We arrived on Saturday the 7th to meet the hottest 4 days since 1899. As with any rational person would, we we immediately turned on, and up, our Air Conditioner. Not having a power cord several miles long, that meant a postponement to any Chesapeake Bay cruise. We re-planned to leave when the weather broke which was to be today until we noticed the day and date. So hopefully tomorrow.
This would not be anything like the cruises we have done in the past but more a "mini" or "shakedown" cruise. We have been confined to home-ground for most of two years. As many of you know I have become a pirate, not by volition but devolution, and there is some doubt, as to my performance as a reluctant buccaneer. Or looked at differently I could easily turn my role as a "Lookout" from a noun to an imperative verb.
To get a picture of Kay's new sailing partner, imagine Johnny Depp with an eye patch, six inches shorter, 40 pounds heavier, 30 year older and with no hair, other than that, the resemblance is uncanny.
As I wrote this the weather looked good for tomorrow's departure, but, alas, the term "25 mph gusts" just materialized after the words 5 to 10 knots on the last marine weather broadcast.
Cape Charles at the North, and Cape Henry on the South, mark the opening to Chesapeake Bay. Cape Charles is at the Southern end of the DelMarVa peninsula (aka The Eastern Shore). We are at a Marina adjacent to "Old Town Cape Charles," just North of Kiptopeke Beach (home of the former ferry terminal created by the barrier of sunken WWII concrete ships), and about 10 miles from the actual Cape itself.
Our slip is at Bay Creek Marina. The Marina itself is difficult to describe - "nice" too weak, "plush" too Lush. "magnificent" too exaggerated, "baroque" too something or other. I guess the best I can say is that Hummers would fit on its docks, plenty of stores to spend money, and two restaurants for those with good credit cards. Oh yes. very nice slips.
|Bay View Marina at Cape Charles. The Marina buildings and supporting areas are in the background but well hidden. Note: There are two floating finger piers per slip. Unusual but nice.|
The trip over, from Marina to Marina, took four hours in very light winds and waves. About half way over Kay asked me to "take over" so she could go below and get things ready. As she turned the wheel over to me she said "There is a big ship out there, but all looks OK." Now that is the problem, I could not see any ship, big or otherwise, "out there". Other than the spinnaker, on our sailing partners Pantelides' (Tom and Judy) Sabre 34, "Mazi", all I could see was a horizon of white haze. Being a clever fellow, if too vain for the situation, I said:
"Yep, a container ship."
The approach past Cape Charles Harbor to and then into Bay River Marina looks formidable to most "first timers" and to me at any time. So we arranged to follow Tom on Mazi into our goal, he had been here many times before. Normally we would have pursued such a path with a cautious speed of two knots, but Tom, who lacks nothing in competence or confidence entered at full speed with us following behind. Recalling charted depths of one-half a foot nearby, on we went neither even daring to look at the depth meter. And - zap we were in!
Our problems were over. Not quite. We were assigned slips 10 and 11 on D-dock, and we "hung back" to allow Mazi to move into slip 11. That accomplished, Kay throttled up to move into position for 10. And, then, THE VERB, LOOKOUT!, from none other than Kay.
We all, well, at least, I at the bow, were looking to the left at slip 10, when unseen by all but Kay, a power boat, of the Hinckley Picnic Boat type, pulled out directly in front of us from the slip on C-dock on our right. I grabbed the forestay,looked forward. and I could see the passengers on the other boat staring at me in horror, and so close, that if I sneezed they would have involuntarily covered their mouths. Some how Kay swung between the errant boat and its slip, turned, and neatly entered good old number 10.
|Cape Charles Harbor. The large sailboat in the background I believe is called the "Virginian"/|
Today we rented a Golf Cart and with Tom at the helm toured the Town of Cape Charles. This was no ordinary "Golf Cart", for one thing it was gas powered and for the other it would probably do 9 holes in 4 minutes. I am not sure that it could beat my son's replica Shelby Cobra in a drag race, but it would be close. Putting it another way, when Tom said "hold on", you better use two hands.
The town itself was a lot like a town from the last, last century, a little like Onancock, VA, also on the Eastern Shore, when we visited it in what was probably the actual last century. The architecture is describes as "coastal", but certainly not to be confused with "beach" construction. By way of contrast the extensive development associated with the marina is almost Caribbean in its bright pastels, if not in the enormous size of the homes.
|Kay, Carl (aka "Pirate Jenny"), and Judy Pantelides in the town of Cape Charles.|
And just when I thought I would not have anything to write about ... A White Squall! We have had our boat on Chesapeake Bay for 5 years and came up to the Bay for most of the previous 15 year. During that time we have seen a Tornado, numerous thunderstorms and been in a few, that are best described in upper case, THUNDERSTORMS, but, even though we have always heard of the "famed" White Squall", we didn't know what to expect. Now, like Justice Stewart spoke, in another context, "I know it, when I see it."
Now - I know it!
From the beginning it was unusual. It arrived when we were ready for it. Like much in life, this is unusual, as bad things always happen at bad times. However, on a sailboat, "expect the worst, but it will still be unexpected."
We had crossed over from Cape Charles to Yorktown in about four and a half hours, and were tied up and signed in by 4:00. River Walk Landing is an artificial Harbor, rectangular in shape with the River Walk forming one of the long sides and a concrete-like floating barrier forming the other sides. The floating structure itself is massive, at least 25 feet wide and 3 feet high above water. This is the only floating dock that is high enough for me to get off our boat onto the dock without using a step stool.
Around 7:00 we were doing our best to improve the ambience of the boat. I was napping, and Kay filling the water tank and putting on the mainsail cover. Then three things happened,
Kay looked at me and then forward, saying one word "Hunter." Hunter was trying his best to imitate Toto, but, fortunately, his leash had snagged on the midship cleat. Kay, with alacrity, rescued him. Everything was in motion, the massive floating piers jumping around with water breaking over them, people running for cover, everything, that is, but us, who felt like characters in a slow motion movie.
Neither of us know what happened to them. All of a sudden, "POOF", they were not there. All I can say for sure is they are "not in Kansas anymore."
|"Spindrift" at River Walk Landing. We are on thw uoriver dock. The main dock is behind us.|
Around the same time Kay called out to me that the Dock Master was coming. Indeed he was. About my age, taller and close to hundred pounds lighter, I was surprised that he was not blown away. A man of few words, he jumped on the boat, grabbed a couple of lines, made them fast to dock cleats, said "That'll do it", and was gone.
Now that's a Dock Master", spake Kay
A half hour or so later it was all over.