The Road That Takes You Home
14 August 2012 | HOME
We took a leisurely pace after leaving Ocracoke to get home to the lower Chesapeake Bay where Anastasia hails from. Something we could have done in a few days but at this point we had successfully stretched out this cruising season to be the longest yet at 8 months, so what were a few more days of stalling?
The day we chose to leave Ocracoke was a perfect day on the calendar, nearly two weeks after arriving there. But, the weather thought otherwise. We hauled anchor early in the morning and began motoring out of the channel. Once in the channel we were hard on the wind and our course after that had us heading up considerably. It was windy, overcast and just yucky. Why rush out into unfavorable conditions when there is a comfy anchorage waiting to welcome us back? So we turned around, dropped our hook in the same spot that it was in before and settled in for at least another day. Not only was this the best thing for us, it turned out to be good luck for a traveling teenager looking for a ride north.
We have only had crew one other time and that was our good friend Dan who sailed with us to the Virgin Islands from the Bay. Dan was great to have aboard and proved that three can work just fine. So, when this young lady rowed out to Anastasia in a borrowed boat and asked for a ride we thought, why not. She was 18, full of energy and on the return leg of a 1-month cycling trip originating in Montreal, Canada. She stayed with us for three days until we reached Elizabeth City, NC where she caught a Greyhound bus north to Connecticut. It was a good experience for her and a quite eye opening one for us. Lets just say that we are not ready to have a teenager in our care any time soon.
Elizabeth City is a great stop. This was our fourth time visiting the free docks offered on their waterfront. This time we had our collapsible bikes, which allowed us to venture deeper into town. Once past the historic area it really doesn’t look much different than other places. However, this was the first time we had visited a decent, well priced grocery store since Oriental so we were jazzed. And, whenever we find a Mexican restaurant with tall beers and bottomless chips we are delighted as well.
Being a few hours’ drive from our hometown, Maxwell’s mom joined us for the lovely trip north through the Dismal Swamp. She came aboard the night before we left and we anchored just inside the Elizabeth City Bridge. We got an early start and were treated to a lovely display of foliage and wildlife for most of the morning. The day was sunny and quite warm but with a nice breeze that stuck with us all day. We docked between the Deep Creek Bridge & lock at Elizabeth’s Dock. It is a free dock with a nice public park, perfect place to spend an evening. Maxwell’s dad met us to pick up his mom and to take us to dinner.
Saturday morning we transited the lock at 8:30 and were off to venture through the Elizabeth River past Portsmouth & Norfolk. Despite the route being through a major industrial area it is just as beautiful to us as the scenic Dismal Swamp from the day before. Definitely different, but just as amazing. We had been hearing security calls all morning for a returning battle group headed to Naval Station Norfolk. So, when we rounded the bend and saw an Aircraft Carrier being backed into a slip we were not surprised but awestruck. Vessels like that make Anastasia seem like a piece of driftwood! All total there were 6 ships returning that day and we saw all of them. It was very special and quite moving.
We crossed the mouth of the inlet at Norfolk bound for Hampton. Last year we anchored there, just in front of the Hampton City Docks. The marina is friendly to transients and offers many services to floating travelers. We spent one night at anchor and came into the dock briefly Sunday morning to pick up Maxwell’s dad for his turn for a ride on Anastasia. The wind proved finicky so we couldn’t sail so we motored most of the way. Our friend Dan, who I mentioned above, lives with his wife Kelly really close by. Actually, it is their dock that we keep Anastasia at and was our destination for the day. They came out in their boat to find us and welcome us back home. It was a surprise and great to see them. Needless to say, they made it home hours before we did.
During my turn on the helm I spotted a ski-doo jet boat adrift with seemingly no one aboard. We diverted to take a look and sure enough it was abandoned and half full of water. We called the Coast Guard and after a decent wait with the hazard in tow they came to take it from us. With that bit of excitement dealt with we were back on course. Not too much later I was once again on the helm, distracted by dolphins and soon too close to a shoal. Yep, I put us aground. Once I was fired from helm-duty Maxwell took over, got us off and we were once again headed for home agreeing that we had experience enough distractions and set-backs for one day.
The rest of the afternoon was uneventful and we arrived at Dan and Kelly’s undamaged. They were there to welcome us again, this time with hugs. We settled Anastasia into her slip and started the process of unloading all of the things we’d need over the next few days spent with family.
It has been wonderful seeing everyone and getting comfortable with our land-legs for now. The rest of the summer is going to be a lot of work but we are excited about the change of pace.