Monday, November 03, 2008

New York City to Baltimore - Doth spoke the raven...

Years ago when Pat and I moved to Toronto we were appalled and intimidated by the price of local real-estate. Fixer uppers were selling for staggering amounts and anything “nice” was in the stratosphere. Shock, however severe, never lasts very long and we knew we were getting acclimated to the “big city” when we started using the terms “only” and “$300K” in the same sentence. On our current adventure we have had a déjà vu experience when it comes to marina space.

Sure I know that true cruisers are more likely to spend their time on the hook and eschew the requirements to hook up to shore power and water, but Pat and I did not set out on this trip to go camping on the water. The real cruisers can call us wimpy, but as November unfolds, we like to have hot water, central heat and wifi. While we are all about independence, neither of us have any real desire to be the poster child for self sufficiency, while scraping the icicles off of our noses. So the sign that we are overcoming sticker shock at the marinas is when we can say “its ONLY $3 per foot”.

And the $3.00 per foot seemed like a real bargain as we huddled in the salon of Threepenny Opera on Tuesday morning. Yet another cold front was coming through the New York area and this time, the forecasters were taking no chances. The gale warnings were upgraded to storm warnings and the wind gusts were predicted to exceed 40 knots. Portions of the city were without heat and light due to wind damage, and a mere 75 miles north, there was 20 inches of fresh snow on the ground. For Pat and me the predictions of dire gloom meant that we were making contingency plans to stay put for an entire week in New York.

By Wednesday however the worst of the weather had passed by, and while some residents of Queens were still without power, the weather forecasts had improved significantly. After the drubbing of the previous weekend we were understandably more than a little bit skeptical that we would actually get decent traveling conditions. The alternative to leaving however was even less desirable as staying put would mean increasing the odds that the next snowfall would not be 75 miles north. So with more than a little bit of fear and trepidation we made plans to leave our cozy, but expensive, berth in New York for the exposed weather beaten shores of New Jersey.

The coast of New Jersey from Sandy Hook, just outside of New York Harbor and as far as Cape May at the entrance to Delaware Bay, is essentially a 155 mile long sandbar. In the summer time, one can tell, from the numerous beach houses and amusement parks along the coast, that it is an extremely popular place to spend a few days roasting on the beach. In November however the roller coasters and ferris wheels are still, and the beaches are deserted. The only real signs of life, apart from the casinos of Atlantic City, are from the fishing boats that live here, and from the steady procession of pleasure boats heading south.

For a sailor this 155 mile sand bar, represents a gigantic lee shore, and it is very easy to imagine your own boat adding to the numerous wreck symbols that seem to dot the entrances to every inlet. Since the sand shifts with every Atlantic storm, the charts do not illustrate precise locations for the channel buoys. Instead of precise depths, there are notations that were likely written by lawyers, warning mariners of variable depths and channels that are constantly being redefined. In so many words the advice is go see for your self or ask somebody else who really cares. In uncertain environments like this, one discovers that sailing is like raising children. There is a ton of advice around on how to do it correctly, all of it conflicting, and potentially dire consequences if you get it wrong.

Pat and I agonized over the charts to try and solve the problem of sailing down 155 miles of coastline with limited and possibly unusable shelter due to lack of water. It appeared that we had two choices. We could bite the bullet and gird ourselves for an overnight sail, provided the weather held, or we could duck into spots like Manasquan Inlet or Barnegat Bay. If it weren’t so personal, the indecision and debate would have been comical, but since the dilemma concerned issues very close to home, the humour was lost. In the end the prospect of a freezing cold overnight passage in temperatures in the low 30’s seemed more onerous than becoming a table ornament on a sand bar, so we elected to tackle a stop at Barnegat Bay as way of breaking the trip into two daylight segments. If we did not have the unlimited towing option from Boat US, our decision might have been different.

The trip down the NJ shore and then back up Delaware Bay into the Chesapeake was marked by some of the nicest and calmest weather we have had in weeks. All of the angst was for not. Despite a few white knuckle moments when channel markers disappeared into the glare of the setting sun, and when the boat seemed to develop a mind of its own during docking in a tidal flow, the trip was pretty boring!! The highlight of the week was spending Halloween night with our friends Connie and Richard from the trawler Active Assets in a Cape May, NJ Karaoke Bar. By the fourth beer, the talent, many of them rough and gruff local fishermen, were starting to sound pretty good. It wasn’t fantasy week in Key West, but it must be experienced to be appreciated!

We are now in Baltimore, the home of Edgar Alan Poe. Our intent is to visit with friends in the area as we meander down the Chesapeake towards Norfolk VA. The temperatures are forecast to be fairly forgiving, even though the next few days will be overcast and potentially wet. By the weekend however we will be below the Mason Dixon line and officially in the South! For the now we will play tourist in Baltimore where the docks are only $2.00 a foot!

There are 3 major airports in the area so if the mood strikes to go sailing, we are only 90 minutes away. Have a great week, I know we will!

P.S. Let us know you are out there by subscribing to the blog. Click on the “follow this blog” link, just below our profile photo.

Double click on the picture for the captions, run the slideshow to view the pics full screen. if you do not see any pictures below, make sure you have Adobe flash player installed. To install flash copy this link into your browser


Sailorman said...

The blog updates and pics are terrific guys. Keep them coming. The boats are pretty much all out of the water here now and fall is setting in. We're going to get awfully jealous as you head south into the nice weather. WIll you have time to get to Annapolis. We were there for the Sail show earlier in Oct and the weather was summer like. ALl the best.

Pat & Addison said...

Greetings Sailorman!

Thanks for the support. Our plan is to spend Tuesday and Wednesday in Annapolis. As for summer like weather, we will settle for early autumn! So if the frost stays away, we will consider it good fortune!

Best to you and Barb

Anonymous said...

Hi again P&A:
I must say that your photo log on this post is wonderful, captions great too. My only recommendation would be to increase by a few seconds the amount of time before changing to the next; can't read all the words in some shots (and I'm a fast reader).
We are enjoying a few mid week days of nearly balmy temps but winter is definitely in the forecast.
Helmut is hard at work now that our boat is on the hard. We have a rudder problem so it's been removed. Helmut spent yesterday and today digging a hole so that the rudder can be replaced while on the hard (i.e. before launch). I guess some members (Martin!) have been teasing him about his big dig.
We had a wonderful week in Paris and lucky us, we will be heading to the Bahams in two weeks for a short business trip.
Enjoy reading all about your new life, keep up with the posts!
All the best
Carol & Helmut

Pat & Addison said...

Hi Carol and Helmut. Thanks for the feedback. If you double click on the picture, you will have the option to either view the pictures one at a time, or you can put it into slide show mode. If you choose the slide show mode, then you can set the speed of the slide changes at the bottom of the picture frame. Shoot us an e-mail if you need more details. The embedded slide show at the bottom of each post is only there to entice you to look further.


Anonymous said...

Hey Pat & Addison,
Only $3.00 a foot in NY... You should try Liberty Park on the 4th of July... $3.00 would be a bargan!

Following your blog... Trev & Eva.

Anonymous said...

Dear Pat and Addison,
Merry Christmas and we wish you smooth sailing in 2009! Your travel log is wonderful and just the right antidote to the snow, freezing rain and rain here. We miss you but are really enjoying your adventures. Please say Hello to Ester and Bruce and tell Bruce I still need a good Eucher partner.
Ian and Marilea

Pat & Addison said...

Thanks for the good wishes Ian and Marilea.

We will see Bruce and Esther later tonight and we will be sure to pass on your thoughts of them.

Happy New Year
Addison & Pat