Into the Chesapeake


And he-e-r-e we go, up the big bay! It’s hard to believe we are here already, but our bodies confirm it. They feel it. Cruising in rough waters takes a physical toll, even if it stops short of an up-chuck. Not all of the 74 miles we put under the hull today were like that, but enough of them to feel the mild exhaustion of steady exertion…the kind of exertion that is required to stay upright as the floor under you bucks and heaves. It felt like Lake Superior at times. We didn’t get sick, though we did take dramamine as a precaution. That was our third time in a week or so, as we’ve been crossing some big and windy waters, and it probably helps.

Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the U.S. That word sounds tame: “estuary.” But this bay is not tame. Loopers (people doing The Great Loop) know to expect a challenge. It’s 200 miles long and 30 miles wide at the bottom. It seems to make its own weather. And when the wind is manageable — if not exactly favorable — you go while the going is good because you don’t know when it will be good again. So we went. And we find ourselves tonight in a tucked-away marina near the small town of Reedville, at the entrance to the Potomac River where it intersects with the Chesapeake. (The Potomac is 400 miles long, though most people know only the part that goes by Washington D.C.) It’s weird, for me. My home is just a few miles from the Potomac. I often bike or jog or roller-blade along it, and paddle-board or sail on it. But I’ve never seen this end of it. I’ve never arrived “to” it by boat. And here we are, after cruising 4,382 miles at 8mph over 8 months, so close to my home. Like I said…weird.

This was our 6th day without electricity and it’s nice to be hooked up tonight to shore power and electric heat. A cold north wind is blowing, and I’m in my down jacket and wool hat when outside. Even Boo wasn’t eager to take her nightly walk. But Jeff and I are rather pleased with our endurance. We’ve proven our “ruggedness” again. For Nordic people like us, I guess that’s important. 😉

We were under way from Portsmouth, Va. before dawn, traveling again with the Nordic Tug Yooper Too. Going through the busy Hampton Roads area was crazy! So much big-ship traffic! Then, crab pots to dodge again. (The Chesapeak is shallow, which increases the incidence of crab pots.) We left our buddy boat in early afternoon as they went another way and found ourselves alone and nearly out of sight of land for the first time since Lake Michigan last August. I thought it might feel uncomfortable. It didn’t. I must be getting used to this…?

Photos and captions below.

The Norfolk waterfront as we pull out at dawn. (Portsmouth is right across the river from Norfolk.)
Our navigation lights were still on as we entered Elizabeth River, Yooper Too ahead of us.
Within a mile, we passed Red Marker 36, which marks Mile 0 of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). The ICW is a 3,000-mile waterway along the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. We’ve been following it since last Hallowe’en, all the way from Mobile, Alabama. Now, it’s done. It feels strange.
The first of many big ships we would encounter today. (These ones were not moving.)
And a highlight for me…passing the line of Navy ships at Norfolk Navy Base. I’ve been on that base a lot.
Six aircraft carriers are based here. We passed USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 71) in port, and heard a radio call from USS Gerald Ford (CVN 78) announcing her return to port.
Boo seems captivated by the large cargo ship approaching.
One of several to pass by us.
You can see three big ships in this photo, taken from the stern. (Excuse the fuzziness.)
At one point, I saw five ships within view without even trying.
This screen shot shows our progress from Norfolk today, traveling up the Chesapeake until it meets the Potomac.
Many Moons (at left) at Jennings Boat Yard in Cockrell Creek, Reedville Va. The wind started to blow harder again as we approached the creek, and we would have been in 4-5′ waves had we not timed it right. (Or was it luck?) We saw just one person here on this cold Sunday in early April.
The view across the creek from Jennings Boat Yard.
The smokestack across from our stern is lit at night.

2 thoughts on “Into the Chesapeake

  1. So awesome to follow different ones travels. I’m bringing my boat down to Florida from Deleware that we just purchased soon and watch to learn from.everyone else’s experiences.

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