Delaware City hospitality

Ryan and I have been trying hard to transform ourselves into morning people so we can be like those super-humans I admire who can somehow feed their kids, go for a jog, work on their novel and fit in a full day of work, all before they’ve made and eaten their gourmet lunch.

We’re both night owls, which makes it hard to get enough sleep to ever think waking up at 6 am is sane, let alone when it’s cold and dark outside.

But yesterday we had a deadline: we needed to get to Delaware City, DE by 4 pm because we were going to have our first visitors! My childhood friend Elisa and her family were going to brave Philly’s Friday night traffic just to come see us in Delaware, which also meant this would be the first time we’d have children aboard Hideaway. I’m not sure who was more excited – me or the kids.

Because of this, I only hit my snooze button 5 times, instead of 10, and was out of bed by 7:30 am and ready to cast off at 8:15. I know, I know, that is not early. We’re working on it!

Leaving Cape May, our biggest concern was the 55-foot bridge we’d have to pass under to get to the Delaware Bay. Ryan seemed to think the height of our mast was definitely probably around 53 feet. Maybe. So we decided to have a run at the bridge during low tide, just to be safe. I was holding my breath, half covering my eyes, as we passed under the bridge…and I swear we just missed it by 2 inches. “Well, at least now we know we’re shorter than 55 feet!” Ryan said, laughing.

After that little scare, motor sailing through the Delaware Bay was fairly peaceful, except for a little excitement when we were pulled over by the Coast Guard. Charlie, the captain of our two cats, got a little confused about the protocol and tried to board the Coast Guard vessel as it pulled up alongside us. She was probably checking to see if their registration was valid. Once Charlie gave them the okay, the Coast Guard went on their way and we carried on.

Then there was the small problem of our charts showing only 1 foot of water at the entrance to Delaware City. Hideaway draws 5’6″, like many sailboats, so we were baffled as to why Skipper Bob would list a stop-off that would have us running aground. We called ahead to Delaware City Marina on the VHF radio and Tim, the super friendly dockmaster, assured us there was 7 feet of water at the entrance and the charts were wrong. Sure enough, Tim was right. We let out a little more nervous laughter as we passed over the supposed 1-foot lip and we were there – at the friendliest marina we’d been to yet.

Delaware City is the first port to remind us that we aren’t in New York anymore. Or anywhere near it. Though we liked Cape May well enough, the marina wasn’t the friendliest, which was not necessarily a problem, as it made us feel right at home. But we’ve been seeking those places that will make us feel like we’re arrived somewhere new.

Delaware City was that place – Tim, the dockmaster, came down with a neighboring live-aboard Brit to help us secure our boat and do this nifty thing where they swing the boat around to face the other direction with just one hand on the bow and a couple of line tugs. Meanwhile, Ryan and the live-aboard got to chatting about where they were from in England while Tim ribbed them about sounding “all sophisticated.” It’s one of those funny things that happens when Americans hear a British accent – they either go all goo-goo or they feel compelled to imitate the accent.

Once, Ryan asked someone for directions in New Jersey and the American helping him said, “Ooh, are you from England? I just love the English accent!” And then, in a sing-songy voice, she said, “Shall we have tea and crumpets?!” in the worst British accent I’d ever heard. And continued with, “Shall we put some shrimp on the barbie?!” clearly confusing Ryan for an Aussie. Then she grinned at us like she’d just revealed an extraordinary talent. Ryan smiled awkwardly and I cringed.

Tim didn’t do the accent, thankfully, which made me like him even more. Instead he talked us through the history of Delaware City and the C&D Canal, gave us an extensive welcome pack of information about the area and informed us that, as Boat US members, we’d only have to pay $1.80/foot for the first night and $0.90/foot for the second. Bargain! We couldn’t have asked for a friendlier welcome to the tiny little town of Delaware City. And when I say tiny, I mean we went out for a sunset run, and though we jogged up and down every single street in town, it only amounted to 3.5 miles.

But the icing on the cake, at the bargain price of $1.80/foot, was a glorious hot shower in a lovely and spacious bathroom, which put us in a good mood to await our guests.

If this is the treatment we’re in for as we move south, you won’t get me back to New York any time soon.

Ryan, Celia and Charlie somewhere on the Delaware Bay