I was able to find a hand with this trip at the boatyard. A was talking with a nice gentleman that is in the process of restoring a Bristol 32 and he offered to make the trip with me. Neal didn't have any plans until the week of Thanksgiving and thought it would be fun to get out on the water again, so it was a perfect match.
We made the trip from the boatyard in Deltaville, VA to Brunswick GA over the course of about 10 days. With the shorter days upon us, it was slow going through the ICW (I only travel it during daylight hours). I also worked to make the trip a bit less expensive than the trip up by anchoring out instead of visiting marinas each evening...and T-Mobile doesn't have the greatest coverage so I didn't have much of a chance to make any posts except the previous brief entry. Once we got to open ocean, it was much easier to make good time...but no chance at internet access at all.
The boat was launched Tuesday morning, and after a number of system checks, we departed around noon. The winds weren't particularly favorable, so we spent much of our time motor-sailing. For the unfamiliar, motor-sailing is where you are running engines and have one or more sails up. The theory is the light winds and the extra wind created by the fact you are under power can drive the sails and give you a bit more gain in speed than the engine alone. I think the conditions have to be just right to see any real gain, but it is nice to at least look like a sailboat.
Even motor sailing we just barely made it to Mobjack bay as the sun was going down and found a place to anchor along the shore that would shield us from the overnight winds, had a decent bottom composition, and depth appropriate for anchoring. I motored around just a bit to verify depth in the area we could swing and then we dropped the hook for the night. This is the first night I've tried our new Mantus anchor, and she set solidly. Actually, I didn't realize that I had let the anchor rode go a bit slack, and when I backed down on the anchor to set it, the bow of the boat dipped a bit as the anchor instantly grabbed hold of the muddy Chesapeake bottom.
The next morning we set off early under overcast skies and a bit of chill in the air. It is getting colder in these parts, so it is really nice to be finally moving south. The sun broke out as we made our way through Norfolk and Portsmouth. This begins the portion of our trip where we get to play "Mother may I" with a number of draw bridges that are too short for a 60' tall sailboat to pass under without being opened. Fortunately rush hour had just passed, so the bridges would open mostly on demand. Now normally most train bridges are left open unless a train is using them, but we arrived at one in Norfolk that was down and had no train. We waited for over half an hour, watched several people in reflective yellow vests walk around and look at various pieces of the bridge, then finally it opened and we continued on our way. The next bridge we encounter is the Steel bridge, and it only opens on a schedule of every half hour so naturally (thanks to the train bridge delay) we just missed the opening and had to wait about 20 minutes for the next opening. We make our way through that bridge and on to the Great Bridge Lock.
This is my second time at the lock and so I knew the basic procedure. Before arrival, you rig long bow and stern dock lines and fenders on the starboard side. When the lock opens, you proceed in and throw the dock lines to an employee at the edge of the dock who wraps the line around a cleat or bollard and throws it back. You then use the line to keep your boat near the wall and boat poles to keep it from rubbing along the wall of the lock. At the time we arrived it was apparently high tide so the lock didn't even lift us a full foot. The doors at the far end of the lock open and you un-loop your lines from the cleat and head out of the dock.
Normally, you go through the Great Bridge draw bridge (technically, a standard draw bridge is called a bascule bridge) that is timed to coincide with the lock operation (or maybe the lock is timed with the bridge...I forget which is which), but there is a free dock located between the lock and the bridge and, since it was getting late, we decided we would stop there for the night. We tied up the boat and walked into town (Great Bridge is in Chesapeake VA.) to see if we could find dinner to reward ourselves for the first two days of travel. We found an OK Mexican restaurant, had a nice dinner, and then called it a night.