Before leaving Coinjock Marina, we received an email alert that MV Meanders had left Port: Coinjock. MV Meanders had been docked bow to bow with us. They had stealthily slipped away while we were making coffee.
MV Meanders is a beautiful 49’ North Pacific yachts RPH trawler. She’s a bigger version of our boat with reverse raked PH windows. MV Meanders was recently sold to a nice couple named Tom & Nancy who stopped to say “hi” when they saw our NP43 fueling up on the docks. Meanders was previously owned by friends of ours, Andy & Marty. Andy was my boat broker and took me for my first ride in their NP43. I was smitten. I setup the MarineTraffic alert when Andy & Marty were living aboard their boat and traveling to many different ports. At that time, I was working and enjoyed getting alerts about all the interesting places they were visiting. I would think to myself.. “soon that will be Kelly & I and the dogs”.
We had to delay our departure momentarily to allow for a passing tug pushing not one but two barges. We don’t want to be in the way of something like this.
As we traveled down the ICW were chasing a 1935 boat called “MV NAN” out of Osterville, MA. A beautiful old boat that hails out of a marina that we have visited once or twice.
At the helm, I was using my iPhone’s charting app to measure distances to restricted bridges and locks. Many bascule, lift or swing bridges only operate at certain times like “top of the hour” or on the “half hour”. You need to measure the distance to the next bridge opening and adjust your speed to arrive on time. If you don’t you’ll find yourself treading water till the next opening. As I looked up from my iPhone, I saw this log floating down the river and had to swerve to avoid hitting it. iPhones make it even easier to run into a hazard on the ICW.
Just before arriving at Top Rack Marina you pass this school bus hanging precariously over a precipice. They put a sign in the window that says, “Fire Rescue Training in Progress”. I imagine they added that after someone called 911 to say that “a school bus was about to fall into the ICW!”
Soon we were at Top Rack Marina and enjoying a well deserved dinner at the Amber Lantern Restaurant. What great food this restaurant has. Kudos to the Chef.
When we awoke in the AM we could not depart due to an emergency! We were out of dog food! I hailed an Uber with the app and raced off to the local Petco. Dogs fed; we untied and headed North to Norfolk, VA.
Coming into Norfolk you feel small compared to the many warships lining the channel.
How cool is it to have a Navy ceremony seated beneath the “Big Guns”?
I always admire this thing as if it was a cool sculpture of sorts.
One large container ship appeared to be washing their anchor. I wish I had a dedicated anchor wash system. Sometimes when our anchor comes up, it can be covered in muck from the sea bottom.
We exited Norfolk harbor and pointed the boat up the coast. The weather was supposed to be 2-4 ft with 20kt winds.
We soon realized that the waves which were on our beam were far larger than predicted and made for a miserable ride. When we arrived at our planned anchorage which was just inside the “Great Machipongo Inlet”. We had only to cross over the bar shoal at the entrance. By now the waves had built into large breaking waves that were pushing us from behind toward the bar. As we progressed slowly over the bar I watched the depths with dread. 10’, 9’, 8’, 7, 6’!!! When I saw 5.7, we did an immediate hard spin and raced back out to sea the way we came in. You don’t want to run aground in breakers 30 miles from anyone.
As the spray from the waves washed over the pilothouse, Kelly & I had an emergency discussion about what to do?
We had 4 Options:
- Hold the bow into the large waves until the tide rises and attempt to cross the bar again. It would probably be dark before we got enough lift from the tide.
- Continue North 70+ miles to Ocean City, MD. I was exhausted and did not think I could make it another 10 hours into the night.
- Continue North 30+ miles to the MARS anchorage. Zero protection against the large waves would have made for an unbearable night on anchor and the next day was predicting 25 kt winds and larger waves.
- Return the 30+ miles back the way we came and tuck around Fisherman’s Island and into Chesapeake Bay to find an anchorage.
We chose option 4. This was hard for me because I often say to Kelly, “I hate moving backward or retracing steps”. I think this comes from a combination of being A.D.D and always not wanting to go backwards for something that you forgot and just a desire to never see the same scenery twice. Always seeing something new brings happiness.
As we made our way back into the bay, the sea began to soften and the ride became smoother.
We selected an anchorage called Sunset Grille Anchorage. As we approached it was very overcast and dark. Radar pings were showing two docks extending far out from shore on either side of our intended anchorage spot. If we didn’t approach from exactly perpendicular to the shore we’d have slammed into these pilings on this dark night. Thankfully we have radar and a remote searchlight to identify hazards the radar pings.
We anchored and tried to get some sleep.
1AM and the boat was ROCKING. The wind had picked back up and the current had aligned us so the waves were on our beam. The boat was rocking violently. So much so that eventually, I had to start the boat and pull anchor and leave into the blackness. It’s always better to stay on anchor than attempt to navigate an unfamiliar harbor on a black night. But spend 4 hours in a boat that is rocking like an amusement ride and you’ll take your chances underway.
The wind had picked up and we were on the wrong side of a 20 mile fetch of water that was now battering us with large waves. We fought our way to the calmer side of the bay and then turned North looking for an anchorage that would give us protection against the strong Southerly wind and waves. We motored our way to Godfrey Bay and anchored in a calm protected bay, safe from the day’s harsh weather. It was only 11AM and I could barely keep my eyes open even with the 3 cups of coffee I had pumped into myself.
As we entered the anchorage, we passed this classic Chesapeake crab boat.
Now peacefully on anchor. We are plotting a new course that takes us up the Chesapeake Bay.
We’ll traverse the C&D canal and then have to sail down Delaware Bay, round Cape May and go North up the coast toward NYC.