Monday, December 11, 2006

Day 9 is starting pretty early; I’m wide awake at 0430. We went to bed at 2100 hours the night before so I’m guessing 7 and a half hours of sleep is enough but I don’t want to die, so I lie in bed quietly till 0500 then get up, get dressed, walk the dogs and get underway by 0530. I backed us out of the marina and into the early morning darkness before Christy was even topside. We had planned a 0630 departure so 0530 assures us of a daylight arrival.

The sail down to Norfolk was just 2 long runs. We sailed all the way to the eastern shore of the Chesapeake, gibed and sailed straight into the approach to Norfolk. Everyone always worries about sailing in New York Harbor but Norfolk was way more intense. There’s freighters, tugs with barges and naval warships all moving everywhere all at once. During our entire approach we were listening to a naval warship that was escorting a submarine threatening to fold, spindle and mutilate anyone who came within 500 feet of her charge. We never did see the sub and I was anxious to see if it would show up on radar. We had an aircraft carrier overtake us and as we watched 4 tugboats came alongside her and move her into her berth. We even got buzzed by a couple of military helicopters and then a Coast Guard chopper as well.

Our arrival at the Ocean Yacht Center Marina is at 1530 hours. We turn down dead-end fairway as directed on the VHF and are looking for our assigned slip which doesn’t appear obvious to us. The marina is full of big powerboats and every slip appears occupied, so I slow us in the center of the narrow fairway and prepare to back out when a dock boy shows himself from behind the bow of a big cabin cruiser on our portside only a slip or 2 away. I should have backed up and moved to the far side of the fairway to reapproach the slip. Instead, I used reverse and a little breeze to walk the bow into the slip, there was potential for disaster but I got away with it. No blood, no foul, next time I’ll let the kid wait while I make a more patient approach. Don’t want to use up all the luck this early in the trip.

Christy and I walked about 2 blocks and are in the middle of downtown Portsmouth, Va. Dinner was at Roger Browns and was fantastic. Across the river is the city of Norfolk and it’s a sight to behold, every building is trimmed in white lights so the city skyline is in stark contrast against the night sky. Its awesome.

Another early morning tomorrow, the bridges between us and the Dismal Swamp are all “open on demand” until 0630 then they don’t open again until 0830 because of rush hour. So if we are up and out by 0530 we can get through all 4 bridges without having to wait for the extra 2 hours. Tomorrows weather is calling for ridiculous winds of between 25 and 35 knots out of the North. The Dismal Swamp Canal will be a good place to hide from these excessive winds and still be able to keep moving. We’ll make the decision in the morning if we venture out at all.

Once we get to Elizabeth City at the other end of the canal we’ll probably be weathered in for a couple of days. It’s good though as I have a couple of projects to tackle. At the other end of the Dismal Swamp internet connectivity may be sketchy at best. So it may not be until Friday that you hear from us again.

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