May 11, 2010.
On Tuesday morning we rose to a pleasant breeze that was promising to build out of the southeast. We raised the sail and motored past the naval fleet in Norfolk. The river was choked with huge ships moving here and there.
After 10 miles we were clear of the naval yards and headed out towards the lower Chesapeake Bay. We were able to raise all sail and kill the engine. On our way out the channel we were passed by an inbound French
submarine complete with its US Coast Guard escort. I wonder which wine goes best with nuclear armageddon? Once we turned and headed north our sail became a 7 ½ knot beam reach in 15 knots of apparent breeze.
We had the tide with us for a while and even when we were bucking the ebbing tide we were still doing over 5 ½ knots SOG. I had estimated the trip to take us 26 hours at 5 knots but it soon became apparent that if things continued as they were we would cover the 133 mile trip a lot quicker.
And continue it did. The beautiful clear skies soon yielded to an overcast drizzling day. The grief of the gray day was offset by a breeze that was continuing to build. We soon had 20 to 25 knots of apparent breeze coming over the starboard quarter. We had to douse the genoa and add 2 preventers to keep the main out to port in the surprisingly rolly seas. We literally barreled up the bay towards Annapolis.
The gray day gave way to a pitch black night that was both very cold and crowded with ship traffic. We’ve traversed the bay on several occasions and have never encountered nearly the number of huge ships and tugboats we saw that night. We probably spoke with the captain’s of 8 different vessels during the night as we arranged a safe passing.
After over a hundred miles on starboard tack we had to ease the preventers and gybe onto a port tack. We started the engine but couldn’t put it in gear as the approach to Annapolis is crowded with crab pot floats.
The wind was honkin’ as we sailed into the anchorage near the Naval Academy. We rounded up and dropped the mainsail and then the hook at 0230. I swear that it was sleeting when I went outside to drop the sail. We used the engine to properly set the hook. We were the only boat there so we dropped 150 feet of chain into the 20 feet of water. After stowing the sail, the flag and a few lines we were both tucked in for a well deserved rest. Fortunately, we dropped the hook just minutes before a vicious squall line came through. The night was completely pitch black but this front came towards us as a dark wall on the horizon. We saw it coming, the wind built but the minute our heads hit the pillow we were out.