01 – 15 Oct: Newport, Rhode Island to Havre de Grace, Maryland – 39 32N 76 04W
It is always such a good feeling to return to somewhere we have been before. We already know where to anchor, where the dinghy dock, laundry, supermarket etc are; familiarity is such a wonderful feeling, but one we seldom get to experience living the nomadic life we do.
We had returned to Newport on Rhode Island to collect our new headsail that we had ordered from Quantum Sails before we went north to Maine. It was ready for us and they delivered and fitted it promptly, we had increased the size slightly but it was perfect, a job well done. Every time there was a lull in the wind at anchor skipper seemed to roll it out, just to admire it – he was itching to try it out!
From Newport we were planning to head south around the outside of Long Island and do a two night passage down to the entrance of Delaware Bay then up the Delaware River, through the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal and finally into Chesapeake Bay. The weather however, had other plans, we weren’t going anywhere.
So - Back Onto the Bikes
We found a safe spot to lock our bikes so kept them ashore for the duration of our stay. One warm sunny afternoon we cycled around to Fort Adams, built around 1824 it is the largest coastal fort in the USA and sits defending the entrance into Newport. The road to the fort was bordered by small farms, it was just like being on an English country lane: stone walls separated the paddocks, cows grazed, pigs rolled around in their pens, autumn leaves tumbled – just beautiful, all very rural and just minutes from Newport town.
From there we just kept going along Ocean Avenue which fringes Rhode Island Sound, we passed modest homes, seaside cottages and magnificent mansions all sharing the same wonderful views over the Sound.
It was an excellent afternoons bike ride, followed by Quahog Fritters (just had to order them as we had no idea what they were!!) and a relaxing drink at The Lobster Shed, a great spot we found in Newport’s converted warehouse waterfront area. And to enlighten those of you, who – like us have never heard of a quahog, it is a shellfish found around these parts and was very tasty!
In the late 1890’s Newport became THE place for the incredibly rich to build “summer cottages”. Yes, the photos are not actually of mansions, these are all just cottages.
Known as the “Gilded Age” the absolute wealthiest of America’s society built these incredibly opulent mansions, mainly along the cliff edge on Bellevue Avenue. Each owner went to great lengths to have the latest inventions installed (electricity for the newer ones!!) and it really goes without saying that they simply wanted to outdo the neighbours.
We purchased the Preservation Society 5 Property Pass for $31.50pp and took a few days exploring these decedent properties. 4 had audio tours which were entertaining and informative, they told the stories of the owners and staff and enabled us to gain a real insight into this age of extreme wealth for a select few. They also told stories of which properties had, over the years, been used as movie sets – remember Robert Redford in The Great Gatsby, the ballroom scenes were filmed at the Elms.
Although we were getting rather settled and sunny weather in Newport, offshore a tropical depression was loitering, sending gale force winds and huge seas onto the Delaware Coast south of us.
In the end we decided to head back through Long Island Sound and New York, day sailing to cover some miles, whilst giving the weather and seas time to settle before we headed out into the North Atlantic for what would then be only one night at sea to the Delaware Bay.
Our good intentions of leaving at first light got scuppered when our anchor chain had not only a lobster pot wrapped round it but an old rusty anchor hooked through it as well. We eventually managed to untangle ourselves and dropped them back into the deep for the next poor cruiser to hook onto!
We headed out into lively seas and had a fast and furious ride for the first few hours, conditions improved slightly the further we got into Long Island Sound. We had a mammoth day, logging over 70 miles to Joshua Cove and anchoring just on dusk. Next day the seas were slightly more agreeable and we made it to Port Washington on dusk, anchored in a deserted bay and watched the lights of New York twinkle in the distance as darkness fell.
The tides were right for another early departure: with up to 4 knots of current through the East River, you sure want to get the tides right. We flew through at speeds of over 10 knots, passed Manhattan in a flash and next thing we knew the Statue of Liberty had come back into view after our 3 1/2 month excursion north.
But we were soon past it and carried the current all the way out through the channel and into the Atlantic.
Finally Into the Chesapeake
We were met with an extremely messy sea state and winds too fickle to hold the sails so we motored south until late in the evening when we finally filled the sails. With a full moon to light our way and temperatures not quite down to freezing it wasn’t a bad overnight sail. We carried on into Delaware Bay and motored up the Delaware River in calm conditions and warmer climes, finally pulling over to the rivers edge and anchoring at sunset, just 10 miles short of the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal.
Working the tides meant yet another early start as we headed through the D&C Canal, by late morning we had, at last, reached Chesapeake Bay. We headed across the shallows to Havre de Grace, a small riverside town where we had arranged to haul out and antifoul.
Time To Turn Balvenie into a Two Storey Condo