Chesapeake to Newport - first ocean sail
Apologies in advance for the long post! My wife and I just returned from a cruise from Baltimore to Newport and I wanted to record the events and some of my thoughts/observations. We sailed with a friend on his 35 foot sloop. He's done the trip several times now but it was the first sail outside the Chesapeake for my wife and myself.
Saturday June 4, 2011 – Left Baltimore at 7 AM and headed down the Patapsco and up the Chesapeake toward the C&D canal. Wind at less than 5 knots meant motoring all day but the current was giving us an extra knot or so of lift most of the way up the Bay. We arrived at the Chesapeake City anchorage about 3 PM by which point the few deep water slips at Chesapeake Inn were already taken. We decided to anchor in the tiny and already fairly crowded basin but right when we were about to drop the anchor, the dock master at the Chesapeake Anchorage Marina shouted to us that he had a spot on his T-head. Had dinner and walked around Chesapeake City.
Sunday June 5, 2011 – Woke up at 6:30 AM and found the tide just coming in. The depth gauge indicated the keel must have been kissing the bottom but we decided to attempt to get away from the slip. We fired up the motor and plowed through slowly, making it first into deeper water in the basin and finally to the canal. The goal was to make it up the C&D, across the Delaware, and through the Cape May canal by 5 PM. This timing was dictated by the fact that the mast could only fit under the two bridges spanning the Cape May canal at low tide. We again rode a nice current on the canal and made it to the Delaware Bay by mid morning. In the Delaware we had a nice sail on a beam reach with the current still behind. Eventually the wind lightened and went forward so we motor sailed in the afternoon. We made it to the mouth of the canal around 4:30 and successfully under the bridges. It was an adjustment getting used to our sailing being so dictated by currents and tides since they usually aren't much at play here on the central Chesapeake.
Monday June 6, 2011 – We were on our way out of Cape May by 8 AM (got to sleep in a little due to the tide being too low to leave earlier!) and headed out to the ocean. Unfortunately there was no wind – all day. We motor sailed continuously from 8 AM Monday until 5 AM Tuesday. Saw some porpoises mid morning, but not much else to speak of the rest of the day. Around 6 PM Monday was the low point of the trip for me. With no wind and the sun beating down all day on a boat with no canvas, I was feeling queasy and wondering why I signed up. I think the queasiness was more from being sun stroked than sea sick, and the constant noise and vibration of the engine did me no favors either. By sunset with some dinner in my stomach and the sun retreating, I was feeling better as we moved toward our 3 on/3 off night watch cycle. My wife and I took 9-midnight and 3-6 AM as our on watch shifts. All the lights on the fishing boats were difficult to figure out but I don't think we ever got closer than a mile to any other traffic after dark.
Tuesday June 7, 2011 – The wind finally picked up on our 3-6 shift and we were able to turn the engine off and sail on a broad reach. Sunrise greeted us with more porpoises and we continued under sail for several more hours until the wind died late morning and we had to go back to motor sailing. We arrived in Block Island at 5:30 and tied up at a marina on the Salt Pond. Walked to town and strolled around a bit and had a nice dinner.
Wednesday June 8, 2011 – Did a little more exploring around the island before putting back out to sea around 10 AM. Wind was calm and on out tail again so more motor sailing most of the AM until the wind picked up to around 15 knots about a mile outside the mouth of Narragansett Bay. Had a nice beam reach into the Bay and did a little day sailing outside Newport before heading into the harbor. We found a slip at the Newport Yacht Club and that was the end of the road for us.
We stayed on the boat Wednesday night and after being invited into the NYC coffee klatch on Thursday AM my wife and I decamped to a hotel for a few nights to tour the town. Relief crew arrived and the boat is now sailing on to Martha's Vineyard. We were kind of disappointed to not be heading back out to sea but the experience got us excited to do this again and to cruise more of New England and beyond.
Beneteau Oceanis 400
formerly Lippincott 30