Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ghost ships

We are anchored behind the concrete ships, which I mentioned in my last post, at Kiptopeke State Park on Cape Charles, Virginia (map).  This is just a mile and a half from our last digs, in the opposite direction from where will will head next, but we really had no choice.

Monday, seas remained mostly calm after I posted here, and we stayed put right where we had been at the end of Sunday's drama.  By dinner time it was too choppy to drop the tender, so we enjoyed a nice meal aboard, even though we would have likely had the restaurant mostly to ourselves, if the lack of people on the beach throughout the day was any indicator.  I got a few projects done around the house in a relaxing day of downtime.

Tuesday started out the same way, and it even looked, for a time, as if we might get the chance to go ashore for dinner.  No dice, as a line of thunderstorms formed inland and made their way to us across the bay.  The weather deteriorated throughout the afternoon, and we started getting weather alerts for severe thunderstorms.  As they say, "small craft should seek safe harbor."  Radar showed the bulk of the storm would pass north of us, and we were well anchored, so we opted to stay put.

We missed most of the rain, but we did not miss the wind or the seas that went with it.  We don't have an anemometer, but I would estimate the wind in the heart of the storm to be 30+ knots with gusts to 40 or so.  Seas were 2-3' and breaking.  At one point, we manned the anchor watch, and I fired up all the instruments and prepared to start engines if needed.  Our ground tackle held fast, however, and we emerged with nothing worse than a few loose items fallen from counters.

It was all done and gone by dinner time, and we had hoped things would eventually calm down to the pleasant state we'd experienced earlier in the day.  Unfortunately, the same system that pushed the storm our way left us with the lasting gift of a westerly component to the winds.  With 20+ miles of fetch to the southwest, we had quite the swell through dinner.  Worse, it was mostly on the beam, as the prevailing current runs north/south.

Wind and current from different directions can play havoc with boats, and Vector, in particular, can do some weird things when lying to anchor.  At one point during the day (not during the storm), I glanced at the chartplotter and realized that our anchor was mostly behind us and slightly to port.  I looked over the bow and, sure enough, the snubber, which was taut, was heading just left of straight back.  On most boats, that kind of force on the anchor rode would swing the boat around to be mostly in line with the rode, but the wind against our high profile can swing us around like this even in the current.

That's our snubber running back parallel to the hull.  Big splash is from the porpoising we were doing at the time.

In order to get through dinner prep without falling down, I ended up starting the engine and turning on the stabilizers.  They're not very effective with only a knot or two running under the boat, but they did help a little bit.  I shut the engine down when we sat down to eat.  We had to set the wide-base cup holders on the dining table to keep our beverages from falling over.

After dinner we realized this would not relent all night, and another check of the forecast confirmed it.  With only an hour of good daylight left, we ended up weighing anchor in confused seas and high wind to seek shelter here, where the concrete hulks provide excellent protection from the west.  The seas were so high when we left that I had to drive from the flybridge in order to see the crab pot floats, which kept disappearing below the wave tops and sometimes were even towed under completely.

Once we were under way the stabilizers could do their job and the ride here was not uncomfortable, although against the current it took us a good twenty minutes to reach the breakwater.  It took nearly as long to get anchored again -- it's wall-to-wall crab pots in here, and we've already swung back and forth over a couple of markers since anchoring.

After we passed the entrance between the two rows of ships, we were in calm water once again, though, and were able to take our time getting settled.  We were able to get a good night's sleep, uninterrupted by the chaotic motion just the other side of the breakwater.  By Wednesday morning, winds had subsided, and it was like a lake here in the anchorage.

Ironically, Wednesday evening it was calm enough to go to dinner, but, of course, there is nothing here but the fishing pier, formerly the ferry landing.  A beach bar with fried food was not compelling enough for us to want to run the tender three miles round trip and then have to wade ashore, especially since it was cool and overcast, so we had leftovers instead.  We did enjoy a spectacular sunset from the upper deck afterwards.

Sunset over the ghost ships.

As I type it is past 2am Thursday morning.  I was up late last night, too, and Louise has been doing the opposite, early to bed and early to rise.  We're trying to shift our circadian rhythms a bit to help with tonight's overnight passage in the ocean.  Louise will publish the post in the morning, after review and perhaps an edit here and there.  What I've noticed at this late hour both nights is that the fishing pier is still very, very busy.  Last night there was even a family with fairly young children fishing at 1:30am.

The fishing pier.  The pier is open, and lighted, all night.

We had actually hoped to get underway today, and I transferred fuel to the day tank and did my pre-departure engine checks this morning.  But while things were very calm indeed right here, the ocean forecast off Paramore Banks tonight was for fairly steep waves.  Thursday's forecast is much better, and so we opted to wait here another day.

The trip from here to Cape Henlopen, at the south of the entrance to Delaware Bay, will take us around 22 hours, plus or minus two hours depending on current.  We'll leave here with the outgoing tide, around 1:30pm, which should give us an incoming tide on the other end too.  We'll anchor behind the breakwater off Lewes, Delaware, where we will spend at least one night.

From there our route takes us to Atlantic City in a single outside hop, and thence to Manasquan Inlet, also in a single hop, where we have marina reservations.  My folks live just a few miles from there, and we're looking forward to a nice visit.  We had our mail, which missed us in Deltaville, re-sent to the marina there as well.

I expect we will be mostly off-line once we weigh anchor here, as we'll be a good ten miles or so offshore for much of the trip, and even the Cape Henlopen anchorage may be outside of coverage.  My next post here may well be from Atlantic City.

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