Onward’s Cruise Journal 2011
Cruise from Rhode Island to Bahamas

A Note to First-Time Visitors to Onward's Journals

My apologies - I've fallen behind in keeping this Journal up to date and have been admonished by many friends. I plead that I caught some kind of a bug in August that had my energy levels well below normal - and then there was Irene. In any case, I'm back and slowly catching up...

Updated: 15 Oct 11

September 2011

1 Sep 11; Thursday;

  • I had planned to depart today to go out to Cape Cod to see the Greggs and the Laceys and then on to Nantucket to meet up with Ed and Nancy as they started their vacation there. Today I had to make the hard decision to stay put due to the threat of Hurricane Katia and my continued lack of energy.

2 Sep 11; Friday;
  • The computer models seem to be agreeing that Katia will go E out to sea well before reaching RI. I have a lot of faith in these models - but I will still stay put in Greenwich Cove until the storm physically makes the turn to the E. I have no desire to try to find a safe place to hole up should it changes its mind. I'm nice and secure on the EGYC mooring.

3 Sep 11; Saturday;
  • Kathy and Andy picked me up and we went off for dinner and a round of shopping. I spent the night at their home.

4 Sep 11; Sunday;
  • Kathy, Andy and I went off for what has become a Sunday morning ritual: Mass followed by breakfast at Paneras Bread. I got to see Rob and tell him that I'd installed the new New England Rope 5/16" Stayset braided line on the genoa furler and it was a big improvement.
  • In the afternoon we journeyed to Jamestown for a visit to my cousin Barbara Ricci's home. We had a great time at the birthday party cookout her husband and daughter had organized. Kathy then returned me and my shopping bags to EGYC where Venture was happily awaiting me.

5-7 Sep 11; Monday - Wednesday
  • I laid low aboard and rested up and tried to accomplish some tasks in preparation for departing on the trip back to the Chesapeake once the threat of hurricane Katia was past. My energy level is improving a bit but I still have the urge to sleep a lot.
  • Kathy dropped off the new reel of genoa furling line Rob Tedder had left for me. After my recent problems with genoa furling, I decided it was high time to replace the line to the furler. It has been problematic since shortly after I took deliver of Onward. At that time, the furling line was rigged in the standard fashion: down the port rail via block on the stanchions to the cockpit. On one of my first sails, I had run into problems furling the genoa singlehanded as there was no way to cleat the line when I needed to transfer it to or between winches when furling under load. To fix this, I went out and bought a pricy Winchard turning block with cam cleat to put on the rail at the stern end. The very first time I used this, I discovered to my surprise and chagrin that they had failed to properly polish the SS mount for the cam cleat and it cut half way through the furling line like it was butter. I managed to furl the genoa and on returning to the slip, I took the furler line in to have an end-to-end splice put in to fix the cut as it was much cheaper than new line. Well doing that and reversing the line seemed to work. What I finally did was rerig the furler line so it comes up to the port bridgedeck and through a stopper and now can be led to either of the small winches. This has worked great until this Spring when the splice got swollen and started binding in the blocks. I finally got fed up after the fiasco at Tarpaulin Cove and decided to replace it with a similar but longer new line. Today I installed the new line - it works great!
  • It was depressing to see yet another tropical storm, Maria, forming up behind Katia. Even though I have given myself plenty of time to get back to the Chesapeake it seems that a good transit window will be hard to find.
  • Nancy called and I had to tell her that due to weather and my low energy levels I was not going to make it to Nantucket. They agreed to call when passing by in case we might be able to get together.

8 Sep 11; Thursday;
  • The line of rain squalls coming up the coast from the remnants of Lee reached RI yesterday and it rained heavily all night. I discovered that I hadn't done an adequate job waterproofing the canvas after I cleaned it as I had run out of the waterproofing material. For the first time since I've owned Onward I had a soaked cockpit - I like the nice dry version much better! I decided this needed to be fixed before heading S.
  • In the morning, there was enough of a gap in the squalls that I was willing to don my rain jacket and pants and take Venture ashore to meet Nancy and Ed for breakfast. I went out to find so much water in Venture that I had to rig my electric bilge pump and wait the 10-min it took to empty it. Nancy and Ed were waiting for me at EGYC and we decided to drive to T's for breakfast. Now they had loaded up their SUV so much, Nancy had to sit on my lap for the trip; not a bad deal for me.
  • We had a great time at breakfast catching up on this and that. When I got back to Venture, I found that it had almost as much water in it as it had before I'd pumped it out! earlier in the morning! First I thought it had sprung a leak or the drain plug was loose. I set to work pumping it out and found no leak - it had just rained a hell of a lot while we enjoyed breakfast.
  • I got back to Onward and realized that for the first time in almost 6 weeks I had my normal energy level back. It must have been the magic of seeing old friends! This made me decide to prepare to head S on Saturday morning - there seemed to be just enough time for me to get down the NJ coast between the passage of Hurricane Katia and the coming Maria.
  • So I got busy. I baked a focaccia, and a calzone with the dough I had started yesterday. I also experimented and for the firs time made some pepperoni rolls. I then decided to use the ground beef I had in the freezer to make a large pot of stew. While the baking and cooking was ongoing, I finished doing some sewing chores that i had not had the energy to attack before. By the end of the day, Onward was in good shape to depart on Saturday.
  • Bill Kimbell called me from Newport and said he could stop at West Marine in Middletown if I needed anything so I quickly put in an order. Bill came out on the launch and delivered the goods which included the much-needed water repellant and I helped him move Madrigal to a T-head where a mechanic was to work on it. We then went off to Pal's to have dinner together. I got another veal parmigiana fix.

9 Sep 11; Friday;
  • The sun came out and I felt great. I realized that I have become really dependent on having lots of sun to feel energetic and well.
  • I took Onward in to load fuel and water and pump out the holding tank.
  • While at the pier, I decided to reinstall the genoa. I had taken it off before Irene to have the local Doyle loft repair the tear it incurred at Tarpaulin Cove. Doyle had repaired the tear caused by the spreaders and put in a large spreader patch. They also restitched the sun shield and repaired the luff lines and reinforced the tack and luff tape. Of course, i was so focused on carefully raising the sail by myself in a pesky breeze that I forgot to bend on the starboard sheet! In any case, I got it back on safely. The new genoa furling line worked great.
  • Once back on the mooring, I took advantage of the sun and light wind to give the canvas a thorough soaking with water repellant!
  • Bill Kimbell put Madrigal back on its mooring after having its starter prepared. I Ventured over to him to pick him up and he greeted me with a selection of opera CDs for my perusal. We celebrated the great time we had together and our friendship with a till-next-time beer.
  • I stopped by Doyle and bought some remnant sail cloth to have aboard for projects and repairs.
  • Kathy and Andy picked me up in town where I'd gone to pick up prescriptions and more diet Goslings ginger beer. We then went off to have dinner together. I have so enjoyed our little outings together - I'm going to miss this. I have been so fortunate to have been able to spend so much time with my sister this summer!

10 Sep 11; Saturday; Greenwich Cove to Shelter Island
  • Onward left the security of Greenwich Cove and the East Greenwich Yacht Club at 0615 and headed for Orient Point on the E tip of Long Island. It was a beautiful calm and sunny morning thus providing a nice easy transition from the secure sedentary life to the movin' & cruisin' life.
  • This is now my "5th cycle" of cruising sojourns since my retirement in Jan 2007. In spite of all the experience I have, i still get apprehensive about making the sedentary to cruising modes. I've come to accept this and regard it as good - it keeps me sharper and less likely to take important things for granted. But it only took a few nm and I was peacefully in the groove.
  • While the wind and water was still calm, I unfurled enough of the genoa to bend on the "missing" starboard sheet. That done, I was ready to start motor-sailing on the starboard tack after rounding Pt. Judith and setting course for Gardiners Bay LI. A light NE wind filled in then and held to mid-day when it died off and then built out of the E.
  • By 1430 I was ~ 6 nm from Plum I and I noticed my magnetic heading was 25º E of the autopilot's track. This startled me and I thought my fluxgate compass had gone haywire. Sooo I took out my iPhone and brought up the compass app and it agreed with my fluxgate. Then I realized that I was taking the max ebb current through the Race and Onward had to head off 25º to breast it and stay on track! Ain't modern electronics wonderful!
  • As I approached Gardiners Bay, I called Charlie Weiner a Corinthian who has a home on Shelter Island and checked on how I could join the Mystic Fleet of the Corithians at their cocktail party and dinner. I then called on VHF and got a mooring at Shelter Island Yacht Club. The club launch led me to the mooring while the wind had freshened to ~15 kts and stood by as I picked up mooring. Sometimes things work perfectly and this time it did as I was able to smoothly leave the helm and walk forward to just reach down and pull up the mooring float. The launch driver came over to complement me on doing this singlehanded - I told him I had plenty of ugly experiences to go with it.
  • I quickly showered and took the launch in and crashed the party. I got to see Dick and Robin Woods whose home I had visited on Nantucket was now being used by their children. I got to meet several new friends and had a great time.

11 Sep 11; Sunday; Shelter I to Manhasset Bay
  • Onward dropped its mooring at SIYC and headed out. The wind had held > 10 kts out of the E and this made the long trek out to Plum Gut longer with it right on the nose. This backtracking is the only downside to visiting the great harbors at Orient Pt. Once through the Gut I set course directly for Manhasset Bay and motorsailed under the genoa with the wind on the port stern.
  • IIt was a nice sunny day until I had passed Port Jefferson when overcast and rain moved in. However. it was a bit eerie sailing W on Long Island Sound on 11 September 11- it was so quiet around me (other than the engine) that it was a day of silence. As I got closer to the W end of the Sound, first the skyscrapers of Stamford CT came into view. A short time later those of Manhattan began to rise out of the W horizon. I couldn't help looking for the twin towers - although the were gone by the time I made my first passage up the E River in June 2003. The day of the 9/11 is still very fresh in my memory including the frantic call from my son, who was then at the University of Maryland, telling me not to go to my scheduled meeting at the Pentagon because he had just heard it had been hit. It's been a very long 10 years. I hope the nation will not see its like again... What I would like to see again though, is the feeling of kinship and mutual support for one another along with the willingness to submerge differences to work together for a better nation and world - in contrast the miasma today. Too bad it took terrorists to bring us to our senses..., even if only for a short while.
  • Onward anchored at its usual spot at 1905, sunset. My late arrival made seeing the Yorke's and Wollin's problematic and I was to too tired too boot. It was cold and damp so I went below and immediately cooked myself some comfort food, angle hair pasta with garlic sauteed in olive oil. I dined watching an episode of Dr. Who and then turned in.

12 Sep 11; Monday;
  • This morning I reviewed the weather.  While conditions look OK for me to do Atlantic Highlands, Atlantic City, Cape May on Mon-Wed, I would be facing 25 kts N winds and 4-6, following swells from Hurricane Maria which will be midway between the coast and Bermuda if I attempted Delaware Bay on Friday a very uncomfortable combination.   So, I've decided to spend a few days here to let the seas and the more intense leading winds of the approaching big high abate before heading S. Hopefully I will encounter reasonable N wind and moderate swells for the trip down the coast.
  • So I will use the next few days to do some of the things I didn't have the energy to do while in RI.
  • I spent much of the morning updating this journal and then went ashore at noon to meet Mike Yorke and go out for a relaxing pub lunch. We had a great afternoon messing about. In the meantime, Leslie and David Wollin invited us all over to their home for dinner Tuesday night.

13 Sep 11; Tuesday;
  • I got up at 0600 and checked the weather. It was still predicted to be pretty much as yesterday. Having gotten beat up on the Delaware in the Fall of 2007 with Ed Burke aboard - the worse pounding into breaking seas with water constantly on deck that I've encountered to date - I have no desire for a repeat. So the decision to relax here until likely Thursday morning is a good one. Then I will move to Atlantic Highlands and then do the coast on Fri-Sat and the Delaware on Sun. The big high should be in place by then and its winds diminished a bit but still from the N also Maria's swells should dissipate by then.
  • Mike Yorke called me and we went off to the Post Office where I finally got to mail the package with Joahna's birthday gifts off to her in Utah. I also mailed the opera CDs back to Kiran and Bill Kimbell. Mike and I had a delightful lunch before he returned me to MBYC.
  • Once aboard, I spent time writing about the problem of anchor chain twisting in answer to a query on the C470 email list. I then went out to the bow to attempt to untwist my chain and replace missing markers. I took a photo of a ~4' section of twisted chain - a solidly compacted length about 1.5" in diameter that doesn't feed onto the gypsy correctly and beats up the chain stripper. I have decided that the untwisting of the anchor chain is a preventative maintenance task that needs to be done much more regularly; perhaps as often as every 10 times the anchor is deployed. Writing the article had required me to remember all the difficulties twisted chain had caused me in the past - most times not fully recognized by me from my position at the helm station.

  • This evening Mike and Maureen cheaufered me to the Wollin's for dinner. It turns out that the Wollin's and the Yorke's had a lot of friends in common and I enjoyed listening to the exchange. We had a delicious dinner, good drinks, and lots of good talk. It was after 2300 when I boarded Venture at MBYC and headed back to Onward. I felt that I'd done my good deed for the day by helping my fellow Corinthians to come to know each other.

14 Sep 11; Wednesday;

  • This morning's weather review again looks like the plan to depart here tomorrow morning to be a good one.
  • Jim Wholleber asked me to convert my email about anchor chain twisting into an article for Mainsheet. So, I spent the morning writing the article and catching up on this journal.
  • Mike Yorke met me to MBYC and we had a very enjoyable and civilized lunch on the club.s terrace. I had my first bowl of borsht - pretty good! Mike then schlepped me about to the hardware store, West Marine, and the grocery store before we said farewell. I returned to Onward and had a quiet and restful night aboard in preparation for resuming the trip S tomorrow.
  • I can't say enough good about Manhasset Bay and Port Washington as a stopover for cruisers heading N or S. First it is a large protected harbor. The anchorage is large with great holding. The town of Port Washington also has several town moorings on the N side of the channel leading to the town that are available for free overnight use. There is a water taxi if you don't want to splash the dink. They've just opened a nice new dinghy pier at the NE corner of the inner harbor. It is in easy walking distance to 2 supermarkets, West Marine, Ace Hardware, a liquor store, Radio Shack, and several good restaurants. The town pier at the SE corner of the inner harbor allow an easy walk to the picturesque main town area with all the amenities of a small city. So stop! And to boot, I get to see the Yorke's and Wollin's!
15 Sep 11; Thursday; Manhasset Bay to Atlantic Highlands
  • The weather picture continued to look good for the trip S over the next couple of days. Maria moved a bit slower than forecast last week so I probably could have made it up the Delaware before its ugliness arrived. Ah well, I am at peace with making the best decisions I can from the data at hand. In any case it gave me the opportunity to spend time with good friends in Port Washington.
  • Slack current at Hell Gate was to be at 1230 so I planned to leave at 1015. I ran in to MBYC to leave some things for Mike Yorke and then returned and stowed Venture in preparation for departure. The trip W was nicely uneventful. I was hailed by a Krogen trawler, Dream Weaver, that was en route to the annual Krogen rendezvous at Solomons and had noticed my Annapolis hailing port. They know Pam and John Loving well and I asked they to pass on my regards.
  • Hell Gate was a mill pond and the W passage of Roosevelt I was open so the transit was a breeze - a far cry from the traumatic passage last year down the E channel. A rain squall hit as I approached the Battery but was gone by the time I cleared Governor's Island.
  • I found that Wikipedia has a great section on the Islands of New York City. I got to read up on them as Onward wended here way by.
  • I dropped anchor at 1550, got a good set and let out a scope of 65' in 11-15' of water. I anchored behind and in the gap between two other boars just inside the N edge of the channel. I was looking forward to a relaxing later afternoon and evening before starting the trip S in the early morning - it didn't happen!
  • About 1700, the predicted cold front came in with winds that quickly bumped up to the 20's with gusts over 30 kts. I decided it was exciting enough to stay in the cockpit and monitor the distance to the waypoint I ritually set over the anchor. Then I decided it would be a good idea to use my laser rangefinder to monitor the distance to boats anchored ahead of me. In a short while, I discovered that Grace, an S2 11.2 CC sloop from NC, was dragging. I was just about to go below to grab my loud hailer when its captain came on deck and I was able to just yell that he was dragging. At this point Grace picked up speed and I turned on the engine and powered to port to allow her to drag clear along my stbd side. Her captain went out on deck and let out quite a bit of additional chain once he was clear of my stern and then a second anchor. Grace fetched up 29 yds off Onward's stern. I was a bit worried that Grace might have snagged Onward's rode. A third boat, Jeito, from Gloucester MA, further off Onward's stbd side let out a lot more of its nylon rode - giving me concern for when the wind shifted from the NW to the NE later in the night. I spoke to both captains on VHF, very nice people, and we set up a VHF watch on Ch 68.
  • Needless to say, I spent most of the night awake in the salon ready to quickly go on deck. The wind blew at 20 - 30 kts from 1700 to 0300 when it began to lie down a bit. A look outside showed a perfectly clear sky. At that time, as all 3 boats had maintained their absolute and relative positions, I climbed onto the bed to get some a bit of sleep. I had the "Anchor Alarm" app running on my iPhone and kept that next to my head so I could just open an eye to see how things were going when by habit I woke periodically.

16 Sep 11; Friday;
  • I decided to be lazy and didn't get up until 0700. A review of the weather showed that conditions for the trip down to coast would be reasonable the next two days. As it was now too late for me to be sure to be able to transit the ~80 nm to Atlantic City / Absecon Inlet in daylight, I decided to stay put until tomorrow morning. In any case, Grace was still under Onward's stern and the potential of tangled rodes to deal with. As I finished breakfast, Grace's captain hailed me the he was ready to weigh anchor. I went on deck and started the engine so I could power away from Grace as she raised her CQR off my stbd quarter. This went without incident - Great!
  • By noon, all the vessels who had anchored behind the breakwater were gone. They had decided to take advantage of the conditions to make an overnighter down the coast. I have made the decision that this is not something I can do with sufficient margin of safety singlehanded. I must say that at times like this I really feel the lack of a sailing partner. Ah well...
  • I spent the morning writing this journal - still catching up. I then moved on to do a number of minor boat tasks before wrapping up with some sewing so I could stow the machine before heading offshore.
  • I sewed some rain flaps to extend the sides of the dodger over the zippers for the top of the side windows. As the dodger has shrunk over the years, it retracted enough for rain to start leaking in through the zippers.
  • The great six-bag project. It is surprisingly hard to store extra six-packs of beer. This cannot be done in the paper packages because they get wet and fall apart and packaging in general is bad because bugs like it. Since I have to store the extra beer in bilge lockers and other lockers behind the settees in the salon, the plastic holders don't hold. I've tried putting them in doubled plastic bags - but they don't hold the cans compactly together and this makes them difficult to store. Taping the 6 cans together didn't help. This led to the idea of "six-bags" made of some type of canvas to hold the cans together and also provide some protection to keep they clean and protected from accidental damage when Onward rolls about. I bought some waterproof sunbrella-like material from the SailRite store in Annapolis before it went out of business. I designed two types of 6-bags: one that to hold them in the conventional 2X3 array and one in a 1X6 array. I made the 2X6 design first and found that it didn't hold the cans as firmly in the array as I'd like. I then made the 1X6 design and found that it held the cans neatly and as an unexpected bonus could also be folded into a conventional 2X6 array. Both designs are held closed by drawstrings. So, now I'll get busy and and sew the other 10 bags I have material for. That will allow me to stow 3 cases of beer in out of the way places. Hmmm, better order more material before departing the US for the Bahamas where beer costs $9 to $12 a six-pack. I do like Bahamian Kalik and Sands though.

17 Sep 11; Saturday; Atlantic Highlands to Cape May
  • I was up at 0430 and confirmed that the offshore weather would be suitable for the transit down the NJ coast with E winds 10-15 kts and seas < 4'. Onward weighed anchor at 0505, a task made easier in the dark by the dearth of other vessels in the anchorage. The transit from the anchorage behind the breakwater to Sandy Hook channel is challenging in the dark because NYC provides backlighting which makes it hard to see dim lights of small vessels. The three huge cruise ships, lit up with every white light they possessed, that were entering the harbor like ducks didn't help either. So, I took it slow and pumped up the gain on the radar. I was able to pick up the faint return of a small boat just off to starboard of my course. I wasn't able to see it visually until it was almost abeam where I lit it up with my big searchlight. It was a small clamming boat, apparently anchored, with an almost undetectable white light that couldn't be seen until I was abreast of it. Gotta love that radar!
  • The only other boat out was a sports fisher heading out. Again I observed the phenomenon with these designs that they are essentially radar "stealth" vessels when lit by the scanner when they are bow on - due to the big curved shape of the bow and, in recent years, superstructure. They become radar-visible from the side and the stern. Of course, it is my experience that their captains are unaware (or don't care) that they can't be seen bow-on on radar.
  • As a practice, I do not pilot Onward down ship channels if there is sufficient depth just outside - in spite of AIS and radar. The channel at Sandy Hook goes so close to the shore, that it is necessary to stay well in it. After rounding the NW tip of the Hook, I set a course for the edge of the channel that would take me just outside the next G buoy. As I sat in the helm seat observing Onwards progress on the chartplotter, I noticed that the water to starboard as lit by the very dim pre-dawn light went from a smooth texture through a narrow lighter colored band to a duller section. I was wondering why this was and got up to look more closely. I was astounded to realize that the dull section was the sand bar and the slightly lighter band was a surf zone!. The charts for the area showed this was supposed to be shallow but navigable water! While my present course would have kept just outside the edge of the dull area, I immediately corrected 40º to port - back to the center of the ship channel. It appears that the sand bar at Sandy Hook has moved NE so that within a few feet depths go from that of the ship channel to dry land! I had heard a couple of weeks ago about how a sailing vessel had grounded here and Ed Burke and I saw another grounded when we made the same transit S in 2007. I guess I now know how those groundings happened. Note to Self: center of the ship channel is the place to be here!
  • After rounding the Hook and heading S, I set the genoa to make use of the E wind. Onward did 7.8 to 9.2 kts all the way to Brigantine Inlet. It thus looked like I could make Cape May before dark! So I decided to take another look at this as I was off Atlantic City and if I could get into Cape May before dark, I would press on.
  • At Atlantic City, about 1500, I was still making better than 7.8 kts and the chartplotter said I had a good margin for getting to Cape May with some light so I pressed on. I noticed in passing that the dredge that had made entering the inlet a challenge on my trip N was no longer there. Onward continued to make good speed until well past Atlantic City. An oncoming rain system was evident in the clouds and on weather radar and I was a bit concerned about the winds picking up. When the leading edge finally arrived, the winds slacked off instead and my speed dropped better than a knot. My extra margin for getting to Cape May with some light was gone and it was now a matter of how far after dark I would get there. I have enough experience navigating the Cape May Inlet and it is so well maintained and lighted, I was not concerned.
  • With the rain, the temperature dropped. After a bit of cold wind and rain coming in over the back, I decided that enough of this so I put up the 3 stern sections of the enclosure and went below to change into sweatpants and hooded sweatshirt with my fleece vest. I now look forward to getting back to the warm where note of this is necessary.
  • At about 1930, just after sunset, I noticed an AIS icon in the inlet channel and began looking for the vessel to appear in front of me as it left the breakwaters. When no lights appeared for the boat, I looked again and discovered the icon was still in the channel and it was a DREDGE! I called the dredge captain on VHF-13 and told him I planned to enter. To my relief he said he had no pipe string floating around in the dark. We agreed that I would go down the N side of the channel, a one-whistle pass, as he was just off the midline to the S.
  • By 2000 I was making the turn to follow my waypoint-marked course into the inlet. I started well off shore to allow Onward to get lined up on the rhumb line. I throttled back to have more time to work out the safe passage visually. Then I quickly noticed Onward was being swept off course to the S by the strong cross current and wind. I had to use 20º more starboard rudder than the autopilot was using and soon Onward was headed 45º to the inlet centerline to offset the wind and current effects- but now traveling the intended course. These conditions really prove the worth of the GPS Course over Ground, and Heading vectors that the E120 chartplotter displays. When the green GPS COG vector isn't pointing along the route you want to travel, it's time to take immediate action!
  • To make things even more interesting, the red light that marks the tip of the N breakwater was so dim it was hard to pick out from the background so I could visually check I was heading between the two breakwaters. Then there was the dredge in the middle of the channel lit up so blindingly bright it made seeing the breakwaters hard. To add further stress, the red quick flashing light that marks the turn at the W end of the inlet was so bright it looked like it was a buoy located on the ocean side of the dredge. By moving just fast enough to maintain control, I had enough time to slowly work things out visually. Once inside the tip of the N breakwater the cross current effects disappeared and I could actually point Onward where I wanted it to go. NOTE TO MY SON: Joseph, when you read this, Dad could use a good deal on one of the FLIR IR viewers your company makes!
  • Once past the dredge the passage was easy. I had not expected to see many boats at anchor because I had not seen or heard of any other boats in transit down the shore. But I found a line of boats. I found a place to anchor close to the USCG pier and quickly got settled just before 2100.
  • Then it was time for a bowl of hot soup and a hot shower. I was quickly asleep.

18 Sep 11; Sunday; Cape May
  • I was up at 0500 and my review of the weather confirmed what my ears had been telling me during the night: the 20 - 30 kt winds from the big H up in NE and the L off Hatteras had arrived earlier than predicted yesterday. Worse, offshore waves were now to be 8 - 10' this morning. These conditions have no entry in my book for the kind of weather I want when rounding Cape May and transiting up the Delaware. So in spite of my accomplishment yesterday, Onward will not get back into the Chesapeake today.
  • By 0800 the wind had dropped to < 15 kts but I'm telling myself that the waves haven't dropped. However, I've got company as the 16 sailboats who were anchored when I came in last night are still here. Although the big trawler I anchored behind is gone - probably taking the Cape May canal route. By 0900 the winds were up again it was getting nastier. I rewarded myself for a good decision by going back to my warm bed for a nap.
  • I also noticed in this morning's light that the old derelict piers at the USCG station have been removed!
  • Well I guess I declared today a lazy day because all I managed to do was write, read a book and otherwise amuse myself on my iPad. Wind was still blowing ~ 15 kts as I checked the weather before going to sleep. The forecast calls for ugly conditions to continue in the AM so I may be here another day.

19 Sep 11; Monday;
  • During the night I noticed the wind had dropped to < 10 kts. I checked the weather forecast and it was still calling for 6' - 8' seas and 15+ kt winds. But the truth test is looking outside - and it was fairly calm. I checked AIS and found that the dredge had just departed the inlet and was just offshore headed S. I called on VHF 13 and asked for sea conditions. They said it was continuing to lay down and seas were only 2' - 3'! Well with that news, I decided to make a dash around the cape.
  • Onward weighed anchor at 0615. Wave were as reported by the dredge at the mouth of the inlet. I again took the inside route that Miles had led me through back in June. Conditions were great. I saw only a small bump with 16' with the balance mostly in the 24' to 35' range. Much better than my former "offshore" route. I will use this route in the future under any conditions I would contemplate wanting to make this passage.
  • Once in the mouth of the river and heading N, I set the genoa and had a great fast motorsail at > 7.5 kts until ~ 1100 when the wind died. I was able to catch the leading edge of the flood current so that was a great benefit.
  • The windlass made an unusual noise this morning - more a growl instead of its normal whir. I will have to check this out in Baltimore. I guess it sensed me writing about it yesterday - about how hard and well it has worked for me thus far. Now it wants more attention.
  • Onward arrived at the E end of the C&D at 1405 and popped out the W end at 1610! I decided to put into the Bohemia for the night and move on to Baltimore in the morning.
  • Four other sailing vessels put in over the next hour - part of the fleet from Cape May Inlet. One of them, Bella, from Annapolis, talked with me on the VHF as I rounded Cape May. They also did the Jumentos to Maine journey. I thought I had heard this boat name in the Bahamas and I was right.
  • It feels like home! Especially after the pain of the journey down the NJ coast. It was time to celebrate with a nice cocktail hour!

20 Sep 11; Tuesday; Baltimore
  • After a nice quiet night, Onward weighted anchor at 0715 and set out for Baltimore and a slip at the Anchorage Marina. I pent the transit working on planning for all the things I need to get accomplished over the next 3 - 4 weeks. One of the most important will be preparing Onward to host Laura, Kurlen, and Elena when they arrive for a couple of weeks on the 27th. A related task will be toddler-proofing in preparation for having my very active and inquisitive granddaughter in residence! Fun!
  • To continue on the theme of the last few weeks, a cold and rain front hit just S of Turkey Point - just to make sure I wasn't getting too complacent. It blew through by the time I slogged down to Poole's Island. By the time I got to Baltimore it was sunny and warm!
  • Onward pulled into slip C11 at 1400. After getting settled I took myself off to Outback for a steak dinner. Delish! One of the things I love about coming to this marina is that everything I need is a short walk away.

21Sep 11; Wednesday;
  • I picked up my rental car. By luck, Luc had a cancellation so I was off to Annapolis to get my hair cut. I spent the rest of the afternoon shopping. On my return to Baltimore I stopped by G&M Seafood to try out the crab cakes that so many friends and family have told me about. Well, they were right! Fantastic. All big lump crab meat with so little binder they must use magic to hold them together.
  • My last shopping stop was at the West Marine in Middle River which is now in a new huge store at the old mall at I 695 and Rt 40. There I picked up a Jabsco Lite Flush all electric head. Ron Draper has installed one of these on Allegro and showed it to me in June. What is nice about the design is that there are no longer so many crevices and things on the outside that collect dirt and are hard to clean. It has an internal electric macerator pump to empty the porcelain bowl and another electric pump to provide the flush water. I plan to replace the forward head first and if I like it I will also replace the stern head.

22 Sep 11; Thursday;
  • Today began my annual round of medical checkups - combined with some shopping along the way. I have found that one benefit in having a schedule as flexible as mine is that I can call to make an appointment and tell them that I am available to take a cancellation. This has gotten me in quickly not only for my hair trim but today for my annual check over by my dermatologist. First on the list was a look into my persistent bronchitis which engendered several referrals for medical tests. The good news is the dermatologist found nothing to be concerned about. Since retirement and the extensive exposure to sunlight that the sailing lifestyle entails, I get an annual full-body check by the dermatologist.

23 Sep 11; Friday;
  • A day of tropical deluges. I spent most of the morning making medical appointments. But, I had dinner with Harriet and Skip Hardy at the James Joyce Irish Pub which brightened up a dull day. We had a great time catching up. However it is still hard for me to accept that they have decided to keep Moondance at home this winter -- leaving me to carry on to the Bahamas without their company.
  • To make up for the obvious guilt he feels, Skip gave me a good deal on his Baby Taylor acoustic guitar! My son had been bugging me to have a guitar aboard for him to use on his visits. Joseph, my daughter Joahna, and my son-in-law Kurlen all play the guitar. When I emailed them with the news that Onward has a guitar to add to the keyboard aboard, Laura told me that Kurlen who going to be visiting for 2 weeks starting next Tuesday had been out looking at travel guitars this afternoon! Now he won't need to schlep one across country.

24 Sep 11; Saturday;

25 Sep 11; Sunday;

26 Sep 11; Monday;

27 Sep 11; Tuesday;

28 Sep 11; Wednesday;

29 Sep 11; Thursday;
  • I went off to have my annual physical; I was again greeted with a hug. Everything looked good. All the tests on my lungs showed no abnormality. My bronchitis was likely the result of an opportunistic bug I picked up and subsequent irritation leading to coughing leading to more irritation. Good!
  • The Steward got busy again putting the last touches on preparing Onward for the arrival of Elena and her parents. He actually got the place looking fairly good by the time they arrived.
  • It was amazing to see Elena. 'when I left LA in May she was taking a few steps and had just started calling Mama. Now, here she was, ready to run about, and talking in multiple words. Best of all there was no long period of reacquaintance needed before she was comfortable with me.

30 Sep 11; Friday;