Monday, May 17, 1999. Up at 5:00am and conditions are essentially the same, but seas in Chesapeake Bay are calmer--2-4 feet, with 6-8 at the mouth. We decide to go. By 6:00am we're underway and pass dozens of warships in the Hampton Roads area. Very impressive. Lisa and JJ are up early, and get to watch the parade. We swing out of the protected waters of the channel into the open waters of the entrance to Chesapeake Bay. Thank goodness for stabilizers, because it is windy and rough.
Our goal is 148 miles, our longest day yet, and dock in Cambridge, passing two closer and former destinations of Crisfield and The Solomons. We also need to arrive in Cambridge by 4:00pm since the dockmaster leaves at that time, and we've heard waters are shallow near the marina. In other words, we'll rely on "local knowledge" to get us safely in.
The majority of the trip is made at about 16k--Interlude is up on plane, and running fast. Once we're in the lee of the Eastern Shore of Maryland, waves subside, and the rest of the day is without weather problems. We've guessed lucky!
Perhaps 1/3 of the way to Cambridge, the monitor on the navigation system fails. It has been a problem since we bought the boat, but only intermittently--very difficult to identify and fix. But this time it appears dead. Good. Now we can get it fixed. Bill has two back-up systems in place, and decided to try the laptop-based alternative. We break-out a small GPS and wire it to the satellite fax system laptop, and we're back up and running. The system works perfectly, and we follow the course without problem. Another first, and a good test of contingency plans. The other alternative is to substitute a different monitor which is more straightforward, but didn't test a true alternative backup system.
Chesapeake Bay is huge, and pleasantly deep--50-100 feet for the most part. We were able to plot an easy course that was direct and expedient rather than circuitous following channels. What we did find are thousands of crab traps and gill nets. We spent much of the time dodging traps and nets. Further, areas of the Chesapeake are used by the military for bombing practice and there was a chance we would be routed around these areas if they were in use. This didn't happen.
What we did see, is wide, wide water. Most of the first three hours were were continuously out of the sight of land and had the feeling we were truly "out at sea". Only our navigational software and the long distance radar indicated we in the Bay and on course.
Interlude made the trip perfectly and we entered the Choptank River on schedule about 2pm having covered 130+ miles in 8 hours. The next hour we proceeded slowly since we knew Cambridge tide schedules and wanted to enter on a flood tide and well above slack water. Cambridge had a low tide of 0.2 feet at 12:30pm, so the longer we could wait, the better.
A note on tides and what we know about them. Interlude's navigational software is called the Navigational Suite by Nobeltec, and it is wonderful--probably the best software we've ever used for anything. In addition to providing us with an overlay of the boat's position onto the NOAA charts, it provides current and tide information, as well. Take the Cambridge situation for example. We were able to move the map to the Cambridge harbor, then pull up the tides for that location. Then we entered the day we expected to arrive, and the software was able to display in graph form the tides for that day and location. We learned that the low tide was at noon, and the low tide on that day was rather low. Further, the dockmaster told us we had only 5-6 feet of water at low tide in the marina. So we decided to arrive well past low tide, perhaps about 4:00pm when tides will have risen by almost two feet at that location. With the additional water, we would be able to enter and dock easily.
As we entered the marina, the dockmaster steered us to a new area of docks where there was a long wall and deep water. We docked and were registered before 4:00pm. The dockmaster could still leave on time. We were surprised to find new docking space without 50A power. So, we used an adapter to convert their two 30A 110V circuits to our needs. No problem, but it did reduce our shoreside power from about 10,000 to 6,000 watts. For a boat the size of Interlude this means watching power usage carefully. With a little careful planning, we had no problems and got along fine.
A word about electrical power on Interlude. Boats have become extremely dependent upon electricity. We have the capability of generating 40,000 watts of power using two 20KW generators. Seldom do we need that much power, and normally use only one of the generators at a time when we're off shore power. For shore power we normally connect two 50A 220V cables the size of garden hoses to supply us with about 20,000 watts of power (the same as one generator). Marinas typically provide power as 30A 110V or 50A 220V. So far, with the exception of Cambridge, MD, we've been able to get one or two 50A 220V connections. But we've been told as we move north, we'll have to make due with one or two 30A 110V connections, or stay on the generator. We have amp meters on board, and panel routing capabilities, so that we can balance our usage somewhat and maximize what we have, but it's a new issue, and one more aspect of boating that requires our daily attention.
We celebrated our arrival with a wonderful bottle of Veuve Cliquot champagne which Lisa and JJ had brought along. As far as we're concerned, that's about as good as it gets.
Cambridge pretty well closes up at 5pm and especially on Monday night, and only after walking for 30-40 minutes did we find a restaurant open. We needed to get off the boat for dinner--it had been a long day.
In the evening we watched "George of the Jungle" on DVD but most of us fell asleep before the movie was over--perhaps it was the content, maybe it was just a very long day.
Tuesday, May 18, 1999. We spent a luxurious day in port exploring Cambridge by foot and by dinghy. Jan and Bill explored Christ Episcopal Church built in 1693 and the "burying ground" next door. There were grave markers for signers of the Declaration of Independence, members of the Continental Congress, and a Governor of Maryland or two.
While in Cambridge, we were docked in the public marina, but somewhat off to the side because of our size. We were along a bulkhead, and there was a parking lot adjacent to the boat. During the 36 hours we were there, perhaps a hundred cars came down, stopped within 10-20 feet of the boat and stared. We got so that we closed the blinds even during the day. It was a strange feeling being a spectator sport.
Weather is again marginal. A front is passing through and we're under cloudy skies with threats of rain. Temperatures are around 70.
For dinner Jan and Lisa fixed the wonderful Black Grouper that Lisa and Ty Thomas had given us. We grilled it to perfection and it was a wonderful meal. Later we watched "Addicted to Love", the second loser in a row!
Wednesday, May 19, 1999. We started out easy today since we plan to move to Oxford (Maryland) a distance of only 12 miles. After breakfast, we made the move since weather looked threatening and it seemed like a good idea to get back into port before storms began. The move never even got us into the Chesapeake. We traveled back the Choptank River to the confluence of the Tred Avon River where we made a sharp right turn. Then we turned again to the right into Town Creek and from there to the marina in Oxford. We tie up at the Oxford Boatworks -- a nice facility but one that obviously caters to sailboats. We're almost the only powerboat in the entire marina.
Oxford is a pleasant and very old town which is mostly marinas--there must be half a dozen of some size and more small ones. There is also a private ferry here which affords a shortcut to St. Michael's. This ferry was started in 1693 and has run essentially continually since.
We found a small store, a few gift shops, but little else. We had lunch at Schooner's Llanding (the double "L" is the Welsh spelling), and dinner at Le Zinc. Both were very nice. After dinner, we watched another movie, and this time we had a winner--Good Will Hunting.
Thursday, May 20, 1999. We're in port and enjoying Oxford. Lisa and JJ took the bikes for a tour, and Jan and Bill used the dinghy to do the same. Oxford is a pleasant town and we're located near the center. There is a small "gourmet general store" where we buy some supplies but Lisa and JJ want to fix gourmet California pizza, and they need things no general store can provide--so after a 20 mile plus bike ride to Easton, they're back, exhausted, but with supplies in hand. It was an excellent pizza, and a wonderful treat to have them cook for us.
Friday, May 21, 1999. We travel from Oxford to St. Michael's, a distance of about 50 miles (longer than it appears because of the necessity to skirt several large shoals.) We tie up at St. Michael's Harbor Inn and Marina. Friday is spent cleaning the boat and doing some preliminary investigation of the town. We're on a finger of the waterway, and it is easiest to get around by dinghy, so we launch it again.
St. Michael's is really a yuppie town, and fun to see. It has a shopping district of several blocks, and must have huge crowds during summer weekends to support so much retailing. There are also several good restaurants. Jan has made reservations for dinner at Inn at Perry Cabin. This proves to be the best dinner of the trip so far. The restaurant was owned by the husband of Laura Ashley and the Inn is a tribute to the Laura Ashley look. We return, after 11pm by dinghy, and it is a perfect evening.
Saturday, May 22, 1999. A full day in St. Michael's that is spent doing some boat maintenance, several hours at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and shopping. The museum is worth a trip to St. Michael's by itself, and we enjoy several hours of wandering among the multitude of buildings.
Dinner is another Chesapeake "must"--boiled blue crabs served whole, hot, and well-spiced. We eat at the Crab Claw, a place with dozens of picnic tables and jammed with people from 11am until closing. It's amazing. We devour a huge pile of crabs and decide crab cakes are a lot less work, but picking crab is a tradition and we've be inducted.
Sunday, May 23, 1999. We move to Annapolis -- a trip of less than 30 miles, but we cross from the Eastern Shore of Maryland to the mainland. Annapolis is home of the U.S. Naval Academy and graduation is scheduled for the following Wednesday. Sunday is the day the Blue Angels--a flight of six F-18 jets--do their practice runs in preparation for the air show on Monday. The Severn River is closed for security reasons under the practice area. We're moving among hundreds of sailboats at dead slow toward our dockage in downtown Annapolis when our way is blocked by a fire boat and a second Navy launch. They shout to us that our channel is closed to boats, and that we'll have to work our way among the hundreds of moored boats to get to our dock.
Getting to the dock becomes a real challenge and we wind our way slowly but successfully to the town docks, and tie-up near two large Browards (bigger than Interlude). We hose down the boat.
In the afternoon, our nephew, Mark Ferne, joins us. Mark is graduate student at University of Maryland near Washington, DC studying student personnel administration. We have a nice visit and get caught-up on that branch of the family. We take the dinghy and explore Annapolis in the afternoon. For dinner we head back to crabcake-land at Middleton Tavern--a fun spot in historic Annapolis.
Monday, May 24, 1999. Jan and Bill spend the first couple of hours during the day buying some boat supplies at a good nearby marine store. We get some new coat hooks installed, attend to some plumbing issues, and do a little clean up.
About 11am, in a thunderstorm, Tom and Ina Berkey arrive. Tom and Ina are some of our dearest friends whom we've known for more than 20 years. [They were with us when we first saw Interlude in Ft. Lauderdale.] Ina brings a picnic lunch, and since it has now cleared off, we enjoy the gourmet treat on the bridge deck while watching the Blue Angels perform overhead.
Later in the afternoon, we take the dinghy and explore the area including the Naval Academy and Spa Creek. Annapolis is a wonderful and historic place, and really a great place to explore by boat. Dinner is at another Pusser's (see Charleston, SC) and really great.
While the Berkeys are at dinner with Jan and Bill, Lisa and JJ meet Sarah Western, a friend of Lisa's from Tampa who now works in Washington. We have known Sarah since she and Lisa were in the fifth grade together, and it is good to see her again. All in all, this has been a busy visit to Annapolis but what a treat to meet so many old friends and family. Tomorrow we're off to Baltimore.
Tuesday, May 25, 1999. We're up early and make a quick run of less than 30 miles to Baltimore. The trip to Inner Harbor is fascinating since it takes us through industrial areas, then residential areas, finally to the core of the city--something that doesn't happen very often in big cities. We tie up at Inner Harbor East and quickly Lisa and JJ are off via taxi to the Amtrack station and a trip back to Boston. We've been happy to have them with us for the last week.
Also upon our arrival, scheduled maintenance contractors begin to arrive as planned. First, the Cummins Diesel mechanic arrives with a replacement circuit breaker for genset #1. We had determined the nature of the problem all the way back in Melbourne, Florida, but this is the first time we could schedule to meet a mechanic from a dealer who had the specific part in stock. Replacement takes but a few minutes and appears to solve the problem. Next the Q-lube people arrive to do a complete oil change on both engines and both generators. This isn't a small task since we're at the end of a long dock, there are six large filters involved and more than 40 gallons of oil. It takes the efforts of three people almost three hours to complete the task which includes carrying the old oil away. We're good for another 150-200 hours.
Shortly after Q-Lube left, Russ VanZandt arrives. Russ is a good friend from St. Petersburg who has assumed CEO role at a Baltimore company. We have drinks on the boat then meet a friend of his in Little Italy for an absolutely excellent dinner at Da Mimmo's. (Highly recommended.)
Wednesday, May 26, 1999. We're up at 5:00am, pack, and take a taxi to BWI airport for a trip to St. Petersburg. We have Suzie Dermody's wedding to attend and meetings. The trip is uneventful. The wedding rehearsal dinner (as well as the wedding) is on Anna Maria Island south of St. Petersburg. The dinner is very nice and we enjoy a quiet night at a beautiful B&B in a bed that isn't rocking. The wedding the next day is beautiful.
Meetings are completed, and the rest of the time is spent doing what we do so well in St. Petersburg--party! Dinner with the VanZandt's and the Masons on Thursday, and an informal get-together at the Burnettes on Friday. It simply doesn't get any better than this.
Saturday, May 29, 1999. We return to the Interlude, and Jan notes that Bill says "it's good to be home"-- who would ever have thought we would refer to a boat as home. The balance of the day is spent doing monthly bills, updating the web, and working on ideas for David Harrison, the architect who is designing our high-rise condo interior. Jan fixes an omelet for dinner and we take it easy.
We note sadly, that we've missed Choraules again! Paul and Carole have left their card at our door. We quickly walk to the slip they've indicated on their note, but another boat is there. Missed them again.
Bill takes a few minutes and raises the Interlude Burgee for the first time. This is a high quality flag our friends have had made for us as a bon voyage gift. We picked it up in St. Petersburg from Judy and Mich Sauers when we were back. It looks beautiful (see photo). It will be hard to take it down, but we don't want to wear it down, so we'll fly it only when we have guests on board.
Sunday, May 30, 1999. In port at Baltimore Inner Harbor. Bill is up early, and "treats" the starboard side of Interlude with "SLK" to wash off the moustache. White hull boats it seems have always collected a brown moustache on the bow from the pollution in the water, and from the tannin in some fresh water. After a while the result is a brown cast shaped like a moustache. SLK is another of those wonder products which attack the organic nature of the moustache without harming either the environment or the structure or finish of the boat. It's a labor-intensive job, but the results are wonderful, Interlude looks like new. We use another wonder product called Star Brite that removes rust from fiberglass with harming the stainless steel. Products like these make routine cleaning and maintenance much easier.
Later in the morning we explore the Inner Harbor area. This has become a tourist destination and shows what can be done with an old industrial area when a community gets it together. The result (see the photographs) is a festival like area with water taxis and shuttles running everywhere, people by the thousands, and many attractions including a museum of science, a beautiful aquarium, shops, restaurants, etc.
At about 4:00 PM Sean Meyers, son of John and Nancy Meyers, calls to say he is in town and we invite him and his friends to join us. Sean is in the process of changing professions and moving from Boston to San Diego. In Boston, Sean and Lisa were good friends. We have a fun dinner at Pizzeria Uno in Inner Harbor then walk the very alive streets back to the Interlude.
Monday, May 31, 1999 (Memorial Day). Spend the day charting the next legs of the trip, calling marinas with reservations, confirming plans with the Birkenstocks who will join us in Troy, New York, catching up on the balance of e-mail, and doing some business chores.
Traffic on the waters of Baltimore's Inner Harbor is amazing--dozens of boats moving all the time. We watch yachts of all sizes, sailing vessels, water taxis, and trash boats. (Something we've never seen before--these city boats have a moving conveyor which is lowered below the water's surface and as it runs along it pulls surface trash into a bin for later disposal on shore. There seem to be several of these boats moving about Inner Harbor all the time. Without them, the place would be a mess since the tides here are minimal and the Inner Harbor is a bayou as we would call it; that is, it is filled with sea water without fresh water flowing into it, thus without natural ways to flush itself.)
Tuesday, June 1, 1999. We're up before 5:00 AM for a 5:30 departure. Baltimore is incredibly quiet at that hour and the 10 mile stretch from Inner Harbor to the Chesapeake is almost mystical. When we reach the open bay, we head north to where the Chesapeake Bay comes to an end in a number of rivers and waterways. Our objective is the Chesapeake and Delaware (C&D) Canal.
The C&D canal was first proposed in the 1600's; even Benjamin Franklin endorsed it. It was finally dug and opened in 1829, and has been widen several times. While it is only a 14 mile ditch, what makes it interesting is that at times it can have a 6 knot current. As we passed Summit Marina a trawler entered the waterway in front of us, and moved unnaturally fast sideways in the current. With less powerful boats, a 6k current could be a serious problem.
Our original plan for the day was to stop at Chesapeake City in the C&D Canal. Later we decided we could make it to Salem, NJ at the beginning of Delaware Bay. But, since we had gotten such a good start, and the day was perfect, we decided underway to continue to Cape May, NJ. This added four hours and 45 miles to our plan for a total of 120 for the day.
Delaware Bay begins quite narrow, perhaps a mile or two, but widens substantially near the Atlantic. Our last two hours we were taking head seas from the Atlantic and out of sight of land. But the day was perfect with less than 15k winds and smooth seas.
Our last leg for the day was to inch our way carefully through the four mile Cape May Channel--this ditch allows boats in Delaware Bay access to Cape May harbor without having to go out into the Atlantic and way around a shoal area. The problem is that the channel isn't very deep. But we proceeded at dead slow and made the four miles in about 20 minutes without problem. We tied up at South Jersey Marina which is located up a creek off the harbor. Tides are slack, so docking isn't as much of a problem as it could be.
Dinner is seafood (what else) at the Lobster House which is a short walk away.
We'll spend Wednesday exploring the village of Cape May and watching the weather. Our next run is one of the two long open-ocean runs we'll make on this trip. (The other will be to cross the Gulf of Mexico from Mobile to Clearwater, at the end of the Circle voyage.) We need favorable winds and seas to make this run safely. Tentatively there is a front passing this area late on Wednesday and continuing through Thursday, so we may not leave until Friday.
Wednesday, June 2, 1999. Got a great night sleep! Early in the morning, we spot a sternwheeler tour boat coming up the creek. We had been told we might have to move because the dockmaster expected a 110' boat on Wednesday, but we didn't expect action so quickly. Well, he didn't wait for us to move, and wind or no wind, current or no current, he shoehorned this ancient vessel into the long dock just ahead of us. A real pilot. It appears the boat is under renovation and several workers are cleaning, scraping and painting all day. I wish you could have seen how tightly we're packed in here, and what a masterful job the pilot did in getting that boat docked.
We do some boat maintenance of our own in the morning trying to locate the source of a mildew odor near our panty. We think we find it in a package of pita bread that had gone moldy, but time will tell. Nevertheless, it's a good chance to do some additional cleaning.
We also established contact with Chips and Ann Arend, friends from more than 25 years ago, when Chips and Bill both worked at Capital University. They will meet us on the Hudson River; spend the night with us on the Interlude, then we'll spend time with them at their cabin in the Adirondack in upstate New York. We're excited to see them again, after a long absence.
In the afternoon we went sight-seeing in Cape May. This is a town that the entire historic district has been registered as a national landmark, and for good reason. There are literally dozens of wonderful Victorian homes in this small town. We took the walking tour and could hardly take enough pictures. Everything is photogenic. Had an easy lunch at a boardwalk diner, then took a formal tour of the Physick Estate mansion. It was a wonderful peek into Victorian American life. Jan loves interior decorating and spent a lot of time looking at the period furnishings, many of which had been designed for the house.
On the way back to Interlude we stopped at a small market and bought fresh vegetables, fruit, meat, and some staples. Since we're on foot, we buy only what we can carry.
In the afternoon we plotted our course for New York City up the outside (in the open Atlantic). It looks like we will remain in port again tomorrow to allow a front to move on eastward. We could probably make the run with no problems, but with gusty thunderstorms predicted in the morning, why press it? Our plan is to be in Tarrytown, twenty miles north of Manhattan, by Saturday night so we have some time in the queue, as planned.
Thursday, June 3, 1999. A second day in port and on a weather hold. The front is predicted to pass through the area in the morning, then it is to be breezy (windy) and cooler. We'll stay put.
We use the morning for a thorough cleaning of the inside of Interlude, and scrubbing of cushion on the bridge. In the afternoon, we take down the bicycles and finish our shopping at the ACME store in the historic district of Cape May. While we are gone, we are joined by two more large boats--an 80' Corp of Engineers' boat and a 90' Burger. When combined with the stern-wheeler ahead of us, we make a lineup of almost 400' of boats among the four vessels.
The forecast for Friday is clear, cooler, and light winds, so we plan to leave at first light, probably 5:15 or so for the 125 mile run to NYC.
Friday, June 4, 1999. We get an early start at 5:30 AM for the run up the outside. By 6:00am, we've cleared the breakwater at Cape May, aim the pointy end north and put it up on plane at 17k. The course takes us from one to four miles off shore (at the ten fathom line). At 2:00 PM, without incident, we pass Sandy Hook, NY, and enter New York Harbor, without a doubt an easy run. By the time we tie up across from 38th Street on the Weehawken side of the Hudson River, we have come more than 140 miles for the day.
Entering New York Harbor by boat, especially a small boat, is and probably always will be exciting. First you pass under the Verrazano Narrows bridge. One of the wonders of the world, this long, two-deck suspension bridge connects Staten Island with Brooklyn and is a gateway of sorts to New York Harbor.
Next, it is the long-familiar Staten Island ferries that are seen running from Staten Island to Battery Park in Manhattan. At the same time, the Statue of Liberty and the financial district of Manhattan both come into view, and it is awesome. We snapped too many pictures, but how can you help it?
We passed as near as traffic would bear to the Statue of Liberty then made a direct course up the entrance of the Hudson River for our dock at the Lincoln Harbor Yacht Club in Weehawken, NJ. This marina is very close to NYC since it is served by a water taxi that runs every 15 minutes to the 38th Street Water Taxi Station almost straight across the Hudson.
After a wash down, and shedding of pounds of salt (Interlude, not us), we cleaned up, put on "formal" clothes, and went to the City for dinner at Felidia on East 58th St. Nobody does Italian better than New York. And the restaurant lived up to its reputation. After dinner, we stopped in for a night cap at the Peninsula Hotel sky bar on the 22nd floor that is a patio open to the sky. Not a bad way to end the evening, thanks to learning about it years ago from Lisa, when she worked in the City.
At the dock, we quickly retired after a long and memorable day, with the magical skyline of Manhattan ablaze across the River.