Friday September 21, 2012
Yesterday morning we exited New York Harbor and finally made our way into the Atlantic Ocean. We are officially salted. Before we could even get out of the bay the waves were rolling in and I could only imagine how it would be on open water. Once we got out though we just seemed to crest over the top of the waves without the up and down chop I assumed it would be. While getting out to the point where there was still a little bit of land to our left but open water to our right I was debating if we were technically in the ocean now or still in the bay. Before I could come to a decision we pointed into the wind (and were now slamming up and down in those waves), put the sail up, and turned our nose south. Now there was no denying it, we were in the Atlantic Ocean. It was an exciting milestone to have come so far from Lake Michigan to now call ourselves ocean sailors, even if it was only for five minutes now, and to finally be changing our course to south but the view and the feel still felt the same as spending an afternoon in the Great Lakes.
Trying to get the sails trimmed just right there were a few other sailboats and a few tankers further off shore also going in a southerly direction. Even though we were going over 5 knots everyone seemed to be flying by us. A little more trimming here and there and we found a comfortable speed around 6.5 but we had long been passed by now. It’s a little bit strange getting used to the currents carrying under you and increasing your speed without you feeling like you’re flying and need to hold on for dear life. Back in Michigan if you were going over 6 knots it’s because the winds were over 25 and you were heeling over at a good 15-20 degree angle while trying to stay put. Now going the same speed it was a nice comfortable ride with only 15 knots of wind behind you. What a different world.
There wasn’t much to do for the afternoon. Because we didn’t have completely calm seas, waves were 5-6 feet, I kept myself in the cockpit all day just staring off into the horizon. I did take a few dramamine in the morning but did not want to touch the scopolamine again. Time passed by fairly quick and before we knew it the sun was going down. Getting ourselves prepped for our first overnight passage in a month I went to bed at 9:00 where we could just start making out the electric lights of Atlantic City off in the distance. When I was woken up three hours later we had just passed it and I was told I missed a lot of interesting signs. About an hour into my shift I could see a very bright light coming up behind me although it took a long time to catch up. The AIS was showing that he was right on top of me but the lights off my port still looked far enough away not to cause real concern. I checked the data and found out it was a tug and once it was next to me it was close enough that I could see the water churning up behind it. I had been waiting for him to call me the whole time on 16 and tell me to get out of his way but either our courses were fine or he maneuvered around me because there was radio silence.
Getting up for my second shift just after 6 am Matt told me we were only 9 miles from our destination and to wake him when we got close. Since our speed had gone way down over the night and we were just managing 3 knots. Even though he had mentioned to me that we were going in a channel and would be anchoring in front of a Coast Guard Station my sleepy mind kept thinking that we had to go all the way around the cape and would be dropping anchor somewhere random in the Delaware Bay. It took a good two hours and passing the channel by a few miles while calculating the best way around the shoals in the cape that my mind got to thinking ‘That bay doesn’t look like it offers any good spots to anchor. Why do all those other sailboats keep going into that channel behind me?‘ when I finally remembered what I was told before. Oh right, we were supposed to go in there too. Waking Matt up and telling him my boo boo we lowered the sails and turned the boat around. Following the heavy current into the channel we hooked a left at the fork in the road and found a nice spot in front of the Coast Guard station to drop anchor. There were only three other boats in the anchorage at the time but just as our anchor was set we saw a fleet of five other sailboats make their way up the channel. Holding our breath we let it out as they took a right at the fork and were glad they wouldn’t be dropping right next to us in the area that looked like it could hold five boats total. Exhausted and each going on six hours of sleep or less we passed out after our first ocean passage.
Anchored at Sandy Hook.
First sunrise on the ocean.