Finally Back Underway!

Winds today, 10/10/19, were forecasted to be a couple miles per hour less and they were laid down a lot first thing this morning and of course also once in the ICW. Grey and drizzly and chilly- very chilly day. I left my slip and proceeded 500’ south to the pump out station – had been nursing the holding tank for a few days. Then I finally left Hampton Public Pier. It’s a very nice marina and staff but the day after day delays were wearing a bit thin. As of my leaving, the Alligator River Bridge was still not operable (see prior post).

It’s nice having a group member waiting at the Alligator River Marina who can walk over to the bridge and get the latest skinny from the bridge tender and the engineers. Apparently Dorian knocked out the primary system for swinging the bridge and while a new primary was being built they were using a backup which is what then failed last week. A repair that was attempted yesterday failed. In addition the bolts that secure the bridge motor have come loose from the concrete so they’ve had to epoxy them back in and wait for it to dry. The report this evening is that a test opening around 5 pm this evening worked and they let a barge and some pleasure boats through. There will be two scheduled openings first thing in the morning. The brand new primary system will arrive tonight and tomorrow after the two openings they will start installing the new while still being able to open via the backup. So it looks like by the time I get there Saturday, bridge and marinas should resemble ‘normal’.

So back to today’s short trip. Though the wind was lighter this morning, the ride across the large harbor from Hampton to Norfolk and then to the protected ICW mouth was more rolly than expected, but easily handle able. Due to the very damp chilly weather, I decided to run the boat from the lower station. Up to this time, I probably have piloted from there for less than a half hour total. Apparently my Pilothouse chartplotter was not happy with me working at that station. Throughout the entire run out of the Hampton harbor and partway then to Norfolk, the charts were shown in an incorrect orientation and with the boat icon going sideways. Disconcerting! Had the AquaMaps app on the iPad keeping things together for me. Finally my chartplotter turned itself off and then 30 seconds later blinked back on and all was again well with it. For $5k, you’d think that plotter could work 100% of the time!

It was certainly different running from the lower station. A little more difficult seeing over the bow – I wouldn’t want to run through a whole lot of crab pots from down there. Visibility directly behind is also less because half of the interior of the boat is in the way. So I got used to putting the rear camera image up on the chartplotter from time to time to see what, if anything, was behind me. I also did a lock from there and two dockings (this evening’s docking plus a fuel – 460 gal – stop and I found that easier to judge the closeness of the boat rail to the dock. Oh, and it was really nice to have the heat on and no drizzle.

The ride through the immense Norfolk waterfront was again spectacular though once again not the best weather. So many warships! Unbelievable! And I saw two destroyers in drydock. These huge ships not in the water was an unreal sight to me. Maneuvering was too tight for me to comfortably take a pic🙁.

Came across some of these coming down the harbor. This is a lifeboat capsule used on freighters and container ships. Above the stern at deck level on the freighter, are two inclined rails similar to the downhill of a roller coaster. These capsules are mounted at the top and can probably carry 40 or more crew. In an emergency, the crew enters via the rear hatch shown. Hatches are closed and locked air tight. Crew is buckled in and the capsule released. It ‘flies’ down over the stern a goes nose down into and under water. Buoyant, it floats back up and rights itself und uses it engine to motor away til rescued. These were being accompanied by a regular boat and appeared to involved in safety testing.
USS Wisconsin. Retired battleship now berthed in Norfolk. Guided or self guided tours available. Beautiful sight from the water!
Today ended here at Great Bridge Lock, followed by the Great Bridge itself which then is followed by the Atlantic Yacht Basin. Heading southbound, I led a line of 5 vessels into the starboard side of the Great Bridge Lock. Waited about 45 min outside the lock before entering as the Lock was closed due to high water being pushed over the lock gates by wind tides. Once in, we locked down 8’ and the little flotilla exited. Immediately thereafter is a waiting basin followed by the Great Bridge draw bridge which opened once all 5 boats exited the lock. And once under the bridge on the starboard side is the Atlantic Yacht Basin where I’m tied up for the night. You can see the marina in the distance beyond the bridge.
From my slip this evening looking back at the bridge and lock (red lights).

10 thoughts on “Finally Back Underway!”

  1. Hi Al, great adventure! Bob, Sue and I met a guy named Dave who crossed his wake in a dinghy ….. he passed some of the same water as you…check out his blog. Six thousand miles in a dinghy. wordpress. Com
    Joan

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  2. The lifeboat capsule was fascinating. I realize these are used on container ships or freighters, rather than passenger ships, but how slick! I’ve been reading about the sinking of the Estonia, and the lifeboat and life raft problems contributed so much to the loss of life. Of course, with the ferry rolling sideways, maybe the capsules couldn’t launch any better. Though we live on Gull Lake, I’m not comfortable on the water (which sounds better than saying I’m a hugely paranoid scaredy-cat 🤣). So I enjoy living vicariously through The Travels of Captain Putt10 💙

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