Saturday, June 23, 2007

June 3

June 3. Now there was a day. We’ve been hearing about a tropical storm off the west coast of Florida that’s headed this way to drop some rain and blow things about.

We’re heading back down the James River to the well protected anchorage we stayed in on our way up the river. The weather is supposed to be raining with the winds getting progressively worse as the day wears on. If we leave at 0700 we will get the tidal push for at least an hour and can be anchored in about 5 hours. Or we could just sit here for another day and head out tomorrow. There’s nothing else here besides the Jamestown settlement and we could use a day to provision so I’d like to head out.

I wake up at 0615 and it’s raining pretty good so I figure that if we leave now we can get almost an extra hour’s tidal push and be anchored well before noon and the expected horrible weather. The dogs hate going out in the rain so I decide they’d rather wait for the extra few hours than go now.

I wake Christy, tell her plans have changed and to get it together, we’re pulling the anchor. We’re underway before 0630 and motoring at close to 8 knots for the first 2 hours. The wind is dead on the nose and already blowing 15 knots.

As the tide goes slack and turns against us the wind is building to 27 knots, we’re down to 4 and a half knots of boat speed. Oh and its now pouring, I’m mean really pouring. Oh and lets not forget the fog and the barges.

Rover is doing all the steering so we’re free to watch the radar, the chartplotter and keep an eye outside. It’s absolutely miserable as we plod along retracing our path back down the river. We have 2 barges to contend with but we were able to avoid them long before we could actually see them.

When we were a half mile above the James River Bridge I hailed the bridge keeper to advise him that we would not need a lift. The bridge is 60 feet tall while it’s still closed so we can slip through with no problem. Then I asked him if there was any inbound traffic as we were unable to see past the bridge at this time. He replied that he didn’t think so but he really couldn’t see anything either.

As soon as we were done talking a wall of fog reduced visibility to near zero. We could see on the chart plotter where the opening was, we could see the bridge on the radar but we couldn’t see anything at all outside the boat. I considered pulling off to the side above the bridge, anchoring and waiting for conditions to improve. Then I decided that we were doing fine so we would be safe if we continued on. Christy’s view of my decision was a little different though. From her perspective my decision looked more like “F#%k it, lets go, its not like the world is flat or anything”. I don’t think she’s really grasping the complexity of the factors involved in making command decisions.

It ended up taking us until 2 o’clock to drop the hook in the anchorage. The rain immediately stopped, the sun almost came out and the dogs were taken to shore post haste. Christy made dinner and then she took advantage of a special that was running at Mr. William’s House of Hair and Fabulosity. In the evening we took the dogs to shore again and made it back to the boat just before a new round of thunderstorms hit.

The Coast Guard is broadcasting all kinds of Notice to Mariners about the impending bad weather and high winds due to pass through tonight. We’re happily anchored in a well protected anchorage so even though today wasn’t very much fun I still think moving to get here was the right thing to do. Oh and now we get to sleep in tomorrow as we’ll stay here and do some shopping.

Christy still wonders if traveling today was the right thing to do. I’ve reminded her that if we had stayed we’d have sat all day in the rain and probably had a much more miserable time with the winds tonight as the anchorage was not as well protected.

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