After putzing around inshore for so long, we were eager to head offshore and make some miles going north. On May 29, we left Norfolk for an overnight offshore passage to an anchorage in Cape Henlopen, DE, near Lewes. It is an alternate anchorage for Cape May, NJ, depending on wind direction.
When we left Norfolk, the winds were so light and squirrelly that we ended up motorsailing with one sail or another all day. We saw many dolphin and some kind of ray (maybe sting rays, I couldn’t tell). It was insanely hot again (95 degrees), and I couldn’t wait to leave those kind of temperatures behind.
As forecast, huge squalls and thunderstorms blew up right after dark (of course). The Captain did an excellent job threading his way between them; he uses their radar signatures to “see” them and navigate around them when he can. They were very dramatic, with purple lightning and powerful wind gusts. Once we made it through those storms, the rest of the passage to Cape Henlopen was uneventful.
Cape Henlopen is an interesting harbor; it is a harbor of refuge with a very deep entrance channel and has two separate breakwaters, making it ideal for riding out nasty weather. We made it to our anchorage and put out 150 feet of chain because more storms were forecast for that evening. Our preparations for storms bore fruit, as a powerful squall hit later. A half hour of adrenaline and intensity later, it was over, and we went to bed. This offshore passage was 32 ½ hours for 159.9 nm.
We stayed in Cape Henlopen one more day and then on June 1 headed offshore again bound for Atlantic City. It was a blessedly boring day offshore with winds so light we had to motorsail. We got a T-head slip at Farley State Marina at the Golden Nugget and got ready to enjoy the luxuries of marina life. It had been 31 days since we touched a dock at that point, and we were ready. This trip was 10 ½ hours for 52.3 nm.
We had stayed at Farley State Marina a few years ago, and it was just as fun and easy this time.
Our first full day there was dedicated to the boat, who always comes first. We refueled and filled all of our fuel jerry jugs; then we filled the water tanks. We washed off the boat, recharged everything that could be recharged, and updated all of our electronics. Trash was dumped, floors were vacuumed, and generally Kestrel got a big spiff-up.
We were performing our standard 100 hour engine service (oil and oil/fuel filter change) when we noticed that the transmission fluid appeared to be leaking. We changed the transmission fluid, and it was a dark grey rather than its usual pink. Research indicates that we probably have a rear seal leak, and the transmission fluid that is left is overheating, causing it to darken. Since we aren’t far from Oriental, we decided to turn around and head back to Deatons Yacht Service, where we can have excellent mechanics check everything over and do whatever work is necessary.
It’s a bummer, but it’s how things go sometimes. It may mean that we won’t make it to Canada, and if that’s the case, so be it. We’re already working out alternative plans depending on how this goes.
While in Atlantic City we had a wonderful meal at the Golden Nugget and played the penny slots. We got many hours of entertainment for the paltry sum of $6 each, which is what we ended up losing. Definitely a small price to pay for a whole night of entertainment.
Now it’s time to head south to Oriental for work that is, at this point, to be determined.