Home Port; on the Delaware River at Fox Grove Marina Essington PA.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

July 2011

July 19, 2011
Day sail out of Bidwell Creek. 5 to 10 kt out of SW, mid to high 89's F

Sail with Vicki Noon to 4:30 PM thunderstorms predicted for the afternoon.

Sail out for about 2 hours in the direction of the Maurice River at a relaxed 2 kts and return on opposite tack.

Developing thunderstorms over Delaware with distant booms about 2:00 PM and cloud bank developing over New Jersey. Sky darkens at the Delaware horizon as we return and secure to the floating dock as the front sweeps in, in the car on the way home as the rain comes.

The outboard was running at high RPM, set with half choke for the return in the creek. It would appear that the choke was sticking but after running rich became free. Next trip to the boat will be with a carb cleaner spray.

Cormorants at the creek entrance;

July 8 & 9, 2011
Day sails out of Bidwell Creek.

A short sail on Friday July 8, before the thunderstorms come rolling through, mainsail only. An intense storm overnight with some lightning strikes and damage on land.

Saturday morning the mist clears to a beautiful day with clouds on the horizon and clear sky above.

Vanessa and Alex as crew, we need to push the boat out of the slip at low tide, just touching the mud bottom.

Past the stone jetty and sharp turn to port to clear the mud flats, to the bay and bounce of the sandy bottom in each trough of the 2 ft swell, then clear of the entrance and set the sails for a close reach along the west coast.

At low tide the bay off the west coast is only 6 or 7 feet depth for miles, as the tide rises the depth will eventually be 11 or 12 feet for miles. The shallow bay and steady wind produces a swell higher at low tide and reducing as the tide rises and water depth increases.

We saw some small turtles near the stone jetty then out in the bay a large turtle, about 18 inches at the shoulders and a head the size of a fist. The eagles nesting along the creek where feeding their young.

Come about after two hours and return on the opposite tack to the stone jetty. The breeze is constant from the south and Alex wants to try sailing the 1 mile along the winding creek easterly to the marina, roll in the head sail and enter the narrow channel by the stone jetty under main only.

We pick up speed in the creek sailing with the incoming tide, Alex at helm and I man the main sheet to present maximum sail area at each serpentine turn. The marina approaches and we make a sharp 90 deg turn into the breeze just past the entrance and our slip and coast with built up momentum to nudge the floating dock, step off and secure the dock lines.

July 2, 2011
A Saturday sail with Alex and Vanessa on the lower Delaware Bay, out off Bidwell Creek. Steady winds from NW, a 3 hour sail close hauled come about and a 3 hour sail on broad reach return.

No tugs, no barges, no container ships, no tankers.

Return to Bayway Marina on Bidwell Creek at low tide, I have an end tee slip about 200 meters from the marina entrance. Turn into the entrance from the creek and come to a complete stop in the middle of the entrance, stuck on a mud bar.

Power boats try to pull me into the marina and out to the creek with 200hp and twin 200hp motors, nothing moves. The power boats churn mud and they final give up when there drive legs are churning mud in 30 inches of water, my keel is 48 inches. I am told that the entrance was dredged to 10ft this spring?

Sit and wait for the tide to rise with power boats slowly passing through a narrow slot between me and the Sea Tow dock.

As we get some more water depth Alex steps into the water to swim about 10 ft to the floating dock, but walks in heavy gooey mud. Throw him a spring line (bow to stern cleat), wrap around a piling and after a lot of rocking and pulling the boat is secured to the floating dock on the other side of the entrance to SeaTow.

The marina office tells me the slip is available and I can use it.

Secure the boat and go for a beer. Go to Cape May but most of the nicer places are full or have lines. Park across the highway from Lobster House which has a 45min wait for bar snacks. After trying a few places return to the car parked next to Mayer's Tavern on the back street on Schellenger's Landing.

Mayer's Tavern a working mans shot and a beer bar, is a step back to the 60's or maybe the 70's. Friendly atmosphere, good music $3 beers and really good scallops. 

July 3, 2011

The plan for Sunday was a 5:30 early morning departure from Bidwell Creek and 28nm to the Cohansey, but the morning started with heavy rain and thunderstorms. I need 8 hours minimum, but would prefer to have 10 hours, with the tide to get to Cohansey before the sun goes down at 8:30 PM.

The entrance to the Cohansey is narrow with unlighted day markers and shoals with crab pots.

The storm eases at about 10:00 AM, I have lost the tidal current advantage, so passage will be closer to 10:00 hours. This is a 20ft boat with 16 ft at water line, hull speed is 5kn but I should really expect 3 to 4.

A 10:00 AM departure may work. Motor out past the stone jetty into the lower bay, speed drops immediately from 3.3kn to less than 1, 2nd reef on main start to unfurl headsail, wind driven waves directly on the bow are cresting at 4ft. Even if the wind direction changes and turbulent water eases in the next hour or two, I don't have enough time, now against the tidal current to make Cohansey. The bay average depth between Bidwell Creek and Egg island Point, my route is 11 ft with some sections of Egg island Flats less about 9 ft, with 4 ft draft I would be getting close to touching bottom in the troughs.

I have commitments in Philadelphia on Wednesday and a departure from Bidwell on Sunday would get me to Essington on Tuesday evening, so call off this trip and will try again later in the week. I am a fair weather sailor and that was not fair weather.

Talk with the bait and tackle shop at the fuel dock, their live bait tanks have clogged with mud, we may have more mud in the marina entrance.

The commercial crabbers did not go out this morning, but some recreational crabbers hung around the creek and marina to crab in sheltered water. I got to learn quite a lot about crabbing, but am not sure I can identify the male or female and need a gauge to judge which to keep and which to return. 


Ulladh pronounced "ul-la" (null lad).

Uladh the gaelic spelling for the territory of the U-Nail chieftains in the ancient Irish province of Ulster (English/Norse), originally the counties of Down and Antrim, but now including Derry, Armagh, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan, also referred to as Ulidia (Greek/Roman),.

Uladh was the home of a pre-celtic, cruithne (crew-en-ya) pictish tribe, who may have been descendants of prehistoric tribes indigenous to the British Isles since the retreat of the last ice age.

Archeological finds date first inhabitants to about 6,000 BC and trade goods from Rathlin Island, County Antrim off the northeast coast of Ireland made from porcellanite stone appearing in Egypt and Crete by 2,500 BC.

The early tribes of Ireland where displaced by later waves of migrants from mainland Europe; about 1700 BC by bronze age tribes, celtic tribes about 500 BC, and in the past two millenia; Roman trading posts, Viking settlements, English plantations... and in the 21st century a welcome increasing diversity from the European Union and the world.

SV Ulladh (for vhf clarity I use "sailing vessel ul-la") is named for the territory of the first peoples to settle in Ireland after the retreat of the last ice age.


Since 1949 Fisksatra Varv in the coastal town of Fisksatra Sweden, built fiberglass boats from dinghies to a 300 ton minesweeper for the Swedish Navy.

The Havsfidra 20's were built between 1968 and the late 1970's to Swedish Navy and Lloyd's certification standards.

The Havsfidra 20 and a larger version the Storfidra 26 where sold in the United States by Continental Yachts and Trawler Agency of Atlantic City NJ.

Havsfidra; sea-feather?
(fidra; to touch or tickle with a feather -Icelandic-English Dictionary, Clarendon Press 1874)