We finished the trip pretty late last night. After we arranged Dragon Wing in her slip, we headed out for dinner. We ate at the Appleby’s in Forked River. That was an odd experience. The bar area turned into a “nightclub” at some random time (as close as we could tell, it was 9:45 PM). They started playing very loud, bass-heavy R&B/rap music, had a laser show going along with the music, and showed videos of the music, too. Nobody danced, and we had trouble even holding a conversation. We finished eating and headed back to the boat for some sleep. For some reason, I couldn’t fall asleep until after midnight. I think I was too excited about the fact that we were FINALLY home.
This morning, we woke up, cleaned up the boat a bit, then walked to Perkins for breakfast. When we got back, we inflated the dinghy and were just about to put the engine on it when my wife and kids arrived to “take us home.” Our boys were happy to be aboard, and really wanted to go for a dinghy ride. Unfortunately, the engine didn’t want to cooperate. It ran fine at idle, but when in gear it would just stall. Need to add that to my “to-do” list. So, the engine came off, and the boys and I paddled the dinghy to the dinghy dock, where it is resting comfortably.
We then decided that we needed to take Dragon Wing out for our first “family” cruise, and for a swim in Barnegat Bay. We motored out the river and through the channel, then found a spot just to the south where we anchored. The anchor bit on the first try, which was comforting. We hopped in and swam until the boys’ lips turned purple and teeth chattered, then we went for a sail. It was a windy day and we had a lot of people “under foot” so we only sailed with the jib up. We still it over 6 MPH, which was impressive (at least to me). We sailed for an hour and a half or so, then headed home. We docked without any major incident, then washed the boat and headed home. A quick stop at a local Italian restaurant for dinner was all that kept Brandon from his family and his bed.
Looking back over the trip, we did:
Rock Hall to Reedy Island: Approximately 53 nautical miles in 10.5 hours. That gave us an average speed of 5.04 knots. Converting that to statute miles, that’s 61 miles at an average of 5.8 MPH.
Reedy Island to Cape May: Approximately 49 nautical miles in about 9 hours. That gave us an average speed of 5.4 knots. Converting that to statute miles, that’s 56.39 miles at an average of 6.25 MPH
Cape May to Forked River: Approximately 76 nautical miles in about 13.5 hours. That gave us an average speed of 5.63 knots. Converting that to statute miles, that’s 87.45 miles at an average of 6.47 MPH.
What I find especially amazing is that on the last day, we were fighting the outgoing tide for the first two to three hours of our trip from Atlantic City to Forked River. You could easily see the current eddying around the pilings. Yet we still managed to make that our fastest day.
When I was looking into buying this second boat, I was told that Allmands were slow, heavy boats. The general rule of thumb is that for any trip in a sailboat, you should only expect to make 5 knots on average, and I was told that we’d be lucky to make that much. I was also told that the 2-bladed propeller that’s on our boat was highly inefficient, and the 16 HP engine in the boat would have trouble pushing Dragon Wing through the current in many of the inlets. Now, granted, a 3-bladed prop may have made the trip even faster, and a bigger engine might have helped us a bit more at times, but as-is, the boat ran great for the entire trip. I am very thankful for the work Haven Harbour put into Dragon Wing. It was far from an “inexpensive” repair, but it seems to be holding up well.
I also want to say how much I appreciate and respect the Sea Tow operator in Atlantic City. As we wound our way through the channels following the ICW, we passed him towing a boat in the opposite direction. The captain was nice enough to hail us and warn us of shoaling around some areas where there were funky bends in the canal. Once he called our attention to them, it was easy to see the color changes that marked the shallow spots, and we managed to avoid getting stuck in that area. We did bump bottom a few times along the way in other areas, but we never got stuck. Had the captain not hailed us and warned us of the shallow water, we probably would have been stuck out there. I’m a BoatUS member, but he had no way of knowing that, and his advice could easily have cost him a tow fee. But he didn’t care, he wanted to be sure we were safe, and I sincerely appreciate that.
I’m going to go back through the pictures and add annotations. As I look through the pictures, I also realize that I should touch on a few things. First is the crazy number of crab pots/fish traps/etc that are in the Chesapeake Bay and in the Delaware River. It was amazing, and a bit nerve-wracking. I had read posts on Sailnet from people complaining about the number of traps, but I thought they were mostly in out-of-the-way places. Not so. They basically are anywhere that isn’t in the marked channel. Some occasionally ARE in the channel, too. The trip across the C&D canal was beautiful and serene, and also very calming in part because we weren’t constantly dodging the traps. The same was true of our trip across the lower Delaware Bay. The line we took from the area around the Egg Island Fish and Wildlife Management Area to Cape May didn’t really have us hitting too many traps, and it was fantastic.
Another big thing that hit me is that, at least in my limited experience, the Delaware River and Delaware Bay are nicer than I expected. The parts we were in were wide and flat with little if any wave action. It wasn’t until we got close to Cape May that we really saw any chop, and even then it wasn’t bad. We actually had flown the jib while motoring and could lock the steering wheel and still stay largely on course with only minor feedback needed periodically (60 seconds or longer).
Still another thing was that sailing in the ocean was actually, surprisingly, easier than sailing in Chesapeake Bay, Barnegat Bay, or Little Egg Harbor. All those bays are fairly shallow, and they build up a lot of chop if there is any wind. We had some good winds during our time out in the ocean, but all we really saw/felt were the swells. Those were 1-2 feet, which was very comfortable, in part because they were spaced fairly far apart (8-10 seconds). By contrast, in the bay today, we had lots of chop. It wasn’t really big (6″-1′ mostly), but it was very tightly spaced. The boat handled it just fine, but it was less comfortable than when we were out in the ocean.
It was a really interesting experience. I learned a lot, and feel more confident in the boat and in my ability to handle her. But, at the same time, it wasn’t anywhere near as difficult as I had expected. Things went exceptionally well (we joked afterward that the only thing that could have gone better would have been if a) we had seen a whale or b) to have had the dolphins swim along with us). That’s not to say the boat is perfect; she still needs work. Here’s the current “to-do” list:
1) Figure out what’s wrong with the radar;
2) Figure out what’s wrong with the depth sounder;
3) determine if the depth sounder for the GPS will interfere with the boat’s built-in depth sounder and, if not, install it;
4) replace the head hoses and rebuild the head;
5) Inspect the fresh water system for leaks and repair the pump;
6) fix/replace the drain in the galley sink;
7) replace the galley faucet with one that actually will spill water into the sink;
8) install a paper towel rack in the galley;
9) install a paper towel rack and toilet paper holder in the head;
10) make new hatch boards;
11) install port-side lifeline netting;
12) refinish interior wood;
13) refinish exterior wood;
14) repair/replace ICOM RAM microphone;
15) add more insulation to the icebox;
16) inspect the hot water heater and repair/replace;
17) fix/replace the temperature sender and gauge;
18) configure GPS, radio, and radar to talk to each other;
19) compound/polish/wax the deck.