Ya Ha Ha Ting

The fun times aboard Liquid Therapy. With - Susan and Brooke Smith

Day 24 Sunday, June 13, 2021

Passage - Atlantic Yacht Basin to Old Point Comfort Marina, Fort Monroe, VA
24 miles

Today is not many miles but a sensory overload day. We decide to take the 9AM opening of the Great Bridge bridge into the Great Bridge Lock. Susan asks will it be many boats in there. My guess is it might just be us as most boats coming this way are starting in Coinjock and that would not be possible by 9AM.

Wrong, on my guess. The lock is filled so much that we cannot get along the rubber wall and have to quickly rig for the starboard side of the boat with fenders to protect us from the steel and concrete side of the lock. I have a following current which makes the boat not handle at all unless I go faster than the current which is also too dangerous speed. We do get help from the lock master who takes Susan’s stern line and wraps it around a lock bollard. Letting Susan’s line tighten up stops Liquid Therapy’s forward motion and I move to the bow to get that line tied to the lock wall and all is well with our ride up in the lock.

It is Sunday and weekend boaters abound in the Elizabeth River that runs through Portsmouth and Norfolk. Commercial, Coast Guard, military ships and patrol boats are also moving as well as tugs pushing barges. I have the VHF radio scanning the important channels to listen for anything that will get in our way and more importantly anything we will need to get out of the way for.

We are over a mile from the Southern Railroad bridge and it is an odd position, not up and not down and over about 45º. I switch to the bridge frequency to listen for a possible closing to let a train across the river. There is much chatter as this frequency is used by the lock and other bridges. But I hear nothing about the railroad bridge. The bridge is unusual in that it is remotely controlled with no bridge tender to talk to actually on the bridge. A large yacht ahead on me goes under the bridge and everything looks ok for him. With an uneasy feeling we pass by the partially closed bridge and all is good. Never found out if the bridge was broken again or what. But I’ve never seen a bridge stuck in that position ever. Our last trip in October the railroad bridge was broken in the down position for five days. No commercial or migrating boats headed south down the ICW could move.

Way ahead I see a large container ship. Is it coming towards me or leaving for sea? It is hard to tell with binoculars. I glance at the AIS ( Automatic Identification system ) and see that ship ahead of me is going faster and getting farther from me. Still I hug the side of the shipping channel in case something else pops up. I also notice a tug pushing a barge behind me. That tug/barge is going to overtake me in 45 minutes or so by the AIS calculations. I’ve got time on that barge and it may turn off anyway. The tug/barge keep on course and speed overtaking me and I alter course to move out of their way.

One last scary thing was a loaded cargo ship coming in from sea as I exit the Elizabeth River and cross over the bow of this large ship still miles away but intimidating. I know the ship is going to turn to head up the Elizabeth River and there will be nothing to worry about. But it certainly is daunting. There are lots more things happening I will just sum up that you have to be on your toes going through Portsmouth and Norfolk.

We dock at Old Point Comfort Marina on Fort Monroe without assistance from the dock master who doesn’t work on Sunday. A fellow boater helps us with our stern lines from the dock and we get tied up.

We take a walk around Fort Monroe. It’s a wonderful temperature and I’m still trying to get the kinks out of my back. We both sit down on a curb for a few minutes for my back pain to ease. OK this next part is funny. Neither one of us can get up! Susan has a bad knee and she can’t get up and my back isn’t letting me get up either. We start laughing like this is a movie or something. Susan starts crawling into the grass towards a big tree to get up and I am still trying to figure out if I need to roll over or something to push my way up. Tears of pain, laughter and joy as we finally get upright again. This getting old stuff isn’t much fun.

We had a nice dinner of fresh flounder at the Dockside marina restaurant. It was very busy, good and lots of leftovers for another time.

Today’s picture is a Gray Herron hunting for his dinner.