Saturday, January 14, 2012

4 Hours. 9.5 Miles. How Far Is Key West?

We stayed put in Norfolk yesterday.  The wind was blowing in the 20s and gusting in the 30s.  The Elizabeth River even had a nasty chop.

Drift Away can certainly handle those little waves, but I was more concerned about the wind.  We have several bridges to wait for openings, and those openings are restricted.  I might have to maintain station while waiting.

This silly steamboat themed ferry had to run regardless.

I really dislike phoniness.  A paddlewheel?  A smoke stack?  Really?   That's a lot of needless windage.

We left Saturday morning around 10 AM.  There was no rush.  We wouldn't try for Coinjock, about 45 miles away.  Bridge delays would have made it a very long day, much too long for the dogs, so our target was Atlantic Yacht Basin in Great Bridge, VA.  Distance?  Mile 12 of the ICW.  That would be 12 statute miles from us. 

We passed all kinds of cool maritime type stuff.  Navy ships, cargo ships, tugs, barges, cranes... and this.  I think it's Jimmy Buffet's house.

I live on a big round ball, I never do dream I may fall, and even one day if I do, well I'll jump up and smile back at you. 

The dogs are adapting to cruising quite nicely.  They enjoy sitting on the bench seat behind the helm and watching the world pass by.  There are things to look at on the ICW.

We quickly caught up with this tug and barge just before the Steel Bridge.

Hannah Lee was doing about five knots.  I knew there was no  point in passing him.  The bridges open on the hour or half hour, and if we got by him, we'd only have to wait at the next bridge.  As it turned out, there was a looooong freight train passing on the bridge just next to the Steel Bridge, and we both had to stop and wait for about 20 minutes for the opening.

We passed by the Dismal Swamp Canal, which branched off to our right.  I would have really liked to have taken that route, but it's closed for maintenance.  Hopefully, it will be open on our way back north.

So it was the Abemarle & Chesapeake Canal for us.

The rest of the bridges were uneventful, and Hannah Lee hung a lewey and left the ICW just above the Great Bridge Lock.  I called the lockmaster on the radio and asked to lock through.  I'm not sure exactly what he said due to his thick southern drawl and my difficulty in understanding accents, but it was clear that we were going to have to wait for about an hour.   This is when I was really glad that we didn't leave the day before when the wind was really howling.  The channel isn't that wide and I would have had trouble maintaining position.

Soon, a sailboat named Destiny caught up with us (we're NOT the last boat to head south!) and we both locked through.  He tied up on the town dock above the last obstacle we had to overcome, the Great Bridge Bridge.   No, that's not a typo, and no, I did not stutter.   This opens only on the hour and we had a 20 minute wait here.  Finally, it opened.

See all the stopped cars?  They're waiting for ME.  Bwa ha haaaa.  What a rush.

The Atlantic Yacht Basin is just past the Great Bridge Bridge.  We pulled up to the fuel dock and took on 150 gallons and topped off our water tanks as well.  The last time we took on water was December 1st in Annapolis.  I'm really glad that we carry 400 gallons of water.

AYB is a very nice working marina.  We had no problem getting a dock either.   The dockmaster said things are a little slow in January.

I checked our plotter's trip log. We traveled 9.55 nautical miles in a little under 4 hours. I could have walked faster. 

We went down towards the end of the marina so it would be easty to get the dogs off to play.   Which they did.   Ruby's knee is pretty much healed and we decided to let them run off leash.  They ran like they've never run before, with pit bull lips flapping in the breeze and big smiles on their faces.  They even went swimming, even though it was only 41 degrees air temp.

I swear, pit bulls feel nothing.

We like to explore marinas and the handsome boats one often finds.   Check this out.

I thought it looked familiar.  It is "Innisfail", the presidential yacht used by Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy.   It was put into private hands in 1965.  I don't know who owns it now, but they take excellent care of it.  It is a wooden boat, and in absolutely immaculate condition. 

So tomorrow we'll leave for Coinjock.   It's only 37 statute miles from here, and there are only two bridges to wait for.   It should be an easy day.   We will be in North Carolina, so I expect to see people in shorts and tee shirts.  Can't wait.


  1. Better get the shorts and flip flops out. Only a couple more weeks and you'll need'em! (9 - 12 miles a day?)

  2. Just subbed to your channel/blog. I don't have a boat but enjoy reading about boats and travel from people who do. I hope you don't mind. One day (fingers crossed) I will have a boat similar to yours. Happy voyaging and hope you can get to some place warm quick before winter really sets in.