Delaware City, DE and Delaware Bay – May 16 and 17, 2014

Day 77 and 78
Miles Today: 61 SM; Total Miles: 1,496 SM
Locks Today: 0 ; Total Locks: 7

Friday (5/16) was a washout- it rained buckets all day. We were happy to be in a marina and we caught up on boat chores: Steve did engine room checks and Gina cleaned house (oops, boat). Cody and Cailee got baths and slept most of the day –ah the life of a dog.

At 5:15 p.m., all the captains gathered in the marina office for a weather briefing on the Delaware Bay given by Harbormaster Tim. The forecast called for 6-8 foot seas. Steve came home saying tomorrow was a “no go”. We had resigned ourselves to the fact that that we’d be spending another weather day here–not that it’s bad. But did I forget say that our cruising life revolves around the weather?

So at 7:15 a.m. this morning (Saturday) Steve steps off the boat to take Cody for a walk and Harbormaster Tim is there and tells Steve that Delaware Bay winds had “laid down” and it should be a good day. Tony on Summer Recess was there too and the Captains decided that we would “go for it”. You see Harbormaster Tim is up every day waiting for the 5a.m. NOAA updated marine forecast so he can provide the cruisers with the latest info and help them off the dock if they want to leave– what a great guy!! So at 7:40 a.m., Island Time, Summer Recess, and Meandering left the docks to venture out into the Delaware Bay.

The Delaware Bay runs north and south, is 52 miles long and some 20-25 miles wide at its widest point. It also serves as the state line for a portion of Delaware-New Jersey. We entered the Delaware Bay with light NW winds and 1-2 foot seas- a nice comfortable cruise. Immediately the AIS started beeping that we had “targets”, I.e. Large ships. The Delaware Bay is a major shipping channel from the Atlantic Ocean, north to Wilmington and Philadelphia. These big ships are fascinating and today we had about 6 container ships and tankers.

Timing the tides and currents on this trip was important. We wanted to leave on an outgoing tide so the current would carry us down the bay. Island Time is a slow trawler so we cruise at a mere 7-8 mph. We were screaming today at up to 11.5 mph.

WhooHoo we're flying!

WhooHoo we’re flying!

But of course our speed didn’t last. As we moved farther south, the Bay widened, the winds picked up and the seas increased to 2-3 feet following seas (on the stern). Not uncomfortable, just difficult for the Captain to keep us on course. We have autopilot but autopilots don’t do well in following seas, or so the Captain tells me.

We passed the Salem Nuclear Power Plant, puffing lots of steam.

Salem Nuclear Power Plant

Salem Nuclear Power Plant

We encountered yet another lighthouse, the Ship John Shoal. These lighthouses are fascinating. Here’s what I’ve found out about this one. This Delaware Bay Lighthouse was named after a ship, the Ship John. The vessel was built in Massachusetts, and was under the command of Captain Folger, and was carrying a cargo of glass, hollow ware, gin, iron sheeting cloth, toys, nails and window glass from Hamburg, Germany to Philadelphia when it grounded on a shoal near the mouth of the Cohansey Creek in December, 1797. Aboard were about 60 German passengers. Vessels from Greenwich, New Jersey rescued the passengers and Captain, and salvaged some of the cargo. The lighthouse was built in 1877 on a caisson foundation. These has been a major effort to attract groups to sponsor the restoration and upkeep of these lighthouses.

Ship John Lighthouse on Delaware Bay

Ship John Lighthouse on Delaware Bay

At 2:30 pm we left the Delaware Bay and entered the canal leading to Cape May, New Jersey.

Cape May harbor

Cape May harbor

Here’s a collection of ships we passed today- most were several hundred feet long, and made us feel very small.

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