Thursday, August 8, 2019

On Our Way to New York City

August 8
Rounding Cape May

We're on the ocean, on our way to New York City.

We weighed anchor early this morning, very cool out after the cold front that passed through last night. The sky above was clear, the deck of the boat wet from rain and dew.

As I hauled up the anchor, I noted that this will be the last ocean passage of The Voyage. The philosopher/scientist Sam Harris teaches a lesson about last times. There is a last time for everything. There will be a last time you do something. Pausing to note this often reveals significance, poignancy and brings up feelings one might not experience in a lesser state of awareness. This morning I am reminded of my love for the ocean, that it is my place for solitude, being present in the moment, living life fully.

We are motoring on one engine with the mainsail up in light winds, a very gentle swell from the southeast. It's a swell, not wind chop, and it's not on the nose. I'm so happy. We'll follow the coastline about five miles offshore to the entry to New York Harbor. Winds are expected to pick up this afternoon and it looks like good sailing conditions for most of our passage. I hope so.

Yesterday was a long day. We left the city dock at midnight, timing our departure to catch favorable currents and arrive at our anchorage at the mouth of Delaware Bay before the high winds and thunderstorms forecasted for the afternoon.

The night air was cool and moist, but warm enough to wear just shorts and a T-shirt. We headed east on the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, lights on each bank, light streetlights, showing the way. I piloted the boat solo so Renee could get some sleep. I had checked the vertical clearances of all the bridges, power lines, even an overhead pipeline crossing the canal and though double the height of Intermezzo's mast, the optical illusion of impending collision of mast top and structure looking up was even more pronounced at night, alone at the helm. We went fast, over 8 knots on one engine with a strong current pushing us along.

Conditions changed as we exited the canal and entered the Delaware River around 0200. Lots of lighted buoys, lights, shoreline, shoals. Radar helped a lot to make sense of it all and fix our position. Now we had wind on the nose (as usual) and a foul 2 knot current against us. The night sky was partly cloudy with lightning flashes from a thunderstorm offshore to the east.

It was a bouncy night. Renee came on watch at 0400. It was her first overnight passage since joining the boat, she's still "got it" in terms of being in charge of the boat on her watch, but had difficulty sleeping so was a bit tired. I slept well despite the bouncing, a skill from plenty of practice.

We arrived at Lewes, Delaware around 1100 and dropped anchor a few hundred yards off the beach, just outside a sailing race course set up for kids who were earnestly sailing a mix of small boats. Lewes is located on the eastern shore of the Delaware Bay mouth, on Cape Henlopen, to the southwest and opposite Cape May, New Jersey. It is a small town with a long beachfront on the bay and a canal running through it, accessible from the bay through an inlet.

Early in the afternoon, we heard cries for help and saw a mom and son on paddle boards who were caught in strong wind and current and couldn't get back to shore. We launched the dinghy and "rescued" them. Good deed done for the day, I poured myself a dram of rum. Later, after a much needed nap, I had a nice run on the beach.

Around 1800, the storm we had been waiting for arrived. It was a powerful one, very cool air, strong winds from the north putting us on a lee shore. Our trusty Rocna anchor held without any problem, but we were beam on to the seas, causing violent rolling of the boat, enough that I had to empty a cabinet that couldn't seem to hold its contents. Lightning strikes threatened, but nothing came close to us. The weather service issued a warning for waterspouts, too! That would have been interesting. Renee was a bit spooked, not used to East Coast squalls like this. I was concerned, mostly about being on a lee shore with little room to get out of trouble if the anchor dragged, but it seemed like things could be a lot worse. The evening sky turned really dark and rained really hard, the rain flattening the waves, which gave some relief to the rolling. By 2100 it was all over, the winds blowing gently from the south, the seas calm, the air cool and refreshing. Time to go to bed for this morning's early wake up.

Our passage to the NY harbor entrance should take us a little over 24 hours. Then we'll proceed through The Narrows and up the East River where we will take a slip in a fancy marina in Brooklyn, near the Brooklyn Bridge. Renee's daughter and family will be visiting us and I expect a visit from my own daughter, who lives in Brooklyn.