Friday, June 8, 2012

Jersey Coast

Yes, we’re still looping, just behind on the blog as usual.  FYI, we are currently docked in Whitehall, New York, at the end of the Champlain Canal and the beginning of Lake Champlain.

But when we last blogged, I told you I would report next about our trip up the Jersey coast. Actually, the less said about that trip the better. It was a truly awful day! We stayed in Cape May at the southern end of New Jersey for three days, riding bikes, looking for birds and waiting for the waves to settle down off the coast and for the offshore fog to lift. The day we decided to leave, it was so foggy we couldn’t see across the harbor, but other boats were leaving. Craig kept in phone contact with one of them who told us the waves weren’t bad and the fog lifted once you got a couple of miles offshore.  We waited until the fog in the harbor lifted and then took off on our 130 mile trip up the coast. That’s a long trip when your top cruising speed is about 17 mph, and even longer when you know you’ll have to slow down in spots for rough water or fog.

The first couple of hours were fine.  We had good visibility all the way to Atlantic City.  After that we ran into recurrent fog banks. We certainly got good practice reading our radar!  We weren’t enjoying ourselves and by late afternoon Craig asked if I wanted give up for the day and go into port at the last inlet at Manasquan in northern Jersey. But getting in and out of there is no picnic in the best of times (as we knew from our trip last fall) and I told him that if we went in, I couldn’t guarantee I’d ever agree to come out!  I wanted to be done with the Atlantic! So we kept going and traveled the last two hours in absolute pea soup fog.  Could not see two boat lengths in front of us, so we went very slowly, as you can imagine.

After more than nine hours on the water. just as we were approaching Atlantic Highlands NJ, our destination for the night, the fog lifted and the town appeared in front of us.  It felt magic – poof!, we could see again!  As it turned out though, Atlantic Highlands was not exactly magical.  Really bad docks, the most unhelpful marina staff, and fairly dramatic tides.  Fortunately, we had a very friendly local “neighbor” who helped us tie up and plan for the tides, and also helped us get the dogs off the boat – no easy task as our boat was so far below the level of the docks. By morning, the tide was even lower and our neighbor had gone home, so we had no safe way of getting the dogs off the boat.  I brought out the puppy training pads but Joey just ignored them and Bailey thought they made a nice deck bed.  Craig couldn’t wait to get out of there, so I picked up the good hooked rugs in the salon and just hoped the dogs could wait until we got to our next stop up the Hudson. (They did, bless them!)

So that was our trip up the New Jersey coast.  Sorry, Jersey friends, but we are pretty sure this will end up being our least favorite part of the trip and we’re glad to have it behind us.  There are no pictures from that day, as there was nothing to see! Three good things did come out of it, though. First, we got very accomplished at understanding our radar. Second, I saw dozens of storm-petrels, a small bird that lives its whole life out at sea, so it’s a rarity for us land-based folks. And third, we became bona fide members of Loopers in the Fog, Class of 2012, and have been able to swap fog stories with others who experienced that same horrible day! Loopers who were elsewhere that day will never know what they missed!

Before I close this chapter, a few followers have asked to see pictures of some of the modifications we made to the boat over the winter, specifically the new transom steps and the sundeck.  So here they are.

These are the new steps at the rear of the boat and the the new door.  Previously, there was a fold-down door, the top of which became the only step between the deck of the boat and the swim platform.  The new arrangement is much easier and safer, for people and dogs!

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We also enlarged the swim platform and mounted the dinghy there.  The dinghy was previously on top of what is now our sundeck, a very nice place for wine time, as you can see!

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Finally, nervous Bailey has selected a new place to ride while we’re underway.  In the interest of peace and harmony on board, we’re letting her get away with it and we’ll have a refresher course on staying off the furniture when we get home!


Next up, the Hudson River and New York City!

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