Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I’m Glad We Like Norfolk, VA…Because We’re Going To Be Here For A While.

Ok, so let’s take a look at our situation. It’s kind of confusing. There are several things in play here.

Our Intentions

As the AGLCA Rendezvous ended our intentions were to linger here for a few days more so that we could get our head fixed, then start a float plan which would first take us to Deltaville, VA, which we hear is terrific, stay there for just a day or two, then start heading up the Chesapeake Bay, stop overnight at an anchorage point here and there, make our way up the Potomac River all the way up to Alexandria, VA so we could do the whole tourist thing in Washington, DC. Then we would make our way back out the Potomac stopping off to see our friends Rick and Margi along the way, then head up to Annapolis, MD for a few days at what are suppose to be terrific surroundings. That is as far as any charted plans went. In Annapolis we would then take a look at what our next waypoints would be to finish cruising Chesapeake Bay, make our way across the C and D Canal which connects to Delaware Bay, then down Delaware Bay, then making our way up New Jersey to New York Harbor, up the Hudson River and enter the New York canal system, namely the Erie and Oswego Canals which would get us up to start our trek into Canada where we would make our way to the west coast of Lake Michigan where we would put the boat up on the hard for the winter. Sounded like a good plan.
Sunset in Norfolk 5/15/2012
The Boat

The repairs to the head went very well. Don, our friendly neighborhood marine plumbing specialist, ably assisted by his lovely granddaughter Melanie, came in and did a very nice job to get the thing to run clearly and properly. No problem there. But we were also having trouble with our generator, namely it would not start and as our float plans included more nights at anchor in some of the wonderful inlets and riverlets along the way, especially up the Potomac River, this needed to be resolved before we set out from Norfolk. We could hop from marina to marina most of the time but that gets pretty pricey. So we called in a technician to take a look at that too with the hopes that it was a minor repair and we would be up and running so we could get out of Norfolk today May 16th.
Sunset in Norfolk 5/15/2012
The Weather

We were perfectly ok with us staying here until Wednesday the 16th as it was on that day that the weather window was the best and we could make the transit to Deltaville in relatively good conditions. We were very aware that the day after the rendezvous ended six or seven boats of attendees left the marina here to make the same trek with winds ten to fifteen kph and two to three foot waves and they got pounded very hard. We would wait until conditions were more favorable and for several days the forecast was looking good with winds less than ten knots and waves less than two feet, most of the time at a foot or less, especially in the mornings. We could also see that conditions further north were in general better.
Sunset in Norfolk 5/15/2012
The Reality

Unfortunately the repair of the generator did not go well. It turns out that the fuel injector pump is kaput and needs to be rebuilt. And apparently there is no service in Norfolk that can do it, which seems odd to us. But there is in a small town in Maryland on Chesapeake Bay called Grasonville. He, the technician, said that for him to pull the pump, send it to the service in Grasonville to get the work done, get it back and reinstall it we would be looking at an eleven day window. Then the technician came up with the idea that since he would take the pump out and send it to Grasonville anyway why don’t we just cruise up to Grasonville, hire a technician there to remove the pump and take it to the diesel place in Grasonville to rebuild it, reinstall it and we would be on our way in less days than if he would do the work. Sounded reasonable to us. But it would also mean that our plans to go to Washington and explore some of the wonderful places on the west side of the bay would have to be scrapped because we would not be able to anchor out more since there were big gaps where marinas would not be available.
Sunset in Norfolk. Looking to Portsmith 5/15/2012

While we knew that this plan (the one going directly to Grasonville in about 4 days hopping from marina to marina) was very doable we were a bit bummed out about missing all of the sights along the way that we have always been told makes the trip the most memorable and enjoyable. On top of that the weather window on Wednesday that we would take advantage of to get to Deltaville was beginning to disappear. On Tuesday the weather in Norfolk and the lower portion of Chesapeake Bay was pretty awful with heavy rain and thunderstorms almost the entire day, but the Wednesday window was still there. That is until we woke up Wednesday morning to the sound of rain on the fiberglass above our heads. Our first glance of the weather forecast for Wednesday now said “S winds 5 to 10 kt. Waves 1 to 2 ft. A slight chance of showers and tstms early in the morning...then scattered showers and tstms in the late morning and afternoon.” (NWS Marine Forecast) – not so good, especially the bit about rain in the morning. As I dug deeper into the detailed text explanation of the forecast it was also saying that the chance of rain and thunderstorms existed for pretty much the entire day. Furthermore the forecast for every remaining day of the next week said, ”NE winds 10 to 15 kt. Waves 2 to 3 ft.” which in NWS speak means, “We really don’t know what the heck is going to happen, but it kinda sucks, and doesn’t look too good.” And looking a bit further into conditions near Deltaville the forecast for today is more favorable but the next couple of days after today is at best questionable with slightly calmer winds but higher waves of 3 feet predicted – not good for our continued trek north to Grasonville. Then on top of that while we have had favorable southerly winds for the last few days that is going to change to northerly winds over night tonight. Frankly, I did not know exactly what to make of the weather. It seems all very unsettled and confusing. I don’t like it. (Oh, and by the way, right now - 6:45am, Wednesday May 16 - as I poke my head out of the galley to take a look around the bay, we are socked in with fog. Hmmm.)

So, here is what we are going to do. We have decided that we do in fact want to see the sights of the west side of Chesapeake Bay: Deltaville, St. Marys, Washington DC, Reedsville with its ferry to Tangier Island, Annapolis, and maybe even Baltimore, and Grasonville sounds like a good place to stop as a staging point to start heading up the C and D Canal. But we need to be able to anchor out so we need a working generator. We will stay here in Norfolk while the injector pump is getting fixed as Norfolk has plenty of things to do and see to keep us occupied and it will allow us to wait for more favorable weather conditions to head north. We will put all of our sightseeing plans back in place (Rick and Margi, we’re coming to see YOU) and enjoy our time in Chesapeake Bay instead of rushing through it.