Along the ICW - A Change in Plans?

Day 14 – 8 nm to go It rained during the night and we woke to a grey morning. We slept with our aft hatch open and knew it was raining when our feet got wet. We were up by 0530, but it was a lazy, dreary morning. I wrote and edited photos while David made a run to the local Taylor Do-It Center to find a new hose nozzle and connector.

I watched Canada geese with their goslings only a few feet away from the dock. A mallard duck couple mingled with the geese, but were given the snub by the geese and cautionary honks when they waddled too close to the goslings. Squirrels raced around and we saw several brown bunnies enjoying the rich green grass a la morning dew.

icw14_Canada geese

We had every intention of making the 0900 Great Bridge opening, but the VHF wailed a violent weather alert for our area about 0830 and we decided to stick around till the weather passed. At first the thunder was distant and half-hearted, but the squall approached quickly and in no time, the lightning bolted through the sky, thunder cracked and the heavens opened up and gave us a good dousing. With only 8nm to Norfolk, the end of the ICW (and 8 bridges and a set of locks), there was no rush.

heavy rain on the intracoastal waterway

Around 10:00, there was a lull in the rain. We sprung off the dock, made a U-turn in the channel and tied up at the Atlantic Yacht Basin (AYB) fuel dock on the opposite shore for a diesel top-up. The rain began in earnest again and since we were alone at the fuel dock, the dockmaster had no problems delaying the fuel fill till the rain stopped. We decided we'd take a look around. AYB is a working boatyard, not a marina. There were still basic amenities like hot showers, laundry, free wifi, water and electric on the docks, but there was also a 60-ton Travelift, an on-site chandlery, several boats on the hard and lots of workers busy at their trade. This place had potential.

canada geese on the intracoastal waterway

So time for consultation and consideration … we had lots of questions.

  1. Did they have room for Nine of Cups if we decided to leave her here till our return in early September? Were the rates reasonable?
  2. Did they have a marine mechanic on staff for the transmission repair? And what would the repair costs be?
  3. Would Cups be safe here during hurricane season?
  4. Could we rent a one-way car here in Chesapeake, VA to drive up to Boston and how would we get to the rental car place?
  5. We intend to drive back from Las Vegas in September, leave the car and sail for a month or so. Could we leave our car here safely and without cost?

For the answers to these questions and many more and the results of our decision, check back tomorrow.

Intracoastal Waterway - Day 13

Day 13 - 54 nm to go It was a boisterous, no-sleep night. The wind howled to 30+ knot winds from the southwest. The anchor alarm sounded about 12:30 am; we were dragging. We were up on deck in a flash. The anchor had evidently broken free and we were traveling at about .5 knot towards the channel. We had plenty of room and water all around us, but still it was disconcerting to know that our big, hefty 80# Manson Boss anchor and 100' of chain couldn't keep us in place in 12' of water. We re-anchored and set the hook once again, but what little sleep we got the rest of the night was fitful at best.

The morning dawned sunny, but it was still blustery with 25 knot winds whipping up white caps. We wended our way through the Abermarle Sound-Great Bridge Canal. It was a circuitous route, but deep (15-20') in most parts. Some areas shoaled and we kept one eye on the chart plotter, one on the depth meter, one on the hazard notes and one concentrating on the actual channel and markers. Thank goodness we have four eyes aboard.

We crossed into Virginia and after a hefty dose of bridge transits, we tied up to the free docks in Chesapeake, Virginia. What a delightful place to stop. The wharf is new and accommodates about 5-6 boats, but we were the only ones there. Not for long though … three more boats showed up within an hour and the dock was full to capacity when another boat showed up later. We chatted with the other cruisers … two Canadian boats, another from Washington state and a big traditional ketch from New Orleans. That's Cups on the far end.

boats along the chesapeake dock

Adjacent to the docks is a lovely little park with a short loop walk along the canal and several historical markers touting Chesapeake, VA as the first land battle of the American Revolution in Virginia. We whupped the Brits in the Battle of Great Bridge.

historical park on the intracoastal waterway

There was a short path to the main road. We crossed the Great Bridge bascule bridge ... on land for a change ... and got a good look at the bridge and canal from a different perspective when it opened at 3pm.

bascule bridge opening

A huge, wide barge was making a transit. We marveled at the expertise required by the tug captain to negotiate such a huge barge around the river bends and through the bridges. We were quite happy that we hadn't been in the canal when he came through because there would have been no room left for Nine of Cups.

barge coming through on the intracoastal waterway

A fine, big grocery store, Farm Fresh, was only a ¼ mile away. We stopped for a late lunch/early dinner and a cold beer en route. We figured shopping on empty stomachs was a bad idea. We stocked up on freshies and a few other basics and hauled it all back to the boat. We were all set for another few days at anchor.

It was a pleasure to be tied up at the dock ... all snug and secure … and free. We slept like rocks till morning.