Smithfield,VA to Atlantic City,NJ
Florida to Rhode Island - Day 22-23
Our couple days of relaxation in Smithfield turned into almost a week... spent several days with Wayne and Judy McPhail. We departed from Smithfield at 0700 on May 9, 2011. We had an outgoing tide so we had a good boost of speed from the current and we zipped out of Pagan River and James River hitting 9 knots a few times... love when this happens... :) But it is usually short lived and we hit current on our nose as we passed the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel exiting Chesapeake Bay in to the Atlantic Ocean... our speed slowed to 5.5 - 6 knots... but as we got farther away from the mouth of the Chesapeake and moving north in the Atlantic our speed slowly increased till we reached our typical 7 knot cruising speed.
We had decided earlier to take the Atlantic route rather than go up the Chesapeake Bay... this route saves a lot of miles and time compared to up the Chesapeake Bay, across the C&D Canal and down the Delaware Bay to Cape May, NJ... Depending on sea conditions we planned to go to either Chincoteague Inlet or Ocean City... we would make Chincoteague Inlet by 1730-1800 and Ocean City would be around 2300-2330.
After getting our speed back up and having only a 2-4 ocean swell we decided to go for Ocean City. MD... it would be a long day but you do not get calm seas in the Atlantic that often so we decided to go for it. After getting the course set in the autopilot I left the helm in Susan's control and went to bed to get some sleep so I would be fresh and alert to man the helm that evening after dark. I managed to get in a 4 hour "nap" and awoke to even calmer seas and a slight boost of current taking us to almost 8 knots... I was wide awake and full of energy and decided we need to take advantage of these conditions while we had them... so we moved the destination from Ocean City, MD to Atlantic City, NJ... if for some reason it got bad we could always duck into Cape May, NJ. This time Susan went to bed to get some sleep to relieve me from the helm during the night and we were now bound for Atlantic City.
The night was pretty uneventful... saw a couple of ships on the radar way ahead of us but never really got that close to them... 6 miles at the closest point. It was a half full moon most of the night and it illuminated the water ahead of us making visibility very good... of course we had radar running as well. I could see the lights from Ocean City illuminating the horizon from 25-30 miles south of it... they only got brighter and brighter as we approached... but soon they were behind us and the horizon was filled with darkens... could see nothing but an occasion blip of light from nav aids as we crossed the mouth of Delaware Bay.
At about 0300 the ocean swells just disappeared totally and the wind that was blowing around 10 knots stopped... it was totally flat calm seas... I was hoping this is the way it would stay as we still had about 7 hours to go... we got maybe 2 hours of this and the wind started to pick up out of the NNW and at 0500 we had steady 20 knot winds with gusts to 25 knots... seas were still fairly calm even with this wind... it took about an hour and a half and then we had a good 4-6 sea on our port bow and the ocean swells were back as well but this time they were pretty good size... 6 foot rollers with a much closer period between each wave peak and they were coming at us from the NE.... so this made for a very confused sea state and not the most comfortable ride... but it was not unbearable... just really rotten compared to what we had experienced up to this point. At 0530 the new seas conditions and the sky lighting up a bright orange from the pending sunrise awoke Susan and she joined me in the pilothouse.
We were already past Cape May at this point so it was either endure the conditions or back track to Cape May... we still had our speed up so I opted to continue on to Atlantic City... shortly after than we started to loose our speed and dropped from 7-7.5 knots to 6 knots... our arrival time to Atlantic City was now showing to be 1100-1130...5 to 5.5 hours to go in this washing machine sea conditions... YUCK!
But we endured it... I change my course from direct from to Atlantic City and moved in closer to shore to get more into the lee of the land... this helped with the 4-6 NW seas but we still had the large ocean swells... but they by themselves made for a much more comfortable ride and as we approached we did get a little more speed... there was a flood current at the inlet to Atlantic City.
We arrived to Atlantic City and proceeded to where we normally go... a dine and dock restaurant adjacent to the marine aquarium... as I made the turn to the dock I could see two sailboats docked there... there is room for three boats if they stay close together but it looked like there was no room left... maybe a small spot in front of the one sailboat... there was maybe 30 feet of dock... enough to squeeze in and get secured to the docks at 1100 hours... approximate location N39º22.575', W074º25.279'. The restaurant was full of activity but not people eating... it was workers busy getting the restaurant ready to open for the season... the restaurant was closed! :(
Stats... after leaving Smithfield we traveled for 28 hours covering 195 nautical miles averaging 6.96 knots.