Thursday, September 20, 2012

In the Fog

Leaving behind Manhattan, The Bronx, and Staten Island ,too
That teasing promise of a leisurely jaunt down the Jersey shore turned into a continuous push. Not what I had imagined. The wind and moon gods beckoned, promising that if I just kept going they would help by pushing me along. Ignoring their siren call would have meant head winds and foul currents, turning the jaunt into a rough slog.

Rather than heading into Barnegatt Bay the first afternoon, I sailed by as the wind window slammed shut. Instead, I dropped the hook half way up the Delaware in the Cohansey River 150 miles and 30 hours later. So, it actually was a dumpster fire fought in a fog of fatigue.

The romp from Sandy Hook to Barnegatt Inlet was delightful. The stiff breeze had just enough westerly slant to tame the wind waves. The hurricane's leftover swells were imperceptible. I arrived by mid-afternoon with perfect conditions for running the inlet at the start of flood. I love it when a plan comes true.

Well, mostly true. The forecast for the next day's winds was hedging its bets. Rather than light airs it was updated to be on the nose and building throughout the afternoon. Within three days everything would be flying about in the gale. It was time to think seriously about where to be by then.

Dawn, yawn, on the Delaware River
The prospect of hunkering down in Cape May or Chesapeake City wasn't appealing. Neither anchorage is my first choice for serious southerlies. Still Pond, a well-protected Chesapeake anchorage, was in reach but short on amenities. I chose Havre de Grace, MD, which has become one of those places that I find hard to avoid. This let me dodge west and then north after rounding Turkey Point. It seemed preferable to slogging into building southerlies.

The Delaware River was calm after a night's sleep.
Getting to Havre de Grace involved sailing most of the night to Cape May in fading northerlies, motoring the Cape May Canal in inky blackness, and heading up the Delaware River to catch the flood before dawn. By noon when the Cohansey River was abeam, I had entered the zone: numb tiredness where you do everything twice and talk about it aloud, just to be sure.

I'm too old for these single-handed overnights. But sometimes a hard thing is easier than the alternative. I'm way too old for the alternative.

That gale was everything they promised and more. By then Sweet Pea was lashed to the dock at City Yacht Basin and I was having a delicious oyster po' boy at Laurrapin's.

Wind tide from gusts in the 40's at Havre de Grace

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