At the end of the channel, waiting for us, was the Atlantic Ocean. From where we were sitting it looked fairly flat but as we got closer it soon became apparent that the rest of the day’s journey was going to be less ‘spectacular’ and more ‘bouncy’.
In actual fact, it became very bouncy indeed. We soon adjusted our plans and decided Ocean City was a none starter and Atlantic City looked a much better prospect besides which, there is a very nice restaurant in the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City – mmm, food!
A few hours later and the mountainous waves started to get smaller. We eased the throttles forward a tad and managed to get to 18 knots for all of 10 minutes! Then, for an unfathomable reason, they suddenly got a whole lot bigger and we had to back off to 9 knots. Our planned TTG (time to go) suddenly shot up to 3 hours.
Chris and I glanced at each other and our plan changed yet again. There was no way either of us relished the thought of rattling around inside the F48 on a sea like this for the next 3 hours, that was for sure! Thankfully, just 5 miles to the right was an inlet, which lead onto the ICW (Intra-Coastal Waterway). The inlet was the Barnegat Inlet and the feeling of bliss as we entered the channel and the pounding stopped was palpable.
There was another feeling now though, a new and equally tangible feeling, one of apprehension and uncertainty. The depth gauge seemed to be telling us that we had less than a metre under the props! This issue was easily solved, we adjusted the depth instrument to read in feet – these figures were much bigger numerals and made us feel a whole lot better…
Atlantic City was still 30 miles as the crow flies but as anyone who has travelled down the ICW will tell you, crows tend to fly in reasonably straight lines and they don’t have to keep stopping every time the depth sounder says 0.00 feet – aaaargh! I’m not sure how long it took us to get to Atlantic City as we were both concentrating like mad on the channel, the markers, the plotter, the depth sounder and watching very carefully for birds standing up in the water. Apologies for the lack of pictures but we had other things on our mind.
When we finally arrived in Atlantic City we both virtually collapsed with exhaustion. We had been motoring for 12 hours non-stop and the only thing we wanted to do was eat and sleep, so we did!
Today we were definitely going to get to Ocean City. It was to be the first stop on my planned route and come hell or high water (apt, don’t you think) we would make it before the end of the day. The sea had subsided enough for a run down the outside and so after re-fuelling we headed out of the channel.
The distance to Ocean City wasn’t huge and within a few hours it came into view, the buildings appearing as silhouettes against the moody sky.
We made our way in and tied up at White Marlin Marina for the night. This was where I first encountered ‘Noseeums’. Please excuse the spelling if I have it wrong but as far as I am concerned the correct spelling of the name is irrelevant. These invisible little monsters set about munching their way through my arms, legs, face and any part of my body that was exposed as I stepped off the boat!
Here we are tied up in White Marlin Marina
Fortunately, the ‘Noseeums’ weren’t the only wildlife in the Ocean City inlet. We glimpsed a brief but beautiful sight of some dolphins making their way against the fast flowing tidal stream that runs past the marinas. In fact, during the trip I saw quite a few dolphins and porpoises. I also saw a whale and even a turtle, swimming for all it was worth just under the surface. But these were all glimpses and in accordance with ‘Sod’s Law’ I only had a camera in my hand on one of these occasions and that was for the whale. A whale which happened to be so far away that it appears as a small hump in the middle of the picture I took.
Here is the shot – don’t laugh!
I’m no authority on whales but I do know that Right Whales migrate along the east coast of the United States at this time of year, so you have to wonder if this was a Right Whale.
It was an early start today, as we had a good distance to cover. The sea was flat enough for an ‘outside’ run, which was just as well because our target was Norfolk in Virginia. Norfolk is one of the US Navy’s bases. It supports a staggering number of ships and planes and takes up what appears to be miles of waterfront.
The trip down was pretty uneventful and after about 5 hours running we turned into Chesapeake Bay, we could see the Chesapeake Bay Bridge ahead of us and the gap we were going to pass through. This gap runs over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, which excitedly for me, I have driven through!
It seemed to take for ever to get to the gap in the bridge. From the moment we first saw the bridge, it turned out to be over six miles distant, it took us nearly half an hour to reach. Distances at sea can be so deceptive, especially at night. If you’ve ever tried to approach a buoy at night you’ll know exactly what I mean. (Maybe I should have re-phrased that – ho, hum!)
Once through the bridge we made a left and aimed the boat in the direction of the Naval dockyards. Obviously, we were careful not to aim too directly at the warships and we slowed down in very good time – let sleeping dogs lie. These particular sleeping dogs have guns and some of them are huge! Creeping past at 6 knots we were in awe of the size of these ships and the activity going on all around the dockyards. I thought that the military area would finally come to an end as we headed down the river towards our stopping point for the night but it just carried on and on. Finally, we arrived at the Waterside Marina, which is on the Norfolk side of the river and would you believe, we were still in the heart of the military zone. Exactly opposite was a dry dock with a massive ship in it…
The marina was only small but right on the edge of the city. We ‘parked’ next to a lovely couple on their home built yacht, which they had sailed all the way down from Canada. They too, were ‘en route to Florida’. I had a sneaking suspicion we would make it before them. To my embarrassment, I uttered a derogatory comment when retying the lines to the dock – something about the knot being unconventional, a ‘Canadian Snow Hitch’ I believe I referred to it as… this was before I noticed the Canadian flag flying on their backstay. They took it well and we made amends by showing them around the F48. You know, everyone says the same thing, “Are you sure this is 48 foot, it feels so much bigger?”
The highlight of the early evening was a free concert playing in an adjacent park and actually, the music was pretty good. The highlight of the late evening was a splendid bar on Granby Street called Mo & O’Malleys Irish Pub.
The live entertainment was very enthusiastic, almost as enthusiastic as the audience at times! One little tip if ever you find yourself in this establishment, when the clapping stops, don’t be the last one clapping…
After we’d finished clapping and singing (mostly out of tune) we made our way back to the boat and hit the hay.
The next leg of journey would take us down a part of the coast which is notorious for being rough and worse still, there would be no ducking into the ICW and therefore, little in the way of assistance if we had a problem. Instead, we intended to pass Cape Hatteras on the ‘inside’.
It was going to be a long slog down the ICW and the weather was going to be ghastly too.
Keep checking in for the next instalment of the Grand East Coast Tour and some more of my world famous ‘Skipper’s Tips’
This has been another Captain Corbett’s Adventure. If I’m not on Jersey teaching a private tuition Day Skipper theory or Yachtmaster theory course, then I’m either spending time with someone on their boat, giving them the confidence to take their boat out with their family and friends on board or I’m off somewhere exotic delivering a boat. Either way, I’ll write it up and put it on the Blog for you all to see, so keep popping back to see my most recent adventures.