Kristen here - Well we finally did it! We wrapped up and cut our ties to Annapolis and started the journey. It was a time filled with mixed emotions. We were nothing but eager to be on our way, but at the same time we knew that leaving also meant leaving many conveniences. I also knew that leaving meant heading out on my first night watch.
I have only been sailing at night twice in my life. Once was on the very familiar Lake Champlain, an the other was when I took a sailing course in Florida with a trained captain next to me. This time I would be handling a watch by myself, with my daughter at my side. It was a big responsibility.
During the day yesterday Chris went over the new autopilot system with me. It was pretty straight forward. Then 8:00 PM came and it was watch time. With a full moon giving us a good bit of light, a slight breeze blowing and plumeting temperatures, Kaitlin and I watched the various blinking and solid lights around us. I instructed her on how to find a light, count the seconds between blinks and then use that information to find the light on our charts. She likes using the GPS. We also learned various techniques to tell the difference between shore lights, beacons and ship lights. At sea they all tend to look the same. We used a blanket to plug up places where a breeze was coming in our cockpit enclsure, and maxed out the small propane heater. We figured if the cockpit could take the Bahama sun, it could also take the heat of our propane heater.
Kaitlin and I had a great time. We stayed awake by singing every song we could think of together. At about 11:30 Kaitlin's voice diminished, which if you know her you'd know that that doesn't happen too much! I turned around to find her cross legged in front of the heater with her eyes closed. After I woke her up, she curled up a good distance from the heater and slept the last 1/2 hour of the watch.
As it turns out, night watches aren't scary at all. In fact when the sun started to rise at the end of my 4:00 to 8:00 watch, I missed all of the helpful blinking lights. During the day, ships mix in with the background of shore and there is just so much more to look at. Night was a peaceful time. The moon was reflecting on the water, the wind was low and the waves were calm.
I'm looking forward to the next night watch. Hopefully in warmer weather!
This morning brought us into Norfolk, Virginia and the beginning of the ICW (intercoastal waterway). As we entered, massive Navy ships lined each side of the waterway. Casey took many pictures which I'm sure Chris will post soon. I just love that the kids can see this stuff. I could teach them the power of an army, war and our country. But only by seeing these colossal ships could they instantly feel that power. The sheer undertaking of building just one of these giants that dwarfs our boat is unimaginable. It is quite a feeling to see 20 of them lined up in a row.
At about 1 mile into the ICW, two birds came up behind us. I looked at them and said, "Those are the biggest seagulls I've ever seen!". Then I realized they were pelicans. The two pelicans split behind our boat and one on each side ushered s/v Pelican into the waterway. How appropriate!
The rest of our journey today brought us under several bridges. One of which had a scant 10' clearance above our mast. A collective sigh was let loose after that one! Then a lock with a 2' drop. After the 15' drops on the Champlain lock system, 2' was simply funny. We tied up to a free dock right after the lock. Groceries, restaurants, a hardware store and three drug stores were w/in 1/4 mile of the dock. We loaded up on many more propane canisters for our heater and a few more groceries. Then it was early to bed for everyone! Me too, good night.