FROM: The Captain
Travel day: November 2nd
Destination: Farley State Marina, Atlantic City, NJ
Forecast: Patchy fog early. Winds SE 10-15kt. Seas around 3 ft, mainly in SE swell with a dominant period of 7 seconds.
Distance traveled: 91.7 nautical miles
Time underway: 9 hours 5 minutes
Average Speed: 10.1kts
Max Speed: 16.8kts
Fuel used: 114 gallons
The legs between New York Harbor and Cape May, NJ are the only portions of the trip down to Florida where we are forced to travel “outside” in the Atlantic Ocean. It is essential that these days are planned with care and for us, not being on a schedule, we had the luxury of waiting around for a good travel window. We did plan our departure from Catskill two days prior to line up with what were forecast to be decent days to be offshore, knowing that if the forecast changed we could stay at Liberty Landing longer if need be. While we actually would have liked to stay an additional day close to the city to visit with friends and family, Thursday and Friday (the days after our Wednesday arrival at Liberty Landing) were looking like the best of what was to come. Some patchy fog in the morning and the swells of around three feet out of the southeast. Not ideal but not bad enough to delay.
We woke to a warm 60-degree morning, had an easy 7:55 am departure from our slip and headed east from the marina out to New York Harbor as the sun rose over lower Manhattan, always an incredible sight. Ferry traffic was surprisingly not terrible and as we turned south, Lady Liberty came into view. It never gets old. And you always have to take pictures.
We seemed to be off to a great start until we approached Staten Island when a solid blanket of fog overtook us. This was incredibly unnerving. Show us a boater who likes fog, even a little bit, and we’ll show you a fibber. Fog in one of the busiest harbors on the planet is a whole different kind of terrible. When we took delivery of the boat and I was overseeing the upgrade of the boat’s navigation electronics, there was a moment when I was going to keep the functioning Simrad radar which was absolutely state-of-the-art. In 2004. After trying it once on a sea-trial I knew it had to go. The tech was at least six years older than anything we had ever used and it’s too important for situational awareness to compromise on, particularly given how advanced modern digital radar is. Well, the radar paid for itself that morning, picking out every target with sharp precision. As we moved along, barely above idle speed, there were a few particularly unnerving moments, for sure, including when I turned to Tim and said, “we should be at the Verrazano Bridge – where is it?!” He opened the pilothouse door, stepped out onto the side-deck and proclaimed, “we’re under it!” Scary.
Commercial captains were actively chatting on the VHF, hailing small boats and alerting each other of hazards. This is also when AIS is invaluable. AIS is the Automatic Identification System for boats, kind of like a plane’s transponder. Some boats just have receivers to be able to “see” vessels that are transmitting an AIS signal. OLOH has a transceiver so we can see and be seen. An icon representing AIS vessels appears on our chart plotter in near real-time and we can tap on a vessel’s icon to learn more about the boat – it’s size, speed, heading and more. In fog like we were experiencing you wish every boat was transmitting. I would encourage any boater contemplating the addition of AIS to their vessel to not settle for just a receiver – spend the extra $$ on a transceiver – it could literally save your life. It was incredible to see all of the radar returns and AIS targets on our chart plotter that morning (we were a little too busy to snap a screen shot).
This is what an AIS target looks like (the green triangle) and some of the information we can bring up on the vessel…
Because of the fog, I decided to readjust our course from the major shipping channel to a less traveled path out of the lower harbor. There is plenty of water between the Verrazano and the ocean and no need to play alongside the big boats. Then, almost amazingly as we approached Sandy Hook, NJ, the fog just vanished. We typically see it start to gradually burn off but we literally came out the other side of it like leaving a dark, smoky club that you’ve been at all night and emerging into the morning sunlight. Not that we know anything about that. We had four footers on the nose as we worked our way out into the Atlantic until we turned to a heading of 192 degrees to proceed down along the Jersey coastline. For the majority of the ride, we endured three to four foot swells coming at us from the southeast, as predicted. Not the most comfortable ride but completely manageable. OLOH has stabilizers to minimize the roll of the boat when underway and they. are. awesome.
Nearly nine hours later we turned into the Absecon inlet at Atlantic City and tied up at Farley State Marina at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino. We are not fans of AC and it really was just a utility stop for us. Farley has big floating docks and being off-season, we had our pick of where we wanted to tie up. We opted for the T-head at the end of their transient (E) docks so we could motor out as quickly and easily as possible the next day. Unfortunately, as there were no other boats down that way, they were no longer keeping the docks clear of the bird poop that was blanketing that entire end of the pier. So we now know for next time. If there is a next time.
The stop at this marina provided a homecoming of sorts for Jasper (OK, a bit of an overstatement) as it was the point of departure for his first boating journey down the coast to Florida two years ago when he was barely one. But that trip provided the foundation for his being such an amazing boat dog. He is very much at home on board and on the water.
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