We weren’t in any hurry to leave Norfolk, but a clear couple of days’ weather to head north was too good to miss, so we caught the tide on Sunday morning to speed our exit from the Chesapeake. Even with a good current pushing us along it still took over 4 hours of boring motoring before we turned to go up the east coast and put the sails up at last. Although the winds were light, day 2 was better sailing, we even had the big red gennaker up for hours, until we came across a tug with a barge in tow. We took avoiding action, perhaps unnecessarily as we then ended up sailing parallel to them for about an hour as we passed Atlantic City. It’s an odd coastline, very low lying and shallow with almost nowhere a boat of our draft to rest.
Distant murky Atlantic City:
Goosewinged with gennaker (embarrassingly tatty ensign hanging limply to show how little wind we were sailing in):
Towards the end of day 2 Lindsay pointed out we seemed to be on track to arrive in the dark. Oops, I hadn’t spotted that an error in the chartplotter software had just been corrected and I was still adding 4 hours onto its predicted arrival time. We slowed down as much as we could, but still arrived at the entrance channel just before the first glimmer of light was visible above New York. Again we managed to catch a helpful tide to speed us in, but this brought us almost into contact with a dredger in the narrow channel. Their skipper was more on the ball than I and a quick radio call averted trouble!
We came into Atlantic Highlands harbour at dawn, just as the local fishermen were getting ready for their day. The harbour heaves with fish which they catch for bait before heading out for the bigger stuff. Although the waters here are unappealingly murky and cold they are undoubtedly productive; apart from human fishers there is a big community of cormorants (they gather on the harbour wall at the end of each day, presumably to natter about their catches and the ones that got away) and several ospreys. I glanced out of a porthole one morning to see one osprey just swooping upwards having caught a good sized fish only yards from where we are moored - such a privilege to see. Yet here we are in sight of New York! We have to pinch ourselves; we were here 5½ years ago (the night Obama was elected) visiting Lindsay’s cousin, just before we started live-aboard sailing. We had our sights on the Med and never conceived that we would cross an ocean and one day sail here in our own home!
Although visiting Lindsay’s cousin Brian brought us to this specific spot, it is a total delight which we recommend to anyone coming this way. The harbour is well supplied with mooring bouys and for the $50 a day it costs, you get a “free” water taxi service to and from your boat up to 10 p.m. We are minutes from a nice little town with everything we need, including bits for the boat and a couple of handy guys who will sort out a few things on Goldcrest before we move on (a dicky fridge and an oil consuming engine). We are torn between staying in such a handy spot where we can easily visit New York by ferry (about 15 miles away) and sailing into a (very expensive) marina opposite Manhattan.
We had a rather wonderful welcome by the local yacht club last night. Captain Jack, the vice commodore, invited us to join them for drinks, which segued into supper with a lively bunch of local sailors. Jack made a big announcement that we had joined them all the way from England and we were overwhelmed by the interest, friendliness and generosity that ensued.