Light winds and calm seas for the first four days made for easy but slow sailing. We got as far as 90 miles offshore and tested the range of our VHF and HF radios with great success, so we feel very comfortable we can talk to someone no matter where we are. On the second night, Kellee was on watch, reading by headlamp, frequently checking for lights on the horizon and making sure the wind vane autopilot kept NAVIGATOR on the right course. A "PFFT" noise from over her shoulder startled her right out of her seat and she looked out over the moonless night to try to see what had snuck up on her. It turned out to be several curious dolphins, including a mother and baby. They swarmed the boat, and were surprisingly easy to see as they swam through phosphorescence which lit up their bodies and left a trail of flickering light in their wake. They hung around for almost 20 minutes, swimming all around the boat, coming up so close to the hull to breathe that Kellee got snotted on from their breath.
The next day, more dolphins came by and we tried to get some pictures of their acrobatics. We also saw a couple of fin whales that kept a respectable distance, but with no motor running, you could hear them blow a thousand yards away. We trolled for fish almost the whole trip but didn't get a bite, we'll keep trying! Overall we saw about a dozen fishing boats and another 11 deep draft big ships. On the last day, the wind and seas kicked up and we hailed a passing container ship to see if he could see us on radar in the choppy seas and he replied that we had showed up 5 miles out and he altered course around us. It's comforting to know that we are visible even when the weather picks up.
The last day had us running straight down wind in building seas so we reefed down to shorten the sail and took turns driving every couple hours since the autopilot doesn't handle well down wind or with a following sea. We arrived at the Cape May breakwater mid afternoon in the rain, and after crabbing our way across the choppy entrance that Chris likened to a west coast bar crossing, we dropped the hook just next to the Coast Guard station.
We dinghyed over to TOMKAT, which had arrived a couple days ahead of us after touring Long Island Sound and NYC and sticking close to the Jersey coast. We got take out dinner from the Lobster House and caught up on the last couple of weeks' adventures. They were headed up the bay to Chesapeake City in the morning and we made plans to catch up in the Chesapeake in a couple weeks. We were chilling out on TOMKAT after dinner when the first lightening flashes came across the darkening sky and we could hear thunder in the distance. We thought we'd just hang out until the thunderstorm passed, but an hour later, a check of the weather radar showed no end in near sight. We decided to make a run for it, a five minute dinghy jaunt across the harbor back to our boat. We borrowed a bailer and a flashlight, since the boat already had a couple inches of accumulating rainwater in it and took off across the harbor. The CG station was well lit and provided a nice target to aim for through the torrential rain. We arrived back onboard, left our already soaked clothes in the cockpit and collapsed to sleep, only to find ourselves repeatedly awakened as the thunderstorm raged overhead with lots of bright, bolt lightening and accompanying surround sound thunderclaps. NAVIGATOR sat comfortably in her protected anchorage and we finally went to sleep.
The next morning, we awoke to sunshine and an almost completely filled dinghy. We used the collection of fresh water to our advantage and got some seriously needed boat cleaning done. Once we got her back to ship shape, we motored ashore to spend some highly anticipated quality time with our friends the Gibbons and Hugus families. We took a preliminary tour of Cape May and enjoyed a yummy bbq to catch up. We plan to stay about a week here then head up the Delaware Bay, through the C&D canal to the Chesapeake Bay. See below and the links for some new pictures and video!