Long sail to Mile Zero

It would be a shame to waste good wind. –Paula

I’ve never made hay, even on a sunny day. But I get it — when the conditions are just right you shouldn’t waste the opportunity to make meaningful progress.

On Sunday morning we set out from Galesville with a plan to sail from the West River to Solomons Island at the mouth of the Patuxent River. But once we reached the open Chesapeake the conditions were simply too perfect: A steady 15 kts from the NW, 1-2 ft seas, sunshine and temperature in the 60’s. We screamed along at better than 7 kts for several hours on a 3-sail broad reach arriving at the turn to Solomons just after lunchtime.

Andante was in great shape having had three days of maintenance. I was well-rested and well-fed. The weather forecast looked solid. So we decided to keep going. And going. All day long. All night long. All the way to Norfolk.

It was glorious.

Screaming 3-sail reach down the Chesapeake Bay

From start to finish we covered 136 nm over about 28 hours. The night sailing was invigorating with clear skies and lots of stars. The wind slackened in late evening and our speed dropped below 5 kts. But that was ok: There was no point getting there in the middle of the night as I did not want to navigate the busy shipping channels of Hampton Roads in the dark. We still arrived too early and drifted for a while in the anchorage just inside the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel waiting for sunrise.

Sunrise over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel from just east of the Thimble Shoals Light. After drifting for a couple of hours we started moving towards our final destination at first light.

The Norfolk/Hampton/Newport News area is a busy place with loads of commercial and military traffic. Some of it very large.

At 853 ft this was the largest tanker we’ve encountered so far. We passed by each other directly above the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (I-64). Neither of us needed to worry about our draft — the roadway is apparently 108 ft below sea level.
Not the best image quality but I believe the number on the tower is 75 — which the Google says is the Nimitz-class Harry S Truman.
In my Navy I wouldn’t keep the helpy ships right next to the hurty ships. But I guess we need both. That’s the Comfort, one of the hospital ships mobilized early in the pandemic.
Maersk!
And of course, coal. As long as people keep buying it by the shipload we’ll have to deal with the consequences to both the climate system and the Senate.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) officially begins at red buoy 36 on the Elizabeth River in downtown Norfolk. For whatever reason the Army Corps of Engineers designated that particular spot as Mile Zero on the 1000+ mile ICW. That was our general destination — but we actually ended up anchored right next to it.

We dropped the hook in Hospital Cove, adjacent to a gigantic Naval hospital and right across the river from the NOAA lab, the maritime museum and the waterfront hotels of downtown Norfolk. And off in the distance we got the first glimpse of the busy shipbuilding industry that we will sail through tomorrow.

Mile Zero on the Atlantic ICW: Red 36 on the Elizabeth River, Norfolk.
Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, formerly Norfolk Naval Hospital, is the Navy’s oldest. This is just one corner of the giant campus.
NOAA lab directly across the river from our anchorage
Tomorrow we head further up the river right through the heart of the naval shipbuilding industry. I’m not sure why these ships are wrapped in plastic. Perhaps they are brand new and still in their bubble wrap. Or maybe they are a Christmas gift.

I spent the rest of Monday reviewing navigation tips for the ICW and researching potential overnight stops. And then I got some sleep.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: