Days on Cruise: 74
Distance traveled today: 63.6 miles
Travel time: 6 hrs, 14 mins
Total trip odometer: 1,635 statute miles
Note: The 2nd and 3rd photos below are “found” pics that illustrate how we were “feeling” during the events of our day; we were way too busy during the morning to actually take photos! (Note to those who personally know us: the previous sentence was written by Bob, not Cathryn. Wow!)
Our last couple of posts have included descriptions of several “firsts” in our looping adventure. Today we had another one. We’re ready to get back to those blissful days of cruising at 9 miles an hour watching the countryside drift by.
We pulled up the anchor and left Atlantic City before 6am with the goal of making another 90 miles to put New Jersey and open ocean travel in our rearview mirror. After rolling NE through the swells, we arrived offshore three miles out and headed north. The seas were gently rolling swells of a about 4’ with just a little wind and chop on top. After twenty miles the chop disappeared, and while we still had swells, the surface was glassy. About 11:00 Cathryn sent a text to one of the many Loopers back at Atlantic City who decided they didn’t like the day’s weather forecast, telling Laura the winds were light with no whitecaps. Well, that did it!
We checked the radar, and about two miles ahead of us it turned into a solid mass, showing a major rainstorm coming our way. We decided to power up and get through it as fast as we could. Good idea, but it just didn’t work. Soon we had our “first” major storm event.
The rain pounded down, reduced our visibility to less than half a mile, and then the wind came up to 25 mph slightly on our beam, adding the dreaded element of wallowing to our journey. Finally the waves were 6’ to 8’ and crashing over our bow and up onto our flybridge windshield, reducing our visibility further. This was NOT fun! Everything on the flybridge got wet, and moving around was impossible.
Decision Time: We were 2 to 2 1/2 hours from our planned destination, Sandy Hook, New Jersey, just outside the New York Harbor. We were 5 miles south of the Manasquan Inlet, 40 miles short of our destination for the day. We debated back and forth: better to keep heading into the weather, or turn toward shore and have all that weather on our beam? We had read that the currents in the inlet could be tricky despite being plenty deep. About that time we saw a professional fisherman headed toward the inlet to get out of the storm so decided to take advantage of his local knowledge and followed him in. (Bob’s draft of this post kindly omits the fact that Cathryn was terrified of turning the boat 120 degrees in this horrid weather, and felt near tears; he did it and it went well!) Thirty minutes later inside the inlet we had continuing heavy rain and currents but at least we were out of the wind. We called a local marina who said they could give us a slip. Weirdly, this marina sits in the inlet current running 3-5 knots and reversing direction every 6 hours, making it very tricky to get into a slip. We tried 4 times, and failed. We finally pulled alongside the fuel dock where the marina owner jumped onto our bow to dock it for us; it took him 4 tries before he was successful too, so that made us feel a little less incompetent. So we arrived: cold, drenched and frazzled, but glad to be out of it. For the rest of the afternoon we watched as other equally bedraggled boaters came in in various stages of dishevelment, with one woman becoming upset with the dock crew trying to catch her lines and yelling “This is an emergency! I have to get off this boat!”
An hour after we arrived, “One September” tied up across the dock from us. Judy and Mike are 10 days into their Loop (started at Norfolk), and we had the honor of being their first Looper friends. So we indoctrinated them into the Looper ways by have docktails on our boat, and then going out to dinner at one of the better waterfront restaurants of the trip. They had also gone outside in the ocean for the first half of their day, scrambled into the Jersey ICW which is twisty, shallow and not dredged, and absolutely hated it, saying they had only 6 inches of water under their hull numerous times!
Tuesday’s weather is supposed to be more of the same, so we will have a layover day, and hopefully proceed north on Wednesday. Some folks have said that the Hudson River is the great reward for having survived the Delaware Bay and NJ coast. We’re looking forward to that!