Passage to Cape May and Delaware Bay

We left Block Island before sunrise on September 29, 2019. We expected a boisterous downwind sleigh ride as a strong cold front had passed overnight. Rather than 15-25 knot North winds we experienced 10-12. As the wind was still behind us, sometimes the apparent wind was not strong enough to fill the sails. So we motored whenever our speed dropped below 5 knots. We had a wonderful overnight sail at sea with only occasional ship traffic. Just enough to keep the on watch person from boredom.

Mini-lesson on AIS:Zoom in on the chart plotter above to see what AIS (Automatic Identification System) targets look like directly on our chart. See the green triangles those are clickable links that show details about a ship or navigational aid. Details for ships include length, beam, tonnage, speed, direction, etc. and most importantly “closest point of approach” or CPA. The computer tells you whether you’re on a collision course or not. We currently have an AIS receiver built into our VHF and it is networked with our Chart Plotter. Soon we will install our own transmitter, so other ships can see our boat statistics.

Ironically it took us 39 hours, the same as last year; to sail 220 miles to shelter in Delaware Bay. As we began our passage in the morning this means we had a nighttime arrival. When crossing the Delaware Bay ship channel at night, Anita noticed an AIS target (ship) on the Chart Plotter on a perpendicular course with the name CG Eagle. We recognized the name of this cadet sail training ship. Their home port is right next to ours at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT. She called them on the VHF to verify their preferred direction for us to pass. They were heading out to sea into a strong current and the same current was pushing us sideways up the bay. We paused by heading into the bay to let them by.Our buddy boat Miles (at sea in the above photo) led the way into the Harbor of Refuge at Cape Henlopen on the south shore of Delaware Bay at 9:30 pm. Yeah, we get a full nights sleep and successful passage completed. Amazed and pleased that we managed to keep our boats within VHF radio range for this ocean voyage.

We both headed out again early the next day to ride the current and the wind up the Delaware Bay with a gentle southerly breeze. Early morning clouds soon gave way to a deep blue clear sky.Cape Henlopen ferry.A Lighthouse in the bay.Salem nuclear power station.

We managed to have the current with us most of the day and through the Chesapeake Delaware Canal. We anchored in the Bohemia River on October 1st just before sunset., pictured below.We traveled 75 miles in 11 hours. We’ve earned a lay day! Miles and Lone Star plan to stay put for a day or two.

Next up exploring the Chesapeake.

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