Dick and Gayl's Cruising Adventures


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Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Chesapeake City, MD to Summit North Marina, DE
5.7 miles
We hauled anchor and popped out of the Chesapeake City anchorage basin and into the C&D Canal for a short cruise in the rain to a marina just up the canal a little bit closer to Delaware Bay.
Summit North Marina is located near Lotts Creek State Park, where we hoped to have some great hiking, biking and birding.  Unfortunately, rain dominated the weather from the moment we got up in the morning until late afternoon. 
We did venture out for a walk under overcast skies in the afternoon.  On the way to the park, we stopped at a boat dealership with lots of Sea Rays (fast cruisers) on the lot.  Dick was hoping to get a little advice from a local boating expert on the best way to time our departure to ride the tides in Delaware Bay.  When he asked the store manager, he got a classic fast boater response: "I have no idea.  I've never owned a boat where I had to worry about tides."
So much for local knowledge.
On to Lotts Pond State Park.  In our yellow rain jackets, we might as well have been yelling to the birds, "Look at us.  Here we are."  Between our loud attire, the wind, the poor lighting, and muddy trails, our birding expedition left a bit to be desired. But, the park was scenic, and we had a good walk.  We left hoping the weather would be better tomorrow, so we could go back and try again.
Wednesday, May 25  Another Rainy Day in Delaware
Dick's Heroic Rescue
Wednesday was about like Tuesday, perennially rainy.  We had a ray of hope in the morning when the rain stopped and it looked as though the clouds were clearing.  We pulled down our bikes, packed our rain gear in the bike bag just in case, and felt the first showers start to hit before we even got off the dock.
We rode to the park and just enjoyed the soggy scenery after it became clear that this was not going to be a big birding day either.
When we got back to the boat, I put down my kickstand and left my bicycle on the floating finger dock while I helped Dick haul his bicycle up on the boat.  When Dick hopped from the dock to the boat, the dock tilted, and my bike plopped in the water.  We heard the splash, and it was gone in 15.5 feet of murky water. 
The king of creative problem solvers, Dick immediately grabbed our three boat hooks, connected them with a bunch of bungee cords, and started probing the mucky soft bottom in search of the bike.  Ten minutes later, he hooked something, and slowly, carefully pulled it up.  When he got the hook close to the surface, we could see that it was perfectly placed under the handlebar of the bike.  We pulled the bike out, hosed it off, and got it safely up on the flybridge, hanging upside-down to drain.
Not one to rest on his laurels (or rest in general), Dick then decided that since he was already wet and dirty, he might as well wash the boat and fill the water tanks in the rain, and haul a load of wash up to the laundry.  I took another tack, deciding that since I was wet and dirty, I'd change into dry clothes, warm up a while inside, and put my dirty stuff in the laundry bag.
Thursday, May 26, 2005 
Summit North, Delaware to Cape May, New Jersey
68.6 miles
For the past several days, we had counted on Thursday to be our window of opportunity to cross the bay, based on weather radio forecasts indicating that today the winds would diminish a bit and the waves would calm.  This morning when we listened to the weather radio, they had pushed back the good weather by a day, to Friday.
We decided to give it a try anyway, armed with two refuge waypoints marked on our charts where we could retreat if the going got too tough on the bay.
Since the wind was from the north, and we were traveling south in the bay, we were able to surf the waves.  Although we weren't pounding into the waves, as we would have been coming from the other direction, they constantly threatened to turn the boat sideways, requiring a lot of skillful attention to the wheel to stay on course.  Dick wore gloves to steer, because without them he would surely have gotten blisters on his tough hands from his constant adjustments to the wheel.  (I got to fully appreciate the effort required on those occaisions when he left me briefly at the helm while he went below for visits to the head.)
Our trip down the bay took 7 1/2 hours.  At five minutes past the four hour point, we felt the tidal current on the bay change from against us to slack, and within five minutes the waves calmed to a near reasonable level (by my stringent standards).  The skies were still overcast, and we did get rained upon before we got to the dock, but, all in all, we lucked out, and we saw our first daily dolphins in about a month -- truly a bright spot in the day.
Our path down the Delaware Bay pretty much traced the border between Delaware and New Jersey.  Looking at the map, it appears that perhaps New Jersey owns more of the bay than Delaware.  Our interesting lighthouses were all on the New Jersey side of the line, and our final destination, Cape May, was along the Jersey Shore, so, except for the few facts below, this is about all we have to say about Delaware.
Some facts about Delaware, "the first state:"
Delaware has had the slogan, "the first state," on its license plates for quite some time now, but it only became the official state nickname in 2002, following a request by Mrs. Annabelle O'Malley's first grade class from Mt. Pleasant Elementary School.  Delaware bases this claim on the fact that it was the first colony to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
The state bird is the Blue Hen, in honor of the valiant birds that Delaware's Revolutionary War troops maintained for cock fighting entertainment purposes when they weren't busy on the battlefield.
The state flower is the peach blossom. 
The state song, refreshingly free of references to the Civil War, has three verses singing the praises of Delaware's three counties.   It was adopted in 1925, and is full of references to rural delights -- corn in tassel, cattle cropping clover, wheat fields billowing, and "the bloom that tints the peaches, cheeks of merry maidens share."
Delaware is our second to smallest state, just 1982 square miles in size.