Day 2.. the quest for Cape May.. It is a quest because.. there is a real possibility that I won’t make it.. but time will tell.. so now, for the rest of the story..
Today was a wonderful day for gaining experience.. and for facing humility right in the eyes.. Being among friends, it is perfectly ok to share the truth and the whole truth.. no need for any fiction! ( i already spilled the beans about the diesel)
So, i am heading out of Beach Haven.. skies looking a bit gloomy, but I am prepared for rain anyhow, so who cares. I made my tea and my sandwich before shoving off.. I am beginning to be able to pick out the markers a little quicker.. that is reassuring.. in fact, I was beginning to feel pretty accomplished.. and proud of myself.. cruising along at 5 knots.. thinking i was a real sailor..
time for a small break.. on the ICW, the plan is to keep the red triangles. to starboard and the green squares to port when headed south.. somewhere I read that an easy way to remember that is to keep the mountain ( triangle) between you and the mainland.. i love it.. makes so much sense.. I adopted that as my guide.. and it has worked wonderfully.. keep the mountains where they belong.. toward the land.. but what if the channel makes and S turn.. hmm, which it does from time to time.. well, i am reminded of a saying that was one of my dad’s favorites.. ” he who hesitates is lost ” and guess what, i hesitated.. the wind was blowing at least 20.. the channel was very narrow.. and i ended up on the wrong side of red.. aground.. it happens to me all of the time.. just when i begin to feel a bit to sure of myself.. life slaps me down..
i was motoring.. so i quickly raised the engine.. the plastic bolt on the rudder snapped.. no problem . plenty of spares.. I am not sure if I said a bad word or not.. i might have and then i tried to figure my way out .. thinking first of all. i really should have renewed my Boat US membership which ran out on the 30th of june.. i let it go when i decided against the maine trip. and bought insurance elsewhere.. ok.. first dumb move..
I set the jib.. thinking the boat may heel enough to get me off… no luck with that plan! There were some fishermen about 100 yrds away.. really intent on fishing and totally oblivious to my predicament.. or, perhaps just reluctant to acknowledge my predicament.. at any rate.. I reluctantly sounded the horn 3 times.. twice.. before they looked my way.. They came over but said that it was too shallow for them to do anything and offered to radio the tow boat.. I thanked them and told them that i would place the call..
I sat on the bow,, thinking.. when a nice couple on a C dory happened by and offered a tow.. The gentleman hooked up a swell looking tow rope with floats on it.. the intention was that the rope would float my way.. it did not work.. got caught in their prop.. and he had to lift the engine to untangle.. the next time i just jumped in the water to snag the line.. and i did.. but it got caught again and separated.. this time he had to drop his anchor to keep in the channel while he untangled it.. while he was doing that.. i started to push the boat.. and it moved, little by little. by the time he got back to me, the boat was nearly off.. he said that he did not want to try again.. and who could blame him! but. many thanks the the c dory folks ( i think that the name was C Pod) A bit more pushing and the boat was off.. i had to scramble aboard, and got the motor started.. only to have the prop hit the foil rudder.. oh no!!! i stopped the engine.. and by the time i was ready to go again.. I was aground again! on the other side of the channel… back in the water again.. and push.. this time.. not quite as difficult.. but getting back into the boat is rather difficult without a ladder.. second dumb move.. passing on buying a fixed boarding ladder..
So now I am ready to get out of there.. and i really am at a loss to explain this, but i ended up exactly in the first spot that I was aground.. i think this time I got a bit annoyed.. but I knew that i could handle it.. back in the water.. out of the corner of my eye, I saw a cruiser coming up and stopping.. I tried to wave it on, not wanting anyone else to have a problem.. but he stayed put.. a bit later , after some pushing, I noticed a tow boat coming from the other direction.. hmmm, do I bite the bullet? he stops and says.. “you have one option ” I think that he meant for me to hire him.. I told him thanks, but that I would work on it a while.. he then said.. no problem, he would see if he could help the cruiser.. ahhh, that was why the cruiser had stopped and was so successful at maintaining position in this wind!! I kept tabs on them as I pushed and pulled.. the towboat really had to work to pull that cruiser off. By the time he did.. I was nearly off. and continued to work.. the tow boat kept an eye on me for a bit.. but I got Adagio floated.. and climbed aboard again.. luckily while the water was still relatively shallow.. it would have been really challenging if I had not been standing waist deep when I pushed off..
i was spooked for a bit… forget the mountain thing.. just keep the red triangles on the starboard side when headed south! To add insult to injury, no sooner did I get settled and headed in the correct direction when I was ambushed by green head flies.. hundreds of them.. by the time I got through that area, the cockpit deck was littered with the dead bodies of umpteen flies..
Atlantic city with its temples to financial fortune ( or ruin) was in sight… no interest in stopping there.. But this is where I would encounter drawbridges for the first time on this trip. With limited experience ( my first and only drawbridge experience was last summer) I checked the chart and tried to develop a mental image of the next few miles which included 5 bridges. The bridge personnel were helpful and it turned out to be a pleasure to contact each one of them. Having focused my attention on getting through Atlantic City, it was only after the last bridge that I realized it was getting late.. I lost at least two hours with the grounding fiasco, and I was bucking both wind and tide for a good part of the trip.. so my actual speed much of the day was in the 3-4 knot range.. looking at the chart.. it seemed like Margate might be a good prospect. It was after 5 when I got there.. stopped at a fuel dock that had all kinds of signs saying open for business.. but they weren’t I tied up anyway and went ashore , asked a kid at the hot dog stand associated with the docks if I could stay there.. he called the manager.. the manager said no.. dejected, tired, and just a bit achy, I returned to the boat.. and headed out.. as I made my way down the channel.. i spotted a sign that advertised transient docks . I called and got a recording.. given another number.. called that number and got Luciano.. he would be happy to give me a dock at 3 dollars a foot.. I needed a hot shower.. done deal..
I tied up and took care of the boat first.. washed it down.. took care of some maintenance issues.. and then I headed to the shower.. spent quite a long time in there.. loved it.. then walked around town.. I think I liked beach haven more.. actually, i am sure that I did! so , the big question.. would I make it to cape may? it is not looking all that promising… I think that it is 35 miles from here.. and I just don’t see the need to push it.. much rather take my time going back and stopping by to visit my friend Bob, a fellow compac 23 sailor in Surf City! Perhaps I will make it to Ocean City.. take it easy.. get a slip early tomorrow and then head back north on Thursday..
things i learned.. ( is anyone still reading this?
1 red triangle to starboard when headed south.. keep it simple
2 you can beat the towboat from time to time, but if you sail in Barnegat Bay and the ICW in Jersey, he will very likely win in the end!
3. it really does not matter if it is raining when you are waist deep in water, trying to push your boat off of a bar!
4. gotta line up a transient dock before 5 pm.. after that, everyone is home eating dinner and not the least bit interested in the $60 you are willing to fork over for a slip and a hot shower..
5 think long and hard before putting a Good Samaritan in a predicament that is just as bad , if not worse than your own!