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Boneheaded mistakes & living under a lucky star

Oct 26, 2008
4,988
Catalina 320 Barnegat, NJ
My daughter came to New Jersey from her home in Montana specifically to sail with me and we hit a home run on the experience meter! I picked her up at the airport on Friday afternoon and we had some family socializing to attend to first later in the evening and Saturday. We did not get an early start on Sunday so when we got to our marina a little after noon after purchasing groceries, we were anxious to raise sails for an afternoon with a ripping north wind and perfectly clear skies. If we weren't so anxious, I might have made a brief stop for pumpout and fuel. But by not stopping, I set in motion the course of events that later had consequences.

I had planned on staying inside Barnegat Bay for 3 days. I'm not known for sticking with a plan. We had a great afternoon beating up the entire length of the bay and then turning downwind again to anchor at Tices Shoal for some beach time and sunset. Big bonus was the full moon rising over the ocean almost immediately after sunset. It was a fantastic night for anchoring out! Waking up in the morning, I discovered the holding tank weeping out the vent. Crud, I thought, either we have to find a pump out .... or, we could sail out in the ocean 3 miles and discharge.

That sounded like fun since the wind was strong from the northeast by this time. So that's what we did, only the wind was so good and we were having such a great time that we made the spur of the moment decision to sail to Atlantic City! What a great day we had! The only brief cloud was when Linda went below to make sandwiches for lunch and later chucked over the side. There was a pretty good swell and wind waves to confuse the pattern and we were rolling a bit since our direction was a broad reach. That was Linda's first ever bout with sea sickness and after 3 quick hurls she just laughed it off and thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the trip!

I got around to looking at the fuel and saw that we had more than a quarter tank and that seemed pretty safe. Since we use so little fuel, I generally do not give much thought to fueling and I have never had any high anxiety over a lack of fuel under any circumstance up until then. We had another fantastic night with perfect weather and we enjoyed a long conversation in the cockpit until late in the night.

So it was decision time on Tuesday morning. Do we motor the ICW or do we go back out in the ocean and hope to sail. Swell and wind direction that we had on Monday would have shut us down on the ocean, but the surf was down significantly, it seemed, and wind was shifting to east & SE, which would improve our sailing, although getting lighter according to the forecast. I figured we would need fuel for motoring the whole way on the ICW, but I could fill up when we reached Beach Haven. I never gave it a thought to fuel up in Atlantic City marina, which seemed like a nuisance detour. We didn't make a decision until we pointed our nose out the cove and into the inlet. Atlantic Ocean it was.

To shorten a long story, it was a slow slog upwind (mostly) in light winds that stayed mostly north of optimum for us and I soon became very concerned about the lack of fuel. We spent the entire day sailing with very slow progress, limiting the motor sailing to conserve fuel and I was constantly stressing over it. Linda was relaxed, since we had time and the motion on the ocean was pretty comfortable. We had a loooong, pleasant day making very slow progress until about 4 or 5 miles from Barnegat Light. By that time, I was exultant that it appeared clearly that we would have enough fuel to make it home. But there were dark clouds on the horizon .... literally!

I had to make one more tack out into the ocean to make our final push to the inlet and I saw nothing but a very dark, angry cloud in front of us. I couldn't tell what direction it was moving, but I was hopeful that it was moving away. I was waiting for thunder and lightning and I was looking for, and expecting to see a white line of whitecaps marching towards us. I was afraid that we would need to drop sails and I was torn about motoring INTO a cloud, which was the direction we needed to go. But I also thought that if we were to be hit with a squall, it would be better to have sea room, so I kept going until I knew that we could finally turn for our last tack. The squall never came as the cloud pretty much just skirted around us! As we entered the inlet and we found the current with us to help us along. We high-fived our safety! It was dusk as we went through Barnegat Inlet after at least 10 hours past leaving Absecon Inlet, with our third dramatic moon rise over the ocean! The dark angry cloud was still in front of us, but moving northwest away from us!

We had just enough fuel to motor to our marina in the dark and I landed Andante at her slip without even nudging the side pilings. We had a long drive back to Allamuchy and we had 2 near misses with disaster on the road. Somehow we made it home safe and all is well!
 
Jan 11, 2014
7,722
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
Sometimes we get lucky! Glad you had a good time with your daughter.

We sailed the Jersey Coast Sunday afternoon from Brooklyn down to Cape May, it was a wonderful day on the ocean. During the late afternoon the winds weren't cooperative enough to sail, however by 11:30 pm they came to their senses and we raised sails for a nice reach and broad reach in 10-15 knots.

Did you ever get pumped out?
 
Oct 22, 2014
15,801
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
An great story... We saw that same moon here on the west coast, but not as dramatic as seeing it rise over the horizon while at anchor.

Thanks for sharing.
 
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Bob S

.
Sep 27, 2007
1,684
Beneteau 393 New Bedford, MA
The moon has been ineradicable this past week. Clear skies here and so bright! Great story Scott.

Do you have a final destination Dave?
 
Jan 11, 2014
7,722
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
The moon has been ineradicable this past week. Clear skies here and so bright! Great story Scott.

Do you have a final destination Dave?
The Bahamas. We'll spend most of the next month poking around the Chesapeake and then race the cold weather to Florida and wait for a weather window to cross. Returning to Lake Ontario next summer.

So, I guess the most accurate answer to the question is my final destination is Fair Haven, NY via the Bahamas. ;)
 
Feb 26, 2004
21,893
Catalina 34 224 Maple Bay, BC, Canada
Hmmmm I would not turn down a glass of spiced rum but as sipping beverages go... I really like
View attachment 198532... but now we are back to needing fuel because it is much better chilled.
Gee, on my boat the fridge can run for two days before I need to run the engine. What kinda boats do you slurpers have? :yikes:
 

dLj

.
Mar 23, 2017
1,776
Belliure 41 Snug Harbor, Lake Champlain
We were about 4.3 miles off the Light at 10:39 pm.

@dlochner I see you just went up the Delaware and through the C&D canal. I'm heading that same way in about a week or so, depending upon weather. I figured it's about a day from the ocean to the entrance to the canal, is that what you found? Any suggestions for anchorages along the way or waiting for the right time to go through the canal?

If you're still there when I come through, I'll have good beverages onboard my boat... Always best to drink with company....

dj
 
Jan 11, 2014
7,722
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
Gee, on my boat the fridge can run for two days before I need to run the engine. What kinda boats do you slurpers have? :yikes:
Under normal circumstances, I can can go up to 4 days without running the motor. However, when some bonehead skipper (keeping this related to the thread) realizes at 0300 that he forgot to turn off the non-led running lights and they have been on for at least 12 hours after anchoring and the next day is a nasty overcast rainy day and the solar panels put out a whopping 200 watt hours in a day, it becomes necessary to run the motor to turn the alternator to put enough power back into the batteries. This of course is a purely hypothetical set of circumstances created after spending a day under cloudy skies and downpours revealing more deck leaks. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. :huh:
 
Jan 11, 2014
7,722
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
@dlochner I see you just went up the Delaware and through the C&D canal. I'm heading that same way in about a week or so, depending upon weather. I figured it's about a day from the ocean to the entrance to the canal, is that what you found? Any suggestions for anchorages along the way or waiting for the right time to go through the canal?

If you're still there when I come through, I'll have good beverages onboard my boat... Always best to drink with company....

dj
We'll be in the Chesapeake for about a month before heading south. Sharing adult beverages and telling highly accurate recounting of sailing and life adventures would be no doubt a pleasurable event.

There are 2 routes to the C&D canal, around Cape May and up the Delaware Bay or the short cut by way of the Cape May Canal. The canal transit is limited by the 2 bridges with 55' clearance at high tide. With a mast height of close to 55' we went through the bridges at low tide and long before the sun rose.

Getting the tide right is key to getting up Delaware Bay. With a favorable tide you can get .5 knot to 2 knot boost. We made it from Cape May, through the CM canal and through the C&D Canal in about 12 hours with a favorable tide and following winds.
 
Jan 1, 2006
5,985
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
Because I have a friend with a beach house in Lewes, DE I have observed boats anchoring in the lee of a jetty there. There could be a depth issue for dLj, but I've seen many sail boats anchored there. FYI. Protected from almost any wind direction. 'NorEaster maybe not so good.