaching the Highlands, we decided to continue all the way to our house as opposed to dropping anchor in Sandy Hook. We still had at least two hours of daylight to make it home.

Highlands, NJ -  Eastpointe Conominiums

All the way down the Shrewsbury River, we saw barrels floating in the middle of the channel showing "slow, no wake". Why do they have to be in the middle of the channel? When we arrived at the Sea Bright - Rumson bridge, Clark called for an opening and asked if they were "on demand" or if we would need to wait for their 6:30 opening.

The bridge tender responded that he opened "on demand" today, but starting tomorrow, May 15th, the bridge would open on the hour only. This is a new rule. The bridge signage still says hour and half hour opening. This is bad news for us as we will have to plan our travels carefully to avoid long delays at this bridge which stands in the way of us going almost anywhere.

As we turned off the main channel into Pleasure Bay, we found most of the day markers missing or damaged. We had to "feel our way" home. We turned into our home creek and had even more fun as we found critical markers barely visible above the surface of the water. Thank goodness it was not high tide yet!

Looking back towards Pleasure Bay
on Rumson Creek
We tied up to our dock just around 7:00 p.m. having traveled further today than on any other trip in this boat or on Sea Moss. Clark went up and checked the house and turned on the water, hot water heater, etc. While he did that, I cooked on board. I had no plans to move into or sleep in the house tonight. In fact, I wished I could just stay on the boat and not move into the house at all.

Beautiful blooms greeted us at our house. The roses are not yet ready to flower but will add their color to the others soon.

Flowering Dogwood and White Lilacs


Creeping Myrtle / Periwinkle in Bloom

NJ: Atlantic City Kammerman's Marina

Sunday 5/13/2018 (Mother's Day)
Depart: Cape May Utsch's Marina 10:10
Arrive: Atlantic City Kammerman's Marina 3:10
Distance: 39 nm

Heavy rain fell prior to dawn and the threat continued into the morning. We decided to delay our departure until the threat had passed. As we waited out the weather, we could hear the wind howling at the dock. The winds sounded much worse than the predicted 17 knots.

Given a damp chill in the air, we opted to drive from the pilot house today. I reminded Clark before we left to remove the protective covers we have over the wipers. I had no desire to go out in a gale to play with windshield wipers while underway. We finally got underway shortly after 10:00.

Expecting waves of 3 to 4 feet in height, we headed out into the Atlantic Ocean via the Cape May inlet. As we approached the inlet, we found winds in the vicinity of 25 knots. As we made our way out into the ocean, we found steep and frequent waves measuring up to 6' in height. Today's ride would definitely not be boring!

Driving from the Pilot House
(a rare event)

With the wind and the waves, we got pounded by salt spray repeatedly.  When the spray hit the front windows, we had zero visibility until the wipers swept across.

Reduced Visibility Due to Salt Spray

Salt water pouring down the sides of the boat into the cockpit

Wild Waves in the Atlantic 

View through the starboard side salon window

The Krogan Express managed the waves remarkably well. Still, our stabilizer does not stop the boat from the up and down experienced when climbing over waves. At times, as we rode the waves, the action on board made me want to yell out "Yee Haw" like a bronco rider! As long as I was sitting, I was fine.

With high winds, steep waves, and low visibility, what was missing to make the ride complete? Traps! We found them way off shore in depths over 37' of water. Out of nowhere, Clark said, "A trap!" As we sat precisely halfway between Cape May and our destination of Atlantic City when he spied the trap, we had a two-hour ride in either direction and did not want to be impaired by an encounter with a fish trap. Spotting traps in 6-foot waves is nearly impossible, so we hoped we would see any others in time to avoid a confrontation.

When I needed to move around on the boat, however, the waves made the ride very interesting. We have a rather steep, 5-step ladder / stairs down to the heads. Navigating the steps and making it to the toilet unscathed definitely presented a challenge. Expecting waves, I made sandwiches before we left the dock, so the only challenge with serving up lunch became getting to the galley and back. I use plastic baskets to serve food on board when underway to make carrying food easier while holding onto the boat.

After lunch, try as hard as I could, I could not keep my eyes open. I finally fell over sideways on the sofa in the pilot house, pulled my jacket over my shoulders, and drifted off to sleep. Poor Clark was left to navigate the waves and watch for traps all on his own for at least an hour. I woke up abruptly, however, when he opened the half-door in the pilot house for a view outside. A blast of freezing cold air rushed over me and had a similar effect to him dumping a cold bucket of water over my head. I sat up practically sputtering from the surprise. I stayed awake after that!

As we approached Atlantic City, we could see the buildings in the distance.

Finally Reaching Atlantic City

Coming into Absecon Inlet

Having stayed there several times before, we once again docked at Kammerman's Marina. We tied up against their bulkhead for the night where we had a view looking directly at Harrah's Resort across the water.

View of Harrah's from Kammerman's Marina

View at dock

Tied to Bulkhead at Kammerman's Marina

Tree shedding its petals

Onto our boat - what a mess!

Not much is near Kammerman's Marina in terms of stores. Unfortunately, I had run out of bread and needed to figure something out. Fortunately, a convenience store sits only 5 minutes away by bicycle, so we grabbed the bikes and went for a ride.

Building disappearing into the fog
on the street in Atlantic City

Clark complained as we rode into the wind about the cold temperatures. We made the trip to and from the store in near record time. After we returned to the boat, we stayed on board for the rest of the night.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

NJ: Cape May in Bloom

Saturday 5/12/2018
Depart: Delaware City Marina 9:00
Arrive: Cape May Utsch's Marina 3:15
Distance: 55 nm

Clark said we would leave around 9:00 this morning in an effort to catch a favorable tide on the Delaware River. As we untied our lines, a boater who helped us told me that he would not travel today but would leave tomorrow instead. He was the second boater who told me that.

I questioned Clark about why we felt today would be a fine travel day and tomorrow we might need to stay put while other boaters felt the opposite was true. He replied that he thought the weather briefing from the marina staff member might have something to do with it. "They're worried about the three to five foot waves due to wind against current in Delaware Bay", he said. I trust Clark's judgement, so I figured we would be fine.

Docks at Delaware City, DE

Yesterday we had shorts on. A downpour at 4:00 a.m. this morning brought a cold front with it. Today we were back to long pants and winter coats. Even dressed with multiple layers, I felt chilled on the water and kept going below to get out of the cold wind.

The good news with today's travels ... Clark picked a fine travel day. The waves on the Delaware were around one foot, and as Clark predicted, we had current helping us along on our trip down the river. Being a Saturday, we saw a mix of pleasure and commercial vessels on the water, but traffic on the river remained pretty light today.

Work Boats on the Delaware

Tug gave us a great big wake as he passed!

We saw a few lighthouses including one that looked more like a bird sanctuary.

Elbow Cross Ledge Light on the Delaware

When we saw the Cape May - Lewes Ferry, I knew we were almost home as New Jersey was right around the bend.

NJ-DE Ferry

We did have a bit of a rocky ride towards the end of our time on Delaware Bay. I did not mind the rocking as much as the chill in the air. I anticipated a warmer climate after we entered the Cape May canal. Unfortunately, my expectations were not met. Initially it felt warmer, but all too soon, I was freezing again. I could see boaters traveling with the wind wearing shorts and t-shirts. Since we had the wind in our faces, we had on cold-weather attire.

The boat traffic we found on the canal made up for the lack of traffic on the Delaware River. In fact, the canal seemed rougher at times than the Delaware due to the wakes from the boats rushing by.

Cape May Canal

Unlike the Delaware River where we had the current with us, here we had the opposite. At our normal RPM we saw 6.6 knots instead of 8.5. We passed through a couple of bridges. With the current against us, boating etiquette says we give way to those traveling with the current when transiting a bridge. As we approached a skinny bridge opening, we saw a much smaller boat coming the other direction. We thought he would go through the bridge and we would need to wait.

Perhaps he chickened out due to our size, but when he got to the bridge opening, he suddenly decided to just sit there. Eventually we decided he meant to wait for us, so we proceeded. 

One-at-a-time bridge

We decided to stay at Utsch's Marina again where we have stayed in the past. After getting the lines secured, we walked the 1.8 miles into town for a look around and an early Mother's Day dinner.

Near the Docks in Cape May

We enjoyed the long stroll along Cape May's quaint streets. Many homes had flowers in bloom.


Tulips at "The Petite Retreat"



Magnolia Trees

Cherry Trees

Creeping Speedwell Ground Cover

Apparently we missed some of the most beautiful of the trees as evidenced by the petals on the ground that looked as though it had snowed flower petals.

Cherry blossom petals on the sidewalk

Of course we saw many of the old Victorian homes that Cape May is famous for including one very large property.

Cape May Building

and grounds

We did not know where we planned to eat. I figured we would find something after we got to the pedestrian walkway where a lot of fudge, ice cream, and memorabilia stores reside. Clark remembered we had eaten at the Ugly Mug restaurant once before and liked it, so we ate there.

Outside the Ugly Mug restaurant

Pedestrian Walkway in Cape May

We enjoyed our dinner at the Ugly Mug and then walked a few doors down for ice cream at Ben & Jerry's. With bad weather expected tonight, we ate our ice cream as we made our way back to the boat.

Interesting sign: "Caution Trees Leaning Toward Roadway"
(hopefully they only lean and don't topple!)

View of the "leaning" trees

We saw a very unexpected sight on the road causing the traffic to slow and come to a stop.

What is that blocking the cars?

A very large wild turkey!

We watched and saw that he made it safely across the road. How on earth did he come to be in downtown Cape May!?

As we approached the docks, I noticed that the sun had begun to set. Clark noticed as well and pulled his camera out to snap some shots as we walked.

Docks near sunset

Really Fresh Catch of the Day

Coast Guard Station

View at the peninsula

Sunset in Cape May

Sunset at the docks

Clark said we made it back to the boat "just in time". We had threats of thunderstorms and tornadoes. Shortly after climbing on board, the wind picked up and whistled an eerie tune as it howled around the boat. Clark ran out and gathered up anything that could be damaged by high winds such as flags and lose furniture.

The thunderstorms did arrive. Thankfully, we saw no tornadoes! After the worst of the weather passed, Clark stepped outside. When he came back in he said, "It is really cold out there!" I guess it's a long pants and winter coats day again tomorrow.

Try as hard as we could, we could not find a weather report on television tonight. We still have to decide if we are tackling the Atlantic tomorrow or waiting a day. The prediction on the ocean is three-to-five foot waves.