Friday, January 30, 2009

Watching the New Jersey Coast Pass By

Doug here. You don't get to hear from me much since we have two professional writers on board but occasionally you'll be stuck with me.

Tammy last left you with us sitting in Sandy Hook, New Jersey, watching the sunset. We have started capturing the sunsets and there is a set on our Flickr account that shows them. They are quite magnificent. The trip today was from Sandy Hook to Absecon (Atlantic City) which is a 10 to 11 hour steam under the best of conditions. Our day started this morning at oh dark thirty (5:30 AM to you land lubbers). We had the boat ready by 6:00 and just waited for the sun to get up high enough for Tammy to see to navigate out of the anchorage and across Sandy Hook Bay. So we got a rare opportunity to see both a sunset and sunrise in the same harbor. The sunrise is something we don't often see since it happens so early. We've tried rescheduling it for later but it didn't work. The boat rooster (see Boat Kitties post) may give us more opportunities in the future.

We raised anchor at 6:25 AM and headed north out of the bay. As we approached the exit to the bay we had to enter one of the exit lanes from New York Harbor and found a very large boat in our path. This boat was one we had to dodge the night before on our way in. It seems they are dredging this particular channel so we were playing tag with the dredge boat. Tammy had to slow down for a few minutes while McFarland, the dredge boat, did a 180 degree turn in the middle of the channel that we needed to use to get out of the bay. Once McFarland was out of the way, we proceeded out into the Atlantic Ocean again for the first time since leaving Newport, RI over a week ago. Of course, Poseidon had a surprise waiting for us. He decided we needed to deal with 3 to 5 foot seas coming from both the port stern quarter and the starboard stern quarter. Now powerboats like ours, unlike sail boats I am told, do not like following seas. Having them following from both sides was not fun at all. I asked Tammy, our weather girl, how this could happen and she explained how there were two fronts fighting with each other (my words not hers, she was of course much more eloquent). This is akin to what happened in the Perfect Storm, just on a much smaller and less dangerous scale.

I decided at this point that I had a bunch of work to do inside the boat and left Tammy and John up on the flybridge where the motion is more exaggerated. They did a great job for two hours at which point I felt that it was not fitting for me to be hiding down below and went up to stand my 2 hour watch at the helm. So, to make a long story short, we battled the following seas for over 9 hours as we watched the coast of New Jersey pass by, which is exactly what the coast of New Jersey should always do...pass by! The following seas did help our speed and we cruised at over 9 knots most of the way down the coast so we picked up time from our normal cruising speed of 7.5 to 8 knots.

Tammy, John and I took turns standing 2 hour watches at the helm. Colleen was down below with the cats, all feeling the effects of the following seas. Colleen was probably wishing she was on her father's boat, a sail boat, which likes following seas. As we approached Absecon Inlet about 3:30, I took over the helm to bring her into the marina. During the approach to the inlet we heard a disturbance on the radio that a small boat was disabled and up against the rocks nearby. As we began to enter the inlet we realized that the rocks they were up against were along the entrance to the channel and all the rescue boats that had been deployed (Marine Police, Coast Guard and Sea Tow) were all in the middle of the entrance channel leaving no room for us to maneuver and we had following seas pushing us into the inlet. We got on the radio with the Coast Guard and worked out timing of their rescue operation and only had to jog in place for a few minutes. After that, docking Gypsies at the Marina was rather anti-climatic, something docking rarely is.

So here we sit, drinking a beer, watching - you guessed it - another beautiful sunset!

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