We had a great ride today as contrasted with a fairly wild ride yesterday. Now I know first-hand what 20+ kts out of the north are like on the Chesapeake are like. We departed from Willoughby Bay at 7:15 am in the same dreary weather we’d gotten used to. Grey skies, light mist, and fog. But almost no wind. As we departed I lost the gps for some reason but we’d both looked over charts of this bay and it was easy navigation. The only real risk was crab traps which we could still see in plenty of time to avoid. We departed the south channel that had one shallow spot and by the time I got to the channel we had the gps back. Not sure why that happened but we’ll keep an eye on it.
As we departed there was a great view of the navy docks with a large aircraft carrier, several destroyers , and quite a few other high tech navy vessels. Unfortunately the mist didn’t make for good photos so Jack and I just enjoyed watching them between all the traffic. Pretty soon there were barge tows, cargo vessels, and other commercial traffic. I felt just like I’d woken up in the Houston ship channel. As we made our way down toward the Gilmerton bridge we moved upstairs to the bridge which had great visibility but a little on the cool side. Most of you know the bridge was closed on Tuesday, open today, and closed tomorrow so there was a LOT of traffic trying to get through. We were in a cluster of about 40 boats, a combination of power and sail mostly probably heading south after the Annapolis boat show. The bridge is in the process of a major renovation and we just happened to be here the one or two days it was completely closed. And you combine this with the normal Annapolis traffic and we had a LOT of boats.
So we waited about 20 minutes and finally got through the bridge on the way to our next obstacle which was the Great Bridge Locks. The ICW can be viewed as a combination of boring motoring, spectacular natural beautiful motoring, and real pain in the ass motoring. Today we had more than a fair share of the latter. As we approach the lock it’s easy to tell all the boats have figured out the lock can only hold so many boats. The real fast boats will get in without waiting for another cycle. The real slow boats will wait for at least one or more additional cycles. The boats in the middle have to gut it out and see who has the will, power, and skill to get in before the gates close. We were solidly in that group. And we did make it in… by a hair!! Not sure what that says about our nautical capabilities but at least we were in the first group.
I’ve been in locks before but never completely full like this. There are two sides to tie up to and we were in the last slot on the starboard which was a little better than the port side because our side was lined with nice rubber bumpers. The other side had to tie to hard steel bulkhead and fend for themselves. So I guess we were really in a better position than half of the first group through! The next 3 photo’s are from our boat along with the 23 other boats in the lock. The red boat ahead was a cheater. He knew a boat ahead of us and got to tie up to them. Otherwise he would have been way behind us. In Louisiana they would have kicked him out and made him wait at least a few cycles in boat purgatory but here they are more tolerant. In the 4th photo are all the boats that didn’t make the cut… too bad!
This is a photo of those that didn’t quite make the cut…
The rest of the trip was fairly straight-forward. Several bridges to open and a lot of ICW. Only excitement was the occasional shallow spot but Sue’s fantastic set of marked up ICW flip charts gave us plenty of warning. THANKS SUE!! Her annotated chart book is turning out to be invaluable. We even know where to expect decent cell phone coverage. It’s really amazing and ultra-practical to read her comments before we depart each day.
Before long we’ve swapped watches several times and were headed for Midway Marina close to mile marker 50 for fuel, water, and a night at the dock. The photo’s below show us at the dock as it looks on the chart plotter. Dinner here was great too. I had N Carolina BBQ’d pork and Jack had a flounder dish. We got to visit with his old friend Terry, his wife and a very nice local couple seated next to us.
Tomorrow could be a short 35 mile trip to the Abemarle Sound or a 77 mile run all the way across. We’re both hoping for the latter but also cautious enough that we don’t want to chance bad weather. Latest forecast from NOAA looks OK, not ideal but OK. We’ll check it again in the morning to see what we have and won’t take any chances on getting clobbered on purpose. Here’s what we have at this point:
W WINDS 5 TO 10 KT...BECOMING NW 10 TO 15 KT LATE THIS
EVENING AND EARLY MORNING...THEN BECOMING N 15 TO 20 KT WITH
FREQUENT GUSTS TO 25 KT LATE. WAVES 1 FT...THEN 2 TO 3 FT.
N WINDS 15 TO 20 KT WITH FREQUENT GUSTS TO 25 KT...BECOMING
NE 10 TO 15 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WAVES 2 TO 3 FT.
NE WINDS 5 TO 10 KT...BECOMING W AFTER MIDNIGHT. WAVES
We’re happy to have had another great day aboard Seaweed and happy to have gotten her one day closer to Tarpon Bay.
Chris and Jack
Fuel readings after filling:
Starboard tank: 24″ after 110 gal added
Port tank: 24″ after 12o gal added