Diva Di's Cruising Adventures

Day 53 - Gwynn Island, VA

23 May 2012 | Anchored off Gwynn Island, VA
Wed 23 May 2012
Anchored off Gwynn Island, VA

[photo: CV 77 Aircraft Carrier in Norfolk, VA]

The evening was a comfortable one, and Duane was awake just before 0500, having had enough sleep. Diane got up before 0600 and we cast off at 0620 for a long day's run. We both decided that having been at Portsmouth for 2 nights, we were fine with a long day, especially in good weather.

Getting out of the congested port area took almost 2 hours, with a vigilant lookout for other vessels (especially the large, commercial type) as well as steering to the other side of the channel when passing US Navy warships at berth, so that we would not have to deal with a patrol boat chasing after us. We stayed on the extreme edge of the main shipping channels so that we could duck into shallower water if there was any conflict, but it was unnecessary.

We did pass several of the very new cruisers, as well as the CV77 aircraft carrier (will have to look that up when I turn on the internet connection). There were at least a dozen large missile frigates and cruisers in port, too, all behind a barrier to help prevent terrorist attacks from boats. Consulting the chart, we deviated from the main channel and headed more to the NNW, staying in adequate water depths, of course. We saw several sailboats following us from a mile away and by the time 4 hours had passed, they were both way ahead of us. We were under power using the headsail to a minimal effect, but they were just using their much more powerful engines and depleting their larger fuel tanks much faster, too.

It was a peaceful passage for most of the way after leaving the port because there was no shallow water to worry about, no narrow channels, few navigation aids, and few boats to be concerned with. It was one time when I could read my book, and glance up at the instruments and our surroundings every minute. That ceased to be the case a few hours later as biting flies came aboard. There only seemed to be 3-5 around at a time, but the moment you directed your attention to something, they would light on your ankles and bite (drawing blood). They were the size of house flies, but terribly annoying. I finally devoted myself to killing as many as possible and then realized that although I only saw a few at one time, no matter how many I killed, there would always be that many again. Where do these flies come from so many miles from land?

Two cool things that happened were some flyovers by an F-15 fighter jet, and a hovercraft amphibious vessel (probably out of Little Creek, VA) zooming around. Your ear gets well-tuned to the normal sounds on your boat, and you suddenly realize something is different. Then you understand it is the "thunder" of a jet, or the sound of the hovercraft finally reaching your ears from 5 miles away.

We suffered a slight adverse current leaving the port, but then enjoyed a strong beneficial current all the way to our day's destination, Gwynn Island, VA. There is nothing special here that we want to see ashore, but since the actual and forecast winds were from the SE and S, this is a great place to tuck up. Unlike the Intracoastal Waterway, where many owners of slow boats (me included) are loathe to deviate miles off the "magenta line" for a night's stop, the Chesapeake forces you to do that regularly.

Diane is content to chill on the boat and not bother with lowering the dinghy to explore ashore. We haven't used the dinghy in over 12 days. It had better work when we need it!

Dinner was delicious (yes, Marilyn, there was broccoli) and while Diane cleaned up the dishes, Duane tried to scrub the cockpit clean of all the fly remains and other debris that magically appears. Following that, we had a short, serious discussion about the cruise. There is no question that far more major and minor problems have developed than we thought likely. The other reality, which I know many of our cruising friends have already surmised, is that the pace we have kept is impeding our enjoyment. We know we would enjoy more if we didn't have so many hours to run, on average.

So, the decision is final: we will plan to turn around at Gloucester, MA and skip points farther north. We have met a lot of cruisers on this trip who love Maine, but who tell us horror stories about the fog and the need for RADAR, which we do not have. That reinforces our decision, as well.

Vessel Name: Diva Di
Vessel Make/Model: PDQ MV34 Power Cat
Hailing Port: Punta Gorda, FL
Crew: Duane and Diane

Diva Di Crew

Who: Duane and Diane
Port: Punta Gorda, FL