Saturday, October 24, 2009

Resting at Great Bridge VA

Well, we made it to Great Bridge, VA Friday afternoon around 1:30ish. We were very happy to get into the Atlantic Yacht Basin that Cory has been to many times, and recently I have with him. It's a few hundred yards east of the Great Bridge Bascule Bridge on the south shore of the ICW. Because it's in a fresh water section of the ICW, there's no tide to speak of unless there's a strong wind out of the east that piles up water here.

This place is a full service yard - they have any number of large and small boats in various stages of repair at any one time. Lest that give you the impression they work willy-nilly let me disabuse you of that notion. Every work site is clean and well maintained. The yard people wear their safety gear and seem, to me anyway, to work a good day's work. I'm impressed.

Their marine store isn't like any other. Because of the work they do, it's well stocked with things you need and need badly. There's no frippery there, I'll tell you what.

The dock masters are knowledgeable and really helpful.

As you know if you've been following my SPOT information, we started out around 9:30am Wednesday from Great Kills Yacht Club. There appeared to be wind filling in from a direction we could sail in - we were headed out to the Sandy Hook Channel. The breeze was light and as it turns out we couldn't sail. We didn't find that out until all the sails were raised, though.

So, essentially, you leave the Sandy Hook Channel when you can clear the shoals and make a right any stay on that course until you hit (figuratively) Cape Charles at the entrance to the Chesapeake.

Because the weather for Thursday was going to be 20kts out of the southwest (in other words, right on the nose) we decided to run a little closer to the coast. In any case, we were making good time until Thursday around noonish when the wind settled in right on the nose (as predicted). We were 20 miles out with seas building to an uncomfortable 2 - 6 foot chop and pounding into it. Pelican does not like to motor into that. Neither does her owner.

We worked our way west with the staysail and mizzen until we were in around 35 feet of water just south of the Delaware River. From there you can almost make a beeline to Cape Charles.

The engine was behaving beautifully until we were about an hour from Cape Charles at about three in the morning. Then it stopped. Plenty of fuel. Pump working, but air in the Racor. Long story short, the original rubber fuel line had a gotten a split in it and we were able to get a good connection to the fuel pump and get the engine running again after about an hour and a half.

As we rounded Cape Charles the wind died (because we could have sailed into the Chesapeake otherwise) and we got to Norfolk about 7:30am. We went through the assorted bridges until we got nearly to Great Bridge. There the Dominion Boulevard Bridge (aka 'Steel Bridge') only opens on the hour. Of course we were an half hour early (we had just missed the opening). So we tied up to a dock nearby to wait.

After the Steel Bridge, there is the Great Bridge Lock which opens when? On the hour on the half hour. Fortunately they were opening the gates as we came up and we got in right away. Actually, we were looking to tie up to wait and wanted to see what the signs said at the entrance so motored up there. That's when we noticed it was opening. If you were in a boat in that lock opening - really, we're sorry.

Ok, well, the lock takes a half hour to cycle and then there's the Great Bridge Bascule bridge which opens when? On the hour. If you're really, really lucky you can catch them all and make it through in an hour. If you're not, it's two hours. We weren't.

So Friday at the Atlantic Yacht Basin we really didn't do anything - had some wine and cheese and went fairly early to the Mexican restaurant across the road - El Toro Loco. It was awful. Not at all recommended. We forced ourselves to stay up until 8:00pm. Woohoo! what a wild bunch we are!

This morning, Saturday, we all got up early, had a cup of coffee and Cory and Jim were on their way home via taxi and train (Amtrak from Newport News). I did laundry, changed the oil in the engine, and replaced the faulty fuel hose which I had purchased Friday afternoon in the hopes of dealing with it then.

After that, I moved across the canal to a free dock and am here now.

On the dock with me is a DeFever 53 owned by Karen and Jeffrey Siegel who happen to own and run a site ActiveCaptain, an interactive cruising guidebook. This is a great site, too, that is constantly being updated by cruisers! It's free but you have to register. I just started looking at it and I can totally see its utility. I think I'll be on that site pretty often!

It's such a good site, you'll see it on my sidebar.

Tomorrow morning, I'm off to Coinjock to have a 32oz. steak. No, not really, but to gather myself together to go down the Albemarle Sound. Hopefully the bridge will open on the Alligator River when I need it to...

So there you have it! The first exciting days of what promises to be an exciting trip!

See you on the 'ditch'!


Anonymous said...

Ah yes....I remember that trip to Florida in 1996 as if it were yesterday. Waiting for 100 bridges to open is going be what will slow your trip down the most in the ditch. Well it may not be 100, but it will feel like it.

And the totally amazing amount of golf courses in the Carolinas. Wow watch out if someone yells FORE!

TakingPaws said...

Thanks for mentioning ActiveCaptain! It was great to meet you on the dock. We're right behind you - currently in Coinjock ourselves headed for Belhaven next. With the offshore weather building up, perhaps we'll meet again in Belhaven, Oriental, or Beaufort.

Safe travels,