Sunday, June 26, 2011

Onward and Southward!!

We took at lay day in NYC to facilitate the departure of the Owner, his son and wife for a flight back to Mexico for business meetings. That leaves me with the Owner's wife, his brother-in-law and his wife and the Mexican captain and chef, a comfortable six total. I moved out of the utility room and into the port berth which is about 20 centimeters wider than the Pullman in the utility room. But, hey... it's got TV!!

Friday 24 June, we slip out of The City under a steady east breeze... one of those windy foggy mornings where the moisture content sticks to everything you wear. We rounded Sandy Hook Light and the visibility dropped to a quarter mile. Too much fun running down the coast negotiating puke boats (head boats) and local fisherman out in their 24 foot center consoles. But what is really fun is discerning whether that blip on the Furuno is a boat underway.... or a pelican!

Finally broke out of the fog just south of Manasquan Inlet and had clear skies for the remainder of the day. There was an uncomfortable wind chop on top of a three foot sea and the boat showed it. It's one of those days where you want to retard the throttles a bit and chew a couple Tumms (gee, I am sure glad I had the extra order of sausages this morning.)

Everyone on boat was happy when the red and white Coast Guard water tank come into view at  Cape May, NJ. Cape May is the home of the Coast Guard's Recruit Training (boot camp). It is also home to one of my favorite marinas in the NE; South Jersey Marina.

Cape May is a popular summer beach destination. What makes Cape May stand out are the huge Victorian mansions, many of which have been converted to bed and breakfast(s). I particularly like the gingerbread homes on stilts across from the marina; including the local USCG Auxilary.

A thorough wash down and then shower and I am off to my favorite watering hole (OK, for me it's iced tea), The C-View Inn. The C-View is just three blocks south of the marina, with it's beautiful cherry wood bar dating back to the late 1800s. In the '20s the Inn served as a brothel. Speaking of chicks, it now serves the meatiest chicken wings I have ever had. And I have been stopping here for 23 years running boats north and south. I can only suspect that their chickens are on steroids!!
Early to bed means early to rise. Dock Mike's, the restaurant in the SJM building is now under new name and owner. You can get a breakfast sandwich at 0600 and full breakfast menu at 0630.

So, on Saturday 25 June, we pulled our lines aboard and with excellent, calm weather, we make the 190 mile dash to Norfolk, Va. Now, you really need to pick your weather when running the outside route along the Del-Mar-Va Peninsula... not much in the way of all weather ports along this stretch. Ocean City Md. is fair in marginal weather and I have bumped a sailboat keel trying to get in one dark and stormy night. The only other place you might seek refuge is Chincoteague Inlet... if you know where the shoaling is int he channel to town.

We passed by Hampton Roads about 1600 and I did the low and slow past Norfok Naval Base to give my guests a view of the fleet. Aircraft carriers, a plethera of Arleigh Burke class destroyers, hunter killer submarines... pretty impressive for the guests. But what got my attention was this freaky looking destroyer.
British flagged, I wikipedia the ship number and up pops the HMS Dauntless. She is the second in class of a new generation stealth destroyer (the Swedes have 'em to). Price tag? One BILLION pounds... per copy!! Hell, I didn't even know the taxpayers of England had one billion dollars.

Pulled into Tidewater Marina... actually on the Portsmith side of the Elisabeth River. Across the river at Waterside, there is a Cajun Festival. Once we got the boat secured, I sent the guests and crew to the ferry, which runs from Portsmith to Waterside every half hour and I enjoyed a quiet evening on the boat. Early to bed...

... because 0500 came up fast.

Norfolk just happens to be Mile 1 of the Atlantic Intra-Coastal Waterway, or ICW for short (we are going to MM 1080). Monday thru Friday, there are a series of bridges that are restricted for rush hour traffic, so if you want to get thru them in the morning, you have to leave at 0530. Weekends and holidays are exempt, however it is still 2-3 hours to Great Bridge Lock. So it was this in mind when we pulled away at dawn. The plan was working quite well until we got to Gilmerton Bridge at 0600 to see the adjacent Norfolk Southern Bridge #7 starting down across our path. The tracks were empty as we sat there... engines off... me, distracted by a cribbage game on my iPhone... and the minutes... no tens of minutes ticked by. Then low and behold... there's a train approaching the bridge... oh so slowly... and it STOPS... just before the bridge. What was loaded on this short train was something that looked like a sci fi power generator, with about 6 guys in too clean viz-vests clambering on it. A quick toot and friendly wave, just to make sure they know that we're w a i  t i n g. After ten more minutes, the train starts to creep across the bridge and we are anticipating a lift to be one our way. Anticipation turned to disbelief when the railroad bridge sat there... empty. Another half hour and with a distant wail of another choo-choo, sure enough... another s l o w moving train. At least this one didn't stop on the bridge. The final score... we got thru at 0725!

Only one more, "Steel Bridge," lies between us and Great Bridge Lock. Hour and half hour like clockwork... we finally got into the lock at 0800. And away we go for Beaufort, NC!!

More to Follow...

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