One of the things that sailing teaches me is patience and flexibility. I’m not the most patient person by nature, and once I have a plan, I get quite intent on executing the plan. Sailing reminds me that patience is a virtue and to not get too attached to a plan. In this case, our initial plan was to meet up with our friends Melissa and Bill in Chesapeake City, DE on Friday, check out the area on Saturday, and then leave for Newport Sunday morning, arriving Tuesday. Mother Nature had something else in mind.
A set of storms and unsettled weather were moving in waves across the Northeast. Our first clear weather window to head north was Wednesday. Time for a new plan and some waiting. We still went to Chesapeake City Friday and had a great meet up with our friends. And Bill was our intrepid tour guide on Saturday. Then we moved to Cape May, NJ on Sunday to wait for good weather. We left Chesapeake City before dawn and headed along the C&D Canal and then out into Delaware Bay. Sunrise on the canal was surprisingly peaceful.
We made it into the marina in Cape May just before strong rains came through. The dockmaster and I got soaked as we finished securing Boundless in the slip, but we were safely tied up as we sat through the rest of the rain. We hung low on Monday with off and on rain then visited Cape May on Tuesday, including a bike ride to the Cape May lighthouse.
Tuesday evening we made ready for the kid’s first offshore passage. I pre-made dinner for when we were underway Wednesday night, we put out the jacklines (extra safety lines on the deck), secured everything that could move while underway, set waypoints in the chart plotter and re-checked the weather. We felt ready for the ~36-hour trip and planned to leave 5am Wednesday at slack tide in Cape May with a Newport arrival Thursday evening.
Again, Mother Nature had other ideas. We left as planned, silently slipping our way out of Cape May and into the Atlantic. The seas were lumpy with 4 – 6 foot swells and the wind was right on our nose. We spent a beautiful day tacking back and forth along the Jersey Shore making very little headway. By Wednesday evening the wind had finally clocked to the south and we were able to sail on course. We were finally leaving Atlantic City behind us. Our 36 hour trip was looking more like a 48 hour trip. I chose to see it more like an unexpected, but beautiful side trip and not like a 12-hour airline delay.
When sailing offshore, we sail 24 hours a day. Someone always has to be at the helm, 24×7. We work in watches – and when you’re on watch, you’re in charge of the boat. When you’re off watch you can sleep or do as you please. Crews do all sorts of watch schedules and we decided to try 3 hour watches at night and 4 hour watches in the day with one adult and one teen on each watch. That ended up working great.
The kids picked names and Andy got Doug as his watch mate. Andy took to watch-keeping immediately. He was awake and ready for each watch and shared helming responsibilities with Doug during his first watch. Given our past sailing on the Chesapeake Bay, I had guessed Andy would take a bit of time to get used to offshore sailing. But turns out that with age, he’s become a natural sailor.
Erin took a little more time to get acclimated. She felt a little seasick green the first 24 hours and spent most of the first day sleeping and feeling gross. But by Thursday early afternoon, the seasickness passed and she was her old self again. I was very happy to have a watch-buddy on our second night after solo watches the first night while she slept.
The highlight of the trip had to be Thursday late afternoon when we had a whale escort. It was amazing! The whale was big (maybe 25 ft long) and was gracefully diving up and down about 30 feet off Boundless’ starboard side. Doug first heard the spray of water and called out “Whale!”. We all came into the cockpit and watched the show. After a bit, the whale disappeared into the water. I like to think that the whale was done checking us out and decided we were good to go!