With it just being Danny and I on the boat I didn't buy candy and we didn't dress up for Halloween. As far as I was concerned it was just another day. It was fun to see our nephew Max and niece Ayla's costumes but other than that all was to be normal. Normal is a setting on the dryer. I have said it enough times that by now it should have stuck in my brain but apparently we all seek some sort of normalcy.
I expected a calm run through a short canal leaving Cape May followed by some initially rocky water going out into the Delaware, then settling down for a 5-6 hour ride into the C and D canal ending up at Schaefer's in Chesapeake City. I got some of that. Danny got us off the dock with no problem and we watched as our friend Tim played with his new autopilot and turned in funny directions before heading through the canal. All was calm. We passed the ferry boats and gathered quite the fan club of seagulls as we entered Delaware Bay. I kept an eye out for the pod of dolphins but they were hiding. No dolphins and no whales showed their faces. It was indeed quite rough as we entered the bay as indicated by Lyric vomiting early on. I took the helm and followed Tim, making sure to stay out of shallow water. My skills at the helm are vastly improved from last year when the instructions were simply keep it on the line.
At one point I noticed Danny playing with the smoker barbecue. He was wanting to smoke a corned beef brisket for dinner and had discovered that the pellets had gotten wet and needed to be removed before he could proceed. Out came the shop vac to do the job. Apparently the shop vac had had enough work and decided to smoke itself. The motor was done and smoking. Danny moved on to the next vacuum and managed to suck up some hot embers (from the shop vac or bbq I am not exactly sure) which now had the filter of the stick vacuum on fire. Bye bye filter in flames. I had the "normal" job of navigating the boat so I missed all the excitement and heard it all second hand when Danny asked if we had more filters for the stick vacuum. Nope.
Eventually with the fires out Danny got the bbq going and the corned beef on. All was well. He then played with the cameras and I was fine at the helm. The water had smoothed out and the dogs were content on their cushions. We passed big ships and lighthouses and looked at the nuclear plant for what seemed like forever.
After 4 or 5 hours at the helm, I gave it back to Danny and went below. He came down at one point to say that it appeared that we may have a fuel leak as it didn't seem like there was enough fuel now to get us to Schaefer's. I took the helm while he verified and tightened the spot where we were leaking. We had serious leak and filled our bilge with fuel that Danny will now be tasked with cleaning up. Part of the morning check is to see how much fuel we have and if we need to transfer from another tank or fuel up. The estimate that morning was that we had 70 gallons of fuel; more than enough to get us to Schaefer's in Chesapeake City where the fuel was cheaper than in Cape May. 40 gallons more than enough.
There wasn't really much I could do about the fuel leak or lack of fuel so I stayed below working on emails and such until one engine sputtered and then the second not far behind it. Danny had slowed down the boat for better fuel economy and found a marina that he felt was within range with the fuel we still had aboard but we didn't make it. We ran out less that 500 yards from the fuel dock! We were in the C and D canal which is a shipping channel but close to a marina and off to the side. There was a current of about 2 knots going against us. We dropped anchor in 50 feet of water and were discussing options when we realized that we had let all the chain out and were now looking at rode which would not hold in the windlass. We went down to the anchor pulpit and both pulled on the rope in order to get it around the other side of the windlass and secure it. (The rope, otherwise known as rode to sailors, at the end of the anchor is secured inside the boat so we wouldn't have lost it, but it would have let all of our rope out and with the current it would have been more challenging to retrieve it.) Danny had already tried once to hail the marina with no luck. He tried a second time to no avail. A sailboat passed us going into the marina and their hail was answered! I called the marina (now why didn't I think of that before?) and they answered but said that they had no launch and that their fuel pumps shut off at 6. (It was 5:50 pm) We would be free to tie up there if we could get there, but they were essentially no help. Our friends Tim and Karen had already arrived ahead of us at Schaefer's but were in contact with us.
A plan was hatched. We would drop the dinghy and I would leave Danny with the big boat to travel the 4.5 miles in the dinghy with 3-4 Jerry cans (Why do they call them Jerry cans?) to Schaefer's where they would fill them, then return to the boat to fill the engines. It sounded good. Bringing down the dinghy isn't as simple as just dropping it though. The davits must be used to raise it off the roof of the poop/sun deck, then to swing it alongside the boat before lowering. Then the engine must be remounted as it sits in the cockpit deck when the dinghy is on board. This takes time and teamwork and by now it was getting dark. Thank goodness for 12 volt lighting as without the engines we didn't have power from the inverter.
We got the dinghy down into the water and Danny was finishing connecting the motor when a sailboat went by asking if we needed help. (I LOVE the boating community!) They had 10 gallons of diesel fuel on board in Jerry cans so Danny met them in the dinghy, traded full cans for our empty ones, and paid them for the fuel. Now began plan b as one can of the fuel was put in the boat and Danny began priming the engines with the other. I have NO CLUE as to how to do any of these things so I rely on my dear husband, captain, mechanic to handle the mechanical workings of the boat. I am learning and turned the key repeatedly as he filled filters and then we bled the air so the motors would start again.
While we were working other sailboat friends passed by checking on us as they went into the closer marina, and I kept an eye out for ships in the channel. Thankfully the only traffic was the sailboats. The big ships create crazy wake and it would not have been pretty. (I will try to find a photo of one that we saw last year in the canal.)
Finally, with both engines running again we pulled anchor and set off for Schaefer's and Chesapeake City. By now it was dark but the canal is lit so we could navigate well. At some point as it started to get dark, Danny realized that his glasses were not on the boat. He had left them on Tim and Karen's boat earlier in the morning before we left. Silly boy! The lack of glasses did make it challenging to dock at Schaefer's once we arrived though as Danny's perception was a bit off. After a couple of attempts, we were safely caught and tied to the dock. The dogs were happy to jump off to do their business, and we were happy to be in the right place. We would fill up in the morning with fuel as it was now after 8 and the fuel dock was closed.
Our treat for the evening was not a sack of candy, but yummy Reuben sandwiches made with the corned beef/pastrami that had been smoking all day. It was tender and yummy! The fact that the meat had cooled down made it easier to cut and we had all the fixings ready in no time. An exhausting but accomplished day was at its end. We were safe and our bellies were full. One more thing to cross off that list of things that will happen eventually.