Off the Dock and into Chesapeake Bay

Paul arrived in the late afternoon, exhausted, but exuberant. He'd driven 2,040 miles from Loma, CO to Chesapeake, VA in three days and finally he was here and aboard Nine of Cups. He was able to park and leave his car securely at the Atlantic Yacht Basin and after a day to recoup and provision (did I say he has a car?), we were off the dock around 11:45 just in time for the Noon opening of the Great Bridge Bridge. heading towards great bridge chesapeake bay

Only a half mile beyond the Great Bridge are the Great Bridge Locks and they work in sync with the bridge. There were four other boats transiting the bridge with us … more than we had seen since we'd arrived. The transit of the bridge was no drama, but the locks ended up being a bit of an adrenaline rush when a sailboat, two boats in front of us couldn't get lines ashore and swung out broadside into the locks. There are no brakes on a boat, so several boats swerved every which way to avoid any catastrophes. The lock tender was patient and capable and had everything handled within a few minutes, despite some cursing on the forward sailboat. We ended up facing the wrong way in the locks, but David did a torque turn with no problems and we were on our way.

great bridge locks

What we didn't realize until the lock tender mentioned it was that the Gilmerton Lift Bridge, just six miles up the river, had a restricted schedule and only opened four times per day. The next opening was scheduled at 3pm, so we puttered along at 1-2 knots.

As we neared the bridge with only 10 minutes to wait, David decided to check the transmission fluid. As you'll remember, we had transmission problems last June and David had addressed the issues before we left Cups at AYB. We had not, however, motored since that time and he was anxious to make sure the problem was resolved. Well, the transmission fluid was fine, however while checking he smelled coolant and sure enough there was a coolant leak. The culprit was a split coolant hose.

split coolant hose

We watched the temperature rise, but he found if he kept the RPMs low, though the temperature was considerably higher than normal, it remained stable. We made it through the bridge and anchored just off the channel on the other side. David did, of course, have a spare. He and Paul hightailed it below to change out the hose. Within 30 minutes, we were back in business. Anchor up, we made our way along the Elizabeth River towards Norfolk.

david replaces the coolant hose

We passed by the Norfolk Naval Shipyards and looked with interest at the battleships, destroyers and aircraft carriers, all in varying stages of production and/or repair. We saw an old light ship on display. Small Navy patrol boats whizzed back and forth along the shoreline, making sure no one strayed off the channel and into the restricted areas.

norfolk naval shipyard

We were hoping to reach Willoughby Bay for our night's anchorage, but with all the day's delays, we started looking for alternatives. As the sun waned and the day grew cooler and darker, we opted to anchor the night in a general anchorage just off the channel which proved to be just fine. Our first night on the hook since June. It's good to be back aboard!