Cape May to Block Island

Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Mon 5 Jul 2010 23:50
In position 41:11.16N, 71:34.81W
Our intended overnight sail to Atlantic Highlands just inside Sandy Hook some 120 miles north of Cape May was shelved as we found favourable winds were persisting so we shaped a course towards Block Island situated at the eastern end of Long Island itself. It meant we would be by-passing New York this time round as we wanted to get to New England as soon as possible as the summer in these latitudes is only a couple of months long and we didn't wish to be sailing in the chilly autumn months.
Once clear of the coast off Ocean City we deployed the fishing lures to see what we might hook in these waters. They are cooler than south of the Chesapeake which is warmed by the Gulf Stream. Now we were heading into offshore waters cooled by the Labrador Current so we wouldn't be seeing our favourites such as Dorado or Wahoo. It wasn't too long before the lure on the electric reel was streaming out and we engaged the motor to bring a fish in. Disappointment struck just as the large fish was alongside the boat as with a tremendous thrashing the fish broke loose, taking the triple hook with it. What's more it had really chewed into the end of our veteran Kampala lure which we may now have to retire. The disappointment was almost overwhelming. The fish, unrecognisable.
It wasn't too long after that the hand line with a large cedar plug lure on the end went bar-taught and we began the process of pulling the long line in to see what was on the end of it. It was a game fighter with an ugly head like a Cod and this time we managed to safely get the fish which weighed just over 10 lbs onto the aft deck and into the large green tub we use to retain fish we catch whilst we 'deal' with them. The tub was dancing round the deck with the fish still intent on escape. It was an impressively powerful beast, loads of firm flesh and with scales, unlike the pelagic fish we usually catch further south in warmer waters.
An hour later, whilst we were still trying to sort out the first fish the electric reel whizzed out again. This time we left the fish out as long as possible to try and wear it out as Skip was worn out from the exploits from the first one. After what seemed like an eternity and not wishing to lose it to a shark or other predator we pulled it in. It didn't seem at all tired and proceeded to thrash all over the place from the aft steps up onto the rear deck. It was almost identical to the first in length but a little fatter and just as ugly! We had already looked through the recognition book and were struggling with the identification. Either way they were certainly edible so we cut them into fillets after scattering fish scales all over the deck and finally bagged them up to place in the freezer.
Number one onboard                                                                                               You don't want an ugly one do you!
Number two arrives                                                                                                       Our 'catch of the day' with the successful cedar lure on the left
The winds had been in the south at about 10-15 knots just like a trade wind run but overnight they went light and south-westerly so we motored northwards on one engine. Day two saw us south of Long Island where we crossed the shipping lanes that carry much of the commercial traffic to and from New York before changing course to head north-eastwards towards Block Island some 65 miles away. Unfortunately we were now in fog which is a regular occurrence in this area so our automatic foghorn was switched on. We probably knew that short of someone being 100 yards ahead of us in an open boat the chances of anything large hearing our siren was doubtful so once again we blessed the radar and AIS systems we have onboard as they took nearly all the stress out of the situation. Of course the fog lifted as we cleared the in-bound lane!
The next morning the fog was looking to return as we approached the channel between Long Island and Block Island where there are shoals and over falls. Our luck was out as far as the tides were concerned and with a favourable wind from behind and an out flowing current the seas were heaping up and we were now on both engines to bring the voyage to an end as the weather was beginning to look nasty. Behind we heard the thunderous sound of a fog siren which Skip took a bearing on to ascertain the origin of the blast. "Looks like the Racon Beacon we passed to port off a while ago it doesn't look to be a ship." It was a submarine heading into Long Island Sound - Idiot!
Nikki pointed out a banging noise she'd heard coming from the masthead during her watch, having previously noticed that our TV aerial was unusually being floodlit from the navigation light bulb on top of the mast. Although the light was coming from underneath. A quick look upwards revealed that we had after all sustained some damage passing under the 55 ft high bridges into Cape May. The tri-white light unit must have taken a hit, been rocked backwards but not dislodged until we were at sea in lively conditions as it was now flopped over the side of the mast on the starboard side hanging by the wire. No doubt confusing other vessels as to the direction we were actually heading! A trip aloft was now going to be a necessity.
We made the entrance to Block Island by 0830 and picked up mooring ball number 63 after which we both grabbed some much needed sleep before doing anything else. The voyage was around 250 miles and we were now in New England waters, just a few miles from the Cape Cod Canal which would lead us into Maine. Almost there!
Misty Great Salt Pond - Block Island                                                                                Visitors looking for some food - swans with two new signets