Great Bridge to Block Island

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Great Bridge, VA

July 11-12, 2005

Dock: N36043.415  W76009.931

After a very long tiring day, we were able to tie alongside a dock (free for 24 hours) at Great Bridge bridge. We had missed the 3:30 opening of the Centerville Bridge and had to wait until 6:00 for the next opening. That, along with the wait for several other bridges, one lock, and one grounding, meant that it took almost 12 hours to get to Great Bridge.

The ICW from North River to Great Bridge requires you to pay constant attention. The section just past Coinjock is one to avoid if at all possible. I was driving (again) when we ran aground. I should have trusted the chart plotter more and my own judgment less. In my defense though, the plaque for the marker was missing and I was trying to miss the pole.  I missed it, but on the wrong side. With the help of the wake from a tour boat we got off pretty quickly.

One of the great things about cruising is the varied people, sometimes characters, you meet. We met Ned who really takes advantage of the system. There are free (24-hour limit) docks on both sides of Great Bridge bridge. Ned stays on one side for two nights, then moves to the other side for two nights. How long he has been doing this he wouldn't admit, but I suspect it's been for some time. Ned built his own boat back in the 70's. It was a sailboat at that time. He got tired of sailing, so he cut the mast off, added outriggers and made it a fishing boat. Then he grew tired of fishing , so he cut the outriggers off and went cruising. Now, he's tired of the cruising and wants to go up the Great Lakes. The boat is too tall, so he will cut it down again.

Ned was a very entertaining fellow and we really laughed at his stories. When offered a beer, he declined because it was a lite beer. It seems he once knew a fellow who worked for Falstaff. This fellow claimed they put laxative in beer to make it lite beer. It took only one lite beer to convince Ned that this fellow was telling the truth. He went on with t.m.i. about hitting a 1/2-inch washer on the far end of the dock.  The visual wasn't pretty but we sure laughed. A little later in the conversations, Bob made a smart-alecky remark to me. Ned was quick to inform him, "Man, you better be careful; she's the cook. She can have you down to a 1/4-inch washer before morning". 

Another interesting couple we met at Great Bridge was traveling around the world. They had come from Australia on a catamaran. One day just wasn't enough to hear even a small portion of their experiences.

The dock at Great Bridge has to be the most convenient place we've ever stopped. You can walk to the grocery store, laundry, fast-food restaurants, a ship yard, and even get a bus to Wal-Mart. We even found a huge thrift store. I love thrift stores - you never know what you may find in one. We found some books, in like-new condition, for 41cents each. On returning to the dock, I shared my great find with the Australian couple. They decided to stop by the thrift store on their way to the laundromat. Leaving the laundry, along with Chris' favorite hat, by the front door, they began their search for great stuff. When finished shopping, they discovered their laundry bags were gone. The thrift-store staff thought the bags were a donation and had begun to distribute the contents to different bins, boxes, and piles. It took some doing to find all their clothing, linens, etc. Chris' hat was a special challenge because it was buried at the bottom of a barrel.

Telling that story made them think of an experience they had when traveling, with a flotilla, in the Black Sea. At one of the stops all the boats sent their laundry off to be done - there were no self-service laundry facilities available. Each boat placed their laundry in bags carefully labeled with the boat name. After several days, there was a call over the VHF from the organizer, "The good news is that the laundry has been returned clean. The bad news is that it's all still damp and it's in one big pile. Would everyone please come to my boat and pick your laundry out of the pile." For several days thereafter, they would hear VHF calls like this, " I have a blue sock that I'll trade for some yellow undies".

Except for the oppressive heat we could have stayed in Great Bridge for quite awhile.  Since we had already pushed the 24-hour limit a little, it was time to leave for the 12-mile trip to Norfolk.

Norfolk, VA

July 13, 2005

Anchorage: N36050.690  W76017.946

The Norfolk & Portsmouth waterfront area is a place we love but not when it's so hot and humid. The one day there was spent planning our escape from the heat. The next stop is to be Rhode Island. That should bring some relief from the heat.

At Sea

July 14-16, 2005

The three nights and four days at sea started out almost perfect. We were able to motor-sail the first two days and even turn off the engine for a few hours. The seas were very calm at only 2-3 feet and traffic was very light.

We managed to catch one 12-14 inch fish (tuna, we think) but threw him back, waiting for the "big" one. Well, the big one was a whale (small to medium size). He took our last good lure and snapped the line. This is getting really old but we're still learning.

On the second night, fog moved in. It was very scary driving by radar alone. On the third day the fog cleared late morning but moved back in again before evening. I was very concerned  because we were going to cross New York Harbor in the night on my watch. Bob was also concerned. I could tell because he went below to sleep - leaving me to it.

It takes several hours to completely clear all three shipping lanes of the New York harbor. What a relief that we never encountered any ships and spotted only two on the radar. At night it's hard to tell how much visibility you have in the fog. It couldn't have been much though because at times we couldn't even see the top of our mast.

The fog remained with us the fourth day, with visibility at about 100 feet most of the time. As we got closer to Block Island we began hearing other boaters on the VHF giving updates on their positions. One guy was depending on everyone else avoiding him; he had no radar. Scary! By noon, we were beginning to worry that we wouldn't be able to find the anchorage because of the heavy fog. Fortunately, the closer to the island we got, the greater the visibility. We found the channel quite easily and dropped the hook, in a very crowded anchorage, at 1:30pm on the fourth day.

Next Port: Block Island, RI to New Bedford, MA