09 May 2017 | Rock Hall Harbor
May 3 - 9: After one extra night at Coinjock the water receded with north winds and boats started leaving the marina the next morning (Wednesday the 3rd). We wanted to be sure there was enough clearance under the fixed bridges to our north so we stayed until after lunch and were about the last to leave. Also held up by the high water was the 100-guest cruise ship "Independence" with its 220 ft length overall and 7 ft draft which made us feel better about making our way in our little ship on the narrow waterway. If they can make past all the shallow spots without problems, we should have no worries! So in the afternoon as the water levels dropped back to normal, we made our way north on the ICW crossing the Currituck Sound and up the North Landing River into Virginia. We tied up at the park with free docks just east of the locks at the town of Great Bridge VA. And just along with us were the folks that were rafted up to us back at Coinjock--so we got together aboard Mystic Star for drinks at sunset and were ready for the final leg on the ICW to Norfolk the next morning.
We transited the locks at Great Bridge on Thursday (4th) and continued on into the Elizabeth River through a number of fixed bridges, one opening lift bridge and several active railroad bridges in the increasingly industrial area of Portsmouth VA. By lunch time we were tied up at Ocean Marine near the center of Portsmouth and planned to stay a few days while some stormy weather blew over. One of the reasons we stopped here was that the Kalmar Nyckel (Delaware's Tall Ship) was here in dry dock having some serious hull work done. We've both been volunteers for many years for the ship and its foundation so we wanted to see the progress and ended up putting in a full day's work doing fun stuff in the engine room (removing a fire pump and working on an exhaust header). In the process we enjoyed catching up and having meals with the captain & crew at a couple of good restaurants in Portsmouth. By Saturday morning (6th) the winds were out of the southwest, making it good for travel to the north from here. It was still a bit showery and definitely much colder than we had been used to all winter. We had to break out the fleece and full foul weather gear to deal with the wind and cold as we headed up the bay to Virginia's northern neck and a favorite anchorage spot on Mill Creek off Ingram Bay, just south of Reedville, VA. It was a struggle against the strong ebb tide, enhanced by all the recent rains and wind that came around to forward of the beam making for a wet rough ride for our 65 nm day.
Forecasts were calling for stronger northwest winds into the next week so before they came fully around to our bow we headed out early again to make our way north, crossing the mouth of the Potomac River in WNW winds in the 20-25 kt range with gusts in the 30's. We were able to make progress with a reefed main and double reefed staysail, but it was certainly rougher than initially called for. By later in the afternoon the weather forecast had belatedly changed from small craft warnings to gale warnings! The mouth of the Potomac can be notoriously rough and we experienced more of that than we bargained for. We did make decent progress to the Patuxent River and Solomons Island, MD, where we found a quiet spot on another cozy "Mill Creek" after a hard won 44 nm day. Since the forecast for Monday was for strong northwesterlies to continue, we planned to stay put at anchor until the winds abated. As we did, the temperatures continued to drop, the winter we missed seemed to be trying to catch up with us. Finally on Tuesday (9th) we set out early once again to head north and homewards. The day started with northerly winds which we motor-sailed through then gradually died out to less than 5 kts which made for an easy approach and tie up at North Point Marina our home port in Rock Hall Harbor. It was a great six month adventure and now it is very good to be home!