Norfolk, VA to Atlantic City, NJ

By aaron.axvig, 30 June, 2019
Sailboat

From Norfolk we headed north up the western side of the Chesapeake Bay. The water was completely smooth as we started out. We had in mind to anchor inside of a little channel on the south side of the mouth of the Potomac River, and also get fuel in there. We called the marina because it looked kind of shallow and he confirmed that we wouldn't be able to get fuel there. We had plenty of daylight left so decided to go for another ten miles to the north side of the river. We anchored in the crook of the arm of Point Lookout, protected from east winds.

The next day those east winds had whipped up pretty wild three foot waves. About 20 minutes into it we debated turning around and waiting for better conditions but the bay significantly narrows north of there so we figured it would be better as we progressed. On the radio we overheard the powerboat Erinbrie ahead of us giving weather reports back to Mojo which was behind us, and those reports confirmed that the waves would soon tame down. So then we had nice winds and reasonable conditions and we got all enthusiastic about sailing. We turned off the engine and had our sails set too aggressively, so the boat heeled a lot and we were still pounding waves pretty good. Anna tried to do some stuff below deck and her and Louise were bouncing around down there pretty bad, so we moderated the sails and did some motorsailing. We crossed a fleet of about 40 racing boats heading south; they had started in Annapolis earlier in the day. Some of them were large 50-70' sailboats with 8 guys sitting on the windward rail--quite the sight! Others were just normal sailboats like ours, equipped more for speed than comfort I imagine.

We arrived in Annapolis around 5:00PM on Saturday. Aaron lost his hat in the water doing something with the sails that Anna did not feel was necessary. We were in the harbor but there was still some chop blowing in so Anna was bouncing around on the side of the boat trying to hang on while using two hands to make passes at the hat with the boat hook (long pole thing). Louise pooped on the deck right next to Anna. Tempers flared and threats were made! We circled around to the hat three or four times but weren't able to get it. So it was very difficult to fetch a hat out of relatively calm waters--confirming what we have been told that you definitely don't want to fall off the boat!

Then we went to try and find a mooring ball so that we could have showers and do laundry. Also anchoring spots are pretty sparse there. But all the mooring balls were full of people there for the weekend. So we went over to a different area and ended up anchoring in the middle of a sort of channel. It's not super narrow and people do anchor there regularly but it took us a while to get used to the idea. It ended up being a nice spot and several other boats anchored around us in the four nights that we spent there. One of them was Teri and Britt on SV Sea Otter who had been fortunate enough to get a mooring ball but then moved over to anchor with us. And we have been traveling with them since then as they are trying to get to Boston by July too!

We spent a lot of time in Annapolis hanging out with Anna's friend Will who she worked with in Big Sky. He is from the area and showed us around the downtown area. Also with him we had a nice supper at Pussers (waterfront hotspot) and Aaron and Will got boat shoes at the Sperry store. Will invited us to have dinner with his mom and sister at Reynolds which was a lot of fun, the steak sandwich was fabulous. After dinner he took us to stock up on beer and some stuff at Target. We had a great time hanging out with him on the boat every night! Hopefully Will can sail with us as we go to DC in the fall on our way back South.

We left Annapolis with SV Sea Otter on June 12th and sailed the entire 25 miles to Worton Creek. SV Sea Otter is a heavy boat and a little shorter at the waterline than Prairie Tumbleweed so she averages 4.5 knots compared to our 6.5 knots. So with no rush to put on miles that day we actually did our first day of all sailing (except leaving Annapolis and also we ran the engine for the last 30 minutes so we could have a warm shower) and it was great! Nice calm water and a pretty steady breeze, 6-8 knots at first and building to 12 knots by the end. The next day we did another short trip up to the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal and then just a few miles into it to anchor at Chesapeake City.

This turned out to be a nice little touristy sort of town. They have a free dock but it only has room for three boats and was full so we just anchored nearby in the basin. We posted a picture of that a few days ago--the storm clouds over the bridge. That storm did hit pretty hard and we saw wind speeds up to 32 knots. The next day we walked to the Dollar General 1.5 miles away to stock up on a few things including a fly swatter. They flies had started bothering us back in Annapolis but we had forgotten to buy one there. Aaron had gotten pretty good with a dish towel with a wetted end, but it was very satisfying to go to work with a real fly swatter.

We left at about 5:00PM that same day to catch a favorable current in the C&D canal for about 12 miles. Then the weather overnight was very favorable so we proceeded through the night to Lewes, DE. We arrived at 5:30AM, just after sunrise.

We stayed in Lewes for a few nights waiting for good weather to proceed. The only way north for a boat of our size is via the Atlantic Ocean, so no protection from the weather. On the 17th we planned to leave with Sea Otter at 5:00AM to go to Atlantic City about 50 miles away. Since we are faster we planned to leave a little later. They made it out into the ocean and then turned around to come back because the waves were too unpleasant. We had just begun making preparations to leave, so we went back to bed. The next day we were able to make the trip with pleasant two foot seas, building towards 3 feet at the end.

We arrived in Atlantic City and got fuel and water. Sea Otter anchored near the inlet and we decided to chance our way a short distance through a very narrow creek to a more protected anchorage. We made it and it was very peaceful in the basin.

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