Monday 25 Nov: Deltaville to Hatteras.
It was a totally calm night at anchor under the stars at Deltaville. We had a great sleep but not long enough. Our usual 7am alarm was not welcome this morning.
First job is back in the engine room with a fresh look at the saltwater invasion. Still no clear answer to why water, or any liquid, could be entering the engine room from the suspected area of the roof. So, in case it happens again, we cover the engine with a rubber mat and place an IKEA container below where we suspect the leak is from.
The morning is bright sunshine with a gentle breeze and forecasted to be a beautiful day. We were planning breakfast-on-the-go but ended up having it civilized in the warm saloon before leaving.
The anchor and chain came up with their first dose of east coast mud for the season. We look forward to anchoring in clear water and a sandy bottom again. While our new deck-wash hose is very convenient (small and doesn’t kink) it is really not up for the job of anchor wash. The pressure and volume of flow are just not as we need.
To start with, we sail out with a 10kt breeze from the NE, nicely hard on the wind. But within minutes it swings south and ends up bang on the nose. So sails go away again and we are motoring into the 6-7kt wind as forecasted.
We have 3-4 more hours of the Chesapeake flat water before the Atlantic, so it’s a good opportunity to bake a cake while oven is still flat. And while doing so, Oana finds out the kitchen weighing scales don’t like sailing. Hmmm, another Amazon purchase coming up!
For the engine issue, I suspect the water may have entered one of the vents and not drained as it’s supposed to. But on investigation the vent drain holes are all clear and dry.
On the stern, the new Highfield seems to be enjoying its ride. It is still very snug on the davits. So nice to have a dinghy that doesn’t lose pressure in the tubes. As the Avon deflated over a few days, it would wobble on the davits and we would have to dangle over the stern to top up the air.
Again, the sun into the cockpit tent makes it very warm and cozy. And inside the boat we have left the engine room door open, so it’s pretty toasty in there too. Quite a contrast to the chills of last evening.
As we approach the Chesapeake Bay opening to the Atlantic we hear an announcement on VHF there is a submarine passing through and we are to stay 500yds clear at all times. And later on we pass an incoming aircraft carrier. Enormous. Aircraft appear to be taking off from it. We guess they must go to an airbase while the ship is in dock. There is always something exciting happening around the huge naval base of Norfolk.
With the helping hand of 2kts of current under us, at 1pm we pass over the road tunnel and exchange the safe calm waters of the Chesapeake for the Atlantic. But surprisingly there is no obvious extra swell. Just a bit choppy in this wind over tide situation. Long may the flat water last.
As we pass the tower blocks of Virginia Beach we are reminded of our passage this time last year, to Bermuda. Similarly, we are in convoy with 5 other yachts all heading south to the Hatteras. There is comfort in knowing others saw this same weather window as we did.
All afternoon the wind, although too light to sail, stays stubbornly 15 degrees off the bow. But at least it is spot on the forecast. We knew we would be motoring today. No shame in rounding the Hatteras with the motor on. Many have told us it’s the ideal conditions.
The sun sets at 4:45, again turning the sky crimson. As Venus and Jupiter, like a pair of headlights in the sky, set into this redness over Kitty Hawk it’s hard to believe only 110 years ago was the first manned flight here, by the Wright brothers. And now we have probes going to the planets just mentioned. What progress for the next 110 years, I wonder? And I suddenly realize that it’s good to be ponding such things, rather than the 100% no-time-for-anything-else, focus on the current or next maintenance task. I am actually relaxed for the first time in weeks.
Then it’s dark again, and cool in the cockpit. But definitely not as cold as last night. Looking forward to this trend continuing as we get ever further south. The water is certainly warming up. It was 9degC in Herrington. 12 deg as we exited the Chesapeake and now 14C. And as we know from last year’s passage to Bermuda, it is 26degC just 50 miles ahead, in the Gulf Stream. But this year we will stay the coast side of the stream. Not passing through it.
At midnight we are 40 miles from Hatteras. It’s been a long day of motoring but we have made the planned progress without incident.