Distance traveled: 125 nautical miles (144 statute miles)
Time underway: 11 hours 25 minutes
Average Speed: 11 kts
Max Speed: 16.3 kts
Fuel used: 234 gallons
Planning an early departure is usually preceded by the idea that a good night’s sleep would be had. Our plan was to wake before first light, which seemed like a simple enough notion. We’d hit the rack early and rise at the crack of dawn.
We had forgotten how busy the waterways around Manhattan and Jersey City are on a beautiful Friday night and we were treated to a lot of activity bustling in and around the marina. Jasper found it all very interesting, particularly this drop off of a boat being towed in. Definitely worth a look…
We checked off all our evening chores – engine checks, life-raft and safety gear checks, and wind and weather checks and hit the hay around 10:30.
At midnight as the dreams of easy seas tiptoed into our brains, the folks from a 1980’s rap group called Tag Team started interrupting the Admiral’s nocturnal travels. “Whoomp there it is, whoomp there it is, Tag Team, back again. Check it to wreck it, let’s begin. Party on, party people, let me hear some noise. DC’s in the house, jump, jump, rejoice.”
— It got louder and louder waking me from my deep sleep. Suddenly I sat up in bed, thinking I was at our land-based house and wondering who was in our driveway! Oh right, I’m on the boat! It was the party boat that had come back to the docks…at midnight. The music cranked for about 45 minutes more, enough to enrage me as I lay there having multiple conversations (in my head) with important marina people about how dare they do this to all the good boaters who stay at their docks?! That was it for me and it took several hours to fall back asleep. The Captain never heard it but woke up multiple times throughout the night, the wheels of wind and waves turning and churning.
When the 5:20 alarm sounded, the three of us quickly awoke. Ah, the crack of dawn! We were ready to get the show on the road. We forgave the unfortunate night’s sleep and got to our tasks. The Captain checked, rechecked and checked the rechecking of the weather and waves. I suited up the hound for his pre-light business and headed out. There was something magical about New York City lit up as our backdrop. Even though it was early, there were plenty of folks making their way to boats (fishing boats I assumed). As I rounded the corner, a group of youngish, excited, fresh-faced fellas were chatting it up about their day. I wanted to be polite and well, seem cool, so I moved toward the edge of the docks so as not to walk right through the center of them. It was dark. I wasn’t looking down. The cleat leaped at my foot like a puma. I tripped, my second toe in from my big toe taking the brunt and Jasper stopped dead in his tracks. “Ouch that hurt” I heard from a voice among the fellas as I tried not to tumble into the drink and vomit at the same time. Steady now! I found my footing and immediately responded, “good morning ya’ll!” So much for being cool… I was pretty sure I broke my toe it hurt so badly but there would be plenty of time on the ocean to figure that out.
Once back onboard we moved quickly and were off the docks around 6:10 am. There was a bit of commercial traffic and lots of shipping and towing vessels making securité calls on the radio, but being a Saturday there was not the usual rush hour chaos of New York Harbor. There was a modest chop to the water and it was actually quite serene. The ambient light from both cities (Jersey and New York) provided ample visibility and it was perfectly calm. We held our breath hoping our passage out of the harbor would continue to bring calm seas.
As we poked past Sandy Hook and into the Atlantic Ocean the wind was coming at us from the southeast at the expected ten to fifteen knots. The ocean swells were initially closer together than we had expected but while not quite as calm as what we had hoped it would be it was manageable. We cranked up our speed from our usual ten knots to around 15 for the first hour to put some miles behind us and secure a daylight arrival in Cape May, some 120 nautical miles away. The day began to warm and lots of weekend fishing and pleasure boats were out and about seizing some late September summer-like weather.
We rounded Barnegat Light at 11:20 am and our course became more southwest, giving a slight improvement to our ride by putting the seas a bit more on our forward port quarter rather than right on the bow. But things got more and more sloppy as the day wore on. We were seeing two to three plus footers in much closer proximity than the forecast smaller waves we were anticipating at eight to nine seconds apart. Waves like this cause OLOH to pitch from fore to aft.
It’s not too terribly uncomfortable for us (the human crew) and the boat handles it well, but as we pitch our bow punches through the waves it comes down on and sends spray across our bow. Conditions continued to degrade incrementally as we passed Little Egg and by Atlantic City, it finally got to the point where Jasper’s doggie-anxiety got the better of him and subsequently us.
We didn’t at any time feel that we needed to duck into one of our pre-planned bailout spots, but the dynamic of the day was radically altered. Typically on long days like this, we do shifts at the helm, make regular engine room and boat checks and have the freedom to use the head or just move about while one of us remains on watch. With more than three hours to go, the Captain retreated to the lower helm for better visibility (no windshield wipers up on the bridge and the spray was covering the boat at this point). The Admiral remained up top for around an hour, holding Jasper in his arms and trying to calm him. We had a mild doggie sedative prescribed as a “just-in-case” measure for situations like this, but for it to really be effective it has to be administered before the anxiety sets in. So by the time we gave it to Jasper (wrapped in a piece of cheese), it was too late. Eventually, we coaxed Jasper down to the salon and there he sat on the settee, panting and drooling while the Admiral continued to hold and try to comfort him for the remainder of the ride. We hated every minute of him going through this, feel awful about it and will do our best to never let it happen again.
We pulled into the Cape May inlet with the expected rude Sportfish captains barreling down on us with no regard for courtesy or good seamanship and once clear of the inlet entrance the breakwater began to calm the seas and thusly our nerves. The wind was now blowing steadily out of the south at fifteen to twenty knots which were not ideal for our first-ever arrival at Canyon Club Marina which presented us with a fairly tight turn once in their basin to get to our slip. But fortunately there is no current at the marina to add to the challenge and we landed without incident.
It was our first time staying at the Canyon Club Resort Marina as our usual Cape May stop of South Jersey Marina didn’t have space. We’re glad we stayed as it’s a terrific marina that we’ll definitely return to with nice floating docks and very friendly staff. Because we had burned so much more fuel than anticipated on our run down the coast we were thrilled to learn that we could fuel up right in our slip. It was good to get the tanks topped off, the boat rinsed down and the day behind us.
We don’t have to point out that the ocean has somewhat of a multi-personality disorder. One moment she can be calm and serene and you wax fantastic about her beauty, the next moment a big roller is knocking you around like a bully and you are cursing her existence. After our last, miserable date with Kymopoleia (daughter of Poseidon and Greek goddess of giant storm waves), we realized that you can try to figure her out but you better be prepared for a mood swing or a personality change. Next time, we’d make sure she’d been on good behavior for a bit to make sure our next date would be with Galene (Greek goddess of calm seas – it’s a little bit funny, right!) and reaffirm our fondness for the ocean.
While we didn’t get either of those goddesses, our date with the ocean is another for the books. Not terrible, not great. Not unsafe, but not pleasant.
Chesapeake City is next. See you out there!
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And that concludes your OLOH instructions. M/Y OLOH back to 1-6