Sailing the Hampton Roads Waterways.
Growing up I (Grace) lived in the 757 or Hampton Roads. The ICW (Intra Costal Waterway) passes right through the area. In the hundreds of times that I drove by the locks and over bridges, never did I think I’d one day be living and traveling on the same waterway. This past week we’ve been lingering in the Hampton Roads area. With so many of our friends and family living in the area our week’s been full of pit stops. Which means we haven’t gotten too far, but it was good to see the people we love. Plus it’s been a whole new adventure just seeing the same ol’ area from a different perspective.
After leaving Smithfield last week, we headed across the river to Newport News. Some of our close friends live by the College, CNU, and we wanted to stop for the night. Crossing the river we had a nice leak in the holding tank (and by nice I mean gross). Gray water spilt out of the tank and formed a puddle under the v-birth. The whole boat smelt like sewage. Then, once we cleaned up, it smelt like chemicals. You can’t really run away from bad smells on the boat. There’s nowhere to go. Lucky for us, our friends, Craig and Bev, live right up the road from the James River Marina in Newport News. We found a good anchorage outside the channel in Deep creek and took the dinghy to shore. Craig picked us up in his Cherokee and insisted we shouldn’t sleep on the boat (due to the stench at the time). So, we spent the night sharing life, laughs and good pizza.
Side note about Craig and Bev. They mean a lot to us and are both doing incredible things. They are the kind of people who love strangers like family and give their lives joyfully to care for people. They have always been a blessing to us.
Currently, Craig is leading Young Life as what the organization calls an “area director”. Bev is an ESL teacher and works as a representative for a woman’s clothing company, LulaRoe, with the vision to help woman feel confident and beautiful.
As usual, we stayed longer then we planned. We spent the morning biking around. The Newport News Whole Foods was having their grand opening so we swung by. It was a jackpot day for samples! (If you can’t tell, I get stoked on finding free food)
fter swinging around the harbor to check out the beautiful oyster boats, we headed out. Shortly after departure, we ran aground. But, I already relived that moment in the last post and would rather not do it again.
Our good friends Steph came to check out the boat and send us off.
Out in the James River, we pointed her south and headed for Norfolk. It would be a 20 or 30 nm trip and would take us around five hours. Pulling out of the harbor a little before one, we were racing daylight. A five-hour trip isn’t even that long for cruising but these shorter days give such a small window of time for traveling.
On top of having a short window of daylight left, we hit some container ship traffic. For those of you who hate driving on the interstate next to eighteen-wheelers, you know what we were feeling. Our boat just looked like a dot of white paint up next to this thing. Navigating the waterway of Norfolk is a little tricky. There is a ton of boat traffic. The shorelines are chalk full of ship, oil, and fuel terminals. We’re used to navigating around big ships, but having to tango around in the channel with a container ship was a lil scary. Once he and his tugboats pulled passed us, we slowed down until we could figure out which terminal he planned to pull into.
Waiting on the container ship, and fighting the whirlpools it left behind, had us pulling into our Norfolk anchorage around 6:30. Luckily all the city lights keep the waterway well lit at night. We set anchor off Hospital point, across the water from downtown Norfolk. It’s a good anchorage but is often crowded (we later found out there’s a free dock just around the corner). The anchorage was perfect for us though. We were grabbing dinner with friends in Norfolk and it was a straight shot from the anchorage to a free dinghy dock.
Searching for the free dinghy dock, we got lost and tied up at a spot that required climbing a 8ft ladder up to shore. It felt very 007.
Once we found the real dinghy dock, our close friend Shannon picked us up for dinner. We ate at this really rad place where they pile up anything and everything you could imagine on a thick slab of toast, called Toast. Delicious food for two hungry sailors. Over dinner we got to share our passion for good coffee, good beans, and helping farmers with a new friend. Dave is his name. Dave has a dream to start a business with a purpose beyond profit. We love that and enjoyed sharing what we know with him. We wish you the best Dave!
From noisy Norfolk (really! so many loud noises through the night; barges blowing their horn, construction, city noise) we headed to Chesapeake. There’s a good amount of bridges between Norfolk and Chesapeake. But this go around, we were lucky enough to catch most of the openings. We made it to Chesapeake in just a few hours. For cruisers, Chesapeake is a great place to stop and provision. The local library, grocery store, and many restaurants are with in walking distance from the Great Bridge free docking. For Joel and I, Chesapeake means provisioning as well as family, tools we can borrow, showers, and a car!
We had some great meals with my parents, ran a lot of errands, and got some things marked off the To-Do list. I think we racked up a good 12 hours in Home Depot and another 5 or 6 in West Marine.
But, we left Chesapeake with a good amount done. Here’s a list of what I can remember. Maybe it will be a helpful list from a beginner cruiser to a beginner cruiser:
-good system figured out for mounting our dinghy engine
- clean smelling head after picking up some SeaLand
-new flexible water tank that will give us another 32 gallons (still working on plumbing it in)
- up to date waterway guide
- Coleman oven for a Coleman camping stove
-Purell hand whips (to help save water)
- new rigging to hold jerry cans and surfboard on the side ( 1” by 6” boardU bolted to two stanchions )
- Our wetsuits
- And, of course lots of food.