Tidewater

 
 
(Photo courtesy of Ellen Hall, Sea Dweller)

Dawn breaks as we slip our mooring lines and motor down Spa Creek toward the bay. It’s perfectly calm in the Creek as we pass through the narrow Spa Creek bridge, run past Ego Alley, and the mooring field in downtown Annapolis. We had enjoyed a delightful dinner at the Charthouse with new friends on N55s, Odyssey and Cathexis and notice their boats rocking in the swell as we pass. By the time we exit the Severn River and turn south onto Chesapeake Bay the wind and waves are up. The ride is lumpy but easily manageable and we settle in for a short 45 nm run down to the Solomon’s and Zahniser’s Marina. Our friends on Sea Dweller are headed to Solomon’s for a Krogen rendevous and will be taking a slip at Calverts, a stone’s throw away across the waterway. By 2:30 PM we have arrived and are happy to enter the Patuxent River and Solomon’s harbor to escape the lumpy ride. Little did we know this day would pale in comparison to the next leg of our journey south.

The weather has been rainy and windy. We watch our weather sources frequently and they seemed to agree that winds would be 10-15 and seas 3-4 feet with 5-6 second periods and improving with time. So we throw off our dock lines the next morning and continue south at first light. Again the shelter of Solomon’s harbor soon gives way to a lumpy ride on the Patuxent. By the time we reach the Bay and turn south the seas are now head seas at 3-4 feet but short periods of 3-4 seconds. Wind is also rising, not falling. We bash on for several hours expecting some improvement in conditions. It gets worse. Winds are steady 20-25 knots gusting to 35 knots. Wind waves and swell combine to produce 6 footers right on the nose with 6 second periods. Water crashes over the bow relentlessly. We give up on the windshield wipers as visibility is acceptable with our RainX treated windows. Fortunately, we watch the rain cells on our radar and the weather data overlay on our chartplotters and are relieved to see them pass to the west of us on a more northerly track. We get surprisingly little rain. A jog in our course changes our angle to the waves producing a slightly better ride but now seas are slamming into the port side. Tivoli is a tank. She plows on. We, on the other hand, are finding it difficult to move around the boat. We stay put in the pilothouse and endure the ride. After 5-6 hours the winds and seas finally moderate. The ride improves. By 3 PM we turn into the Rappahannock River and enjoy the calm of following seas for the few miles into Dozier’s Regatta Point marina in Deltaville.

We arrive tired but happy to see our friends on the Krogen 39 Waterford. They were kind enough to drive us to Gloucester VA for dinner at Lulu Bird’s and we spend a delightful evening catching up with the events over the year it has been since we last saw them in Stuart FL.

Next morning I get up early to assess the weather and determine whether to go or stay. One look through the binoculars at the Rappahannock answers the question. It is rough; whitecaps march westward up the river. I check weather radar; rain everywhere. I check Buoyweather and see locations on the Bay are still beset with 5-6 foot seas. I go back to bed. We spend a quiet day aboard, do a few routine maintenance tasks, transfer some fuel, screw up the waypoints and routes database on one of our chartplotters (always something), have our friends over for cocktails, and turn in early.

At dawn the conditions have improved dramatically. It is still overcast, visibility is limited and there are still rain showers in the area. But, the winds are down to 5-10 knots and the Bay is calm. We depart Deltaville and head for Tidewater Marina in Portsmouth VA just across the Elizabeth River from Norfolk. Five hours later we have dodged a restriction zone the Navy has established in the Bay for exercises and enter Norfolk Harbor. I always feel I’m nearly “home” at this point but it takes another 2-hour run before arrival at Tidewater. We tie up Tivoli and look forward to catching up with the Spencers on Uno Mas. We haven’t seen them since we went our separate ways on the Bahama Banks over a year ago when both of us endured heavy seas crossing the Gulf stream back to Florida.

It is ironic. Last year we spent several days at Tidewater waiting out hurricane Joaquin. Here we are again, waiting out hurricane Matthew. Hopefully, it too will head west into the Atlantic before making any landfall on the Eastern seaboard. Fingers are crossed.

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