Breakfast in New York, Dinner in Annapolis
It was a beautiful morning on September 27th; the temperature was at a cool 57 degrees, with a light breeze, and crystal-clear skies. My wife and I loaded up our lunch and headed down to Mamaroneck, NY to the McMichael Yacht Brokers Rushmore Yard. We boarded MJM Yachts 53z BREEZE at 0745 and started to get her ready, which is such an easy process on an MJM. By 0759, we had checked the oil on all four engines, had the generator and the Seakeeper going, and we were ready to cast off. The simplicity of getting the 53z underway cannot be overstated; it is as simple as turn the key and go. Well, four keys in this case as there are four Mercury 400HP Verados on the back.
Although equipped with joystick docking, I chose to put the classic Destroyer Wheel hard over to starboard and give a little pulse from the bow thruster; we slid out of our berth with ease and backed out into the channel. With a quick turn of the joystick she spun in place, and we pointed the bow towards Long Island Sound and headed out. Passing the American Yacht Club, we opened the sliding side windows and back glass door to the pilothouse. Since the companion station has a separate control for the electric front windows, I was able to open the helm and center window to enjoy the cool air while my wife opted to keep her window closed.
Our first destination was Liberty Landing Marina for fuel and breakfast. If you haven’t cruised the southwestern Sound down to New York City, it is an incredible experience. We approached the Throgs Neck Bridge with SUNY Maritime just off to starboard, and Kings Point across the way to port. Passing under the Whitestone Bridge, we could see the end of one of the runways at LaGuardia Airport out ahead of us. Passing through Hell Gate, we continued down the East Side of the City, under many impressive bridges. The sun gleaming off the skyscrapers of lower Manhattan was beautiful.
We made Liberty Landing in 55 minutes and tied up at the fuel dock, where we were met by the Dockmaster trying to wave us down from pump #1. “That’s an MJM, and you’re at the wrong pump,” was his greeting to me. I motioned for him to come closer as I pointed to the four white outboards on the back of BREEZE. With a big smile, he told us how much he “admires MJMs whenever they come in” and he couldn’t resist the urge to come aboard and have a look at her interior. If you haven’t stopped at Liberty Landing when in NYC, it is highly recommended. They always have fuel, and a 24-hour kiosk set up (and fast pumps) makes filling up very convenient. You can also catch a short water taxi ride to several locations in Manhattan, so it is truly an ideal location to explore NYC from.
After enjoying a leisurely breakfast onboard, we headed out at 0950 to our next destination, Annapolis, Maryland. Rounding Sandy Hook, we headed south towards Surf City. As we passed Seaside Park, the wind, which had been at out of the north, shifted more northeasterly with the seas growing to 2-3 feet. We didn’t really notice, and BREEZE calmly and smoothly carried us along at an average of 42 MPH. We made Cape May in just under 3 ½ hours, and in that time, the winds and seas had picked up a bit and were now 3-4 feet. Again, we didn’t notice much on board as the 53z pushed through and over without pounding. I measure a boat’s stability by seeing if I am able to leave my coffee at the helm (not in a cup holder) without any spillage. My coffee was in no danger this day.
Rounding Cape May, we headed northwest up the Delaware Bay. There are many (mostly locals) who round the Cape just off the beach, but I usually opt to pass the Overfalls Shoal before making my turn. Better safe than sorry.
The Bay flattened out, and we made a fast run up to the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal (C&D) in about an hour and a half. The only real hazard in the Bay are the large commercial ships. At speed, they generate huge wakes. With plenty of water (in most cases) either side of the channel, you can give them a wide berth as they pass.
If you haven’t traversed the C&D Canal before, it’s a nice journey with a fair amount of wildlife. Along the canal are several marinas, and a few dock & dines. We would recommend Schaefers, which is a very cute location in Chesapeake City, MD, with a bar, restaurant, and the one thing we didn’t need – fuel. At this point in our journey, we had just over ½ tank of fuel onboard.
The canal gives way very gradually to the upper Chesapeake. We had to slow to 35 MPH in the canal, in addition to a mile and a half no-wake zone, but by Town Point we were back up at speed. At this point, the winds had died down, and the conditions better resembled a lake. While the designated channel zigzags, it’s mainly for the larger ships. We followed a fairly straight route down, keeping a close eye on the depth gauge and chart the entire way. With an average depth between 9 and 19 feet in most areas, it’s a stress-free passage.
We passed under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge around 1555, then rounded Greenbury Point a few minutes later headed into Annapolis Harbor, docking at 1615. With our run from Mamaroneck to Liberty Landing taking 55 minutes, and the run from Liberty Landing to Annapolis taking 6 hours and 20 minutes, our total journey time was 7 hours and fifteen minutes.
The 53z is just as easy to put away for the evening as she is to get ready. The electronics panel is just inside the companionway with all the engine keys, batteries switches, and digitally switched vessel controls well organized and centralized. We closed the windows and pilothouse door, ensured our lines were secure and headed out for an early dinner. There are many great restaurants in Annapolis, and we recommend trying them all. One of our favorites is the Federal House Bar & Grill on Market Space. It’s a nice balance of good food and atmosphere in an historic setting.
View more about the 53z here.