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We say it often, that Jasper is such a good boat dog, but this early morning we can almost sense his longing for home. You've been a good boy, Jasper, so let's go home!

Northbound ’19 – Travel Day 25: Cape May, NJ to Jersey City, NJ

Conditions: Sunny.  Winds South 5 – 10 – 15 kts, seas mostly 3-4′ swells, 8 seconds apart.
Distance traveled: 127 nautical miles (146 statute miles)

Time underway: 12 hours 11 minutes

Average Speed: 10.4 kts

Max Speed: 14 kts

Fuel used: 200 gallons




We arose earlier than planned. It was a long travel day ahead and the anticipation of the journey found no comfort beneath the covers. To our delight, the skies were clear and the dew point just far enough out of reach of the temperature that fog be damned!

This was bound to be an eventful day, one way or another.  We had been carefully studying the forecasts for days but didn’t fully know what to expect offshore as predictions seemed to shift a few times a day.  If things went well, this could be the final leg of our Northbound ’19 Adventure!  We were off the docks of South Jersey Marina in Cape May at 6:20 am, the last in a pack of boats that had also been waiting for the ocean to calm down.

Cape May departure. 6:23 am
Heading toward the inlet the sun beckons us into the unknown (well, we did use Windy, Windfinder, Storm Radar, NOAA,  ActiveCaptain, Aquamap, and a few other resources so “the unknown” is relative).

We knew the Atlantic would not be “calm,” per sé, but the bigger seas of the past few days were forecast to have subsided to more reasonable swells.  Our plan was to head out and see what the sea had in store knowing that we could bail out around 30 miles into the trip at Atlantic City which was our original destination.  Because this was forecast to be the best of the coming days we hoped to bypass Atlantic City and make our longest passage yet aboard OLOH, all the way to Liberty Landing Marina across the lower Hudson River from New York City.  Running twelve hours or longer is customary for a lot of cruisers but not for us.

We faced some pretty big swells as we were coming out of Cape May inlet and turned to the north, planning to run fairly close to shore.  We saw that one of the other boats we left with, the Liza Lou, had headed much further offshore so we hailed them on the radio to see how they were making out.  When they told us they felt it was a bit better we altered our course and wound up in pretty consistent five-foot swells on the beam.  It was unnerving to Jasper when the boat would occasionally pitch over the taller waves but, by and large, we remained stable and were comfortable enough.  We decided that if things didn’t degrade by the time we approached Atlantic City we would press on.  They didn’t so we did, passing AC at around 10 am.

Around 65 nautical miles into the trip we rounded Barnegat, New Jersey and settled into a more northerly heading.  At this point, about halfway through our day, the seas got very confused.  It was not the most comfortable ride but OLOH was doing just fine and Jasper had settled into the rhythm of this very long run.

There is a certain amount of stress on days like this, not from the actual sea state you’re enduring, but from the concern that things might get worse, even when the forecast says they shouldn’t (imagine – a forecast getting it wrong!).  For most of the remainder of the ride, they did not get worse.  I say most because things did get pretty lousy for a time and at a point when we expected relief.  When you’re making this run, the New York City skyline first comes into view as you’re approaching Sandy Hook, New Jersey.  Getting to Sandy Hook means you’re getting off the ocean and you’re almost there.  Unfortunately, when we hooked around the Hook into Lower New York Bay, the sea that had been to our beam was now following us and it was big.  And now we also had a good amount of boat traffic to contend with.

Romer Shoal Light, about three miles north of Sandy Hook, where conditions began to calm a bit.

As we closed in on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge that connects Brooklyn and Staten Island, sea conditions really began to improve, which was a good thing as the chaos of New York Harbor at rush hour was now upon us and in full effect (the pictures we took don’t do it justice).  But at least we weren’t plagued with the blanket of fog we endured the last time we passed through this spot and we’ve been through the harbor enough to know how to handle the chaos.  But it’s still really not fun and you have to be on hyper alert.  Some of the large ferries move very quickly, seem to come out of nowhere no matter how closely you’re paying attention and “the rule of big” prevails (if they’re bigger than you, stay clear even if you have the right-of-way).

Approaching the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.

If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere!  The harbor was typically congested, but that can mean many things. Tugs and barges to avoid, pleasure boats zipping past and ferries blowing by and distress calls (one heard from a small fishing boat which ran out of fuel in the middle of the channel beneath the Verrazano Bridge as we were approaching) and, of course, the occasional floating tire or other form of debris. Let us not forget sailboaters with sails fully deployed just outside of lower Manhattan…and of course, the occasional kayaker taking their life into their own frantically paddling hands.
We never tire of seeing Lady Liberty from the water…she looks as lovely as she did the last time we saw her.
This shot is for you, Kevin and Jill from Chasing 80. Kevin was one of the many incredible firefighters who came to rescue our fallen and help us stand strong. The Freedom Tower glistens over the Manhattan skyline and we can’t help but be moved by its reflection. We will never forget…

Almost precisely twelve hours since leaving Cape May that morning we approached the Morris Canal in Jersey City for an easy approach to our pre-assigned T-head at Liberty Landing Marina (we knew their dock staff would be done for the day by the time we arrived).  It was a huge relief to be safely tied in a familiar spot after what was indeed a BIG, eventful day.  We see the question, “what’s the best place to dock in New York City” a lot.  And despite how expensive it has gotten the answer remains the same.  Liberty Landing is the rare marina in the area that is well protected from the constant wakes in the harbor.  It is very well run with excellent floating docks, some of the nicest bathrooms and one of the nicest ship’s stores you’ll find at any marina, two terrific restaurants and a spectacular view of lower Manhattan.  Access to the city is easy with a regularly scheduled water taxi.

They can feel like bees coming out of a hive that you didn’t realize you bumped into.
Liberty Landing arrival. 6:28 pm.
OLOH as a part of the NYC skyline, at least for tonight.

After taking Jasper (and ourselves) for a nice, long walk in the adjacent Liberty State Park, we settled in for the evening and had a really good, well-earned night’s sleep.

Liberty State Park is exceptional, with a lot of green spaces and sweeping vistas of both New Jersey and New York.

A little weary, yes, but feeling very satisfied with a great sense of accomplishment.  We filled our favorite YETI’s, a gift from our friends on Out of Africa, and stretched our legs, happy to have some turf beneath our feet.
It was truly a “Salty Ride Boys!”
As we headed back from our long walk, a storm front moved in and the setting sun gave us a spectacular light show.

While there are two more relatively easy hops covering another 100 miles to our home port, New York is home for us so we are considering this leg to be the conclusion of our Northbound ’19 Adventure.  It has been an incredible journey through eight states over the course of around five weeks, encompassing twenty-five days of travel.  You’ll find the full stats of the journey by going to this post.  There are people who have done this trip dozens and dozens of times, for whom it is “old hat.”  And while we have now done it a handful of times, it was only our second pass between New York and Florida aboard OLOH and was anything but predictable.  We take none of it for granted and are immensely grateful for all of the encouragement we receive from family and friends.  We are particularly thankful this time around to Captains Sean Flynn and Scott Mitro, our fellow journeymen who took time off from their lives to hop aboard OLOH and join in on our adventure.  They not only helped out in so many specific ways but truly enriched the experience in so many intangible ways.  Thank you, gentlemen, and “ring ring” to you.

And we thank you SO much for being along for the ride.  Your “virtual” participation has made it all that much more enjoyable.  This adventure may be over but the journey most certainly continues.

See you out there!

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And that concludes your OLOH instructions. M/Y OLOH back to 1-6.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. It was great to "ride along" with you both on this venture and even have a chance to connect personally along the way. Plying the Atlantic waterway is always a challenge and a reward, no matter how many times you do it. Your careful planning, watchful eye and keen seamanship paid off handsomely. Most importantly, you enjoyed it ... and so did we. Well done... very well done! Pete & Rachel

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