The next day after the article The Delaware River And Bay Authority confirmed our story and didn’t really give us just too much more details. This was due to them investigating the incident.
Today we were able to get our hands on the report from the DRBA.
This fall, slip #1 in Lewes, Delawareis being refurbished. This forces the DRBA to bring the ships back to Cape May against westerly winds.
To prepare for this new way of things, DRBA brought back some retired and veteran captains to assist in practicing these “off-wind dockings.”
On this night the winds were gusting out of the northwest at 35+ knots. At this time of year it is quite common.
As the tide came in earlier in the day, the winds held the water out. Similarly, as the tide went out in the early evening, the wind assisted in pushing the water out to sea. This plus the new moon created a super low tide in the canal.
What Really Happened To The Cape May Ferry?
For this next part look at the chart. (This also came straight from the report)
At 1800, the Cape Henlopen left dock at point #1- the Cape May Dock. She turned into the Cape May Canal, and headed to the center of the Canal, the light blue lane where deepest water is generally found.
The ship was solidly in the light blue lane when it hit bottom at point #2 and came to a stop. This wasn’t a common place where the ship would have touched the bottom.
In fact, hydrographic* surveys taken by Camden-based S. T. Hudson Engineers the next day showed enough water in the area, but the soundings reflect “mean lower low water” – the expected low tide. What we now believe we experienced was a “blow out tide*.”
After a full stop, the captain tried to get the ship back into the center of the canal but the winds kept pushing the ship towards the far shore. The wind pushed it to where it came to rest on the sands on the south side of the Canal.
Our friends at Sea Tow of Cape Maywere called out to help pull the ship. When the Sea tow show, The Guardian, arrived she pulled the Cape Henlopen back to deeper waters.
Cape Henlopen was able to pull her way back into her slip under her own power.
According to a spokes person from the DRBA, “For this holiday of gratitude, we can all give thanks that we have experienced crews, caring Customer Service teams, and a boat that could take a wind whipping and still come home safely.”
Thanks to the experienced crews who made sure everyone got home safely! Great job DRBA and Cape May Ferry!
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