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Wild Raven Adventure

Lewes (DE) to Waterford (NY) / May 22 - June 4, 2015

May 22, 2015

We left the campground in the morning, paddling towards the ferry linking Lewes (DE) to Cape May (NJ). We wish we could have paddled Delaware Bay, but the wind and the waves were not in our favour but, we had to leave Lewes. There was no vacancy to camp at the park. After a portage of 4km, we arrived at the ferry terminal.

The experience of crossing on the ferry was pleasant. We talked to several very interesting people (passengers and crew), while we stood near the canoe located in front of the cars. We were very busy! All the staff were friendly and we thank them for their kindness. A special thank you to the captain who forwarded our information on to Cape May terminal, giving us the opportunity to talk with the communications officer. Once on the New Jersey side, we were again well received. Everyone wanted to help us. We left later to portage 7km on the road.

We found, through an organization called "Warm Shower", a couple willing to welcome us into their home for the long Memorial Day weekend. This international organization is intended for cyclists, allowing them to find a place to stay for the night. The hosts, volunteers, register on the site and offer their services. This is a huge network of support and kindness. It was our first experience with something like this.

Mark, and his mother Phyllis, greeted us, before Carol (Mark's wife) arrived from work. Hershey, a golden retriever, also assumed his role of host with Jasmine. We didn’t know what to expect when we first arrived. Our joy was soon great! We were greeted like old friends! We had a bed and all the amenities that the house could offer. Wow! Mark and Carol are fantastic. They have a son, Christian, who we had the pleasure of meeting before he left for work. For dinner, Mark prepared enough pizza for an army. Everything was delicious! Several friends of Mark and Carol joined us and also a Chinese cyclist, Justin. He is touring the world by bicycle! He started his journey in Los Angeles two months ago.

What a wonderful day and evening it was! Lying down tonight in a comfortable bed, we feel very grateful and amazed. Thank you to our hosts for this incredible welcome!!!

23 to 24 May 2015

What a great weekend it was! We had not imagined when we contacted Mark and Carol that we would live intense moments like we experienced. We have created strong links with them. Mark and Carol showed us their beautiful city of Cape May. We experienced: bikes, visited Cape May lighthouse, visited a local farm. We ate extremely well! We met several of their friends and lived as locals in this little paradise. The style of the houses is impressive, the city is beautiful and the pace of life reminds one of an island setting. People are open and smiling, the streets are bike friendly. The city is dynamic, especially during the tourist season. We have been very impressed and charmed by this place and Mark and Carol have made a big difference. On Sunday night, we went out to a pub where people can play music. We had a blast! Once again, thank you Mark and Carol for all you have done for us and for who you are. It was refreshing to meet you and we look forward to seeing you again. We will miss you.

25 to 27 May 2015

During the weekend, we analyzed the different possibilities for places to camp from Cape May to Atlantic City. There was no place. All campsites are located west of the highway, which is not accessible from the intracoastal, and the coast is completely inhabited. We looked on Google Earth to find a little piece of beach where we could sleep, but nothing. So we had to find another way to keep on going. It was then that Philippe (sailboat “SurpriseS”, which we last met in Norfolk, VA) came to our rescue. He had just arrived in Cape May and offered for us to come aboard. Early Monday afternoon, Mark and Carol took us to a place where we could launch. We had heavy hearts. We have developed, in a very short time, a beautiful friendship with them. We will miss them.

We did not have a long distance to paddle. Philippe had anchored near the Coast Guard. We had to use our imagination to put all of our gear on his 27' sailboat, but we managed. We were glad to see Philippe again.

The day after our arrival was very windy. Philippe decided to stay put. This gave us the chance to meet two families traveling by sailboat. In both cases, they were up for a year of adventure with their kids. We were impressed by the children. They are all very interesting and interested, friendly and resilient. Congratulations to the parents for giving themselves, and their children, this amazing experience. Bravo for their determination and great devotion. We raise our hats to them. Thank you to Genevieve, Eric, Benjamin, Laurence and Sandrine for giving us a pleasant evening aboard their sailboat "Belausa".

On Wednesday, the winds were still too strong. Philippe made the decision to go to a marina, so that we could get groceries. Mark invited us to have dinner at his home and offered to drive us to shop. We were very happy to see Mark, Carol, Christian and Hershey. We had a great day and a pleasant evening. Christian and his friends cooked dinner for everybody. It was delicious! Christian is an excellent cook, just like his parents. Christian has a great future. He is a great cook with good ideas and lots of ambition.

May 28 - June 4, 2015

We finally left Cape May on May 28 aboard "SurpriseS". We love to sail!

The first night, we anchored in Beach Haven. We were treated to a spectacular sunset. The second day, it was going so well that we passed Atlantic City and anchored near Pleasant Point. We covered a great distance that day. That night, Philippe offered for us to stay on board longer. Philippe travels alone, so he enjoys our company and we can all take turns at the helm to cover more distance in a day. The company was pleasant and the opportunity to sail also interested us a lot, so we accepted the offer. On the third day aboard the sailboat, we passed Sandy Hook (NJ) and New York City. There were big waves at times. The bay was very choppy, but the boat responded well and moved comfortably. The view of the Statue of Liberty from the water was magical! Seeing New York City from the water was very different and very impressive. We continued on our way into the Hudson River and anchored for the night at Croton-On-Hudson. We had traveled 72 miles that day. On the fourth day, Philippe informed us that he had no one to help him navigate through the locks toward Lake Champlain. We offered to help him until the last lock, Whitehall. From there we will start canoeing southbound to get to Waterford, where we will continue our journey in the Erie Canal. That day we stopped at the Marlboro Yacht Club. The temperature and climatic conditions changed drastically. We went from 5.3 knots to 1.6 knots within 10 seconds! It was like hitting a wall. The wind was strong and the waves high. I was at the helm when it happened. The sailboat sank into the trough of the waves. It was like we were at a rodeo! We lost 10C during the passage of the cold front, we had just entered into a depression. It was pouring rain and extremely windy. We stopped to let the worst pass before finally making it to the yacht club. We were very warmly welcomed by Mike, Pete, Mike and his son Anthony. We spent a wonderful afternoon and early evening with them. Thank you for your hospitality and the beers!

The next day, we left towards Catskill in anticipation of stepping down the mast (necessary to pass under the bridges between the locks). Along the way, Philippe recognized the sailboat on which his friend Yves was travelling. We met Yves and his crew (Pierre and Michel) at the end of the day. About two hours prior to arriving at the marina, we heard a loud noise and the motor speed decreased. We had no idea why. It was only when we got to the marina dock that we realized that the sailboat was taking on water. The pump was running every 5 minutes. Two holes were temporarily blocked and a plan was devised. The sailboat will be dismasted and lifted from the water to make repairs. Pierre has a good idea how to fix the problem.

On June 2, "SurpriseS" was out of the water. The diagnosis was good and Pierre will make the repairs. We did not have the equipment to repair everything. Fortunately, a very nice man, named Joseph Rapp, provided all the necessary tools. This very generous man is currently renovating his sailboat. He is doing an outstanding job in restoring his beautiful boat, built in Taiwan. In three weeks, the sailboat will be put in the water. We are looking forward to hearing from him.

We also met a lovely family. They have left everything to travel by sailboat for a year with their two children. After the year they will continue their adventure in a new city, with new jobs. Their children, Olivier and Alexandre, are full of energy, super interesting and very mature. We were glad to meet Sebastian, Cathy, Olivier and Alexandre. We wish them a safe journey and happiness in the new life that awaits them.

On June 3, the repairs were made. In the late afternoon, after saying thank you again to Joseph and goodbye to Sebastian, Cathy, Olivier and Alexandre, we left to anchor further up in Coxsackie. Philippe told us that a friend will join him in Troy to help him go through the locks. We were happy for him. We were also glad to know that we will resume our paddling sooner than expected. We look forward to paddling again. We miss it! We will leave Philippe at Troy where he will wait for his friend to arrive.

The next morning, June 4, we looked for different ways to make it as quickly as possible to get to Waterford, where the Erie Canal begins. We wanted to arrive before the Visitor Centre closed at Lock #2 so we could find out the necessary information and pay for the passage. Our friend Andrew, from Boston, will come to visit us. We have not seen him since Florida. We look forward to seeing him again.

Philippe dropped us off in Waterford. After saying goodbye, we portaged our gear to the lock. It is here that we will spend our first night on the Erie Canal in Andrew's company.

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