Monday, November 19, 2007

Chapter 5: Annapolis to Palm Beach

It’s been a long time since Annapolis and we think that perhaps we are becoming better sailors than bloggers. At least, we’ve had plenty of practice at boat handling in the past few weeks.

While in Annapolis, we stocked up with spare parts, cleaning supplies and stuff for various projects, and Mark got a fabulous set of foul weather gear for his birthday. Doesn’t he look stunning in his birthday suit?

We left Annapolis in a in a rain squall which was entirely appropriate because it had poured non-stop for the three days we were there. The winds were gusty, the visibility crummy and the seas rough. To add to the tension, we left the harbor just as a fleet of J-Boats darted out to start a race. Our timing was impeccable. An all day and overnight passage down Chesapeake Bay put us in Norfolk where we felt as though we were piloting a wing fighter past the Death Star as we moved our small vessel alongside the mammoth steel hulls of the Naval vessels docked there.

Just off the Walter Reed Naval Hospital in Norfolk is Mile 1 for the Intra-Coastal Waterway. The ICW is a combination of protected rivers and canals that can take you all the way from Norfolk, Virginia to Galveston, Texas. It’s a safe, inside passage when the weather is bad or the coastline dangerous. Some of the scenery along the ICW is quite beautiful, but travel is only possible during daylight, so progress is slow. We were very happy to be “inside” and tied up in the quaint town of Belhaven, North Carolina when the remnants of a hurricane Noel blew up the coast.

After about 300 miles of being passed by motorboats, trying to hold our position with a gaggle of other craft while waiting for bridges to open and anxiously looking for the dredged part of the channel, we made a break for the wide-open ocean as the weather became favorable. We had 4 days and 3 nights of glorious downwind sailing from Cape Fear, North Carolina to Palm Beach, Florida.

We pointed our bow at St. Augustine, because that’s as far south as one can point without entering the Gulf Stream. When we got to St. Augustine, the winds were still great, so we headed on down the Florida coast. Passing Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center during the night was especially memorable.

When making a passage, one of us is on watch and the other is trying to sleep. Of course, nobody gets much sleep and we were both pretty exhausted when we pulled into Palm Beach. Could you drive from coast to coast in 4 days and 3 nights if you never stopped the car? Imagine how you would feel. That’s how we felt.

1 comment:

Jason & Teresa said...

Love the birthday suit Mark. And the Star Wars reference made it possible to really imagine what the trip was like.