Sunday, Barnegat Light NJ

June 28th, 2009 john

Day: 253  Miles: 00   Total Miles: 2889  Locks: 23

Just wanted to let all know we are still alive and kicking.

I visited my knee doctor and he just said come back in two weeks and we’ll see.  The knee is doing well.  I am walking fine now and doing steps, etc.  The knee joint is still a bit sore.  But so far I am encouraged.

This week was Barbara’s turn at the medical facilities.  She came down with a severe eye infection. We did the emergency room bit thinking it was conjunctivitis but after two days it became worse and not better.  She finally got in to see an eye specialist and it was not conjunctivitis.  She is on new meds and the eye is doing much better.  We go back to see that doc on Monday.

What a pair we are.  Just goes to show you that this glamorous job of helping the economy by living on a yacht does not make us exempt from those medical problems that plague all 60 year olds.

As far as our plans go, I predict that someday we will leave this location; it just won’t be for a few more weeks.  The weather has been horrible.  Yesterday was the first day that it did not rain and we have already been here 20 days.  The internal optimist in me says that we are getting all of the wet days out of the way so that when we continue our adventure it will be bright and sunny.

It looks like we will not be able to complete the planned loop this year.  These delays have started to add up.  However, do not fear.  You will just get to receive these silly updates for a longer period of time.  I am in the planning mode right now and will let you know hopefully in the next edition.

We celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary this week and today is Barbara’s “39” th birthday.  The Captain cannot lie.

An Adventure, One Day At A Time

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Friday, Barnegat Light NJ

June 20th, 2009 john

Day: 245  Miles: 00   Total Miles: 2889  Locks: 23

Ahoy from beautiful Barnegat Light, NJ.  Technically we are in High Bar Harbour NJ, but more people may relate to Barnegat Light which is just across the water from our slip.  We have a great view of the Barnegat Lighthouse from our boat and can hear the moan of the buoy guarding the inlet.

We have a nice slip, courtesy of Barbara’s cousins Margo and Tommy.  It is the outmost slip in the Yacht Club.  Good news: we are away from any marina noise and have a lot of privacy.  Bad news:  It is about a 300 yard walk (on crutches) from the parking lot to the slip.  Also being at the mouth of the harbor, we occasionally get waked by one or more of the 30 or so large fishing vessels that come and go daily in the channel.  However the Emery EL is so solid, the wakes have not bothered us at all.  In fact they are kind of nice.  We get to watch all of the traffic which makes for great sport.

On Tuesday I had arthroscopic surgery on my knee.  The doctor cut out a torn part of my meniscus and then sent me home to recoup.  It was done under general anesthesia so it took the whole day.  The next day was not fun, but now it is feeling much better.  I am almost ready to do the Irish Jig.   Seriously, I am able to walk around the boat now without cane or crutches.  Just need to take it slow and not overdo it.  I am hoping my medical officer will let me off the boat today.  I sure could use some space.

The doctor was not happy with what he saw inside my knee.  He found much more arthritis then he expected to see.  My follow up appointment is next Wednesday so we will find out more then.

The weather has been real funky while we have been here.  The first four days were extremely foggy and then the rain set in.  Good thing I was bound to the boat.   To make matters worse we found more leaks in the boat from the rain.  In fact every time we touched something we had a problem.  The words “When it rains it pours” brings on new meaning.

Well, just wanted to let all know that we were doing fine.  No use taking up space with the routine, so have a good week and if you are nearby, come visit.

An Adventure, One Day At A Time

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Monday, Cape May NJ to Barnegat NJ

June 8th, 2009 john

Day: 233  Miles: 79   Total Miles: 2889  Locks: 2

I was up at 3:45 AM, took my time, hoping to get ready for an early start.  I was worried about running out to the Atlantic Ocean and running it up the NJ shoreline.  Winds were predicted to be 5 to 10 mph with waves 2-3 feet and the winds out of the South, chance of fog in the morning and possible thunderstorms in the afternoon. 

This would be our longest day yet and in the ocean no less.  I was anxious to be underway.   The problem was they were correct with the weather.  The harbor was completely fogged in.  I showered, ate breakfast and went back to planning.  By six a.m. the fog began to lift so out we went, winding our way though the delicate Cape May harborage.  We then went out the Cape May Inlet. It was a bit rough but we successfully made it into the ocean.

Everything was as predicted.  The wind was at our backs or off to our quarter, gentle swells, but not bad motion.   The only problem was that the ocean fog set in.  Before we knew it we were three miles off the coast and could not see more then an estimated 1/8 of a mile.  I knew that because we passed a buoy that showed on my chart-plotter and the radar confirmed it to be ¼ mile away, but we could not see it as we went by.  Twice our AIS system picked up vessels heading south but not crossing our track, so they went by unseen.  But what about boats that do not emit and AIS signal?  Our new HD Radar system worked like a champ.  Once I was able to filter out the sea clutter I could see each boat and each sea buoy along the way.  

Many times during the day, my mate would say, “I think the fog is starting to burn off”, only for the fog to re-intensify a few minutes later.  We watched boat after boat on the radar although there weren’t that many crazies out here with us.  Once during early afternoon a radar target started to converge on us.  I changed our course and it seemed to change with us.  Then all of a sudden a white fishing boat came out of the fog about 500 feet away and steered straight for us.  We had been running the automatic fog horn all day, that sounds a 5 sec blast once every two minutes.  This time I jumped on the manual horn and held it down.  The boat came closer and then turned away.  We watched on radar as it circled behind us. In retrospect we had been running straight down a line of crab-pots and I suspect the fishing boat was the owner coming to make sure we were not getting into his pots.  A scary experience any way you look at it.

For the last two hours of the trip, our course line moved us to within 1 mile of the coast.  I was hoping the heat from the land would kill the fog but no such luck.  We then started to approach Barnegat Inlet, at one time reputably the most dangerous inlet on the East coast.   However about 8 to 10 years ago they rebuilt the jetties to the inlet and it is much safer now.  The 2-3 foot seas were building to 3-4 footers and the inlet was running at full ebb (outgoing tide)  again making for the possibility of a harsh entry.  The guidebooks state that if you see breakers just outside the inlet, turn away.  Ha!  They assume that you can see the inlet.  The fog was the densest it had been all day.  We had not seen anything since leaving the Cape May Inlet, other then the white fishing boat.

Radar is wonderful.  I had some blips start to appear on the radar and they were lined up in pairs.  Ah, there are more markets in the channel then appear on the charts or the chart-plotters.  This is not unusual.  They often have uncharted buoys that they move around as the shoals change. On Radar I could see the one sea buoy and then two sets of buoys leading us in.  I aimed for the outer most set of paired buoys and behold they appeared in the fog just a few hundred feet in front of us.  They were towering markets and looked eerie in the dense fog, but to us they looked great.  We turned port and headed into the channel.  I could see the next pair of buoys on radar and soon they appeared before us and the two more appeared.   Ah they were not buoys they were day markers marking the end of the two jetties.  The water became a little rough with the ocean waves coming in against the outgoing tide, but the Emery El did her thing.  We did slow to about 5 mph due the outgoing current but that was ok.  Though the surf we went into the calm waters between the jetties with a lot of steering going on.  About an hour before we had entered the channel I had had called Tow-Boat US on the VHF radio and they had answered.  I had asked for local knowledge to be shared for entering the inlet.  They were very helpful and told me to specifically hug the north jetty due to shoaling near the south wall.

We successfully navigated in and like a curtain the fog dissipated and we could actually see the harbor.  We slowly maneuvered around a small channel to the south and to the High Bar Harbour Yacht Club.  Barbara’s cousins are members and own an empty 50 foot slip so it was offered for our use.  What a wonderful gesture. We were greeted at the dock by Margo and Tommy and some friends. 

It is always a great trip when it ends successfully.  We had come seventy one miles up the New Jersey coast in total fog and made it.   Electronics were wonderful, they did the trick but you should realize that you cannot do it on electronics alone.  Barbara recorded and plotted a GPS fix on our manual charts about every 30 minutes throughout the day so if the electronics ever went out then we could continue traveling using the old manual dead-reckoning methods.

At this point I need to make special point of complementing my traveling partner.  The stresses of today would have done many a crew member in, but not my mate.  She was a real trooper.   I won’t say she enjoyed the day but at the time she pitched right in and took everything is stride.  It was stressful but a wonderful day to share, (specially, when it was over!)

Well we made it to New Jersey, have a lot to be thankful for and more to still look forward to.  The problem is we have a hard decision to make.  My knee is getting worse again. I am going back on crutches today.  You just haven’t seen a true captain unless you see one with a black seaman’s cap, pipe, and crutches.  Ahoy Matie!

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Sunday, Delaware City DL to Cape May NJ

June 7th, 2009 john

Day: 232  Miles: 61   Total Miles: 2810  Locks: 23

The plan was to wait until 8:45 so that we could leave Delaware City on a rising tide to get out of the canal.  Again we had a 2 knot current but we made it off the dock and down the narrow channel with no problem.  Once we cleared the last buoy going into the Delaware River, there was an audible sigh of relief by both the captain and mate.  Then we looked up and here comes two ocean going cargo ships coming down the river behind us from Philadelphia.  Here goes the tension again.

I had been careful enough to plot our route to stay out of the shipping channel as much as possible so it really was no problem.  That is until the one ship came out of the shipping channel cutting a corner.  Ok, so we gave him more room.

Crisis passed we were on our way down the Delaware River against a flood tide.  That is the tide was coming in and we were going out.  That slowed us down by about 1 ½ knots, but that had been part of the plan.   At this rate our GPS told us we would arrive at 9:00 PM.  However I had planned to go against the flood for four hours and then it would swing to an Ebb (going out) and I would pick up an extra 1 ½ knots.   At that point we were running at just under 10 mph and making great time.  

We entered into the Delaware Bay, now with the tide ebbing and the wind blowing out of the south southeast.   That means the winds and waves against the outgoing tide which means waves 2-4 feet.  The Emery El did fine.  In fact we were making such good time that we were going to arrive at the Cape May canal too early, just before low tide.  I had heard that the entrance to the canal was shallow on the right side due to big car-ferries backing out and departing for Delaware across the Bay.   So we slowed down to 6 mph, which was an effort with the ebb tide behind us.  That caused the boat to be a little more active in the high waves but we did fine. 

Just after low tide we entered the Cape May canal.  I hugged the ferry side of the entrance going in and all was fine.  It is a very short canal across the cape and soon we were in Cape May harbor on the East side.  We pulled into Utsch’s Marine (you try to pronounce that over a marine radio), pulled into the gas dock,  added 330 gallons of diesel, and then moved to an overnight slip.  I wanted to top up my fuel tanks before entering the high tax state of NY. 

It had been a long stressful day, so Barbara and I walked two blocks to the Lobster House restaurant and had a first class meal.  We could not believe it but we were in New Jersey.  We now can state that we are half way around our trip.  Another milestone!

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Saturday, Baltimore MD to Delaware City DL

June 6th, 2009 john

Day: 231  Miles: 71   Total Miles: 2749  Locks: 23

We left at first light and headed out of the Baltimore harbor.  It was really beautiful.  Back into the Chesapeake Bay and turned north.  It was overcast but it did not rain and the seas were calm.  We made good time.  Our goal was to go to Chesapeake City at the entrance to the C&D Canal (Chesapeake and Delaware).  This canal connects the Chesapeake Bay with the Delaware River and the Delaware Bay.  We had made such good time that we decided to continue on through the canal.  But then we had to find a marina to stop at on the Delaware end. 

After cruising through the C&D canal, we turned north on the Delaware River for 2 miles and headed for the Delaware City Marina.  It is on a canal that goes inland to the little town of Delaware City.  We had to go down the channel (very shallow) then turn around in mid canal with just enough room between boats docked and the opposite bank (maybe 6 feet to spare) and then pull in.  However, the current was running over 2 knots and it gave us problems. I powered through a spin successfully but then had to pull into a side tie between two boats.  The dockhand was useless. As I pulled in, he failed to take a tie and our boat is way too heavy to hold my hand.  I failed to get the bow far enough forward and the current started pushing the rear sideways and back.  It ended up pushing our boat over into a sailboat, leaving a scratch on its hull.  We are extremely lucky that is all the damage we did.  I was smart enough to let it touch without trying to power back off or we would have really done some damage.   We pushed off, backed off and tried for the dock again, this time successfully.  I guess I will just chalk this up to another learning lesson and more boat dollars.  I immediately contacted the owner and then patiently waited a couple of hours for him to show up so I could give him my contact information.

Tomorrow we will tackle the run down the Delaware Bay.  After figuring on the tides to get out of this creek, and then, flood versus ebb tides in the Bay and the effect on the winds.  I believe I have it planned out so that it won’t be too rough.  Wish us luck.

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Friday, Baltimore MD

June 5th, 2009 john

Day: 230  Miles: 0   Total Miles: 2646  Locks: 23                                                                 

We woke up to rain, rain, and more rain.

We were supposed to move on today but decided to enjoy the comfort of the dock.  We stayed on the boat and read books, napped, and planned.  Plus I did some more work on the www.emeryel.com site.  Uploaded hundreds of pictures.  Jason put up a new version of the web site and it makes it much easier to upload and view pictures. Unfortunately it still requires that you use the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser to see all the functionality.  I will send out a separate e-mail including some instructions for using the site and explaining how it is organized.

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Thursday, Annapolis MD to Baltimore MD

June 4th, 2009 john

Day: 229  Miles: 32   Total Miles: 2646  Locks: 23

It was a tough decision on whether to leave in the morning.  The weather was not looking very good.  I got up early in the morning and went over and over it.   There was a small rain shower coming our way, but it did not look to be very stormy, just rain.  But later in the day there was a bunch of rain coming across from PA and WV and that would play into the afternoon.  The winds were predicted to be up but the waves were not, so off we went.

I chose to leave before the little rain shower as opposed to waiting for it to pass through.  Due to our position and the current at the dock I had to make a tricky exit, and I wanted to do it before anymore wind picked up.  I had to back down a fairway with yachts on both sides and then flip around to be able to exit the harbor forward.  No problem!

Off we were and out the channel into the river in front of Annapolis.  There was the capitol building and the Naval Academy buildings standing out on the shore.  And then the rains came.   A little wind as expected, the rain did not bother us much.  Just turned on the wipers and kept on going.  Boy is it nice to have a pilot-house style boat.  We were inside and just kept on humming.

The biggest effect of the rain was the limiting of visibility, so we had to keep a good watch for other vessels.  Of course true to form, other vessels were there.  We passed a big ship and two towboats during our short run to Baltimore.   The winds did pick up and so did the waves.  Before you knew it we were coasting through 3-4 footers.  But it really wasn’t too bad.  The Emery El really is quite a vessel. (I sound like a proud papa!)

The winds calmed down and we began our navigation into Baltimore.  We had chosen a nice marina in the inner harbor of Baltimore which means ALL THE WAY IN.   It was fun navigating under the Francis Scott Key Bridge.  We passed the Red-White-and-Blue buoy which designated the spot where Francis Scott Key penned the Star-Spangled Banner during the War of 1812.  Then we proceeded on past Fort McHenry, past all of the famous piers and wharfs, and finally into the inner harbor of Baltimore.  We were in company with two tall ships, a lighthouse, a submarine and many mega-yachts.  Little old us, just tucked ourselves in to a slip and were very contented.

They really have done a grand job of cleaning up the inner harbor.  There are touristy things to do everywhere.  There was museums, aquariums, shopping, all to be had within walking distance.  Unfortunately for me that was the problem.  I could not walk.  My knee has acted up again.  I guess the walking in St Michaels and Annapolis did me in.  “We” decided to rest the leg so we just relaxed on the boat and admired the beautiful city vista all around us.  The “We” as you may have guessed includes my partner in crime on this trip.  She goes by many titles:  First Mate, (Only Mate), Assistant Navigator, Galley Master and in this case Medical Advisor.  However, if someone we meet asks her “Oh you must be the Admiral, her quick retort is “No I am the CFO “.  That shuts them up quick.

And speaking of “cleaning up the inner harbor”, I saw a first for me.  All harbors have the problem of trash in the water, especially if it is a big long harbor that funnels into one point such as the Baltimore Inner Harbor.  But Baltimore has a “water sweeper”.  I don’t know what it is officially called but it is analogous to a “street sweeper” on the roads at home.  This boat runs around the entire inner harbor scooping debris out of the water.  It was really neat to watch how it worked.  (I could get detailed and explain how it worked, as if I am not detailed enough.)

I would be remiss if I failed to mention how spectacular the inner harbor looked at night.  Lights, lights and more lights!  Both of the tall ships were lit with lights running up their riggings and outlining where the sails would be.  The walkways and buildings were all lit. I believe it is one of the top night-scenes I have experienced.

We did have lunch at the marina restaurant, but then the rain set in.  In this case the rain lessened our desire to walk around the inner harbor. (See, the internal optimist.)   I really needed to rest my leg anyway. 

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Wednesday, Annapolis MD

June 3rd, 2009 john

Day: 228  Miles: 00   Total Miles: 2646  Locks: 23

We woke up in the morning and the weather forecast for the Bay was not great.  After a brief discussion we decided this would be a good day to stay and tour downtown Annapolis.  There used to be a water-taxi but it no longer ran from this marina.  The dock-master graciously volunteered to drive us into town. We walked the many shops, had another great late lunch, and walked up the hill to visit St Mary’s Church (1888) where the Navy anthem Anchors Away was penned.  It was a very beautiful old church.  That is, it was old in American terms. (This is for my sister’s benefit, who one year dragged me through more “old” churches in Europe then I thought was possible.)

Then back to the Emery El for an evening of planning for the next few days and a hard look at the weather.  Tomorrow will be an easy 32 miles to Baltimore, but the next three days after that will be very long days and over very rough waters.  We have to find the right weather window or it will not be pleasant.

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Tuesday, St. Michaels MD to Annapolis MD

June 2nd, 2009 john

Day: 227  Miles: 32   Total Miles: 2646  Locks: 23

We hated to leave St Michael’s this morning.  It is truly a friendly community.  They even had a special deal going on in our Marina; we could have stayed one more night for free.  But we had to move on, we are already too far behind schedule.

It was another beautiful morning, but there were showers and thunderstorms predicted for the afternoon. We had a short run today, back across Chesapeake Bay to the west side and on to Annapolis.  We were hoping to beat those thunderstorms into port. We retraced our steps out via Eastern Bay back into the main Chesapeake waters.  The waters were calm and it was very relaxing.  The early morning hours and the weekday provided for much reduced traffic on our way out.  We watched our AIS on the chart plotter for ships or tows but none were nearby.  As we hit the main part of Chesapeake we set a course East-Northeast which took us across the Bay towards Annapolis. 

It was truly beautiful coming into Annapolis.  There were a lot of sailing craft and other boats of all shapes and sizes coming and going.  We had selected Chesapeake Harbour Marina as our destination because it was located on the way into Annapolis, so we did not have to fight the traffic all the way into the harbor.  When we turned off the main river into the little private channel for our Marina, we were not sure where it was taking us.  It led us to a little channel into the land and into a beautiful man-made marina and condo complex.  There were hundreds of boats of all sizes and we were directed to a T-dock right down front near the restaurant.  It was very, very nice.

We had arrived early, and Barbara wanted to clean the boat up a bit for we were expecting more company.  She kicked me off the boat so she could get her work done. (So much for being the Captain.) 

I headed for the showers, trimmed my beard, shaved, and came out a new man.  Went directly to the Tiki Hut for a burger and a cigar, then back to the boat to nap before our guests arrives.

We were visited by two cousins and their husbands:  Lois and Bill, and Bernadette and Tom.  It was great to see them and to share with them our adventure.  After a delightful dinner out, Barbara and I returned back to our floating home and settled in for the night.

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Monday, St. Michaels MD

June 1st, 2009 john

Day: 226  Miles: 00   Total Miles: 2614  

Another day in St. Michaels.  What a beautiful resort community.  We spent the morning doing some boat chores, then went out walking and visited about a million and a half little shops. (At least it felt like it.)  We also had a chance to visit the local Maritime Museum which was very nice.  Afterwards we walked downtown and ate a late lunch in a little open air café.  Just happened to be very good food.

Then back to the boat for an afternoon of leisure.  This is the most expensive marina that we have visited, and they have a special going on which would enable us to stay tomorrow night for free.  But after a lot of thought, we decided to move on tomorrow.  We need to catch up on our schedule, after our long delay in Oriental.

By the way, my knee is doing better.  I am wearing a leg brace and using a cane (sometimes) proactively.  The knee is a bit sore, but nothing like it was.  Let’s just pray it stays that way.

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