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Old 05-07-2013
Ulladh Ulladh is offline
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Re: Delaware River May 2013

Delaware River Cinco de Mayo 2013 sail

Departed Essington 8:00 AM Friday May 3rd on Ul-la in 2ft chop and 15+ gusting winds for the Cohansey River approximately 50nm. Take Five departed about 8:30.

We made good time sailing with the current and a good breeze off the port rear quarter, with Take Five passing me after the Delaware Memorial Bridge.

The tidal current was in our favor until Artificial Island, then the sea state picked up to a short period chop with 3ft breaking waves on the bow and a wind shift to directly on the bow. The last 4 hours to the Cohansey were by motor sail arriving just as the sun set about 7:30 PM, a long hard almost 12 hours at the tiller.

Saturday morning promised a light 10 to 15 kn breeze out of the NE and clear skies for a sail with the ebb tidal current to Miah Maull Shoal Light and return with the flood current, about 40 nm round trip.

The sail to Miah Maull was relatively uneventful but the wind started to die before Cross Ledge Shoal abandoned light house. Take Five tacked to the Jersey side then made good time with a wind shift out of the east to Miah Maull, I stayed near the shipping channel and made slow but steady progress to Miah Maull, rounding the light house as Take Five charged across the bay rounding the light as wind and sea state began building.

After rounding the light I made good speed to the upper end of Egg Island Shoal off Fortesque to pick up the flood current in the shallow water close to the Jersey shore.

As Take Five was hit by building seas and wind off Miah Maull, I was in 15 to 20 knot winds on the starboard beam with 3 to 4 ft short period breaking waves also off the starboard beam shifting to a following sea then alternating between beam and stern.

Winds and sea state kept building, jib was rolled up but I had no time or desire to go to the mast to set a reef. Set the mainsail in a fisherman's reef, a point of sail I had seen a Chesapeake Bay Skipjack restored oyster schooner use. The boom is set and kept adjusted to be in line with wind direction and held of the shrouds enough to maintain an airfoil sail shape; low pressure convex forward, high pressure concave to rear.
The boat shot up bay to Cohansey at 6+ knots not enough to out run the following 4ft breaking waves, but enough to hold the boat at not more than a 15 deg heel.

As I approached the Cohansey green entrance pylon Take Five was closing to within a few hundred feet. I shot through the river entrance within about 50ft of the pylon and made a sharp 45 deg turn to starboard to center the boat on the river.

Hurricane Sandy last year blew some holes in the salt marsh at the entrance, that combined with no protection from the wind over the wetlands made for an intense sail up the serpentine river controlling the fisherman's reef at each 90 deg river bend to stay centered on the river until a low tree line at the last bend before Hancock harbor provided enough shelter to drop the mainsail and motor to the marina dock with a swift flood current then turn the boat against the current for a gentle dock with the still strong wind.

Sunday came with a promise of 15 kn winds and a choppy sea state for our 25 nm trip up to Delaware City, leaving about 10:00 AM to sail; against about 3 or 4 hours of an ebb current then ride a flood current past Artificial Island to Delaware City.

Take Five took a course close to the Jersey shore line and made slow but steady speed in winds that had dropped to 5 to 10 kn in a calm sea state, I stayed close to the shipping lane hoping for more breeze in open water but could only manage progress of 1 to 2 knots against the current. Take Five passed Artificial Island at least 3 miles ahead of me, and by Artificial Island I started to motor sail to get to Delaware City before the flood changed to ebb at Reedy Point ( the current Reedy Point to Delaware City can be more than 5 knots).

I tied up at Delaware City about 5:00 PM about 1 hours after Take Five.

Checking with the marina office for Mondays departure called for a 5:00 AM departure in slack current before flood. Winds were forecast as light out of the NNE which would be directly on the bow, so this would be a day of motoring or motor sailing.

We departed in twilight at 5:00 AM for the 25 nm to Essington in a cloudy cool day. Wind stayed directly on the bow building above 10 knots with a 2ft chop building to 3ft all the way. I tied up at Fox Grove at 10:30 AM after a cool and lumpy 5 1/2 hour motor sail.

This was a good warm up sail to start the season and I invite others to go on a Delaware Bay 2014 Cinco de Mayo sail.
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1970 Havsfidra 20 by Fisksatra
On the Delaware River at Fox Grove Marina Essington PA
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