Monday, August 22, 2011

From Catskill, NY to Chesapeake Bay

This is considered the third leg of our trip.  First was from Sandusky Ohio, across Lake Erie in the Great Lakes to Buffalo NY, about 200 miles.  Second was the transit of the Erie canal across the state of NY to the Hudson River which encompases 37 locks and took us to Catskill, NY on the Hudson.  That was about 450 miles, all motor with the masts down and laying on top of the boat. This third leg is from Catskill NY to the lower Chesapeake Bay, a trip of about 500 miles that encompases the Hudson River, New York City Upper Bay and the Statue of Liberty, the North Atlantic for 108 miles to Cape May, the Delaware Bay, the C&D canal and finally the Chesapeake Bay.  This leg of the trip was made by Charlie Stewart and two crew of friends and fellow sailors from Gulf Shores Steve Tedford and Bob McDonald.  Both Bob and Steve have done extensive cruising on their own boats, both Island Packets, and I have crewed for them on a couple of Gulf passages.  My brother Quinn was not able to make this leg because of an unexpected surgery, but he is doing well now and will pick it up in the Chesapeake.                                                                                          
The Hudson River still has some of the old traditional Light Houses that are still operational, however, no one
lives there these days.

  The river actually flows towards New York City through a maze of mountains that are part of the Appalachin chain. 

West Point, the home of the Military Academy, is right on the banks of the Hudson River.  High up on a ridge, it is protected just like it was almost 200 years ago as
a US fort protecting the City of New York.

As we came down the Hudson we had to watch the tides and current because the river flows each way for 6 hours each, and greatly affects the boat speed with the running of the tide.  When we got to the George Washington Bridge, we were officially in Salt Water.  The yacht insurance companies double the premium when you go under the GW bridge, since you are officially in "Hurricane Territory".

Then we enterd the Upper Bay of New York.  This bay is the home of Manhattan Island skyscrapers (The Empire State Building) and the Statue of Liberty.  We cruised it all. 

Bob saluting the grand lady.

Of course we didn't see the Twin Towers, and couldn't tell excatly where they had been in the skyline, but we were reminded of them when we saw the brave crew of the NYFD harbor boat as they came by us.  They provided a thrilling tribute to the empty sky that once held the twin towers.  New York's finest, on the water.

We approached the lower bay and were heading towards Sandy Hook for an anchorage to wait a weather window for the Atlantic voyage over 100 miles at sea to Cape May, entrance to the Delaware Bay. As we sailed, we checked the weather forecasts and concluded that NOW was the time to set out, not to wait at Sandy Hook; so we just kept sailing out into the ship channel towards the Atlantic, away from New York. 

After sailing all day and all night, we finally arrived at the entrance to Cape May Channel at around 0900 in the Morning.  We tied up at the Jersey Shore Marina in Cape may and met some old friends who were returning from a sailing cruise from the Chesapeake up to Martha's Vineyard.  They coincidentally arrived in Cape May later the same day.  We then cruised together with Carl and Debbie up the Deleware Bay.

Interesting that I met Carl and Debbie nearly two years earlier at a mutual friend's house, and then, far from home, on a boat in the Atlantic Ocean, we make the same port on the same day.

 We slugged our way up the Delaware bay, and that's what you do when the bay and tides and winds all decide to go in different directions, and then entered the C&D canal which is a 15 mile shipping canal that connects Deleware Bay to the Chesapeake Bay.  Everything I had learned about reading tide charts went out the window in Delaware bay.  It seems to have it's own mind about how the currents flow. 

We made Annapolis MD and tied up at the Annapolis Yacht Club for two nights.  Annapolis was so captivating that we had to stay there two days and see the sights.  Now we were at the home of the US Naval Academy.  We got to see both academy's (Army and Navy) the same week on a sailing trip.  How neat is that. 

We met up with Carl and Debbie again in St. Michaels, and we anchored next to them about a mile off the city docks.  We dinghied in to St. Michaels and spent the day at the Waterman's Festival that cost $25 for all day in the musuem, all you could eat crabs, burgers, hotdogs, soft drinks included.  The most fun was the watermans rodeo, which includes watching the oystermen and crabbers handle their single screw boats in a boat handling competition.  Those boys know their stuff. 

It's a messy job, but somebody has to do it!

 That is us anchored out below the bow sprit.

OneEighty and JAZZ visiting each other like they are old friends.
After leaving St. Michaels, one day, two storms and over 100 miles later, we made Jim's house at midnight up the Rappahannock River which is in the southern portion of the Chesapeake Bay.  Jim's house offered us a stable, secure dock and good company.  End of this leg of the trip.  Get some rest, work on the boat and make ready for Charleston. (Side note:  watch for Hurricane Irene which is slated to head up the east coast next week).

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