Our Big Passage on the Atlantic Ocean

We left Great Kills Yacht Club around 9:30 am. This passage will be our longest yet and we will run straight through the night for a total of about 28 hours or 147 nautical miles. We are thankful to have our friend Tim aboard so that we can all be better rested on our journey. We will take 3 hour shifts during the night and when we are off your shift then it’s time to try to get some sleep.

Why are we heading offshore and doing this over 28 hours straight? There are not many marinas or services along this stretch of the New Jersey shoreline. The places that do exist can have strong current and are not well protected from the Atlantic, so as long as we have a good weather window there really isn’t a need to stop.

Knowing that we have about 28 hours to get to our destination, we left mid-morning so that we don’t arrive too early to our destination of Cape May. We want to ensure we arrive in plenty of day light so we have no trouble getting into the anchorage.

So the map below outlines our path as we leave Great Kills Yacht Club on Staten Island. We head out into the outer harbor of New York. The 278 interstate where it crosses from Staten Island into Manhattan is the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge. We have to go around Sandy Hook which you see on the map below as Sandy Hook Bay. Then we head south along the coast.

Once we come around Sandy Hook, it’s basically a straight shot south along the Jersey shore and then into the mouth of the Delaware River. We will stop on the south side of the Delaware River opposite of Cape May. We will pass right by Atlantic City.

The anchorage that is opposite from Cape May is near Lewes. It’s a great protected anchorage with a break wall that I drew in in red. Once we rest up for the day and over night, we will then head up the Delaware River. More on that in the next post.

So, as I said we left around 9:30 am. The winds are predicted to be 15 – 20 knots at least initially but are predicted to diminish overnight as we head down the coast. As we made our way toward Sandy Hook, we had 11 – 12 knots of wind, we had the main sail and the stay sail up and we were doing a respectable 5 – 6 knots. It took a couple of hours from Great Kills to reach Sandy Hook. Here is one of the last shots as we left NYC behind us.

Here is a photo as we rounded Sandy Hook.

About 11:15 am just as we were rounding Sandy Hook. We spotted a whale! I think Mark spotted it first and shouted, “Whale!”. We were all in awe! We tried to grab the camera and randomly shot pictures of the water but didn’t seem to time it well enough to coincide with when the whale chose to surface. How cool was that! A whale!

A short time later, we saw about 2 – 3 dolphins off the bow of the boat as well!

Here are the pics of the crew. Looking pretty good and still excited and well rested at this point.

The wind did die down a bit in the afternoon to about 7 – 8 knots which required us to start the engine to keep up our speed. The wind was behind us and will the following seas we had a bit of a struggle trying to keep wind in the sails to make it worthwhile to keep them out.

Toward evening, we started talking about what shifts everyone was willing to do. Are you a night owl or a morning person? I am a night owl so I was happy to take the midnight to 3 am shift. Time took the 3 am to 6 am shift and Mark was up for 9 pm to midnight and then also 6 am to 9 am. I had prepared a pot roast ahead of time so it was easy to heat up for dinner while we were underway. It was getting a little chilly as the sun was setting. It’s going to be dark for a long time since sunset is around 6:30 pm or so. Here’s a picture of the sunset.

We were sailing about 6 – 7 miles off shore at that point. To prepare for the darkness, we made sure we had our headlamps out and ready, turned the chartplotter to the night mode and made sure we had snacks or anything else we needed at hand in the cockpit since you really can’t see anything.

All night long we had winds that were consistently 17 – 18 knots either off our beam or our starboard quarter, which was perfect. The seas were a little rolly and we would rock back and forth quite a bit as the sails pulled us through the water.

Each of our watches went fairly quickly and the time was filled with watching the stars and the moon. Watching the lights of Atlantic City which lit up the night sky for at least 5 hours as we slowly passed by. Filling out the log book. Checking our course and the winds. Looking for other boats on our chartplotter and on the horizon. There was very little traffic during the night.

Tim described the weight of the responsibility of being alone at the helm and how comforting and necessary having AIS was to be able to identify other ships/boats around us in the dark. He described the boat being in the groove and the sails and the motion of the boat as happy. She felt in her element. The moon and the lights of Atlantic City was a constant companion during the 3 hour watch.

Mark spent his watch chatting with some friends back home. His friends were like, “Wait, what? Your sailing right now? In the Atlantic? Where are you?” He found his shift to be very relaxing and the time flew by.

During our off shift time, we tried to get as much sleep as we could, however I don’t think any of us really slept too well and sleep came in short fits and spurts.

All 3 of us were awake and up on deck around 8 am as we started to make our way across the Delaware to get to our anchorage. The tide and current was heading our of the Delaware toward the Atlantic and we were trying to head right into the flow of the current and tide up the Delaware. Because of the tide and current the mouth of the Delaware River was like a washing machine and the motion of the boat was rocking and rolling all over the place. We tried to adjust our speed to various settings to see if we could get in a bit of a rhythm with the waves. Our speed also slowed considerably as we tried to head into the current to get to our destination. We were all tired at that point and just wanted to get there and fall into bed.

We arrived and dropped the anchor around 1 pm and we all fell into bed for a nice afternoon nap. We got up and had some dinner and took a few photos of the area and sunset and went back to bed for the night. Here are the photos from our anchorage.

What an accomplishment! We were all feeling very proud that we made a successful journey overnight and conquered the Atlantic!

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