Monday, June 29, 2015

Comfort in the familiar

We are anchored in Indian Creek, across from the Indian Creek Yacht and Country Club, near Kilmarnock, Virginia (map), a familiar stop. It's been an interesting and emotional week, and somehow it got away from me before I could sit down at the keyboard and post.

Vector at anchor, as seen from the Indian Creek Yacht and Country Club.

We had a very nice dinner Tuesday evening at the Amber Lantern at the Top Rack Marina, just squeaking past the $75 required to make our dockage and power free (we had to order desert to put us over, a delicious coconut cake). As promised, a front moved through Tuesday night, cooling things down considerably, but still, we stayed as long as we could Wednesday to take advantage of the 50-amp power outlet. I also used the opportunity to get the last of the recycling off the boat.

I like Ike.

We shoved off after lunch for the short cruise up the southern branch of the Elizabeth River to Portsmouth and one of our favorite stops, the free dock at the north ferry landing (map). Once north of the Noroflk & Western railroad lift bridge, the river becomes quite interesting, passing the Portsmouth Navy Yards to port. On this cruise, the USS Eisenhower nuclear aircraft carrier, CVN-69, was prominent in the yard, along with another Nimitz-class carrier whose number I could not make out, and a nuclear submarine of some sort, too distant to discern. Heavy nets and speedboats with mounted 50-caliber guns deter closer inspection.

Vector at the ferry landing. That's Take a Breath in front of us, and you can see LHD-5, USS Bataan, behind us in drydock.

After just an hour and a half we were docked at our usual spot in the protected basin of the north ferry landing, across from where the Hampton Roads Transit ferry stops on its loop to Towne Point in Norfolk and High Street in downtown Portsmouth. We took the end spot, in front of a 48 Offshore called Take a Breath; later we met cruisers Kevin and Katie who are about where we were in the learning curve the first time we stopped here. Regular readers may know we've stopped here several times now, including riding out Hurricane Arthur on this very dock a year ago.

We took the aforementioned ferry across to Norfolk for a lovely dinner at the Towne Pointe Club there, something we try to do each time we are in town.  As we walked to the club from the ferry landing, we noticed that preparations were under way for the annual Pride festival Saturday; our table overlooked one of the main stages at the park. We had already made plans for Saturday, and I was a little sad we could not stay for what looked to be a nice event. Of course at this point I was not even thinking about the upcoming Supreme Court decision.

The lights of downtown Norfolk, with Towne Pointe front and center, as seen from our deck.

Thursday morning we checked the weather over a bagel at the Town Cafe right at the end of the dock, and decided to stay another night, with near-perfect conditions forecast on the bay for Friday. We got a few things done around the house, and walked to the Dollar General for a few necessities, including milk -- the best we could do on foot. We ended up at Homegrown Pizza for dinner, a place we remembered from two years ago under a different name.

Friday we got a fairly early start, hoping to have a fair tide for at least part of the trip. We did indeed have a favorable current on the Elizabeth River and all the way to Thimble Shoal out in the bay, but we fought it most of the rest of the day. The northern part of the river takes you past more Navy yards, and here we saw a group of nuclear subs on top of the usual assortment of guided missile cruisers, frigates, and support vessels.

Submarines in the pen. Two boomers and an attack boat, I think.

As we were headed out past the tunnel, we crossed paths with another amphibious assault "aircraft carrier," LHD-1, the USS Wasp. We had crossed paths with sister ships LHD-3, the Kearsarge, out in the ocean, and LHD-5, USS Bataan, being refit in drydock across from us at the ferry landing. That makes three (out of eight) ships in the class that we've seen in just a couple of weeks.

"Warship 1," as they call themselves on the radio.

Crossing Thimble Shoal we opted to keep to the "float free" channel that is designated across horseshoe shoal. This is a bit closer to shore than we normally travel, and the water is shallower here -- our sounder registered just 9.6 feet at one point. I wanted to try it once, both because it cuts a mile off our usual route, and because it can come in handy when we come through here in the thick of crab season, where slaloming around pot floats can be an Olympic sport.

As we were coming north up the "channel" (really nothing more than a designated lane on otherwise level terrain), a southbound boat hailed us on the radio; some of our blog readers, aboard Rosalia, recognized Vector from a distance and wanted to say hello. I'm sorry I did not catch your names, but welcome.

Even though we were on a rising tide, the current change lags enough behind in the bay that our speed dropped continually the further north we got after passing Thimble Shoal. As we passed Wolf Trap Light our speed had dropped to just over four knots, and our ETA, which had started out as 6pm, was, at one point, showing to be past 10pm.

Wolf Trap light under gray skies.

Fortunately the tidal current began to change shortly thereafter, and the ETA steadily improved for the remainder of the cruise. We arrived in Indian Creek well before sundown, and had the anchor set just after 6:30. I warmed up the grill in the last mile of the trip and threw a couple of burgers on as soon as we were settled in.

Yesterday was something of a lost day. Winds were forecast to increase throughout the day, so we splashed the tender right after our morning coffee. I got wrapped up in the Internet most of the day, and it was all I could do to get myself together for our dinner engagement with our good friends Steve and Sandy, who live nearby. The weather was a bit dicey, and it looked for a while like we might have to wave off, but things let up just in time and we took a short tender ride to the nearby marina to meet them.

We had an excellent dinner in wonderful company at the Rappahannock Grill right in downtown Kilmarnock. Visits with them always end too soon, and they dropped us back at the dock at the end of the evening with the conversation still going strong. Good friends were just what I needed at that moment.

Today was beautiful and calm here at our pleasant anchorage, belying the maelstrom that is the Chesapeake today. You could not tell by looking from here, but the forecast was miserable and there was a small craft advisory issued. We opted to sit it out right here. That did not stop some of the weekend warriors from going out, though, and some hardy cruisers as well, but about midday we heard a clearly tired and bedraggled sailor trying to raise the marina just up the creek from us.

View towards the bay from our anchorage.

That marina closes early on Sunday, and this guy was getting beat up so badly out there that he needed to just be done. Several other boaters responded to him with various options, but it seemed to us like he was so tired he was not firing on all cylinders. We ended up guiding him in on the radio; he was adamant about not anchoring and I suggested he could probably just tie up at the marina in any open slip and deal with the office in the morning. He seemed grateful for the help.

Somewhere in all of this, we discovered that we actually have reciprocal privileges at the yacht club across the creek from us (we were looking into it to see if it was an option for him -- unfortunately not). We ended up tendering over there for an early dinner at their clubhouse; it turns out to be mostly a golf and country club with a small set of docks attached, and most of the dinner patrons had just finished a golf tournament. We'll have to remember it for the next time as a possible docking option.

Today's project was checking the generator air filter, after some investigation into a lube oil sample revealed possible fuel contamination. A long story, but essentially we were advised that inattention to the air filter can cause part of it to be sucked into one of the cylinder intakes, obstructing combustion. I found the filter intact, but bits of the felt gasket have started to disintegrate, and were being ingested by the engine. Not good, but we have no other symptoms so we are just monitoring it. I did need to fashion a temporary gasket until I can get a proper replacement.

Why is this gasket made of felt?

Tomorrow is supposed to me a much nicer day, and we'll weigh anchor in the morning headed for the Potomac. There is a marina upriver that offers a free night to MTOA members, and we plan to take advantage of it. Among other things, we need a place to get our mail.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Share your comments on this post! We currently allow anyone to comment without registering. If you choose to use the "anonymous" option, please add your name or nickname to the bottom of your comment, within the main comment box. Getting feedback signed simply "anonymous" is kind of like having strangers shout things at us on the street: a bit disconcerting. Thanks!