Cruisin' The Loop Aboard Kibon
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Wednesday, July 9. 
We tried to get up and out early, but we barely made it at 9 am.  After a stop to pick up some juice and a croissant, we headed toward the Aquarium.  The layout is very interesting.  There is a huge tank that occupies the whole first floor with sharks, manta rays, and turtles swimming around.  It is very deep in the middle, but most of it allows you to view all the creatures.  There are ramps and bridges so the viewer can look down from all angles.  Aquarium personnel are stationed here and throughout the facility to give talks and to answer questions.  We watched a diver feed the turtles and rays Romaine lettuce.  Escalators take you up from level to level, and at all times you can look back down to this large tank.  Each of the five levels focus on different subjects or areas.  We think their displays are better than the Chicago Aquarium, and that had had our top marks.  Maybe because this one is smaller and more concentrated we were not overwhelmed.  Baltimore's shark and seahorse exhibits are excellent; and the Atlantic Coral Reef and Ocean takes you from the top all the way down to the bottom while you view the aquatic environment.  Their dolphin show is in a separate building.  We sat far enough up to be out of the splash zone and to be able to see the whole arena.  The Aquarium is constructing a new exhibit building.

We stopped to pick up some gyros which we ate on the boat before leaving the dock.  We headed back down the Patapsco, past Fort McHenry, past the red, white, and blue buoy, and back to the Chesapeake.  Did I say that seeing the buoy and visualizing all that Key saw that evening and the following morning was almost as moving as watching the movie at Fort McHenry about the creation of our National Anthem and then turning to see our flag flying so proudly in the morning sunlight?

The wind died during the afternoon and the Bay was absolutely flat.  We headed toward the C & D Canal and were only a mile or so from the entrance when we saw the ripples on the water and the wind came up.  Pearce realized that the storm that was behind us was moving faster than we were.  Since there were weather warnings for severe thunderstorms with hail throughout the upper part of the Chesapeake, we ducked into the Bohemia River for shelter.  We sat out the torrential rain at the entrance to a cove and then decided to anchor a bit further in.  There were three sailboats and a small power boat there, and we all sat out the thunder, lightning, and rain.  Fortunately, the winds weren't severe, and we spent a cool and quiet night.. 

Thursday, July 10.  We headed up the C & D Canal on a cloudy and cool morning with occasional rain showers.  There are street lights along the canal to mark the shoreline.  It was so cloudy that most of them were still on.  It's a good thing that we didn't continue on last night in the hopes to tie up at the free public docks in Chesapeake City.  That doesn't seem to be an option any more.

At the end of the Canal we turned north to Delaware City to pick up our mail.  It used to be a busy shipping port when it was part of the C & D Canal.  It became a sleepy town when they moved the canal entrance two miles south in 1927.  There is no public dock, although they are rebuilding the land side of the waterfront.  It would be nice if they put in a dock to attract the water people.  We went on down the original canal to the one marina and walked back five or six blocks to the village.  There's a little grocery store that has a bit of everything.  They were low on produce, but we were told there is a green market that would open at 3 pm if the rain doesn't cancel it.  We bought some very sad Romaine lettuce and some very nice tomatoes.  On the way back we stopped in a working forge where Blacksmith Kerry Rhoades was creating iron roses for a special order.  With only a few hours left of the outgoing tide,  we headed down the Delaware River to the Bay.

Kibon stayed outside the channel because there are some very big ships traveling up and down here.  The guidebook suggests that pleasure boats can travel across the flats after they pass the Ship John Shoal.  By the time we got there, the tide was coming up river, so we had to decide if we would stay near the channel where there was less chop or go across the flats where there was less current.  We hung out for awhile until we could make a straight line for the Cape May Canal, and we headed for it.  We came through the Canal at dusk and anchored in front of the Corinthian Yacht Club.  Time for a well-deserved cocktail and supper.

Friday, July 11.  We slept well last night and spent a lazy morning opening the mail and paying bills.  We went over to a marina to drop off some mail -- for those old fashioned businesses who insist on paper checks.  We got some diesel and filled the water tanks, and we headed up the ICW.  Low tide was at noon, and we could see the water birds walking on the shoals.  We picked our way very carefully and wiggled through the marshes.  There were some fishermen out and only a few pleasure seekers.  We passed houses of all description.  Some small shacks, some high on stilts a distance from firm ground, some rather elegant, with stretches of marsh in between.  The green flies were voracious along the marshes.  We tried Deep Woods spray, flying insect killer, Skin-so-soft.  The latter seemed to work if we applied it very liberally.  The flies tried to land and just skidded right off!  

We took a look at the ICW crossing at the Great Egg Harbor Inlet.  Waves were crashing, and the boats were rocking and bouncing.  We took a look at the alternate route and decided that without marks it was no alternate.  Kibon headed up the Great Egg River to find a nice anchorage for the night.  The Inlet should be a bit quieter in the morning.

Saturday, July 12.  The Inlet was still a bit rocky this morning with the wind coming in from the southeast.  The herb pots took a tumble, but everything else was stowed away.    We ate our cereal while we cruised past Margate City, Ventnor City, and right past people breakfasting on their porches in Ventnor Heights.  While we were waiting for a fire truck to clear one of the low bridges in Ventnor Heights, we spotted some rowers out for their first day in a scull.  The bridge tender at the next low bridge must have stepped out for breakfast.  Kay finally called the telephone number listed on the bridge and reached the tender back in Ocean City.  Meanwhile Pearce called back to the bridge we had just come through.  The both called the missing tender who came rushing to his post to let us through.  Right after that, we passed the Sculling School and watched several sculls-of-eight.  Not too farther along the ICW we came to the railroad bridge.  The guide book said that it was usually open unless a train was due.  It was closed.  Pearce called and found that a train was due any minute.  The road crossing was also closed, and soon we heard the whistle of an approaching train.  Shortly after it passed, the swing bridge began to swing.  This is all amazing because the bridge is remotely operated from Philadelphia.  After we passed through, the bridge closed.

We also passed Atlantic City.  As we approached Great Bay, Pearce warned Kay to stow everything again because we were also approaching Little Egg and Beach Haven Inlets.  The Inlets were a piece of cake, the terror was the boaters.  This is the weekend, and every fisherman from 20 miles around was out in the middle of the channel.  Cruisers were traveling north and south with little regard for the fishermen.  What is it with these people in New Jersey?  They don't slow down for the small boats, and the small boats yell at the big boats because they come too close.  Pearce was negotiating between two fishing boats in the channel and an oncoming fast cruiser.  As we passed one fisherman by only a few yards, he said, "What's the matter, can't you come any closer?"  How many people put their lawn chairs in the middle of a two lane road?  How many fishermen believe that they can sit in the middle of a narrow waterway?

We cruised up Long Beach Island -- what a mélange of homes, businesses, and docks.  Kay spotted Morrison's Restaurant and Marina and decided that would be a good place to take a break.  Pearce was beginning to feel the strain of avoiding boaters, and he agreed.  Kay's mom and dad used to swear by Sunday lunch at Morrison's Cafeteria (no relation).  They would get enough for lunch and take home for dinner (good deal in their book).  We had a nice lunch -- crab meat again.  We filled up with water, dropped off the garbage, bought some bait for Pearce, and headed north toward an anchorage -- out of the channel -- where Pearce could catch fish.  Up the ICW a piece Pearce spotted Brant Beach Yacht Club.  He remembered that they have a Mariner fleet and that our two yacht clubs (Narrasketuck and Brant Beach) have raced against each other a number of times.  Kay called Narrasketuck YC and found that the Mariner National Championships are scheduled for Brant Beach next weekend.  We put into the dock, were invited to tie up for the night, met their Commodore, and were given a tour of their facilities.  Very impressive.  We walked over to the ocean and watched the surf.  Now Pearce is out fishing -- or is he feeding the fish?  Whatever, it's relaxing.  Maybe tomorrow we'll watch the Mariners race in their regular Sunday series.

Sunday, July 13.  We watched the sailors gather for the morning race.  Mariners and Lightnings were launched, the Crash Boat went out to set the marks, and the Committee Boat shot off the gun as it left the dock.  The bay they race on is huge, but it is also very shallow.  Much as we would have enjoyed watching the races, we couldn't get out there.  So we headed out along the rest of Long Beach Island.  Boat traffic began to pick up so that when we reached Barnegat Bay, Pearce's radar was covered with little spots.  There were so many boats going in every which direction that we couldn't see the next mark, so we took compass headings.  There is more room here so the boats didn't have to pass too close to each other, and the fishing fleet was concentrated where the channel from the Inlet met the cross bay channel.  When we came to the bascule bridge at the north end of the bay there were six or seven boats waiting on each side for the next opening.  It opens every 20 minutes, and there were so many boats waiting to go single file through the small opening, that it must take almost 10 minutes from gate down to gate up.  The cars trying to get over to the ocean beaches don't have much of a chance.

We read someone on the Looper Website referring to a place as the Maytag washing machine.  Barnegat Bay certainly qualifies for that same description.  We came into the Metedeconk River and have anchored in a cove.  We have been rocking and bouncing and are eagerly awaiting dusk when the river traffic should slow.  We tried to contact some marinas, but this is a beautiful summer weekend and there are no places.  We hope that everyone will go home, and we can find a place for tomorrow so we can meet our son Jon who is going to help us with the crossing from Manasquan to Amityville.  We're almost home.
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