The Bell Tolls
05/12/2012, Cape Charles, VA
PORTSMOUTH TO CAPE CHARLES
May 12, 2012
We finally left Portsmouth after a month of museums, local discovery and a day delay due to windy conditions. While 25 mph winds would not normally stop us, the concern about the possibility of rough seas versus Bears back did. Yesterday started with an interesting ordeal with traffic, both military and commercial whilst negotiating the Hampton Roads area. Ordeal is not the right word but it did present more need to know the rules than most situations we've encountered recently.
We were on the way to a good day of sailing when we received a call that on one wants to get. We lost a friend yesterday to a most hideous disease: ALS. The bell tolled. Words do not fit and there is little to say except she will be definitely missed. Her passing emphasizes, once again, the importance of making the most of each day and that one never knows what tomorrow will bring.
Of this place, the suggestions were right although this is an unusual place as a destination for sailors. It was built as a terminus for railways serving the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake. Rail cars met barges here and were transported across to Norfolk and other towns. Between the marina, currently undergoing an impressive upgrade, and the town are many railroad tracks. The downtown is attractive and an example of yet another Norman Rockwell scene. There is an object parked in the rail yard some 50 yards from our boat that is a bit unusual, a naval gun which appears to be a 16 inch/50 caliber Mark7, the type used Iowa class WWII battleships. The barrel is 66 feet long. It is just the barrel and we were told it is one of two that was shipped here. Now, it is just sitting outside on a blocks and has been for some time. Anyone need a yard cannon?
We will do some exploring here and then move on up the bay in a day or so. The long fetch of the bay makes it a good stop for conditions when the wind is from the NNW. Methinks the Chesapeake can get "lively" under such conditions on this side of the bay. Still, the folks we are meeting along the way are heading home for the summer. We have yet to encounter other boats doing what we are doing. Perhaps it is still a bit early. For us that is actually a good thing.
Rest In Peace, Elizabeth.
12 Seconds That Changed the World
12 SECONDS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD
May 8, 2012
We decided to take a little ride before we leave the MSU behind. So we drove down to the Kill Devil Hills, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina (OBX). Our destination was actually Cape Hatteras but we did not make it that far. We were stopped by a very high hill with an impressive monument atop what was at one time just a very large sand dune. Turns out that it is the National Monument to the boys from Ohio that managed "heavier than air" flight back in 1903. The story is more than I remember from the paragraph in my grade school history book, far more. Orville and Wilbur pulled off something that was nothing short of a scientific miracle. Others came close but to the man they all managed to kill themselves in the effort. The Wright boys did not like that outcome and they knew the real challenge was actually controlling the flying machine in the three axis of flight, roll, pitch and yaw. One by one, they devised controls to do that and one blustery December day; they managed four flights from level ground with the "Flyer". Those flights are marked with a six ton granite rock and markers on the actual flight path showing four distances of flight. The first was a 12 second flight that changed the world and marked the genesis of flight to the present day. NASA took a piece of the Flyer to the moon on the first lunar landing. It is in the museum along with a glider Wilbur personally supervised and a very expensive copy of the Flier upon which the lecturer demonstrates the controls. That monument is the only one in the US that was christened by a living a person named on same. Amelia Earhart was in attendance. What a place!
It's back to Why Knot tomorrow when we are expecting a strong cold front and rain. We are ready to sail into the Chesapeake on Thursday.
The monument (memorial) at Kill Devil Hills, NC honoring the Wright Brothers
May 8, 2012
The true reward to our style of cruising is that we are not compelled to leave port because of a schedule. As anxious as we are to see what's around the bend, there is a strong frontal passage heading this way for arrival tomorrow. Thus we will wait another day and shove off on Thursday. That also allows us (me) to complete preparations for some time away from the power chord. Then again, we might sail to another marina. Looking at the charts there are so many places to visit some a mere dozen miles away. Like the early slogan used by Microsoft "Where would you like to go today?" we will most likely select a destination on the way out of Norfolk.
Picture of Scurv urging us to shove off
Time to Go
Cold, foggy, rain
05/06/2012, Scott's Creek, Portsmouth
TIME TO GO
May 6, 2012
Ok, so we have been here long enough that we know our way around the area without the gps. Of the three boats here that we have gotten to know, one of them, S/V Intrepid, is a boat with whom we sailed the Abacos. It was good to learn this is their home marina. Another boat, S/V Willet, is one that we met by radio after having done part of the AIWW south of here. We actually met the crew when we both took slips here who left this morning. He was a Corpsman in Vietnam and we had much to discus. They are heading north toward their home port in New Jersey. A boat just arrived late yesterday that we think we met in the islands two years ago. They plan to leave today heading to their home port in Baltimore. It appears that we are still ahead of the explorers heading north for the summer. Most, if not all we have met are heading north to home ports.
That brings us to our departure. We thought we would leave Wednesday but the forecast calls for a 50% chance for rain that day. We might delay by one day, or not. Of course, Scurv gets half a vote on the idea. The Chesapeake phase will be different than the ICW days getting here. Literally, we will take the next month or so exploring those places suggested to us by "locals". The list grows daily.
It is curious to us how ones perspective changes when first deciding to stay for a month in one place then when the time draws near to leave. The longer in a slip, the more "settled" the boat gets to the point that the cabin is rearranged into a more home like configuration. When the departure date approaches, stuff starts to be stowed for sea. That stack of guides, books and magazines won't ride there underway. So, do something with them. The stowed charts and instruments materialize as tools, kitchen stuff and other items find their way back in their proper sea space. Hopefully, the cabin rug will dry before departure lest the perfect mold machine populates the cabin with fuzzy spots. The last load of laundry and the provisions become a priority. It is sort of like prepping for a trip that has an indeterminate end date. Scurv starts to relish his "dirt trips" since he does not realize that there are more to come elsewhere.
Whilst taking Scurv on a dirt trip, we were selected by a tiny tick. Scurv talked it into chewing on me. After all such parasites that have called me "home" over the years, why is it that this one is causing paranoia? Did that one tick qualify as the golden BB? Anyway, I am wondering if the blue stuff we squirt down Scurv's back will work on humans.
Picture is of the Portsmouth waterfront looking at Norfolk waterfront
Firts Look at the Chesapeake
May 4, 2012
We bought the guide some time ago and we have listened to those who went before about the Chesapeake. Since we leave Portsmouth next week, we broke out said guide and started to decide "where to next". The obvious thing here is that there were three guides covering Texas to Norfolk. The Chesapeake has its own guide. That means lots to do.
In looking at the bay and tributaries, it is obvious that we could easily spend the rest of the summer here. Fellow cruisers have favorite destinations on the bay and we have been taking notes. This is a place where one can almost see the next destination and long cruising days may not apply as long as we are in the Bay. It is a little over a hundred sea miles to Annapolis, near the top of the Bay yet the list of "must see" is so large that one must make choices. It is sort of like going to Disneyland the first time: which ride first.
One last museum in Portsmouth is the Portsmouth Naval Yard and lightship Portsmouth. The ship is moored in dirt in a park downtown but was closed for touring. So, the consolation was the museum. It is a small facility that tells the story of this area (again) along with more details about the lightship. Imagine a two month duty aboard a 100 footer moored in one location in stormy conditions for days on end and the whole duty was to keep the light on. Lightships are no longer used but the men who crewed them performed a very necessary duty faithfully and with honor.
We had a bit of a diversion yesterday in this marina. The marine construction company next door hosted the Mitt Romney visit to Portsmouth that made national news yesterday. Early in the day, the Secret Service, local, county and state law enforcement and many television crews took over the parking lots. Then a thousand or so supporters showed up. The security screening process was something to behold. Mr. Romney, and Ms. Bachman spoke on a stage easily viewed from the swimming pool deck at the marina. After the event all that disappeared in a couple of hours. Poof, the circus moved on.
A Day In Port
86 degrees yesterday
May 2, 2012
It is rare for Bear and especially Scurv to sleep beyond the time when I get up. Could it be that I am noisy? Anyway, this was one of those mornings and the crew were asleep for an hour after I got up. We spent yesterday, starting early, in the maintenance of the engine cooling system. For the life of me, I cannot imagine what the assembly guys were thinking when they put a steel plug into a cast iron engine block. That is what they did for the engine coolant drain plug. It would not come out so I had to devise another way to flush the engine. The truth of the effort was that the alternative method was a messy job. It is a good thing that Beneteau built an engine sump into the system to catch drippings such as two gallons of goo previously known as anti-freeze. Again, a thirty minute job took several hours.
We managed to unship the 15 hp outboard we purchased years ago for the cruise. That engine is just too big for us. Why? First and most important, it weighs well over a hundred pounds. Secondly, we do not need to do 25 knots tearing around the anchorage. Simply put, we cannot take the beating. Third, it hangs on the same side of the boat where our generator is. That makes for a starboard list of about 2 degrees. Fact is that we find no reason to have an outboard that big since we are highly unlikely to challenge breaking surf on some remote beach or haul a half ton of provisions. Our solution was to procure a 6 horsepower outboard that is less than half the weight of the 15. It will propel our dink much faster than we sail or motor on the boat.
We have been at this marina about three weeks and that is long enough for Scruv to worm his way into the live aboard community here. Everyone knows his name and most stop to speak to him on the foredeck or while walking. Not much conversation is directed toward me so that tells me something. While we have the same color hair, he is way cuter and smarter so I am viewed as the lug that Scurv takes for a walk. We now know that the cabin rugs have a finite life highly dependent on how bored Scurv is when we leave him along below. He can actually extract individual threads and takes great pride in "unweaving" rugs. Maybe he is a purist that does not believe in such things below.
Picture of the Monument to the Yorktown Victory