Not surprisingly, the very best weather window for getting Lunacy from Huntington to Annapolis came over the Wednesday and Thursday of the Thanksgiving holiday, when abandoning hearth and family for the vicissitudes of offshore sailing would have cost many spousal brownie points. It’s hard not to feel a little anxious about these things this time of year. Every day lost means the day of departure, when finally it comes, will likely be colder, with a smaller weather window and a greater chance of stepping in something.
Not to worry. After the trauma of grinding my fingers through the anchor windlass I was due for a run of good luck. Stroke one: my old partner-in-crime Hank Schmitt (see image up top), a professional delivery skipper no less, was willing and able to ride shotgun on this next leg. Stroke two: it looked like our weather window was stretching out for a bit.
I drove down to Huntington the Saturday after Thanksgiving, had a fantastic meal with Hank’s family that evening, and we took off early Sunday morning after topping up on fuel at the Huntington Yacht Club. We spent the day motorsailing with fair current all through the heart of metropolitan New York, down the whole length of the upper and lower parts of the harbor, and were clear of Sandy Hook just before sunset.
Here at long last we had some fair breeze and a proper sailing angle, a fast reach that gradually morphed into a close reach as we traversed the Jersey shore, and so blissfully made easy miles with the engine switched off all through the night.
Swept down the East River
Yours truly bundled against the chill air off Sandy Hook as the sun slumps to the horizon
Hank studies the Sunday paper as we sweep down the Jersey coast under sail
As far as the wind was concerned, our timing was perfect. We carried our northwest sailing breeze on through Monday’s dawn, where it finally left us and shifted softly south as we approached Cape May and prepared to enter Delaware Bay. With a 62-foot mast we were much too tall to think of transiting the Cape May Canal, so we had to stay outside to turn the corner. The entrance of the bay is choked with shoals (indeed, this is true of the entire bay) and the deep-water channel is all the way over hard by the Cape Henelopen shore, many miles out of the way. Hank, however, is a student of this passage, having done it, he estimates, about 100 times total and five times already this year alone. His present strategy, given daylight and a good chartplotter, is to hug the beach on the Cape May side and squeeze through some tendrils of deep-enough water, and I was happy to have him demonstrate.
Our route around Cape May
Hank enjoys the Book Review section as we pass the Salem nuclear power plant at the top of Delaware Bay
By now we were motorsailing again as we trundled north up the bay in the weak southerly breeze. And the forecast, unfortunately, was worrisome. The south breeze, we were told, would build after nightfall, as we plowed through the C&D Canal at the top of Delaware Bay, and by the time we emerged at the northern end of Chesapeake Bay would be blowing 15-20 knots with gusts to 25 straight into our faces.
Not at all a nice prospect. The only thing worse was waiting a bit, as the wind was expected to increase during the next day, blowing 20-25 by late morning with gusts to 35 and driving rain.
But our luck was still holding. We emerged from the C&D on the Chesapeake side around 2130 hours on Monday night with fingers crossed and one lucky reef in the mainsail. The wind was still moderate, blowing 10-15, and stayed that way all the way down to Annapolis. By 0330 hours early Tuesday morning we were tied up at a fuel dock in Back Creek and were nestling into our sleeping bags. The rain started spitting on the coachroof as we drifted off to sleep.
Lunacy is now in the custody of Bernie Jakits of Rogue Wave Yacht Sales at the Port Annapolis yard on Back Creek.
Very cool yacht tug created by Port Annapolis staff to bulldog boats around the marina. A converted 13-foot Boston Whaler with bow-grabber pads on the front. The outboard pod in the middle of the tug rotates through 360 degrees
Bernie on the job, writing up Lunacy’s Yachtworld listing
You can read the listing here. Asking price is now $115K. Call Bernie at 443-742-1792 to check her out!