Thursday, May 7, 2015

Max's Hill

Atlantic Highlands Anchorage

We were up at 4:30, had our coffee and were underway before 6:00. We needed to make time and would be motoring most of the day. Leaving Atlantic Highlands in nearly calm conditions, we followed our previous GPS track back out past Sandy Hook and into the ship channel. The towers of the Verrazano Bridge and the Freedom Tower just poked above the fog behind us. The Atlantic! I have never sailed in the Atlantic.

We followed the channel for a time and then cut south along the coast of New Jersey. In perfect contradiction, to starboard the beach and all its condos were a couple miles off, plain as day; to port the endless Atlantic Horizon and the early morning sun. It was glorious.

The Captain had been ambivalent for a couple days about our leaving and the storm brewing off the Carolinas. We had to wait for a part to arrive that was needed in the engine room. The original plan was an overnight offshore passage to Cape May, but we were keeping a weather eye. After the part arrived and was installed, the next plan was to just hop down to Atlantic City on a long day's cruise.

Sunrise this morning

A couple hours into our jaunt, Alex got a text. A concerned weather geek friend informed us of the storm's strengthening and the changing track predictions. Another friend sailing north was thinking of skipping Cape May to join us in Atlantic City. His weather had changed and not for the better. He pulled into Cape May to discover the anchorage was closed for dredging. After leaving, he turned back in deteriorating weather to find marina.

On board Eleanor, the winds were oddly fickle and did not match the forecast. Things were changing but clues were elusive. Yet another friend called and reminded us that the Atlantic City anchorage was subject to a lot of current. The ever changing winds of an approaching storm will eventually oppose the current setting up a rough ride.

We faced the following problems: Barnegat Bay was likely too shallow for us to get in far enough to be safe, Atlantic City was going to be rough and Cape May was closed. Beyond Cape May, Delaware Bay has no protected anchorages. The few anchorages on the C&D Canal are shallow. After the C&D is the Chesapeake which was on the border of the storm's track.

Vagabond sailing can be a lonely endeavor, but trusting your gut and sticking to it is lonelier yet. The captain paced about. He sighed and scratched his head.

"That's it," he said slowly, "we're going back."

Eleanor is going to be Alex and Carla's home. And while he is missing his wife and motivated to get moving south back to Panama, it is more important to be as prudent as he can stand. Carla has yet to see Eleanor in person. This beautiful boat will carry them wherever they wish to go for as long as they are going. It is an honor and a privilege to be helping Alex bring Eleanor to Carla. I think I am nearly as frustrated that we had to turn back.

At the same time, I visited the Atlantic! It was a beautiful morning which only served to make it more frustrating. The weather here was still fine all afternoon. Tonight we watched a movie after supper with the wind howling over our heads. We are in a protected spot from all but wind straight out of the east. South of us is a good hill. We've heard that Max Weinberg, E Street Band Drummer, lives in the big house looking down on us. The wind is out of the south, so Max and his hill are protecting us right now. We may be stuck here for a few days, but it was the right decision.


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  1. Glad you had a good first ride on the Atlantic and more to come. I am sure it was not easy turning back ----but wise!

  2. Hey Bubba, great blog, wishing I could be aboard. I am from Petoskey and have been following Alex for 8 years or so, he inspired my wife and I to adventure, in 010/11 we took our Catalina 30 from Ptown to Daytona Beach, a year off and the best thing we ever did. You may even enjoy some of my maple syrup if alex hasn't used it all up yet.
    Keep the blogs coming, I'm right there with you two.
    Thanks, Dean Bachelor
    P.S our entire trip is on my you tube channel if your board :) just google blowinganddrifting my channel should pop up.


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