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Madcap Sailing
Sailboats Sailing South
Beth / sailing winds!
20/11/2009/2:54 pm, Lafayette River/Norfolk VA

Yeah - other Sailboats!, Norfolk VA (Lafayette River) Nov.20/09, posting #15

After a little windlass trouble, we left our anchorage in Mobjack Bay at 0800 hours. Lots of wind - then no wind - then lots again. We managed to sail quite nicely almost from the start until we had to change to a more southerly course for Norfolk, putting the wind almost behind us. We managed to motor sail with the staysail out till it finally just flapped around too much and we hauled it in.

Cruising through the busy Norfolk harbour is always interesting and this time was no exception. It wasn't awfully busy; a military ship came along through the channel and moved ahead of us (interestingly, we had to maneuver a bit to let it cross ahead of us as it came out of the York River, and we arrived here at about the same time.) An aircraft carrier was entering the harbour as we were coming down the coast, and by the time we came in past all the slips, it was disembarking long lines of crew. If you look closely you might see them in this picture. We also had four sailboats going through the channel at the same time - this after seeing none for the past 2 days! One was headed out and the other 2 kept going past where we turned off for the night, so maybe we'll see them later.

Just after we anchored in the little bulge of deep enough water here, another Canadian boat came in - the Oz from Toronto. We had a quick chat on the VHF and discovered the crew is Ken and Connie, and they are Bahamas bound as well. Ken blew his conch horn at dusk so we really feel like we are headed south now!

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Going Down the Bay
Beth / sailing winds!
19/11/2009/2:50 pm, Mobjack Bay

We left Solomon's around 1100 on Wednesday under sunny skies and ENE wind. It wasn't long before we saw our first brown pelican of the season. I can still remember how excited we were to see our first wild pelicans ever on the last trip. It doesn't have quite the same punch this time but it is still fun.

We motor sailed for the first few hours because we had such a late start but the wind picked up to 15 knots on our beam and the current was with us so off went the engine and we had a real true sail for several hours. Oh boy - did it feel gooooood!

It was dark by the time we picked our way into an anchorage in the Great Wicomico River. We hadn't been in there before and it was a little tricky finding the unlit entrance buoys even though the Great Wicomico Light was clear. Jim cast our big spotlight around where we thought they should be and picked them out. (By the way, we consider a powerful hand held spotlight to be essential equipment.) Most of the other markers in the channel were lit and we worked our way buoy by buoy to a spot just above Cockrell Neck and dropped anchor in about 15 feet of water. I must say, it was a bit of a relief to get anchored. There is nothing like navigating and anchoring after dark in a new place to keep the adrenaline up - especially when there are shoals on each side of the channel so if we missed, we were in trouble!

Our plan was to leave at first light, but we woke up to dense fog and decided to wait a bit. We watched the menhaden (herring) fleet leave from Reedville as the fog was lifting around 0830, and by 0930 we were on our way too. We had thought we might stop in that part of the river but decided against it because it seemed narrower and harder to pick a safe spot. I'm glad we made that decision because I'd have hated to be sticking out in the channel when those 100 ft boats came through.

The Thursday trip took us to Mobjack Bay where we anchored - get this - on the West side of the East River on the North side of the Bay. How is that for convoluted directions? We ended up coming in just at dusk because we sailed as long as we possibly could before we turned on the engine. We started out under overcast skies - then mist, then drizzle and then the clouds lifted and we had sun for awhile. The wind didn't get much over 10 knots and unfortunately the current was against us until about 1500 hours. We debated stopping in the Piankatank River - Jackson Creek - where we've been before but it would have made for a very long day on Friday. We are not competing for space at least - we have not seen a single other cruising boat in these past two days.

Dinner on both nights was pork tenderloin, baked with sweet potatoes and onions. I had it in the oven while we travelled so we could have hot food quickly on Wednesday, and we ate leftovers on Thursday - with cole slaw added for variety. (Peggy - your mustard relish is delicious!!)

We are thrilled that the KISS wind generator is back to being its quiet self again. Jim and Richard checked the balance of the blades. They tightened up all the support struts and Jim added a few rubber washers where anything seemed loose and it worked. No more noise!

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Ready, Set, GO
Beth / 59 F, sunny and a nice E wind
18/11/2009/6:24 am, Solomons, MD

Dave (our water tank man) tried his best but all the things that needed doing just couldn't get done by end of day Tuesday. So... a Wednesday late morning departure looks to be the plan. I'm writing this on Tuesday night, hoping I can post it on Wednesday morning and it will be true!

We have filled the tanks and flushed them 3 times. Along with a primary filter, we also use a seagull water purifier for drinking water, and what we sampled tasted good so I think we are set on that score. Once we get the whole area closed in again, we can put our mattress back on top and voila! a proper berth!

We'll try to make the Great Wicomico River for an anchorage on Wednesday, but it all depends on what time we get away. It would be nice to make a 2 day trip to Norfolk but that looks doubtful right now so we'll just have to see where we get and let you know when we can.

I went back to edit an earlier posting because I forgot to tell you about the Chili Cookoff. As for what we did the last couple of days... hmmm... tidied up the stackpack that lies along the boom and collects the mainsail. There had always been that little block (pully) at the stern end and it took Richard's common sense to show me that by tying a line through it to the topping lift (the line that lifts or lowers the end of the boom), it would hold the stack pack up very neatly. Geesh - how could I have not figured that out before?

We looked at charts and anchorages with Richard to figure out some options, and as always wish there was more time to check out several of them. Then there was laundry... and more grocery shopping (chocolate, cheese, ginger beer - Goslings has its own brand now and we like it a lot)... and purchasing a couple new pillows because our down ones are so old the fabric keeps tearing - with the result that every time Jim fluffs his pillow, feathers go flying all over the place. I thought at first he was moulting, but that is not the case. The lovely mute swan in the picture came for food and didn't lose any of his downy feathers either!

Here's hoping that the next time I post something, we'll be down the Bay!

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18/11/2009/1:22 pm | Monica and Tony
Great photo of the swan. Hope you were able to get away today as planned. Bon voyage!
20/11/2009/5:05 am | Margaret Uhrich
Hope that by the time you read this you are sailing south. Wishing you a safe journey.

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