This is the fifth installment of our big sailing trip. To start the trip from the beginining, click here.

Sunday June 30, 2019
Yesterday we had following seas and the wind behind us. That means that the both the waves and the wind were pushing us from behind. But the wind wasn’t so strong. So that means that Todd put up the spinnaker sail—gorgeously colorful and made of a light material that makes it ideal for scooping the light winds and propelling us forward.

When I woke just before 1 AM, we were rocking and rolling bashing into the waves. I opened the curtain beside my bed to peer out the porthole to see whether I could see any hint to the conditions I’d be dealing with when I got on watch. I saw white capped waves, and on the horizon I saw threads of lightening in the clouds. I got up, threw on some clothes, grabbed a drink, and didn’t do the eye drops for fear of trying to put something in my eye when the boat was that unsteady.

I got up on deck, Todd and Sean were at the helm watching a movie. I watched the lightening and Todd explained that we had the same waves we had all day, but we were going across them instead of with them so that they could avoid the lightening clouds. Eventually they got on course again, but it did take away from our momentum toward Atlantic City. While I slept Todd reprogrammed all the waypoints that I had previously programmed that would take us into Norfolk. When I was on my watch the afternoon before I had seen that we were even with where we would have turned in to Norfolk.

I finished reading “How To Be Famous” by Caitlin Moran. It was surprisingly awesome, and I started “I Let Her In” by Adele Parks as Sean watched The Little Mermaid at the helm. Before the trip Todd set up a Plex server and loaded 200 or so movies onto it. But I’ve been unsuccessful in getting most of them to play on my little tablet. Or they’ll play and then randomly stop half way through—which is what happened as I was watching one of my new favorites Bohemian Rhapsody. It just up and stopped playing. “Can’t Connect Unable to Play.” Um… you were just connected just fine a second ago. I didn’t wake Todd to ask him to fix it because sleep is hard for him to come by when we are offshore and underway.

So I read more of “I Let Her In” which I understand to be a thriller, but I am still at the beginning and I haven’t gotten to any creepy parts yet. Sunrise, chatting with Deb, bagel, eyedrops, bed.

About two hours before my alarm is due to go off I was tortured. Somehow we ended up getting a small swarm of those little flies that bite. They look like houseflies, but they’re a bit smaller and bite like a large mosquito. These diabolical little assholes would only bite when I had my sleep mask on, and would fly off when I pushed it up from my eyes. But if I kept the mask off they wouldn’t bite, but then I wouldn’t sleep as well. It went on until I gave up and decided to forego the last 2 hours of sleep.

When I woke up I learned that we had sailed through a swarm of little black biting flies. They gathered around the door that leads to the inside of the boat. Deb and Sean had killed at least 50 and still they swarmed. They’d gotten inside the boat and refused to vacate. We tried to lure them outside with the almost full trash bin, but they weren’t interested.

We sailed on to Atlantic City. My big goal when I learned we were heading there was to see the city all lit up from a distance at night. I had heard that it’s a sight to see… along the shore there’s relative darkness and then BAM! Atlantic City takes over the horizon with lights so bright they seem loud. We arrived at sunset, so I got to see some of the lights.

We pulled in, got tied up to the end of the dock, then we went ashore to go exploring. We got a slip at the Golden Nugget Casino and the Farley Marina. This was a property formerly owned by our illustrious president, but his bankruptcy issues got in the way. So now it’s the Golden Nugget. Todd and I had seen it years ago when it was the Trump Marina Casino…. Way before he was talking about grabbing women by the pussy and somehow managing to get elected president. I spent and promptly lost $10 at the slot machine back then.

Deb headed back to the boat while Todd, Sean and I grabbed a cab and headed over to the Boardwalk area. We walked through the Hard Rock Casino and I stopped and looked at the memorabilia as we went though. I saw original lyric sheets from Britney Spears and Joan Jett—both of them have very nice penmanship. We saw an outfit once worn by Nikki Sixx and marveled at how short he is and how skinny his legs are.

We headed over to Steel Pier to get a snack and walk through the carnival rides until the exhaustion of being at sea for over 2 days got the better of us and we headed back. This is the Steel Pier ferris wheel.

BJ Knapp author of Beside the Music sailed her catamaran 1,213 miles

Monday July 1, 2019
Laundry Day! Cleaning Day! Day drinking day! We did some chores around the boat and then headed ashore for fun. We started with a drink at the Golden Nugget deck bar and befriended a bartender named Leo. We got some snacks and then got into the cab and headed to the boardwalk area.

We started over at the Tropicana. Just beyond the Tropicana the boardwalk looked a bit desolate. The Hilton had closed down and there weren’t any attractions over there to convince the crowd to hang out. Deb wanted to go for a quick swim, so we headed over to the beach. Sean and I waded in after her as she dove into the waves. She confidently strode barefoot on the sand, and from watching her I didn’t realize how hot the sand would be. I got a few paces in and my feet burned. I kept my eyes focused on the cool water with the promise of relief for my feet.

Todd found the Chelsea Beach bar, where we had more froofy rum drinks and played oversized Jenga and Connect 4 games. Todd is impossible to beat at Connect 4, and the ocean breeze threatened our taller Jenga towers until they eventually toppled.

BJ Knapp author of Beside the Music sailed her catamaran 1,213 miles

BJ Knapp author of Beside the Music sailed her catamaran 1,213 miles

We left the Chelsea and strolled down the boardwalk for other entertainment. Browsed in the gift shops, hopped on the trolley to take us a block or two. Sean and I went into a haunted house kind of a thing. Their main attraction was a coffin built for two, and it was rigged up with hydraulics and sound. The basic idea of it was that we were getting buried alive by mobsters that had murdered us. It jostled as they “drove” our coffin to a discreet site to be buried, it thumped as they dropped us into the ground, and the smell of dirt came in through the cracks in the coffin. It was definitely a very strange experience and it was fun to laugh through it with Sean.

Ice cream, people watching, trolley riding, strolling, perfect day in the sun. We arrived at the Hard Rock where Todd had seen an Asian place he wanted for dinner. Sean, Deb and Todd all love sushi, while I don’t care for it. I got a shrimp tempura. But the best part of it was we were seated in the bar area and 2 guys were jamming out on acoustic guitars and they were awesome! They played the whole time, we shouted out requests. The lead singer, Justin, pulled out his iPhone and tried to play Barenaked Ladies for me, and from a first attempt it was pretty awesome. He tried to play If I Had a Million Dollars but started cracking up at BNL’s irreverence and opted to play Brian Wilson instead. We sang along to their songs, we cheered loudly, we gave the guitarists a good time and they said as much.

Deb got them to play Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen, as Bruce is her favorite. Then more people came into the bar area, it was pretty much pandemonium after that. Other people came in to dance, Sean got them to play Blister in the Sun, and everyone went nuts. Then the band ended their set, in all a spectacular show despite how low key it was.

We wandered the Boardwalk some more, to the end of where the trolleys would take us over by the Ocean Casino, which looks like it’s the newest casino in town. We walked out onto the sand and dipped our feet in one more time.

The Boardwalk is interesting in that you can tell that just 10 years ago or so it was probably way bigger. Atlantic City has hit some very hard times. We saw another Trump casino that had been shuttered. I remembered there were at least 3 with his name on them from when we were last there in 2003. It’s so interesting to me that during the last election people talked about having such a “successful” business man running the country. But does that success include so many bankruptcies? Deb and I had talked about it and she explained that he had succeeded at bankruptcy in that he used it to game the system. So in fact he had likely profited off of going bankrupt, and this is probably why he hadn’t shown his tax returns as he was running for president.

We headed back to the boat to get tucked in for the night. I put away the clean laundry and set at making our bed with clean sheets. On my way out of the bathroom I stubbed my toes on my right foot so hard my second toe began to bleed. Todd bandaged it up and then went up on the coach roof to make a repair to the main sail.

Tuesday July 2, 2019
We set out from Atlantic City after topping up the water tank and taking out the garbage. Sean was in bed so it was me, Todd and Deb getting us off the dock. We left the dock without any problems, until we were heading out the channel and realized that the steering on the starboard rudder had slipped again. Todd maneuvered us back to the dock, we tied up again. He opened the engine compartment and set about repairing the rudder again as he’d learned from the repairman from Just Catamarans back in Fort Lauderdale about a zillion years ago.

It only took a few minutes and then we untied again and set out. Deb and I tidied the lines and the fenders, then we ate some breakfast and I headed in for a shower.

The black flies were still with us. Sean figured out that if he sprayed method cleaner on them it will weigh them down until they couldn’t fly anymore and then he could squash them. That’s the thing with these flies, they are too damn fast to catch. Sean set about killing flies like a tom cat patrolling mice in a rickety farmhouse. Our normal watch schedule resumed and we are on our way to Block Island.

Another interesting statistic on this trip is the number of mylar balloons we’ve managed to scoop out of the water. That’s something we do any time we’re on the water. Balloons are particularly bad because to turtles, who normally feed on jelly fish, they look like food to them. So many turtles have been cut open after death and founded stuffed with plastic bags and balloons. Anytime we see a balloon we lift it out of the water. So far on this trip we pulled out 4, the 4th one was just pulled out today. It was pink and said “Princess” on it.

The ride overnight parallel to Long Island was pretty uneventful. I sailed us right into the sunrise and we kept right on going toward Block Island.

Read installment 6 here.

BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.

BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.