October 23, 2012

Ahoy from Hampton, Virginia!

After a lumpy ride from Atlantic Highlands to Ocean City, we had a near perfect overnight passage into Hampton. The weather and sea conditions could scarcely have been better for this time of year – waves less than 2 feet, and wind sufficient to sail at over 5 knots almost all of the way. Having an extra crew member helped too – we got more rest off-watch than with just the two of us, and Dave has been a great help and an easy guest – flexible, knowledgeable and good company. So from being 3 weeks behind schedule due to engine trouble, we now find ourselves two days ahead of our scheduled arrival in Hampton…accomplished by doing the outside run, and skipping Delaware Bay and the Chesapeake.

Leaving Ocean City

We left our anchorage near Ocean City just after noon, slowly and carefully negotiating the shallow water into the anchorage on our way out. Our depth meter actually registered 5’6” which it has never done before unless we were running aground. Since we draw 5’ 8”, we must have pushed a little mud around but we never felt it! When we left the Ocean City breakwater, we found a very different ocean outside than we had left when we entered. The sea was calm, the swell all but dissipated, waves around 1 foot. And sufficient wind on our beam for sailing. A little bird decided that we were having such a good time that it hopped aboard to join us on and off for most of the afternoon.

A little bird joined us for the ride!

Under mainsail, genoa and staysail combined, we made good time during the afternoon on our course. By dinner time we were topping 9 knots and burying the rail, so we furled the staysail and trimmed the genoa to make it a bit more comfortable for eating. We were still racing along so put a reef in the main before sunset.

Dave and I stood first watch of the night, while Steve tried unsuccessfully to sleep. It was a beautiful, starry, and relatively warm night. We saw no other boats and the radio traffic was non-existent, unlike our trip to Ocean City.  We were startled at one point by the cry of a water-bird – almost like the call of a loon. The second time it sounded like a person – spooky enough to send both Dave and I onto the back of the boat, peering across the moonlit water into the dark. We concluded that it was a bird. The wind dropped and clocked around during the night, so we gradually let out more sail till we were back flying all our canvas, slightly off course.

I slept from midnight till 4 am and came up in time for a tack, in order to set us back towards our rhum line. The wind continued to drop and became variable in direction. We watched the sun rise at 7:15 am, and then started the engine, furled the foresails, and motored the rest of the way.

Lots of commercial vessels in the mouth of the Chesapeake

Current and tide were against us as we entered the mouth of the Chesapeake, so progress became slow. However, armed with coffee and bagels for breakfast we all enjoyed the spectacle of busy harbour activity – large freighters from Malta, Panama, Singapore, Hong Kong and Netherlands plied the water. Naval vessels and the coastguard sent stern messages over the radio advising us to keep our distance from military vessels. We saw a long US naval submarine entering and then leaving the bay, a naval troop-carrying hovercraft, a supply ship, helicopters and a docked airplane carrier.

We came close to a few freighters

We had one moment of anxiety when the wake from a passing freighter swamped us and Frankie, objecting to a sudden gulp of air, choked and stopped. However, Steve bled the injectors like a pro, proving again that something good comes of every experience, and Frankie started again like a champ!

US navy submarine passing us

We came into Hampton, fueled up at Bluewater Yachting and then pulled into our assigned slip at Hampton Public Piers, which will be our home for the next couple of weeks. The slips are badly designed, with a very short finger dock, and a single pylon to tie off the stern. We decided to turn the boat around and back in, so that we could better access the power supply, and to make getting on and off easier.

Pretty campus of Hampton University

As soon as we were safely tied up, we all hit showers. The weather was hot – and we were anxious to peel off our ‘offshore’ layers and get into clean shorts and t-shirts.

We were delighted to find friends from our home club, QCYC – Rick and Wendy aboard Silver Fox II, Ken and Deanna aboard Allure, and Dwight and Carol on Tapas – tied up just along the docks from us.  We celebrated the successful ride over bevvies and d’oevries in the cockpit, heated up beef stew for dinner, and hit the sack – exhausted after the ‘outside run’ into the Chesapeake.

View our photo journal for the outside passage from Atlantic Highlands to Hampton.

Docked at Downtown Hampton Public Piers

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