Around the middle of May, Sidonia and Fred St. Germaine took their new Nimbus 405 Coupe, Last Item, out for a short shakedown cruise on Chesapeake Bay. Experienced cruisers with many sea miles under their belts, they knew what to bring aboard for their planned seven-month adventure, as mentioned in the LET'S GO ON THE GREAT LOOP article.
Because the Nimbus is a quality, brand-new boat, very few things needed to be sorted out. Small things on the boat were fixed or adjusted so they had a high level of confidence in their new Swedish cruiser. Greg Gelmann of the Seattle Yachts Annapolis office oversees warranty work for the Annapolis office, and he made sure the boat was ready for the trip.
Sidonia sent us the following initial excerpts from her journal of the trip, which we will share as they work their way around the Great Loop to Florida.
“We poked our way out of Spa Creek and into Chesapeake Bay until we were clear of the 6-knot speed limit, and then Fred opened her up to 25 knots. He planned to get into deep water so he could drop the anchor and measure off twenty-foot lengths to mark with colored tie-wraps. But when we stopped in 90 feet of water, it was too rough for him to be out on deck working by the bow.
(Seen below: Spa Creek Bridge leaving Annapolis.)
“So, we continued around the north end of Kent Island and headed south to Kent Narrows and Piney Narrows Marina. The marina has a very nice building, with roomy lounge, swimming pool, and tiny store. The waters where the marina is located is lined with covered docks housing hundreds of boats. There is a huge building (Kent Island Boatel) just across from where we are docked, full of small boats stacked four levels high. We’ve seen this type of storage in other places, but between what we’ve seen in Annapolis and now in Kent Island, I don’t think we’ve ever seen so many boats.
“We thought Seattle and the Pacific Northwest had a lot of boats, but it doesn’t even begin to compare to this area.”
The couple went over to the Kent Island Visitors’ Center to check out its small museum and walk around the nature trail. There isn’t much there, but it is always good to get off the boat and walk the neighborhood.
There are restaurants about a quarter mile across Kent Narrows from Piney Narrows Marina. Unfortunately, they soon found out not all is well with their new dinghy package. They dinghied from the marina to Red Eye’s Dock Bar, a popular local restaurant. After dinner, the outboard refused to start for the return trip to the boat. After some frustrating efforts to get it started, then trying to get a tow back to the marina, they even waved at a police launch, to no avail.
Fred eventually got the outboard running and they made it back to Last Item.
Such is cruising on a boat, even a new one.
When they returned to Annapolis after their short shakedown, they had a very small list of projects to take care of. Fred spent the most time getting the new outboard sorted out.
On May 25th, the couple left Annapolis to begin their Great Loop. They planned to run up Chesapeake Bay to the first destination: Harve de Grace, Maryland.
(Seen below: The mural of the Havre de Grace race track which closed over 40 years ago.)
“Chesapeake Bay was pretty choppy that morning, and as soon as we got up to cruising speed, we heard a long, miserable-sounding meow/howl from our cat, Ozzie. He jumped up from below and settled under my seat where he stayed the rest of the trip up the Bay. Thank goodness he doesn’t get seasick.
“We bumped along at 23 knots against the current, but the choppy bay smoothed out as we got farther north. All in all, our Nimbus rides comfortably despite the choppy waves banging against the hull.
“A little over two hours after we left Annapolis, we arrived in Havre de Grace on the Susquehanna River at the north end of Chesapeake Bay. We first topped off the fuel tanks (79.6 gal. @ 6.10 = $485) and moored at Tidewater Marina. The dockmaster was very nice and friendly, and helpful.
“Just outside the marina is a large, former cannery building covered in murals. There were even more murals beyond this building on a long wall. I talked with a man painting them and he said the building would become an art center for woodworkers and artists.”
The next morning, they noticed a decided starboard list on their new boat. They had assumed the fuel tanks were self-leveling, but it turned out the two tanks are not connected. To get the boat level, Fred had to put in more fuel.
Leaving the fuel dock with a level boat, they set a course to the entrance of the C&D Canal, 14 miles of ship canal that connects Chesapeake Bay with Delaware Bay, and is a vital transit point on the Loop, as well as ships coming and going to the Port of Baltimore.
“When we exited the C&D Canal on the Delaware side, we ran straight into an ugly chop as we turned south to head down Delaware Bay. Everything we’ve read said Delaware Bay can be rough, and it lived up to its reputation. Pretty soon we were punching through 3- and 4-foot waves. We slowed down to 17 knots to ease the motion, and then saw a large ship ahead of us. We pulled into the relatively flat wake of the Panamanian freighter ‘Francois’ for about two hours. We slowed to 14 knots to maintain our position behind the ship, but at that speed the Nimbus thankfully stayed on plane. It wasn’t particularly smooth, however, and we still had a fair amount of banging into the waves.
(Seen below: A lighthouse that sits at the entrace to Delaware Bay on a calmer afternoon.)
“We finally left the ship’s wake to point our bow toward the Cape May Canal.”
Once through the canal, they arranged a slip at the Canyon Club Resort Marina in Cape May, NJ. They called two other marinas first, but they were full, with many Loopers already in the area on their way north. Thankfully, she reports the Canyon Club marina gives a Loopers discount.
And they were not alone in the marina.
“The boat next to us is also doing the Loop. They are Scott & Michelle on ‘Dog On It,’ appropriately named as they have a Great Dane aboard. They gave us a hand with our lines and then we visited for a bit with them.
“The next morning, we helped them with their lines as they took off. Later in the morning, we took our scooters into town. As the electric scooters are also new, I was hesitant to ride mine up the dock as I’ve barely ridden it before. I rode around the parking lot of the marina a few times before we headed into the town of Cape May.
(Seen below: Cape May has some beautiful historic mansions.)
“We are very happy with our little bikes, they are serving us just as we’d hoped, as the town is a long walk from our marina. By the time we got back to the boat, I felt comfortable enough to ride down the dock to the boat without falling into the water.”
(Seen below: Sidonia and Fred St. Germaine stop by the Coast Guard station for a photo op.)
The couple had originally planned to transit New Jersey on the NJ ICW, but they heard there was a broken bridge and boats could not get through. So, they decided to go outside, as most trawlers must do.
“The Atlantic Ocean was as nice as it gets, with large, gentle swells on our beam. We had a comfortable ride.
“When I checked my NEBO (the popular voyage tracking system used by many Loopers), I saw several dozen Loopers in front of us. We passed every one of them at our 23-knot cruising speed.
“Running about a mile and a half off the New Jersey coast we could just make out hundreds of little dots on the beaches, people enjoying a beautiful Memorial Day weekend.”
They decided to stop in Barnegat Bay, after the 73nm run from Cape May. They found large breaking swells about 300 yards out from the entrance of the inlet, so they were particularly cautious coming in. While they safely anchored inside the bay in seven feet of water, the steady stream of small boat traffic made the anchorage uncomfortable.
From there, it was just about two hours before they saw the New York City skyline in the the distance. Rather than continue into the Hudson River, they chose to stop for the day at Mansion Marina in Great Kills Harbor in Staten Island, NY. It was a pleasant stop they had been to before.
“Whoever says New Yorkers aren’t friendly hasn’t met the ones we have. When we were here before on our big boat, we met only very nice and helpful people. This time was no exception. A fellow who keeps his boat at the marina helped us secure our lines, then gave us the full rundown of where things were, what restaurants were good, which ones had takeout and the location of the second-best bagel shop in all of Staten Island. It was real concierge service.
“The marina is far from a first class one. The dock is tilted, a power outlet near us didn’t work, and the boatyard looks messy. But it will do fine. We walked a couple of blocks down to the Atlantis Marina Cafe and enjoyed a delicious gyro sandwich.”
When Sidonia and Fred’s told me of their plans back in Annapolis, the only reservation they had made was at Liberty Landing Marina in Jersey City, across from NYC. The plan was to pick up their son, who would crew with them up the Hudson and through the Erie Canal.
After their first week on this adventure, it is safe to say the cruising speed of the Nimbus 405 Coupe makes daily runs of decent miles very manageable, while leaving plenty of time to get off the boat and explore the local scene, something they very much enjoy.
If this is any indication of how their Great Loop adventure will unfold, it seems this will be their routine. And many will agree it is much better than long days of slow travel.
See you next time.
Here are links to the LAST ITEM's previous Great Loop updates:
Update #1: Let's Go On The Great Loop!
Update #2: This Post.
Update #3: Up The Hudson To Waterford
Update #4: Last Item Heads To Rome
Update #5: Big Water Ahead As LAST ITEM Heads to Oswego
Update #6: A Taste Of The Thousand Islands
Update #7: Into The Trent-Severn Waterway
Update #8: Deeper Into The Trent-Severn
Update #9: Georgian Bay
Update #10: The North Channel
Update #11: Into Lake Michigan
Update #12: Gunkholing Down The Wisconsin Coast
Update #13: Visiting Kenosha
Update #14: Great Loop Trip Continues Into Illinois
Update #15: Exploring The Heartland
Update #16: Heading Into Tennessee
Update #17: Cruising In The Tenn-Tom
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- Extend Your Sailing Life
- Yearly Engine Service And Beyond
- Sometimes It's All About Simplicity
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- The Exhausting Need To Keep Up With New Technology
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- A Boater's 3-to-5 Year Plan
- Provisioning Your Yacht For Extended Cruising - Alaska
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- Getting Ready For The Great Loop
- A Winning Great Loop Strategy
- Tips For Cruising South