We got the folk out of Norfolk yesterday. Not before taking advantage of some Wifi, shower and laundry facilities, and filled up on diesel and water. We go through quite a bit of water so Clay, after getting in trouble multiple times for hovering by the sink critiquing my dishwashing techniques, offered the Soultide crew a Dishwashing 101 course. This just meant showing me how to wash the dishes in dirty, somewhat soapy water and then rising them super fast. The old college try for our dishes from here on out.
We were not sad to see the huge shipping containers disappear into our modest wake. Those ships gave way to tugboats and soon we found ourselves at a double bridge (which was closed) with two tugboats and another sailboat. Waiting for a bridge to open is an active task. We had to keep our boat within the channel but out of the tugboats way and far enough from the bridge but close enough so when the bridge opened, we could scuttle on through. We made lots of figure eights and big looping cirlces. Being courteous and safe means being on the radio with the bridge and with other boats, letting all parties involved know what your intentions are – apparently, we were the only ones with any manners. An approaching sailboat came in super hot, no radio to the bridge, and cut in front of us throwing a bunch of wake. The tugboats weren’t much better. Golden rule: always be nice and always be on your radio. No matter though, we made it through just fine and with all the waiting around, it was a prefect time to whip up some lunch.
About a mile after the bridge, the ICW splits: The Dismal Swamp Route to the West and the Virgina Cut to the East. We chose the Dismal because of the promises of scenic views and less bridges to wait on.
A few miles past the split, we reached the Deep Creek Lock, the start of the Dismal Swamp. We had missed the early afternoon opening so we dropped hook (anchor) about 100 yards from the lock doors and waited. With approaching storm clouds, Clay set up our “rain tarp” and we hunkered down in the cabin to see what she would do. Side note: Clay and I delayed our trip by 3 days in order to rip out all the windows and redo them because of several leaks we had. This impending rainstorm was going to be the revealer of truth…would our windows hold tight?
The wind started to pick up and we could hear the rain start to tap at the tarp. The rain came harder, rolling down the sides of the boat and across the window panes. And guess what are windows did not do? They did not hold tight.
This is an important picture because it depicts another rule of the water: keep morale high. Here, Clay is physically sick, sniffling and coughing his way around the boat and our windows are leaking, at times directly on to him. As the First Mate, my job is to keep morale high…note the chocolate I left for him on the table.
The rain stopped, the windows stopped leaking and the lock opened up for us.
Ensue terrifying lock experience. Rule #3: always be honest. Tell as many people as you can how new you are to sailing and how terrified you are about what is going to happen. This rule worked well with the lock master, who heard my concerns, smiled, and clearly directed me to cleat off the bow line and relax.
Watching the water rush into the lock is surreal. So is looking back and seeing you are now 8′ above the water line where you had just been anchored.
Our evening home was just inside the canal, in pretty much downtown Chesapeake. We rafted up to another sailboat as the mooring wall had already been taken up by two other boats and we found ourselves in the company of one very silly Captain Jason, a lobster man/marine mechanic/offshore sailor from upstate NY. He seemed to have a whole pile of rules that he liked to break or completely ignore, so this post is definitely not for him.