The "Live-Anywhere" Boat - The Trip South, 2011, Part II, New Haven to Baltimore
Updated December 28, 2011
We enjoyed our time in New Haven. Our friends Les and Kit came across from New York with Mac and Ros for a potluck dinner. Barbara worked almost every day in the Babylonian Collection at the Yale Library and I did chores on the boat. We did manage to spend time with my sister and her husband, and Barbara, typically, went and played flute in St. Paul's church, the church I attended as a child and where I was confirmed. Kathryn, an Assyriological colleague of Barbara's, visited twice with her son Paul, who is very enamored of the boat and loved to "steer."
East Rock, a New Haven Landmark, from Our Berth

One afternoon we both went to a lecture at the Babylonian Collection given by Corneilia Wunsch, a friend from many international meetings. This was followed by a party at Kathryn and Eckart's house, just a block away from where my grandmother used to live.

On another night we were invited to dinner at Mory's, a private club that is a long-established university hangout.

We bought half a cord of wood from a farmer in Hamden and I spent some time cutting it to fit our stove with a borrowed chainsaw and splitting the pieces that were too big. For a while we had quite a pile on the after deck.

Eventually we had to get going or we would never get to Baltimore for Christmas, and besides, it was starting to get cold in New Haven. On our last night, as we were heading back to the boat after dinner ashore, we saw the lights of a tug coming very close to our berth. She slid by us, nudged up to the pier just inshore of us, and picked up several bags of groceries before heading back across the harbor to where her barge was moored.

We said our good-byes, and on December 9th we waited for daylight, then slid out of the harbor, past Lighthouse Point and through the breakwaters, then turned right, headed for New York City, by way of Execution Rocks at the west end of the Sound.

The tides would naturally not come right, so we spent a night between City Island and Hart Island, at the extreme western end of Long Island Sound. City Island is a yachting center, and when I first visited in the 60s was all boatyards and small-ish houses. Now the boatyards are mostly still there, but they are hemmed in on all sides by high-rise condos.

Hart Island is another story. It is the New York Potter's Field, and has been a prison, a hospital, and part of a Nike base. It seems that very little has been demolished, so there are generations of buildings, mostly in bad repair. The plus side of this, however, is that it is not overrun with condos.

We lay very snug between the two islands, along with a few sailboats still on their moorings. The next day we wanted to hit the tides right through New York Harbor, and also hoped not to arrive too early at Cape May, so we did not leave until 11:00.

Fog in New Haven Harbor

The way to the East River winds under the Throg's Neck and Bronx-Whitestone Bridges, and past the New York Merchant Marine Academy (now SUNY-Marine) at Fort Schuyler. We passed the enormous low building of Hunt's Point Market, distribution point for most of the food that goes into New York. Our way led past the end of a runway at LaGuardia Airport, then through the narrow pass between North and South Brother Islands, where one year we had met a DEP sludge tanker coming the other way.
Execution Rocks Lighthouse

The current in these narrow passages swirls and eddies, and as the bow of the boat enters an eddy it can swing 20 degrees, needing quick rudder action. This is what Barbara was built for, however, and with her large rudder we never felt out of control, although attention was required.

Dour Hart Island

All the time, our speed over the ground was increasing, pushed by the current, and as we passed Randall's Island, where I have spent many hours playing Rugby, and entered Hell Gate proper, we were doing almost 13 knots over the bottom but only 7.5 through the water.

We raced down the East River, past the United Nations Headquarters and its "Delegates' Garden" (no delegates visible on the this raw day) that reaches out over the expressway along the riverbank (the FDR Drive) so it has a good view. Our passage was noticed only by an occasional jogger, and we have wondered often at the way the city turns its back on its waterfronts.

It took us only a half-hour to get from Randall's Island to the Brooklyn Bridge, and as we passed South Street Seaport we noticed hundreds of Santas on the museum wharves and still more waiting on the Long Island side for the next ferry. A convention?

We slid past Governor's Island, avoiding the Staten Island Ferry slips at the Battery, and down the eastern side of the harbor, threading our way between anchored tug-barge units waiting for a berth to load, some of them old friends.

Manhattan from the East River (BNP Photo)

By 1:10 we were running under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge that marks the lower end of New York Harbor, and began threading our way among the shoals that make the approach to New York interesting. We had to stay in the channels, but at the same time we did not want to get tangled with the big ships.

At 2:30 we took our departure from the Sandy Hook sea buoy and headed south along the New Jersey shore. We were running between two and four miles off the coast, and as the day wore on and it began to get dark the sport fishermen headed for harbor and the only boats left outside were the commercial clam dredges, towboats, and us.

Steering in the Swirling Currents of the East River Takes Concentration (BNP Photo)

Morning With Sea Smoke, Engineers' Cove, C & D Canal

A little calculation showed that we would arrive off Cape May earlier than we wanted to, so I slowed down. We had a favoring tide, though, and it proved impossible to get our speed over the ground below about 7 knots, even with the engine almost at idle.

We arrived at 5:15 on the morning of the 11th, but even though we have been in Cape May Harbor, we are not really familiar with the inlet, and we especially did not want to try running through the Cape May Canal in the dark, so we jogged back and forth until the false dawn gave us enough light to see the jetties on either side of the inlet.

Alongside in Chesapeake City

With us, and a little offshore, was what looked like a tug, also jogging around, and a looming hulk with a couple of white lights, and a whole series of flashing lights just above the water. We think it has to do with an offshore wind power project planned for Cape May. Construction is not supposed to start until 2013, but there is a group of serious-looking tugs and construction barges just inside the inlet, so it appears that something is happening.

The Cape May Canal leads through the southern tip of New Jersey to Delaware Bay, giving small craft a shortcut -- the shoals off Cape May extend quite far out. It was Sunday morning and there was a lot of small sport fisherman traffic heading for Delaware Bay.

The Chesapeake and Delaware Canal

The Coast Pilot says there is a 10-knot speed limit, but this appears to be more honored in the breach than the observance.

We had a quiet and uneventful passage up Delaware Bay, tsaking care to leave as much of the channel as we could to the ship traffic bound up for Wilmington or even Philadelphia. Maersk Walvis Bay and Dole Colombia passed us inbound.

Our Berth in Downtown Baltimore

From the Other Side (DMP Photo)

The Cutter Taney Between a Former Powerhouse and a Former Factory

We passed a friend from New Haven, the tug Scott C, anchored and waiting for another familiar vessel, Gulf Service, to finish loading.

By 1:00 we were turning into the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. We had the tide with us, and just after 2:00 we passed the entrance to the Chesapeake City harbor ("Engineers' Cove") and turned so as to approach the entrance up-current. The last time we were here the harbor was full, so there was no room for us, but this time there was plenty, and we were soon tied up at the free dock maintained by the city.

We felt a little self-indulgent, so we went to a local restaurant (the Chesapeake Inn) for drinks, dinnner, and part of a football game. Altogether a pleasant evening. The next morning the Dockmaster, Buddy Shepherd, stopped by and offered to drive us to a supermarket, or to do anything else we needed. As it happened, we didn't need anything, but we were very touched (and we took care to point out that we had supported the local economy the previous evening).

We didn't actually get away until 9:15, but it is a short run to Baltimore from Chesapeake City, so by 2:00 we were running along the edge of the ship channel up the river into Baltimore harbor. We ran past Sparrows Point, former home of a steel mill and then a shipyard, and past the point, marked with a buoy, where Francis Scott Key was imprisoned in a British ship at the time during the attack on Fort McHenry, when he wrote the national anthem.

Part of the Baltimore Waterfront

Barbara On

We have usually berthed at the very west end of Baltimore's Inner Harbor, but this time we intended to stay longer, and another marina a little bit east had a better deal for longer stays, so we stayed at the Inner Harbor East, and we were pleased to see that the website marine traffic agreed that we were actually here.
A Former Pumping Station, Now a Museum

This berth is within walking distance of many interesting and useful places, including all the restaurants of "Little Italy," and in addition my brother lent us a car for our stay, which made further excursions possible. Barbara continued her research at Johns Hopkins (easily reached by bus) and I got our propane tanks filled, did a serious shopping, and explored the area.

As we got closer to Christmas, family members began to arrive and our focus shifted to family gatherings.

Street in "Little Italy"

Lunch & Dinner

We went to a folk concert with my brother and his wife and had dinner with them afterwards. Since he was hosting his office party the next night we drove out and helped decorate the house and stayed to help with the party.

One night my brother and his family came to dinner on the boat, which was very pleasant and nice and warm, thanks to the woodstove. On the 23rd our daughter Anne arrived and spent one night with us before going off to share a hotel suite with her brother.

At this point we were spending all our time out at my brother's house in Glyndon, about a half-hour from downtown. We had Christmas Eve dinner there, drove back to the boat, then drove out again Christmas morning for presents and Christmas dinner. In between there were furious games of Scrabble and Boggle, card games I have no idea how to play, and epic tickle fights among the younger cousins.

The day after Christmas most of the crew came down to the boat to hang out and have lunch, which made a close-packed but happy crowd in our saloon.

Mary Ellen's Christmas Tree

Of course all these nice people have lives they have to get back to, so one by one (or several by several) they left and went home. Anne did spend one more day hanging out on the boat, and she hosted a dinner for us and David and Mary Ellen at James Joyce, a local Irish pub.

We would have liked to leave on the 28th, but a low was forecast to be sitting over Chesapeake Bay on that day, so leaving did not seem like the best idea. In the event, the low went north, but we did have 30-knot winds, and the Bay would have been very uncomfortable, with a steep short chop.

Opening Presents Christmas Morning (DMP Photo)

We now plan to leave tomorrow (the 29th) and run straight through the night to Norfolk, waiting there for a good window to go to Bermuda.
Lunch on the Boat (DMP Photo)

Debris Skimmer in the Harbor

Barbara in Command in the Galley

Part I


To see our track in Google Earth click:
here for New Haven to Baltimore