The Jersey Shore

The name Jersey Shore may conjure up different visions. Some people may only associate it with the tv reality show about Snooki, The Situation, and others whose names I do not know. For me, growing up in eastern Pennsylvania, I remember vacations spent at the beaches on the “shore” – Ocean City, Avalon, Stone Harbor, Sea Isle City.  Over the past two days, Kindred Spirit traveled from the northern shore of Sandy Hook to the most southern shore of Cape May.

The trip from Sandy Hook to Atlantic City is over 80 miles, so we left at 3:30 am on Sunday, September 15th. Yes, in the dark.  As Al pulled up the anchor, I maneuvered the boat. With an anchored trawler and the breakwater very close, my knees were shaking as I shifted the gears and adjusted the speed. Guess what I was thinking – wow, knees really do shake when you are scared.
We had to travel north first to get out and around Sandy Hook.  The lights of lower Manhattan were bright and visible.  There was a lighted building (?) that changed colors from red to white to blue. We aren’t sure, but wondered if it is a 9/11 memorial? I tried to photograph it, but it was quite a distance away; and it sure is hard to hold the camera steady on a moving boat!

Views of lower Manhattan at night

Views of lower Manhattan at night

The stars were bright, and once your eyes adjust, sailing at night is quite an experience. We loved our AIS system because we could identify the large cruise boats, commercial and industrial ships that are out there. It was actually a very quiet night. The stars were bright – easily spotted the Big Dipper.  Dawn was a lovely sight to behold. As the sun rose, the sparkle on the ocean waves really did look like diamonds. I’m a “morning person” so this is always my favorite time of day.

Just before dawn

Just before dawn

The sun rising in the east as we sail along

The sun rising in the east as we sail along

The sparkle of early morning

The sparkle of early morning

The Jersey shore gave us a view of miles and miles of beaches.

The barrier beaches of the New Jersey coastline

The barrier beaches of the New Jersey coastline

About halfway through the day I noticed  another feature of the Jersey coastline – water towers. Water tower after water tower. Is this because the beaches are barrier beaches and need the towers for water storage? I photographed as many as I could, which is challenging from 2 miles offshore with waves rolling you up and down. This collage is for my Glastonbury math teachers – remember that SBAC CCSS water tower problem?????

A sampling of the many water towers along the New Jersey coast

A sampling of the many water towers along the New Jersey coast

It was a very long  night/day – 13 hours. We took a dock at Gardners Basin in Atlantic City, fully expecting to stay two nights. The dock was very inexpensive as docks go, with good reason – no water, no fuel, no bath facilities. We didn’t really mind that because we were ok for the moment. We just needed to  get off the boat and go for a walk – that felt so good!

Two kings of the sea – Al and Neptune/Poseidon

Monday, September 16th. We decided we might try the Atlantic City boardwalk so that I could relive my childhood memories; but as we review the weather forecast for winds, we decide we really should continue moving and get to Cape May. As we pull away from the dock, or should I say, as we try to pull away from the dock, we discover we are stuck in mud, and the tide is going out! The dockmaster did not inform us how little depth there is at low tide. We nudged our way back to the dock. Al spoke with a local fisherman who suggested we go forward. That worked and off we went to get gas and water at another marina before leaving. After filling these critical tanks (fuel and water) we headed out the channel.  It just wasn’t our lucky day. The combination of strange harbor, confusing advice, and markers, and we went aground again. Jeez. Called TowBoat US to pull us off the bottom. That’s why we carry that insurance. There is a saying – any captain who says he never runs aground is either lying or not telling the truth. I do recall asking the Captain if I could go home now? In retrospect, it is a good thing we did not try our luck at the casinos this visit. Maybe on the way home in the spring?

What can we say? Sometimes you need a little help....

What can we say? Sometimes you need a little help….

Saying goodbye to Atlantic City

Saying goodbye to Atlantic City

The rest of the trip past the Jersey Shore was uneventful and pleasant.  The day was cloudy with a few rain showers, but the boat moved well with the winds and waves. We covered the 36 miles in 5 hours. That’s good for a sailboat. We arrived in Cape May harbor and anchored just off the Coast Guard Station, with about 15 other sailboats. At least half of them are a group of Canadian boats we saw leaving Sandy Hook as we arrived there on Saturday.  As we settled on a spot to drop our “hook,” the closest boat called out,” You can anchor near me! You have a a Rocna!”  Now that made us feel good. 🙂

jjj

Anchored near the Coast Guard Station in Cape May

Sailboats anchored in Cape May harbor, all on their way south

Sailboats anchored in Cape May harbor, all on their way south

5 days and 241 miles.  The phone calls, emails, and texts from friends and family mean so much to us while we are on this adventure. Thanks to everyone who takes a little time out of their busy days to send a note or call.

Time to make us another dinner in my little galley, at the end of a traveling day.

Cooking onboard a sailboat

Cooking onboard a sailboat

New York, New York!!

Experienced cruisers who go south from New England told us that the trip down the East River is a “must do.”  That is simply an understatement.  The day was exciting and emotional, which surprised me. Although I lived in Manhattan many years ago, I have had no wish to return to the big city life. And yet, as we passed so many famous city sights, from this new water perspective, I unexpectedly felt many emotions.  I cannot resist sharing all of this with you, mostly with photos.

We left Port Washington at 6:00 am before the sun fully rose, and soon encountered the first of many bridges.

We left Port Washington int he early morning light, passing this lighthouse on our way to the Throgs Neck Bridge

We left Port Washington int he early morning light, passing this lighthouse on our way to the Throgs Neck Bridge

Bridges can be very intimidating to a sailboat. The first one truly did make me nervous as we approached.  We knew we would safely pass below – the chart says 138 foot clearance and our mast is only 59 feet above the water, but still……..

Approaching the Whitestone Bridge... Are we going to make it??

Approaching the Whitestone Bridge… Are we going to make it??

And yes, we make it through under the bridge.  We knew would.....

And yes, we make it through under the bridge. We knew would….. 138- 59 = lots of space!

We drive over the Whitestone Bridge every time we visit my son, Ryan and his wife, Kerri. It‘s cheaper to pass under the bridge than drive on it!

The Whitestone Bridge - see the sign for 678, Ryan and Kerri?

The Whitestone Bridge – see the sign for 678 South, Ryan and Kerri?

After passing Rikers Island, we were on our way to Hell Gate. The infamous Hell Gate! Every boater who chooses this course knows that timing is everything. We carefully studied the charts and  information to choose the right current. Passage through here and down the East River must be timed just right so that the current works with you, not against you and not propelling you too swiftly down the river.

Approaching Hell Gate Bridge - much more attractive than its name implies.

Approaching Hell Gate Bridge – much more attractive than its name implies.

The current’s churning, swirling waters through Hell Gate really push you through. The chartplotter is proof of our speed – 11 knots!! And we are happy when we make 7-8 knots of speed.

11 KNOTS!! Does that make us a power boat??

11 KNOTS!! Does that make us a power boat??

Soon after Hell Gate we reached Rockefeller University and the apartment building on 63rd Street where I lived for almost 2 years, 34 years ago.

Rockefeller University

Rockefeller University

Our apartment is the smaller building. The newer larger one now blocks it from most of the East River.

I lived on the 16 floor of the smaller apartment building, in the middle of the photo.

I lived on the 16 floor of the smaller apartment building, in the middle of the photo.

The city shows no wear and tear, no grime and dust as we pass along.  It was amazing to see so many famous buildings as we made our way down the East River.

The United Nations Building

The United Nations Building

The Chrysler Building

The Chrysler Building

The Empire State Building

The Empire State Building

South Street Seaport and Pier 17

South Street Seaport and Pier 17

One World Trade Center

One World Trade Center

Staten Island Ferry Terminal

Staten Island Ferry Terminal

We pass by Ellis Island, where my father’s father entered the United States as a child with his family.

Ellis Island

Ellis Island

Next is the lady we have been waiting to see, Lady Liberty.

Lady Liberty and Al

Lady Liberty and Al

This was a special moment, to sail past the Statue of Liberty and see her torch held high and burning so brightly.

The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty

Once past the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, we were able to put the sails up and have some “quiet time” as we crossed the waters over to New Jersey. Ahhhh, that’s what sailing is really about – the wind in the sails and the silence! OK, almost silence. After five and half hours and 36 miles, we reached Sandy Hook, New Jersey. After anchoring behind the breakwater in the Atlantic Highlands Harbor, we went to shore for a much needed walk after three days on the boat. And ice cream!
Entrance to Sandy Hook, New Jersey

Cast off those dock lines

Us before we goWe did it! Kindred Spirit left Shennecossett Yacht Club on September 12, 2013 at 9:30 am, my 61st birthday. Our friends, Mary Jo and Dean took photos of the event – photos that  I will treasure forever. A big thanks to all of my friends and family who also texted, telephoned, and emailed birthday wishes to me. This is certainly the most unusual birthday of my life!

 

And there we go!

Pulling away from the dock

Pulling away from the dock

Passing by Ledge Light, New London Harbor, with our sail reefed.

It took us 9.2  hours to cover the 52 miles to Port Jefferson, New York. The winds were 20+ knots and not in the most ideal direction. Our speed varied from only 4 knots for the first couple of hours to 7-8 knots when we caught the current. We took more water over the bow in those hours than in many years combined. Fortunately, we were able to skirt the fringe of the thunderstorm and rain line. Kindred Spirit handled the rough ride very well, better than the Admiral (me) did!

This is what most of the trip looked like.

This is what most of the trip looked like.

We haven’t been to Port Jefferson in almost 20 years. It is pretty quiet on a Thursday in September.

Sights of Port Jeff - ~ empty mooring field ~PJ Ferry PT Barnum

Sights of Port Jeff –
~ PJ Ferry PT Barnum
~empty mooring field

Our first day ended with birthday brownies and red wine.

b-day brownies

Ready or Not……. Here we GO!!!

Be brave in teal.

Be brave in teal.

After 12 years of dreaming about this, and 3 months of intense preparations, we think we are ready. Am I excited? Yes.  Am I afraid? Yes.  My sister, Lisa, gave me a bracelet engraved “Be brave” for my birthday this year.  It is for ovarian cancer, but I think it is meant for any one of us, whenever we do anything that is scary, big or small. If you aren’t afraid when you do something, you aren’t being brave. Each of us reaches deep inside for courage every single day; it just isn’t always visible to others. So, thank you to everyone I know who helps me find my courage. Especially my dear husband, Al.

Al had lots of projects over the past few weeks. Dinghy maintenance, head repairs (for those of you are non-nautical, that means the toilet), cleaning the enclosure’s “glass.”

Dinghy maintenance, cleaning the "glass," head repairs

Dinghy maintenance, cleaning the “glass,” head repairs

There were also some larger projects, such as installing a new forward hatch and adding the name and homeport to the transom.

~Applying our name and homeport ~ A nice new forward hatch!

~Applying our name and homeport
~ A nice new forward hatch!

You may be wondering what I do, other than take photos. I am not nearly as talented as Al when it comes to maintaining a sailboat, but I can plan, organize, and gather (otherwise known as shop.) The behind the scenes person.  I also make sure the Captain is well-fed and happy. Every once in awhile, I use the tools, too.

Sanding and repainting the stove top grates.

Organizing, moving, and stowing supplies and provisions aboard has been quite an experience. Where will it all go? Will it all fit? And do we really need it all?? Al reminded 3 times each day that there are grocery stores up and down the east coast.

We are not going to starve... at least not for the first month or so.

We are not going to starve… at least not for the first month or so.

6 bags of Dove dark chocolates

 

You won’t be surprised to hear that we have a nice supply of our favorite guilty pleasure – Dove dark chocolates. Six bags should last a little while…….

 

After stowing everything all away,  I quickly discovered the real problem. It is not finding places for everything, it is REMEMBERING where you put it all!!!! So we now have lists and diagrams.

 

 

We were both surprised to find that everything we have carried onboard has a home. For us, Kindred Spirit is our new home. I have listened to Philip Philips’ song  “Home” quite often, as we make this boat our home for the next 8-9 months.

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m gonna make this place your home

The galley

Starboard side

Starboard side

Port side

Port side

We are ready. Next post will hopefully be about the adventure!!