Thursday, January 26, 2012

Goodbye Chesapeake Bay, and thanks for the memories !
 2nd – 18th November
Map picture

From Washington we day hopped along the Potomac River and  then south down the Chesapeake Bay to Deltaville, a familiar place where we had spent a couple days while heading north to Maine some months earlier.The trip of 125 miles was pretty boring and bitterly cold, and with the temperature hovering  around 8-10 deg C it made for a very unpleasant passage, sitting at the helm was not much fun at all.
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Once clear of the Potomac we were greeted with a strong following breeze, and we sailed at a fair clip to Reedsville, dodging a lot of menacing looking wooden fish stakes along the way (memories of sailing in Indonesia came flooding back) and then on to Deltaville where Daryl and Annie from No Rehearsal were there to greet us and take our lines. Daryl had negotiated a crazy low rate at the Norview Marina for us, like $75 for the week, so we decided to take that rather than spend a week on the anchor, it was quite a novelty for us.
Staying in Deltaville also gave us a chance to once again catch up with our friends Donny and Judy, who live in Richmond, and have a lovely holiday house in Deltaville. Donny was kind enough to (again), lend us his Lexus SUV, so we took full advantage and did some provisioning as well as a little touring around.
As luck had it, that weekend the annual Oyster Festival was being held at the nearby town of Urbanna, so Daryl and Annie joined us in the Lexus for a fun afternoon out.
The festival is held over two days and attracts around 80,000 people. This was our first small town fair and it was a real hoot, by the time we got there it was in full swing.The main attraction of course was the abundance of oysters, served raw, steamed, stewed, fried or frittered.There were oyster tents, chowder tents, craft stalls, oyster shucking contests, the crowning of the Oyster Festival Queen and to top it off a big street parade with colourful  bands, baton-tossing marching girls, floats and lots of flash cars, bikes and trucks that were mostly collectors items.
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The parade lasted about an hour and was very entertaining. Interestingly, there were only two places selling alcohol, though outside the supermarket there were quite a few people discreetly drinking from bottles in paper bags.  A small area  was set aside where you could buy wine by the glass, we didn’t go in though, it was way too crowded. The other was in a field behind the Fire House, the area was enclosed and you needed to produce ID to enter (even at our age), as beer was available from a small mobile bar. Liam had a couple of drinks and  then we joined in with the locals and had a dance. The band  that was playing was excellent and everyone was very laid back, sort of mellow actually, the place had a nice feel to it.
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After leaving the festival we headed  to Donny and Judy’s who had invited the four of us over for a Saturday night dinner.They certainly rustled up a great meal with  BBQ’d oysters, home made crab dip, steamed prawns and baked potatoes. It was a great night that went well into the evening, they are terrific company and excellent hosts. They even suggested that we  make use of  their house during the rest of our stay in Deltaville and we nearly did. Judy’s bathtub was very alluring and Liam had his eyes set on the big screen TV with all those sports channels, but sadly time just slipped away and we didn’t get around to it.
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A novel feature at the marina where we were staying  was the extravagant lengths that many of the  boat owners had gone to, to make the place a “home away from home”.

All the docks were undercover, sounds a bit strange I know and we’d never seen anything like it before. These boat garages, they were all power boats, had a roof and walls with the boats tied stern-to in  their pens. Each owner had personalised their little piece of turf and installed the necessities of life that ensured they were comfortable when they were there, even if they didn’t take the boat out. Lounge chairs, kitchen sinks, refrigerators, microwave ovens, carpet rugs and bars complete with stools where you would sip a beer or two and while away the afternoon. Jimmy Buffett memorabilia was very popular, one section was even called “Jimmy Buffett Drive”. Several times we saw people  come down  to stay on their boat, in the pen, for a few days, and  they sure did make good use of the gear they had installed.

goodbye chesapeake blog

After a chilly and windy week at the marina it was time to move on, this time to Hampton. We had driven down there during the week and dropped off our spinnaker for some minor alterations and now it was time to go back and pick it up. We were a little annoyed that we were changed another $125 as we’d already paid them the best part of $700 the first time that we’d left the sail with them some months before, and they hadn’t done the repair correctly.                                             Oh well, that’s life when you own a boat  I guess. A couple of days later we motored out of Hampton and across the bay to Norfolk, 15 miles away.
Norfolk, in Virginia, is famous as the world’s largest naval base, and is home to huge nuclear powered aircraft carriers, menacing looking nuclear submarines and an abundance of frigates, amphibious landing ships, destroyers and their support ships. We cruised by two aircraft carriers, the USS Enterprise and  the Dwight D Eisenhower, a couple of submarines and some very interesting looking ships that we were unsure of, and while all the ships were behind a floating fence, we were still reasonably close to them.
Norfolk is not a big town, but it was interesting with an excellent naval museum, Nauticus, located just across the bay from our anchorage. The unquestioned star attraction of the town was the USS Wisconsin, an Iowa class WW11 Battleship, the last one ever built, and it looked amazing. If you ever saw Cher singing “If I could turn back time” aboard the USS Missouri with those big guns up on the bow then you know what the Wisconsin looks like, they are identical sister ships. There were tours available that, unfortunately, did not get you into the bowels of the ship, so we were content to simply gawk and take some snaps.
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The local movie theatre was showing J Edgar Hoover, and having just been in Washington where scenes from the movie were filmed,  we took the opportunity and went to see it, a great show with Leonardo putting on his usual, brilliant performance.Walking back through the mall after the movie it was pretty obvious that the silly season was just around the corner. Christmas displays and decorations filled the shop windows.No one quite does Christmas like the yanks.
By now we were really killing time until the weather systems settled and we could head off around   Cape Hatteras and on to Charleston, a distance of 360 miles. Cape Hatteras is notorious for  shipwrecks, it demands respect as the weather can be treacherous due to the north flowing Gulf Stream against the opposing  swells, and right now those swells were big and threatening.
Rather than wait in Norfolk, (we’d seen it all in four days) we decided to move further along some 30 miles to Rudee Inlet, a fairly small bay just south of the entrance to the Chesapeake. Another catamaran was already there when we arrived late in the afternoon, and together with No Rehearsal we pretty much filled up the place, and Remi De was yet to arrive! While at Rudee the weather was foul, driving rain and very cold, we simply stayed put inside the boat and away from the elements. Bruce, Toni, Remi and their dog Ollie from Remi De had a tough trip down, sailing in a strong breeze and lumpy seas, they  hit a speed of nearly 15 knots down one wave. Naturally, they were exceptionally happy to drop the anchor in our nice calm bay, away from the rough conditions just outside the inlet. As Rudee Inlet was to be the parting of the ways for  Remi De, No Rehearsal and us, we all got together for a farewell dinner on GWTW.

We had been sailing in company with the other two cats for roughly the last six months, from the Bahamas to Maine and back and it would be sad to break up the herd.  Daryl and Annie were heading straight to Cape Canaveral to haul out No Rehearsal and head back to New Zealand for a few months and the Remi’s  would be carrying on to St Augustine to spend Thanksgiving with friends down in Orlando.
A couple of days later the weather had settled, the seas were down and the skies were clear, and we were ready and eager to move on. Every mile under our keels was a mile closer to warmer weather and believe me we were over being cold, and were now champing at the bit to pack the winter clothes away and to break out the shorts and tee-shirts once again.
CRUISING NOTES. Formalities: Call CBP Richmond on # 8042269675 each time you change anchorages. Supermarkets: Deltaville The Deltaville Market will pick you up and then drive you back. Also in the same shopping complex is a West marine and a Dollar General discount store.True Value hardware, Ullman sail loft & the Post Office are all within walking distance of the marina.There are a couple of restaurants ,cafes and a seafood market on the main street.
 Norfolk: Anchorage / dinghy dock : Anchor between Hospital Point and the Tidewater Marina and take dinghy to the dock outside the Nauticus Museum on the opposite shore. McCarther Mall is three blocks from the waterfront. It has movie theatres, department stores etc. The supermarkets,Harris Teeter and Fresh Farm  are a short taxi ride away. 

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