Doing The Ditch
04 November 2013
We had an amazing time in the Chesapeake visiting Havre de Grace, the Sassafras and Bohemia Rivers, Annapolis, Chestertown, Oxford, St. Michaels, Cambridge, Crisfield, Deltaville, Va and Hampton, Va. The past week was spent in Hampton where we were on anchor in the river - swinging 180 degrees with every tide change. Hampton is the starting point for the "Salty Dawg" rally to the Caribbean. There are 123 boats participating and the big thing about this rally is that it is free. There are also lots of seminars on how to rig your boat for offshore sailing - how to provision - what to expect from the weather, etc. There are no safety equipment requirements and therefore no boat inspections. Although you are in a rally, you're still pretty much on your own. Which is how it should be. We spent some time hanging around the docks, looking at boats, talking with captains and crew. I think all the conversation about going off shore for 10 days started to make Chrisy a little anxious so we stopped going to the docks.....
Part of the reason that we stayed in Hampton for almost a week was the cold front that came through on 11/1. We were anchored in a little "horseshoe" cove off of the river. Initially, we were a comfortable 20 yards off a dock on one side and then 20 yards off the dock on the other side. As the front came through we rotated so that we were basically in the channel. The tugs and tour boats were very nice and just moved around us. The final night the "comfortable 20 yards off the dock" turned into a not so comfortable 15 feet - nothing that retrieving a few feet of the anchor chain couldn't solve.
So now we have left the Chesapeake Bay. We'll miss all the different harbors and being able to sail, but the intercostal waterway (ICW) or "The Ditch," as it is commonly known, has its own appeal. It's nice to meet other boaters who are doing the same thing as we are and there are lots of nice sights and towns. Yesterday we passed the Navy shipyard which is always an impressive sight and then went through several bridges and a lock.
Locks are always fun. You enter into the lock and then they close some rather massive doors behind you. Then they allow the water from the high end of the lock to enter and you rise to the level of the higher water. They open the doors and you're on your way. This lock raised us all off about a foot and I think that its only function is to keep the current from flowing through the ICW.
The excitement yesterday was that we crossed into North Carolina. Today, we are off to cross the Albemarle Sound - one of our few opportunities to sail while we are in the ICW. Winds are forecasted to be in the 15-20 range so it should be a good sail.