The final leg of a northerly voyage along the East Coast includes the run from Annapolis to Maine. I had moored my boat in Annapolis for 10 days back in April to await the availability of a crew for this trip, and-just as important-the arrival of spring at my destination. Compared to a years-long whaling voyage to the Antarctic or Magellan’s passage around the world, eight months-with two visits home-doesn’t sound like a long time, but for someone like me, accustomed to living in a house, going to work every day and all the other accoutrements of everyday life, it was a lot of time to spend aboard. When the season came to head for the barn, so to speak, both Karma and I were ready.

We left Annapolis early on a Tuesday in May, motoring toward the big bridge that connects the western and eastern shores of the upper Chesapeake, working our way north via the bay’s well-marked shipping channel. We saw tankers and ships carrying cars and other bulk cargo bound for Baltimore at anchor to our south; other vessels, usually tugs pulling or pushing barges, passed us in both directions as we headed for the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal and eventually Delaware Bay. The C & D Canal is one of the two most commercially active sea-level canals in the United States (the other is the Cape Cod Canal) and on this trip we would transit both.

After a quick fuel stop the first evening, we proceeded through the night down Delaware Bay toward Cape May, N.J. By sometime very early the next morning we were motoring, slowly and carefully in the dark, through the narrow canal that saves mariners a 20-mile run around Cape May. Unlike its bigger sisters, the C & D and Cape Cod canals, this little ditch isn’t full of commercial traffic, isn’t particularly well dredged, and is crossed by at least two fixed bridges that are less than the 65 feet I’d grown accustomed to on the Intracoastal Waterway to the south. But the tide was low and we inched our way under them, waiting for fearful noises overhead that never came. Eventually we made it to the Atlantic, where we headed north along the New Jersey shore past Atlantic City, Barnegat Inlet and other low-lying points of interest off to port.

Our initial plan had been to run offshore from Cape May to Block Island-a sail that might have taken us a day and a night and would have been the most direct route to Buzzards Bay and the Cape Cod Canal. But weather intervened, as it seems to have on much of this trip, and we decided to avoid the 30-knot stuff out there by heading for New York and Long Island Sound. By around midnight Thursday, we were anchored just inside Sandy Hook, N.J., at the entrance to New York harbor.

The anchorage at this well-named spot is surprisingly quiet, given its proximity to one of the world’s busiest seaports. In commercial sailing days it was where vessels anchored to await a fair breeze north or south; today it’s the site of a Coast Guard station, a considerable number of military-looking housing units, a lighthouse and some fishing boats. The channel that leads in is well-marked and lit, but compared with Ambrose Channel-leading up to Verrazano Narrows and New York Harbor-it’s pretty sleepy. One of our crew, a Coast Guard veteran, described it as a piece of “legacy” infrastructure.

Friday we were off on the classic New York tour: under the Verrazano bridge; past Staten Island; past the Statue of Liberty; Brooklyn to the right, the Battery ahead and then to our left; the East River; the Brooklyn Bridge; the South Street Seaport; the Manhattan Bridge; Hell Gate (timed for the tide); LaGuardia Airport; the Throgs Neck Bridge; City Island and then Long Island Sound. It rained hard but the sights were never better. By nightfall we were anchored at the Sheffield Islands just below S. Norwalk, Conn., in the quiet waters of western Long Island Sound.

An observation after a day sailing past Manhattan: this great seaport has very few places where a passing boat can stop. Except for an anchorage in the vicinity of Coney Island and a small marina near the Battery there’s virtually nothing. The traffic is heavy; the tides are strong; such tie-ups as there may be are few and far between. City Island was a possibility had we wanted to stop for groceries, but one can’t toss a line ashore anywhere between South Street and LaGuardia, and the various cruising guides say essentially the same thing.

So on we went…from S. Norwalk we made it to the Cape Cod Canal in a day, a night and a day, finally arriving at Cape Ann, Mass., on Saturday afternoon. We’d passed inside Fishers Island and through the dicey Watch Hill Passage in the dark; we’d made it up Buzzards Bay in fair conditions; we’d timed the tides right for the Cape Cod Canal; we’d passed the site of the LNG facility under construction several miles off Boston.

After a day of rest on windy Sunday, during which we visited Gloucester and learned lots about its storied fishing industry, we headed for Maine. By Monday evening we were in Yarmouth, where I’d begun this cruise all those months ago. No bands met us, but a friend had left my truck dockside, unlocked with the keys in it. Couldn’t do that in New York!

David D. Platt is former editor of Working Waterfront.