|Manteo at dusk|
|Channel markers leading to the Albemarle Sound|
Happily, in less than an hour, the sun was up, and we were out of the Sound and into the river that makes up the ICW. Much more peaceful and relaxing. We were able to go full speed (today around 26-27 knots) in many portions, but anytime we saw houses, another boat, or marinas, we were required to slow to no wake speed, or 6 knots. The boat is running much better since the repair. My engines are synched perfectly, and I'm getting faster speeds at 90% load. I guess there's a silver lining to my mishap.
|Cruising past Coinjock on the ICW|
|Beautiful Intercoast Waterway views|
We were running great, and the boat was fantastic, but our timing was really off. We got to the first bridge and radioed for an open and were told it would be 16 minutes to open. So we sat and waited.
Finally, we were ready to go through Great Bridge bridge and into Great Bridge lock. As we were waiting, a sailboat pulled up behind us, and we were shocked to hear them announce themselves to the bridge as Obsession. Seriousy?!? We passed them almost 90 minutes earlier at 26 knots, and now they caught up to us? They must have timed every bridge perfectly. While we wasted fuel running at 25 knots and then waiting for each bridge to open. Talk about the tortoise and the hare.
|Jim and I tended the lines in the lock|
|Leaving the Great Bridge lock - Obsession is in the back|
The ICW is full of all kinds of boats. Here we saw a tug boat pulling some very long cables, and I had to speak to the driver over the radio to make sure I was staying out of his way.
|Railway bridge is closed - Ugh|
After we made it through this bridge, I knew there were two more railroad bridges left. One of them was bridge #5, the one that was closed for 3 days of maintenance the day that Tony and I and the girls were trying to get to Charleston and ended up having to turn around and take the ocean. If that happened today, we'd be up the creek (were actually were up the creek) without a paddle. No turning to the ocean. We would really be stuck there with no options. Fortunately, both bridges were open, and we made it to Norfolk!
|Yippee! The bridge was open|
We checked the weather, and it was questionable. There were thunderstorms in Solomons, but looking at the radar, we were pretty sure they'd be gone by the time we got there. Just North of Solomons, it was really bad, but those storms were not going to come South (we thought). Thunderstorms were projected for Norfolk, but not until evening. It looked very likely that we could squeeze in between weather patters and get to Solomons without too much risk of getting hammered. And after all, as the pillow my mom made me says:
The policeman admonished me on the radio that in front of the military base, I was required to stay inside the channel at all times. I explained that I was trying to avoid the massive ship, but he would have none of it. I apologized an assured him I would stay in the channel. And I did.
Once I passed the harbor area and entered the Chesapeake Bay, I set course due North and pointed Sababa towards Solomons. We had 3.5 hours left. The weather forecast was a little scary, but Jim and I were convinced that we could avoid the worst of it. I was learning a lot about dealing with and navigating in weather from Jim. For the first 90 minutes, the seas were flat, and we were going about 25 knots. I was loving life. I'd like to see Obsession catch us now!
About 30 minutes later, I noticed the air temperature drop about 20 degrees. I was actually feeling a bit cold all of a sudden. I figured this cannot be good. But, the weather still looked okay. Behind us, Jim and I noticed some serious rain was going on. But we were well past that. Ahead, the sky was getting dark. Uh oh. But, we were in the middle of the Bay, and with bad weather behind us and unknown not so great weather ahead, we really had no choice but to move on. Still, the radar indicated that we would be okay.
|Raining behind us|
We decided to drive from inside instead of on the flybridge because it was starting to rain, and the sky was looking ever more ominous. The waves were now getting bigger and hitting us straight on the bow. I slowed the boat to 18 knots to match the period of the wave and we stopped slamming into the water, except occasionally.
It then started raining very hard. I had learned how to make good use of the radar in low visibility in my Radar and Electronics course at the Annapolis School of Seamanship, and this came in handy, as I was going to rely on my radar and chart plotter now to supplement my dim view of what was going on outside that I was getting through the windshield.
Our biggest fear was that we would arrive in Solomon with a massive storm with 40-50 knot winds and thunderstorms. Radar did not indicate that was likely, but that did not stop that from being my biggest fear. As we approached the river towards Solomons, the rain got more intense, and visibility was lower, and for the first time today I wasn't entirely happy. I decided that if conditions were too intense to dock, I would pull into the harbor at Solomons and anchor. We would ride out the storm on the hook until it passed and then pull up to the fuel dock to tie up. That was our backup plan.
The turn towards Solomons was very good. The waves were much smaller inside the river, and they were hitting us on the beam instead of head on, since we had changed direction. I was worried about crab pots, since we had no visibility there, and I know that area is full of them, but we could only worry about so many things, and we hoped we wouldn't get unlucky. Furthermore, I was back up over 20 knots, and I think hitting a pot at that speed would probably just snap the crab pot line rather than wrap around the prop. Luckily, we never found out.
Amazingly, as we pulled into Solomons Island, the rain let up and practically stopped. Jim secured our lines, and I docked in very light to nonexistent wind. As soon as we were tied up, it started raining again, but not too badly. We needed fuel, and I expect us to leave tomorrow morning before the fuel dock opens. So, I used an umbrella to protect the tank as I filled it with diesel. You do not want water in your diesel. Bad combination.
|Fueling in the rain after a 12 hour run|
Our reward was a great dinner in town followed by my favorite dessert: key lime pie from the island's specialty:
So that's it. Tomorrow, we'll head home, and Jim has a flight home from BWI in the afternoon. We are looking forward to an awesome dinner with great friends, and I'll be thrilled to have Sababa back home in Baltimore!