18 June 2008 | Hampton, VA
Beth - 28C and hardly any wind in here
We cruised past all the warships lining the Norfolk Harbour, spotted at Hospital Point a couple of boats we had last seen in the Bahamas, and pushed on to Hampton. A leaflet we had been given in the Dismal Swamp welcomed us to that area and assured us we could anchor across from the Downtown Piers. Well - we could, and did, but watching our stern swing awfully close to a piling was part of the deal.
We were first anchored close to red marker 22, but while we were ashore and blissfully ignorant, we slid backward. Fortunately we were still afloat, although we provided entertainment for our friendly neighbours on Escapade. With the anchor reset and more rode out, we were secure but watchful. When the anchor alarm (set at its lowest setting) went off with every wind shift and tide change in the night, we paid close attention to see whether it was a swing or a drag! Depending on tide and swing, we had either 4 ft under us or almost nothing.
Showers were $1.00 apiece - fabulous price - at the Public Piers so we cleaned up and went off to explore the impressive Virginia Air and Space Center. We checked our problem-solving abilities and reaction times to see if we'd make good pilots, and looked in wonder at the command module from the Apollo 12 mission to the moon. We peered at pieces of rock from the moon and from Mars. Interestingly, that piece was from a meteorite that fell out of the sky one day in Nigeria. It was only later that its chemical content could be compared with information from the Mars Rover expeditions, and a match was made.
Then the question was - move on for a few hours or stay and make a real day of it on Thursday. You guessed it - we stayed. It felt like we needed the time to look at charts and regroup ourselves - into Chesapeake Bay cruisers. Jim bought a couple of jerry cans of diesel ($4.95 US gallon); we chatted with Hamish, Kieron, and little Jack on Free at Last (Sarah was getting dinner) and were reminded again how much we like meeting Aussie friends. We dug out our Down East Circle Route book - by Cheryl Barr - our guide for the St Lawrence River part of the trip - one they are planning to take.
Which reminds me...
Our two favourite books for traveling the ICW were: "Managing the Waterway: an Enriched Cruising Guide for Intracoastal Waterway Cruisers" by Mark and Diana Doyle.
2005, Semi-local publications LLC. It was beautifully set up to provide specific information on anchorages, marinas and bridges for each mile, and had a rich narrative portion for reading along the way.
Intracoastal Waterway Chartbook: Norfolk VA to Miami FL (4th edition) edited by John Kettlewell and Leslie Kettlewell. 2002, International Marine/McGraw Hill. This one is set up in flip chart fashion with arrows. It's like a CAA triptik for the waterway and we found it immensely handy in the cockpit.
While we are happy that we followed the ICW all the way down to Lake Worth once so we have a clear idea of what it is like, we did several outside passages on the way back and are very happy we did that too. It meant that we spent far fewer days traveling on the inland route and were able to stop for several days at a time when we wanted or needed to. To be more specific, we spent 28 days moving along the ICW on the way south and 7 days moving on the ICW coming north. (That was mostly because we made outside passages, but more hours of daylight helped too.) It took 30 traveling days to go from Norfolk to the Bahamas, and 13.5 traveling days to come back.
There is something to be said for being either ahead of or at the end of the pack too - less crowded anchorages, no jockeying for position at bridges.
So here we are ready for the Chesapeake Bay. We're off on Thursday for the Deltaville area and will then go across to visit Crisfield on the eastern shore - weather permitting, of course! This time, we've friends to visit all along the way.