On day 16 (Saturday) we got an early start, leaving the Alligator River Marina at around 6:50 in the morning. The winds had died down, but we knew that as we got farther into the day they would pick up again. We had to finish our leg up the Alligator River and cross Albemarle Sound, both subject to windy conditions even on the best of days. We made it through most of the Alligator River without incident. But we had to make a turn to get into Albemarle Sound. The turn was marked, but we were having a hard time picking the markers out because the water was so choppy. We spotted them and started heading toward them but missed a temporary marker that wasn’t on the chart. The temporary mark indicated shallow water, which we had strayed into. Our depth find said we were in 2 feet of water. We have a 2 foot offset which meant were actually in 4 feet of water. Our draft is 42 inches, so we had 6 inches to spare!!! That was more excitement than we wanted for a morning.
Aft that we had no additional difficulties. We crossed Albemarle Sound and entered a series of waterways that led out of North Carolina and into Virginia. Our destination was the Norfolk Yacht Club. Jim grew up in Norfolk and spent his youth sailing at the Yacht Club. His sister is still a member, so we were able to tie up there for the night and have lunch and dinner there.
We thought the approach to Norfolk was going to be difficult because there are several bridges that were too low for us to pass under, and these bridges had scheduled openings. We were able to get through them with very little waiting. There was also a lock we needed to get through, but there were people at the lock helping all the boats tie up, so that was pretty easy too. After that we entered the beginning of the Norfolk harbor, which was wide and very deep. We passed by several Navy ships in dry dock and lots of commercial vessels. No close encounters this time. We pulled into the Yacht Club around 2 pm under calm winds, virtually no current and clear skies. Later around 4 pm, while we were washing the boat (we had another attack of some kind of bug while at Alligator River Marina–not of love bug proportions, but enough to require a thorough cleaning), the skies opened up and it poured for about 10 minutes while a thunderstorm passed by. I was very happy we were tied up and not out in Albemarle Sound when it hit!
We left Norfolk around 7:30 this morning heading for Solomon’s Island in the Chesapeake Bay. Before we got to the Bay, we passed by the Naval Base. There were relatively few ships there. A few support ships, one sub and one aircraft carrier at that we could see. Apparently a strike force left last week. Nevertheless it was impressive to see these huge vessels.
Our trip up to Solomon’s Island gave us a chance to us our electronic chart plotter to put in waypoints and choose specific headings to get to those waypoints. Up until today we really didn’t have tondo that because the ICW, for the most part is not open water. It’s creeks, dredge canals and land cuts, all of which are relatively narrow and well marked with red and green markers. You just follow the markers. In the Bay, however, there are buoys that are spaced really far apart; you just can’t see them. So you have no way of knowing where to go. Fortunately the paper charts come with a number of pre-plotted routes with suggested waypoints. All we had to do was figure out which routes, or parts of routes would get us to Solomon’s Island. Obviously it worked pretty well because we got here without any difficulty at about 1 in the afternoon.
We had an easy wash down of the boat and walked into town. None of us had been to Solomon’s Island before. Great waterfront and a bunch of funky shops on the main drag. It’s a warm day here with partly cloudy skies and no hint of an afternoon thunderstorm.
Tomorrow will be a short hop up to Annapolis where we will be keeping the boat, so we will leave at a later hour. Yeah!!!! Hard to believe our trip is almost over.
P.S. I forgot to mention that Katherine flew down to Norfolk on Saturday morning and met us at the Yacht Club with Lois Gail, Jim’s sister. Katherine then joined us for our trip up to Solomon’s and Annapolis. It’s great having her aboard!