BACK ON THE WATER
In the midst of the pandemic and the depressing polarizing news of the election there was an instance when the stars were in alignment. Cruising friends Dee and Jocelyn sold there Mainship at the end of last year’s boating season. They spent the summer and early fall looking for the next boat that would better suit their needs. And then, mid-October we got a call that they had finally found their boat and were going to move it from its port in Albany, NY to its new home (although temporary) in Annapolis, Maryland. Did we want to come along? What a question? Of course we did!!
Bob has recently started a new marine business (Allenick Marine Services) delivering boats and offering coaching and consulting services to those who are not so familiar with boating. His services can be tailored to those who are new to the boating world or are changing their style of boating from day sailing to longer term cruising. Having gone partially to “the dark side”, he provides services to sailors and power boaters alike. We saw this trip not only as chance to get away from the TV news and get back on the water but also as a trial run for other long distance deliveries we might be called on to do.
One of the advantages of being semi-retired and not having a dog (we miss our Delila) is the ability to drop what you are doing and go off and do something else at a moment’s notice with minimal disruption. We made a few phone calls to cancel doctor appointments, work commitments, and volunteer responsibilities and made rental car reservations with three days’ notice. After family dinner on Sunday night, off we went early, early (did I say early?) Monday morning for Albany. It rained almost the entire eight hours, but this was NOT a sign of things to come.
We arrived at Donovan’s Shady Harbor Marina on the banks of the Hudson River around noon on Monday. Things were not all roses as certain things on the boat that were supposed to have been fixed, were as yet still not working. After an hour of working on the water pump and a variety of other issues we were off. You must understand that on a boat, having certain things not working is the norm not the exception. Our response to this is always,” It’s a boat”!
We spent the afternoon getting settled on the boat (Navigator), and enjoying a calm trip down the Hudson. Bob and I were reminiscing about the trip we had made just three years prior on our own 38 foot Freedom sailboat. Now were traveling at a very different speed on a 43 foot Mainship power boat complete with clothes washer, dryer and bathtub.
We stopped the first night at Kingston and met friends of friends at a lovely restaurant (Ship to Shore) where we ate on the patio and maintained our social distance with other patrons, of which there were many. Dinner was delish and the conversation was great, especially after being fairly isolated for some months.
The next morning we traveled the middle part of the Hudson and stopped at Half Moon Bay, a beautiful marina complete with exercise room and pool. Of course everything was closed due to Covid.
I can’t help but think how the trip would have been different had the virus not invaded our world.
Half Moon Bay Covid style
Day three we travelled the south portion of the Hudson, passing West Point, the high rises of NYC and Lady Liberty.
West Point from the Hudson
New York Architecture from the water
There was far less water traffic than the last time we went this way. I think it was a combination of the virus and being much later in the year, but there were few pleasure boats or ferries crossing our path as we went through New York harbor.
We went by NYC as a fog was lifting and docked for the night at Sandy Hook New Jersey. We had travelled the entire Hudson and out to the Jersey Shore in three days. The next leg was out on the Atlantic to Cape May, the southern tip of New Jersey.
The decision to leave Sandy Hook was a difficult one. We had seen heavy fog each of the last three mornings and knew that we would again have fog as we left the marina. The question, was the fog too thick for us to leave? We had to travel just a bit over a hundred miles to reach Cape May and we didn’t want to arrive in the dark. So Bob and Dee rose early (4:30 am) and walked the dock, checking out the visibility. They decided it was safe to leave, so we did so at a slow pace. Once out on the Atlantic we relied on the boat’s radar and AIS signals to identify other craft in the area. Periodically, we saw fishing boats slowly appear in the mist – nothing too close! Once the fog started to dissipate, our trip on the Atlantic was pretty uneventful. We saw dolphins, but not many other boats. The weather was calm with virtually no wind and we were able to make up time once visibility improved.
We arrived at Cape May and passed the marina that had kept us safe three years ago, while waiting out the tail end of a hurricane. We were in a great position to leave the next morning and go through the Cape May Canal which leads to the Delaware bay – the third leg of the journey. We couldn’t use the canal to round the tip of Cape May 3 years ago, because our mast was too tall to fit under the bridges that span the canal.
All through the trip we tried our best to make use of the tides and current to maximize the efficiency of the two diesel engines aboard Navigator. Going up the Delaware we were very lucky and went with the current the entire trip.
We entered the C&D (Chesapeake and Delaware) Canal where guys on jet skis entertained us by zipping back and forth jumping our wake.
We stopped at Chesapeake City for a delicious dinner on the upper deck porch a few hours before dark. We wanted to make some additional distance before calling it a night so that the trip to Annapolis would be shorter in the morning. Bob had a delivery job in Cleveland on Sunday so we were trying to get to Annapolis by 1:00 pm in order to make the drive home before dark.
We found a lovely spot to anchor just at the end of the C&D canal and without a working depth sounder, lowered Navigators anchor for the first time. The night was blissfully quiet, with only a gently lapping of the water on the hull to lull us to sleep. Although I sometimes have trouble sleeping, I slept like a baby most of the trip. We rose early the next morning and motored down the Chesapeake, under the bridge and into Annapolis harbor.
What a gift this trip was; a reprieve from the TV news and a reminder of what will be waiting for us in Florida after the Thanksgiving holiday. Being able to help friends and spend time on the water is rejuvenating to the soul!