Quick Stop in Annapolis

Saturday evening downtown Annapolis is behind and on both sides of us.

We wanted to stop by Annapolis, so we left Baltimore, took the short trip here and stayed 3 nights. We are leaving tomorrow morning (Sunday 23 September) early. It was good we got in just after noon on Thursday to find plenty of space on the wall. We dock in the center of downtown here and Friday and Saturday have been wall to wall people.

Looking up Main Street. Lots of people, cars and boats all around.

The wall filled mostly up on Thursday and was full on Friday. Saturday was a zoo with boats continually coming in, even after dark, finding no place, turning around in barely enough space and going back out. One time six boats came in in a string with three of them bigger than us.  They had to get pretty close, but no one hit us.


Star Gazer is below the dome. We thought flooding on Thursday & Friday was from the big storm, but it’s just some local issue.

There are so many great places to eat. We went to the officer’s club, Chick & Ruth’s deli and Middleton Tavern. Mission BBQ across the street from the boat has the best baked beans ever and Sofi’s Crepes are great for breakfast. We’re really hitting cities this time. We next want to stop in downtown Norfolk but have to get to the south end of the bay for that. We hope to do that with just one stop along the way.


Midshipmen (midshippeople?) on an academy residential street.


We ate Saturday lunch upstairs in the back at Chick & Ruth’s deli.


Down the Chesapeake

Backing out from our dock in the Inner Harbor. It could be tough to get a place here before the Freddy Gray incident.

We arrived in the Baltimore Inner Harbor on 8 September and left on 20 September (Thursday). That was a really long stay, especially after our 12 nights in NYC and over a week with the boat being fixed at Cape May. This time we were waiting for the North Carolina waterways to get sorted out. Before the storm hit there was a small chance of it coming north and hitting the south end of the Chesapeake, so we decided just to stay where we were and in nearby Annapolis.

One last view of Baltimore before we left.

From Annapolis we will try to make it 90 miles down to Chesapeake Boat Basin in Kilmarnock VA. We wanted better weather, but it appears we have 2 foot waves in the north part of the bay building to 3 as we go south. The small craft warning was originally only for today but was recently extended to tomorrow. The wind is from the NE at 10 – 15 mph so I’m assuming following seas, my least favorite.

As we left the harbor area, these looked like navy supply ships.

We’ll see how it works out. If things get too rough as we progress southward we’ll duck in at Solomons and wait it out a bit.


Once out on the bay, we had our third inspection. We were fine. I’m glad they don’t stop me in a car this often.

The waterway is fine at least as far as Belhaven Marina in NC, so we will head there. If we can get as far as Cape Lookout (Beaufort NC) we can jump outside and avoid the Cape Fear area which was hit hardest. Going outside before that would mean the Chesapeake mouth to Cape Lookout, 225 miles with no safe (for us) inlet along the way.


Missed It!


From the free MyRadar iPad app at 1:50 PM Sep 12. Rain not shown more than a few hundred miles offshore, but winds are shown.

We were delayed nearly two weeks with that hull damage, so we are in Baltimore when we might have been in North Carolina by now. If we had gotten down there I wonder where we would have run to get away from the storm. It’s hard to find a good place when everyone else is looking for the same thing. Getting hauled out of the water is a possibility if the boatyard is not already full from all the locals getting the same idea and knowing where to go before we do.

We go 10 mph, but normally not more than 7 hours a day when we are traveling. That’s an average of 3 mph over a 24 hour period if we travel every day. Besides, if we stay on the ICW we may not travel in a straight line. Hard to get away from a hurricane moving at 15 mph.


Zooming out shows three more storms. The southmost seems weaker than when I last looked. The northeast wasn’t there last time.

As it is we are 200 miles or more north of even the tropical storm warning area. We don’t anticipate more than a few inches of surge. Of course with 2″ pier clearance at high tide that may still be significant, but a minor nuisance compared with what folks down south might be looking at.

So maybe getting our hull dinged was not such a misfortune at all. Sue does say I complain too much sometimes. Could she be right? Besides, after unending rain since Saturday the sun was out today, but it was still raining! It was a light straight down rain, so we went walking around the inner harbor anyway and a great time.

After the storm is over will there be anywhere at all for us to stay along the way down there? I suppose we can anchor out if need be. Will the ICW be choked with debris, be too shallow due to washed in sand or mud or even closed down? Maybe we can travel outside, but what will it be like out there? Zooming out that view I show at the top, I can see three other storms further out. No telling how they will affect things. Boating can get pretty interesting.


Rain to Baltimore

Could hardly see those buildings when we landed yesterday.

The current in the C & D canal over to the Chesapeake Bay can get to 3 mph, so we did time our passage there, leaving at 9 to get into the canal about 9:30. We started out with little help, but soon were getting a 1½ to 2½ mph boost. After leaving the canal we kept this boost half way to the entrance to Baltimore harbor.

I rechecked the weather when we woke up Saturday and found that the small craft warning out for Sunday had been extended back. We decided to leave anyway, since the specific wave and wind predictions didn’t seem bad for a boat our size, and most of the rain was predicted to end by noon.

Once on the Chesapeake waves came at our back corner making us wallow back and forth more than I like. It’s called “following seas” and can be dangerous in some cases but was just pretty annoying in ours.  The rain was still with us when we arrived in the Inner Harbor at 4. That made coming in a little wet because I keep things opened up for visibility in a busy and constricted harbor.


What a coincidence! The Baltimore pier at high tide is the closet to the water of any we have ever encountered. 66″ from the side door to the dock. This also shows the sorry state of our railing. Got to get that refinished.

The biggest surprise came when I went to get on the dock to tie us up. The back stairs down to the swim platform were gone, lost while crossing the Chesapeake. We just get the boat fixed, and then this! Once I thought about it, there was an obvious design defect that allowed a wave we hit at 10 mph to swirl around the back corner and slap just right into their underside, tearing them off their mounts. We’ll have to replace them, but this time with a side panel to prevent water from channeling in underneath.


Starboard side back stairs ripped away from mounts. Mounts not that beefy, but nice that the stairs tore, not the back of the boat or swim platform.  I know more now and will get that replaced correctly.

In the meantime the aluminum steps we carry normally enables Sue to get to a low dock, but the docks here can be the closest to the water at high tide for anywhere we’ve gone. We’ve timed things OK so far, except for one rather undignified entry at 3/4 tide when we came home from grocery shopping. Didn’t think to get a picture of that. I’ve ordered a new higher set of foldable steps from Amazon which should arrive at the visitor center here at the end of the week.


Delaware Bay


You can just see the new paint at the newest ding. Two other areas were smoothed over also.

Friday morning we got back to Canyon Club by 8, moved what luggage and stuff we had from our 9 days of traveling back onto the boat. Before 9:30 the boat was back in the water and we were underway.


Easiest to board before we got to the water, so we had a slow ride overland.

We’ve mentioned passing through Delaware Bay before, and that’s all anyone does there. I’ve not seen anyone sailing, fishing or having recreation of any sort on Delaware Bay. It can get pretty rough, but was calm for our passage. We did fight 1½ to 2 mph current all the way and did not reach Delaware City marina at the top of the bay until just before it closed at 5.

Starboard just as we enter the Delaware City canal off the Delaware River.

With things looking uncertain down south due to possible storms I’d like to fuel up here but can’t tonight because everyone left. They get in at 8 tomorrow (Saturday) so we’ll fuel up and pump out before we leave for Baltimore. Currents are such that we can get into the C & D canal at 9:30 just as the currents turn our way. We should be able to ride it most of the way to the Baltimore harbor entrance. A small craft warning is out for Sunday, so that’s another reason to get going.


Philadelphia II


From our hotel window.

After a few days they told us the boat would be finished by Friday morning the 7th. That was more than a week away, so we reserved 4 more nights at the midtown Holiday Inn Express in downtown Philadelphia. The price was less than the Holiday Inns we used for some time, but it turned out great. We had a chance to see the big art museum again as well as the WWI cruiser Olympia which we missed last time. We also saw the aquarium in Camden across the river.  Other than the hippos it was not really first rate like the one we saw previously in Baltimore.


We attended First Presbyterian church. Their original organ in the back was redone with some pipes moved to either side in front. Sound was excellent.

While getting back from the art museum Uber insisted on a pick up point too far to walk. I went ahead and started the ride, called the driver and told him to pick us up at the museum back entrance where Uber dropped us off that morning. Like the app, he said it was better if we just come to the pick up point. That did it. Nearly all our Uber issues are messed up pick ups. I installed the Lyft app on the spot, called for a ride, and they came and picked us up where we were. A later Google Maps check showed the walking time from the back of the museum to the Uber pick up point to be 13 minutes. If this is how their app works I might not get into one of their computer controlled cars. We’ll see how Lyft works out.


A different take on the annunciation at the art museum.

The day we spent near Lancaster to see Amish country was pleasant if a little disappointing. They should have trademarked their name. There was a lot of Amish stuff about. Amish Experience was obvious and quite a large place when we passed it, but Amish Village did fool us. That was souvenir shop with a tour ticket desk and vans waiting outside to go on a tour through Amish country, which we assumed must be nearby. There were other boutique Amish shops, some with several tour busses parked outside. None of the people working with any of this were Amish, of course.


Admiral Dewey’s flagship, the Olympia. I’ve not been on a WWI and earlier navy ship like this.


The life of the crew was maybe a cut above the old sailing ships, but still really rough.

They were all around us. We saw kids in Amish dress walking home from school and passed several black box buggies. We saw adults as well as kids outside an elder care facility visiting with the residents. The lady at our lunch restaurant told us to look for homes not having power or phone lines extending from the poles. These homes looked just like the others. I was expecting old style homes and other stuff, but it makes sense they would build homes using modern materials and styles. It’s cheaper and easier all the way.


A lot of oak woodwork throughout, but especially in officer country. Even the captain and the admiral had to make space for a 5″ gun in their quarters.

I’m guessing there are areas with traditional older homes and settings that we missed, but interlopers have bought property and mixed into the area. I’ll research that a bit more before we return here, which we will. Maybe it would be easier to just follow one of those tour vans the next time.


Last time we saw the Wanamaker Organ. This time we heard it. A special treat was the Bach “Jig Fuge” which was better than I thought possible for such a huge organ.

The lady at our lunch restaurant also told us that Sarasota was the main place that Amish getting away from winter on the farm come for R & R. While we see them a lot we had assumed they were spread across more of Florida. We see them most around the Troy’s school. They seem to have relationships with the Mennonites that run it. I’ve heard good things about the Amish restaurant near the school. I’ve heard it is run by real Amish people. The best way to get to know the Amish might be to talk with them next time we see them down south.


Beach Vacation


Sue got to the beach. Early morning with not many people out yet.

After docking in Cape May we went to the Washington Inn for dinner and walked the Washington Street mall a few blocks down from the Inn. We’ve done that before and enjoyed doing it again.

This time we also got down to the beach. The sand was fairly steep at the southern tip of New Jersey and signs warned of injury from the waves. They broke quickly and right at shore so that even the small ones could slap you around a bit. Just as we had seen along the way coming down, they maintain a level terrace mid beach where most people sit.


Our hotel, the El Coranado from the beach. Lots more neon on the street side of these.

When they hauled the boat out we moved to a hotel on the beach in Wildwood a few miles north. Here the beach had a very shallow slope and went for miles to the south. It also stretched north with an amusement pier in the distance. We walked the beach early in the morning, but stayed in during the (considerable) heat and humidity of the afternoon. Sue saw Jordan Peterson interviewed on TV which led to watching a few YouTube videos and downloading a Kindle book. He appears to be somewhere between Stephen Pinker and C.  S. Lewis.

The first evening as we drove past the hotels on the “strip” next to the beach. It seemed strange, like an old dream or something, until we realized we were seeing a slice of life from when we were kids. The hotels, restaurants and look of everything was out of the 50’s. I should have taken photos but never thought of it then and was busy driving.


Not much of a ding, but water can get to the core between inner and outer glass, which is not good over time.

We stayed in the El Coronado right on the beach. Built in 1970 it’s one of the newest in the area. There were no chain hotels, no chain restaurants, no chain anything.* Everything there had been there for a long time, most since the 50’s. The place that time forgot?

Later on our way to Philadelphia we drove the slow route through south Jersey and saw no new houses. I’m not saying there aren’t any, we just didn’t see any. No signs advertising new homes or subdivisions. We also saw a few abandoned factories. We drove right along one for a ways. I’ve done no analysis, but would guess the south Jersey area has not grown, maybe even shrunk, post WWII. This is not so different from towns we saw along the Erie Canal. It was just pushed in our faces more by all the neon lights and activity in the beach area.


Early in the morning Star Gazer travels overland to the maintenance area.

If the area hasn’t grown, it seems to still do OK. I’m told the hotels have good occupancy. The beach is no less fun than it was 50 years ago and people still come like they always have. It was great to see.

On our way to Philadelphia we stopped at the Vincentown Diner for a more than adequate lunch. We also had our first experience with active cruise control in our rental Camry. Just a little more conservative, if less smooth, with the brakes than I was, that’s how I first noticed it. It also accelerated back up when it could. I liked it but wondered if I would gradually pay a less attention to things if this kept up.

* A more detailed search on Google Maps showed a Day’s Inn & a Howard Johnson toward the north end of the 6 mile long barrier island. Three Dunkin Donuts are around the amusement park area. We never saw any of those, but did see a McDonalds near the bridge to the mainland, about a mile from the beach. Still not much for what appears to be the major beach resort area for the whole state and beyond for more than the last hundred years.


New Jersey

Starboard as we are leaving. The Minderalla was anchored just past G Washington bridge when we came in.

It’s 25 miles from Liberty Landing just to get through the Verrazano Narrows bridge and out to the Atlantic, then another 80 miles to Atlantic City. That’s more than we usually travel in a day, so we started out a little before 7. The seas outside were no worse than what the ferries churned up in the harbor. After the first 15 minutes we don’t notice the motion except when using the binoculars.

Starboard in New Jersey. The Adventure of the Seas must be saving money. Nearly an hour bus ride for the NYC excursions.

We docked at Farley State marina a little after 5. It’s named for whatever congressman got the money for it. We’ve been there before and decided to skip the buffet and other Golden Nugget casino restaurants and eat on the boat. Next (Saturday) morning we did the much shorter trip to Cape May and got in around noon.

Thirty miles down the coast everyone’s fishing. Ethan, Aaron and I did this in Chesapeake Bay.

Most of both trips we traveled close to the beach to enjoy the view. The depth is nearly always adequate 1500 feet out and Nav mode kept us on a line at that distance and warned us when to take over to round an inlet or other shallow area. We passed 2 or 3 amusement piers and so many people on so many beaches along the New Jersey coast that Sue decided we should have a New Jersey beach experience before leaving the area.

Your tax dollars at work. The sand washes away every year. Nothing a few hundred million can’t fix for now.

While the depth was never a problem, we did manage to hit a low floating oil drum or something about 30 miles before Atlantic city. It was not so visible although I should have been able to see it had I been more attentive to the forward instead of side view. When I hear anything hit the hull I check if water is coming in to the forward bilge, where it would show up almost immediately. I saw nothing at all.

I think we passed three of these, not including Atlantic City.

From the dock at Farley I could to see the object was metal since it dug a small 2 x 3” gouge in (not through) the hull just above the waterline.

Atlantic City. We’ve been out and about here. A surprisingly limited city. Would not want to live here.


We use our dinghy much less than we thought we would. Should have bought a cheaper one. Wonder how much this one is used. Hope he’s good at landing it. Not much room and a ski might just hook over that railing.

While things like this can be anywhere it’s much more likely to find them close to shore, which is why we normally travel a mile or two out. On the other hand if we did hit something that could sink the boat it would be better to be a thousand feet out rather than miles, but we’ll go back to staying further out anyway.


The big fishing tournament just ended. 900K grand prize (with a 450K government deduction). Star Gazer is last on the left.

So here we are at Canyon Club marina in Cape May at the southern tip of New Jersey. The boat doesn’t need immediate attention, but they have the facilities and availability to fix it here as well as a few other cosmetic hull issues built up over the last four years. It will be nice to explore around here. Sue does intend to get to the beach a few times


Stuck in NYC


We walked by the World Trade Center memorial pools several times, including our first day here.

We have been in New York City for nearly two weeks. We spent the first week here going to some new and some familiar places. We were planning to leave on Saturday the 18th, but the weather and waves on the Atlantic was predicted 4 feet or more from then until was to quiet down tomorrow on Friday the 24th to 2 feet or less. That prediction has held solid, so we’ll leave tomorrow for Atlantic City.


NY Historical Society has the largest Tiffany lamp collection in the world. It was put together by an orthodontist as a hobby. Many shades are based on a flower.


New York Historical Society had the best museum restaurant this time. We got a deal because it was restaurant week.

This may be the longest we’ve been stuck, but if we have to be stuck, NYC is the place for it. We did not run out of things to do, especially since Sue wanted to go back (and back) to the Met. We’ve been there for four of our 12 days here.


All the scaffolding is off the Woolworth building. It was the tallest building in the world for 17 years. Many (including me) say it is the most beautiful skyscraper.


The Woolworth tour does not get beyond the lobby and its balconies, but what a lobby. We learned a lot about Mr. Woolworth and his times.


This ferry makes Liberty Landing a great place to dock our boat. Here it’s coming into the Manhattan side.

We’re at Liberty Landing Marina again on C dock about 100 feet from the dock where the ferry leaves for the World Trade Center every half hour, so we’ve crossed the Hudson every day to Manhattan. Sue did stay home to putter around our first Friday, so I got to Brooklyn early to start walking across the Williamsburg bridge a little before 8. I meandered through chinatown which was not much to see, not organized like San Francisco. I finally ended up in Harlem around 6 PM after stopping off several times along the way and walking through Central Park.


Walking across the Williamsburg bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan.


Early in lower Manhattan. Police at the far end of this line said the wait is for the new $300 Michael Jordan shoes.


Stopped here on my walk. The public library’s main reading room has reopened. It’s been 17 years since I saw it. It’s bigger than Boston’s.

We also hit new places for us, some of which are in the pictures. Maybe we’re turning into lazy boaters. We’ve been stopping for a lot of side trips lately, and will continue to take a much slower than usual trip back down the Atlantic coast to Florida.


Sue at the courtyard of the Frick Museum. A smaller museum in a rich person’s house. We both really liked this one.


We finally made it to Grant’s tomb. We forget how famous he was at the time. More even than Lincoln.


We also saw Riverside Church for the first time.


On the Water Again

On Rondout Creek toward the Hudson we go under the smallest road suspension bridge I’ve seen. It does need work. Locals don’t know if state will repair, replace or just remove it. Hope they can keep it.

This wasn’t here when we came in 2 weeks ago. We assume it’s just visiting the local maritime museum just behind it.

We got back to the boat just before five on Thursday after a crossing a lot of Rhode Island and going through Connecticut the long way. We turned aside to go through a few neighborhoods in both Providence and Hartford and see some of their finer old homes as well as the capitol of each city (we did not go inside). It was all “non highway”, whatever that means in Google Maps. We always had paved roads, but sometimes just barely.

Not much river traffic today, but enough so can’t just set long straight line courses on the autopilot.

When younger my vision of these two states was constricted size and wall to wall people. They had certainly had a lot more time to get that way than our western states but did not seem that way at all when we were in them. Their largest cities are not that big and there was a lot of remote countryside along our route.

West Point and Haverstraw still ahead. This is one of the Hudson passes we defended between 1776 and 1812.

Mostly rain and clouds the second day, but at least this golf course on the east bank was getting some sun.

Anyway, after a down day on Friday we were underway Saturday morning. Rain was predicted, but we started off dry at 7:30. It did rain a good amount on the way, but not enough to drive us downstairs. It usually takes both rain and cold to do that, and it was plenty warm. We must have had a following breeze because I wanted the fan on me most of the way.


We’ve been watching the new Tappan Zee bridge go up over the years. Now the old one is coming down.

Just a little sun on this west bank cliff. I’ve heard that the lower Hudson is considered a fjord.

The rain stopped as we arrived at Haverstraw Marina just 40 miles north of our next marina across from lower Manhattan. We pumped out, fueled up and crossed over to our tie up in the basin. I paid our dockage when we got fuel, because it is a quarter mile along the docks to land and the marina office. Not the most convenient place, and I was dissatisfied with some maintenance they did last year. There are enough decent marinas along the Hudson, but only just. Haverstraw is the only good fit for our boat between Kingston and NYC.

Our first decent view of the NYC skyline is under the George Washington bridge. Our last bridge until the Verrazano Narrows on the way out.

The sun does not seriously come out until we are a few miles to our destination in Jersey City. That’s Verrazano Narrows bridge in the distance.

Our Sunday 40 mile trip got us to Liberty Landing Marina just after noon. We’re on C dock about 100 feet from where the ferry leaves every half hour for a 10 minute ride to the NYC World Trade Center. We still had time to visit the 9/11 memorials (Sue had not seen these before), Old St. Pauls and have dinner at Shake Shack in Lower Manhattan before returning for our first night here.