Right out of the gate, we are headed for a baby passage of 36 hours. Working backwards from slack water at Hellgate (3:15 pm), it was determined that we could sail up the New Jersey coast slowly overnight and get to the Verrazano Narrows bridge around 12 noon for a pleasant trip. Hell Gate is a narrow tidal strait on the East River where the river meets Long Island Sound waters and the Harlem river as well. It is known for strong current, roiling waters and occasional standing waves. It is worth waiting for slack, but we were early and had 2+ knots of current with us.
The trip down the Delaware Bay had good current and wind behind us and quiet seas so we motor sailed with the genoa and rounded Cape May just after noon. Put our main sail up and turned off the engine. Winds out of the west, seas were 1-2 feet, sun shining. Perfect except we were going too fast. The captain decided to deal with that problem later. We passed Atlantic City around 5 and trekked on. We settled on a 3 hour watch schedule with overlap. Reefed the jib but left the main up. Winds had shifted north and lightened so we were close hauled but the seas were still quiet. Amazingly little boat traffic but plenty of big cargo ships to look out for.
The moon was incredible. It emerged with a red glow in the haze and steadily became white and clearly visible. Night sailing has a certain magic about it with the dim sight of water and the sounds of the waves against the hull.
The sun came up around 5:30 and we were gathered in the cockpit by 6:00. Winds were still at 10-15 out of the NW and we were making good time. Still ahead of schedule. We had depowered the sails as much as we could. We were rounding Sandy Hook at 12:15 and heading for NYC. And then Ed saw the spout and we all saw the hump of the whale. Apparently humpback whales have made a comeback in New York Harbor as the harbor has gotten cleaner and the menhaden are running.
We circled the harbor and came as close to the Statue of Liberty as we could and kept delaying passage up the East River which had 3 knots of current. Note to self: coming into the harbor on a pleasant June Sunday resulted in less big ships, fewer ferries, more recreational boaters and lots of radio traffic. Hell Gate was manageable and we made PortWashington in good time. Walked out for dinner.
Had no idea that NYC area could once again enjoy humpback whales! That is good news.
Ruth and Geoff