Sunday, June 26, 2016

From Chesapeake to Chesapeake

We left Chesapeake Yachts, in Chesapeake Virginia near first light.  The idea was to make it to the Gilmerton bridge in time for a pre-rush-hour opening.  Between 6:30 and 8:30 AM and 3:30 and 5:30 PM the bridge does not open except for commercial traffic with reservations (we don't qualify).  We arrived at the bridge about 5:50 AM...and found the adjacent railroad bridge was down.  The other catch with this bridge is that it doesn't open when the railroad bridge is down as the two are only a few feet apart.  The Gilmerton tender said they would open as soon as the railroad bridge did and expected it to open a little after 6 AM.

The Gilmerton Bridge, railroad track on far side.
We sat for over 30 minutes watching the empty train tracks blocking our path.  The train finally did arrive and pass over the bridge. I guess Amtrak schedules are merely suggestions as they seemed to be running quite late based on how long the bridge was down.  It was after 6:30 when the railroad bridge opened...fortunately the Gilmerton bridge did too and we, along with a barge that had been waiting, made it through the bridge before they were closed for rush hour.

Since we aren't on a work schedule, we usually let barges and other work boats have right of way and stay out of their way.  We were letting them get a little ahead of us since I'm sure maneuvering a barge with a tug is difficult enough without having a sailboat breathing down your neck. The barge captain called us on the radio and let us know we should stick close to him until we made it past a couple more railroad bridges or we might get stuck behind one for a while.  He was obviously local and knew the closure schedule (most things for us boaters just say "normally open unless there is train traffic") and we appreciated the tip.

Hospital Point Anchorage near Portsmouth
We made it through the train bridges, Portsmouth, and Norfolk without any further rush hour delays. After and enter the Chesapeake.  Finally out in the open, we were able to set the sails and shut down the engines that have been droning on for what seems like days as we traveled the canals and rivers of the ICW.

With wind from the west-southwest, we were able to sail all the way up past Mobjack bay and the Severn river where we spent the prior summer building the hardtop.  We sailed past Deltaville, where we had hauled the boat a year before in a failed attempt to get some work done. Along the way we saw a couple of the old Chesapeake Bay lighthouses that mark, and sit out on, some of the shoals.

Thimble Shoal Light near Norfolk
We crossed the Rappahannock River and stopped at Windmill Point marina. It was a long day and the weather forecasts on the radio helped us decide we should go for a marina.  Having a courtesy car so we could reprovision a bit was a plus.  The marina was reasonably priced and a newer facility, but I wasn't a big fan of the fixed docks as I found it difficult to set fenders. The weather the next day was filled with rain and thunderstorms, so i was a nice place to hide from the weather.

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