Home Sweet Home

May 17, 2012

We drove down to Maryland last Friday night with our friend Vicky to make the delivery. We stopped at the Food Lion for provisions and picked up a few last minute boat items at West Marine.

We wound up waiting around a lot on Saturday for the tide to come in. Luckily it was a gorgeous day so we didn’t mind too much!

Apparently the fishing in the area is pretty great so we saw a bunch of fishermen cruise past. One guy yelled out to me and Vicky that he didn’t allow “those” on his boat…pointing to the bananas we were eating for breakfast. Oops. We were reminded of another voyage on Vicky’s boat Lucky Star where we first heard that bananas were supposed to be bad luck on boats. This was two summers ago and we had just anchored off of Sandy Hook when our friend Elias (who, come to think of it, had told us about the superstition as he boarded the boat with a bunch of bananas in hand) took a nasty spill while heading down the companionway and broke his nose. We sped back to New York to get him to the emergency room so they could patch him up. It was pretty scary, but now he’s good as new again!

I was frankly a little nervous after that reminder, but Vicky pointed out: “Well, we have something else on board that’s supposed to be bad luck too.” “What?” “Women!” Which made us laugh our heads off! Apparently that’s an old superstition too.


Finally at around noon the tide was coming in so we untied our lines and headed off. We carefully followed the map the previous owner had drawn to get us through the shallow entrance to the Chesapeake. And promptly managed to get stuck in some mud. Thankfully we were stuck for just the briefest of moments because Rich quickly backed us off and before we knew it we were on our way again. Phew! Potential disaster averted.We motored on around the bay toward the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal (a cool little shortcut that connects the two bays so you don’t have to go all the way around the peninsula) and were pretty amazed by the sheer gorgeousness all around us. So many beautiful trees and cool houses. The Chesapeake wouldn’t be a bad place to live, in my opinion. But New Jersey was calling, so we pressed on.


Unfortunately the next hitch came when I went below and mopped up a little water that was seeping out from under the galley sole (we’ve been having a problem with the freshwater pump). Except that this was pink and smelled like diesel. Uh, oh. Rich went down to take a look and sure enough we were leaking diesel into the galley. Earlier, we’d topped off the fuel tank, which caused fuel to leak out of the gauge the previous owner had installed in the top of the tank. Part of the experience of buying a used boat is learning the idiosyncrasies of all its mechanical systems. Since there wasn’t much else we could do at this point, we just continued motoring through the canal and hoped for the best!Along the way we passed the world’s tiniest and most adorable little lighthouse. And lots of nice boaters who all gave us a friendly wave. I think this waving thing is actually pretty common among boaters, but I like to think that it was a special greeting just for us on Mata Hari‘s maiden voyage! Brave souls that they were, Rich and Vicky even let me take the helm for a bit. We went under some really cool bridges, one or two of which I even snapped a shot of (when I wasn’t at the wheel).



Eventually we got through the canal to the Delaware River where we could just make out historic Pea Patch Island in the distance (and a somewhat ominous-looking nuclear power plant in the other direction).   Apparently there was some kind of confederate prison located on Pea Patch and not a whole heck of a lot else (at least according to Wikipedia). But since we had a Brit on board, we discussed the possibilities of some badass American standoff with the red coats there during the Revolutionary War. Vicky was not buying it. However, she wasn’t opposed to our anchoring off Pea Patch, which Rich had decided would be a cozy spot for the night. And he was right. It was a beautiful and peaceful location to sleep, far enough from the shipping lanes with the giant cargo ships that we all slept like babies (except maybe for me…I couldn’t stop thinking about one of those ships hitting us and I had a toothache that was not helping matters!). We woke to a lovely sunrise and headed out at 6 a.m. to make the most of our good weather. sunrisesmallsailsmall

 We motored out of our peaceful little anchorage and within a few minutes had our sails up and were able to turn the engine off. Anyone who’s ever been sailing knows the feeling when the engine goes quiet and all you can hear is the wind. It’s pretty magical.  On our way to Cape May we passed one particularly groovy lighthouse at Ship John Shoal that we dubbed the Addams Family Lighthouse because it looked kind of like a haunted house.


Salem Nuclear Power Plant


So fun! (Love the power plant in the background…)


I think it was right around here that we spotted our first dolphin. We saw a few more when we got closer to Cape May, frolicking in the water next to the boat. I wanted to get a picture but they disappeared as soon as I tried to snap a shot.

At around noon we got to Cape May and I got really excited because we were making pretty good time. We’d already agreed that the best plan was to pull a 24-hour overnight sail to make it to Jersey City before the storms that were forecast for Monday afternoon and it looked like we might be getting in earlier than we thought. And then it started to get a bit rough as we fought the current. We kept looking back at the Cape May lighthouse and for at least an hour, it didn’t seem to be getting any further away! Waves were crashing over the bow and soaking us in salty spray. Which was kinda fun, until I started to get a bit soaked. Vicky and I decided it was time to go below and get into our foul weather gear. And that’s when everything gets a bit hazy because the waves made it pretty bumpy down below and I had a hard time getting into my foulies. By the time I’d gotten them on, the diesel fumes from the leak were really doing a number on my stomach and when I came back into the cockpit I was not feeling well at all. I tried not to think about the queasiness and just concentrate on the horizon and some nice, deep gulps of fresh air, but it was too late. The next thing I knew I was lying on one of the cockpit seats to keep the contents of my stomach in my stomach. I felt so crappy that I couldn’t even turn my head to look when Vicky saw a few more dolphins next to the boat. Vicky convinced me to take some of the Dramamine I’d brought along and Rich helped me down into one of the aft cabins. Eventually I fell asleep and woke up a few hours later feeling a LOT better. I stumbled back into my foul weather gear and joined Vicky and Rich in the cockpit.  I couldn’t believe how pretty and cozy night sailing was. It wasn’t cold like I’d expected and the waves were all soft and puffy and off in the distance the lights from Atlantic City looked so twinkly. I convinced Rich, who had been sleeping on the cockpit floor in case Vicky needed him, to go down below and get in my bunk to get some rest. Apparently I’d missed out on some excitement while I was down below: Vicky’s GPS had managed to go missing. It was last seen in Rich’s pocket when he was pulling down the mainsail so we fear the worst at this point, but are hoping it will magically turn up later. Fortunately we were able to navigate with an iPhone app that shows all of the charts for the area.

A few hours later, Rich came back up on deck to do his watch so Vicky could sleep. We had a little coffee, which perked us up a bit, but by 2 a.m. I was getting pretty sleepy. Rich said he was fine and made me go back down below to get some sleep. And before I knew it, Vicky was back on watch and the sun was about to come up. Rich got some coffee going and made us some breakfast. Sweet guy. After a pretty rough night he probably got the least sleep of the three of us, but he makes us all breakfast. (The pancakes were delicious, by the way.) The skies were a bit gray and threatening to rain, but we only got a few sprinkles. Maybe we’d actually make it to NYC before the storm rolled in.


By the time we got to Sandy Hook, Rich had rolled out the celebratory rum drinks. We were getting close! Passing under the Verrazano Bridge in our own boat (we’d done it a few times before on Lucky Star) was pretty darned exhilarating. Rich let me take the wheel for a while as we came into New York harbor. That was cool! (When he started giving me lessons on how to turn the boat around in the harbor, though, I had to draw the line. It was time to get home and get some rest!)


We were definitely in an Empire State of Mind when we saw this on the horizon! Hello, NYC!

Pulling the boat into our slip was a bit of a challenge because we’re located in a kind of funky, tight spot, but Rich managed it like a champ. It felt so good to tie her up at her new home. We made it! Now we can’t wait to go back out and get started on all of the projects we have to do this weekend. Like finding Vicky’s GPS…

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  • Reply Vicki May 17, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Love it! 🙂
    (lol..Fingers xrssed a good search down below does discover my Garmin GPSMAP 478 Chartplotter:-))
    Would you text or email the pictures?

    Congrats Guys & Welcome to your next Adventure!

  • Reply SeattleSue May 17, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Congratulations on your maiden voyage. It sounds like you have already begun to chart a course, overcome obstacles and celebrate victories. I think that the adventure is happening! I’m so happy for you and so delighted to have the opportunity to come along with you via this blog. Looking forward to the next post!

  • Reply jimjames May 17, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Wow! You guys did it. Way to go!!

  • Reply Monica James May 17, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Vicky, we couldn’t have done it without you! Thanks again for all your help. Here’s hoping the Garmin magically appears in the search… I’ll send you the pics.

  • Reply Monica James May 17, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Thanks, Mom and Dad! Can’t wait for you guys to see her this summer!

  • Reply Kiini May 18, 2012 at 1:18 am

    Congratulations, Monica! What an amazing journey. A hint of trips to come. What is the flag that the Mata Hari is rocking? Is it a state flag?

  • Reply Monica James May 18, 2012 at 1:27 am

    Thanks, KK! It’s a U.S. boat flag with 13 stars around a fouled anchor. So nautical!

  • Reply David August 18, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Hey Monica. Congratulations on everything (the blog, the boat, the life.) Wow. Around the world. Exciting. Be careful. Watch out for Pirates. If you ever get to San Diego be sure to look up your cousins. We can be waiting for you as you dock.

  • Reply Monica James August 20, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    Thanks, David! We’ll definitely keep an eye out for pirates and we’d love to make it to beautiful San Diego one of these days. Just have to figure out the Panama Canal, or rounding Cape Horn if Rich has his way! We’ll let you know when to meet us at the dock!

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