The thought of someone feeling unwelcome in Cape May is upsetting to me. That’s the feeling the cruising sailboat community has when considering anchoring here.
My friend Hayden Cochran spent most of his life educating young people in High School. He retired a few years ago. Now he is living his dream; cruising up and down the east coast and into the Bahama’s. He has a blog about the journey along with his wife Radeen.
This weekend they, along with three other yachts are sailing out of Rock Hall, Maryland up the Chesapeake on their way to Block Island. They plan to pull into Cape May Harbor, drop anchor and enjoy the town on Saturday. Here’s the rub. Cape May does not have a facility where sailors equipped for cruising, can dock and secure their dinghy, while they explore dry land.
Hayden tells me: “I have cruised into Cape May for 10 years now and will be there Friday night and Saturday with yachts anchored off USCG base. We plan to stay and enjoy the town. I have actually stayed two weeks there and spent money in town every day. Cruisers that run from New England to the Bahamas and Florida anchor out as our yachts are set up for this. We do not need docks. Then we go to town via the dinghy and go out to eat, shop for supplies, buy gifts, take in the town. If there is an easy place to access town via a dinghy dock then we tend to STAY FOR A WHILE.”
Carl Behrens, Cape May’s resident Jimmy Buffett impersonator and extreme sailor says: “Members of most Yacht Clubs can enjoy reciprocal benefits of the Dock at Corinthian Yacht Club, including the restroom and shower facilities, the bar and “restaurant”. We don’t typically charge for dinghies, but boats can tie to our docks for a dollar per foot per night. There are actually lots of water front communities up and down the East Coast that don’t have dingy docks. It can be very frustrating when cruising. I think the beach near the Fisherman’s Memorial would be a nice spot for a dingy dock.”
I live vicariously through a few sailing blogs or Facebook pages that I follow. One such vessel/blog is Heron Racing for the Yacht Hurrah, who just completed a 600 mile passage from Wilmington, North Carolina to New York. I wonder if they would have stopped in Cape May if we had an easy way for them to get ashore.
There are plenty of yachts that will take a slip at a local marina. I wrote about one such yacht named Gadget a short while ago. The point here is how many more people with money in their pockets would choose Cape May as a sailing destination, if they felt welcome and encouraged to visit. Cape May needs a dinghy dock.