Lady Liberty

In the middle of a dream, the usual one about being back at 3M and unable to find my busy meeting schedule, and am jolted awake by a THUD that shakes the boat.

Not my favorite way to awake, but preferrable, I suppose, to waking up and finding the berth underwater.

The thud was caused by a small fishing boat drifting into our starboard bow.  We were anchored, the bow pointing windward.  They were drifting slowly downwind, looking windward at their lines dragging behind them and… you get the picture.

No damage to either boat, but a red face on the other skipper.

Also, I have to remember to leave a full pile of clothing by the door…

The sad part about being jolted awake at 6 am is that we did not, for once, need to get up early to catch a tide.  The northward flow on the Hudson River currently starts midday.

A nice, slow sail up Raritan Bay brought us to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.  Just before the bridge we encountered a tidal rip caused by the collision of northward current in the bay and still southward Hudson River flow.  The standing waves were lively but the only effect was a drop in boat speed from 8.5 mph to 5.5 mph.

Approaching the bridge we spied the first shipping traffic.

The bridge soars 228 feet over the Hudson.

Fort Wadsworth is nestled below the bridge.

Farther up, we began to get an appreciation for the amount of traffic on the water.

Everything from 40 mph ferries…

And tour boats…

And Tugboats…

And the ever-present sport fishermen, in a hurry as always…

And barges…

And Staten Island Ferries plowing across our bow at 16 mph…

And passing their counterpart going the other way…

To catamaran tour boats (with the Empire State Building in the background).

Manhattan, with Hudson River to left and East River to right.

It was a tremendous thrill to pass Lady Liberty close by… in our own boat!

“Does this gown make my ass look fat?” -Lady Liberty

Weirdly enough, difficult to actually visit the statue from our boat.  Tour boats dock on the island but, for security reasons, private boats are prohibited.  To step ashore we must take a train back to the city from our next stop and ride a tour boat.

Still, the setting at our anchorage is worth it.  To the northeast is Ellis Island and Manhattan beyond.

To the southeast is Liberty Island, and a fellow looping boat, “Slow Hand”.

In this photo, lifted from Wikipedia, we are anchored halfway to shore behind the island.  A good spot to chill and watch traffic on the Hudson.  The two islands reduce wakes from the river, but the water is still quite bouncy.

Such an interesting journey it has been from Hudson, Wisconsin to the Hudson River.

Hasta La Vista Atlantic

Peg’s Mother’s Day rose sure has staying power.  Five days in and showing no signs of wilting.  We’re convinced it is some sort of mutant.  Either that or it really, really likes us.

Great Kills (1 of 4)

Another item with unexpected staying power is our Coleman butane lighters. Though looking pretty beat up, these cheap tools have lasted 10 months at sea.  At home we normally kill these things in about a month, so truly a pleasant surprise.

Great Kills (2 of 2)

Exiting Manasquan inlet this morning turned into a traffic jam.  The opportune moment I chose lined up perfectly with all the charter fishing boat departures.

Great Kills (1 of 2)

We finished our 3-day sail up the New Jersey coast by rounding Sandy Hook, a sand spit extending off the northeast corner of the state. (Not to be confused with the Connecticut elementary school)

Great Kills (2 of 4)

From there, a quick 8 mile sail across Raritan Bay brought us to our anchorage.  Along the way we looked to starboard and got our first glimpse of New York City.

Great Kills (3 of 4)

We are anchored in Great Kills Harbor, on Staten Island, New York.  Tomorrow we leave the Atlantic Ocean and begin our transition back to fresh water.  Our plan is to sail to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, arriving at the start of incoming tide.  If all goes as planned we will anchor behind the Statue of Liberty; between her and the shore of Liberty Park.

On the Boardwalk

The timing of the tides worked out perfectly today.  An outgoing tide shot us out of Barnegat inlet at 9 mph.  The slackening incoming tide at our destination, Manasquan inlet, pushed us in but did not hinder docking.  The outgoing tide will again hurry our departure tomorrow morning.

A delightful sail up the Jersey Atlantic coast to Manasquan today revealed a few more beach variations.  In addition to the industrial and casino types we saw yesterday, there are:

Stretches of virgin beach populated only by the occasional fisherman…

Manasuqan (1 of 12)

Miles of beach houses and condos…

Manasuqan (3 of 12)

Beachfront amusement parks….

Manasuqan (2 of 12)

and Beachfront boardwalks.

These folks really know how to use a beach.

The jetties forming Manasquan inlet are built up from seemingly uniform concrete obelisks or crystal shapes.  Apparently these shapes were chosen to provide the maximum number of surfaces for graffiti.

Manasuqan (5 of 12)

The inlet is filled with boat traffic throughout the day; many ignore the no-wake zone signs.  The traffic has been dying off as the sun goes down, quieting the water in the marina.

Manasuqan (10 of 12)

A couple hundred feet from our slip is a railroad lift bridge that operates often to pass commuter trains.  Fortunately the trains are fairly quiet an do not blow horns like those along the Mississippi.

Manasuqan (11 of 12)

A strong 2 to 3 mph current flows in the inlet. Fortunately, the flow parallels the slips, so getting in and out is not difficult.  A 3 foot tide dropped us from looking down at the dock to looking up.

Manasuqan (12 of 12)

As soon as we were settled in our slip, we set out on the bikes to explore the boardwalk area.  In a moment of karma payback, we got stopped by a lift bridge, after countless drivers have been delayed by bridges lifting for us.

Manasuqan (6 of 12)

The boardwalk area has expansive beaches, ready for the crowds that will come soon.  The season opens here Memorial Day and we were happy with the quieter setting.

Manasuqan (7 of 12)

We walked our bikes down the 3/4 mile boardwalk… really a linear state fair midway.  Even though the air was brisk, some of the hardier souls wore swimsuits.  Arcades, amusement rides and junk food of all types are featured.

Manasuqan (8 of 12)

Including this place where you can indulge your Lobster-Pizza-Sushi-Crab craving while drinking at a Tiki bar.

Manasuqan (9 of 12)

A Keeper

One challenge of the loop is a need to keep moving.  Completing 6,700 miles in 397 days means about 16.8 miles per day.  At home we go sailing on days with good sailing conditions.  On the loop we don’t get to choose conditions so much.  Some days are keepers, and some days we’d just as soon sell the boat and take up knitting.

Today was a keeper.

Yesterday we sat out the last of recent winds in Cape May, cleaning up Endeavor’s interior and prepping her for at least 3 days of offshore voyaging.  Several boats in the marina are doing the same: waiting for the conditions on May 16.

I snuck us out of the marina at 5:30 am.  So glad the winds were down, making it easier to maneuver in the tight space.

Barnegat Inlet (1 of 8)

We were one of the first cruising boats exiting the harbor, but the commercial craft were already out and about their duties.

Barnegat Inlet (3 of 8)

The sun was fully up as we puttered out through the jetty to the Atlantic Ocean.

Barnegat Inlet (4 of 8)

Conditions were ideal for a run up the Jersey coast: wind coming off the shore, keeping us powered up in fairly smooth water.

Barnegat Inlet (5 of 8)

As Serenity and Endeavor approached Atlantic City, about 11 am, we both decided to skip by, make use of the wind, and push on to Barnegat Inlet. Doing so meant a long day, but more flexibility in the next days.  We arrived at Barnegat about 11 hours later, having covered 77 miles (Red).  Yes, we skipped Atlantic City, but it held no interest for either boat.

Our tentative next stops are:

  • Manasquan Inlet – 28 miles (Green)
  • Great Kills on Staten Island – 35 miles (Blue)
  • Anchor behind Statue of Liberty – 17 miles (Violet)

We were a little hesitant about Barnegat Inlet, it has a reputation for being difficult to enter.  Instead, we found the channel clearly marked and deep water all the way in.  The only challenge was pushing in against an ebb current that was running 2 to 3 mph.  This reduced our speed to a walk in the cut channel.  Once inside our normal speed resumed.

Jim, Jan, AJ and Lucky are anchored nearby and we enjoyed docktails on Endeavor.  Later, another boat, Talaria, from Portland, Oregon, set their hook on our other side.

Barnegat Inlet (7 of 8)

Jim used their inflatable kayak to take Lucky to shore for a walk.

Barnegat Inlet (2 of 8)

The local fishing fleet is in one corner of the anchorage.  We’ll have to see if there is a mass exodus early in the morning.

Barnegat Inlet (6 of 8)





Admiral’s Day

Intense rain and wind yielded to sunshine and mild temperatures for Mother’s Day.  Peg’s cold is going away.  Our ordeal on the Delaware is in the past.

Time to get out and wander.  We needed a few provisions and Peg was craving Mexican food. The town’s bike path took us most of the way, avoiding traffic.  A 6.5 mile bike ride delivered us to Dos Amigos for a decent lunch of Fajitas.  And a rose for Peg.  Somehow we managed to get it through Walmart, Penny’s, and the return trip intact.

Cape May (5 of 7)

Peg doesn’t have a competitive bone in her body.  Every other follicle, cell and sinew is, just not her bones.  Thus, when I pulled out a last minute victory in Rummikub she was not amused.  She later eked out a win in Quiddler, restoring peace in the universe.

Cape May (7 of 7)

Utsch’s Marina really makes is difficult to misplace, or even carry, the bathroom key.  Their plywood fob is the the bulkiest encountered so far.

Cape May (1 of 7)

Other local oddities include this extra pilothouse added to the top of a local tugboat.  For when you absolutely, positively have to see over the barge.

Cape May (6 of 7)

This tiny cruise boat, for when you absolutely, positively have to tour the harbor.

Cape May (4 of 7)

This Pelican mailbox, for when you absolutely, positively want Wisconsin tourists to stop and take a picture.

Cape May (2 of 7)

And this shark, because, well, Sharks!

Cape May (3 of 7)

Delaware Bay, Check

In the Looper literature, Delaware Bay is generally described as something you just get through and be done with.  After experiencing it, we agree.  So good to have it behind us.

Yesterday I was wide awake at 4 am, wired with anticipation.  With a full moon and the lights of Delaware City lighting the water, I pushed us away from the dock at 4:30.  The first 18 miles were smooth and the outgoing tide shot us along at 8.5 mph.  We stayed outside the shipping lane to avoid the procession of commercial ships.

When we turned into the wider part of the bay conditions rapidly went downhill.  Waves tripled in size.  Endeavor was a hobby-horse doing a water-sky-water-sky routine.  We started punching through waves, sending floods along the deck as far as the windshield.  Peg was being tossed like a trampoline in the main berth.

Delaware Bay was living up to its billing.

Despite all appearances, we are not masochists.  Another 6 to 8 hours of bashing, versus bailing out at our pre-selected safety spot, the decision was easy: exit stage left.

The Cohansey River, the only bail-out available on the eastern bay shore, was to port and already programmed in.  A quick turn and 30 minutes later we were anchored in a winding creek amid marshlands.  Cozy, protected, and best of all; two-dimensional.

Morning brought calmer water and we passed the local oyster fleet as we sailed south.

Cape May (1 of 2)

By mid-morning the wind was gusting to 25 mph and Endeavor was pointing into the wind as close as she could sail.  We followed the eastern shore of the bay and the waves did not build nearly as much as yesterday.  There were fleets of crab pots to dodge, but that seemed a good trade off versus waves.  Still, it was a bit bouncy…

After 40 miles, we were rewarded with another dolphin sighting as we entered the Cape May Canal…

The canal is available to boats that can fit under a 52′ bridge.  Not only does the route get you off rough water sooner, it cuts 2-3 hours by avoiding the tip of the cape, where shallow water extends quite a way out.

The quiet 4-mile canal ride brought us to Utsch’s Marina.  We will be hunkering down here for 4 nights as bad weather passes.  If the forecast holds, we will be leaving Tuesday through the inlet at the far end of the harbor (see satellite pic above) and sailing up the New Jersey coast to Atlantic City.

It’s a Small World

There is no set starting point for the Great Loop.  Start near your home, like us, or tow your boat somewhere else and start from there, like Tracy and Tom.  We met couple who transported their boat from near Seattle to the Mississippi to start.  A family we encountered today are true newbies, having started the loop 5 days ago near their home in Annapolis.

Another day of calm cruising brought us off the top of Chesapeake Bay, through the Chesapeake-Delaware Canal, and into Delaware City near the top of Delaware Bay (Red).  Departing at 6 am, we rode the tide almost to the end of the canal.  Tomorrow we will head southeast down the Delaware Bay to Cape May, New Joi-sey (Green).

Recent rains filled the water with timber.  Nothing like the Mississippi last Fall, but still an avoidance challenge.

Delaware City (2 of 14)

A bike path parallels the C&D Canal.  Just another example of something that is faster than us!

Delaware City (3 of 14)

The C&D Canal was serene and mostly empty: we passed one barge and a few other recreational boats.  Approaching the Delaware Bay we got a glimpse of this busy stretch of water.

Delaware City (6 of 14)

Wikipedia offers these words of encouragement for our trip tomorrow: “The bay offers several challenges to mariners: a significant current of up to three knots, which quickly builds a nasty chop when the wind is in opposition; mainly shallow water, with its channel often occupied with ocean-going vessels; and relatively few places to take shelter.  The bay is one of the most important navigational channels in the United States, it’s second busiest waterway after the Mississippi River.”

Gee, can’t wait.

Delaware City (7 of 14)

The Delaware City Marina is located on the old canal, with the friendliest staff we’ve met yet on the loop.  The dockmaster bet me I couldn’t manage the flowing current and put Endeavor precisely in the appointed spot.  I did so and won $13.60 off our slip for the night.

Delaware City (13 of 14)

Out came our bikes and we toured the town and nearby Fort Dupont.  The fort is retired and falling into disrepair, but the grounds make for a nice ride.

Delaware City (11 of 14)

Delaware City has a run-down feel, with new-ish eateries along the waterfront park.  One in particular caught my eye: read the name of this place.

Delaware City (12 of 14)

The newbies we met are Jim, Jan, AJ and Lucky (dog) aboard Serenity.  Jim grew up near Boardman, Wisconsin, just miles from Peg and I.  Jim provided some excellent advice over the radio this morning that led me to bypass one stop and come directly here.  Excellent choice.  We were able to return the favor this evening by passing on what we learned about the Bahamas.  They plan to be there next Winter.  You can read about their adventures here.

Delaware City (14 of 14)

The World is Flat, Again

Nope, not a sly reference to throngs of science-deniers popping up these days.  Just observing that winds agitating the Chesapeake finally settled down and the energy stored in its waves dissipated.

When it is calm, this body of water can be quite lovely.

After busy-ness of the last three days, a little decompression was in order.  A smooth, scenic motor north toward Delaware got us to Worton Creek, a quiet anchorage about 27 miles from Annapolis.

The swooping Chesapeake Bay Bridge, clearance 186 feet.  One of few times I did not double and triple check height on our charts.

In keeping with the calm day, neither of us felt a need to change out of fleece PJ’s.  After skipping winter, a slight nip in the air feels refreshing!


Whew!  That was a whirlwind two days.  Yesterday morning Mark and Becky retrieved us from the marina.  We had breakfast at The Iron Rooster, where Mark had perfect “egg shaped poached eggs”, which it is now his life’s ambition to reproduce.  They then whisked us 2 hours west, past D.C., to their home near Berryville, Virginia.  Along the way we crossed the famous Shenandoah River and passed Harper’s Ferry.

Their home is a 107 year-old stone country home set in lush, rolling countryside.

Annapolis (1 of 1)

The land is crisscrossed by stone fences and pocked with rocky outcroppings.

Annapolis (1 of 21)

This is Virginia horse country, and in the adjacent field is a racehorse training track.  Each morning thoroughbreds are prepared for derby races.

Annapolis (6 of 21)

Mark and Becky’s family includes 14 children, and 10 grandchildren.  Six kids are still at home: Seth, Talia, Behn, Tovala, Asher, and Sylvia.  With that many moving parts, this platoon exhibits amazing unit cohesion, practiced efficiency, strong bonding, and minimal friction.  In other words, a family that large is daunting, but they make it work well… very well.

Meals are a joyous gathering, quickly prepared and served with lively conversation.

And, of course, dogs.

Surprisingly, all 14 offspring have settled within a 1.5 hour radius here in Virginia, having all been born in Minnesota or Wisconsin.  Mark and several of the sons have a thriving estate care service, providing lawn and landscape maintenance for many affluent estates in the area.

Annapolis (2 of 21)

This morning, Becky, Tovala, Asher and Sylvia drove us back to Endeavor, stopping to provision on the way.  The conditions were perfect for a sail, so we loaded up and cruised the Bay.

Asher took on duties as my Winch Dude.  He’s also an up and coming card trickster.

Sylvia decided that she wants Endeavor.  (We’ll have to work something out later, M & B)

Annapolis (9 of 21)

Annapolis (13 of 21)


Annapolis (14 of 21)

Our route took us 12 miles round trip from Back Creek to the Bay Bridge, passing other sailboats and a few large ships.  We got Endeavor up to 8.4 mph in the brisk breeze.

Such a joy to spend time with old friends we haven’t seen in decades.  If felt wonderful to be transported back in time as we reminisced about family, friends and events from so long ago.

This afternoon, Peg and I broke out the bikes and toured old-town Annapolis.  Classy area with many shops set in historic architecture.

Annapolis (16 of 21)

The Maryland State house is nearby, as is ….

Annapolis (19 of 21)

..the Annapolis Naval Academy.  The gate was made famous in the Harrison Ford movie, Patriot Games.

Annapolis (20 of 21)