September 21 - Norwalk, Connecticut
After a relatively quiet night at the Thimbles during the frontal passage, the skies were sunny and we decided to stay put on the mooring for another night. The chart told me we would have good protection from northwest winds. Unfortunately, rolling waves of surge started coming down between the islands in the afternoon and kept doing that all night long. The wind held us broadside to the swell, so we rolled back and forth. And rolled back and forth. And rolled...but you get the idea. It was not a comfortable evening. A Catalina 36 named Sedna took the mooring next to us, and I couldn't help wondering if they blamed us for luring them into the trap.
This morning, the first day of Fall, we got underway around 8:30 AM. Out on the sound it was blowing twenty knots from the northwest and we were soon making seven knots. Even under these conditions we often find ourselves motorsailing because we need charge the batteries, but we were able to turn off the engine for a while before approaching the islands off Norwalk. As we got closer to town we saw at least a couple of dozen boats of all shapes and sizes anchored right next to the channel off Calf Pasture Point, with a launch ferrying people back and forth. It turns out that we've arrived just in time for the Norwalk Boat Show. We anchored with the others right on the edge of the channel, then moved after sunset when all the other boats had gone, leaving us plenty of room with only a permanently moored sailboat for company.
Title photo: Fog just outside Narragansat Bay in Rhode Island Sound after we left Bristol. Small Photos: (1) On the rolling mooring at the Thimbles. (2) All the boats except this one on a mooring left the boat show anchorage in Norwalk by sunset.
September 22 - Norwalk, Connecticut
Annie liked the Island Packet 445. I enjoyed seeing the unsinkable Etap 37. Laura loved the little touch tank provided for kids by the Maritime Aquarium. Yes, we all had a good time at the Norwalk boat show. Afterwards, I took the dinghy about a mile into town for some exploration. Strange place, this Norwalk. They provide a visitors dock where you can tie up, but the public park nearby has a five dollar entrance fee for non-residents. The Aquarium was built in 1988 to anchor the waterfront redevelopment and looked impressive, but on this day the facility was almost completely deserted. It was a beautiful Thursday afternoon and I had the streets all to myself. I walked through Norwalk Heritage Park, a waterfront park like Chattanooga's Riverwalk that seemed to have been half-completed and then forgotten. Sculptures and artwork along the path were framed by graffiti and overgrown grass, weeds towering over my head. I wouldn't have felt safe taking the girls into this mutated place: half nature, half inner city. What happened here? On top of an overgrown hill, where the map showed "Heritage Fort," was a fifteen foot tall statue that looked like a gigantic donut.
Photos: (1) Laura's favorite boat today was a crab. (2) View of the river from Heritage Park.
September 24 - Port Washington (Manhassett Bay), New York
When last we visited Manhassett Bay, Seaductress anchored for one night, visited a deli for supplies, and generally recovered from our troubled exit from the Big Apple. This time we left Norwalk on a windy, overcast day and powered into the swells quite happily, for I had finally figured out that I needed to align the engine mounts horizontally as well as just moving them up and down. Upon arrival we filled with diesel (nine gallons) and were told that the town of Port Washington has moorings that are free for two days. We called the Water Taxi and he took us to the last available mooring. After a peaceful night we took the taxi ($5/person) over to the big shopping center where we shopped for a family night movie at Hollywood Video (no luck), bought groceries at Stop & Shop, and ate lunch at Taco Bell. I know the latter achievement does not sound all that grand to some, but this was the first Taco Bell meal we've had in almost nine months.
The plan is to be at Throgs Neck Bridge tomorrow morning at exactly 10:52 AM--or is it 11:52 AM?--in order to catch a favorable current through Hell Gate and then out to the Jersey coast, although stopping for the night at Atlantic Highlands near Sandy Hook is also an option. Island Time, who no doubt have a copy of Reeds or some other Almanac giving them this exact time, will meet us there. The forecast for northwest winds (good) has changed to west winds (not quite as good) along the coast, which doesn't bode as well for a fuel-efficient overnight trip down the Jersey coast.
September 27 - Cohansey River (Delaware Bay), New Jersey
We had a fine overnight sail down the Jersey coast, running the engine for less than an hour during the passage (this, I'll admit, was after running it about seven hours to get through New York City). We'd left Port Washington shortly before Noon to meet Island Time out on the sound, then shot through Hell Gate at ten knots towards Manhattan. The west channel of the East River was allegedly closed because of a shore-to-shore security zone at the United Nations Building, which meant we needed to take the east channel around Roosevelt Island and deal with a bridge that had to be raised. The prospect of having to turn around in the fast current if the bridge didn't go up in time was causing some concern, and it didn't help when Aries, ahead of us, couldn't get the bridge to answer the radio. When Salty Paws reported that boats were getting through the west channel with no problems, we went that way as well. It made sense to me that the Coast Guard would allow boats down the far side of the channel since you can drive a car almost underneath the building, but they were still announcing a total closure on the radio even as we cruised past the patrol boats.
We rode the tide all the way through the gate, past the Statue of Liberty, and out into the Atlantic with winds around ten knots from the west. Winds from that direction mean good weather for the offshore passage to Cape May, without much wave action if you stay close to shore. We never got more than five miles out and had a smooth night under reefed main and later a reefed genoa when the wind got up to around fifteen knots. In addition to Island Time, I counted at least three other boats making the same passage. We went into the inlet at Cape May around Noon and anchored off the Coast Guard Station with a dozen other boats. By sundown there were a dozen more.
When we got up the next morning, however, all the boats were gone. Time to get moving up Delaware Bay to the marshlands at Cohansey River for the night.
Photos: (1) Island Time steams down the East River. (2) Annie in her usual position on the boat. (3) On the rear deck as we sailed down the Jersey coast.
September 28 - Little Tinicum Island (Delaware River), New Jersey
The Cohansey River provided a fine anchorage for us last night. We anchored about halfway down the river towards town, but the area just beyond the first big turn in the river looked good, too. The river was around 150 yards wide with marshland all around, but generally quite deep right up the shore. We set two anchors in a Bahamian moor to deal with the current and this worked fine.
We left early this morning and rode the ebb tide up Delaware Bay, with the wind pushing us from the south. I shut down the engine at the C&D Canal and we sailed up the Delaware still riding the current, making up to ten knots over the ground. Although there is lots of industry along the river, Little Tinicum Island looked like a decent anchorage in a mostly rural setting, with a yacht club and two marinas over on the Pennsylvania shore. The only drawback is being directly under the glide path for the Philadelphia airport. Every few minutes a plane lines up with our mast and comes roaring through at about 500 feet, but it does give us something to watch. Another thing we'll be watching are the thunderstorms coming this way with a cold front tonight, although looking at the sky right now you wouldn't anything nasty was anywhere near.
Assuming we survive the weather, we'll continue up the Delaware for a few miles tomorrow to the Philadelphia Marine Center where I have slip reserved for tomorrow and Saturday night.
September 29 - Philadelphia
We were underway by 8:00 AM for a two hour trip upriver to downtown Philadelphia. The current was a'gin us and only going to get stronger, but we were able to motor up to the Philadelphia Marine Center just upstream of Penn's Landing. A very nice woman named Barbara Plata showed us the fine facilities here, so now it's time for showers, laundry, and perhaps some sightseeing.
Photos: (1) Final approach over Little Tinicum Island. (2) We had to go through incredible security to see the Liberty Bell, but the Liberty Bull was almost completely unguarded. Yes, this bull has "Liberty" tattooed on one horn and "Freedom" on the other, and never the two shall reconcile. (3) The museum built underneath Ben Franklin's home includes this bizarre room where you can ring up famous personalities and see what they had to say about the man..
October 1 - Philadelphia
We're having a fantastic time in Philadelphia thanks again to the hospitality of the Adlers. Lewis Adler has been my best friend since second grade, and had already entertained us once when we came through northbound...only to do it all again this time. We've eaten at Dave and Buster's (right next to the marina), visited the Philadelphia Zoo, traded solutions to problems of world politics and religion, and even helped write a musical in the kitchen. On Sunday we spent most of the day working on the set for Nunsense at the Haddonfield Players. Ah, show business!
Photos: (1) The zoo provoked various reactions. (2) When I remarked that goats were just sheep that had been sheared, the zoo staff did not contradict me, so I'm taking that as confirmation of my theory. (3) The Philadelphia Marine Center in the shadow of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.
October 2 - Reedy Island, Delaware Bay
We left the docks about Noon, heavily in debt to Lewis and his family for a fun-filled weekend in Philadelphia. I have new respect for George Washington after cruising the Delaware; the current, constant ship traffic, and floating logs make this a tricky piece of water--and of course we were doing it in the daylight.
By the time we reached the C&D Canal, around 35 miles from Phillie, the tide had switched and the current was going to be a'gin us, so we continued south about four miles and ducked behind Reedy Island for a calm night at anchor.
October 4 - Annapolis, Maryland
We made good time through the canal yesterday and sped into the Chesapeake with a nice following current. In mid-afternoon we pulled into Still Pond on the eastern shore, between Sassafras River and Worton Creek. Five other boats, lots of honking geese, and at least a couple of quite vocal owls shared a pleasant anchorage with us, as calm and still as the name would have it. In contrast, having motored this morning down to Annapolis where we now are anchored off the Naval Academy, the boat is rocking constantly in one foot waves. If the forecast is to be believed, the rocking may well get worse. But the holding seems fine, the price was right, we've got a good wireless Internet connection, and the chance of getting a more protected mooring was remote since at least half of the city's moorings are taken up this week by America's most famous sailboat show. Of course, we've already been to two boat shows in the past month, but tomorrow we'll have to check this one out as well.
Photos: (1) Actually, the forecast only got worse, eventually predicting 40 knots winds. (2) Some climbing over dinghys to get to your own was to be expected during the boat show.
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