Saturday, May 21 Day 2 Ocracoke cruise to the OcraFolk Music Festival, Ocracoke, NC
22 May 2022 | Atlantic yacht Basin
MILLARD SMITH | HOT
Hampton to Chesapeake 26 miles
We backed out of the Hampton slip without Poseidon or Aeolus messing with us thanks to our U.K. boat crew holding Liquid Therapy until I backed out of the slip smartly and we were underway for the day
So, now we fall under the rule of Helios, the sun God. It’s gonna be hot today. And, I don’t do well in the heat. When it’s cold you just put on more clothes until you are comfortable. But when it’s hot you can take all you clothes off and still be HOT. I tried that. But it didn’t work and there were too many people looking at me anyway. I just yelled at them “WHAT?? I’m trying to get cool over here.” So, then there is air conditioning. Our boat has two very powerful ACs. One blows 49º air and the other 55º. But, our boat does not have a fancy generator to run the ACs while we are underway. Most of the time the breeze across the cool water is good enough to keep us comfortable underway.
From Hampton Roads we enter the Norfolk channel seeing first the aircraft carriers in port. There is much discussion have the US carriers been deployed to help Ukraine. I can’t tell you that only that we saw the #77 George H.W. Bush and #78 Gerald R.Ford carriers in port and the #5 USS Bataan, Helicopter carrier too. I don’t think I’m giving any secrets away here as it’s pretty hard to hide an aircraft carrier. There were lots of other Navy vessels at the Navy base. Later we would pass by two more carriers in the shipyards being worked on with their numbers not visible.
Norfolk is always busy with commercial ships, cruise ships, military ships, planes and helicopters, ferry boats, tugs, barges, dredges. If you can think of it on the water, it’s happening in Norfolk. Our main concern is getting past the 3 train bridges that are ancient and get stuck in the down position blocking all water traffic. We pass the coal piers and there is a ship being loaded with West Virginian coal to be burned in another part of the world. Nasty coal. Not ok to burn in the USA but we can sell it to other parts of the globe to burn. Hey it’s one planet no matter where you burn it. Maybe the ships are carrying the coal out to the power plant co-located with the wind farm off shore. Over the horizon, who cares what’s happening. Wait, I think I just got cynical.
Anyhow, the important thing to us is that we get past the train bridges before they go down and block us for a few hours. And, we see trains moving. We get by all of the bridges and the Elizabeth River gets less busy as we approach the Chesapeake , VA. We go under the i64 bridge and the noise is insane. Susan looks up and I warn here of tire rubber falling through the grids above.
The least expensive marine diesel fuel in Virginia is just ahead at Top Rack marina. Just as I get there another boat called the marina asking for diesel. He’s 53’ and the dock boy assists him and then we go in as well. They have two diesel pumps. I’ve calculated that I should take on 115 gallons for our 400 mile trip to Ocracoke and back. The price is $5.009/gallon. And, that is a very good price. I’m sure it will be more when we return this way. The fuel guy tells the other boat he can only get $1,000 of fuel at a time. He has to pay and start the pump at each $1,000.
The fueling timing has made it impossible to get to the Great Bridge lock before it closes to lock through on the hour. So, I set the throttle at 700RPMs and we idle down to the lock some 3 miles away. It’s hot. 91º !! I’m not drinking enough liquid I know because I’ve not been to the bathroom all day. That is not usually me. Susan is sending me ice water and our ice maker is struggling with our demands. But, still heat exhaustion is setting in on Susan and me.
I have switched to ch13 on the radio to listen to the bridge and lock requests as we put on toward the lock. One guy is angry because one of the railroad bridges we passed is now down and he can’t get though or get a response from bridge operator. I’m also hearing the Great Bridge Lock Master giving instructions to the North bound vessels. One guy will not move over for a tug to go ahead of him. The lock master is furious and threatens him with not being allow to enter the lock. The Great Bridge lift bridge works in concert with the lock opening on the hour and the bridge tender reports to the lock master that there is a sailboat being towed by a dinghy! The lock master tells the sailboat he cannot enter the lock without full control, which obviously he does not have. On the southbound side of the lock, freshwater flows from the Currituck Sound in North Carolina. On the other side, salty water flows from the end of the Elizabeth River. We wait a little longer as the lock gates open on our side and the boats come out of the lock like a herd of turtles trying to give each other space. The Lock Master calls us and tells us we can enter the lock. We are the only south bound vessel and have the entire wall to ourselves. We always have problems controlling Liquid therapy in a lock. There are swirling currents that you cannot see and we do a pretty good job of getting tied up.The lock only changes water level about 18” and don’t even notice until the lock doors start opening for us to exit the lock. It’s a short wait for the bridge to open and we are in sight of Atlantic Yacht Basin, our destination for the night.
It’s 93º when we docked and get the electricity plugged in. Ah, air conditioning! We are both drained. Showers to cool down. We have 8PM reservations at the nice Italian Restaurant, Vino. It was good as it always is.
Today’s picture is the Navy’s version of a floating Days Inn where sailors live while working on their ship in the yard.