2 October, 2014
The Admiral was going through pictures yesterday, and came upon a couple that were taken of cenotaphs in the Bethel Seaman’s church in New Bedford. My bad, I didn’t tell you about these, so I digress. This church, made famous in a chapter of Melville’s epic novel, “Moby Dick”, lies in the center of the old town of New Bedford. The walls of the chapel are covered with cenotaphs dating back to the early 1800’s, purchased in honor of various sailors who had perished at sea. The church also functioned as a school for the many illiterate sailors, teaching readin’, ‘ritin’, and ‘rithmitic in a classroom in the basement.
Okay, so we were tied up at the marina next to the Golden Nugget casino by 1320, and on the trolley to town by 1400, after giving the Girl a quick freshwater rinsedown. Even though it took 20 minutes travel a couple of miles, it was a smart decision, as it was not a pedestrian-friendly walk. The boardwalk made for a fun stroll. Even though it was off-season, there was plenty of fodder for people watching. Plenty of tattoo/body piercing parlors, T shirt shops, and psychic readers for those so inclined. Dinner at the Asian restaurant in the Golden Nugget, we sit at the bar to get some local knowledge. One of Trump’s places closed down last month, and his Taj Mahal will close in November. The Revel, built at a cost of $2.9 billion in 2012 is closed, and the high bid at current auction is $90 million (what is that? 5 cents on the dollar?). Showboat is also closed. The bartender says that’s 6,000 people out of work. This vision of a Vegas east doesn’t seem to be working out too well. Monday Night Football isn’t workin’ out too well either. My boys, the Pat’s are getting their clocks cleaned by the Chiefs. Looks like it’ll be a long season, as my college team is the Wolverines. At least the game was over by halftime, so I could go to bed early.
Out of the harbor by 0700 on Tuesday morning and we are passed by a pod of dolphins heading north. The Admiral says it’s a sign that it’s going to be a great day. I’m thinkin’ a bad day on a boat is better than a good day on the dirt. Cape May at Utsch’s Marina. There are 2 newer marinas here, but we stayed at Utsch’s when we brough The Girl home 6 years ago and wanted to revisit. The weather was rainy and foggy then, but it’s gorgeous now. We’ve been draggin’ a line for a few of our runs, without a lot of luck. There are some charter fishing guys working on their boat down the way, so I cruise over to get some tips. They’re happy to show me some lures and give me some new tricks, and by the way, Utsch’s has a pretty good tackle shop, even though they always buy from a wholesaler. Over to the tackle shop, and yeah, there are a lot of pretty lures, rods, reels, and etc., but nobody is working there. After 15 minutes or so, an older gentleman comes in and can answer a few questions. Another fella comes in and is immediately brought in to the conversation. He doesn’t work here, but is happy to give us “fishing 101”. He won’t let us buy a lot of stuff, but handpicks some of his favorites (which happen to coincide with the charter guys). So he takes off, and the old guy tells us how lucky we were that Walt spent time with us, as he’s been fishing these parts since he was a kid, is a captain, and occasionally drives fishing charters. Yeah, and the old guy turns out to be Ernie Utsch-he owns the place. We walk a couple of miles into town, checking out the Victorian houses, many built in the early 1800’s along the way. Downtown has been turned into a pedestrian mall, and it looks like your typical touristy seaside village. On the way home, we spot another 48 Krogen (that we don’t recognize) in the marina next door-nobody home so we tuck one of our boat cards in their door. Dinner’s on an old, restored schooner-raw oysters and fresh steamed shrimp while overlooking the harbor-and on and on. During movie night on The Girl (Pirates of the Caribbean), Bill (other Krogen) calls. He and his wife, Lisa, just bought and renamed the boat in May of 2014. Since then, they brought her from Stuart, FL to Michigan where they live, then back down here. Doesn’t leave much time for smellin’ roses, but Bill’s work dictated the schedule. No worries, he has since ditched that particular ball and chain, as well as selling their home and most of their stuff-it’s just The Life for them from now on.
So, we think we have the tide and current thing figured out for today. The current should be with us through the Cape May Canal, then up the Delaware Bay, with the current reversing in the C & D Canal just before we get there to push us through. First, I gotta tell you a story. We are just clearing the canal exit, which has a big ferry terminal on one side, VERY shallow water on the other, and a dredge working in the middle. We’re watching a ferry steaming in, about a half a mile out, when the VHF radio lights up. “Trawler at the west end of the Cape May Canal, this is Henelopen” I answer him, and he explains that he’s coming in, and he needs us to stay out of his way. “We’re at the red buoy out of the channel mouth, so I don’t think it’s us you want” From here on, the conversation will get one sided, as the trawler in question is not answering his radio. At least 5 more hails follow, then: “This is the Henelopen, I am entering the channel, and I am committed. Turn around!”, then “I don’t know what the hell you’re thinkin’, pal. GET OUT OF MY WAY!”, then an unintelligible transmission (I’m thinking the Coast Guard to the ferry captain), then “That little dinghy cut right in front of me”. Last transmission from the ferry captain was “Do us all a favor, buddy, GET OFF THE WATER!”. Drama on the high seas. The rest of the trip up the Delaware pales by comparison. Lots of commercial traffic to stay out of the way of, but we usually run just outside the channel if possible, and plenty of sailboats. We have to keep throttling down, as the current is really pushing us along, and we don’t want to get to the C&D before the current is with us there. As we enter the canal, the sun is getting low in the sky. There is only one commercial vessel in the canal, and he entered just before us, so we have a leisurely ride, with the water belonging to us only. The harbor entrance to Chesapeake City, at the west end of the canal is a little tricky with the current and shallow depth, but we tiptoe in. The VHF pipes up, and it’s Bill and Lisa (other Krogen from Cape May) on “Changing Courses”. They’re here, anchored. They had planned on staying in Cape May for another day, but after talking to Suzanne the night before, they rechecked the weather and decided to move sooner. They come over for a sip before dinner, so we get a recap of their frenzied summer. They’re headed to the Krogen Rendezvous in Solomons, MD next week, so we’ll see them there.
Thursday the 2nd, and we’ll head to Annapolis for a few days, to provision, tour the Naval Academy, and hook up with the folks at Krogen ground zero (corporate HQ at the Port Annapolis Marina). Hopefully, we’ll also be able to meet up with our friend, Captain John Martino, who owns and runs The Annapolis School of Seamanship. Just passing under the William P. Lane Memorial Bridge, should be at Port Annapolis in 40 minutes. It’s been a beautiful, sunny cruise, but the clouds are starting to move in. The long term forecast that provoked the last few days’ long runs has come to pass. The seas on the Atlantic are up to 7 feet, and are forecast to be the same for a few more days. We’re feeling pretty smug (but sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good) about our decision, but are concerned about Ted and Sue (My Dream), who are supposed to be leaving NYC today. -Au Revoir