43. The New Jersey Shuffle

The second morning at Manasquan was a foggy boi, but it cleared up pretty quickly. The sun came out, and the wind and seas were calm. The forecast called for light wind and seas out of the south again, but not as much as the day before. It was time to make my escape from my dock at platform 9 3/4.

I wanted to stop at the fuel dock on my way out to empty the loo. The facility was only a couple hundred feet straight behind me, so I figured I’d just back straight up to it. The current had other ideas though, and I was pirouetted around like a leaf on the wind. I got in the way of a few sportfishermen, who were no doubt annoyed by my profound stupidity and utter incompetence. I abandoned my ass-backward approach, and spun around to try it pointy-end-first. This went much more gooderly.

My heroic maneuvers ended up being a wasted effort, though. As soon as I was secured to the dock, I learned that the stupid machine was out of service. You’d think they’d have mentioned that when I called that morning to ask where it was, but they didn’t. These pumps must be made by the same company that makes McDonalds’ ice cream machines, cuz them shits is always BROKE.

I departed the defunct defecation depot, and stuck Sylphide’s nose out into the Atlantic, where we found the predicted southerly wind and it’s chop. It was a reasonably comfortable ride at first, but the seas and the breeze slowly picked up throughout the day. By the time we reached Barnegat Inlet, it was mid afternoon, and sloppy enough that I was ready to duck back inside.

I thought about carrying on down the inside waterway for a while, since I had a few hours of daylight left, but then I realized I didn’t feel like it. So I didn’t. I dropped anchor in about ten feet of water, just off a little beach, and proceeded to relax for the rest of the evening. It was beautifully calm and quiet night, and I had the place mostly to myself.

I’d hoped to do the next leg from Barnegat to Atlantic City on the outside, but there just wasn’t a decent weather window on the horizon. So after a lovely night at anchor in Barnegat Bay, we set off down the Intracoastal toward Atlantic City. It was a chilly day, but bright and sunny. The ever present south wind blew all day, and I was glad to have the option to continue moving in sheltered waters.

The trip was quiet and uneventful. The traffic was low, the channels were well marked and deep, and there were no bridges to worry about. Perkins contentedly rumbled us along at our usual stately pace. Life was good.

I was aiming for the Bringantine anchorage across the inlet from sparkling downtown Atlantic City, but the short winter days got the better of me, and I ran out of daylight. The entrance to Brigantine Bay is comedically narrow, and not something I wanted to attempt in the dark. I found a spot in the mouth of Broad Creek instead, and nestled in between some low, muddy, reedy islands. It was very dark, very calm, and very quiet. The lights from the casinos twinkling on the horizon filled the windows on my port side. It was another lovely and comfortable night at anchor.

I got a good early start the next day, and took advantage of the calm morning weather. I upped the anchor and rode the ebb current out through Absecon Inlet, and into some low swells from the east. The swells were on our beam, and Sylphide rolled a fair bit, but it felt good not to be bashing into a head sea like we had been for the last few days. It wasn’t a bad ride, and the day was otherwise quite lovely.

The glittering disco ball that is Atlantic City

The seas only got calmer as the day wore on, and soon Cape May was in sight, and most of New Jersey was now in my rear view mirror. We made our way in through the jetties with the usual parade of small fishing boats buzzing around us. The full ebb current was dumping it’s way out, but we eventually got ourselves inside.

We stopped in at Canyon Club marina to take a splash of fuel and get that pumpout taken care of. We then scooted across the river to Utch’s, where I’d booked a slip for two nights. It turned out to be the same dock I’d tied to last time I was there. Thankfully this time the weather was calm, so I didn’t avalanche into the slip like a derailed freight train like I did last time!

I took a leisurely day to refresh myself and the boat. I topped off the water tanks, put off the trash, got a load of fresh groceries, and just relaxed.

At one point, I took notice of a boat that appeared to be coming into it’s slip near the marina entrance. Almost immediately, they were departing again. Then they went back into another slip. Then they departed again, and made their way into another slip across the fairway, this time stern first. Then they bounced off some pilings. Then they bounced off some different pilings. It was really starting to look like things weren’t going the way they wanted.

As this roving calamity proceeded, it slowly inched closer to Sylphide, who’s ass was hanging out a few feet past the end of the dock. My dingy was just asking to be removed. I slacked my lines and shifted up into the slip as far as I could.

The marauding vessel got to within chatting distance, and I learned that one of her engines wasn’t working. Trying to maneuver with just one engine was the main source of the kerfuffle. I offered to help them tie up as they careened into the slip next to me, but they were determined to get farther into the marina. I stood by with my longest boat hook until they passed. Luckily, I think they managed it without breaking anything, which is always a win.

I felt for the guy. I’ve had days like that, and if he’s anything like me, he was ready to take a three year nap when it was all over. Boats have a charming way of making you look like a real dope sometimes, but we keep coming back. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

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