Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Air Conditioning

As I type this our outdoor thermometer reads something north of 100° and my phone tells me it is 103° here in Chesapeake, Virginia. Consequently, we are on our third straight day of shore power so we can run the air conditioning. I'm eyeing the dozens of jellyfish in the water here and crossing my fingers they stay out of the intakes; just one of these could knock our A/C out completely for hours.

After my last post here, yet another storm moved in, and while we did not get the benefit of any rain or substantial cooling at our anchorage in the North River, we got plenty of wind and some fairly heavy chop. Our anchor was well set in thick mud, though, so we did not even pay out more rode. The NWS alert on the weather radio said we could see 50 knots, but the bulk of the storm passed north of us and we got perhaps 25 at most.

Sunday we weighed anchor fairly early and got under way in the "cool" of the morning, by which I mean it was not yet into the 90s. We had to play weave-and-dodge around Pungo Ferry with the weekend crowd cooling off in the river on a panoply of inner tubes, jet skis, runabouts, and bow-riders. We mostly exercised the Rule of Gross Tonnage, and did not even need to sound the horns.

We arrived in Great Bridge around 2:30 in the afternoon, by which time the mercury was already pushing 100. We opted to stop at Atlantic Yacht Basin on the east side of the bridge (map), where dockage is just a buck a foot plus power. We cranked up the air conditioning and hunkered down in the salon until dinner time.

This conga line of Navy speedboats passed us after locking through together. The three in front are fairly standard Zodiacs, but the two in back are new to me.

Dinner was at one of our favorite stops here, El Toro Loco, just south of the bridge. We stop in Great Bridge on every pass, usually at one of the free docks on either side of the bridge. In fact it felt a bit weird being here and not at one of those two docks. But it was well worth the money for unlimited A/C for the duration.

These have sharply angled surfaces for radar deflection -- even the radome is angled. SEALs, I think.

We paid for one night, but after consulting the weather forecast decided to add a second day to our stay there. We put a scooter on the ground to run some errands yesterday, but it was so hot by the time it was ready to go that Louise opted to wait until the relative cool of this morning to go out. We walked over to Vino Italian Bistro for dinner last night, but we were quite disappointed. This place is new since our last stop, replacing an uninspiring diner.

We knew the lock would be closed intermittently for maintenance this week, and were a bit disappointed to hear on the radio last night that it might be closed all day today. We resigned ourselves to spending another night there. But at 9:30 this morning they announced a 10am lock-through, while Louise was out running errands. When she returned we took a shot at asking about the possibility for another lock-through any time during the day, and they informed us that we could get through on the 11am opening, likely the last one until work was finished this evening.

By this time is was nearly 10:30 and the scooter was still on the ground. Nevertheless we scrambled to deck the scooter, unplug, single up, and cast off all before the 11am bridge opening. The lock was open and waiting for us once we cleared the bridge, and we locked through with two other boats, the last northbound lockage of the day.

That brought us here, to Top Rack Marina (map), just a half hour later. This, too, is a familiar stop for us, with the consistently lowest diesel prices on the entire ICW. Even though it was already in the high 90s when we arrived, we opted to fuel on arrival rather than on our way out tomorrow, so we tied up at the fuel dock for 1,000 gallons at $2.439 per. We also filled the water tank and pumped out the waste tank while we were fueling.

After spending an hour or so on the fuel dock we moved to the lone slip with 50-amp power, which we had called ahead to book yesterday. Our dockage tonight, power included, will be complimentary since we will have dinner in the very nice Amber Lantern Restaurant on site. We are once again hunkered down inside with all the A/Cs running full blast.

Vector, lonely at Top Rack, as seen from the balcony of The Amber Lantern. The new Veterans Bridge is in the background, with the remnants of the Dominion "Steel" Bridge.

This is our fifth pass through this section of the ICW, and it is becoming very familiar. On our last four passes we had to wait for the "Steel Bridge" immediately south of here to open for us, giving us the opportunity to marvel at the enormous construction project there. This time, the Steel Bridge is gone; the span having been removed completely after the opening of the high-rise Veterans Bridge that replaces it. The construction barges are still here, putting the finishing touches on the new bridge and removing the old.

The forecast says we'll see some cooling here overnight as a front moves through, so our plan tomorrow is to head upriver a few miles to the free dock in Portsmouth for a night or two. From there we will head north through the Chesapeake, bound for the Potomac River and a friendly marina there not far from where we are storing Odyssey, which is overdue for her semi-annual check-in. It's a two or three day cruise from Portsmouth, and we hope to catch up with some friends along the way.


  1. Looks like those Navy speedboats might be or are similar to the High Speed Assault Craft.

    1. I think that's right. Carbon fiber and Kevlar.

  2. Air Conditioning is good, but it is hard to make work well when the water is hot. Head for Maine to get cool.

    1. Indeed. The bay is not a destination for us this time, just part of the route north. I hope we'll make it to Maine, but we want to at least reach Boston before heading south again.


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