Sunday, May 31, 2015

Cambridge to Cape May

Thursday,May 21 - Rain, rain, and more rain. And…cold!! Low 50’s!! We left Oxford and traveled in that rain and cold to the Cambridge free citydock. No water, no power…but, as they say, the price is right!

There were two boats already on the wall so we went behind them, towards Gay Street end of dock. We showed about 4.5 ft. of water there…but watched the tide and decided we were OK. Lots of fiddling with the lines and fenders the first day and night…but got it right.

Friday,May 22 - Warm and sunny today, but winds are blustery so it’s a perfect day for checking out the city.

We started with High Street and followed it to the river to see the Victorian beauties on the street (homes, that is). Then Wayne took off to a marine museum and I to the Dorchester County Arts building.

Nice little shop at the art center with goods from the member artists…and a group of ladies engaged in knitting, crocheting, and…talking. It was the Fiber Fridays group that meets in the center weekly. I wasinvited to join them…and was tempted, but Wayne and I were meeting for lunch soon. I did buy a couple of postcards and a set of note cards.

We had a good lunch at Don Chuy Taqueria, then off for provisions. Wayne headed for a wine store and I for a grocery. I walked there, but got a taxi back. $7 for the ride was probably the most reasonable price we’ve had for a taxi ride EVER!

We liked Cambridge and the free wall. Like many towns on the water, there were shops for rent or vacant. But the houses on High Street were lovely…and the people we met were very friendly.

Saturday,May 23 - Off we go to Rock Hall, MD. We had entertained the idea of stopping at St. Michaels this time because we haven’t seen that town yet. However, that Saturday before Memorial Day was the 50th anniversary of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and they were having a Party on the Point to celebrate. That celebration plus Memorial Day weekend traffic…sounded too congested for us to enjoy.

We decided to visit St. Michaels the next time…by boat or by car!
Our decision was justified by the traffic we had in the Eastern Bay that day!

Oh…but first I must tell you about the narrows. We had two sets of “narrows” to negotiate that day: Knapps Narrows and Kent Narrows. We watched carefully through both spots…expecially when we saw one boat aground at each location! 

When we exited Kent Narrows near Kent Island (huge boating community, by the way) we saw sailboats from one end of the horizon to the other! Amazing site!! I tried to capture the feeling in a picture, but the expanse of the bay and the number of sailboats meant you couldn’t see the sailboats, they were so far away.
We crossed the bay, running amidst and between, and went on up to Rock Hall and the Swan Creek Marina mooring field.

Catching the mooring ball was pretty easy…then we were set for a couple of days. The mooring field that Saturday was almost full, as was the anchorage on the creek behind it.

Cutest marina, town, area! Really laid back and yet resort-like. Beautiful!! Lots of boats here from Pennsylvania, a relatively short drive away. And the marina dockmaster was most helpful. If you look really, really hard you will see JOURNEY way in the background of this scene...

Dinghy dock is just on the other side of that dock you see in the foreground.

Sunday, May 24 - Walked to town. Supposedly a mile, but seemed longer because there was no sidewalk and a bit of traffic that weekend. Scoped out the village area, then walked further to get to the harbor and our destination for lunch, the Harbor Shack. Good lunch. Wayne had a crab cake stack sandwich and I had coconut shrimp.

Appetites satiated we walked to the grocery store in town and picked up a few items. Wayne trekked up to West Marine while I was picking up the groceries. We opted for Dove bars from the grocery as out ice cream fix since the local ice cream shop hadn’t opened yet for the season…then called the local trolley for a ride back to the marina with our loot. $1 per person. Can’t beat it!

Great idea for the town banners this Memorial Day...

And look at this cottage for sale! Anyone wanna snap it up? Under $200,000.

Monday,May 25 - Memorial Day! Most everyone in the mooring field and anchorage left. Small craft warnings were out that day and we decided to wait it out a day.

Pretty laid back day for us. I biked in (with loaner bike from the marina)to Rock Hall and the Dollar Store for a couple of supplies…then drove by the local beach… Oh. And this is the entire beach. No need for a panorama shot. ;-) And, yes, there are people in the water. I don’t know the water temperature, but I’m pretty sure it’s cold!

We’ve decided these are hardy people, though. We saw a couple swimming this morning from the marina to their sailboat in the mooring field. Probably just finished a run around the area and cooled off with the dip. At the time, I think we had the heat on and fleece jackets.

I’m amazed that there are so many beaches on the Chesapeake Bay! Some are small…but cute!

Tuesday,May 26 - Small craft warnings were still out for today…but in looking at the conditions we decided we could probably do it…AND we had a back up plan. ;-) We timed our departure so we’d be going with the current and with a south wind. Only time we got rolly-poley was when we had to run for a short while with the current and wind on our side as we exited the Rock Hall area and headed north up the Chesapeake.

We left Hampton Piers on May 4 and exited the Chesapeake Bay on May 26. It was a good three weeks cruising the Chesapeake. In the process we’ve gained an appreciation for all those people who say it’s some of the best cruising around. So many great anchorages and small towns, it would take a long time to get tired of this. We got a feeling from the Eastern Shore area…and like it a lot! ;-)

Twice now, on the Chesapeake, I’ve seen what I was calling sting rays. Turns out there are other kinds of rays besides “sting” rays. I think, having read a bit more about Chesapeake Bay marine life, that I was seeing cownose rays. The first one I saw was a loner…floating very near the surface of the water. The second sighting was even better because I saw four rays in formation! At first I couldn’t figure out what I was looking at because the pattern made them look like something manmade. And…OK…we were near an area on the Bay where war ships conduct target practice. Was this a target??? But, no. When the boat got right up beside them I could see they were rays. Couldn’t get a picture so I did a rough sketch of the sight.

The rest of the day was an easy ride…and we had an incredible push, especially on the C & D Canal, the body of water that connects the Chesapeake Bay to the Delaware Bay. At one point we were doing 11.5 mph!!

To give you a perspective on the kind of ships that travel on this C & D Canal….We had started to pass a sailboat when we saw something coming around a bend ahead. A big something!

We pulled into Chesapeake City around 2:30PM and found a good spot in the anchorage there. Several boats there already…and more arrived later. Reset the anchor after watching it awhile because we seemed to be moving with a current in the basin. Notice the huge ship in the background of this shot...

Wednesday, May 27 - The marine weather for Delaware Bay looked like it might be good for us to go either Thursday or Friday of this week. We decided to leave Chesapeake City and get a bit closer to the Delaware Bay by going to the Delaware City Marina in Delaware City, DE. We left Chesapeake City with a favorable current pushing us along. Saw a couple more mammoth boats along the C & D. One, a tow with a barge, had a wake so big that we felt it’s effect for a long time after!

The entrance to Delaware City Marina was very shallow in spots, so the marina employee asked us to call her when we got to a certain point in our approach. She then gave very specific instructions about how close we should stay to the port side of the channel as we came into the marina area. The marina at waterside consists of a very long dock running parallel to the water.

All snug and cozy in our spot on the dock, we headed first thing for the laundry! We got three loads done before the “weather talk” in the marina office started. Turns out, a couple of people on the marina staff meet with interested boaters in the evenings at 5:00 and offer their opinion on the next day’s conditions.

We, too, had been monitoring the weather forecast and had pretty well decided to leave on Friday. Thursday’s forecast wasn’t quite as good as Friday’s…but a lot of the boats there had obviously been waiting a while for a reasonably good day. The next morning all but about three of us transients left. We were hoping the conditions for our chosen day would hold steady…or, if a change is in order, get better. ;-)

Thursday, May 28 - We took the first part of our day to walk around the small town of Delaware City. First stop was the bakery for a few items to munch. Then we walked on down the main street to the waterfront on the Delaware River. They’ve done a great job with the park areas in the town area. This is looking out at the river and a large tanker.

Our walk over, Wayne headed back to the boat and I stopped in for a hair cut at a salon on the main street. Walking back to the boat I saw evidence of a night time visitor to the dock. A BIG visitor.

That afternoon we went back up for the 5:00 weather meeting and they confirmed that Friday should be a good day. I’d walked over to a local fish market, Wiso’s, and brought home supper…steamed shrimp.

The day ended with a peaceful scene of the bank across from our boat...

and we went to bed anticipating a 5:30 AM departure the next morning.

Friday, May 29 - Checking the weather at 4 AM, it still looked like a good day to travel down the bay. SE winds, 5-10, waves 1-2. The only “messy” part was the southerly wind. Skipper Bob, a series of guides written for cruising boaters, advises “any winds but southerly.”

A member of the marina staff was up to see us off and we were heading for the bay at 5:30 AM. We had over 60 miles to travel, and for part of that time the current would be running against us. We were anxious to see what sort of speed we could average that day.

We started out with waves of less than a foot. Even after the waves got a bit higher, they were coming on our front at an angle so we were able to adjust our course slightly to make for a smoother ride. About half way down the bay, just after the Miah Maull Shoal, we took a course off the shipping channel that headed straight for the entrance to the Cape May Canal.

That’s when things got a little rocky-rolly. We began to see some swells of about 3 feet or slightly more. Again, we adjusted course as we could…sometimes to miss crab traps and other times to help take the bite out of the waves. Nothing dangerous for us, but we did end up bracing ourselves constantly for the rocky ride.

By the time we got into Utsch’s Marina in Cape May, NJ, fueled up and tied into our slip, we were ready to crash! We hadn’t eaten much lunch on the trip down so we decided to go get a take out pizza from Tony’s Pizzeria nearby. Supper done, we were in bed early! Check off the Delaware Bay! ;-)

Saturday, May 30 - Time to explore the town of Cape May, NJ! We will be here at Utsch’s Marina until at least Tuesday morning because we have mail coming in on Monday. The weather for going up the coast probably wouldn’t be the best for travel on the intervening days anyhow.

We asked the marina staff for good breakfast places nearby and the response was a solo name: Lobster House. Really? But, yes! A small section of the larger Lobster House is set up with stools and counter to form the Lobster House Coffee Shop. We got there before 9 AM and found a couple of seats at the counter right away. An omelet, 6 slices of French toast, and 4 pieces of bacon later…we felt ready to walk into town, about 1.7 miles from the marina.
It was a beautiful day for being outside! We walked down sidewalks all the way…admiring the homes on either side. There was a light breeze blowing in off the ocean and the sun was shining bright.

We peaked in at the beach area, which was getting a lot of action that day.

Browsed some of the shops at the Washington Street Mall…I will be back!

A stop at the Acme Grocery store on the way back completed our first survey of the city. Never pass up a grocery store in this little boat! ;-)  Back at the boat, it was time for a major washing of the vessel.  We even took the time to treat the teak deck with bleach and suds.

Meanwhile, in all this moving, dinghy rides, new grass…Lucy is doing great...

And so are we!  ;-)  Blogged while sitting on the back deck, soaking up the sun and breeze...'Til next time!

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