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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Stormy weather at Beach Haven, NJ stop over.

Our second stop on the New Jersey Inter Coastal Waterway (NJICW) was at Beach Haven yacht club marina. we really didn't intend to stay at a marina as the boat was stocked with food we wanted for nothing. That was until we ran out of LPG for our cabin heater and a chill set into the boat.

Finding our way along the NJICW was easy with our excellent navigation software and GPS. The problem was we didn't have a cruising guide book (one does not seem to exist) to educate us on what we were passing by. It was really a bummer as we had no information on marinas, services or historical sites.

So when the LPG ran out for the heater we needed information fast. The NJICW is a very narrow canal at times and sometimes quite large bodies of water. When we approacehd a narrow section that was lined with homes we tunred on our computer WIFI and hooked up to the net to gain so info on local services. Google.maps.com worked like a charm and the first phone call they said "no problem we will turn on the power to the docks and tomorrow you can use our car to go get some LPG". Moorage was $20 per night (off season special) including, electricity, hot showers and laundry facilities so we stayed three nights as the weather was poor with wind, ran and fog.

On the third night about 1AM I woke with jump as the boat hit the dock. The wind had shifted 180 and built to 25 with gusts to 35 directly on our beam, it was low tide and we were banging our tops side deck against the underside of the finger pier. Not a good situation with the pounding waves and rising tide. Half asleep, I jump up through a hatch and on to the dock to push the boat away and move some fenders to temporarily protect from further damage while Kathy grabbed a jacket and helped fend off. After a few minutes in the extreme wind chill and rain I jumped back aboard and got dressed for further action. Kathy and I secured the boat in a web of lines suspending it away from docks and piling. What we really needed to do was get out of the marina and find some shelter and drop the anchor. The problem was the wind was blowing so hard it would be impossible to get away from the docks and piers with out serious damage to the boat. The reason being we were in a 75' long 25' wide slip constructed of piles spaced about 15' apart with a finger pier on one down wind side. The finger pier was crudely constructed and since the wind and waves would pound the boat violently against the pier if we tired to leave the boat would be damaged for certain gouging the hull and losing some stantions and lifelines.

The motion of the boat was so uncomfortable and our adrenaline shocked nerves so ragged we ended up staying awake until 4AM when we finally got some fitful sleep. While in bed I devised a plan to move the boat from the slip by reposition the lines many many times while utilizing the engines. It took at least forty five minutes to move the boat from one end of the slip to the other and then we gunned the engines and shot out of the slip unscathed. With a big sigh of relief we now were free to find some shelter from the howling wind.

Since it was only three hours more on the NJICW to Atlantic City so we toughed out the stormy conditions and made our way to Atlantic City by 1PM and dropped the anchor in a protected little nook. Along the way we found the bottom once and many times skimmed across shallow spots of less than six feet.

Now I know why the NJICW is not so popular for sailboats... it's a hassle to navigate and even the most attentive skipper will still run aground at least twice.

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