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The newbie's perspective

Dan's given a good trip report; here are my perspectives as one of the less experienced crew.

I jumped at the chance to get some sailing experience under my belt; knowing that Dan would be aboard gave me the comfort level that I would be in good company - and then meeting and getting to know Norm was just icing on the cake. I was extremely fortunate to be able to do this trip with both of them.

It was odd being considered the local "expert" for the move from PCI docks to the Little Magothy but it was a great introduction to contributing to the crew effort and the beginnings of understanding that I knew more than I thought I did!

Sailing up the Bay was a nice ease into the trip. I had this great sense of adventure as we motor sailed into the canal. Norm has a air of quiet competence about him and is a patient teacher.

Norm assigned watches the first night; I had 10pm-2am, the first two hours with Norm, the second two with Dan. When i came on watch, Norm walked me through identifying ships by the light configurations. I had a brief moment of panic: "I've never done this before", I said to him. "Well," he replied, "you going to start learning now" and grinned. And, I did.

Being a newbie makes me an EXCELLENT watcher - (notice I did not say WATCH STANDER). I was hypervigilent and needed help filtering and analyzing what I was seeing. This became a theme for the trip...learning how to understand WHAT I was seeing and filter appropriately. By the end of my first night watch, I was starting to get the hang of looking for and id-ing lights around me.

It was on this watch that Norm discovered the electrical problem Dan mentioned. He noticed an amber glow on the starboard aft stanchion, went to investigate and discovered that the glow was an electrical short, sparking when the lifeline gate was jiggled. He unhooked the lifeline gate and rigged a rope gate, then we turned off the running lights to be sure we'd temporarily eliminated the short, but leaving just the mastlight lit.

When Dan came on at midnight, we were pushing 9knts SOG, with the help of current and a nice breeze. Quite unnerving to go as fast as I've ever gone, IN THE DARK! SHEESH!!! I mentioned that the boat was giving me a squirrely response at the helm, so Dan and I double checked the rudders (one had popped up during our entrance into the Little Magothy, and we'd not thought to push it back down), and dropped both centerboards one third: tracking improved immediately.

I was relieved at 2pm, by John, and relieved to be off watch. I was exhausted, but exhilarated.

I awoke Saturday am to a PBM (Perfect Boat Morning). We were circling in calm waters, lovely grey pink predawn light with coffee brewing, and porpoises feeding in the river around us. I teased Norm about the irony of motorsailing at up to 11knts SOG in the DARK and then slowing to holding position as dawn broke. As the sun came up, we entered the Cape May canal and motored sailed into a beautiful day.

After a brief trip into the marina for fuel and water, we went out into the Atlantic, and up the Jersey shore. I napped and when I awoke the decision to avoid NYC harbor had been made. We were out in Beaufort 4 seas, and I was moderately seasick. I'd brought ginger tea along, just in case, so started sucking tea, ginger candies and staring at the horizon. Over the course of the next 10 hrs, the sea sickness waned. Certainly, threatening to "blow chunks" was useful with the generally ribbing and bantering going on!

Night sailing in the open ocean was "easier" in that we had more maneuvering room, but "harder" in that with no shipping channels traffic could come from any quarter. Radar was a huge help, and I eased into the watch, with help, picking out fishing boats deploying around us.

I awoke Sunday morning to fog. Sailing in fog is like night sailing with light. You can't see ****, but it's light out. Again, radar is your friend.

John and I got the night watch together Sunday night, and were tasked with making the turn into Buzzard's Bay. Since it was going to be his home sailing grounds and I was, quite frankly, exhausted, I let John take the lead and provided him with extra eyes to sight channel markers. We made the turn (I learned later that Dan was listening in, from his berth, to make sure all went ok!) and were in the home stretch.

Pulling into John's home marina, I felt this sense of accomplishment. Exhausted, yes, but I had been part of a great trip and learned tons. I felt like I'd earned my right to be a probationary sailor - no longer an observer or wannabe.

More pics at Picasa Web Albums - Mary - Gemini Delive...
 

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...However , there is a small Marina across the street from Utsches on the small channel running north south just east of the bridge that is a boat US member and they offer showers/fuel/etc to transients and I believe laundry is near as well. ...
That's good to know. Chuckles and I are contemplating a trip up to Cape May but were hesitant because of apparent scarce transient facilities.
 
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