I know, trying to meet a schedule can get you in trouble. But we really wanted to make progress south from Newport. And we were committed to the Bay Bridge Trawlerfest in support of Kadey Krogen Yachts. Meanwhile, the weather sucked. We could leave just after the closing of the Newport boat show and drive through the remnants of Jose, still a hurricane, or wait a week and sail into the approaching face of Maria, still a hurricane. Two choices, wait two weeks for both Jose and Maria to pass, hoping nothing was behind them, or find a window between the two storms. And I wasn’t really seeing one.
For their part, the Kadey Krogen folks were putting no pressure on us at all. They are all boaters and appreciated the weather pattern. “If you don’t like the weather, don’t go. We will deal with it” was the response from KKY when we suggested we might not make it to T’fest. But we have made the trip from New England to the Chesapeake many times in the fall, and decent windows are hard to find. And the later in the season, the harder it gets to find decent weather. So if there was a window, I wanted to go.
On 19 Sep I lloked at the forecast and the sea states from Jose overlapped Maria. And current buoy reports from half way between Block Island and Cape May had waves to 12 feet and steepness values of “very steep”. No window there.
This went on for the next four days. Meanwhile, Jose was slapping us around in our slip with gusts in the low Then the glimmer of hope. By Sunday, Jose would be sufficiently east and Maria sufficiently south to suggest a window. What made the window tenable was the wind forecast of <10 knots for the entire trip. Leaving Sunday we would make the turn at Cape May on Monday evening and the forecast was for 8-10′ swells from the SE at 12-15 seconds. And for once, most of the models were in close agreement. Winds were still out of the North, but at less than 10 knots, unable to generate a wind driven wave to oppose the swell. The biggest weather risk to the trip was that the winds would pick up sooner than expected. That would make the ride uncomfortable, but not impossible.
Two other Krogens were also considering going, Volunteer and Graditude, and we all agreed the door was open. When Chris Parker chimed in with a “go” we had some confirmation from a usually conservative forecaster.
We all left Sunday morning, facing calm winds and clear skies. After 3 days of Jose, this was quite welcome.. Our plan was to go non-stop, 7 knots and 48 hours. Any faster would get us there before daylight. The other two boats were hoping to stop at Schaefers in the canal so they moved out a little faster than we did.
As it turned out, conditions were even better than forecast. Some rollers, but so mild it mostly felt like we were in the marina. No wind, mostly great visibilty, albeit a little light fog now and then. The Jersey coast just doent get much better. And Delaware bay was a pussy cat. Yay!
I admit, I dont like running at night in congested areas. Offshore, no problem, but Delaware bay, the canal and the upper Chesapeake are a challenge for me at night. Lots of buoys, boats, and, of course, the ever present crab pots. But I really wanted to get where I was going before Maria changed her mind and headed up the peninsula. With a little assist by Brian, my very experienced crew, I got better at overlaying the radar and aligning the returns to line up with the buoys. Add a little MARPA acquisitions and I got pretty good at filling in the blanks. In the Delaware bay we ran just outside the channel, but in the Chesapeake we moved inside the channel because of all the crab pots in that area. That meant dealing with all the tug and barge traffic, and there was plenty of it.
So now we are at Bay Bridge Marina, the Jeresy coast is behind us, and we are looking at enjoying the Chesapeake in the fall.