Day One: A Farewell to Annapolis

In the twilight of January 15, 2018 we accomplished one of the most difficult tasks facing any long distance cruising campaign: we left the dock. Temujin sliced through the thin membrane of ice covering the fingers of Back Creek and delivered us into the Chesapeake Bay. The temperature was a cool 26 degrees. With the twinkling lights of Annapolis harbor dimming behind us, we gave an offering of rum to Poseidon and to Temujin to keep us safe and raised our sails – bow pointed south to Norfolk, VA.

The boat listed well to port. Our internal water tanks are located on the starboard side and we didn't dare fill them in Annapolis for fear of the water freezing and cracking the fittings. We had already lost the water filter to the frigid temperatures brought on by the bomb cyclone.

The early dawn hours replaced what little wind we had with a thick and soupy fog, requiring us to rely on the engine for propulsion and cabin heat for whomever was lucky enough to be off watch. With visibility barely a boat’s length in front of the bow we were forced to adopt what amounted to “fly by wire” navigation, steering entirely by compass heading and a watchful eye on the AIS.

The fog made for a daunting approach into Norfolk’s heavily trafficked harbor. Fortunately, all commercial vessels that strayed near our chosen path just outside the shipping channels were quick on the radio and steady in their course. Honoring the unwritten “Law of Gross Tonnage” (if it’s bigger than you, get out of the way), we were nonetheless reassured by the civility and professionalism offered our modest thirty-four foot sailing vessel by the captains piloting seven hundred foot tankers.

We made landfall in Norfolk at dusk, sliding into a berth at the Waterside Marina, just at the mouth of the Intracoastal Waterway, the ICW. We were greeted at the dock by Capt. Hal Barge, an old friend and former submarine captain who took us out for a good meal, a few beers, and a fair few sea stories.

Eric Bihl