Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Norfolk to Baltimore - with a side trip to The Big Easy!

Our Monday, May 5 arrival in Norfolk (actually Tidewater Yacht Marina in Portsmouth, across the Elizabeth River from Norfolk), was a day or two earlier than even we had planned.  We had expected an eight day ICW run to Norfolk but arrived on Day Seven.

By 11:00 on Day Eight, we were in a rental car and on the road to New Orleans for a Mothers Day Weekend baby shower. At about 1,000 miles from Portsmouth to NOLA, we were going to cover that distance in two days.  That same distance (Key Largo to Portsmouth) took us ten days by boat.  And three of those days were counted at 24 hours each!

It was good to tie up, close up and walk away for a bit though. We have been on the water non-stop (mostly) since August 22. Our road trip would take us through Virginia, across North Carolina and South Carolina, then Georgia and Alabama, and finally along the Mississippi Gulfcoast into Louisiana. A good chunk of the Old South.

As we approached Colombia, South Carolina we realized we might be able to snag a couple of USC Colombia professors and their precocious four year old for a dinner date. Alas, four year olds and their parents eat dinner early. But we did stop by their house for a nice hour long visit and demonstration of Issac's electrical engineering skills.  It was so great to see Ellen and John and Issac even for that short time. A taste of home.

Group shot!

An overnight en route and into NOLA in time for dinner with Charlie and Tabby on Wednesday. Nice to really be "home" again. Thursday and Friday were work days for all of us, but what a great time to catch up and relax and be a family. With Katie's arrival from Baltimore and Joe & Mary Margaret from Austin on Friday evening, it was just like old times. And all excited for our soon to arrive first grandchild! Truly a memorable Mothers Day for all of us.

Charlie test drives the Drone.
Last time indoors (we hope)!

Charlie & Andrew get the Drone up and running in Audubon Park.

There she goes,….

Great control.

View from the Drone.

By the following Tuesday we were back in Portsmouth. A stop for dinner in historic Madison, Georgia where there are over 200 antebellum homes untouched by Sherman's Ride to Atlanta. Apparently, Sherman had a West Point classmate who's brother was a pro-Union United States Senator from Madison, and in deference to his classmate and the Senator, Madison was spared the Scourge of the South. Beautiful town!

Madison, Georgia.

Though there was a fleeting thought of leaving Portsmouth upon arrival on Tuesday night in order to take advantage of the weather and beat an expected Thursday night cold front (it is usually a three day trip up the Chesapeake), some well deserved sleeping overruled that thought. Nevertheless, we were off by 8:30 Wednesday morning despite the fog in the Elizabeth River. That fog got worse two hours later as we approached the mouth of the Bay (at which time our radar stopped working). We decided to pull into the harbor at Willoughby Bay near Ft. Monroe and wait for the fog to lift. I used that time to check connections on the radar and found nothing that looked out of place. A call to the manufacturer (in Merrimack, NH) got a technician on the phone for some troubleshooting. The diagnostics he ran with me showed no electrical or electronic issues, so he concluded that we had a mechanical problem. Most likely, he thought that the belt that turns the rotor in the radome (45 feet up the mast) had slipped. Not being in a position to climb the mast, we waited out the fog until noon.

Back on the Bay, the fog was coming and going. NOAA expected bad fog in the Lower Bay that evening, so we decided to make as much headway as possible and do a 20 hour overnight to Baltimore.  

Despite the fog, it was an un eventful passage. We kept to the Western Shore out of the main traffic lanes and channels. We also benefitted from AIS ship reports throughout the night from Hayden on s/v Island Spirt, another Island Packet. We only "saw" one of the she so reported, and only barely. We never saw the Bay Bridge in Annapolis until we were just about under it at 6:00 AM.

This "NH" is not New Hampshire, it's North Harbor in Baltimore.

Coming into Baltimore the fog cleared and the Francis Scott Key Bridge was clearly visible from almost two miles away! By 9:30 we were snugged up in Slip C13 at Anchorage Marina. 

Pride of Baltimore.

Essentially our second home.

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