Blown Down the Bay
25 October 2007 | Lafayette River, Norfolk, Virginia
Beth - in foulweather gear
It's been a long two days but we made it safely to the Norfolk area. We left Solomons Island yesterday morning with winds from the southeast and were making reasonable time. Then all of a sudden the wind changed to the north - as predicted - the temperature dropped and we flew! We were lucky to have the wind and current going in the same direction as we were for most of these last two days.
I lost my jacket in one gust that just blew us over sideways and ripped everything that was loose out of place. Fortunately my jacket was the only thing that was lost, and Jim handily brought the boat back upright. It was a good reminder that things happen all of a sudden! The rain started the last while and by the time we called it a day, we were thoroughly soaked.
We saw our first pelicans on this leg - great creatures flying low over the water - and more little terns just skimming the surface. As we left Solomons Island I spotted one white egret standing on a rock - first one of those for the trip too.
Last night we spent a few waking hours in Jackson Creek - Deltaville. It seemed very pleasant, but we anchored, dried out, ate, played a game of crib and hit the sack. The rain fell off and on all night, and the thunder and lightening continued for quite a while too.
This morning dawned grey and damp again and the forecast was for 15-20 knot winds from the north and seas 2-4 feet. It's interesting that at one time we might have said, "Let's wait till tomorrow" but we joined the parade of sailboats that were taking advantage of the wind to blow further down the bay. We heard one power boat on the radio saying that he was turning to come back in, and we met another one waiting to get through the narrow channel. Indeed, I would not have wanted to be out there in one of those top-heavy motor cruisers.
We were fine, although the seas were at least 6 feet, and the wind rarely dropped below 20 knots. Jim clocked our speed over ground at 10.2 nautical miles per hour for an instant or two - more than Madcap can do on her own. We were surfing! The worst bits were getting out into the Bay proper from Deltaville, and then getting into Norfolk. That's when we had that corkscrew motion that does funny things to the stomach. We are always happy that Madcap has such a nice deep cockpit when we have a following sea like this one. Although the spray flew up and the rain fell down, we never got the wash of sea into the cockpit that can sometimes happen. We were back into full foulweather gear - and thankful for it. It was one of those days when we felt pleased with ourselves for handling the boat in rougher weather, and mighty uncomfortable at the same time. At least we weren't beating into the wind with the tide running opposite us, as we have heard so many stories about. We were counting our blessings.
It was an interesting experience to come past the long line of warships and aircraft carriers in Norfolk. Lots of power and might displayed there.
We've had a terrific time in the Chesapeake Bay these last couple of weeks, and will certainly look forward to exploring the lower part next year. For now - it's onward and southward. We met up with Strathspey again here, and tomorrow will start our journey down the ICW. After much debate, we have both decided to forgo the Dismal Swamp this trip and take the Virginia Cut. The swamp is supposed to be much more beautiful - despite its name - but its depth is 6 feet, and we draw just about that. Perhaps there will be more water in it when we come back up in the spring.
It feels like we are starting another chapter in this journey. We're in a new state - Virginia - and about to embark on yet another trip neither of us has ever taken before. There are bridges to go under or through, a lock - we haven't been in one of those since Cape Breton - and, we expect, a whole lot of boats traveling the same route. More people to meet and stories to swap, new food to discover and sights to see - yippee!