Oct 16-19: Ocean to Chesapeake Bay, Norfolk VA


I woke Monday morning going out of my mind. It had been a second night of no sleep, sea-sick, tossing and turning as a pea soup of waves jostled us in all directions. The motion created a myriad of clicks, bangs, and crashes waking the sensitive sleeper in me every 2 mins, and despite my best efforts no place in the boat offered refuge.

Andrew was blissfully unaware of any of it. A natural sailor. I actually cried, begging him to find a quiet marina where I could get my wits about me and recover. A true seaman he knew exactly what to do . . . leave on our ocean voyage. What?!?! But it was the right call. 

Rather than pulling up the sails he turned on the motor and soon the rhythmic symphony of waves and engine finally put me to sleep for much of the day. It didn't fix all of the problems but my sanity returned and we were able to make great progress.

That evening we enjoyed a stunning sunset that changed colours every half hour or so. (Appropriately as we happened to be passing Atlantic City at the time.) The sky was incredible!

For a while I was able to help out making another great dinner and enjoying some time together, glad that we had both persisted. I took the first sleep shift and headed up after to take the next watch only to discover that unexpected currents and storm had made the seas soupy but now at 6' swells.

Needless to say I didn't last long up top and was curled in a fetal position for the rest of the evening and most of the next day. Thankfully Andrew has a great deal of experience sailing all night from years of racing and managed everything until I could take a shift again in the morning.

The day brought interesting sights. Dolphins swam alongside the boat, and pelicans flew past or plunged into the water to catch fish. Our unexpected visitors included butterflies, small birds and a deer swimming for shore! I was worried about the deer until I realized only a few yards away the water was only 4' deep.

The next incredible sight appeared as we got close to the mouth of Norfolk's bay where a bridge spans the whole opening. This almost 20 mile bridge is the home of highway US-13 and includes openings for commercial vessels to get into the bay with underwater tunnels below for the cars. Amazing!

By the time we arrived at our entrance to Norfolk's bay we were both ready to 'make it stop'!! We had made amazing progress though. Worth all of the stress. We had traversed over 270 miles!

As we arrived in Chesapeake Bay the water finally calmed! This bay is also home to a naval base and near an airport. It was a bit ominous. We crept past the navy yard and found our slip directly across from a large coast guard boat and signs that said 'Do not moor here. Use of force is authorized.'

Sounds a bit crazy but it was actually interesting watching navy seals head out on exercises and massive ships coming in and going out. The downside was the early morning wake-up to the national anthem, metal sanding sounds on the ships all morning, and trumpet announcements from the loudspeakers at night as commercial jets flew out of the nearby airport...lol. Okay it sounds pretty bad.

Our first night we enjoyed dinner at a local greasy spoon restaurant where the crab-cakes were nothing but actual crab meat. Delicious! The next day we realized the marina was located in a pretty swanky area of Virginia Beach. A beautiful walk to get our next round of provisions, with a brief stop over for sushi.

We had a great time with just enough time for me to recuperate before we headed out on our next ocean overnight. I might get the hang of this yet!