Paddleboats! The title photo is the infamous Baltimore Inner Harbor anchorage, where Paddleboats (which in their defense do not seem to steer well) may bump into you at various times through the day.

Thursday, July 27 - Worton Creek, up the Bay from Baltimore
Another night at anchor with lightning around us in the sky. We anchored out here in the open near the wide mouth of Worton Creek wanting to keep some breeze, and that much we have accomplished. As the wind picks up we're getting all the wind and waves a boat could want.

Baltimore was a fun tourist stop, but it was great to get back to cleaner water where we could swim. We filled up with water and diesel (13 gallons) at Inner Harbor, and were able to pump out, but failed to find any ice cream. Once we got back out onto the Bay, it was a downwind run--except as usual we had to charge the batteries, so the engine did not get a break. While Laura and Annie swam I cleaned some of the moss off the waterline of the boat; it's growing very well here, especially now that most of the paint is gone from that part of the hull. I even cleaned off the "mustache" of brown on the bow that we've been wearing since Mobile. Now, if I only had time to wax....

Our next stop may be Chesapeake City on the C&D Canal. It looks like we could be in Philadelphia by Saturday night, but I need to talk to my friend Lewis to see when would be best for us to visit before committing to the journey. We heard from one cruiser that you could anchor in Phillie, but it wasn't the safest place. With that in mind, I think we'll go into a marina.

Friday, July 28 - Turner Creek, Sassafras River
We made a lazy start from Worton Creek, having dodged severe thunderstorms that passed to our north and south during the night, and motored north to the Sassafras River. Our first stop was at the town of Betterton, which has free slips for transients near as part of a county park with a swimming beach. However, the space looked tight with a rock jetty on one side, so we attempted instead to tie up at the end of the dock but found this difficult as well with the fresh wind blowing us off the dock. Surrendering our pride, we anchored and dinghied in.

I was hoping for ice cream from the stand on the beach, but while we failed in this quest we did obtain sno-cones. Laura had a great time swimming off the beach but after an hour or so dark clouds were quickly advancing so we hurried back to the boat to ride out 45 minutes of wind and rain. There was an Amish-like group (the men all with beards, swimming in t-shirts, the women swimming in shirts and dresses) who kept the faith and stayed on the beach as others deserted. In fact, the men refused to leave the water, even as the rain came down sideways and the waves crashed all around them, a half dozen bearded heads bobbing together in the surf. Their faith was rewarded when the rain quit and the sun came out as if none of it had ever happened.

Meanwhile, we were snaking our way into Turner Creek, which has a narrow and winding entrance. Gigantic water lilies cover some of the shallow coves around us, reminding me more of the Okefenokee than the Chesapeake. We thought this would be a sheltered place to spend a stormy night, but from the looks of the sky now, the front has passed and it should be a calm evening.

Lily pads at Turner Creek
Photo: The lily pads made me wonder, once again, if we were truly far enough north to swim without alligators.

Saturday, July 29 - Chesapeake City, C&D Canal
When I talked with Lewis I found out that the family would be on vacation near Cape May all next week, so we'll skip our trip upstream to Philadelphia for now and meet the Adlers on the Jersey shore. As the first step in that plan, we motored a few hours north to the Elk River at the very top of Chesapeake Bay, then entered the C&D Canal. I was admiring a salty-looking trawler that passed us but should have been looking at the five foot wake he was making. There wasn't much room to maneuver or time to call out a warning...too late! The rogue wave had washed in Laura's open window, soaking her bunk.

With mattresses and linens laid out on the foredeck to dry, we pulled into the anchorage basin at Chesapeake City. I'd read that the entrance to the basin was prone to shoaling, but we had at least seven feet at high tide so perhaps it has been dredged recently. There was just one other sailboat at anchor here when we arrived but a dozen craft are here now for Saturday night. Lots of very loud muscle boats on this part of the Bay for some reason, too. They roar along burning tremendous amounts of fuel, getting from Point A to Point B quickly, but I don't see the point of it. When leaving the dock they shift into neutral and gun those unmuffled engines so that everyone will look and wonder what kind of idiot is thankfully departing. Just like the manly men on the Harleys, they make the masculine mistake of letting their decibels exceed their I.Q.s. That said, it would be interesting to ride in one of those things--for about five minutes, and then what do you do?

Chesapeake City was a pleasant stop where every building seems to be at least 150 years old. A clever young man was giving away free popcorn but selling iced drinks. We made two visits to the ice cream stop right off the harbor. After swimming in the basin, Laura and I made a quick visit to a nice playground. Now, if only the ice cream place would deliver....

On Stage at Chesapeake City
Photo: Laura is not shy. Here she performs with some new friends on the outdoor stage at Chesapeake City.

Sunday, July 30 - Cape May, New Jersey
This was not a particularly exciting day, which is exactly what you want when traversing a large body of water such as Delaware Bay. We left Chesapeake City around 9:15 AM on a rising tide and raced through the dozen miles of the C&D Canal at eight knots over the ground, then started fighting that current down the bay. The primary amusement during the hot trip 40 mile trip down the Bay was swatting flies in the cockpit. I was a little concerned about the water depth in the Cape May Canal, but the shortcut would save us a couple of hours, so in we went...and found no less than eight feet of water, even at low tide. We anchored east of the Coast Guard Station with about a dozen other boats, including Contigo who we last saw in Baltimore. Plenty of water here along the beach, although as Skipper Bob warns there is a lot of wake from passing boats.

August 2 - Cape May, New Jersey
We are back in the "real world" (on the boat, that is) after a fantastic visit with the Adlers and associated families. While the boat rested here at the marina, we spent two nights in air conditioned comfort at a huge rental condo complete with pool just three blocks from the beach. We experienced boogie-boarding, midnight walks for ice cream, and full day at the Ocean Oasis Water Park on the boardwalk in Wildwood. First class, all the way. Lewis even talked me into doing the "Sky Coaster," a self-described cross between hang gliding and skydiving. Actually (as was the case on the big waterslides earlier), we were only following in the footsteps of "Iron Mike," Lewis's six year old nephew who has absolutely no fear.

After doing a bit of laundry here at Utchs's ($2/foot, but the facilities are very nice, including a bottle of wine and baked goods when you arrive) we will probably anchor out tonight and then if all looks good we'll move up the coast to Atlantic City tomorrow. Earlier we filled up with diesel (759 hours) so we'll be ready to move again when the time comes.

August 3 - 79th Street Boat Basin, New York City
An hour after I wrote that we planned to stay in Cape May for the night, we started the engine and headed out the inlet into the Atlantic. It was too hot to sit around in the harbor, and much more comfortable out on the open water. Twenty two hours, forty-five minutes later, I shut down the engine here at 79th Street Boat Basin in New York. We'd actually done the 100 plus miles of offshore water to Sandy Hook before dawn, but it took another half a day to motor up against the outgoing tide through the Narrows, past the Statue of Liberty, up the Hudson (still against the current) past Manhattan, and finally uptown to the mooring field ($30/night). I suspect it will be hot and rolly, but it's great to be here just the same.

This afternoon we walked over three blocks to Broadway and took the subway down to the World Trade Center site. It appears that they've started construction on the new "Freedom Tower" complex, but for now the tremendous hole is still very impressive. Laura wanted to know what used to be there, so we tried to explain what had taken place. She was actually watching the TV with me on September 11 when the second plane went into the tower, but she was just two years old and perhaps it's for the best that she doesn't remember. After getting something to drink at the food court in one of the World Financial Center buildings, we caught the subway back uptown to Central Park and had just enough energy to see one of the lakes before heading back to the boat. Maybe it's appropriate that we were trying to do the Big Apple on little to no sleep, but I think you're supposed to do that in the city, not before you arrive.

79th Street Basin Moorings from the Cafe World Trade Center Site
Photos: (1): 79th Street Basin Moorings from the Cafe. There is a nice waterside park running all along the Hudson here, including a playground not far from the marina. (2) World Trade Center Site, unfortunately not showing that depth of that big hole. They don't seem to have any open vantage points of the hole currently, although naturally there will be a memorial in the plaza with the new buildings when they are finished.

August 4 - 79th Street Boat Basin, New York City
We spent all day inside the air-conditioned halls of the Natural History Museum ($14/adult suggested admission price, although you can pay less if you like), which reminded me of the Smithsonian in D.C. They even had a life-sized blue whale hanging from the ceiling in the ocean exhibit. Some of the halls of old-fashioned dioramas, many of which date back more than fifty years, also included big video screens and computer stations where you could learn more--a real modern touch that worked well. Maybe it was just tired feet, but lots of people were sitting down to watch the videos.

After walking back to the boat, we decided to dinghy a bit upriver through the anchorage. Ian and Jane on Contigo invited us over...great fun talking with these folks from London and reading Ian's "East Coast Diaries" from last summer's trip up the east coast.

Juggler and Laura Laura and Dad Sailboat off Battery Park
Photos: (1): Laura performs in front of the Natural History Museum. (2) Laura and Dad take a break. (3) Sailboat off Battery Park at the tip of Manhattan.

August 5 - Manhasset Bay, New York
We had an interesting departure from our mooring at 79th Street. The day started out well enough, with a celebration of "Universal Peace Day" taking place in the park adjacent to us. This all-day event was being held on the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Paul Yarrow of Peter, Paul & Mary was on stage when I stopped by, but the crowd was small. I wanted to stay, but we had a date with the tides at Hell Gate and needed to depart at exactly 12:21 PM.

And so it was that at the accorded time I motored up a bit to give some slack against the 1 1/2 knot current (it had been up to 2 1/2 the night before) and told Annie to throw off the mooring lines without remembering to bring the dinghy up into the davits. When Annie attempted to do so, the water caught one of the tubes and flipped the entire dinghy, spilling beach shoes and assorted other things into the Hudson. Fortunately the gas tank, the anchor, and other major items were secured. We managed to get the thing upright again, but the motor had been upside down in the water and I suspected some maintenance would be required before it would work again.

Ten minutes we had just caught our breath when the engine lost power and died. We were adrift in the Hudson, without even our dinghy to push us to safety. Annie took down the sun awning so we would have the mainsail if needed, while I tried to restart the engine. It cranked and caught, but was still lacking power. We'd seen this before, back on the Chesapeake, when I'd tried to make myself believe a rope had wrapped our propeller. Clearly, the problem was in the fuel system, very likely clogged filters. Should we try to limp back upstream to 79th Street, completing our inglorious exit? No, we barely had power enough to get over to the bank where the Lincoln Harbor Marina was kind enough to let us tie up for an hour and work on the problem. With the filters changed and the engine bled, all was well, so I took a look at the outboard. Sure enough, when I removed the spark plug, water ran out. After I drained water out of the carburetor, the engine started and seemed to be back to its cheerful self (although a change of oil wouldn't hurt).

We were an hour or two behind schedule, but the current would be with us, so we powered on around the tip of Manhattan, under the Brooklyn Bridge, towards Hell Gate. With standing waves all around, the GPS hit 11.2 knots while the knotmeter was doing only 6.6. Yep, this was Hell Gate. Onward past the prison at Rikers Island we flew, emerging into a mass of boats on Long Island Sound. We anchored for the night in Manhasset Bay (there are a thousand moorings here, but the Manhasset Bay Yacht Club was asking $40/night for one, so we just anchored on the advice of a friendly fellow on Robin IV.

Manhassat Harbor
Photo: Seaductress at anchor in Manhasset Harbor.

August 7 - Port Jefferson, New York
Yesterday we got another late start after I spent an hour up the mast replacing six of the slides that attach the mainsail foil to the mast. I'd hoisted the main carelessly the day before and snapped them off before I noticed what was happening. I've contemplated replacing the plastic ones with stainless shackles all the way up the mast, but decided perhaps it's better to break the cheap plastic than the foil or the sail itself.

We had plenty of company out on Long Island Sound on a sunny Sunday afternoon. The wind was right on the nose as we headed east, but dozens of other sailboats were tacking their way upwind so I decided to give it a try. We hadn't sailed with the engine off since we came up the coast of Florida two months ago, but beating to windward was even tougher--we actually had to tack back and forth, something we hadn't done since leaving Chattanooga. Since the Sound was only a few miles wide here, we were having to tack every thirty minutes--whew! It was a lot of work. Exhausted, we sailed into Oyster Bay and found a spot to anchor in the midst of a few hundred moored sailboats. It seems that every anchorage off Long Island is filled with moorings, but Oyster Bay at least had a little more room left than some.

Another late start in the morning found us motor-sailing just twenty miles to Port Jefferson, where we anchored on the edge of a vast but mostly empty mooring field. There are thunderstorms forecast for tonight as a front moves through, but good weather should follow for the rest of the week. I talked with Janet from Promise this morning and we plan to meet them on Friday near Bristol, Rhode Island for a weekend cruise. We are very excited about seeing Janet and Rhonda again (and maybe even Tye the cat), assuming we can make it through these treacherous waters. As if sailing the boat without an engine yesterday weren't enough of an accomplishment, I had to navigate all day today using the paper charts--the horror! We've ordered a new cartridge to cover the unknown waters to the north and will pick that up from Janet and Rhonda when we meet them.

August 8 - Stonington, Connecticut
They say that Stonington is the most beautiful harbor on the East Coast, but from a boat all that you can see is other boats on moorings, so it's hard to tell. Actually to hungry but poor cruisers like us, the most beautiful sight we can imagine would be a grocery store within walking distance. We've been to convenience stores and a deli or two, but haven't reprovisioned since Baltimore.

The sixty mile trip to Stonington was right up the middle of Long Island Sound, but we had the tide and some wind with us and made the journey in nine hours. We found our way through the maze of moored boats to Dobsons Boat Yard, where we got water and diesel (14.8 gallons, 770 hours). I'd added ten gallons we bought in Luperon from our jerry jugs, too, so we've used 25 gallons since Cape May. As a fellow told me a while back, sailing is nice when you're just out for the afternoon but we cruisers have places to be. Still, boats of the sailing persuasion are extremely popular here. Nearly every harbor on Long Island Sound looks like George Town, Bahamas at the height of the Cruiser's Regatta, a dense forest of masts, all on moorings. In the few harbors with a lot of extra moorings, such as Port Jefferson last night, the custom seems to be to pick one up and not worry too much about it--unless the owner's boat comes in later, that is. Further east, here around the sailing town of Mystic, you may need a reservation and the moorings don't come cheap ($47/night with tax here at Dobsons for a 35 footer). However, a friendly fellow at Dobsons advised me that we could anchor out near the breakwater (east of the #7 can) and that's where we now sit, happy as clams. Although Annie is still antsy about getting to a grocery store, we may head out to Block Island--just 17 miles away--for a night and then point back towards Rhode Island.

Stonington Harbor
Photo: The Most Beautiful Anchorage on the East Coast has so many boats on moorings that you really can't see an anchorage there at all. Luckily, there is a strip of water out near the breakwater where they left a little room for anchoring.

Next Two Weeks | Previous Two Weeks | Start of Log

Copyright © 2007 by Rodger Ling. All rights reserved.