After four full days of settling back into life aboard after a nine-month absence, we…
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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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