Sunday 28 Nov, cruising day 1: Departed Herrington Harbour North Marina, motored 85nm south down the Chesapeake, and anchored at Deltaville, VA.
Not a great night’s sleep for me. Restless, as usual before a passage, semi-consciously thinking and rethinking what else needs preparation. At 7am I’m eagerly out of bed on the first alarm, and straight into the cockpit to see the wager depth. 2.7m. I figure we need 3.0m as a go/no go for departing. But it’s still 3 hours to high tide so feels like it might just be possible.
After a cup of tea, it’s off to drop the last of the rubbish and to install the cover on Ken’s Jeep. I’m going to miss that car. I loved it. Felt like a real man’s car, yet luxurious too. We cannot thank Ken and Alison enough for the loan. Having use of car has made a huge difference to our stay.
During breakfast we run through the passage-start check list, which is about 40 items. Everything from halyards tensioned to grab-bag ready. We have tried without such a list, but we always forget something. And simple things missed can have consequences. Like once we forgot to turn all the dorade vent cowls aft, and a rogue wave came across the deck and managed (somehow) to enter the cabin via the vents.
The only item left to do this morning is to install the speed transducer. This little paddle wheel attracts weed and crustaceans, so it is pulled into the boat when not moving and replaced with a dummy plug.
Then, with some time to kill until our planned departure time at 09:30 (1 hour before high tide) I decide to fly the drone. It’s a beautiful and still morning and we are yet to get any drone video/photos of Cloudy Bay in this setting. Plus, I’m a pretty rusty pilot now, and practice from a solid pontoon seems a good idea rather than first flight of the season from a floating boat.
As I’m flying the drone, Ray arrives. He is here to say our goodbyes, help throw us the lines, and see us off.
Before 9:30 we make a VHF call to Jay and Dale on their HR53 Incognito. They are motoring into Herrington this morning, hoping to come in on the same high tide. I tell them our plans and state of the water level.
At 9:30 sharp we slip our lines, wave bye to Ray (with some sadness in our hearts) and gingerly head towards the channel, VERY slowly. All good until the breakwaters, with depths of 2.6-3.0m (we touch bottom at 2.5m). Then, with information from a blog reader (Jeff), plus my dinghy depth survey, we head over to the green side and even outside the greens as we pass the notorious shallow spot. Depths drop to 2.5m and stay there. We are still moving, but only just. I think we literally slid across the muddy bottom for 100m or more, then entered deeper water again. And there we are, we got out!!! Same as every time we successfully get in or out of the Herrington channel, I breath a big sigh of relief.
The day remains sunny as we motor south. We had hoped the wind, what little there is, would be more west than SW, allowing us to try the new sails on a windward course. But no. The wind stayed firmly on the nose for the full 85 miles ☹. If it had not been our first movement on Cloudy Bay for 18 months, this river passage would have been right up there on the boring scale. But at least we get to give the engine a good test, and also no sailing stress on the Commodore for our first foray out on the water.
It’s a beautiful sunny day but very chilly with the wind off the water. But inside our cockpit tent it is super toasty – like a green house. We even had to open the windscreen window at one point. We really do wonder how people can tolerate open cockpit sailing this time of year. As the sun goes down, so does the warmth and we end up snuggled together under a sleeping bag with our wooly hats on, and even then, still rather chilly! The all-night sail down the Virginia coast is going to be a looong cold night.
We have chosen to stop and anchor at Deltaville and start to enter the channel at about 8pm. It’s a deep, narrow, and winding channel that leads into Fishing Bay next to Deltaville town. It has excellent wind protection and deep water (5-6m) by Chesapeake standards. Two other yachts are anchored, and one seems to be a small Hallberg Rassy.
With the hook down and anchor alarm set, we scuttle into the cabin where Oana brews-up some hot wine and serves cheese and biscuits. We sit and chat about this memorable day, with our rosy cheeks and wine warming our hands, and decide whatever happens, we will have no wake-up alarm in the morning. Thank you!
I think we were both asleep almost the second our heads hit the pillows.