Cape May, NJ cont.

4 November, cont.: We dropped Sarah off at the Cape May bus station later that afternoon, sad to see our first kidnapped friend depart. Alex and I took a brisk walk around Cape May very Cape Cod-y, but definitely larger and with a more suburban layout.

Takin' his sweet time...

Takin’ his sweet time… Capt. Sherpa.

Next stop: Luck Bones Backwater Grille for much needed Bloody Mary’s. Heaven in a glass! Literally.

We went back to the boat, walked the dogs, power napped, and met up with Alex’s brother, Adam, who drove all the way from Northern Jersey to see us for this leg of our trip. (Adam had been our valiant chase boat on the Piscataqua for our very first day.) Back to Lucky Bones for way too much food, but so so good. Get the loaded fries appetizer. Just do it. Thanks for dinner Adam!

We really can’t emphasize enough how supportive our family and friends have been throughout our planning stages and sailing journey. We LOVE you all!!!

AND, we ran into Pierre and Alec at Lucky Bones haha.

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New Jersey Coast to Cape May, NJ

3 & 4 November: Jersey Coast — CONQUERED!! It was the worst of times, it was the best of times.

At 5am we untied from the Locust Point Yacht club with 6 layers of warm weather gear on each. 80% of the crew (all but Alex) were totally naive to what was coming our way. The initial passage under the Throgg’s Neck Bridge and down through Hell’s Gate went really well! The sun was shining. It was cold, but our spirits were high as New York City sparkled ahead of us. One other cruising sailboat passed us just before Hell’s Gate, likely taking advantaged of the Jersey coast weather window as well. The traffic on the East river was incredible, with large ferries charging back and forth in front, beside, and behind us. The large vessels paid very little, if any attention to the Abby B. but luckily we had a skilled captain at the helm who deftly maneuvered the vessel around these massive boats. Alex later likened the experience to being a “minnow in a school of tuna”.

East River NYC Brooklyn BridgeAfter safely exiting the East River we passed smoothly between Queens and Manhattan: Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, World Trade Center, traffic, joggers, etc. Under the Brooklyn Bridge. Waved to Lady Liberty with homemade (boatmade?) breakfast sandwiches in hand. And we were making 9-10 kts with the current in our favor. Perfection!

Lady Liberty Cold Captain AlThat is until we rounded Sandy Hook, New Jersey… and the actual coast transit began. Double reefed, 20+ kt winds from the northwest, heeled over, plus driving into a swell, we were moving slowly and everyone was really cold. (Good thing Sarah knew what she was getting herself into!).

One cool sighting: our first Bottlenose dolphin sighting, leaping out of the water around 4pm NE of Lavalette, NJ!

Thanks to daylight savings time, the sun set at around 4:45pm. Quote of the trip, from Alex to the rest of the crew: “Just think, only 13 more hours til the sun’s back up.”

Jersey NightFrom then on, morale took a nose dive. Cold. Colder. Coldest. The wind switched from northwest, to west, to southwest, and the sea state worsened. As we were passing Barneget Light at 8pm, the conditions hit an all time low. Our forward progress had slowed to a crawl, the waves crests were blowing over the bow, and Luna definitely had to tale a potty break. Unfortunately the Jersey coast is essentially one long sand beach, which is great for beach-goers, but horrible for mariners as there’s literally no good harbors to enter if conditions deteriorate. So this made the next stop Atlantic City… which was 40 miles = 7 hours from where we were. This was going to be a longgggggggggggggggg night. (Good thing Sarah knew what she was getting herself into!).

The dogs hated being down below, but given the dark and the rough seas, we couldn’t risk keeping them up top with us.

To make it safely and sanely to Atlantic City, we all took turns at the helm, with periodic sitting/napping breaks in the cabin to stay warm. Despite feeling bad about tossing Sarah into this situation with us, having a third person on the trip was the best thing we could have done. No one was left at the helm alone, and two people on watch is A) safer, and B) less lonely than one freezing sailor. For some reason being in an uncomfortable situation is much more palatable when somebody else is there to share in your discomfort.

Our other saving grace was the full moon. We were cold and tired, but at least we had plenty of moonlight shining down on us. Two other sailboats were visible farther offshore and they affirmed that we weren’t the only crazy ones battling the Jersey coast in the middle of the night.

Around 1am we made the turn for Atlantic City. Approaching Atlantic City from 40 miles away is remarkably eerie. The glow of neon light. The massive scale of buildings. And the seemingly inclosable gap that makes the structures seem so close, despite them actually hours away… And maybe some delirium was setting in too. [Note: no pictures were taken of this leg of the trip.]

Coming in at low, low tide, we briefly ran aground during our first docking attempt (it was just mud), so we settled on a fuel dock space for a 4 hour nap. I have never been happier to curl up into my warm bed in my entire life.

At 5am, we reluctantly peeled ourselves out of our sleeping bag cocoons and started relayering clothing. While walking the dogs, we met two guys on a Bristol 40′ out of Plymouth, MA. Pierre and Alec got a kick out of the dogs (especially Piper’s purple fleece jacket), and they were headed to Cape Ann this morning as well. (Other young people on cruising boats! Yay new friends!)

We left Atlantic City before Pierre and Alec, and motored the rest of the way down the Jersey coast. 6am snack time consisted of the best stale rice cake with peanut butter and banana toppings ever prepared. We had all been too tired and cold to eat dinner last night. Oops.

Dawn of Day 2 was already a thousand times better than the day before. (I guess we really needed that 4 hour nap, huh?) The sun rose bright red East of us, Atlantic City still eerie in the background. Conditions were much calmer and much warmer as the morning progressed. We quickly passed Egg Harbor Bridge, Ocean City beaches, and on and on. The seabirds were everywhere, ambassadors of all the marine life on this southern Jersey coast.

Off Corson Inlet we came across another pod of Bottlenose dolphins and detoured in a large circle to take a closer look. Then, BEST SIGHTING TO DATE: a juvenile humpback whale was subsurface feeding amongst the dolphins. So incredible!! We shut the engine off and drifted with the whale and dolphins for 15 minutes or so. At one point, the whale surfaced 50 ft off the starboard side. (Slowly making last night’s misery worth it!)

For the rest of the day, we had consistent dolphin sightings every 20-30 minutes. Some close to the boat, some further away. A few Bottlenose dolphins even rode our bow for a bit, and we took turns at the helm so everyone had a chance to run up and play with our marine mammal escorts.

After passing the Wildwood roller coasters and ferris wheel, Cape May was an easy ride away. Captain Sarah took us all the way into the Cape May Harbor channel by 1pm.

Cape MayWe paid for a slip at Utsch’s Marina (pronounced “oot-chiz” for future reference – how are you supposed to hail that name over the radio??). Within 10 minutes of tying up we had popped a celebratory bottle of champagne and sat giggling on the boat. Jersey Coast: CONQUERED! It was the worst of times, it was the best of times. Thank goodness we had Sarah!

BubblyLuna - Cape May

Bronx & Manhattan, New York City

1 November: No sailing today. The daylong rainshowers and 30-40 kt gusts kept the Abby B on the dock all day. Alex and I ventured into Manhattan for the day: Bx8 bus from Locust Point to Westchester Square, and the No. 6 train downtown to Grand Central Station. Destination: American Museum of Natural History (one of my all-time favorite places to visit!!), which was absolutely mobbed on a rainy Saturday but so worth it. Plus, Alex had never been. AMNH-1 AMNH-2 AMNH-3Dinner at Hummus Place for my all-time favorite food. (It must have been ‘Alexa Day’…)

Then the long commute back to the farthest part of the Bronx. We’re not going to sleep much tonight with the heavy gusts shaking the boat around the dock. I couldn’t imagine being anchored somewhere in the East River or Hudson. Love LPYC!!

2 November: Still too stormy to leave but the weather window for the New Jersey coast looks good. Tomorrow is the day to go, or else, get stuck in NYC for another week. Countdown to lift-off!

 Instead of heading into the city, we did lots of boat chores today and tried to save up energy for Jersey tomorrow. Also, the New York City Marathon was today… probably not the best day for Manhattan travel.

Hunkered downDog walk to downtown Throgg’s Neck center, quick grocery shopping trip to stock up on meats and produce. Then drinks at the Locust Point Yacht Club bar… we said we’d only have one drink… haaaa. Nice try! Lots of laughs, good company, story swapping, and a surprise shot of Fireball whiskey later… aren’t we getting up at 5am tomorrow??

Around 9pm Sarah pulled into the yacht club to join our Jersey coast expedition crew at the last minute. We really do have the best friends in the world!

Locust Point Yacht Club

Oyster Bay to Locust Point, Bronx, NY

31 October (Happy Halloween!): Refueled diesel at the Oyster Bay Marina (gotta love New York State fuel prices…) and headed towards the New York City skyline. Destination: Throgg’s Neck, Bronx and the Locust Point Yacht Club.

LoungingOur good friend Sarah, who I went to college with and who worked at the Shoals Marine Lab with us this past summer, has a long-time family membership at LPYC. Given the storm head our way this weekend, her family graciously offered to let us stay at the yacht club until the weather cleared for a New Jersey coast transit (the worst passage of our trip south).

Passing Hart’s Island (Wikipedia it… perfect for a Halloween sail), and City Island, we crossed under the Throgg’s Neck Bridge and anchored to wait for a higher tide in order to clear the channel into LPYC.

Pumpkins ahoy!While making lunch and killing time, we heard a terrifying may-day come over the marine VHF radio. A large sportfishing vessel had struck the rocks somewhere nearby. The Coast Guard kept asking how many people were on board and needed a location. Meanwhile, other mariners in the area were relaying detai ls as this boat started rapidly taking on water. At first, we walked around the deck of the boat with our handheld radio trying to get a good signal. An NYPD boat flew past us under the Throgg’s Neck Bridge. Only then did we notice that we could see the sinking vessel about a half mile away, crushed against the rocks at Stepping Stone Lighthouse. SeaTow tried to pull the boat off of the rocks, but could only move it a couple hundred yards before the boat was lost. What a wild welcome to NYC.

Once the tide came in, Sarah and her dad brought their Whaler out to greet us and led us through a narrow channel into the yacht club. Such incredible hospitality, we cannot thank the Locust Point Yacht Club and Sarah’ family enough! It really was the best spot we could have hoped to end up given incoming bad weather.

Snapchats from Sarah

Snapchats from Sarah

After touring the club house, we ended up all over the easternmost neighborhoods of the Bronx with the dogs: SUNY Maritime (with an awesome under-bridge, elevated park that was once an old fort), past a slew of trick-o-treaters, and we definitely looked like we fit in… haha.

Spare prop for the Abby B? Seems reasonable.

Spare prop for the Abby B? Seems reasonable.

We contemplated going into the city for Halloween — which would have been a blast — but given our exhaustion, we opted for a low-key Halloween night on the boat. I carved a pumpkin and Alex watched. Big night. No costumes were worn. Maybe next year? Anyways, Happy Halloween from your favorite floating family!

Happy Halloween

Old Saybrook, CT to Oyster Bay, NY

30 October: Set out from Saybrook Point early on the morning for a long transit across Long Island Sound. Destination: Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York.

Saybrook sunriseThe weather was sunny but cold, and we tried to stay tucked in as close to the north shore until we passed New Haven in case the winds picked up. They stayed relatively mild, so we crossed the Sound with New York City just barely visible on the horizon late in the afternoon.

Dog daysAlex caught another huge bluefish around 3pm today, and we decided to butcher it right on deck before getting to Oyster Bay. I positioned myself in the bow with knives, a bucket of seawater, and Ziploc bags for the filets. Just as we started cleaning the fish, the winds and seas increased and Alex had to take the helm while I bounced up-and-down in the bow with the dead/bloody bluefish. (That’s what a marine biology degree is for, right?)

"King of the Blues"

Capt. Al: “King of the Blues”

In Oyster Bay, we cruised passed the mega-mansions and exclusive yacht clubs. I think it’s safe to say that the garden sheds of some of these homes would have made a small family very happy. Pulled up to the fuel dock at the town marina just as it was closing, and got permission to stay tied up while we walked the dogs. Oyster Bay has an enormous sports/park complex just outside the marina,complete with bright field lights and perfectly manicured grass – a great place to take the dogs for a stroll. The only problem: no dogs allowed. WHAT?! Who makes a dog-free park? Isn’t that one of the principal reasons for having a park in the first place?

So, rather than outright break the rules, we took a walk with dogs around the park boundary. Our near incursion onto park land did not go unnoticed – a truck labelled “park maintenance” stalked us until we crossed the parking lot and exited the premises.

We toured downtown Oyster Bay, which was very quiet on a Thursday night.

Took a mooring for the night and cooked up another bluefish feast. After two successful and delicious bluefish dinners, we’re convinced that the key to good bluefish is freshness. Pan seared in butter, skin-on, with garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes, oregano, salt, and pepper — we tried our best, but couldn’t possibly eat it all. Needless to say, the dogs ate very well. So many omega-3’s!