It is crazy how quickly a week can go! It seems like I just got done with the last update and now it’s time for another one. But they say time flies when you’re having fun, so that must be why time is going so quickly for us!
Those of you who follow SV Adventures Await on Facebook already know we survived the after effects of hurricane Michael. Yay! We were anchored way up Mill Creek in Solomon’s, MD, and the wind really was not that bad. The most we saw, once, was a gust up to 36.8 knots, and another one of 33 knots, but that was it. The wind was basically in the neighborhood of 20 knots throughout the night, and that was it. One strange thing that did happen during the night, however, is that around 11:00 pm when I went out into the cockpit to check on our relative position, there were absolutely no lights visible on shore! For a few seconds it was very confusing as I couldn’t see our position in relation to shore to see if we were dragging anchor or not. I quickly realized the power had gone out to the homes all around us. Talk about a strange feeling!
Others in our group, who were all heading to start the same Rally as us, saw much larger sustained winds, in the low to mid-30’s, and highs into the 40 knots. They were all at a marina nearby that was a lot more unprotected from the north so they had all kinds of wind. In addition, in high winds when you are at a dock it bounces you all over instead of just swinging like we did at anchor.
Anyway, we were glad to find a great spot to anchor and were protected from the winds.
Friday we just kind of layed low, staying anchored where we were in order to let the wind and waves die down for a day. We dinghied ashore and had a nice walk around the “town” of Solomon’s and then had a nice afternoon napping and reading aboard.
Early the next morning, we lifted the anchor and headed south, with the rest of the group, to Fishing Bay in Deltaville, Virginia – a trip of 61.5 nautical miles. This was kind of exciting as we finally left Maryland and entered Virginia! Still hard to imagine we were taking our boat all this way! Anyway, we had a delightful evening anchored in Fishing Bay. Because of the storm/after effects of Michael that had gone through that area too two nights prior they were still without power. A couple of the group stayed at the marina there, but there were no restrooms, pump-outs, diesel or even lights at night.
Sunday, Oct. 14, was to be a bit shorter of a day distance-wise so we didn’t leave until 9:00 am. This was to be our last trip down the Chesapeake Bay and it was quite enjoyable. The winds were very light and even though we had thrown out the headsail the day before on our way to Fishing Bay, we didn’t even bother this time. We could also tell we were getting closer to a larger city as we saw a number of other boats in the Bay, including large tankers. As we finally headed west into the Hampton area out of the corner of our eyes we saw something in the water. Right next to our boat we saw a dolphin fin and body appear quickly and disappear about three times. How cool! Shortly after this we saw two dolphins swimming quite a ways away from the boat, so we knew others were around. This was only the 2nd time we have seen dolphins yet.
About 4:30 pm that afternoon we finally pulled into, or I should say backed into, our slip at Blue Water Marina, Hampton, VA. We had actually arrived about 3:00 pm but had to “tread” water for about 45 minutes to get diesel, which still took a while as they were short-staffed, and then receive our slip assignment. We had not backed into many slips so far so this was not the prettiest docking we have ever done, but we made it unscathed – boatwise anyways. Many marinas only have short finger piers so you have to back into them in order to be able to get off your boat. Of course this is even trickier when you have a dinghy on davits on the back of your boat like we do. Oh well!
Interestingly, a fellow Beneteau 411 boat owner, Ran and Belinda Fowlkes, who live on their boat in York, VA, drove to our marina and visited with us for a while. How fun! It was cool to share things about our common boats and to finally meet them. We have been communicating on a Beneteau 411 Facebook page for a while so it was great to finally get together with them.
Monday, Oct. 15, we did get some projects done on the boat. We spent the morning installing the solar panel rack/supports on top of our bimini. In the afternoon Sharon walked to the grocery store for provisions, did laundry and I washed the boat. A good day!
That evening was the official start day of our Sail to the Sun Rally, a group of 18 boats being led down the ICW by Wally Moran. We had an official wine and cheese party and spent some time getting to know each other a bit. We also were informed we would be leaving bright and early the next morning at 7 am to enter the Dismal Swamp Canal system in order to make the 11 am lock opening. Yay!
Oct. 16, Tuesday, saw 14 boats of the Rally leaving the docks and heading south to the Deep Creek lock and Dismal Swamp Canal. (3 other boats will be joining us along the way and 1 had to stay back to get some service work done.) Along the way we passed Norfolk, VA, which has the largest naval base in the world. Needless to say, there were warships all over!
After two times of “treading” water again, one for 30 minutes to wait for a lift bridge and the other for 60 minutes to wait for the lock into the Dismal Swamp Canal, we finally entered the canal. We had seen pictures and vides of this canal, and it was all it was predicted to be: long, narrow and only about 8 feet deep. With it being somewhat shallow, on two occasions we definitely hit submerged logs with loud, jarring thunks. Wally had told us we probably would and to not worry about it, but it is still disconcerting to feel!
We finally arrived at the Dismal Swamp Welcome Center about 5:00 pm where we rafted up for the night. They said this is probably the only Welcome Center in the country that serves a major highway as a rest stop as well as being a rest stop for a canal.
After a wonderful night of sleep we were able to spend the day at the Welcome Center relaxing. They gave us a great presentation on the Dismal Swamp and the incredible history of the area, and the rest of the day was delightful in not doing a whole lot other than getting to know each other, with a great potluck for dinner in the evening.
This morning, Oct. 18, we left the Welcome Center about 8:30 am and after 20 miles we arrived in Elizabeth City, VA. Because of the concern of hitting submerged and unseen logs we didn’t travel fast, but we didn’t have far to go and it ended up being a good day. We are now tied up to the free dock at the city wall and were treated to a small reception by the local Rose Buddies group. We were going to be staying here for another night, but since the wind on Saturday is supposed to be cruddy, it was decided to leave tomorrow to cross the Abermarle Sound as apparently it gets very nasty in higher winds.