29. South from Solomons to Hampton, VA

Stopped here at Lighthouse Point Marina when heading north 6 + weeks ago and now am back. It’s on the north side of where the Chesapeake/Potomac meet and there’s not a lot to choose from unless one goes miles west up the Potomac or crosses the wide mouth of the Potomac and then head some 10-20 miles further south. It was already quite a bumpy ride to here so it was time to dock it.

The next leg was almost 46 nm southbound to Deltaville VA. The departure point, Point Lookout Marina in Ridge MD, was in a sheltered area on the north side of the Potomac and about 8 miles westerly of the junction with the Chesapeake. Winds from the NNE were predicted with waves <1’ southbound, once back in the Bay, I’d be running with whatever waves there were. By 20 nm the forecast changed and for my direction, not for the better. Winds picked up considerably and waves increased to generally 3’ and more. Worse the wind got a very significant easterly component and hit me abeam. Nothing the boat or crew couldn’t handle but it could have been more pleasant. Adding to the unpleasantness was the fact that there was about 3 mile visibility most of the way. So I headed into Deltaville and another well protected harbor.

The pre departure routine engine room check revealed water in the bilge. Where did that come from? The port engine sea strainer (same kind of strainer described and pictured in an earlier post for the air conditioner) was leaking at the cap. Close the thru hull and unscrew the cap. The rubber ‘O’ ring has hardened, flattened and has dozens of hairline racks nearly all the way thru the ring. Walked over to the marina parts department and couldn’t find the proper size amongst the several dozen types they had in trays. Borrowed the loaner car and visited 2 more marinas with the same “no luck”. NAPA auto parts – nada. Finally at the ACE Hardware store- bingo. One of the various ‘O’ rings used for the Culligan Water Systems was a match. 😎 One hour from discovering the issue to putting in the new rubber seal and I have a spare one now for the starboard engine. Ready to cast off.

The morning was overcast with 3 mile visibility but seas were almost dead calm as I headed southbound to Hampton/Norfolk area. There wasn’t much to see with the limited visibility except for a freighter here and there appearing out of the cloud a couple miles distant.

Also in an early blog post, I wrote some about an app for the iPad called AquaMaps. In fact, the first week or so of this journey was pretty much fully navigated via the app on an iPad until I updated the electronics in Ft Pierce. What I’ve written about before is the tracking feature – laying down “breadcrumb” tracks of where you or someone HAS been – which is helpful if you want to retrace the same route later. One feature of my new Garmin Chartplotter and of AquaMaps is prospectively to be able to set up waypoints in advance of the route you want the boat to follow. Auto pilot will then be able to execute the route (can always be overridden by the Captain). While that can be done on the boat’s chartplotter, you need to be at the helm for that. What is nice about Aqua Maps is that you can plot your route with step by step turns on your iPad from the comfort of the couch or bunk the night before.

While I even had the ability to do waypoints even on my prior fishing boat at my condo, I never took the time to learn how and I’ve near learned since. So finally I took the time to learn how to set advance routing waypoints and the system on Aqua Maps. I still have to learn how to export the route from the Apple iOS system to the MS based pc micro sd card for insertion into the Garmin card reader. One thing at a time. But meanwhile I can layout an advance route in the IPad and if the glare isn’t too bad on the bridge, I can follow the route. Once I figure out how to have the IPad talk to the Garmin, I can follow on the dedicated chart plotter and have auto pilot execute the course corrections. Don’t want to have to work too hard!😀

Here is the Aqua Maps screen for par of today’s route. This screen picks up just north of waypoint 8 at the top and heads south to waypoint 9 for a slight course adjustment and then to 10, 11 etc until at the Marina in Hampton VA. The boat current position is shown by the boat icon north of 8 and the red line between points is the course. The magenta line for the boat’s bow shows where the boat would go on it’s current extended heading. There is a big black icon just to the left of the boat. That is a large in water brick/block marker.

thereare 2 grey boxes at the top. Left box shows 30 nautical miles to go, via the waypoints, to the destination marina with an arrival time, based on current speed, of 12:30 pm. It also shows that I’m 3.1 nm from waypoint 8 at a heading of 177 degrees and arrival at waypoint 8 at 10:44 am. The grey box on the right shows that in 28.1 nm there is some info it wants me to know.

Touching any icon shown will bring up a screen with info. Like touch one of the black shipwreck icons will pinpoint location and how far under the surface the wreck is. Touch a lighted buoy and it’s exact location and number will show as well as light info “ green flash every two seconds”, for example. Touch any point on the water and exact depth will show.
To provide scale/perspective, at the same time I captured the chart screen shot showing the boat adjacent to the block bldg type marker, I also took this pic of the marker from the flybridge

Today’s voyage was a respectable 44 nm with a trip time of 3.5 hours. I stayed at this marina 2 mo ago when heading north. It is a quiet downtown marina, well kept and managed. Onsite is a former Hyatt Hotel now part of the city owned waterfront complex. As such, marina tenants can also use the hotel amenities – like the pool. Across the street fronting the marina is old town Hampton with a number of streets of eclectic stores and numerous eateries. Also onsite is the Bull Island micro brewery and restaurant. Tried one of their sample ‘platters’ of brews which merely reinforced why I don’t like beer.

While here, I visited Yorktown and the Colonial National Historical Park where I got to use my old fart pass. Yorktown’s location along the York River at the confluence of the Chesapeake Bay gave it some prominence in two early America wars. Towards the end of the Revolutionary War, the British were suffering losses in the north and General Cornwallis was dispatched with an army to Yorktown to establish a naval base in the hopes of retaining the south. General Washington and the French combined with 17,000 men to take Yorktown back via a siege that lasted some 6 months.

Ninety years later, Yorktown made another appearance via a second siege during the Civil War when Union General George McClellan began his Peninsula Campaign there to capture Richmond. Convinced he was outnumbered (he wasn’t), McClellan sent two men up in observation balloons to survey the enemies position, the first ever aerial flights made over enemy lines. This siege lasted only two weeks and Yorktown served the next two years as Federal military headquarters for Eastern Virginia.

Driving back to the boat on I 64, I came through an area where the interstate was being widened. As I passed dozens of big bulldozers and earthmovers, I couldn’t help but wonder what the early Revolutionary army would think if they were transported in time from their hand made siege lines to modern times and methods as they joined the hundreds of autos traveling 70mph past today’s version of pick axes and shovels.

Siege berm
Back side of the siege berm. In the pat 200+ years, nature has added some trees atop the berm
Surrender Field

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4 thoughts on “29. South from Solomons to Hampton, VA”

  1. For some reason it tickled me that you found the correct O ring at Ace Hardware 😁. I’m in awe of how much you’ve learned on this trip, and continue to enjoy your very entertaining posts, especially because LOGISTICS. I’m curious: how high would waves need to be for you to decide to stay in port (is that the technical term?). I’ve been reading about the high waves there have been on Lake Michigan this year, and how that lake is almost more like an ocean in terms of wind and waves. I remember you and Sharon taking your boat out on Lake Michigan. How do the two compare? Also 3 mile visibility seems like a lot to my (clueless) mind – what’s the usual visibility you can expect?


    1. I was tickled that I found the right O ring and size anywhere! Not too comforting a thought to leave port with a leak on a part that controls inflow from a hole in the bottom of the boat. Glad to see not a single drop since. First my crew learns and the she teaches me😇.

      Waves: various factors besides height. Direction – I’d rather take 3’ waves bow on than 2’ waves directly on the stern. Taken off the quarter stern causes the boat to want to wander as the rudder lifts and the waves push aside. The same waves abeam will make the boat rolly (side fro side) vs rocking. Your height – those rolly and even to a lesser degree rocky waves will affect you much more on the flybridge than in the lower Pilothouse. Can’t even imagine the feel from a tuna tower. A same sized sailboat heeled well over in the wind would not feel those waves too much the full sail providing stability and the sharp prow cutting the waves. Distance between waves – 3’ wave followed by another 3’ wave in 2 seconds will be much more uncomfortable than if followed by one 10 seconds later. The latter would be more characterized as a swell. Finally there is the tolerance level of the humans. Most if not all boats will handle turbulence better than the people. I am not in a rush. 3’ waves and I’m still in port would just be an excuse to roll over in bed. Not an expert but I think the ocean tends to be more swells than Lk Mi. The “big lake” is not to be fooled with.

      3 mi vis isn’t too bad compared to more typical 10 mi from the bridge. You’re not going to hit anything. It’s just more dismal. However it does say that conditions are favorable for fog and visibility can drop more quickly, by far, than you can run. I’ve experienced that too many times on Lk Mi and it’s no fun and wouldn’t be now either though the equipment/electronics are better.
      Thanx for asking


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