Block Island -> Port Washington -> Atlantic City -> Cape May -> Chesapeake City

By aaron.axvig, 20 October, 2019
Sunset

We took the dinghy over to the very nice dinghy dock at Block Island and set off for a walk.  A block away we found the Block Island Maritime Institute where there was not much going on except a couple small tanks in the parking lot with some fish and crabs in them.  A couple blocks further on we found a "Killer Donuts" stand and I tried one.  It was a pretty standard donut.

About a mile further we arrived at the 1661 Inn Animal Farm.  This is a big petting zoo basically.  We looked at a pig, some emus, cranes, kangaroos, and a yak.  Then in some pens that we could walk in they had llamas, alpacas, tiny horses, and donkeys.  We petted a couple llamas (possibly alpacas, can't remember the difference).

Then we started to work our way back.  We had lunch at The Yellow Kittens and then spent quite a while at the museum run by the Block Island Historical Society.

The next day we left and sailed (no motor) into Long Island Sound.  Just SW of Fishers Island we went through an area marked on the chart as Tide Rips.  We could see that it was pretty turbulent and when we got there the waves slapped us around a little.  They were up to three feet tall, very steep, and coming mostly from the side so they sometimes splashed into the cockpit, which is pretty rare!  For some reason the wind jumped in speed there too; fortunately we had reefed about 10 minutes earlier as it had been slowly building.  The current in that area peaked at four knots and I think we had about 2 knots favorable for most of the day.

As we traveled further Anna looked at the chartplotter and saw that the AIS data showed Thursday's Child ahead of us about 10 miles.  So she radioed them and they decided to stop at Duck Island where we were planning to go.  We anchored there and then I checked out Duck Island where there was a sign saying to stay off because of bird nesting.  Then we went over to visit and have a few drinks with Steve and Susie on Thursday's Child.

We left pretty early the next day to make it the 66 miles to Port Washington, just outside of New York City.  We ran the engine the whole time as we were sailing downwind in weak winds.  They have free mooring balls for two nights there so we tied up to one.  They also have two nice dinghy docks with really close grocery stores, hardware stores, laundromat, etc. so we took part in all those services.  After two nights on the mooring ball we moved at about 8:00am to anchor just outside the mooring field and then I flew back to Fargo for a couple meetings.  Anna's mom Karen arrived that afternoon to spend the next few days checking out New York City with Anna.

They walked around the 911 memorial and Times Square, ate at Tavern on the Green in Central Park with Anna's aunt Diane who happened to be in New York City, and saw Book of Mormon.  They had more ambitious plans but one day was so windy that the dinghy ride to shore would have been very unpleasant plus there is always some risk of the anchor dragging.  Also the train ride to the city is about 45 minutes each way, and Louise needs some attention occasionally.

When I returned from Fargo I met Anna and Karen to have excellent steaks at Del Frisco's and then we went to see Rock of Ages…very good.  Karen left very early the next morning.  Then the weather was rainy and gloomy for a few days.  As our batteries gradually drained we determined that having a generator would be worthwhile.  One factor: people in Fargo were asking me how I liked sailing and my response was always that I was ready to return to the modern life of unlimited resources--water and electricity primarily.  The Ace Hardware nearby had one generator in stock, a 3500 watt unit that was larger than we really needed, but hey with one that size we would even be able to run the AC or heat (reverse cycle AC) if needed.  So we got that, unpacked it, determined that it was 1/2" too large to store nicely under the helm seat, and returned it.  The next day I went to Home Depot and got a suitcase-sized Honda generator which is a much better fit for us.

Now that we have the generator we have only used it for four hours in three weeks but the peace of mind benefit is continuous.  We now have an easy backup plan if it is cloudy, and it makes it a lot less worrying to use some power for comfort.  To shower for example, we might use 5-10 gallons (extravagant to some salty sailors out there I'm sure) and run the water heater for 15 minutes (also extravagant, we hear plenty of people talking about hanging black solar shower bags).  Altogether that would only take about 1 hour of generator run time, or maybe 1/3 gallon of gas.  Fun fact: the generator can produce 2000 watts at full load but our battery charger can only charge at about 1000 watts, and we have 1100 watts of solar, so technically our solar panels can charge our batteries faster than the generator!

Those cloudy days were very windy also and I was quite happy to finally wake up to relative silence one morning.  The wind howls in the shrouds and the bay at Port Washington was big enough to let some waves build.  The next day the waves south of New York City had died enough that we were able to travel down to Atlantic Highlands, NJ.  We fueled up there and then when we were looking for a spot to anchor we ran aground while the depth finder said 9.5 feet of depth.  Turns out that was miss-calibrated, probably by me!  The next morning were on the move at 4:00am.  The trip to Atlantic City was about 80 miles…a very long day!  There is an eddy current off of the Gulf Stream there that flows south at 1 knot so that helped us along nicely.  We motored the whole day but had a boost from the sails as the wind blew us downwind.

The next day we went to a casino buffet for supper and then a comedy show.  Both were good!  The scale of the casino facilities and the grandeur of the finishes (with a certain level of tackiness of course) were sort of shocking after having spent a year now in campers, sailboats, and sort of rundown touristy waterfronts.  Oh yes, October 12 marked a year since we left Medora!

We motored down to Cape May the next day.  We anchored in Sunrise Lake and I took the dinghy to a nearby park that had a dock and walked Louise around for a bit.  It was definitely out of season there and everything was oddly quiet.  The holding there was not great and there was a big storm coming (we learned the next day that it was called a bomb cyclone).  So we spent the next two nights tied up in a slip.  It was very windy, 30 knots gusting to 45 knots!  We enjoyed our stay there plugged in and were able to run the heat to stay very comfortable.

The day after the winds died down, they were still blowing moderately straight down the Delaware Bay which we needed to go up.  So we stayed at the slip another night.  I tried to replace the worn out chain roller on the bow but the nut and bolt holding it there seem to be permanently joined.  We had lunch with Steve and Susie at Lucky Bones Backwater Grill and we stocked up at the liquor store.  Then the next day we left at 6:30am.  It was a bit of a nervous start as when I turned on the depth finder in the slip it showed 4.5 feet (low tide!) which would mean we have about 1 foot of keel stuck in the ground.  I guess the mud was pretty loose as we were able to back out of the slip easily, and I think the sensor is calibrated about 6" conservatively now.  We rode a great 2 knot current all the way 70 miles to Chesapeake City.  We are still there today as it has been raining all day.  And we are still hanging with Thursday's Child too!

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