One way, baby!   Leave a comment


        Oh yeah, we’re in Norfolk, VA! We are farther south than we’ve ever sailed and this is starting to feel like a one-way trip through territory we’ve never seen before and will probably never see again. There is no turning back. Lee and I are thoroughly converted to cruising life and our hunger for exotic shores increases every day.

        The long stay in Ocean City was a bit frustrating. It really wasn’t a bad place to get stuck but it got old fast. The shiny sport fishing boats, denuded landscape of waterside McMansions, and runs down busy, sidewalk-challenged roads didn’t really make us feel at home. We had to deal with our mechanical problems before we could get on with things but that, as usual, was a frustrating process. The alternator Lee ordered eventually arrived but it needed some adjustments before it would fit on the engine.
        We were not quite ready to go by 3pm on Friday. There was still a lot of cleaning up to do and Lee hadn’t had a chance to change the oil in the engine, which was long overdue. We postponed departure on more day and were glad we did. Most of Saturday was spent stowing things on the boat, changing the oil, getting diesel, and chatting with our dock neighbor. Ben came in on a steel ketch which he sails alone. His boat looks like it’s been through a lot and the stories we heard from the owner more than confirmed that.

        Ben has been sailing around for 20 years. He’s weathered hurricanes and had close-calls of every kind imaginable for a sailor. He told us a smattering of stories about life in the Caribbean, the people he’s met, and how he lives aboard. I asked what his favorite place is in the Caribbean and when he came back with the Dominican Republic Lee and I were not surprised. We’ve read rave reviews of the D.R. from Bruce Van Sant in his Gentleman’s Guide to Passages South. Apparently our seasoned dock neighbor knows Van Sant and shares his love for the D.R.’s relaxed atmosphere and friendliness to foreigners. It’s high on our list of places to visit.


A milk crate on the beach!? I’m looking for one to put on my bike rack but this one was missing one side.

        When we finally left on Saturday afternoon Lee and I were ready to say goodbye to Ocean City and Assateague island. I had seen my ponies on the island during a morning run on friday. Four of five of them watched us suspiciously from the dunes as we ran down the beach. I felt like a giddy little girl again when I saw those ponies. Who can resist wild ponies that live on an island? I thought of them galloping through the sand as we made our way through the inlet and turned South.

        Within a few miles, we encountered a boat that had pulled in to the marina the day before. It had left earlier on Saturday and appeared to be heading back to Ocean City. We thought that seemed a bit strange but were even more perplexed when they reversed course after we passed them. Why were they following us? Did they leave to sail South, turn back for some reason, and then change their minds when they saw us going South? It was very mysterious. Yesterday they pulled in to the Norfolk anchorage where we had settled. Weird.

        The passage was easy. It was a calm night and we had to motor most of the way. Lee plotted our course well around potentially dangerous shoals and we each kept one eye on the depth gauge and the other scanning the darkness for breaking waves. I say darkness but it was anything but dark. The moon was so bright I could have read my book on deck without additional light. Unfortunately I was too cold and restless to read during my shifts. I listened to my ipod and looked around at the moonlit ocean instead.

        Lee stood the 8-11pm watch while I slept down below. Then I was up from 11pm-2am before Lee was on again from 2-5am. I stood the sunrise shift, watching the orange ball melt out of the horizon while Lee caught a bit more sleep from 5-7am. It was a long night but there were no crises! We turned the corner into the mouth of the Chesapeake shortly after sunrise and spent the morning avoiding shipping traffic. Some traffic controller even hailed us from land to warn us about two container ships whose courses we’d be crossing. Lee had already seen the ships on AIS and he ended up ducking behind one.


Big ships like this were everywhere.

        It took a while to find a place to settle for the night. We investigated an anchorage and Hampton that Ben had recommended but it was way too shallow. Going straight to Norfolk made the most sense. That’s where the Intracoastal Waterway starts and our guide to ICW anchorages described a decent spot along the Elizabeth river. After passing countless Navy ships and commercial monstrosities, we joined a handful of other boats in an anchorage surrounded by city. More boats came in after us, including the one that followed us out of Ocean City and a couple of others we’d seen traveling together on our way to O.C.


Norfolk across the river.

        A full night of sleep restored us and we spent the afternoon exploring Norfolk a bit. The plan is to leave tomorrow but I’m nut sure where we’ll end up. I’m really excited to see Sarah and Derek in North Carolina so she and I are coordinating that plan.

        It finally feels like we’re getting somewhere…and going somewhere. We are in a new and interesting place and have many new and interesting places ahead!

Posted November 22, 2010 by Rachel in Getting started

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