Tag Archives: Chesapeake

Swelter is as Swelter Does

Temps mid to upper 90s.
Heat indexes 110.
Low humidity.
Light to no breeze.
Genset starter motor failed.

Ergo no A/C

Boat goes to yard tomorrow for Spring maint.

We go to hotel to chill, simple as that.

Our Own Solstice

Fifteen minutes later and BLAM!

If the solstices are the moment when the sun goes as far north and south as it will from the earth’s wobble, then we have wobbled our way to our Summer Solstice. We dropped the hook in the West River off Chalk Point around 1530 yesterday. Only one other boat was there in the 110 degree heat index near breezeless weather. Given the luxury of such room, we put out 50% more chain than we usually would. T-storms were in the forecast, but when we anchored they were still just a 20% possibility. What we got was a Derecho.

The visit with Paul & Joyce in Elizabeth City was a delightful break for us, but a bit sad as a fellow who graciously added us as invitees to his cook out (that became a cook in due to thunder, and rain) had a heart attack later that evening. At last update he is in good care and recovering from the event and the necessary repairs. It was a lovely get together, and we wish him and his wife and friends well as he continues to mend.

We decided to leave at sun-up, after waiting out the pulse of t-storms that blew through for three days running. We reached South Mills Lock on the Dismal Swamp Canal (Dismal just meant “dark” when it was named.) At 0830 We were the only boat…we aren’t the Tail-end Charlies of this season, but we are close. We can’t get to Deep Creek Lock between the 0900 South Mills release and the Deep Creek 1100 opening, so we putted along to arrive for the 1330. We gave Robert, the Deep Creek park ranger-like tender the conch shell we had brought him as we promised last fall.

He got us out of the lock at 1358 We would have made the Gilmerton Bridge 1430 opening just fine. We had a helping current. At Gilmerton, the railroad bridge lowered just as we arrived and stayed that way for a half hour. No train was ever seen or heard. While we waited a fellow in a fifty foot sailboat who had either no manners or bad depth perception persistently drifted down on us and others and would back his boat into ones path if he thought you were going to pass him. Same sort of thing happened here in November but in that case it was clearly bad manners. Fortunately, the generous Gilmerton highway bridge tender opened for us off schedule when the RR bridge reopened. Hope she doesn’t catch flak for it.

Beyond the bridge, the problem guy in the Halberg-Rassy tried to force his way between us and another slower boat in the tight turn at Money Point. Bet he drives the same way.

And of course when we reached the Old Virginia RR Bridge, it had “electrical problems” and couldn’t be opened. We heard enough radio chat to conclude that once again a train longer than the system was designed for had backed onto a switch leading to the bridge and parked there. And while waiting, the antsy guy went back into drifting and backing. This time we were forewarned. Suddenly, with no explanation, the bridge began opening. We let antsy pants get well ahead of us. We had planned to anchor in the Lafayette River but found a barge moored there taking up the best location. So after two tries to anchor in the muddy soup to the edges of the River, we headed North.

We decided to go to Poquoson River because of the easy entry there compared to Back River. And of course the tide turned and we made it there at 2130 when the last vestiges of sunlight allowed us to anchor safely. Geez, what a day.

From Poquoson, we went to Sandy Point on the Great Wicomico. From there we finished the next day at Solomons Island in a creek we have anchored in who knows how many times. The Navy Range off Patuxent River was live that day and the radio was full of professional and polite Navy Range Boats warning and shepherding boats away from the action. From Solomons, we finished here. Each day was hotter than the last. Each had less breeze than the last. Our trip here was glassy, hazy, and just plain hot.

Around sunset, the weather report here turned ominous. A Derecho was headed our way from Ohio, moving 70-80mph. I brought in the awnings. By 2200, we were warned it would hit us around 0030.

At 2315, Janet noticed the breeze was picking up and I went out to recover our US Ensign.


I don’t know what the first gust was, but it was stronger than the first one I saw on the meter when I dove below it was 68 knots. It lasted the better part of an hour or at least I went to bed when the wind had dropped to 25. We watched the whole passage on the local TV weather radar.

Boy we are glad we had put out that extra chain. The boat after it had swung to the new wind direction, moved about 4 feet downwind.

Two million or more lost power. Two folks were killed by falling trees.

The prediction for today is 101 degrees with a heat index of 110. For now, it is very pleasant under the awnings with a NW breeze. We’d just as soon not have another Derecho. With the breeze from the NW it seems local pop-up storms are today’s variety.

We haul out for annual maintenance on Monday and plan a little shore time after we inspect the hull before the yard takes over. Hopefully the power will be back on.


A Dismal Day

START: Hospital Point, Virginia, 13 Nov.

Getting to the first lock on the Dismal Swamp Canal is easier on a Sunday. There are fewer trains and the Gilmerton Bridge opens on signal (not!). Gilmerton has gone to half hour openings and we missed our intended one by 7 minutes. For this we had gotten up at 0530 again.

Gilmerton was a comedy. A growing group of south bound boats (some later arrivals quite pushy) listening to the bridge tender being told by a northbound tug, we’l be there at 0720…looks like 0730 now…lots of silence and the bridge tender calls the tug at 0740…oops he has an equipment problem and is still almost a mile from the bridge AND NOT YET UNMOORED.

We got through at 0745.

After dodging jon boats and kayakers who found the centerline of the narrow approach channel to the lock to be absolutely fascinating, we arrived with about ten minutes to spare.

Locking through was the normal calmly systematic event the tenders there have perfected.

TUKTU, a Tartan 40 ahead of us let us pass them as we left the lock, and we led the fleet south.

The day was gorgeous and warmed rapidly into the low 60s, and the pallisade of trees kept the still strong breeze from beating us up.

We arrived at South Mills Lock an hour early and ended up tying off to the trees with a boat hook and short line. For some reason, the boat sat at right angles to the channel no matter what the breeze from the port side did.

The lock tender sent us through with a port side tie up so the wind would keep us against the wall.

We left at 1404 and spent the next two hours wandering down Turner Cut and the Pasquotank to pull into our friends’ dock well before sunset!

Now to sleep in…

FINISH: Elizabeth City, NC, 13 Nov.

Push comes to Shove

START: Fishing Bay, Virginia, 12 Nov.

Pushing south by boat requires a lot of pieces to fall into place…or to be shoved there. Usually, it is nature that does the shoving. In this case when we crawled out of bed at 0530, it was 32 degrees out. For the first time in our lives we slept through the night in watch caps!

The wind dropped through the night, but it backed into the southwest…the direction we needed to go. Rather than dropping to the usual post frontal 5-10, it built to 15-20 through the day.

We started the day with clean dodger windows, but the sunrise picture was taken through the spray that greeted us as we rounded Cherry Point. The first shove.

The second shove came when we were greeted by a foul tide augmented by water blown south (while we were holed up) returning and urged on by the SW’ly. We dropped below 6 knots (our “happy” number).

When we reached Wolftrap light which sits at the end of a large bar that narrows the Bay hydrologically, the accelerated current dropped our speed to 2.9 knots for a bit…not happy!

We started experimenting with headings that would improve our VMG (speed toward the destination), luckily those were also headings that got us out of the steep chop that jolted us and through in a shower of spray for free. …many shoves.

As we approached Norfolk, the Bay water was essentially seawater, and we started picking up a coating of salt crystals that had to come off.

At “the” Hampton Roads the current picture improved until we hit the James River ebb…another shove…and our speed dropped to 3.0 for quite a distance. More spray made for more visibility issues.

Finally into the Elizabeth River, we saw our speed improve as we approached our Hospital Point anchorage, first in low brilliant sun and then in low twilight.

We had managed to push south at 5.0 kts average against a variety of natural shoves. By 2000hrs, we were fading and with another 0530 alarm set, we slept like ingots.

FINISH: Hospital Point, Portsmouth, Virginia, 12 Nov.

52-47-35, Yike

Fishing Bay

Those numbers are the temp inside, the temp outside, and the wind chill thanks to a 25 knot wind gusting to 35.

This place suits us well, if the temps don’t. The gustiness punches the boat around a bit, but it’s only annoying.

The solar panels are sucking amps from the irradiance of a cloudless sky. This is a good thing. With the genset OOC, the alernative is running the main engine for battery charging and heat-neither of which is particulalry good-diesels want a load.

A pic has been added to our 8 Nov  “Away” post to show the weather the day before the fog at Solomons.

The Early Bird Catches the Breeze

Winter Wind, Summer Heat

We motored out of Baby Owl Cove dodging more trot lines at 0720. Had we found it necessary to motor home, I wouldn’t have been surprised or all that happy. As it was we set sail in the mouth of Broad Creek and sailed somewhere between a beam reach and a beat all the way home, tacking but twice off Chesapeake Beach and Holland Point. The air had a look between stannic and cupric, but a steady-ish 9-12 knot breeze between 355 and 015 °, belied the look of impending meteorological violence. We crossed Long Bar with four inches to spare at the low spot and were quite pleased to tie off at 1300 — a swift passage considering. The pool beckoned and we heeded the call.