Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Made it Home!!

http://svsalacia.blogspot.com/2012/07/i-made-it-home-barely-final-leg.html  ........ To finally finish my journey home: So there I was motoring across the southern Chesapeake Bay with a very stiff NNE 20-25kt breeze. I was getting tossed around like a rubber duck in a tub full of kids. These waves were at least 4-5ft, for the most part breaking on my beam. I was wet and miserable, and to make matters worse, I could only make about 3 kts.  I had already plotted the course outside of the HRBT to the entrance to Little Creek Inlet on my handheld GPS, and for the most part just followed the channels. In hindsight this took me much further than I needed to be, so a lot can be said for being familiar in advance with the waters that you plan to be in. This was going to my first time in my own boat in the Thimble Shoals Channel and the entrance to Little Creek Inlet.
   After an hour or so I began to start looking at the GPS, wondering how much further I had to travel.  It appeared as if I wasn't moving.....I only went 2 miles.....I had about 5 to go! I was nervous because I knew if my trusty Atomic 4 quit I would have been on the 6 o'clock news: "Beached!" I'm glad to report that not only did Old Sal and her trusty engine get us there but she also reassured me that she was still a good ole' boat with plenty of sailing left in her keel.
   As I continued to motor on I could see a Navy vessel off in the distance...way off. As the minutes passed, the ship got closer. I was making steady progress for the inlet. I now only had about 2 miles to go and could see the bright green marker lights from within the harbor. At the time I had no idea what the lights were but I was just happy that they were getting closer. What I was most concerned about now was that the Navy ship appeared to be heading for the same inlet...which, as I was soon to find out, is only about 300 yards wide. As the lights and breakwater of Little Creek got closer so did the ship. After another hour passed we were both at the breakwater at the same time....eeeyikes! What luck.
  "THIS IS WARSHIP 4 1 SMALL SAILBOAT TO OUR STARBOARD SIDE PLEASE STATE YOUR INTENTIONS", blared out of my handheld. I thought to myself are they for real? They couldn't see me for the past hour getting tossed around like I was inside a washing machine? I did not answer. "THIS IS WARSHIP 4 1 SMALL SAIBOAT TO OUR STARBOARD SIDE PLEASE STATE YOUR INTENTIONS" blared again.At this point we were both in the calm of the breakwater and their bow was blazing by me. This was no small frigate or destroyer either, this ship was a much larger amphibious assault vessel. I was well clear of them, so I grabbed the handheld and said "THIS IS S/V SALACIA AND I INTEND TO STAY AS CLOSE TO THIS BREAKWATER AS POSSIBLE AND OUT OF YOUR WAY". I didn't get a response. As they went by I noticed a large wall of water starting to build toward me against the breakwater. I guess this was from displacement of the ship, because there really was no wake. I saw the wall of water bulding and could do nothing about it. When it hit I was just about tossed out of the cockpit. I would say to this day that was about as close to being knocked down as I have been on any sailboat other than a Sunfish.
   Once the wall of water passed and Sal settled out I finally felt I could breathe a sigh of relief. I took the turn to starboard to enter the commerical part of Little Creek Inlet. I was so happy to have Sal at her marina that I quickly forgot I was nearly swamped just minutes earlier. As I turned down towards my slip I could see the friend I'd arranged to meet me waiting at my slip to receive the lines. And just like that, Sal was home.
   We learned many lessons from this entire adventure, which I will post here soon. But the biggest thing we found was that we had chosen the right boat. While many will not consider her perfect, in every aspect she had proven herself perfect for us!

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