Weather was predicted to be good for 24 hours and then winds were building from the southeast. This suggested that we could get from Staten Island, along the New Jersey coast and through Cape May before the wind turned which would then blow us up the Delaware River. We timed our departure from Staten Island to align with a daybreak arrival into Cape May, and the full day up the river before taking a marina inside the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.
Our trip along the Jersey coastline was uneventful. We stayed relatively close to shore, and had nice conditions through the day and overnight. As we approached the Cape May harbor around 6.30am, we were hailed by Kya on VHF, who were about an hour behind us, having left from Long Island sound. Our VHF had been having intermittent issues when broadcasting away from CH16, and I finally phoned Katie’s mobile. They were planning to stop at Cape May for the night and continue the next day through to Annapolis where we agreed we would rendezvous.
We transited the Cape May canal which turned out to be much skinnier than we’d expected. We hit right at low tide, which meant although the current was slack, the water was shallow. As we approached the ferry dock where boats leave for Delaware, we were hailed by a ferry captain, telling us to stay close to the dock, and he would wait till we had passed him before pulling out. You wouldn’t receive the same courtesy from the Waiheke ferries in Auckland harbor.
As predicted, the winds started to pick up, and we had a light chop as we travelled up the Delaware Bay, in a trail of sailboats, trawlers and huge container ships. We stayed out of the channel, with good water all round us, and had a straightforward run up the bay. Ted had contacted Mark Reardon with our plans for the night, and he immediately mobilized his family in Wilmington to meet up for dinner that evening.
We tied up at Schaeffers Restaurant and marina, right along the canal. By sheer luck, we had timed slack tide here also, which was fortunate as the current runs 3-4 knots through the canal. The dockmaster asked us to move forward as Shalaylee pulled in behind us. We were both tired after the 30 hour passage and without thinking, we motored forward about 10 feet and in doing so, caught our side door against a piling. It was ripped off and went in the water. I threw myself down on the dock and managed to catch the door handle as it floated by. This door had already sustained a bit of damage on the dock at Boston but it was much more of a mess now. Ted did some emergency repairs to at least make the door secure until we could get the gelcoat repaired.
Mark, Meghan, Larry and Peggy arrived and we had another lovely evening with them all at the restaurant on site. It was our wedding anniversary and Larry insisted on buying us dinner. We continue to be overwhelmed by the wonderful hospitality extended to us by the whole Reardon family. There is a lovely Maori word “whanau” which describes family and close friends – the Reardons are very much part of our whanau. We were due to replace our NZ flag on board which was starting to fade, and we presented this to Mark, thinking it might find its way to the Lewes Yacht Club but Meghan assured us it would be proudly displayed in Mark’s office.
The next morning we followed Shalaylee off the dock – they were also heading to Annapolis where they were staying on a private dock with friends. We headed for Chesapeake Harbor Marina where Kya would meet us the next day. We passed Nordhavn 76 Take 5 sitting on a T head as we entered the marina. This turned out to be a wonderful find, a gorgeous marina just south of Annapolis, with a generous off season rate and great facilities including an onsite restaurant and a courtesy shuttle van to take us into the village. I had never been to Annapolis – it is too expensive and crowded in season, but we had a lovely day wandering around the streets and having lunch in Chick & Ruths Delly. We tried to visit the Naval Academy but were informed that with the recent elevated terror threat, I needed my passport for entry, rather than only photo ID. We called our shuttle van for a pickup and stopped by a wine store to get a bottle of NZ sauvignon blanc for Katie.
Kya arrived sometime after midnight, and were tied up opposite Take 5 the next morning when we woke up. When we went up to the marina office, Mike was walking Penny who immediately recognized us and was very welcoming. We met up with them that evening for drinks on board Kya, then went to the restaurant for dinner. Mike and Katie had a guest on board – Jack is a son of a friend of Mike’s uncle, and had been on board for a couple of months.
We had originally intended to leave the next day for York River, but decided to let the weather settle. In retrospect this was a mistake, despite having another lovely evening on board Kya. We left the following afternoon in gorgeous conditions and had a lovely few hours travelling down the Chesapeake. Around sunset, the wind started to pick up and it got a bit choppy. By the time it was dark, we had probably 15-20 knots with a wind chop on our port beam. The stabilisers did their work, but it wasn’t the benign conditions that had been predicted. We checked the weather again and sure enough, a complete change with conditions worsening overnight and into the next morning. We had no option but to continue, and spent a tiring night avoiding the worst of the choppiness, and staying away from lots of commercial traffic as well as half a dozen sailboats, some with no lights or AIS. By the time we made our turn into the York River channel just before daybreak, conditions were miserable and we were very happy to see the York River Yacht Haven marina channel markers come into view.
It was too early for marina staff, but we knew where we were going, and know the marina well, so had no issues tying up ourselves, Ted managing the boat beautifully as always. We were both exhausted after the difficult passage, not particularly long, but very tiring. We crashed out for a few hours, very happy to be back at York River.
Over the next week, Ted got the all clear from his dermatologist (our main reason for returning to York River), we ran around in the marina courtesy car getting supplies and provisions, topping up propane tanks and other boat related stuff. We had the yard look at the side door but they quoted a ridiculous amount of money and time, and instead Ted did some patching himself to get us to Florida where we would have someone do it properly.
As well as being very pretty, Yorktown is very historic, and played a strategic role in the American Revolutionary War (Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington here in 1781). And 80 years later during the American Civil War it was occupied by both sides as the war progressed. We spent several hours at the local museum which provides a fantastic journey through the historic battles and personalities that are linked to the area. Last year we had spent a day biking and walking around Yorktown itself. We really enjoy this part of the US, and the marina was very welcoming as always as we waited for the opportunity to continue south.
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