It’s Tuesday (Skip’s Birthday!) and we’re still in Hampton, VA waiting out torrential rain and high winds on the Bay. It should clear out by tomorrow so we can continue our trip and maybe make it back to Annapolis by Friday.
I last left you when we were hanging onto the dolphins outside of South Mills lock on the Dismal Swamp. We had an exciting night there as a strong wave of thunderstorms passed over around 4am. Our early alarm system went off (Bailey–woof!) so we were both up for a while as the storms passed over. The morning was clear and calm as we jockeyed for position in the first lock. There were 5 or 6 boats waiting for the lock to open and everyone heads in at one time. We were polite and came in last. After leaving the lock and going through the bridge we were still last in line for the slow trip up to the Deep Creek lock. I say ‘slow’ because we couldn’t make the 11am opening and had to wait until 1:30pm.
Several more boats joined us for the next round of jockeying in the Deep Creek lock. The lock tender was very efficient at instructing people to one side or the other and grabbing our lines. One of the boats that joined us was Coyote. We talked to them on the radio while crossing the Albemarle Sound and I later saw some of their photos on Facebook when our friend Suzi (Kanau) posted a comment. A later comment from Sandy on Amber Marie also connected us on Facebook. I enjoyed reading Coyote’s blog and hope to meet up with them in Baltimore where they’re staying this summer.
After the lock we thought we were home free–not so! The last bridge on the waterway is preceded by a railroad bridge that is lowered automatically when a train comes through. We heard all morning on the radio that the bridge was closing, sometimes for a while. As we approached the bridge, another announcement came over that the railroad bridge was closing. Just our luck…if only we had been 5 minutes sooner we would have made it through. So we ended up with around 15 boats circling around waiting for the train (which never did appear.) Everyone was pretty cranky including us and the bridge tender who, when the bridge finally came up, wanted everyone up close so she didn’t have to hold up traffic. WTF!!! Some of these bridge tenders have no idea how difficult it is to stand by waiting for them to open. Also, you can’t get too close because anything can happen. We’ve seen mechanical failures that would be extremely dangerous with so many boats trying to back away at one time.
Anyway, it was a relief to finally get past the last bridge and head into the busy Norfolk harbor. We weren’t exactly in the clear yet… It was a Sunday with clear, sunny weather. That meant that all of the recreational boaters were out there, many of whom were clueless as to no-wake zones, radio use and rules of the road. I really don’t mind the commercial traffic (large container ships and tugs) because they are very predictable and courteous. When we finally crossed the harbor and entered the channel towards Hampton it was already past 6pm and we were both exhausted.
We pulled up to the Bluewater Yachting Center and found out that they were out of diesel fuel. Oh well! They put us in a slip that was 55ft long with a finger pier that reached about halfway out. This marina has mostly large fishing boats and their docks are layed out conveniently for them. We managed to strap ourselves along the floating pier and make our way to the crowded Surf Rider restaurant for dinner. After an excellent meal, we crashed!
We awoke yesterday to dreary skies and heavy rain predicted–a good reason to stay put! We read, relaxed, napped and I worked on updating blog pages. We met the guys on a Catalina 470 at our dock named Beckoning. Both Jim (the owner) and Mike (crew and fellow 470 owner) knew our friend Joe (Onward.) We had fun swapping Joe stories–were your ears burning??
Our friends Marti, Rocky and daughter Emily met us at the restaurant for dinner. We enjoyed getting caught up with them. I tried the speciality side dish of steamed broccoli with Hollandaise sauce. It was delicious (Skip was appalled!!) Afterwards, they came out to the boat to visit Bailey. It was still raining miserably and continued all night long.
Looks like we’ll be here another day due to rain and high winds predicted. Hopefully tomorrow we can make tracks up towards Annapolis. So close to home…