Next morning Inyanga castoff from our raft after goodbyes and motored out of the harbor. They had a little farther to go than we did and wanted to get an earlier start. We finished breakfast and tidied up the boat, then raised the anchor for the last time, and picked our way out of the anchorage. Once in the bay, we pointed the bow south and forged on toward Deale.

We had light breezes on the nose, of course. Prevailing winds this time of year are southerlies here in the bay, and all along the Atlantic coast, but it helped being in protected waters, as the chop was minimal and the motion of the boat easy.

We’re about five miles north of the bay bridge at Annapolis

As we drew closer to the bridge, it grew in height and breadth. Ruth took a several photos of as we approached and passed through.

South of the bridge, we were really in the home stretch. Just 12 miles to go, and everyone of them familiar. The markers for Rockhold Creek hove into sight, and we aimed for the channel.

Travelling up the creek to our home slip, as we have done so many times seemed unreal after our odyssey of approximately 1000 miles, 10 weeks of travel afloat, and countless anchorages.

It’s good to be home! We will savour the conveniences of living on land now that we have spent the summer without them, and we will enjoy the comfort of routine – so starkly different to living life aboard a sailboat.

I don’t think we will undertake so long a trip on the boat again. There are places to go, and things we would love to do on the water, but I think a chartered boat for a week would satisfy those desires. Places like the Caribbean that we would like to sail may be best done through a charter company. We will still have adventures around the Chesapeake, and there are many places here we haven’t explored, but we’ve experienced living aboard for an extended period now, and I think that has satisfied our desire.

We love the cruising condition of the boat now. She’s more capable than ever, and perfectly equipped to enjoy cruising for weeks at a time, or just day-sailing.

Home waters! We motored the one remaining mile of the C & D Canal to the Elk River, that runs directly into the northern Chesapeake Bay. From there all the waters were familiar. We began the day with a fair current which turned against us by about 1300 and dropped our speed to 5 knots, and the light breeze turned onto our nose. Still we forged on until 1530 when the entrance to Rock Hall hove into sight. We made the necessary maneuvers to get into the channel and floated into the calm pool of the northern harbor. We were there about an hour ahead of Inyanga because they sailed with the breezes far to the east, nearly to Baltimore, then cut back across the bay to Rock Hall while we motored most of the way into the wind. We got a good anchor set and called Inyanga to invite them to raft up with us. Ruth cooked a meal of pasta, Brian brought appetizers, and Ruth brought out the brownies she had somehow baked on board in a dutch oven.

We sat for a long time remembering our summer afloat cruising north, then south again. Finally it was time to turn in, which meant me work was really just starting. . . I got the dishes washed, heated water for the shower, and got everything shipshape again, and we turned in for the final evening of the cruise. Tomorrow we would be in our own slip.

Our anchorage is marked by the pin

Our plan had been to go east about the Delaware/Maryland/Virginia peninsula on the return trip and make port calls in the Atlantic coastal cities. We were unable to follow through due to a illness in Brian’s family, so we took the shortest route home through Delaware Bay and the C & D Canal.

We left Cohansey River at 0600 to take advantage of the north bound current through Delaware Bay. It was surreal to motor out through glassy water that the night before had been a raging white capped nightmare. We motored northwest up the bay until we arrived at the canal entrance.

Delaware Bay is a major shipping lane with the ports of Wilmington and Philadelphia up stream on the Delaware River. As we passed a power station a big dredge operation was working on our right. He radioed us and warned us to stay clear, only he didn’t identify himself. At the same time, and large tanker was coming down stream towards us, and called warning us to get out of the way . . . without identifying himself. At the time, I had no idea who was who, and they weren’t interested in explaining themselves. We finally figured it out, but their radio hails were more confusing than helpful.

We entered the Canal west-bound, and made it within a mile of the western terminus before we turned into the port of Chesapeake City.

Saturday night in Chesapeake City is pretty exciting. Well . . . it’s loud, anyway. Power boaters – especially owners of the big, loud, powerful speed boats were in abundance. I guess there were 20 of them rafted up at the restaurant dock bar. Maybe it was a club function. Regardless, on our way to town that in our eight-foot rowing dinghy I was tempted to call out and threaten them with swamping with my massive dinghy wake (I restrained myself. . . ). The band played outdoors; people cheer and yelled, the boaters ran their stereos loudly even though there was a band that was louder than everything. Alcohol fuels most of activity, and I’m not talking about E-90.

We four had dinner that night at the Tap Room, which was crowded and noisy – for good reason. The food was excellent, the staff was friendly and light hearted, and the prices were too low to be true. If ever in Chesapeake City, I would recommend it over any of the waterside bars and restaurants.

We returned to Cay of Sea made our evening routine of showers, medications (we’re old!), teeth, and got into bed.

From our first stop in Chesapeake City.

My last post was titled Two More Days but I only talked about one. Here’s the Second Day, in which lots of calm time riding the boat was in contrast to the drama and panic of anchoring.

We left Cape May via the Cape May Canal, and exited into Delaware Bay northbound. Our planned stop was two thirds the way up at a place called Cohansey Cove, which is adjacent to the Cohansey river. We arrived in good time, covering 38 nautical miles by mid afternoon. We tried rafting, but the chop made that impractical, so we anchored separately. I dozed off while reading, until my place of repose started to act like a bucking bronco. The wind had picked up, as expected, and turned the anchorage into a place of rolling chop, pitching the ends of the boat four feet up, then down four feet every 3 seconds. I didn’t see how we could tolerate this for very long, but the wind was forecast to die down later. We were willing to tough it out for while.

Until Inyanga’s anchor dragged.

The only option was to go into the river, about which we had little data. However, there was a marina up the river with sailboats moored (we could see the tops of their masts) so it must be deep enough for us.

Up we went. Depth did turn out to be problem but not like we expected. 25 feet of depth for anchoring is pretty deep for us Chesapeake sailors. We’re accustomed to 8-15 feet at most. 25 feet of depth took almost all of Brian’s chain to give us a 5 to 1 scope. Still hoping to raft together, we got set up to contribute to dinner together, and then Andy noticed that we moving. The tide had changed and the current reversed. The anchor couldn’t manage the change. We tried to anchor again nearby, but were not confident with the holding. Finally, we decided to go further up the river to find more suitable holding. I found a spot with 12 feet, Brian found some nearby with 15. We anchored separately and gave up on dinner. This time the anchors held well and we stayed put through the night.

Ruth and I had a cold dinner and went to bed early.

Sunset on the Cohansey River

From Atlantic City, we sailed into the Atlantic to a sea that was calm as glass. . . such a contrast to the roiling caldron from the evening before.

We pointed our bow at Cape May and arrived mid-afternoon, taking an anchorage in front of the Coast Guard Station where new recruits are inducted, trained, and sent out again. Such memory-filled sounds for career Navy veterans like me and Brian: recruits singing cadence, bugle signals over the 1MC, colors routine morning and evening. And, this isn’t nostalgic, but both families had a son in the Coast Guard: my Paul, and Brian’s Zack. We’re enthusiastic supporters of the USCG.

We ate a memorable meal of pasta on board Inyanga, had dessert that Ruth somehow baked on our stove top (peach and blueberry cobbler – so good!). Then played music for an hour together. Andy is a guitar player too, and brought his axe.

We stayed up too late, because the next morning was an early start to catch a favorable current, and avoid unpleasant winds.

I’ve allow a bunch of days to accumulate since Barnegat Inlet, so I’ll try to catch up without omitting too many details.

We stayed in a marina in Atlantic City (attached to a casino, of course). We needed to do laundry, take on water, and frankly we needed a rest from the chores of anchoring, dinghy launching, and living on the hook. The last few days had wrung us out a bit with the rough conditions through NYC and the Barnegat inlet/passage to Atlantic City. Inyanga also needed another crew change and the easiest way to accomplish that is from a pier. We said goodbye to Zach and hello to Andy, a friend of Brian’s.

As you know, coin op laundries (most marinas have them) always present the challenge of quarters. A sufficient quantity must be on hand for clean clothes to emerge. We applied to the marina desk for change, and they sent us to the outdoor bartender. He referred us to the cashier’s cage in the casino. Now, I’m not a lover of casinos. But as a musician, I’ve spent some time in casinos plying my craft, and gigs in casinos pay reasonably well, but that doesn’t mean I like going there. Start with the smell. I’ve never been in one that didn’t smell like cigarettes. The flashing lights – the gambling machines are all glitz and lights, like pin ball machines, but much worse. They convey the empty promise of reward, but never really deliver – neither money nor satisfaction, because a win only seems to feed the compulsion to gamble more. Never enough. . . The sound – ding ding ding ding ding. . . It can make you crazy, or along with the lights turn the “gamers” into zombies mesmerized by the lights, hypnotized by the bells. And of course, the worst part is the zombies sitting at the machines or at the “gaming” tables feeding the system as it reenforces their pleasure center with the occasional win, all the while emptying their bank accounts faster than you could throw money into a burning barrel. Poor zombies!

We finally found the cashier’s cage and came away with a roll of quarters, then got outside as quick as possible to gulp lung fulls of clean air. I was tempted to call 911 for a rescue crew to see if any of the zombies could be revived.

We finished laundry, finished dinner, finished watering, finished refueling, got ready for bed and fell in, falling asleep not-so-easily to the thump of the 70s tribute band playing on the open air veranda of the bar/restaurant 400 meters away. I knew too many of the songs!

No photos of Atlantic City glitz. Wasn’t interested enough to capture any images.

After NYC and overnighting at Sandy Hook, we set off again the next morning for Barnegat Light Inlet. This was another 50 mile trek, but the water was calm and the weather good.

We spent the next day at anchor in Barnegat Light, same anchorage as our outbound trip, and waited out another windy day. No way were we going to venture out into the Atlantic with winds gusting to 25, even if they were blowing from the right direction.

Next day – today – was much better. Winds 10 knots from the northeast (we’re going south now). But the sea state was pretty uncomfortable. In fact, our first attempt to get through the inlet at 0630 was aborted on advice from the Coast Guard. A USCG vessel was passing us in-bound as we were heading out, and they advised us to wait a couple hours for the current change to mitigate the rough conditions on the bar. We were wise to heed their counsel. Two hours later, the conditions were still very challenging but not dangerous. This was a very unpleasant ride, but got better as we made it through the cut and turned south in the open ocean.

I said the conditions improved, but there wasn’t much exhilarating sailing. None, in fact. The wind wasn’t strong enough to keep a sail full and pulling, and the conditions were too difficult to leave the security of the cockpit for setting sail anyway. We motored for 6 hours to Atlantic City (a necessary stop – we just couldn’t make the whole distance to Cape May) and were so glad to get off the water in the afternoon. Although the wind was moderate, the chop and swell was terrible – left over effects of the windy day before.

Big transition today. We sailed a record 57 miles and moved out of New England down to the Mid-Atlantic coast. The first half was easy. Our passage west on the last bit of Long Island Sound was absolutely placid. Calm winds and waters . . except for the weekend power boaters who seem to think they are still on the highway when they take to the water. I have often wanted to have a conversation with these folks to determine why, exactly, when surrounded by multiple square miles of open water, that they chose to pass us within a couple of boat lengths. They are often plowing giant furrows of water as they go, disrupting everything near their path. It’s like they think they are on the beltway during the afternoon commute. And, as you can imagine, the nearer we got to New York City, the more frequently this occured. Sunday driving at it’s worst, and since it was Sunday, the weekenders were in full force.

We timed the transit through NYC carefully again, to take advantage of the strong currents that flow through the East River. Again, we flew on the currents at record speed, topping out at 10.5 knots, but often in the 8-9knot range. That made the 13 mile trip through the city pass very quickly. But unlike our east-bound trip, where the winds and current were in concert, our west-bound journey featured strong winds in opposition to our westward vector creating some incredibly choppy conditions. Hell Gate was especially “exciting” as we plunged bow down into a short, steep chop, then rocketed skyward on the rebound, all the while clocking 9 and 10 knots.

Actual video of us passing through Hell Gate.

The current squirted us out into the upper bay where rough conditions persisted. The only mitigating factor of the ride was that we were moving so fast. When I would get discouraged over prospect of so much more rough water ahead, I would glance at the gps and see that we were still moving at 7 and 8 knots.

The conditions were rough, but we still enjoyed the sights

I thought that Hell Gate was going to be the worst section of the transit until we passed into the lower bay through Verrazzano Narrows. Once again plunging and rocketing, wind on the nose. I began to quarter the chop, and that helped smooth the ride.

The protection of Sandy Hook gradually mitigated conditions, and we finally moved into the protection of the Cape completely. We found our anchorage and dropped the hook.

Reward after a difficult day on the water – sunset was spectacular.

Exhausted, but in reasonably peaceful water, Ruth cooked a simple meal. We showered and dropped into bed.

From Block Island we sailed to New London, CN., and didn’t go ashore, but we did have a fantastic meal aboard Inyanga of haddock that Staci had sourced for a big dinner. We have not been deprived of good food on this voyage. No camping fare for us, Ruth and Staci have made amazing meals aboard in our tiny little galleys.

Next stop was Cedar Island on the Connecticut coast where we got slips for the night so that Staci could leave the boat, replaced by her son Zack as crew. She took Zack’s car home to Maryland – their house/cat sitter has to go home and Staci needs to prepare for work in September – and Zack is aboard for the next five days.

From Cedar Island, we had wonderful sailing weather, beam reaching west towards NYC, stopping for the night in the best anchorage yet. A little pool among the islands near Norwalk, Connecticut offered the most picturesque, quiet, peaceful place we’ve been. And to top that off, Zack caught an enormous blue fish (32 inches, it must have weighed between 8 and 10 pounds. We all love to eat fish, and there was none fresher than this. Blue fish have a reputation for a strong flavor, but Brian and Zack expertly prepared it, marinating it in milk, and then adding some lemon mustard preparation. Delicious!

Inyanga with all sail flying on a brilliant sailing day. She is an Island Packet 320.

Our secluded anchorage at Cobb Island.

Zack’s blue fish, grilled to perfection.

Next stop: Sandy Hook. . . again.

Escape from New Bedford! The wind abated, and we sailed on. In the days of working sail, ships would spend weeks windbound in a harbor.

We sailed and motored (sometimes both at the same time) east and south until we were in the state of Rhode Island, but this time, not Rhode Island! So confusing . . .

Block Island is one of the main tourist destinations for this part of New England. Ferries carry thousands of people every day out to the Island and back. Most of them are day trippers. The harbor – Great Salt Pond – is one enormous mooring field and open anchorage. There were hundreds of boats moored there. If you enjoy looking at boats like I do, it’s pretty cool.

Great Salt Pond harbor (photo:

We traveled about 45 nautical miles from New Bedford on pretty placid seas. Still dodging lobster bouys in the shallower places, we got a fair amount of unobstructed sailing in the deeper open-water areas.

Once on the mooring, we rode the water taxi to shore and followed a walking tour of some of the island. Beaches, historical points of interest, the “downtown” section of shops, restaurants, hotels. The hotels have been there as long as tourism has been on the island. They are old, grand affairs that look like they would be really fun places to stay.

About 1000 people live on the island year round. That’s a pretty small community with lots of challenges, no doubt. A dentist or doctor appointment probably involves an hour-long ferry ride, as does a driver’s license renewal, car registration, etc. I think I would like to live there for a season, or a year. There are a lot of places I would like to live for a short time: anywhere in the UK, except for big cities; Spain; Germany; Montana; Wyoming; Vermont; Maine. Maybe we will get to do that in the future.

Meanwhile, we’ll continue to enjoy the cruising life!

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