September 2012 - Massachusetts to Chesapeake

1 September 2012   Provincetown to Hadley Harbour, Massachusetts 
We set off early again heading south-west towards the Cape Cod Canal.  The 10-15 knot wind was from the north, so I poled out the genoa to starboard and we have a lovely sail downwind.  As we approached the entrance to the canal,  a nice school of dolphin joined us and played in the bow wave.  We dropped our sails just outside the red approach buoy to the Canal – it’s forbidden to sail through the eight mile canal.  

The Cape Cod Canal is very pretty.  The shoreline is obviously well tended with houses interspersed with public camp sites and the odd fishing pier.  I read that Striped Bass use the canal for their migrations and the fishing is supposed to be fantastic.

We timed the tides just right and went through with the start of the ebb flow which gave us an extra push.  At times we were doing eleven knots over the ground with a 4½ knot current with us.  There are three bridges along the way – two fixed and a huge, impressive lifting bridge for a railway line.  

Dolphins join us just outside Cape Code Canal, Massachusetts

The Cape Cod Bay side of the canal is fairly quiet with only a few boats, but the Buzzards Bay side is heaving with yachts and power boats zipping around everywhere.  The wind was still 15-20 knots from the north-east, so we started sailing downwind towards Cuttyhunk Island.  I settled down reading my book and pondering how nice it was to sail downwind – we’d be able to sail straight into the harbour.  I suddenly realised that the outer harbour is totally exposed to the north-east, which is where the wind was coming from - duhhh…  

We had a quick panic and decided to head for Hadley Harbour, which the cruising guide says is stunning.  Unfortunately, it’s Labour Day weekend and everyone is out for their final sail of the season, so we didn’t hold up much hope of picking up one of their free moorings.  As anticipated, the inner harbour was packed, but we managed to get a pleasant anchoring spot in the outer harbour.  A bit rough at first, but then the wind and waves settled down as the sun went down.

2 September 2012   Hadley Harbour to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts 
We motored six miles across to Martha’s Vineyard.  There’s much more traffic than we’re used to, with ferries roaring around, sail boats and power boats wandering about and fishing trawlers coming back to port.  We managed to make it to Vineyard Haven without hitting another vessel and anchored outside the mooring field on the east side of the harbour.

It’s not the most peaceful anchorage in the world with ferries every 30 minutes and lots of power boat zooming about.  We had lunch, connected to the Internet and checked out what to do in Martha’s Vineyard.  We’d been told that it’s a “must see place”, but there didn’t seem to be a whole lot to do.  Trip Advisor lists over fifty “attractions” and, to give you some idea of the shallowness of the place, the top twenty attractions include four beaches, three public libraries, an airfield, a shopping centre and a massage parlour...

We went for a walk around town which took all of ten minutes – its full of tourist shops, boutiques and ice cream shops  – yawn…  After picking up a map from the tourist information booth, we walked for a couple of miles to the West Chop Lighthouse which was very uninspiring, walking along a suburban road with no access to the coast.  You can tell that we weren't particularly enamoured by the place.

We had a quiet (if bouncy) night in.

3 September 2012   Martha’s Vineyard to Block Island,  Rhode Island  
We were up early and running away from the anchorage.   The wind was behind us as we headed west down Vineyard Sound, so I poled out the jib and we did okay for a while, until the wind dropped.  We had a strong two knot current against us, so we turned on the engine for a couple of hours to make some head way.  On the way, I caught two nice, 5lb blue fish.

Once we cleared the sound, the wind picked up from the south and we had a lovely reach for five hours in bright sunshine.  As we approached the reef to the north of Block Island, the current was against us and our speed over the ground dropped to two knots, so we turned the engine on again and motored into the over-falls caused by the wind against tide.  Once we were to the west of the reef, the water magically settled down and we had a lovely reach towards the harbour.  

Dawn in Block Island, Connecticut

There was a small yacht that had tried to cut the corner and sail over the reef, but was caught in the steep six foot waves with a two knot current against them.  They didn’t have enough sail out and we felt sorry as we watched them bouncing around in the over-falls for half an hour, making no headway at all.

The Great Salt Pond in Block Island is a wonderful anchorage – totally surrounded by land with only a narrow man-made channel to get in and out.  All the best places are obviously covered with moorings, but we anchored in eight metres in a lovely spot amongst other cruising boats. 

4 September 2012   Block Island,  Rhode Island  
It was a miserable day - windy and raining.  On the plus side, we had a good wireless network connection, so we spent the day surfing the internet.  We've had a media player on board for nearly eighteen months, with over 500 movies, but we have no satisfactory way of watching the films. I've decided that we’re going to get a projector, which I hope will enable us to watch films on a 50 inch pull-down projector screen.  

I spent most of the day looking into projectors and screens.  It’s a bit frustrating because the cheaper projectors (with LED lamps) have a fixed “throw ratio” which means that to achieve a reasonable 50 inch diagonal image, they have to be place in a particular position.  Unfortunately, most of them have a throw ratio that places the projector between the dining table and our lounge chairs which is useless.  I didn’t get anywhere and gave up in frustration. 

Lighthouse which was moved from the cliff edge, Block Island, Connecticut

Glenys spent some time checking out places that we can visit towards New York.  There’s a New York Yankees baseball game on the 16th that we could go to, which will be good fun.

Bob & Laura from “Thai Hot” came over for a beer or two.

5 September 2012   Block Island, Rhode Island  
It was another miserable day, so we had another day of chilling out – I’ve finally decided on a projector and worked out where the screen will go and the projector is to be mounted.  I’ve ordered a ceiling mounting for the projector to be delivered to Port Washington, but I’ll wait until we go to New York before buying the projector.  There’s a really big electronics shop where I’ll be able to look at the projector and screen before we buy it.

The weather stayed rotten into the evening, so we watched a film on my laptop – I’m looking forward to getting a 50 inch screen…

6 September 2012   Block Island,  Rhode Island  
The cold front finally went over and it was a lovely day today.  I woke up at seven o’clock with the urge to do my 2011/12 tax return.  I’m glad that I did because a £1,000 tax refund is coming my way.

After my administrative success, we went ashore and walked over to the old harbour.  It’s very touristy, but despite the hundreds of people walking around, we found it very difficult to buy a sandwich because it’s after Labour Day and everything is closing down.  I overheard a conversation between two shop workers who are going to be laid off in a weeks’ time and they don’t know if they’ll be able to get another job until next season.  It must be tough living on a small island with only 600 people who live there all year round and being very reliant on the short tourist season.

Armed with two bagels and a Danish pastry, we walked out to the southern lighthouse, which is interesting.  When the lighthouse was built in 1874, three hundred feet of land lay between it and edge of Mohegan Bluffs and the ocean. Over the next hundred years the bluff eroded to within seventy-five feet of the light.  In 1993, the whole building was jacked up and a rail system placed underneath to move it further inland.  It took nineteen days to move the lighthouse to a new location, three hundred feet from the bluff.  It had to be moved in a zigzag pattern, so no one part of the light would receive too much stress.

After a quick lunch on a park bench, we walked to the east side of the island where there are some fantastic paths in wooded areas.  Our hike ended back at the harbour after walking 8 or so miles.  We collapsed for a couple of hours and then went to “Eye Candy” for a beer or four.

7 September 2012   Block Island to Mystic Seaport, Connecticut  
We woke to a misty morning, but the patchy fog that I’d seen last night appeared to have gone away.  The first hour after leaving the anchorage was pleasant with a ten knot wind, but the wind soon dropped forcing us to turn on the engine.  Half an hour later, we ran into thick fog just as we were crossing the shipping lane coming out of Long Island Sound.  

Glenys blowing our pathetic foghorn, Mystic, Connecticut

We heard the deep “OOOOOOMMM!” of a large ship’s fog horn dead ahead of us.  I turned on the radar and picked up a large ship a mile ahead of us and tracked it for a few minutes to confirm that it was crossing in front of us.  It’s very eerie, staring into a white wall of fog, straining to hear where the fog horn is coming from.  

The fog cleared for a little while, but came back with a vengeance as we were approaching the coast.  We had a stressful hour negotiating the narrow Watchhill Passage, dodging fishing boats and buoys.  Glenys dug out our little fog horn which sounded pathetic, but at least warned other boats that we were around.  Eventually as we approached Mystic River, the fog lifted and we had clear visibility as we zigzagged up the narrow dredged channel up the river.

There are two bridges on the way up to Mystic Seaport and both were closed making us wait for fifteen minutes at each.  One of them is a huge swing bridge for the railway line which was interesting as we hadn’t come across one of these so far.  We made it to Mystic Seaport just before lunch and tied up alongside the dock.

For some reason, the Mystic Seaport Museum gives foreign flagged vessels a free night docking and free entrance to the museum.  This has got to be the best deal on the whole east coast of the USA.  Normally they charge $4.50 per foot, which would have cost us a staggering $190 per night.  

The museum is fantastic. They have re-created a 19th-century coastal village with historic ships, a working preservation shipyard and formal exhibit galleries.  There’s so much to see and do here.  In the ”village” there are various buildings set out with equipment that would have been used in the 1800s – the ones that caught my attention was the huge rope making shop, the rigging shop, the sail loft, the printing shop and barrel making shop.  In addition, there are demonstrations of old techniques – want to know how a whale was harpooned or a rope made?  There are members of staff in many of the areas, who are very helpful and informative.  This is not to mention the numerous historical ships that have been preserved or are in a state of restoration. This is a MUST see place –

In the evening, we wandered into Mystic town, which was heaving with tourists.  We ended up in a Mexican restaurant and ate far too much – remind me never to buy a combo plate again.

8 September 2012   Mystic Seaport to Fishers Island, Connecticut  
We were planning to spend the morning looking at more of the museum, but the weather forecast was for a very strong front to pass over later in the day, so we spent an hour reviewing our options for anchorages.  The wind was forecast to be south 15-20, gusting 25 knots in the afternoon and then veering to south west, gusting over 30 knots with squalls up to midnight and then veering further to north-west after midnight.  We eventually decided to head for West Harbour on Fishers Island, which should give good protection from south to west, but might be bouncy from the north-west.

Demonstrating how whales were harpooned, Mystic Seaport, Connecticut

The bascule bridge at Mystic only opens at 40 minutes past each hour, so I was like a cat on hot bricks and couldn’t settle until we slipped our lines at half past nine.   The trip down the river was uneventful and I was relieved to discover that the anchorage in West Harbour is a little more protected than it appears on the charts.  I was also relieved that the anchor slammed into the seabed and it seems to be very good holding.

It was a very pleasant, if windy afternoon with sunny periods, so we pottered about waiting for the really strong winds to appear - I really hate waiting for bad weather to arrive.  In a way, there is too much weather information available in the USA.  There are marine forecasts available on the internet and the VHF radio; numerous weather sites giving hour by hour forecasts; satellite pictures; graphical charts showing the movement of fronts and pressure systems and even weather radar animations showing the movement of squalls and thunderstorms. 

I managed to get an intermittent internet connection, so we whiled away some time surfing the internet.  I’ve been agonising about whether I should buy a bigger chart plotter.  Our current chart plotter only has a tiny 3½” screen, which is OK until we get into complicated waters where a bigger picture would be better.  We can also view charts on my laptop as well, but a larger specialised chart plotter is tempting.  Unfortuntely, it will cost $2000 for the chart plotter and then I’d need to buy $800 worth of electronic charts.  

I researched an alternative which is an iPad with the Navionics chart app, which seems to be a good solution.  It’ll only cost $1000 to buy an iPad and enough charts to take us around the world.  It has a built in GPS which will give us a third backup device with GPS and charts – and we can play games on it…

During the day, I kept being drawn to looking at the various weather sites - they had reports of small tornadoes in New York and winds over 60 miles per hour in some places inland.  By six o’clock, the wind had picked up to 25 knots and the cloud was rolling in - I was a nervous wreck. 

We had dinner down below, rocking and rolling in the gusts of wind and watched a film on the laptop.  By ten o’clock, the wind had dropped and we went to bed – what an anti-climax…

9 September 2012   Fishers Island to Joshua Cove, Connecticut  
The cold, cold wind was from the north when we woke up, but we could see clear blue skies to the north-west, so we decided to head that way.  We had a lovely sail for a couple of hours until the well-defined cloud line of the front went over, after which the wind dropped and we motored.

We anchored in Joshua Cove, which is a pleasant enough anchorage, but it was a bit exposed to the swell coming from the south west.   A couple of hours after we anchored, “Eye Candy” arrived and we had them over for a beer or two.

Raking Oysters, Oyster Bay, Long Island

10 September 2012   Joshua Cove to Oyster Bay, Long Island
After a quick breakfast, we upped anchor, hoisted the main sail and sailed off westwards.  The wind was from the north, so we had a nice close reach in the light winds.  After a couple of hours, the wind had picked up enough that I had to put a reef in the main and roll away some of the genoa.  I was pleased to catch three blue fish within the space of an hour and then reluctantly pulled in the lures as we’ve now got enough fish to last a few days. 

The wind picked up to 20–30 knots, so we ended up with two reefs in the main and just the staysail, which was comfortable and still pushed us along at 6½ knots.  Despite the bouncy conditions, Glenys rustled up roast pork sandwiches with sage stuffing and apple sauce for lunch – very nice.

The wind dropped slightly as we rounded the headland into Oyster Bay and it was quite exciting to see the skyline of New York, 30 miles in the distance.  It was still blowing 15-20 knots as we anchored in the slightly exposed anchorage outside the huge mooring field.  The holding seems to be decent, which is a good thing because we are on a lee shore.  We collapsed - knackered after the bouncy, windy eight hour passage.

11 September 2012   Oyster Bay, Long Island
The wind dropped off overnight, but it was pretty cold in the morning – fleeces and a nice cup of tea were the order of the day.  We lurked around until ten o’clock checking out what we should do in New York in a few days’ time.

Once it had warmed up a bit, we jumped in the dinghy and motored the ¾ mile to the yacht club.  It’s very painful with only a 2.5hp outboard, I really miss our fast 15hp outboard and I’m praying that the service kit is delivered to the next port in time.

New York & Yellow Cabs

Oyster Bay is just another American small town. Their claim to fame is that President Roosevelt lived here and his house is a national monument about three miles from here that is unfortunately closed for renovations.  Other than that there’s not much else going on.  We wandered around for an hour; ended up in a supermarket and lugged home two big bags of shopping & two cases of beer.  The bay lives up to its name and there are many small fishing boats out harvesting oysters.  This is done by gathering them from their beds using rakes on a long pole. 

A Hallberg Rassey 42 called “Saltwhistle” arrived in the afternoon.  I went over, said hello to Tony & Rachelle and invited ourselves over to their boat for a beer or two.

12 September 2012   Oyster Bay to Port Washington, Long Island
There was no wind at all, so we motored around the corner to Port Washington where we picked up a mooring.  They’re free for two days and then $25 per day after that, which is a pretty good deal.

After lunch, we followed our usual routine and wandered around the local area, finding out the location of the railway station, the supermarket and the launderette.  The bracket for the movie projector has arrived, so all I need to do now is buy the projector when we go into New York tomorrow.

13 September 2012   Port Washington, Long Island
We caught the train into New York which was pleasant even though we caught a busy commuter train.  Our first stop was the B&H electronic store which is the largest electronics and camera shop that I’ve ever seen.  The amount of equipment on display is astounding.  The place is obviously owned by Orthodox Jews as most of the hundreds of staff are dressed in black, with yarmulkes and beards and long side burns.   We bought an iPad, an LED projector and some leads – another big dent in the credit card.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to buy a projector screen today so I’ll have to order one from the internet.

We then wandered around Manhattan, visiting Times Square on our way to Central Park, where we had our lunch sat on the grass in the warm sunshine.  We were very impressed with Central Park - it’s more rugged than we thought that it would be.  There are some very manicured sections, but a large part consists of paths in natural woodland with big rock outcrops.  I’m a fan of the film “Highlander” and it was great to walk across Bow Bridge where Macleod meets up with Kastagir in the film – sad isn’t it…

In the afternoon, we wandered back down 5th Avenue looking at the posh shops, stared at the impressive Grand Central Station, the Chrysler Building and took in the sights of the huge skyscrapers of Manhattan. 

Street Art, High Line Park, New York

We collapsed back on the boat at around six o’clock and I opened our new toys.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to play with our new iPad because it’s locked until it can register itself and to do that it needs an internet connection, which we don’t have – I hate Apple. However,  I connected our new projector to the media player and we watched a film.  Having no projector screen, I improvised by using the insert from our bed – it was only an image of about 30 inches, but it’s very bright and seems to do the job. 

14 September 2012   Port Washington, Long Island
It was supposed to be a chill-out day, but I was up at seven o’clock fitting the projector to the ceiling and figuring out where I’m going to run the cables.  While I was doing this, I had a frustrating time trying to download iTunes and register the bloody iPad – it took two hours of cursing and swearing because the internet connection kept dropping out.  

Once I’d achieved this major milestone, I bought the Navionics chart app for the USA coast from iTunes for $50.  Having spent half an hour downloading the small application, I found out that the Navionics program has to download the detailed charts.  Unfortunately, our internet connection is so rubbish that I couldn’t download any charts at all – I wanted to scream.

We’d agreed to take “Eye Candy” ashore at eleven o’clock, so we carried onto the launderette and then went shopping.  While Glenys wandered around the supermarket, I dinghied back to the town dock and sat on a park bench to get a decent internet signal – I was able to download the Navionics charts for the local area (and a copy of the game “Angry Birds”) so I’m now a bit happier with the iPad, but I suspect that the reliance on having an internet connection is going to be trying.

It was nearly four o’clock by the time that we’d finished our chores, so I didn’t get very far with wiring in the LED projector, but at least it’s mounted to the ceiling.  I draped a bed sheet where the projector screen is going to go and we watched a film with a 50 inch diagonal image which was fantastic.  I’m really pleased with the projector.

15 September 2012   Port Washington, Long Island
We commuted into New York again.  Our first stop was a walk along the High Line, which is a public park built on an historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side.  It gives an interesting view of this part of Manhattan.

We walked along the side of the Hudson River and visited the 9-11 memorial park.  The queues were very long, but the memorial park is peaceful with two huge reflecting pools and cascading waterfalls.   Each of the pools is roughly an acre in size, set within the footprints of the original twin towers with bronze parapets containing the names of the 2,753 people who lost their lives.  To me the most chilling and sad statistic was that 343 New York fire fighters lost their lives in the attack.

New York Yankee Stadium

We walked down Wall Street to the South Street Sea Port and ended up having lunch in a shopping centre, but at least it had a very good view of the Brooklyn Bridge soaring over the East River.  After a quick walk around Battery Park to get our first view of the Statue of Liberty, we took the subway back to the railway station and eventually collapsed back on the boat.

16 September 2012   Port Washington, Long Island
We commuted into New York again and, after a second breakfast, made our way slowly to the New York Yankees Stadium in the Bronx.  It’s a fairly new stadium and caters for 50,000 fans.  We arrived two hours before the start of the game and had plenty of time to wander around the various levels each packed with merchandise and food vendors.  We had a couple of hot dogs, but neither of us was impressed.

It was a nice sunny day, so it was pretty hot high up in our nose-bleed seats, but we had a fabulous view down on the game.  I understand the basics of baseball – it’s like a complicated form of rounders, but some of the things that happened were incomprehensible.  Even when I asked people around me, I was still mildly baffled.  Still, it was all great fun and a worthwhile experience.

It took us three hours to get back to the boat – I’ve had enough of being a tourist now.

17 September 2012   Port Washington, Long Island
There’s a big depression coming towards us which is forecast to arrive tomorrow with 35-40 knot winds, so we decided to stay here in the fairly well protected bay.  We chilled out in the morning and then went to fill up with fuel and water.  The sea water in this bay is a horrible sludge brown colour and I don’t want to run my watermaker.   Once we’d returned to the mooring, we called up the pump out boat and emptied our holding tank.

I chatted with the boat driver and asked him who I should pay for the mooring.  We’ve been on a mooring here for five nights and ought to be paying for three of them.  He just shrugged and said that payment was nothing to do with him and didn’t volunteer any more information.  I get the impression that there’s some politics going on about who can collect the money because I asked the same question of the harbour master when we arrived and he only shrugged.  I’ll keep my mouth shut and maybe we’ll not have to pay.  

A forty knot gale comes through Port Washington, Long Island

It was our son Craig’s birthday today and it was good to chat to him on Skype, he seems to be doing well at work and he and Kristen are excited about moving into their first house in a few weeks’ time.   

Over the past year, every time that we've had to turn on the engine in light winds, we’ve said “Cruising Chute” to each other.  It’s got to be over twenty times now and we’ve prevaricated enough, so I bit the bullet and ordered a new cruising chute from Doyles – that’s another big chunk out of our credit card.  I’ll be glad to leave the USA, so that I can’t spend any more money.

18 September 2012   Port Washington, Long Island
It was overcast and windy when we woke up.  After we’d had a few 25 knot gusts, I became nervous about hanging off a single rope on the mooring because if the rope chafed through then we’d be blown backwards at a rate of knots and be on the shore very quickly.  I jumped in the dinghy and put a backup rope on the mooring after which I felt much happier. 

We spent the day mooching about down below and keeping an eye on the weather.  The wind and waves gradually picked up during the day and we had 40 knot gusts in the late afternoon, which gave us breaking waves in the anchorage.

We shut the hatches and watched a movie while we had our dinner.  The wind dropped off at some point during the film and it was fairly peaceful when we went to bed at ten o’clock.

19 September 2012   Port Washington to Cape May, New Jersey (Day 1)
We were up early to get ready to move on.  Our first stop was at the harbour office to collect the repair kit for the outboard which was finally delivered yesterday.  We then went to the supermarket to stock up before preparing the boat for an overnight passage.  It was midday before we’d sorted it all out which was perfect timing to go through the centre of New York with a favourable tide.

Sailing past the Statue of Liberty, New York

We meandered our way down the East River and through a place on the river called Hell Gate. The tidal current really rips through this area with speeds of up to five knots and if you get strong winds against the current it turns to hell.  Fortunately, we timed it perfectly and it was very calm. 

It was interesting to be motoring past the huge skyscrapers of Upper Manhattan including the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building.  There’s then a long gap of smaller buildings until you go under the Manhattan Bridge where Lower Manhattan starts with the very tall World Trade building and the skyscrapers of Wall Street. Once past that we motored into the New York Bay and across to the Statue of Liberty.

This is an impressive and iconic sight, especially when seen from our own yacht.  We took lots of pictures and then turned south west, heading out towards the open sea.  The view of the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan as we slowly left New York behind us was memorable. 

We rounded Sandy Hook in the late afternoon and, having no wind, motored south towards Delaware Bay.  The wind picked up at 10 o’clock and we started a pleasant downwind sail.

20 September 2012   Port Washington to Cape May, New Jersey (Day 2)
It was a lovely sail all night.  There are a large number of barges being towed up and down this section of the coast. It was interesting to see their multitudinous lights, if a little scary at first.

We anchored off the coast guard station in Cape May around noon.  It’s pretty shallow at 2.5 metres, but good holding.  The anchorage is just off the fairway to the Cape May Canal, but it was surprisingly quiet even though we were surrounded by marinas with loads of power boats.  We had a very quiet afternoon, catching up on sleep and chilling out.

We’re getting into the iPad – the navigation app is brilliant for planning – it’s so easy to get tide information and the interface is brilliant for moving around the chart and zooming in and out.  We’ve also become addicted to Sudoku and are having a bit of a competition on who can complete the grid in the quickest time.

Glenys concentrating on Sudoku

21 September 2012   Cape May to Reedy Island, New Jersey
The alarm went off at half past six, we tidied up and left to go around Cape May.  I decided to cut the corner and through some shoal banks on a route that took us very close to the shore by the lighthouse.  It was a bit nerve-wracking in the very shallow water especially as we approached a line of water at the west end of the shoals where the waves were breaking and sea birds were fishing.  The depth dropped below 4 metres and I was ready to slam the engine into reverse, but all was okay – the waves were caused by the strong current hitting a steep drop-off on the sea bed and we were soon in 12 metres of water.  

A bit later, we chatted to “Eye Candy” who was a few miles behind us and Andrew said that he’d been told not to attempt to go through the shoals – nobody told us that it was dodgy… 

We had a pleasant sail for four hours until the wind dropped and we had to motor the rest of the way arriving at Reedy Island at three o’clock.  The tidal current was still pushing us north at two knots, so it was a bit tricky going through the very small gap in the breakwater - we had to point more than 30 degrees up-current to track through the entrance.

Once in, we anchored in six metres of water, fifty metres from the shore.  It’s a surprisingly peaceful place with sweeping reed beds although the Salem Nuclear Power station is a bit of an eye sore a mile or so across the estuary.

The wind picked up from the south in the evening and the tide turned, which put the wind behind us making it cold in the cockpit and forcing us down below.

22 September 2012   Reedy Island to Penns Landing Marina, Philadelphia
The forecast was for a cold front to cross over later in the afternoon, bringing 25 knots winds from the south.  We decided to move because the anchorage would be very uncomfortable in the south wind especially when the tide is coming from the north.   Unfortunately we had very few options.  The Salem River was no good because the approach channel has very shallow spots, so our only option was to head forty miles up the river to Philadelphia - the tidal current was against us, but at least we had the wind behind us.  

Chinese Protest Rally, Philadelphia

It was a fairly interesting run up the river.  There are a lot of oil refineries and industrial areas on the shore.  The Philadelphia River is one of the major oil refining areas in the USA.  Many of the barges that we saw along the coast would appear to be coming from here. There’s also a major ship yard with huge aircraft carriers similar to the ones in Norfolk.

We arrived at Penn’s Landing Marina in the late afternoon and they had reserved a berth for us.  The dock master, Richard and his wife Sandra were extremely friendly and invited onto their boat “Our Dream” for sun-downers. 

23 September 2012   Penns Landing Marina, Philadelphia
We spent the day wandering around Philadelphia city centre.  The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were produced here, but the Liberty Visitor’s centre was very crowded, so we decided to do that tomorrow.

We drifted into China Town and found that there was protest rally taking place over the Senkaku Islands which is a group of uninhabited islands lying between China and Japan.  Japan claims ownership, but their claim is disputed by China.  Earlier this month, the Japanese government purchased three of the disputed islands from their private owner, prompting large-scale protests in China.  However, the Philadelphia rally was very good natured with Chinese percussion bands and dancing dragons.

In the evening. we wandered down South Street, did a little pub crawl and ended up in a Thai restaurant, which turned out to be a “Bring Your Own Booze” place and all the liquor stores were shut – bummer.  We had a lovely meal anyway.

24 September 2012   Penns Landing Marina, Philadelphia
We had another tourist day.  Our first stop was to stare at the Liberty Bell, which has become an American symbol of independence and liberty.  It was rung when the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776 and has been used an icon for the abolition of slavery and the suffragettes.  

Memorial to Irish Famine, Philadelphia

We then called into Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were debate and signed.  We’re learning a lot about American history – this ties in nicely with the stuff that we learned in Boston.   Paul Revere’s famous ride was from Boston to Philadelphia to warn of the approaching British.

As we wandered about, we came across a couple of memorials.  The Vietnam memorial had the usual list of local people lost in the war, but had a very unusual mural made from granite.  Most of the surface was rough, but the artist had polished the surface to draw stunning images almost like charcoal sketches with the polished areas being black. 

There was also an interesting statue to remember the Irish Potato Famine of 1845-1850 when over a million Irish were starved to death and a million more forced to emigrate.  The huge statue is in bronze and depicts starving people as well as the immigrants arriving in the USA.  The 1800’s were not Britain’s finest time... 

We walked to Museum of Art and ran up the steps made famous by Rocky with hundreds of other tourists.  It’s one of Philadelphia’s top tourist attractions.  There’s a bronze statue of Rocky, which used to be on the steps, but the stuffy people at the Museum of Art didn’t want it in such a prominent position because it isn’t a true work of art, so it was relocated to a sports stadium.  Following pressure from lobbyists, the statue was moved back to the Museum six year ago, but has been tucked away in a shaded glade at the side of the steps, which is a shame…

25 September 2012   Penns Landing Marina, Philadelphia
We had a chill-out day.  Glenys went shopping for seven hours, while I indulged myself playing on the internet.

Glenys next to the Rocky Statue, Philadelphia

I’ve spent the last three months practising my guitar, doing exercises, scales and playing the odd tune.  My technique is getting better, but I haven’t learned to play anything, so I spent most of the day investigating songs that I like and trying to choose one that I can learn that won’t be embarrassing if I have to play to friends – Jingle Bells just doesn’t cut it.

There’s loads of videos on YouTube of people playing and teaching various songs, which are very helpful.  In addition, I found lots of information on the scales and fingering to play various songs.  Unfortunately, much of the information is poor quality and people have published Tab formatted music that is plainly incorrect, so it took ages to sort out the good stuff from the rubbish.  I’ve focussed on two Eric Clapton songs that I think I’ll be able to play with a lot of practise – only time will tell.

26 September 2012   Penns Landing Marina, Philadelphia
We spent the morning doing small jobs.  I’ve started to order things from the internet, which I’m going to get delivered to Deltaville Boat Yard. We should be there in four weeks and it will be the last place where we can get things delivered.

Maury from “Smidge” picked us up and took us back to his and Bonnie’s house nearby.  We had a typical American lunch of barbequed hot dogs and then they drove us around to do a few errands.

In the afternoon, they took us to the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, New jersey.  This is a well laid out park with hundreds of sculptures which have been collected by a philanthropic trust with the aim of making the art available to everyone.  There’s a variety of a pieces ranging from extremely life like scenes by Seward Johnson to more abstract sculptures. The grounds are extremely well maintained and walking around was a joy.

We had dinner in a restaurant at the park which was very haute cuisine – a huge change from the places that we normally frequent.  I even had to wear a shirt with a collar and long trousers for the occasion.  We slept in a real bed for a change.

27 September 2012   Penns Landing Marina, Philadelphia
After a pleasant breakfast, Glenys went off with Bonnie to a supermarket, while Maury described some of the anchorages that we could go to in the Chesapeake.  

Yesterday, I’d spotted some horse chestnuts and picked up half a dozen.  I put strings through them and showed Maury and Bonnie the ancient English game of Conkers.  It’s amazing that they’d never heard of the game, which was extremely popular in the UK when I was a young boy.

Penns Landing Marina, Philadelphia

We drove back to Philadelphia and went to “Pat's - King of Steaks” to have a genuine Philadelphia Cheese Steak. The shop was founded by Pat Olivieri in 1930, after he invented the dish, which consists of chopped up beef steak, onion and cheese on long Italian roll.  It’s very greasy, but tasty street food – much better than a hotdog in my humble opinion.

Bonnie and Maury took us to the Barnes Foundation, which is an incredible art gallery created by Albert Barnes.  He made his fortune by inventing some eye drops to prevent infant blindness and in 1922 started to collect paintings by the Impressionists such as Renoir and Cézannes.  Barnes was well known for disliking pompous art critics and wanted to bring art to the common man.  There are hilarious refusal letters sent by Barnes to numerous pretentious rich and well-placed people who had demanded to see his collection.  The extent of the collection is amazing with 181 painting by Renoir, 69 by Cézannes, 59 by Matisse, 46 by Picasso, etc.

Our friends dropped us off at the boat with all of our shopping and we collapsed with a nice cold beer at six o'clock. Philadelphia has been one of our favourite cities to visit only topped by Boston so far, it's a pity that more cruisers don't bother to make the 40 mile trip up the river. 

28 September 2012   Penns Landing to Ordinary Point, Chesapeake
We were up at very early and left at six o'clock in the dark to catch as much of the ebbing tide as we could.

It was a pretty boring trip motoring down the river.  The only little bit of excitement was when a fuel tanker was leaving one of the many oil refineries and we were approached and escorted by a US coast guard RIB around the security zone surrounding the fully loaded tanker.  They were serious about the security with a crew member standing at the machine gun on the bow, watching us like a hawk.

Barge being towed on Delaware River, Philadelphia

We motored through the C&D canal which is an eight mile waterway connecting the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays – very boring with not much to see.  Once through to the Chesapeake, we motored down a dredged channel to the Sassafras River and anchored off Ordinary Point which was nice enough, but a bit ordinary…

29 September 2012   Ordinary Point, Chesapeake
We had a chill-out day.  I spent ages surfing the internet and ordering more stuff to be delivered to Deltaville.  Projector screen, some tools, some more rechargeable batteries, a spare charger for the iPad, 110 volt transformer, etc.  I’m in the frame of mind that we won’t get another chance like this to order stuff over the internet, so I’m making the most of it.

Glenys continued to try to improve her time for Sudoku and did a few jobs.  I received an email saying that our cruising chute will be delivered to Deltaville on the 1st October.  Unfortunately we won’t be there for another two to three weeks…

30 September 2012   Ordinary Point to Weems Creek, Annapolis
We dragged ourselves out of bed at seven o’clock.  It’s getting bloody cold at night now and it’s very, very hard to climb out of the warm duvet.  We motored out of the anchorage and headed south towards Annapolis, where we’ll chill out for a few days before visiting the huge boat show.

We picked up some wind after an hour or so and sailed most of the way, having to motor occasionally in the fluky winds.  As we approached Annapolis, the number of sailing yachts increased to the point where we could see hundreds of sails and there were boats coming at us from all directions.  It’s a major sailing area and everyone seemed to be out enjoying the good weather. 

Crab Fishing Boat, Chesapeake

The wind headed us as we approached the huge bridge just outside Annapolis, so we motored until we entered the river mouth which goes past Annapolis.  I (unilaterally) thought that the wind was good enough to sail and unfurled the genoa, which heeled us over in the strong winds.  Unfortunately, we hadn’t stowed stuff away and there was lots of crashing as the contents of the boat rearranged themselves - cases of beer and other items skittered across the saloon floor, Glenys just caught our camera and binoculars from catapulting down the companion way and there was horrible sounds coming from the galley.  Glenys had a sense of humour failure.  After a few minutes, I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and rolled the jib away before Glenys killed me.

We went into Weems Creek, which is a lovely little bay a couple of miles up the Severn River.  There are good moorings that the US Navy has installed to be used as hurricane moorings for some of their boats.  Most of the time, these are not being used and anyone is allowed to pick them up for free.  Unfortunately, it’s getting busy as the boat show approaches and they were all taken.  

We tried to anchor in the middle of the creek, but our CQR anchor was slowly ploughing through the soft mud.  We let it settle for twenty minutes and tried to dig it in, but it continued to slowly drag.  We tried again without success and moved to a spot closer to the shore to try to get better holding.  The anchor dragged a little bit, but this time we decided to let it settle again hope that we’d be okay.  

I was pretty nervous when we went to bed because we were close to the shore, too close to a couple of other boats and we hadn’t dug the anchor in very well.