Thursday (9/16) – Norfolk, VA
Denise started the day with a quick run through downtown Annapolis and then through the neighborhood around the marina in Eastport. It was near dark when she started, but captured a few pictures of downtown Annapolis at dawn.
We left Spa Creek just before 8:00 am when the tide was low enough for us to once again squeak under the Spa Creek Bridge without requiring it to open.
We cruised out of Annapolis Harbor and into the Severn River, finally turning right at the buoy and headed south on the Chesapeake Bay. Less than 30 minutes later we were passing the Thomas Point Shoal Light. This is one of the most photographed lighthouses on the Chesapeake, and we are always thrilled when we pass by it.
It was a nice calm day on the Chesapeake, although overcast. We made as straight a course heading as possible for Cape Charles on the Southeastern shore for the first few hours. However, it was not long into the journey that Captain Mark suggested a change in plan. The window for a comfortable passage from Cape Charles to Wormley Creek on Friday afternoon had shut, and now we were rethinking our overall plans. After much discussion, we changed our plans for Cape Charles and Wormley Creek in order to get into safe harbor for the evening. Friday through Monday was going to be really rough on the Chesapeake and the best option for us was to go all the way into Norfolk tonight. However, we needed to see Denise’s brother as he had several packages for us, including the main salon window shade we had repaired. We had discussed going to Norfolk, renting a car and driving up to see him, but after several scenarios we chose to just take the boat up the York River to Wormley Creek for a quick stop over on the way to Norfolk.
With this in mind, we altered our course to hug the western shore and ran close to the LNG facility at Cove Point, near Solomons. For the first time here we actually saw a ship docked at the pipeline. And right after that we passed the Cove Point Lighthouse.
As we continued south, the water continued to get calmer and we made pretty good time. We ate lunch along the way and around 12:30 we passed the Smith Point Lighthouse.
It remained calm as we continued cruising; at one point we could see the eastern shore of the Chesapeake near where we would have gone in if we were going to Cape Charles.
Just after 2:00 pm we passed by the New Point Comfort Light house and shortly thereafter we turned right to go up the York River.
The wind had picked up a small bit, but it was at our back and we were fine. We were a little concerned with what we may face on our way to Norfolk, but so far it all still looked good. Meanwhile, we had been in constant communication with John (Denise’s brother) who agreed that a meet-up at Wormley Creek Marina was the best alternative all around. So we made our way back to the place we stayed in the spring, and he met us for a quick hello and package exchange.
In less than an hour, we left Wormley Creek and headed back out on the York River. It was a little bumpy as we were now facing the wind from the east, and the current was also against us. But it was certainly tolerable and we knew that we only had 1.5 hours left to go before arriving in Norfolk. Along the way down the Bay today we had cancelled our reservations at Cape Charles and Wormley Creek (all without penalty), and made a reservation at Waterside in Norfolk.
We entered the Chesapeake and immediately were faced with increasing chop. It was not very comfortable for the first 30 minutes or so, until we rounded the Poquoson Flats. But, as we neared Ft. Monroe we were able to change to a more southern (less easterly) course and that made it a little better.
We then crossed over to the eastern shore of the main channel heading into Norfolk where the land blocked the wind and things finally settled down. As usual, there was lots of boat and barge traffic that required Captain Mark to keep a sharp eye and steady hand on the wheel. It was here that we passed the USCG sailing vessel “Eagle”. It was a thrill to see this beautiful ship up close.
We entered Norfolk harbor and the US Naval Shipyard where we were amazed at how many boats were in port at the same time. Wasn’t this not supposed to ever happen again after Pearl Harbor?
As we moved up the channel to the “no wake” zone, we approached a large yacht (“Serendipity II”) trying to pass a barge and attempting to raise him on the VHF. After several miscommunications between the two vessels, the yacht made their way around the barge without issue, as we did too. We then both approached the Waterside Marina about the same time, but we were requested to hold outside until the yacht was docked. Once it was tied-up and settled at the outermost dock, we were instructed to come into our assigned slip in the marina’s basin. As we entered, Captain Mark had to make a tight left turn near this large vessel, and our stern turned towards the yacht. The Captain was on the deck of the boat looking down and gave Denise (standing in the stern) an awful scowl. What he couldn’t see from his vantage point was that we cleared the hull of his boat by at least 10 feet. He had nothing to worry about and just minutes later Mark successfully docked our boat around another yacht in even tighter quarters.
Finally, we arrived in our slip and secured our boat for the night. It was 5:15 pm and we had traveled a total of 156 miles, including a side trip up and back down a part of the York River. We checked in with the marina to get the usual information, and poured ourselves a celebratory cocktail. We were disappointed that we would once again miss Cape Charles, but we were glad that we would now be able to head south before the NS #7 railroad bridge was locked down.
When we arrived at Waterside there were several other yachts in the marina, including a Berger Yacht we saw in Portland, ME (“Wrigley”). Then we watched another handful of boats pull into the marina, including a 60 foot “Downeast” boat from Key West called “Indigo”. We did not have a chance to talk with them, but we did like the lines of this older but beautiful boat. Unlike in the spring when the marina if full of “Loopers”, the majority of the boats here were larger yachts who were like us, trying to get south.
Before it got too late, Mark hosed the salt off the boat and Denise prepared a dinner on board. We took a short walk around the marina, then retired for the night. Like in the spring, the handful of restaurants remaining at Waterside were blaring music quite loudly and it barely faded us. It had been another long day!