We left Mystic Seaport at 9:30 am and motored out the (Whitford?) Mystic River, passing the drawbridge in town and a railroad bridge to the south. There were many boats in several marinas. Passed Noank and into Long Island Sound leaving Fisher's Island to port. Brilliant has four sails - jib, stays'l, fores'l, and mains'l. We hoisted sails and motor-sailed to the south. The wind was unfavorable and light.
The new crew was shown the ropes,' organized sleeping arrangements, and divided into watches. The eight of us were divided into two watches, A and B, as indicated above. The watches ran according to the following schedule: 7 am to 1 pm, 1 pm to 6 pm, 6 pm to 11 pm, 11 pm to 3 am, 3 am to 7 am. That way, A watch would do the 7 to 1 shift the first day, and B watch would do it the second.
We continued motor sailing down through Long Island Sound toward King's Point Merchant Marine Academy, located just east of the Throgs Neck Bridge in New York City.
There were occasional rain showers around sundown which became steady rain later. The wind picked up around 8 pm and we began sailing for real. It blew 10-15 knots and later gusted to 20 kts. Both watches got the experience of stormy sailing and we finally arrived at King's Point at 3:30 am wet and tired. Keeping watch for upcoming way marks, ferries, and tug boats with barges was difficult with the rain and the wind. After tying up and clearing the deck, we slept from 4am til 8 am.
After breakfast, there was time for a shower at the sailing center and a brief tour of the campus. It was an interesting place, well worth another visit. We changed our jib to #3 (a smaller one) and tied a reef into the mainsail in anticipation of stiff winds predicted for the upcoming day.
We motored out of the academy at 2:30 pm planning to sail all night down the New Jersey coast and into the Delaware Bay. We motored into the East River, under the Throgs Neck Bridge,the Whitestone Bridge, passed Riker's Island, Hunt's Point, and were passing between North and South Brother Island when we learned via VHS that the East River downstream was closed to traffic due to a helicopter crash near the 34th St heliport.
We motored slowly around North Brother until 6:30; then, having missed the tide, decided to return to King's Point. On the way there, it became clear that any King's Point mooring would be exposed to strong winds, so it was determined to find an anchoring back downstream and we went back once again past the Brothers.
Ultimately we spent the night off Hunt's Point. The pro crew kept anchor watch. Early to bed with a 4:40 am wake up call for B watch. We later learned that one person had died in the helicopter crash.
Everyone up at 4:40, engine on by 4:50, anchor weighed at 5:00 am. Terry was on bowsprit hosing off the mud. Phil and Ned cranked the winch. We motored down the East River, through a mellow Hellgate, past Manhattan and all the bridges, into NY Harbor, passing the Statue of Liberty as the sun came up. We hoisted sails off the statue, then sailed under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and headed for Sandy Hook.
We worked around the hook and headed south with ideal NW wind at 10-15 kts. We sailed between 2 and 3 miles offshore and played tag with a tug heading to Brunswick, GA, towing a substantial barge all day and night until well past Atlantic City.
As we sailed we were accompanied by two birds, probably Cape May or Myrtle warblers. There were also Monarch butterflies and the occasional seabird.
Again, the watch took turns at the helm and identifying way points as we sailed along. The wind picked up to 20 kts and more some time after Atlantic City as the sun went down. After dark, the Brilliant was visited by an osprey, who flew around the main mast and then perched for a few minutes on top of the mast. Corey took photos of him.
After the 7 pm watch change, the wind continued to build and the watch had to jibe to move a little offshore to get around Cape May, NJ. Brilliant was flying along at 8-10 knots over large swells and eventually, reached a point far enough south and west of Cape May to avoid the shoals off the southwestern tip of New Jersey and to turn up into Delaware Bay. At that point B watch jibed back to the other tack, to follow a northwesterly course. The seas grew from a comfortable 3-4 feet to 4 - 6 feet and more and were closer together. Just as the watch changed at 11pm, Brilliant was crashing into the waves coming down through Delaware Bay.
Soon all hands were on deck. Since Brilliant was sailing nearly into the wind and with a contrary tide, green water over the bow, and increasing pounding, it was decided to lower sails and backtrack to the harbor of refuge in Lewes, DE. We did this after installing safety lines along the deck to clip our harnesses into if we needed to go forward. After struggling for an hour plus to get the sails down, we slowly motored into the harbor keeping careful watch for other traffic and the breakwaters at Lewes. Dee and Ian professionally maneuvered us in the dark through was seemed like a maze o lights and breakwaters. We found a safe anchoring spot and were able to get below for some rest about 6 am. During all this rough weather, either Denise or Ian had the helm.
Waking at 10 after a short 4 hours of rest, we hauled the anchor and were soon motoring up Delaware Bay. The wind was on our nose and, with a narrow channel, tacking back and forth was not a good option so we did not raise the sails. The day was warm and pleasant, after last night's blow, so we had a knot-tying lesson from Mike, who was a good teacher. Following Mike's example, several of us also began to spend the quiet time polishing the brass. Brilliant had lots of brass to polish.
We were back on our watch schedule and, soon after the sun went down, we left Delaware Bay and entered the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. It became very important to mind the waymarks - buoys, range markers, etc., and watch for oncoming traffic. We were followed for some distance by a large tug with container ship. Ian radioed the captain to indicate we would pull over in a cove to allow them to pass. The captain, however, was very pleasant and assured us there was plenty of room and that he would go by on our port. He floated by very gently as Terry took photographs--images that showed very little of the vessels, but would make a good slide test for navigators learning how to read lights at night.
The canal was narrow and there were interesting moments when Brilliant was passed by a large car carrier and tugs with their tows. We did some serious bouncing when passed by a speeding tug on its way home with no load. He didn't slow up as some of the larger vessels did.
It was misty and rather mysterious passing along the shoreline, which was lined with small camps, villages, and the occasional small town. After several hours of motoring for each of the watches, A-watch moved into a wider section of the canal and the upper Chesapeake Bay. Soon we turned into the mouth of the Sassafras River on the east shore of the Bay, found a spot, and anchored for the night shortly before 3 am.
We got up early to a nicely sunny anchorage with light fog and prepared to motor up the Sassafras to the Skipjack Cove Marina, where we had arrangements to spend Friday night. The trip up river was interesting, both beautiful and demanding. The channel was not well marked and there was a remarkable amount of debris from the recent heavy rains in the area and up the Susquehanna through Pennsylvania to southern New York State. This had also been true in the canal. The bow watches had to pay close attention to what was ahead of us.
We arrived at the marina late in the morning, tied up handily, and set about washing down the boat, putting on sail covers, and continuing to polish brass, etc. We were polishing up for a good entrance into the marina in Baltimore. After chores were done, the crew headed to the showers. Following that, several of us retreated to the bar next door for a few beers. We were soon met by Denise and Ian, then Mike and the rest of the crew. We had a pleasant couple of hours, relaxing and chatting away about boats, sailing, and the events of the trip. We were on our own for supper, most of us choosing leftovers from the galley and a few going into the very small town to look for pizza and more beer. It was a relaxing evening and a beautiful sunset.
We got up early and were underway by 7 am. The trip down river was a bit challenging due to lots of fog, which sometimes was thick enough to oblige us to use the fog horn. This is quite loud so we were glad it wasn't needed much. In spite of all that, it is a beautiful river, with pleasant houses, fish weirs, and the occasional boat tied to a small dock.
Again, there was lots of debris, but navigation became easier as th sun got higher and burned off the fog. The debris fields continued into the Bay and we began motoring south to the sound of explosions from Aberdeen Proving Grounds, which is across the Bay from the Sassafras.
The trip down the bay and into the Patapsco River, on which Baltimore is located, was uneventful but interesting in terms of the shipping, other boat traffic, and a distant view of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. We carefully threaded our way into Baltimore Harbor and, finally, to our dock at the Baltimore Marine Center at Lighthouse Point, just east of Fells Point.
After tying up, making basic arrangements, we all gathered for the traditional round of Dark and Stormies, a rum and ginger beer drink associated with sailing. The crew then disbanded until Tuesday, most leaving in the afternoon, the others the next morning. Ian and Mike were staying with Brilliant.