Sunday, July 15, 2012

I made it home BARELY!!! (Final Leg)

  After a long night with Max at the emergency room again because he was still very ill I managed to get up bright and early and singlehand Sal to our slip in Little Creek Inlet. First mate stayed with Max. Once away from the dock I immediately began to follow this beautiful Nordic Tug. The day was bright and the forecast was for 10-15kt winds (Remember: I said "forecast").

 Battlefield Bridge beginning to open

 Bridge almost fully open as I approached

 Distance marker sign in locks

 Here I am tied up to the edge of the locks. Word of caution-  very long lines are needed to tie off. These are not the friendliest people I have ever met and when my lines were not long enough to reach the tie off points they were not pleased.

Locks at the proper level, gates I go

Entering the (not!) beautiful Elizabeth River...

 No traffic at the High Rise Bridge this morning!

Last picture from trip home, camera took a dump!

Motoring along I had a great time by myself, things were going well. Wife called and said Max was ok and recovering well. Continuing along the Elizabeth River I was enjoying views and sights of all the working barges and tugs. Time was moving along nicely and as of 10am I had reached mile marker 0 of the ICW.  Off to my starboard side I could see Norfolk's Waterside complex. As I was motoring along I realized I had to pee in the worst way.....looking around at all the marine traffic, looking on board and realizing I was the only one there, I now had a problem. After a few minutes trying to figure out what I was going to do and just not being able to hold it any longer I kneeled in the cockpit and used a closed-off plastic oil funnel.....What's a guy to do?? Now with that small problem solved I motored on. I was coming up on Norfolk Marine Terminal and the Norfolk Naval Base. As I approached these areas I noticed the breeze had kicked up quite a bit. I still had no worries and continued motoring. As I motored past the last of the naval piers and headed toward the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel (HRBT) I could see out into the Chesapeake Bay. I saw white caps...lots of them, wind was right in my face, out of the northeast. As I got closer and closer to the bridge tunnel I got more and more nervous. Sal was begining to really pitch and roll. I quickly realized I was heading for some pretty steep chop. The entrance to the Elizabeth River and HRBT come together in a narrowed area and cause quite a current. It was about 12pm and the tide was headed out and the wind was blowing out of the northeast at 20-25kts (&%$@ forecast!!). As I hit the waters over the HRBT Sal's bow was climbing straight up some 6-8ft surf type waves. I would look up and only see bow one moment and the next was nothing but green, cold water engulfing the entire bow. I was scared! I looked down at the GPS and it would go from about 2.5kt to 0 as Sal and I worked our way through this incredible surf. At one point I looked back and could see nothing but water then sky then water.....Sal was really getting tossed. I decided to tie myself to the boat. I was not sure if we were going to make it. Sal's trusty Atomic 4 pushed her through it though. After about 15-20 scary minutes of 6-8ft surf waves we were now past the entrance to the Elizabeth River and working our way across the lower Chesapeake Bay in 20-25kt knot wind under motor alone. But little did I know there was even more coming......To Be Continued!

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