North Carolina to Norfolk
We waved good bye to Bill and DQ then got to work putting Prism back together. We stayed rafted up with FIN as Jon needed to film a review about our anchors. The temperature was rising fast, and it was starting to get very hot in North Carolina. All four of us and both boats were ready to get the hell out of dodge. We casted off our lines from FIN and they weighed anchor so we could all start making our way north to escape the heat an future hurricanes.
While underway to our first stop, Belhaven, Jon filmed the first part of the Kingston anchor review. He was very excited to try this new anchor. If you want to see how the anchor preformed and if you want to nerd out about anchors: Click Here for a Prism’s Reviews
We ended up using the spade and dropped the hook in the inner harbor. Fin arrived a little later as they sailed the whole way, unlike us. We all hopped into their dinghy and went ashore to have a look around. Jon and I always passed Belhaven on our previous trips as we were always on some type of time crunch. We were on the hunt to have celebratory drink as we were all now officially cruising! Online the town looked “cute” so we were excited to explore, yet we only grew disappointed to find that most of the shops and restaurants were closed cause they were on “Vacation”. We ended up going to a very small local cafe that had a bar, a very sad bar. We then walked around the small town looking at the old style houses then headed back to the boats for dinner and real drinks. Sadly, I do not think we will ever make the stop in Belhaven again.
The next day we were up before the sun with a long day ahead of us. This stretch of the ICW is too well known by Jon and I. Never in a million years did we think we would be so familiar with this waterway. Yet here we are, again. Although this time, the May Flies were there to keep us company and drive us all mad.
The next three days passed with out a hitch and seemed to fly by. Before we knew it we were coming into Norfolk just in time for a nasty low to bear down on us. Jon and I normally stop at the High Street Landing in Portsmouth, but it was jammed packed this time. On our way out to the anchorage, Bill on Dragonquest let us know he would like to get us a night at Tidewater Marina. Knowing that this marina had a pretty sweet pool we jumped on Bills offer and headed towards our slip.
Norfolk, VA to Cape May, NJ
The wind had picked up, and to say that the slips were tight would be an understatement. We had a full dock entourage waiting to catch our lines. It’s so nice to have friends. Once Prism was snug in her slip and ready for the blow, we made our way to the pool to cool down and have a few rounds with our friends. Yet, wouldn’t you know, THE POOL WAS NOT OPEN YET! It was still “too early” in the season!. ITS JUNE PEOPLE, AND HOT!!!!
We opted to all go to DQ and enjoy cold drinks while we talked about all the work we had done and what plans Bill had for the summer with his pretty new boat. The next day was spent giving Prism a much needed bath. We had not scrubbed the decks in almost 6 months and it was really starting to show. Plus we needed to do a deep dive to make sure we did not bring any pests with us from NC. We found a few paper wasp nests, a huge spider living in one of our thru-hulls (above the water line) and had seen a random single roach. I would not sleep till I knew there was nothing living aboard beside Jon and I.
The outside of Prism was shining like she was brand new again, and the inside was finally put all away. We did a deep clean of every cabinet, did a huge mold and mildew purge and found the dead roach in a pool of boric acid. Muahaha. The entire bilge was scrubbed then dusted with a fresh layer or boric acid as a just in case. Prism was ready to hit the seas.
We said our goodbyes to Bill and DQ once again and headed out towards Hamilton. FIN and Prism sailed in light winds until we had to turn on the motors to actually make way. Both boats anchored in front of Hamilton University and set stern hook too keep us from swinging into the channel.
The next day we took our dinghies to find the rumored “Free” bikes and to explore the historic downtown of Hamilton. Sadly, there was only a single bike, so we opted to stretch our legs and walk around in the blistering heat. The town was cute and did not take much time to see it all, so to reward ourselves for our explorations, we found the local Brewery and enjoyed the cold brews and tasty snacks.
There was a good south wind coming and our anchorage was more than just a little exposed to the south. Jon and I headed over to the next bay to seek more protection and to see something new. SV Fin joined us the next day and brought some very exciting thunderstorms with them.
We had heard there was a great spot for brunch at Mango Mangeaux. When we looked into it we found something even better, the same restaurant offered a Two for Tuesday Night Dinner. For $45 you got 2 soups, 1 app, 2 entrees, and 1 dessert! It did not take much to convince Jon that we should go, and we ended up doing a double date with FIN. It was the first time any of us had been out on a “date” in over a year. If you are in the area, I would highly recommend stopping there.
At this point Jon and I, along with FIN were still planning on heading out to Bermuda, but the weather was just not cooperating. After waiting a week to see if any window would present itself, Jon and I called it. We were not going to Bermuda and a weather window opened for the passage up to Cape May, NJ.
Fin was going to give it another week or so as they really wanted to head to Bermuda. Jon and I brought up the anchor… well, we tried too. I knew we were anchored in very sticky mud and sometimes it takes a few minutes for the Spade to break free from the bottoms tight hold. This time it was different. I felt the initial release, but the anchor still felt heavy and the windless was working overly hard to bring her up link by link. I motioned back to Jon to come up and join me as I felt something was not “right”.
Jon asked me to keep bringing it up, nice and slow. As soon as we could make out the anchor in the muddy water about 2 feet down we could see the very large line we had also brought up. Part of me was terrified as there are 2 high voltage cables in this anchorage. They are both on the chart and we anchored away from them. But things do shift and I felt we may have drawn the short straw.
Another boater noticed our snag and came over to help. From the dinghy he could tell that it was not a electric cable cable but an old mooring line probable left by the construction of the bridge. Jon and I used the jib halyard to take the load off the anchor so we could free it up. Now we had to get the halyard off. It was under a good amount of load and we did not have the right angle to release the snap shackle. The gentleman in the dinghy helped free our halyard then Prism sprang back up right from the release of pressure.
Nothing like a good ol’ anchor snag to prepare you for an over night passage.
The sail up to Cape May was easy and blissful. We had loads of bat rays swimming at the surface as we sailed out the mouth of the Chesapeake. A steady 10knt breeze from the ESE kept us moving around 5.5 knts till it finally died down around 10pm. around midnight the ISS (International space station) passed over head, while we wondered what it would be like to be up there. We ended up motoring the rest of the way and reached the entrance of Cape May with the perfect slack tide.
Cape May, NJ to Sandy Hook, NJ
We had heard from other people that Cape May is a great place to stop and explore. With high hopes Jon and I pulled in ready to spend a week there waiting for a new weather system to pass over.
As soon as we found a spot to anchor, Jon and I already started to have doubts about staying there, especially in a “blow”. The anchorage was pretty exposed, just barily out of the channel and we were very far from any services or easy laundry access. Loads of marinas were willing to help, if you got a slip, or paid a fee, both of which Jon was not wiling. There was 1 free dinghy dock, but it was a ways away and then it was over a 2 mile walk to the actual “town” part of Cape May. The thought of being here for over a week cause of the weather that was coming did not make us feel right. There was not much for us to do on a budget here and the protection was not ideal.
When we were about the launch the dinghy and get going, Jon looked at the weather one more time. He noticed that the weather has pushed off for another day. If we left right then, we could make it up to NY before the wind filled in. So we opted to leave. Cape May, you are just going to have to wait till next time, maybe.
After we had Penta strapped down to the foredeck again, we brought up the anchor, then made our way out of the harbor with the ebb tide around 10 am. We hosted our sails and turned our bow north.
We knew we were going to have to time this passage to avoid some heavy squall lines to the north. We needed to keep south of Atlantic City till around 5 pm, but needed to be north of it before 7 pm.
We were watching the weather and NY was hit with a very strong line of storms that afternoon causing serious damage to buildings and wrecking havoc to boats in the harbors. We were glad not to be part of that.
It seemed like we were hitting our marks with perfect timing, till we didn’t.
The line of storms that formed to the south of us, caught up with us north of Atlantic city around 8pm.
Jon and I watched as this line as it approached us, Jon kept saying” I think we are good, we will just miss it” Where I was saying ” Jon, not only is it going to hit us, it is here and we need to drop the sails now!” With seconds to spare we turned Prism into the wind and dropped all the sails as the front of the squall hit us. We had heard on the raido that it was packing gusts up to 60 knts. We were lucky and saw no such speeds, nor was it packing much rain. We kept our bow into the wind while the 30+ knts blew past us and a light dusting of sprinkles washed away some of the salt on deck.
Like always the squall came and went, taking all the wind with it. We spent the rest of the night motoring and keeping a sharp eye out for traffic. The fog rolled in around midnight making for very active watches. The AIS was worth its weight in gold as we were able to talk to some of the fishing boats and other traffic to let them know our course and speed. All the other vessels were very nice, let us know they had already seen us on radar and were changing course to head around us.
As we approached the entrance into Sandy Hook the fog would lift, then come back in patches. That was until all that was left was fog, pea soup fog. So thick that Jon and I did not even need coffee to wake us up, we were wired from adrenalin. We could hear the roar of large diesel engines, deep sea fishing boat type, the AIS told us we heard right, and that a vessel was doing 17 knts heading right towards us. We had seconds to react as we finally saw the bow of the boat. Behind it, was a long line of smaller boats following its path out of the fog.
Luckily the fog lifted as soon as we turned the corner into Sandy Hook. By 9 am our hook was set in Horseshoe Cove. No breakfast was needed as we were both heading to bed.
June 10, 2021
I (Shannon) have never been to New York, so to say that I was excited would be an understatement. As soon as we thought about heading up to the east coats back in 2017, I have been looking forward to sailing Prism past the Statue of Liberty.
The whole time as Jon and I are sailing through the NY Harbor, dodging containerships and ferries, I could not stop singing Frank. No there is no video evidence of this, and that is a good thing cause the world is not ready to hear Shannon Walker sing.
We made our way up and under the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, through all the large ship traffic and then there she was. Standing tall and proud Lady Liberty!
We fu*kin’ did it! From sea to shining sea!
Sadly the marina prices to stay in NYC are atrocious, as in over $500/night. Yea, no. The anchoring possibilities are not that great either. AND if you do anchor, the dinghy dock fees are just as atrocious as the slip fees.
Because Jon and I are not independently wealthy, we opted to anchor next to Elis island for the afternoon to wait for the tide to change so we could make our way though Hells Gate and up to Port Washington, NY.
We dropped the hook for the afternoon, waiting until around 3:30 for the tide to be in our favor. We had downtown Manhattan as our backyard, it was beautiful and overwhelming all at the same time.
WOW NY Harbor is a busy place. The anchorage at Elis Island is more of just a lunch stop and it got so bumpy in there that our limited “lunch” scope actually pulled itself free, and we started to drag. I heard the pop of the anchor breaking free from the mud, so we were up on deck within seconds. A few boats had anchored in front of us, so they might have pulled our anchor while setting their own. Oh well. Now that we were no longer anchored, we raised the sails, sans any reefs in the main, against my better wishes and started to make our way to the Brooklyn Bridge. The wind was gusty around the buildings which would cause Prism to round up quite a bit with all the canvas we had up. Between keeping out of the way of the ferries and the float planes, I kept telling Jon, over and over, “WE NEED TO REEF!” I will leave the chosen cuss words and spit spewing to your imagination.
Finally, after about 45 minutes of nerve wracking sailing taking up the East River, Jon put in a reef. Now that I could breath and actually enjoy the scenery, we were past all the cool stuff. Well at least I got a good look at Rikers Island Correctional Facility and La Guardia Airport
Next stop, Port Washington.
Long Island Sound
When Prism pulled into Port Washington, Jon and I were ready to just chill for a while. We sailed right past the Thursday night beer can races before we set the hook. Jon and I sat on deck drinking wine and watching the racers cross the finish line. The first boat over the line and her Captain, Blaine (@blaineduh) swung by Prism to say hello and welcome. He and his crew asked if we could raft up and have a few drinks together. We chatted with him and his crew, watched the sunset and gave tours of Prism to everyone. It was an incredible welcome to NY.
The next few days were spent doing almost nothing. It felt like we had been moving nonstop for a while, and we really just wanted to rest and soak up the fact we made it to NY and did not have anywhere to be.
Yep, you ready that right. Lets sail to NY and do nothing but sit, read, drink, eat pizza and chill! That is what we did until we were randomly surround by boats and New Yorkers. We had no idea we were about to meet the nicest NYCer’s on the planet.
Jon was on the foredeck filming more for his Kingston anchor review and I was down below reading when I hear all this commotion and engines. When I came out on deck a boat that was passing by yelled ” ARE YOU FROM THE VIRGIN ISLANDS?”
We responded ” No, from California”
Which in turn was said ” HOW LONG AGO DID YOU LEAVE CALIFORNIA?”
We then yelled back “2013, but from Washington state”
The woman yelled “2013?!?” then told her husband to turn back around so she could keep talking to us.
Quickly we exchanged names before they informed us that all the boats were out and in line because the Yacht Club was blessing the fleet for the season. They invited us to come join the party and that they would not take no for an answer.
Jon and I were not 100% sure if we heard their names correct but they told us to dinghy to the dock, tie up any where and that if anyone questioned us to just drop their name.
Sounds like a great plan, so we loaded up the dinghy and started to make our way to the dock. The boats of this YC are all on moorings, so our new friends were not back at the club yet. We walked around telling the staff members that we were guests of the Leadenburgers….?
The puzzled looks we received back told us we heard the name wrong. Luckily we were saved by Lisa, the woman from the boat! We became quick friends with her and her husband Michael, and soon were meeting more people than we had in years. We were also introduced to Howie, a young man who had just bought a Cape Dory 27 and has dreams to go cruising in the future. We also had the pleasure to meet and hang with his family as well.
The next 2 weeks were filled with random visits, dock side bagels, and loads of drinks and laughs with our new friends the Ledbetter’s and the Curd’s.
While we were in NY we took the time to visit with one of Jon’s friends from High School. We took the train to Penn Station from Port Washington, only a 30 min direct train ride. Jon’s friend Jack met us in downtown to show us around.
Visiting NYC is on most peoples bucket list, but now that we are here, all I want to do is eat some pizza! Jon told me he would rather allow us to have budget for unlimited pizza while in NY vs one “nice meal out”, I said “I love you” smiled and agreed.
NYC in June, at least this day, was HOT. Jon, Jack and I walked from Penn Station to Prince’s Pizza ( the best we had) and then down to a little garden to enjoy the people and the slice. Next up was to walk through China Town and over to one of Jacks favorite spots which is a football (soccer) pub. We drank and watched the games. Jack needed to head back to work, but we made plans for him and his girlfriend to join us for a sail later in the week.
Jon and I continued to walk the New York streets. We made our way down to Ground Zero and paid our respects to those who lost their lives that day and onward.
Next we made our way to Wall Street, and saw the extremely long line of people waiting to take their picture with the Bull. We did not join in, but watched from the side of the road as people took some very interesting photos not only with the horns, but with the balls and butthole as well. Classy.
We did not have time to also explore Brooklyn, so we took our time walking back up to Penn Station stopping at 2 shops where Jon and I spend most of our money to fuel our hobbies, Leisure Pro and Adorama. If you know, you know.
Jon and I did not make another trip into NYC, as we were enjoying our little slice of heaven in Port Washington. Jack and his girlfriend Kara came out to Prism, bringing with them a HUGE spread of Mediterranean food, beer and a great breeze for a perfect afternoon of sailing.
While we were in our Bay of Bliss, we did take advantage of the perfect weather to get another coat of Awlwood on our exterior wood. It is amazing how fast 2 years goes by. We are still VERY happy with the Awlwood product and would recommend it to everyone who wants their boat to be bright.
As the month of June blew by us, Jon and I were reluctant to get moving, but we knew if we wanted to make it to Maine this season we needed to get moving. July 4th was just around the corner and we were having a hard time choosing where to spend it. Loads of people told us to head to Block Island, but that sounded more like a shit show than actual fun while on our boat. It seemed like no matter where we choose, the 4th was going to be crazy no matter where we went. With this in mind, we choose to do something crazy and headed to Newport, RI
We only made a few stops on our way up the sound, stopping for just the nights before we got under way again the next morning. The sailing and the weather were perfect as we made our way east.
June 28, 2021
Prism sailed into Newport with full sails passing by the classic 12M yachts as they swished past us with such grace. It was incredible to see people out and about and ACUATLLY sailing. Huge yachts tacking through the harbor with such precision was a sight to see.
Jon and I pulled into the large yet very crowded anchorage. We found a spot and got situated with just barely enough room between the different boats. Our friends on M/V Roam zoomed over to us to welcome us to RI. We were ready to do some exploring of this old Quaker town, so the info and tips Roam gave us was perfect.
The next day Roam headed towards P-town for the 4th, while we decided to hang tight. The mass clearing of the anchorage should have been a warning to us, that or maybe everyone else just didn’t want to spend the 4th in Newport. The next few days leading up to the 4th the anchorage was quite empty, leaving us with loads of room for the first time. Our friends on SV FIN had changed their mind about Bermuda and were in route to RI. They were going to spend the 4th in Montach though.
Newport was packed full of tourists in the streets and it was overwhelming to see so many people again. Jon and I walked around, enjoying the old architecture and free museums. We were also lucky enough to stumble upon a $1 Oyster special with a great window spot for prime people watching. We ate till we were happy then headed back to Prism.
4th of July
Before she made her appearance, we has spent the days playing at the beach and soaking in the cool waters.
Hurricane Elsa was the earliest hurricane in the Caribbean Sea and the earliest-forming fifth named storm on record in the Atlantic Ocean, surpassing Edouard of the previous year.
Elsa caused at least $775 million in damages in the United States alone.
Greenwich Bay was the perfect spot to hide out from Elsa. We prepped our boats, let out more chain and talked with the other boats around us. A few boats were opting to head into marinas for the storm while a few of us were going to ride it out.
Luckily for us, Elsa was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time she got to us, but that was not before she wrecked havoc on other states and countries.
With the new chain on board, we heading up and around towards the Sakonnett River. We were heading back down towards Buzzards Bay and Massachusetts but not without seeing a bit more of Rhode Island first. We stopped for the night behind Fogland Point, and went to shore to explore the country side.
Fin and Prism then headed down to Third Beach on Flint Point to anchor at the mouth of the River. We had a day to kill while we waited for weather to help push us east. Christina and I took advantage of the beach to work out and swim, while Jon set out to “become a runner”.
That night we were socked in with such thick fog that Jon and I almost got lost trying to find our way back to Prism after dinner aboard FIN. Good thing we had our tablet with our charts and tracks on it, other wise I do not know how long it would have taken us to find our way back home. Fun times.
Up Next on Prism's Blog
We head out of Rhode Island in fog so thick we could barley see the bow.
We make to Massachusetts to visit with old friends, explore all that Boston has to offer and then head to Maine!
Great write up!! Glad to hear you guys are back at it! I bet the HC 33 is a wonderful, cozy and comfortable boat to be in up in the northeast…..with the cooler nights etc 😇