Note: This post is out of order. Sorry. We are still trying to figure out the blogging while cruising thing.
After leaving Liberty Landing we headed for Sandy Hook to anchor along the protected side of the New Jersey coast to wait for a good weather window to head south along the open ocean side. It was a quiet sail down the Hudson towards the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. There were a lot of large cargo ships anchors but very little traffic on the water. The winds were lighter and variable but were supposed to get gusty as we got through the narrows. My Bride was at the helm and sailed us through the field of cargo ships as we watched the New York skyline getting smaller behind us.
Once we got through the narrows, the east wind started picking up. We also started getting some heavier seas that were very confused. We would have 6 to 8 foot swell approaching us from the port front quarter, but they were spaced out a bit with 8 to 10 second periods. However, as you were coming down in between those swells we could get 4 foot chop from dead on the bow. The winds had increased from the leisurely 8 to 12 knot winds to over 22 knots consistent with gusts to 30 knots. We were heeling over 25 to 35 degrees between the winds and waves. We were making 6-7 knots towards Sandy Hook.
I planned my approach to Sandy Hook a little too close to land. So as we approached the land we started to get a lee shore pull towards the land. Thank god for a well designed rudder to give us the best chance to climb off that lee shore without having to start the engine. We made it behind the land but it was relatively low so the winds were not decreasing as much as we expected. As we moved down towards Atlantic Highlands the land got a little more elevation and the winds eventually relented.
We made our way to Horseshoe Cove. As we approached the cove we planned our approach for the deepest water to get behind the some shallows that should provide some wake protection. As we slowly moved into the area, we ran aground! It was a soft grounding in the area that was supposed to be at least 10 feet.
Thankfully we were able to float off the shoal and make our way into the area we wanted to anchor.
We were able to anchor next to Hullabaloo and Radio Wave. Two fellow blogging cruisers, the Skelton Crew and Mangoes, Marley and Mermaids, we have talked to for over a year but have never met in person. We were excited because this was the first time we would be around other cruisers around our age. After we got our anchor settled and the dingy set we headed to shore to let Summer run. Shortly after Jackie and Ron joined us with there dog, Lexie. Chris and Jim were already on shore. We talked and tried to get the dogs to play but settled for mostly ignoring each other. We made plans to meet on Smitty later for drinks. They came over around sundown and we had some cocktails in the cockpit and talked about our experiences cruising so far. We had a great night that went too late.
The next morning we looked at the weather again and there still wasn’t a good window coming anytime soon. So we walked Summer on the beach and worked on a few projects around the boat. Later we checked the weather again and there was a gale forecast to hit the area later in the week with winds reaching the 50 knots range. We did some searching and found a marina in Great Kills Harbor that advertised $1.50 per foot per night. Great Kills Harbor looked pretty protected and the docks looked to be in good shape with piles on each finger and between the boats. We made a reservation to go there later in the week to wait out the gale.
The next morning we went ashore to walk Summer and met Skelton Crew on the beach. It looked like the next 30 hours was a small window to get south of New Jersey. But that would bean leaving at noon and going through the night all the way down to Cape May. So we would have to skip meeting up with some friends along the way. Also it would mean getting up after a short rest and heading up the Delaware in order to get to a safe harbor before the gale came in. So we would have to skip the stop in Lewes, DE to go to the Dogfish Head Brewery. So we said farewell to Hullabaloo and Radio Wave and stayed in Sandy Hook for one more night before heading to Great Kills.
In Great Kills we found that things were not quite as advertised. The slip was indeed secure and a good place to wait out the gale. However, the rest of Mansion Marina was not quite what we expected. From the owner/operator not answering the phone or radio when we were trying to come in, to showers with no hot water since Hurricane Sandy, the owner’s attitude, the rate being a flat rate of $75 per day (that’s a deal for a 40 foot boat but its $2.40 per foot for our boat) and the yard being part junkyard and part boat yard we were a little disappointed.
Our time in Great Kills wasn’t all bad, we did meet some great people, Marty and Lori on s/v Mako. We snuck into the Great Kills Yacht Club with them for cheap beers, had some great NY style pizza, and waited to see if Hurricane Joaquin would hit us. In the end, Great Kills provided good protection from the gale as Joaquin turned east and went out to sea.
We left Great Kills with Mako and went back to Sandy Hook to wait for a break to head down to Manasquan Inlet.
Thankfully that weather window came after just one night. The seas still looked a little high but the winds had died so the seas would settle as the days past and we made a break for it.
The seas were forecast to be 4 to 6 feet at 10 second periods. After we rounded False Hook Shoal the forecast held for the most part with the occasional set of 8 footers. The seas were light and we motored sailed with the mainsail up on our way down to the inlet. The wildlife didn’t disappoint. First we saw a sea turtle. Then we got a pod of 10-15 dolphins swimming on the waves about 30 feet behind the boat. It was great to slow down the boat and just watch them until they swam off on some other course.
When we got down to the inlet we saw why so many cruisers dislike this stretch of the trip south. The inlet was small and relatively narrow with large stone jetties on either side of the opening. Surfers were out on either side of the inlet. We had to surf down the ways while shooting the gap between the jetties. It was a little white knuckle at times but we got in and headed to tie up at Hoffman’s Marina. After taking a hot shower, we met up with a friend of mine from work, Mike. Mike took us on a tour of the area, showed us were we could anchor if we came back to the area and took us for a great dinner at a local Italian place.
The next morning we headed to Atlantic City. The seas had calmed down a bit and the wind was still light. So we powered south. Again we saw some dolphins. I don’t think seeing these beautiful animals could ever get old. The rest of the trip was rather uneventful. We pulled into the marina at the Golden Nugget Casino, took on some fuel and got a slip for the night. The marina was disappointing with lots of bird crap all over the dock. We walked around the casino and had dinner. The best part of the marina being at the casino was that we got passes to use the roof pool. So after dinner we put on our bathing suits and headed up to the roof to have a cocktail and soak in the hot tube. We had the place to ourselves.
The next mooring we got to meet Jack, a fellow C310 owner we had talked to online for a couple of years but hadn’t met in person. We had some great conversation about the boats and about getting out there to cruise.
After talking with Jack we left for another day of light winds and motor sailing. Dolphins joined us as we had our moring coffee. We saw dolphins again as we rounded Cape Henlopen heading for city dock in downtown Lewes, Delaware.
It took us longer than we wanted to get past the New Jersey coast. In the end we were glad we waited and got to see some friends along the way.