South Jersey Marina, Cape May

First Morning at South Jersey Marina in Cape May, NJ. We arrived at the marina around noon yesterday. The night before we’d anchored just inside the Cape May Channel at midnight. There is a gigantic dredge just inside the mouth of the bay lit up like Chevy Chase decorated it for Christmas, that made it incredibly difficult to see anything around it in the dark due to the glare and the faint sea fog.

We’d almost overshot the canal, which is protected by two long rock breakwater walls. Once we were past the distracting dredge, I spotted a sailboat and a catamaran anchored. Kevin’s brother, Keith, had called with directions to where we could safely anchor and to a good marina a few hours before (since our navigation equipment is crap). We skirted around and behind the two anchored vessels located in front of the USCG base. We skillfully (with a generous dash of luck) maneuvered between a barge, a sunken sailboat with just the mast visible, and a mooring ball likely marking something else we shouldn’t run into. Not bad for a couple of noobs in the dark.

At 7:54AM the next morning the USCG played the morning bugle call known as “Reveille” then, shortly after, the National Anthem at 8:00AM. I was fully enamored and much more impressed then with the argument on shore at 1:00AM shortly after we’d anchored. Loud music had come on just as we’d finally laid down for a much deserved night’s rest. The obnoxious music was promptly followed by an angry holler, a short disagreement, then the music stopped. I put earplugs in for good measure.

The Cape May Canal was dredged by the Army Corps of Engineers during WWII to connect the Intracoastal Waterway to avoid treacherous waters at Cape May Point. This gave the paranoid American Forces a quicker, easier route to avoid exposure to German U-Boats patrolling near the coast. I can’t imagine living during those times.

Note the long rock breakwater we nearly missed in the dark in this areal real photo of the U.S. Naval Air Station, Cape May, New Jersey, view East from 2000 ft. Altitude. Photo taken Sep 30, 1941 courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command.

Though I’m not sure the fear of the unpredictable and just plain weird North Koreans, and increasing Russian aggression are any less concerning. We are currently at the highest level alert for Russia, and they have more nukes than we do. Staying in a place like this, now disguised as a fisherman’s heaven and fancy yacht parking, makes me think of these things. I doubt our dock neighbors with the yappy poodle in the swanky two story yacht are though. Anyhow, I digress.

Docking here was way less stressful then we expected. Three professional marina staff members met us at the slip. I told them it was our first time docking and they were great to work with. They talked me though where to tie off and place the fenders, while Kevin motored into place. It went so smoothly. I will feel more confident docking in the future.

Unfortunately the Starlink unit that came with our new boat is nonoperational. We have docked at the South Jersey Marina with the intent of working on their wifi while we await an overnight FedEx of the Starlink we previously ordered in Maine. Naively, we had planned to return to Maine and have it installed by now. I have a feeling naive will be a reoccurring theme in the weeks to follow. The Atlantic Ocean and the wind have little interest in our schedules.

After reaching our limit of tech issues, we headed out for a bite to eat on foot. I highly recommend the Snapper Soup at The Lobster House just across the marina. Make sure you ask for a little sherry if they don’t offer. I’d never had turtle before—or sherry. In a place like this it’s fun to pretend you have. The turtle soup was a just touch on the salty side. Pour a teaspoon full or so of sherry at a time, it takes power over the salt and brings out the bold flavor of the soup. The sherry itself is more of an aftertaste. I was skeptical, but so glad I tried it.

Sit at the bar. It’s dim, the hob-nob conversation is entertaining, and the big model ship behind the bar is interesting to look at. People who choose to sit at the bar alone are the outgoing type, looking to make friends, approachable and most importantly—locals love to give advice. Listen and smile, even if it doesn’t pertain to your visit or interests. This is a great way to find a free local tour guide.

The Cape May IPA is a solid hoppy IPA. Unfortunately it was in a can. They didn’t have anything on tap. The barkeep said they offer a double bag and the brewery was nearby. I asked a local at the bar for a good place to go away from the “yacht snobs” (to which he thought was hilarious) and he said to go over the bridge and look for Owen’s for $1.50 pints and $5 cheesesteaks on Mondays. Always try to win over the locals by making fun of the tourists.

I’ll follow up with a full marina review and route plan as things evolve.

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