Another Gale to wait out, Cape May Style.

True to form, our fall trip out of New England is punctuated by regular gales. It’s always nice when the gales schedule themselves so we can hang in nice places. Cape May is definitely a nice place to hang. When the weather settled we ran up the Delaware Bay.
October 19 – 22, Cape May, NJ
Days 6 – 7 – 8 – 9

We were settled in at South Jersey Marina in Cape May by 3:30 on Saturday afternoon after the 120-mile run from Atlantic Highlands. Always a little buzzy after a long, fast run, I got the dogs off the boat to go for a walk and to get the blood circulating again. It was a beautiful warm afternoon and town appeared relatively crowded. Lots of folks were out enjoying a nice fall Saturday.

We watched a number of boats arrive that afternoon, and it was not uneventful. There is a current that runs through the marina, and a lot of folks don’t seem to be aware of it when planning their approach. We watched one poor fellow demolish his swim platform as he tried to turn around, and he then got pinned sideways against a piling and a fixed pier. Eventually the dock crew manually hauled him off. Fortunately no other boats were damaged; one shiny Vicem was in a very vulnerable spot, but was unscathed.

Because we had been on the boat so long, we opted for dinner ashore. We started at the Lobster House, which is not usually our thing but Bruce wanted a lobster so we headed that way for an early supper — and were met outside the entrance by a line of hundreds of people waiting to get in. That was the end of that idea. Plan B was across the street at Lucky Bones. No line out the door, but the dining room and bar were both packed. Plan C anyone?

Plan C was Mayers Tavern. We had been there before. It is small, intimate, casual, and the food is good. We had a delightful evening chatting with a couple from Ohio and enjoyed excellent food – a kale salad for me and scallops for Bruce.

We were so busy enjoying our new friends that we didn’t talk about plans for the next day (do we stay or do we go?). Sunday morning was supposed to be calm, with a breeze starting early out of the southeast, then backing during the day and building out of the northeast. We did have a window to get up the Delaware before the worst of it hit. We had to decide if we wanted to exercise that option. If we did not leave Sunday morning, we would be staying put Monday, too, which was expected to be clear and sunny but with northwest winds gusting to 50 knots.

It wasn’t until the next morning that we finally committed to staying in Cape May. Why not? It is a great spot, the marina is fully protected, secure and friendly, and we were in no hurry.

Dawn before the gale offered a dramatic sunrise over the fishing fleet that was in port for the blow. This view from our slip changed dramatically over the course of our stay as the storm passed through.

A few boats did leave. We heard from them later that they had a rough ride up the Delaware Bay, as the wind began to build out of the north while the current was flooding, creating unpleasant conditions. We did the right thing.

We went for a nice walk in the morning with the pups, giving us all some exercise and returning to the boat just as the rain began to spit. It was going to be a long, wet day on board. We both had plenty to do. It was not unpleasant. I caught up on logistics, mail, bills and did some work on the blog. Bruce was digging in to vibration issues and engine mounts. This is his current focus, and he was diving all-in to resolve the issue. Last year it was the Webasto heater; this year, Isoflex mounts.

It started to rain. And it Rained. And it RAINED. Did I say it RAINED? I wish I had pictures. I was afraid to walk the dogs for fear of them drowning. By dinner time we had cabin fever. We decided to try The Lobster House again, mainly because it was the closest restaurant to the marina. We called first to see if it was busy; they just laughed at us! Unlike the day before, the place was empty thanks to the weather.

On our way out we stopped briefly to say hi to a couple of funny guys in the slip next to us aboard a Cabo Out of Gloucester, MA named Strangeways. They had come in that day after a long run from New York. They had been
battered by the building gale, and got sucked sideways by the current in the marina as they pulled into their slip. By 4;00 pm they were both solidly blotto-drunk, and very “entertaining“. They tried desperately to get us to come aboard for drinks, as they leaned out their enclosure waving half-empty liquor bottles around, both wearing sweatshirts and flannel plaid BVD’s. It must have been a very stressful ride in the gale! Quite the scene, very funny, which they did not remember the next morning.

Below, they guys on Strangeways have a tough arrival in miserable weather. You can see the current pull them sideways as they back in.

Bundled up in our foul weather gear, we walked over to the Lobster House in the driving rain and howling wind. Drowned rats. The bartenders laughed at us, and we laughed at them because there was a leak in the roof that dripped steadily at the opposite end of the bar. We were entertained by our Serbian bartender Milosz (?), who was a hoot. It was a fun evening. I told Bruce he couldn’t have desert, so he went next door to the Lobster House market and bought an entire Key Lime Pie. The tradition continues…

Back at the boat I dragged the reluctant pups out for the last time. Our buddies on the Cabo were still totally polluted and tried again to get us to go party with them. We declined again and blamed it on the dogs who needed a walk. I did give the guys a big hunk of the Key Lime pie to console them. Poor pups were not pleased with the rain, until I brought them inside the marina office, where they found another pup to play with, and lots of treats! Happy dogs = happy ship.

The wind howled like banshee overnight, and throughout the next day. It blew a solid 30 knots, and was gusting between 40 and 50. Offshore buoys showed gusts to 80. We were totally protected and safe at South Jersey Marina: an excellent port in a storm. The good news was that as the wind shifted into the northwest over night, the rain pulled away and Monday was actually quite a beautiful, if windy day.

Bruce and I took the pups for a long walk into Cape May where we explored the village and enjoyed the architecture. A quick and convenient stop at Colliers Liquors and the Acme market re-stocked our larder. Done. Unfortunately Bruce also found that his Achilles tendinitis is really and truly flaring up again, so his walking is going to be curtailed in the days (weeks?) ahead. Ugh.

Bruce found a new stainless polish at the marina store that he really liked, so he got busy with that while at the same time fussing more about the engine mounts. I went for a nice long run all around Cape May – such a great spot to run. Fast, flat and scenic. I had a great time.

That afternoon we chatted with our new buddies on the Cabo. They were really nice and fun now that they were sober, and gave us a big pile of steamed shrimp to make up for their bad behavior. Laurie and Matt from the Nordhaven 46 First Light came over for a drink, then we all wandered over to The Lobster House for dinner at the bar. It was fun spending time with them. The Nordhaven is new-to-them, and they are enjoying their boat and the challenges of getting to know her.

The next morning, Tuesday, it was time to head out. There was no hurry to be early as the tide in the Delaware Bay would be ebbing until late morning. We preferred to leave later and ride the flood up the bay, especially since the wind would be building out of the southeast all day and we didn’t want to find ourselves with a strong southerly against and ebb-tide at the top of the bay.

We made a good call. The Delaware is one of those runs that can become problematic quickly, so timing any passage to proper wind and tide conditions is important. Boats that left early got thrown around by rough Wind-against-current conditions. Our later start gave us a fun and fast ride in calm-becoming-blustery conditions.

It was only a 60-mile run. Just as we pulled into Chesapeake City on the C&D Canal, it started to pour, and rained hard through the evening. But it was to be a great evening, so we didn’t care!

One thought on “Another Gale to wait out, Cape May Style.”

  1. Dorsey, looks like you got yourselves a good spot along Ego Alley. From reports I’ve had, that whole area was under water for the boat show, with finger piers covered with pallets to get onto the show boats. That was a little disappointing for sales efforts for sure. Glad you are finding safe spots to ride out these gales. Second time down should always be easier. Hope Bruce can resolve issues and spend more time topside. Dean and Kathy


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