Sunday, April 5, 2020

Finding Comfort in the Familiar

Great Bridge to Deltaville |  9.4 Hours   61 Miles 

The final day of our 2019-2020 Winter Cruise began with the sunrise. As the day broke behind us, we brought our dock lines onboard and slipped away from the dock in the still water. The bridge was open for us when we approached at 7:00. We passed through and proceeded directly into the lock for a two-foot lift. We were then on our way. Scenic woodlands quickly gave way to the concrete jungle. We settled in behind the tug Jack Holland and followed it through a labyrinth of bridges. We've traveled this section of the ICW for many years and have a good sense of the flow ... I-64 high-rise to Gilmerton, hang a left, under the Jordan, then two railroad spans. Occasionally a delay is encountered for a closed railroad bridge, but we experienced none today.

The Elizabeth River through Norfolk was deserted. Sunday morning and early in the season were possible contributing factors, but the COVID-19 Stay at Home Order was definitely responsible for for the empty Waterside district. We saw more dolphin than boats. Even the Navy's docks were empty. The USS John C. Stennis sat by itself on the Navy's pier. Five aircraft carriers were lined up when we came through in November. We crossed the Hampton Roads Tunnel and spotted the Old Point Comfort Lighthouse, one of my favorites, on the shore at Fort Monroe.

At 10:00 I was able to stream the Palm Sunday service from Home Church in Winston-Salem and enjoyed the music as we made our way into the Chesapeake Bay. It's just part of my family Easter traditions. We had a nice, flat ride today and the bow (and windshield) stayed dry. More familiar landmarks helped us count down the miles. We paused for a moment for a photo of Wolf Trap Lighthouse. As we turned into the Rappahannock River, the Norris Bridge was visible on the horizon. It was not necessary to go to the bridge today. We turned at the 1BC (#1, Broad Creek) day marker for the final stretch to our home slip.

An osprey supervised our turn into Stingray channel. It was low tide and I'm sure he was waiting for some drama. None today. We had at least 2.5 feet under us the whole time. The sight of the marina office in the replica screwpile lighthouse confirmed that we had reached home ... almost. We made the necessary stop at the pumpout station to take care of business before backing into our slip. We did a quick clean-up of the decks and then took a short walk around the marina before dinner. Along the way we heard the familiar sound of the resident bald eagle and later saw it atop a nearby pine tree. A nearly-full moon rose off our stern to mark the end of this day and our rushed trip home. Since deciding to leave The Bahamas from Big Major's we traveled 156 hours and 1136 miles over 14 days at an average speed of 7.3 knots. That's quite a stretch for us and we'll take it slow here in Deltaville for the next few days while social distancing ourselves from the craziness going on in Richmond. Hopefully, we'll be able to do this again next fall and visit family and familiar places that we missed this year. Thanks for following along.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Refilling the Tanks

Great Bridge 

I was out for my morning walk before folks made their way to the park. It was a peaceful trek along the trails with the only sounds being those of songbirds, woodpeckers, and squirrels. The drop in temperature overnight combined with the breeze led to a newly deposited layer of yellow Carolina jasmine blossoms across the forest floor. Back onboard, we gathered our bags and headed over to Kroger with our shopping list. There were three distinct groups in the store -- those wearing masks and gloves, those (like us) without protective gear but respectful of others, and way too many who were clueless and wandered around in their own world. We loaded up on fruit, veggies, and yogurt and got back to Crossroads as quickly as possible to wash our hands and put everything away. Heavy clouds moved in and it turned much colder. We watched as several good-sized logs floated by and endured a nerve-wracking 45 minutes as this workboat attempted to hold station beside us while waiting for the bridge's scheduled opening. It was very poor timing on the captain's part and the bridge wasn't going to open early. Once that mess cleared out, we prepared to run over to the fuel dock and top off the tanks. I held out as long as I could, but finally had to pull the Cold Gear back out of storage and pair it with a long-sleeved T-shirt and a fleece jacket. I could feel my tan fading under all the layers.

A pleasant surprise was seeing $1.93 a gallon for diesel. (The going rate in The Bahamas was around $5.00 a gallon. We took over 300 gallons, so the savings add up.) I enjoyed the view of the colorful azaleas and pansies as I pumped and went for a closer look as Barry paid. Docking practice concluded as we made our way back to the Battlefield Park Docking Pier. I finished my latest book and then went for another walk through the woods. We took the same route as I did this morning, but the scenery was new and different. I spotted a large patch of lady slippers that I had totally missed earlier in the day. These rare woodland orchids have always been one of my favorites.