Friday, July 3, 2009

Sandy Hook, NJ


We departed Cape May at 0605 after having discussed the weather with Sojourner, who decided to stay put for another day. Since we had A Schedule (one thing you never want on a boat), we decided to deal with the forecasted choppy seas and chance of storms. Fortunately, the former flattened out and the latter never happened.

We made great time once again, usually exceeding 7 knots while motor sailing with 8-12 knots of breeze. At 2100 (9 pm), we reached the tip of Sandy Hook, and at this time of the year, we still had a bit of light. By the time we reached the inside of Sandy Hook, it was pitch black, and the trillions of channel markers were twinkling away, mixing in with tiny fishing boats and monster cargo ships. I hate arriving here after dark.

We have been boating in these waters for 25 years, but the confusion of activity is overwhelming. We had placed waypoints for the approach, but, nevertheless, a little runabout yelled "you're headed for the beach a-hole" (abbreviation provided here to keep it clean). After making a hard right, we were back on track and soon almost ran into three sailboats anchored right in the channel, and 3 sets of new and improved fishing wrays. We are familiar with these sticks protruding out of the water, we boated here for years, always sailing at night. But in the 2 years we were gone they assumed gargantuan proportions.

Until the next morning when it was light. We were just too damned close to the shore. We can't believe we motor sailed through two sets of wrays that now, in the light of day, don't seem passable.

If you can avoid it, don't arrive here at night. We really know these waters and could have rammed into various and sundry wooden and fiberglass objects. And, we had the spotlight in hand.

If you do, however, don't anchor in the middle of the freaking channel. Anchor by the coast guard station, or better yet, at Atlantic Highlands or Horseshoe Cove (see the charts). The Cove has been changing with erosion and the waters are not predictable, but we followed our long established practice of putting the radio tower on the west shore behind us with a bearing of 047M, and found 10 feet of water at low tide. Not great for a lot for protection, but good holding, and this night, a great place to be.

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