18. Fog, Burgers, and Big Gray Boats

Well, after a few days in Deltaville, I moseyed out of town on a cold, gray and drizzly morning. As was becoming a trend, the seas were lumpy early in the day, and slowly died off as I went along. The first two thirds of the trip were uneventful and pleasant. A mug of hot cocoa kept me cozy, and Stephen Fry read me some Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Then the fog rolled in. Thick as peanut butter soup it was, and me with no radar. As I’m sure you’re all aware, this is not a pleasant feeling. I slowed a bit, and opened up the doors to listen for fog signals. I kept a close eye on the Marine Traffic app on my phone for AIS targets. I don’t have one of those yet either unfortunately. I am glad I had the app at least, because It alerted me to the presence of ‘US Government Vessel 56.’ This turned out to be USS San Jacinto, a Ticonderoga class cruiser. She was outbound from the York River, and my path would have crossed hers if I’d continued. I thought better of it, and slowed down to drift outside the channel until she was well clear. I was deeply uncomfortable with the situation, until I realized that the radar she carries could probably tell them what I had for breakfast. She knew where I was. I just had to stay out of her way. She passed within three tenths of a mile, and I never saw or heard a thing.

120606-N-UM734-051 ATLANTIC OCEAN (June 6, 2012) The guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56) approaches the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) for a fueling at sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tommy Lamkin/Released)

I toyed with the idea of finding somewhere to drop the hook until things cleared up. There weren’t any obvious options nearby that would offer me shelter from the easterly seas that were rolling in from the Atlantic, and the nearest decent anchorage wasn’t that much closer than Hampton Roads, so I pressed on.

The fog slowly thinned out as I got closer to port, as did the traffic. I passed a few big fellas once inside the harbor, but visibility was pretty good by then. I was glad to pass by the Navy docks in daylight. What a sight that is. There were a couple of Nimitz class carriers, the hospital ship Comfort, a whole pile of Arleigh Burkes, and the Gerald Ford was in. She’s a big girl, that one. Just massive.

I ran the rest of the way to Portsmouth along side a medium sized tugboat, and it was well after dark when I made it to the marina. I’d planned on tying up at Waterside, but when I called ahead, they said they didn’t have any lowly 30 amp power for me, so I ended up across the river at Tidewater.

All Snug at Portsmouth

I liked that spot. I’d planned on spending a couple of days there, but that turned into three, and then four. I spent the whole first day just being a lazy slob. I played video games and ate pizza on the boat. It was wonderful. The following day I made my way into Norfolk and wandered around a little. I looked in at Waterside marina, and saw that they only had two customers, both were a great deal larger than Sylphide, and explained why my paltry 30 amp plug didn’t give me much street cred there. One of the vessels I recognized from the ‘interesting boats’ thread on trawler forum. She was a real beauty.

I took a guided tour of USS Wisconsin, and even though it went half an hour longer than scheduled, it still wasn’t enough time to see even half of the ship. There was only one other dude on the tour with me, and after the guided part was over, we wandered around for quite a while longer. All told, I was aboard for over five hours, and still never saw the machinery spaces. She’s a big girl.

My new tour buddy and I ended up continuing our ‘not a date’ with a beer and a really delicious burger. I never would have thought to combine Waygu beef, chorizo, queso, corn, Fritos, and a potato roll, but I’m glad someone did. It was wicked good.

I took yesterday to get some chores done and restock the galley as I expected to be away from civilization for a few days. This morning I set off, with Coinjock in my sights. In the end, today turned out to be a very low mileage day. I lost about forty minutes waiting for NS#7 rail bridge to open. It gave me enough time to wash some Chesapeake salt off the windows, and get the dishes done, and read War and Peace, and build a matchstick model of the Eiffel Tower.

I also timed the Great Bridge lock poorly. I ended up treading water for another 40 minutes or so waiting for a transit, and then I waited a little longer for the Bridge itself. I had plenty of time to peruse the festival of stickers that were plastered all over the inside of the lock wall. I recognized a few names, and decided that I should probably get me some stickers, so that I might do my part to perpetuate the graffiti-ing of government property.

Great Bridge Lock
I need some stickers….
Wow, what a great bridge!

I pulled into Atlantic Yacht Basin to take a splash of fuel and fill the water tanks. I also decided to take my propane tanks for a walk into town. By the time that was all done, it was already after three o’clock, and I still had another four hours of steaming to get to Coinjock. I decided to throw in the towel early, and spend a night at AYB.

Taking the bottles out for a walk.

Tomorrow looks like a nice short travel day. I’ll sleep in, and make my lazy way to Coinjock.

Life is good.

Atlantic Yacht Basin

2 Responses

  1. Dave, you show a great deal of talent in writing. I am sure that it won’t take much time to get good enough to get published in a few boating magazines. Cheers, Scott

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