September 14. When we turned in last night we were on the edge of a pack of a half dozen anchored boats. I was up and on deck to take the dogs to shore at 0500 this morning. As I looked around I couldn’t believe it, everyone else was gone. I mean its freaking 5 o’clock in the morning and everyone else is already up and underway?
The conventional wisdom is to leave Cape May 2 hours after low tide. In doing so you are assured of a push all the way up the Delaware Bay, as the tide floods in and you ride it like a wave. Low tide was at 0400 so I was planning to leave at 0600, so where’d everybody go?
As we pulled out of the Cape May Canal and turned north we could see several boats rounding Cape May. It didn’t dawn on me until that moment that all of the boats anchored near us had been too tall to make it underneath the 55 foot fixed bridges that straddle the Canal. So they probably left around 0400 to go back out through the inlet and then were forced to sail around the tip of Cape May and on up into the Delaware.
When our courses finally intersected we were 400 yards behind a 40 foot sailboat that we had been anchored next to last night. The tide was really rolling in and we had a supposed 5 knots of wind straight over the stern. The wind built steadily and we were soon doing a steady 9 knots SOG with 15 to 18 knots of wind. We only had the full mainsail up and tied off to one side with a preventer to avoid the chance of an accidental gybe in the very rolly conditions. After 40 miles we were still 300 yards behind him. When we surfed at 11 knots so did he, when we gained on him, he’d pull away yet again.
When we arrived at the C&D Canal we had to drop sail as you are not allowed to sail through the canal. We pulled into the canal and fell into line 200 yards behind the same boat. I never touched the throttle from the moment we entered the canal until we anchored over 30 miles later and we were still 200 yards behind him. I couldn’t believe how both boats were so evenly matched even after so many miles. I’m sure he must have been getting a complex as we followed him all day and anchored just a couple of yards away in the Sassafras River.
The weather is supposed to be pretty nasty tomorrow with big winds. The winds are supposed to be from the north northwest for 2 days and if they are manageable we should be able to sail a good portion of the way to the Potomac. We have an appointment with George on Thursday that I’d like to keep but we won’t let that cloud our judgment.