06-08-09 – CAPE MAY, NJ
Betsy speaks: We’ve named the autopilot! Many people name their autopilots, usually something like “Otto”. We’ve named ours “Beamy” so if you call us and we say Beamy is driving the boat, you’ll know its not the dog, but the autopilot…sort of stupid, but what else is there to do when you’re coming down the Delaware Bay and can’t see land. You need to talk about something, and this was it for us today!
The autopilot has really turned out to come in handy on open runs of several miles, keeping the boat on a straight path without having to bend over the steering wheel constantly. Even in rough seas, it stays on course. We both consider it money well spent, even though we still are not able to use all of its features because it still isn’t totally calibrated correctly. But for keeping a straight course it is great.
We made the 73 mile run from Chesapeake City, MD to Cape May, NJ in about 4 ½ hours. It was a foggy morning so we waited nearly an hour before departing, but once underway we never felt like we couldn’t see well enough to keep going. We only passed 5 ships coming upriver. With the fog we were both keeping a close eye out for ship and barge traffic which we hear can be very heavy here, but we had no problem. The Delaware River portion was glassy smooth, the Bay got a little rougher, say 2 feet or so, but no problem. We’ve been very lucky with the seas this whole trip.
The fog lifted just before we entered the Cape May Canal, and we pulled into Utche’s Marina about 1300. The marina is such that the only way to dock is stern in, which we are not used to, but I did it with no problem. We were surprised to be presented at check-in with a “goody bag” containing a bottle of wine, some snacks, soap, coupons for free coffee in the morning, and various other items. The restroom/shower facilities here are the best we’ve ever seen…so nice they are pictured in the cruising guide! I’m not sure that makes up for the lousy docks, though. However, we fear we will see more and more docks like this as we progress.
After a quick lunch on board, we rode the bikes into town. What was described as being about a mile and a half seemed more like 3 or 4 miles, but on flat land it was easy…again we are thankful to have the bikes, although we find that most marinas have loaner bikes available. We rode all the way to the ocean, and were surprised to see signs stating that to use the beach, even just to walk, was $3.00 per day!!! We did not pay!! We made a quick stop at a hardware store to buy a new hose, as ours was leaking so much it was like a soaker hose (dry rot due to being in the sun all the time I think), and a quick stop at a CVS to buy Rick some new sunglasses to wear over his glasses…he broke his glasses this morning and the clip on sunglasses he had wouldn’t fit on the extra pair of glasses he had brought along.
We’ve decided to take the inside route to Atlantic City. Weather reports for the next several days call for thunderstorms. By taking the inside instead of going out into the ocean, we will have many opportunities to pull into marinas if the weather gets too bad. Also, I think it will be a more interesting passage. Most loopers go outside because the inside passage is so shallow and has numerous bridges. With our shallow draft and ability to go under most bridges we should do fine on the inside.
We’ve been gone 3 weeks today and have gone 622 miles. We’re still speaking to each other, and Beamer has learned to pee on concrete and rocks! Betsy