Sunday, October 20, 2013

Finally, a Weather Break!

     Ominous grey skies, small craft warnings, 20 knot winds and four foot seas were the forecast (that was the new and improved forecast) as we headed south from Solomon's Island, Maryland to visit friends Bob and Pat at their home on Tipers Creek, Virginia. Boats that had been holed up at Solomon's for more than a week filed out of the channel as though a parade had been organized. I think we were all "chomping on the bit like a pack of race horses in starting gate." In our case the starting gun was a favorable weather window for heading south. The previous morning we'd received an email invitation to visit friends Bob and Pat of SV Chanticleer whom we'd cruised with last winter in the Florida Keys. They have a lovely home not far from Solomon's Island along the Chesapeake's north south route on the Great Wicomico River in Tipers Creek.
Tipers Creek, Great Wicomico River, Virginia
by Joe Boulay
 I couldn't wait to see them. It had been a long nine days aboard a boat and I looked forward to having dinner and chatting with friends. When we arrived in the creek, Bob hailed us on the VHF to ask if we needed to go to town for supplies. They've cruised extensively from Maine to the Bahamas and understand that live aboard cruisers always need to replenish food, propane and of course John Barleycorn. I had a few items on a grocery list and we had one empty propane tank that needed refilling. Of course whenever we find a grocery store, I tend to shop as though the apocalypse is coming. The few items ended up being a weeks' worth of shopping. That was actually a good thing because we will be anchoring in remote areas along the ICW away from civilization for a number of days during the remainder of this week and into next until we reach Beaufort, NC.

     Bob and Pat prepared a special dinner for us with the best dry rubbed ribs we've ever had. We also enjoyed baked potatoes that we haven't had in ages. The microwave onboard Simple Life was removed to make room for more storage since we're rarely at a dock with electricity. I'd forgotten how much I'd missed baked potatoes.

Container ship barreling down on Simple Life to starboard
     We'd planned to leave early the following morning with Jackson Creek, Deltaville our destination. The evening weather forecast for the upcoming day was favorable and it appeared we could head south before another cold front approached. By morning, big surprise! Small craft warnings were once again posted with three to four foot seas. In the ocean these sea conditions would be considered mild but, in the lower Chesapeake Bay wind and current produce short wave periods that result in a hobby horse effect on the boat. After weighing our options the decision was made to go since the wind was out of the north and our course was southward. Conditions were not as bad as expected. Joe hand steered surfing down waves throughout the day as though he was at the helm of a Hobie Cat and Simple Life gave us a good ride.

Navy Hospital Ship Comfort at Norfolk, VA
     Now that our experiences in the Chesapeake this fall are a distant memory we hope to be able to make up some distance every day. Our goals and objectives for the next few weeks are to move south with fewer stops along the way for touring since we have fallen behind due to weather conditions. So far we've anchored at Norfolk, VA stayed one night at the free dock at Great Bridge, VA, anchored in the North River, NC and at Deep Point, on the Alligator River in North Carolina.
The free dock at Great Bridge, Virginia

Our anchorage off Norfolk at Hospital Point
 My main concern is to keep moving to avoid cold temperatures as the season progresses. So far so good. Weather has been mild with days in the 70's and nights in the 50's. Belhaven, NC will be an overnight stop today with plans to travel to Beaufort, NC early this week. Beaufort is one of our favorite towns that's steeped in history. It also has a few fine restaurants along the waterfront and I'm looking forward to an evening out on the town, being waited on and enjoying someone else's cooking for a change.

Sailors on the ICW near the
Virginia-North Carolina border.